broadsideblog

The Diet: Week One, In Which I Enter A Bakery Just For A Tantalizing Sniff

In behavior, food, Health on April 14, 2010 at 9:49 pm
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I’ve never dieted. Never wanted to. The doctor ordered it and for two weeks I have a tightly edited list of foods I am allowed to eat.

No starches (including carrots, sweet potatoes, corn); sugar or sweetening of any sort; no fruit in any form; no rice, pasta or any type of bread. It will modify only slightly over the next six weeks.

Here’s the challenge. If you stay home, and never go out, and are OK with that hermit-like existence, it’s workable as you calibrate every single mouthful, literally, with a set of measuring spoons and measuring cup. Such a fun start to a meal!

If you actually venture into the real world of restaurants and cafes and mass-marketed meals — I just spent two days in Boston — good luck! Salad in a campus cafeteria offered “lite” dressing, filled with high fructose corn syrup (a sweetener) and no bottles of oil and vinegar to substitute. Breakfast in the train station meant grilling the poor people at Cosi whether their eggs were real or powdered; they didn’t know, which was not reassuring. I ate the contents of their wraps without the forbidden wraps.

You wander about in a haze of permanent hunger, food glimmering and glistening all around you like some mirage in a distant oasis: donuts, mountains of muffins, enormous cups of fresh orange juice, a cool, amber glass of beer enjoyed by the guy sitting beside you at the bar as you sip your….Diet Coke.

You start to count the very few people who are not overweight or even morbidly obese, and notice how rare they are, anywhere. Some of them look like the Michelin Man, a belt cruelly tightened across their midriff as if it were a torture device. You wonder if they even have a bossy/caring physician or if their doctor is unkind or unhelpful or has just given up on them.

Your day, if you love to cook and eat and drink and plan the night’s dinner, has lost its focus as food and drink as a source of pleasure are erased. I don’t want a lifetime where food becomes mere fuel, every single calorie a dreaded threat to my existence. Today’s New York Post featured a story about mid-life women, several of them boasting how they are hungry all the time thanks to their minimal food intake — but look hot.

I’ll take tepid and happy…The “reward” for losing weight, the dietitian told me, is…even less food! Tinier portions, because my body will need fewer calories.

This is motivating?

I start physical therapy tomorrow, 45 minutes of pool aerobics to loosen and strengthen my arthritic left hip, which I am assured — and logic would agree — will hasten weight loss by burning more calories.

I am counting the days until I am deemed strong enough once more to get out on my bike, work up a sweat in the sunshine and get back to my Saturday morning softball game. (Two weeks ago, I could barely walk across the room because of the hip pain, which oral steroids have mostly relieved. A hip replacement is in my future, but I am hoping to postpone it for a few years, at best.)

By then, I might gnaw on my glove. Hey, it’s protein.

  1. Hang in there, that’s all I’ve got to say. I commented earlier that I was putting myself on a diet, but I forgot how bad my food cravings get when I’m not on my meds. I have spent three glorious days eating nothing but 3 Musketeers, Doritos and 25 cent hard rolls from the grocery store bakery. Oh, and cucumbers. Don’t ask me why, I certainly don’t ask my hormones why they make me crave odd things.

    I look at myself in the mirror, and that little voice in the back of my head says, “Y’know you’ll have to get back to exercising next week, and eating right.” Then my hormones duct-tape that sensible voice, throw her in the closet, and go grab more hard rolls. Two weeks without fruits though…I don’t think I could stay sane, that’s my main snack source. I love me my oranges.

    I will agree that weight loss is a bit of a slippery slope. Back in high school, I was convinced I needed to 100 pounds even at a maximum. Granted, 5′, 100 pounds gives one a good figure, but when I looked at myself, I thought it was gross. That and I was hungry all the time. That was probably the worst part of the whole process. I did get down below 100 pounds naturally, but I didn’t like what I saw. I could count my lower ribs, I could see my hip-bones, my arms were skinny little toothpicks, it was gross. After that, I vowed I would never diet again, and I would try to find a more comfortable ideal weight. Four years later…

  2. I’m nowhere near toothpick land, sorry to say. I mostly really hate having to eat 2-3 eggs every (!?!) morning because I am not fond of them so it’s very unnatural. No huge cravings and I already see some weight loss. Wish I cared, though. The process is very intrusive in forcing me to devote a lot of time and attention to tedious details, and leaching out the pleasure of eating. I’ll do it because I have to, but it’s not a realistic way to live all the time. Eating out, which is one of our great enjoyments — and a very welcome break from being alone at home all the time — is a big PITA.

    I understand better why it’s so hard to moniitor every mouthful and why people don’t bother.

    Have a 3 Musketeers for me!!!

  3. When I was first diagnosed with acid reflux, I went on a very strict diet. It was difficult, to say the least. I know what you mean about a diet taking away the pleasure of eating – I don’t want to eat just to eat, I enjoy food too much, I enjoy going out to eat too much. But sometimes it’s the “You gotta do what you gotta do” way of living for a bit and while 2-3 eggs a day sounds pretty awful, I’m sure it will pay off in the long run. At least that’s what we tell ourselves when we’re on horrible diets!

    Good luck!

  4. Michele, thans. Acid reflux is awful; hope you’re better. I am OK with something temporary but I am not optimistic about how the next phase goes. As an adult, it seems weird to be told what to eat; I.e. Infantilizing. I know if the dietitian had been more collegial and explanatory, I’d feel less mulish.

  5. No fruit? What the hell kid of diet is that? “The Bacon-and-Beets Diet”?

  6. Ah, no. No beets either. I’ve been told it’s a modified version of Atkins. The monotony of eating the same food every day for 14 days suggests prison. My boarding school, which had lousy food, at least varied its menus daily.

  7. When you eat for performance or to achieve a specific goal, be it weight, or blood chemistry, life is full of little cruelties. My physical activity trumps yours (especially now while you’re laid up), and I still have to watch my intake of starches and simple carbs, or my fasting glucose starts to creep up. And the kicker is, even with my lifestyle, which is active and pretty clean, I still cannot maintain a normal blood pressure and cholesterol without drugs. Genetically speaking, I was not blessed. Meanwhile, my freaking brother in law eats like and looks like a whale and throws up numbers I can only dream of. There is simply no justice while the fat walk this earth with nary a physical ailment.

    That said, measuring portions is unsustainable over the long term, which is why I encourage you to read something like Syndrome-X. I firmly believe in principals over portions, because principals can serve you in whatever environment you find yourself in. And more than this, if you can develop a mode where you can be strict with yourself on weekdays, then you can play a little on weekends. The way I think of if is too much moderation is not moderate over the long term so balance in all things. These weeks you are enduring aren’t moderate, but presumably you have a goal. I hope you reach it, take pride in it, and move on.

  8. john, thanks for weighing in (pun intended.) Sorry to hear you need meds; my partner does as well as he is pre-diabetic (genetically loaded) and has high cholesterol. I’ve never had to take any so am also hating this new part of my life. Yes, I am really bad at change.

    I loathe taking any form of medication, and now have to pop 2 calcium pills, 1 vitamin, 1-2 prevacid (to protect my stomach from) the 2 steroids per day, plus Tylenol for residual hip pain. The steroids and prevacid will stop within a month. This makes me feel geriatric and therefore even more (is that possible?) irritable.

    The goal isn’t mine, it’s the doctor’s, but he’s right. Once I get the damn pounds off, we’ll see what life looks like. I wasn’t gorging on junk food and cakes and pies, (so I’m pissed) and I really want some sweets in my life again. Cold, wet, sour Greek o% fat yogurt is not an interesting food, matter its healthful properties.

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