Monday, May 27, 2013

Hard truth

Photo courtesy of mepassaocardapio.com
Oh, where to begin, where to begin?

For the past two weeks, I have been mentally wrestling with the idea of "man vs. food," and, by that, I am not referring to the nausea-inducing TV show of the same name. (Dear Lord, I have a stomach that can hold 6 - 8 ounces. What would I do with 5 pounds of food? Aaargh.)

Yesterday, with my newly-sleeved Bro-in-Law, I was discussing the fact that Sleeved Ones oftentimes undergo a grieving process for food. No longer are we able to eat recreationally, emotionally, or frequently. We are slapped in the face with the fact that we not only have developed a relationship with a non-sentient item, but that the relationship has to change. That brought me around to the idea of "comfort food."

We chide older children for still sucking their thumb, or carrying around a tattered blanket, or refusing to give up a care-worn stuffed animal. But while we berate our children, we think nothing of glomming down a bag of chips, a carton of ice cream, a few chocolate bars, more than a few brews, or a 2-liter of soda after a terrible week. Comfort thumb, comfort binky, comfort bear, comfort food.

Almost all comfort foods are high in carbs: The pasta in the mac and cheese or lasagna, the sugar in the chocolate or ice cream, the grain in the beer, or the potatoes in the chips or mash. And, usually, these foods are associated with pleasant memories, much like the bubble-gum pop music I used to listen to when I was but a wee thing.

From a biochemical standpoint, the rise in blood sugar (glucose) from all that carb is temporarily calming, and acts like a short-term relaxant, a bit of a narcotic. (Then the "crash," of course, and the cravings, and the jitters, and more carb, and the "crash," and...well, you get the picture.)

Comfort foods are powerful reminders of past relationships, loved ones gone, and happy childhood times. But there comes a time when the foods, themselves, become more important than the comfort they bring.  

When I was in the military, I'd swill alcohol at the club with friends after a particularly tough week. Eventually, I needed no tough week as an excuse to swill. The alcohol became more important than the de-stressing sessions with friends. I didn't need the friends, only the alcohol. "Warning, Bill Robinson!"

Such it is with comfort foods. More times than I can count, I hear people say, "I'msofatI'msofatI'msofatI'msofatI'msofatI'msofatI'msofatI'msofat," and then snarf the monstrously huge Panera bagel, chocolate bar, piece of cake, doughnut, or box of Cheez-Its.

As Cher said in Moonstruck, "SNAP OUT OF IT!!!!!!!"

For crying out loud, what do we want?

Is the food more important than liking what we see in the mirror, wearing with no shame a bathing suit, being able to move during sex, or keeping up with kids and grand-kids? If so, every time we open our mouth to complain about our weight, plug it with Panera.

If not, if our health and happiness and self-esteem and image are more important, we must find a way to cope with the emotions that send us running for culinary comfort.

Before you pop the Pringles or dunk the doughnut, EAT SATURATED FAT. Let me repeat that: FAT. SATURATED. EAT IT.

Have a cup of coffee or tea. Add heavy cream. Sweeten to taste with Splenda, etc., or don't sweeten it, if you're a Yankee. Eat a couple pieces of bacon, or a few cubes of full-fat cheese. (Touch a cracker and I'll slap your hand.)

After 15 - 20 minutes, if you still want the carby comfort, go for it. But you won't eat as much, trust me. You might not eat it at all.

Carbs beget cravings, cravings beget carbs, which beget even more cravings. It is a cruel fact of obese life: The more carbage we eat, the more we want, ad nauseum.

Lousy week? Breathe deeply. (Stress causes us to tighten our upper body, reducing the amount of air we pull in.) Walk the dog or yourself. Clean out a drawer, or clear some annoying clutter. Play a mindless online game. Call a friend. Watch a few videos from Wimp.com.

If you've done all that, and you still want to eat, substitute: Eat the darkest chocolate that you can, at least 78% cocoa. Munch nuts (not cashews - too high in sugar). Fry full-fat hard cheese until it's crispy. Eat fresh berries sweetened with Splenda and drowned in heavy cream. Microwave pepperoni until it's crispy and use the chips to scoop up your favorite (full-fat and not loaded with corn syrup) dip. Make that grilled cheese with tons of real butter, full-fat cheese, and a lower-carb bread (My Male Household uses Oroweat's Double Fiber bread.) Use Dreamfields lower-carb pasta to make that mac and cheese, spaghetti, or lasagna. Do something.

But let's not open our pie hole and moan "I'msofatI'msofatI'msofat" if we're not willing to do something about it.

The Bionic Broad (who still battles the Chip Monster) out.













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