I went to my doctor’s office a few weeks ago, just for my annual checkup.
I’m sitting there, unclothed and shivering in my flimsy gown on the crinkly piece of protective paper. The usual awkward, sterile experience. All of a sudden, my doctor rushes into the room in a gust of hostile energy. “I’m sick and tired of everyone becoming borderline diabetic,” she rants. “We’ve got to eat better! It’s the white stuff that’s going to kill us!”
She wasn’t really directing that at me in particular, since I’m not on the cusp of such a diagnosis. But she sees a lot of people who are. Her fervor made me sit up and take notice.
The white stuff she means is everything I love. Sugar. Rice. White potatoes. Pasta. Bread. Softchewycrispyholeyfreshlybakeddelicious bread. [gasp.]
I think — I tell myself — that I eat pretty decently. No preservatives and organic whenever possible. I exercise (semi) regularly. But I carry more poundage than I should, and I always have. I know I justify too easily.
I eat to socialize, to celebrate, as a hobby and as stress relief.
I love vegetables, but salads and soups don’t always float my boat.
I am enamored with freshly baked bread and sweet things.
I tell myself that life’s short, so eat the cookie! And the cheesecake!
I’m busy, and I get caught up in life. In a time crunch with a lack of convenient options, I make bad decisions. Very, very bad. (Not McDonald’s bad — never McDonald’s! — but I won’t impress any dieticians.)
I feel it’s time for drastic measures, though.
My recent birthday was a big, scary number. The biggest it’s every been! A new decade is looming (in a few years) and, honestly, I’m ready for the change. I know I can’t totally forsake the foods I love — I’d rather lay down on railroad tracks than give up my beloved chocolate, for instance. But I don’t really need to eat dessert every day, or make a big, creamy pot of pasta just because I’ll be able to eat it all week.
So I have declared: no more white stuff.
Three weeks in, I haven’t physically harmed anyone. [score!]
Already I’m making strides:
I drink a green smoothie every morning.
I have always been terrible about eating breakfast. About all I can handle first thing is to guzzle a mug of hot coffee on the way to work. But even before my doctor’s visit, I looked into and got hooked on green smoothies. More on that to come.
I also ate breakfast every morning on our trip to Israel and could tell a difference in how I felt all day. Now I get it. Breakfast is important. You have to stuff it down even when you don’t feel like it.
I swapped sugar and all artificial sweeteners for honey or maple syrup.
I was a Splenda-holic, choosing to ignore what Splenda really is: chlorinated sugar molecules. Can’t be good. After some studying up, honey and maple syrup are the only natural sweeteners I trust. I just make sure to buy local honey and 100% real maple syrup, so I get the least processed possible. I don’t love the taste of either, really, but I’ve been adding maple syrup to my coffee and I can’t even tell it’s there. With just that change — a tablespoon of maple syrup subbed for 2 Splendas — I almost immediately lost my end-of-day sugar cravings.
I have forsaken flour.
I’m not going to lie. The lack of bread and pasta hurts. More psychologically than physiologically. But I haven’t eaten leavened, yeasted bread in weeks, and something’s happening. It could be related to my sugar reduction, but I just feel better and nearly 10 pounds has melted off. My whole body sort of trimmed up, like I lost inflammation or water weight. It’s sort of scary and weird.
The struggle is in the all or nothing — I thought I was cutting down but not out by having my sandwich in a wrap rather than on a bun. Then I read that my “healthy” wrap actually has twice the carbs (24 vs 52!). Yikes, for reals. Just go without.
I’m careful with white rice and white potatoes.
I’m being lenient with the other, non-floury white stuff. I sub in brown rice when possible, but I haven’t yet totally let go of potatoes. Sweet are better than white … and I do like sweet potatoes. But I’m not going to beat myself up about the french fries or roasted (white) potatoes served alongside my vegetables. Baby steps.
It’s hard to know these days what is safe to eat, since a new “study” comes out every day saying we’re going to die from the carbs! the red meat! the non-organic vegetables! the water! we eat. Or we pick up the latest fad diet. Even though Paleo is quite the rage and a lot of people I know are thriving on it, I’m not quite willing to go that far. I love beans and cheese too much. And cheese is doctor-approved! [whew.] I think our problem is that we’ve gone way overboard into processed foods, vilifying fat and replacing it with sugar.
You may remember that I tried to be vegetarian for half a second and … that didn’t last long. I do have some doubts about my ability to stick with it, but I know it’s worth doing. Failure is okay if I can get right back to it.
So, we’ll see how it goes.