Sitting here drinking my coffee (skim milk, which it always was, no sugar, as usual.) Trying to work up an interest in eating — for the second week — a breakfast of two to three eggs, bacon, a vegetable and a piece of cheese. Eggs have never been a favorite food and after this week ends, I may not eat one for a long, long time.
Friday begins Phase II, with the (re) addition of a tiny amount of carbohydrates and, for the first time in two weeks, fruit. It will be four very long weeks before I am allowed to consume refined sugar in any form — maple syrup, sugar, honey. Thanks to the steroids I’m on for my arthritis, no alcohol has entered my body for weeks. I pass our decanters of Balvenie and Tanqueray with only a brief, pining glance.
Now I really know what food means to me and what its deprivation makes me feel.
Lousy. Angry. Miserable. Controlled. Infantilized.
Shut off from the simplest pleasures of eating out, making a great meal for my sweetie, throwing a dinner party, biting into a creamy piece of Brie or fresh hunk of sourdough. Food is not fuel, to me. By removing its pleasure, and turning it into the enemy, I have had to look food straight in the face and see what it looks like.
We don’t have kids or pets or, really, hobbies. We’re both workaholics, lucky to eat dinner together by 7:30 or 8:00 p.m. most nights. Weekends, as they are for many of us, have been a cherished break with some beloved rituals, whether the blueberry pancakes my sweetie makes for me before I go play softball or the cold Stella or Guinness (one) I drink after the game with all my friends or roast chicken (yes, with skin) I plan and make for us.
A cold, wet, sour 6 ounces of unsweetened Greek 0% fat yogurt is not going to do it for me. Sorry.
Three things sustain me in this world, without which I am not sure life is worth it: ideas, delicious sustenance and beauty. These have been consistent for decades.
I recently blogged here, and had op-eds in two major newspapers, about having been bullied for three years in high school. What I didn’t say was that, every day after school on my long walk home, lonely and battered emotionally, I passed two bakeries. I’d eat something sweet and delicious from the first one and also from the second. The long walk and a high metabolism saved me from gaining weight. Sweet, gooey food was very real, immediate, reliable comfort. (Sorry, not a piece of celery or a low-calorie, low-fat apple.)
As it is for millions.
Losing weight and re-thinking the role of food in one’s life means paying exquisite, unrelenting attention not just to the invisible and delicate chemical balances of leptin and ghrelin and cortisol (that regulate appetite and satiety) but how it tastes and how it makes you feel and how happy your kids or husband or girlfriends are when you cook and serve them something delicious. And drink, whether a creamy cappuccino (still permissible, thank God, with skim milk) or a stiff G & T (not OK. Shriek.)
I went grocery shopping in a suburban supermarket this week, as I have for the past decade. Obstacle course! Nightmare! It felt like one of those “hellhouses” that evangelical Christians like to create to show sinners the wages of their behavior. Every single aisle was a minefield of easy, terrible choices: chips, cookies, ice cream, candy, soft drinks, fat-laden meats, sugar-added breads, “low fat” yogurts packed with sugar. You practically need a pair of blinders, like those worn by the carriage horses in Central Park that block out all those cars and buses and pedestrians from view, to maneuver through without submission to multiple temptations. Produce aisle, dairy case, lean meat — out!
Eat out, for a break from those damn measuring cups and spoons, and you have to keep repeating, over and over: “No rice, bread, corn, carrots, thanks!” Then they bring it to the table anyway.
We ate Indian last night, where they know me, and the waiter — bless him — asked “Gin and tonic?” , my regular. That was tough.
I am now painfully aware how minuscule a “portion” is — go try it — four ounces of wine (as if!); one cup of pasta; 12 almonds.
The only good thing is, yes, I am already noticeably thinner. I refuse to get on a scale. I’ve had enough humiliation for one lifetime, thanks.
I know my own body and how my clothes fit. I’ve had terrific support and advice here (thanks!) and from friends who have handed me some foods that work for them (Dreamfields pasta) and other tools.
Only five more weeks to go. Then….?