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  Read through my blog below by simply scrolling down the entries, or check out the essays below. I've chosen ones that I particularly enjoy--maybe you will too.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Day 21, Sunday: In Which Our Heroine Crosses the Finish Line, and Keeps Running


Breakfast: Two hardboiled eggs
Lunch: four slices turkey, pesto slathered on them, peppers
Snack 1: Apple with Bernadette's Paleo Fondue
Dinner: At Egan's. Steak with carrots, green beans, and salad
Snack 2: Cheese stick

Breakfast was dull but efficient. I can't recommend the turkey and pesto combo I had for lunch. I was not happy with it. The pesto is better on eggs, and the turkey is better with avocado. Peppers as usual were awesome. Green apple fondue was awesome. I clink an imaginary smoothie glass to Bernadette every time I eat it. Dinner at Egan's was easy and Detox-friendly. Everyone ordered dessert and Chris and I managed to resist. When I got home, I was still hungry, so I had a cheese stick.

On my last day on the Detox, one of my students who I hadn't seen all summer did a double-take and said, "Wow, you look great! Your skin!" I was very surprised and flattered. That's not why I did the Detox, but it's a nice perk! (Generally, the list of stuff I do to look better goes like this: bathe. Apply two-year-old drugstore mascara.) One of the things I notice when I'm eating whatever the hell I want is that I not only gain weight, I get kind of...puffy. I would not be surprised if there is some kind of systemic inflammation from eating sugar.

I finished the day before Labor Day, and I did a lot of thinking about how I felt about the work of this particular Detox, as compared to the one I did in April. In my yoga classes this week, I explored how work can be a degrading chore or uplifting LABOR that enriches our lives and is an expression and enhancement of our innate human dignity. For me, the first Detox was the former and this second one is the latter. The first one felt like a punishment, like something I HAD to do, like I had a serious flaw (inability to function well on the Standard American Diet, or SAD) and I had to compensate for it with strict discipline. This second one feels triumphant and joyful. I've had a blast planning my meals, doing the shopping, cooking, EATING, and writing about the experience for you and for myself. This isn't something that's a chore or a punishment. It's a reward. How lucky am I? In a world of heavily-conflicting dietary advice, I found a way of eating that makes me feel good! In a world of poison (sugar, simple carbohydrates, and advertising for sugar and carbohydrates), I have the discipline and resources to truly nourish myself and my hubby.

Okay, now that I'm done, what am I going to add back in?

Not fruit. It has become clear to me that I really do not do well on fruit. According to Gary Taubes, most modern fruit has been genetically engineered to be much sweeter than the fruit eaten by our early ancestors. I can barely handle the small green apple I eat daily--it tastes really sweet to me and I feel myself teetering on the edge of a crash after I eat it.

Not grains. I don't do well on wheat, corn (witness the corn chip disaster of Day 19), oats, rice, barley, etc. That includes quinoa! Geez, shouldn't quinoa be Detox-friendly? It has a really obscure name, so it must be healthy, right? Not for me.

Not much dairy. I'd like to experiment with raw dairy. I do okay with the occasional dollop of goat yogurt. I seem to be able to handle a small amount of cheese.

The thing I've missed most? Baked potato. My plan is to try a baked potato and see what happens.

But my main plan is to keep eating like this indefinitely. Will I be able to do that? I don't know. However, there are a few factors that make me think that I CAN, in fact, keep eating this way.

1. When I think about eating sugar or grains again, all I can think about is how once I eat them, I'm back on the roller coaster of cravings again. The limits of the Detox have really revealed to me how sick I feel when I eat sugar or grains. Or too much cheese. Or too many cured meats.

2. My husband is really supportive and participates with me. That means that he'll prepare Paleo-type stuff for dinner. And he'll eat Paleo-type stuff when I cook it. This is really important to me because we love to cook, we love to cook TOGETHER, and we try to eat dinner together every night.

3. Over the course of this Detox I've figured out many "hacks" to help me when I'm feeling cravings. Bernadette's fondue is great for sweet cravings. I never even ended up making Paleo Pancakes or Paleo banana bread, but I hear those are fantastic too.

4. I give myself permission to fall off the wagon for any reason I choose, from there not being anything else I can eat at a social engagement, to feeling like I really want a Brown Bonnet from Carvel. The looser I am, the easier it is for me to be disciplined.

Over the course of the Detox, dear Reader, I have tried to share what I was doing without being scoldy or preachy about what anybody else is eating. I do not respond well to scoldy preachiness myself. I can't stand those FaceBook memes with sanctimonious advice for living superimposed over a picture of a 20-year-old dancer in a bikini putting her leg behind her head. Particularly about diet, there is SO. MUCH. scoldy preachiness out there. This scoldiness doesn't help anybody!

Besides, as Hemingway says, "We are all apprentices in a craft where no-one ever becomes a master." He's referring to the Master Craft: Living. And what he's saying is that nobody knows shit. It doesn't matter if you meditate every day, or graduate from Harvard, or look really wise, or live in a big house, or live on the streets. Insert your own "it doesn't matter if...". It is terrifying and marvelous--nobody knows anything!

So look: I don't know anything. But I am pretty sure about the following:

1. The ONLY way to know whether or how much you would benefit from cutting sugar is to do it.

2. If you really want to do it, you can.

Thank you Diane Sanfilippo for creating the Detox and the excellent materials that make it easy to follow. And thank you, Gentle Reader, for reading and supporting me on my Detox. Mwah!

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Day 20, Saturday: In Which I Don't Give a Rat's Ass What Gandhi Thinks

Breakfast: Half a TB and chard
Lunch 1: Two slices ham and some pickles
Lunch 2: Five slices of bacon
Dinner: Cured meats. Olives. A couple of bite-sized morsels of brie. Beef tenderloin from the grill, grilled eggplant, asparagus, zucchini, and salad. It was so, so good!

I woke up from the previous night's excesses with some EXTREMELY unfortunate digestive sequelae, such as I have not had in many a year. Ever been knifed in the gut? Felt like that, and you know what that is--GAS. I seriously think it was the corn chips, but everyone I've talked to says it was the tequila. So I spent a lot of the day managing feeling horrible and trying to eat stuff that wouldn't intensify the damage. Let's go over how well I did. As you can see, I kept my meals pretty small because I was so WRECKED from the previous evening.

The TB and chard: excellent choice, as usual. It went down well, it got some things moving. But it couldn't undo the damage. My morning routine was totally off. ("Morning routine" is a euphemism. Can you guess for what?) I felt so sorry for my yoga students because I arrived late and looked green.

My lunch choices created, for me, an important realization. It was helped by a comment from my friend Melanie about how there are different ways to do a low carb diet, and that "it's probably not a good idea to just eat bacon." (Note: technically, Paleo is different from low-carb.) Now, Gary Taubes says that research shows that lots of people CAN lose weight on just bacon and not really suffer any ill effects. So I argued with Melanie a little about it. However, I can definitely say after this day that TOO MUCH CURED MEAT is a problem for me. You were right Melanie!

My holy grail in my food investigation is this: how do I feel? I don't care if Gandhi says that a certain diet is good, if it doesn't make me feel good I don't care. Gandhi did many wonderful things, but as a vegetarian he would probably disapprove of my diet, and I don't give a rat's ass. (Another note: India tends toward being slim, but they have terrible problems with diabetes and heart disease from all the rice.) There's a great, probably apocryphal story about Gandhi and sugar. A mother comes to see him and says, "my son eats too much sugar. It's ruining his health. Please tell him to stop". Gandhi says, "Come back in three days." Mom comes back in three days with the son and Gandhi says, "Hey. Stop eating sugar." Mom says, "Why did we have to wait three days to hear that?" and Gandhi says, "Because I hadn't yet given it up myself." Which, I guess, gives me carte blanche to tell you: HEY. STOP EATING SUGAR! And also give me carte blanche to say: HEY. I AVOIDED SUGAR SEVEN TIMES LONGER THAN GANDHI! T-shirt, perhaps?

So lunch was ham and pickles at like 1:00, then some bacon at like 3:00. It was salty and fatty, and I thought it might get things moving, but what ended up happening was that it dried me out. And I think that's the main problem for me with cured meats, and even with pickled things--I get very dehydrated from them. The cured meat situation continued through the dinner we had on this day.

We were very kindly invited over for dinner with our friends Ellen and Jonathan and their family. Ellen puts out a crazy spread of hors d'oeuvres when we come over for two reasons: 1. she is a good Italian girl from Staten Island and 2. we have been friends for years and she knows we like to (over) eat. The term "dessert sausage" was coined at their house a few years ago when Chris concluded a five course meal by polishing off the rest of a log of sopressata. As usual, the chow was fantastic. The olives were the best I ever had. They were kelly green and not too heavily brined, which is unusual for olives. Two types of cheese--brie and a hard cheese. I only had one. Three types of cured meat--prosciutto, salami, and sopressata. Two types of crackers which I avoided.

While enjoying this epic feast, I noticed that all the cured meat I'd had on this day was making me feel slightly ill. Fortunately, we rapidly moved on to the entree, which was grilled rather than cured. We had a beef tenderloin and a host of grilled veggies, including the tastiest eggplant I have EVER had. Ellen is a good cook and when I asked her, "OMG how did you prepare this eggplant?" She just said, "I just put it in the metal tray and cooked it on the grill!" It was sublime, and tasted very STARCHY without BEING starchy. I am always looking for foods like that. Squash, for example. If you're a carb addict trying to go Paleo or do Sugar Detox, it really helps to have a few luxurious substitutions in play.

Last day tomorrow!!

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Monday, September 9, 2013

Day 19, Friday: In Which Tequila is Consumed, Possibly by Our Heroine

"God--aren't you done with this thing yet?"

Breakfast: turkey burger and chard
Lunch: left over salsa chicken and avocado
Dinner: Chips and guacamole, chicken with onions, savory apple chutney, salad, TEQUILA

Okay, so as you can see, this day started out strong. Good ol' TB and rainbow chard holding down the beginning of the day. Leftovers from last night holding down the middle. I used to hate leftovers. Now I love them. I never really like the way meat tastes the day after you cook it. It's a little gamey. But my vague dislike of the gaminess is overpowered by my laziness. I am so freaking glad now when we have leftovers because it means I won't have to think about what I'm going to have for lunch the next day. Recently this strategy was foiled when I made 42 chorizo meatballs thinking I'd have leftovers and we ATE THEM ALL. Chubby overeaters: 1. Planning ahead: 0.

So coming to the dinner portion of my day. There are three elements of the meal that are out of bounds on the sugar detox. Can you pick what they are? We were very kindly invited over by our friends Lisa and Eric. Eric used to be a chef, so you know he's a great cook. Lisa, who easily could have sat on her butt eating Eric's cooking her whole life, is also a great cook. So we knew we were in for something tasty.

First item off the Detox: tequila. When I got there, Lisa was drinking something margarita-ish involving tequila, lime, and something else. She was out of the something else, so I said, inspired by my gimlet experience the early part of the Detox, "just give me a tequila with lime." She said, "Are you sure? Want me to put some soda water in it?" and I said, "Sure!" So I had it. It was not as good as a gimlet. But it slowly grew on me. I probably had less than a shot, but I did get tipsy and did some "dancing" (really more like "flailing around") that really made Lisa laugh. Good times!

Second item off the Detox: corn chips. Eric was doing the cooking on this night, and he made a huge tub of guacamole. Really, it's a sin to BUY guacamole. It's so gross from the store. The texture is all weird because it's been smooshed with a machine. There's a bunch of stuff you don't need in it. (Onions. Guacamole does not need onions.) And the flavors are tired. My strategy with guacamole is to simply use a fork, to make it and to eat it. This does not generally endear me to fellow diners at Mexican restaurants--everyone is daintily lifting a teaspoon of guac into their mouths with each chip and I'm holding the bowl up to my mouth and shoveling it down with a fork. However, this homemade guac CRIED OUT to be eaten with corn chips. So I did. There were other yummy hors d'oeuvres (my husband polished off a wheel of chevre by himself), but I was knee deep in guacamole and simple carbohydrates and did not notice them.

Third item off the Detox: apple chutney. This was a mild cheat because while there wasn't no sugar in it* it probably wasn't a green apple. Eric served it with chicken with onions and scallions. I really can't convey to you how tasty this simple-sounding dish was. The apple chutney was amAHzing. So, so good. We also had salad with a dressing that was noticeably professional. It really is amazing how professionals, in any field, simply have an edge on those of us trying our best at home.

The kids had dessert, we skipped it. Yay us. This reminds me of a funny exchange I had with Lisa when I started the Detox. She said, "Really? You're doing THAT? Are you even that into sugar?" I said, "Lisa. Do you not remember that every time I come to your house I demand that your children reveal to me the location of their old Halloween candy? And then I eat it, even though it's old, and it might be something gross that nobody else wants like Smarties?" And she said, "Ohhhhh, yeah, that's right. You ARE addicted to sugar!"

So, tequila: 1. Halloween candy: 0.

* I inadvertently wrote "wasn't no sugar in it" and I have decided to let it stand. It makes me feel like a character in a Mark Twain story.

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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Day 18, Thursday: In Which I Offer an Assortment of Recipes

It's Recipe Day! Let's get the business out of the way.

Brunch: Drumroll please...hardboiled eggs with pesto!!! The best.
Snack 4:15: Bernadette's Nutella and an apple
Dinner 8:45: Fajita-less fajitas

(Picture at left is from my pre-Sugar Detox days. So ignore the melon and prosciuto.)

Here's a few little secrets nobody tells you about pesto.
1. It is insanely easy to make.
2. YOU MUST toast the pine nuts.
3. YOU DON'T NEED THE CHEESE. Most pesto recipes call for a lot of grated parmesan cheese. What's cheese for, anyway? It adds fat, salt, and a yummy "umami" flavor. (What's umami? It's one of the five flavors of your tastebuds. It's a Japanese word, and it basically means "salty fatty protein-y goodness". I find it completely unnecessary in pesto. There's a ton of fat and flavor in the other ingredients and you can add as much salt as you like.

Here's what you do to make it:
1. Put a fourthish cup of pine nuts into a frying pan on medium heat. DO NOT LEAVE THE KITCHEN. They will be done in probably 1.5 to 3 minutes, and if you are FIVE SECONDS late to take them out of the frying pan, they are black and that's 3 dollars down the drain.
2. Get out the food processor. Wash an entire package of Trader Joe's basil. Separate the leaves from the stems and put the leaves in the food processor.
3. Add your pine nuts. Turn on the food processor and stream in about a quarter cup of olive oil. You can add more if you like it oilier. Add salt to taste. You're done!

Cook up two or three hardboiled eggs, peel 'em, cut 'em half, arrange them nicely on a plate. Then put great hunks of pesto on them. Such yumminess! It's incredibly rich and decadent.

Bernadette's Nutella is a name I've given to an incredible concoction devised by my pal Bernadette. I sometimes also think of it as "Paleo Fondue". It involves nut butter, coconut oil, and cocoa powder. It is INSANELY rich. I'd be curious to hear what non-Sugar Detoxers think of the recipe. To me, it is way sweet with the apple, but maybe that's because of my sugar-free taste buds. Here's the link: If you think you can't do a Sugar Detox, get your hands on a green apple, make this stuff, and try it out. This will carry you through many a craving!

Finally today, on our recipe hit parade: the cashew cheese.

Get a bunch of cashews. Put them in a bowl and cover them with water. Let them sit all day or overnight. Drain them, put them in a food processor. Add just enough water to make the texture "ricotta-y". This makes a very bland ricotta-like substance that you can doctor in whatever way you want. If you were to add tahini, you'd have Paleo hummus. If you add garlic, you have something that goes well rolled in cooked eggplant with prosciutto, covered with tomato sauce, and baked: Paleo eggplant rollatini, like I made. (Remember: I later found out that cashews are not on the Sugar Detox. But they are paleo-friendly!)

Getting near the finish line now. I have one more dietary indiscretion up my sleeve before I end!

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Friday, September 6, 2013

Day 17, Wednesday: In Which I Read "Why We Get Fat"

- Breakfast: TB with chard. Hubby had one too, and he had the brilliant suggestion to put mustard on it. I tried it. SUBLIME. Unfortunately, on the 5th or 6th bite my opposite-of-castiron stomach rebelled and said, "NO. That won't do. Regular TB please." So no mustard.
- Lunchy snack 1: apple with almond butter
- Lunchy snack 2: ham slices with cornichon pickles
- Dinner: Good ol' bacon and egg salad. We freaking love this. Chris said last night he could have it at every meal. Not bad!

Somewhere in here I ran into my student Clif, and he and I had a great conversation. I've known Clif for what seems like about five years, and about three years ago he lost quite bit of weight on purpose.* He told me he'd been following my blog (thank you for reading!) and reminded me that when he lost his weight, he lost it by avoiding carbs. He said, "You know, all those diets--South Beach, Atkins, the Wheatbelly Diet, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, Paleo--they all tell you the same thing. They all tell you to cut carbs."** We talked about a book that I read several years ago called "Good Calories, Bad Calories", how it is an amazing book but hard to read because it is very science-y. He said that the author of GCBC, Gary Taubes, had written a second version the book that is more for laypeople called "Why We are Fat and What To Do About It." So Clif lent me the book, and it BLEW. MY. MIND.

Taubes's book is a summary of the studies done on obesity for the last 100 years. The vast majority of double-blind studies on weight loss and heart disease DO NOT remotely support the low-fat diet that is currently promoted by the medical establishment. Hmm, I thought, "if that's so, then how come the medical establishment supports that diet?" Taubes explores how few charismatic "experts" (with no experience in the field of endocrinology or obesity) misinterpreted a few fuzzy studies and heavily promoted the idea of "low-fat". They were very successful in promoting this point of view, to the extent that their ideas were picked up by the media and then by big organizations like the American Heart Association.

Taubes explains the big problem with all this: a low-fat diet doesn't actually help most people lose weight or reduce heart disease. (Of course, cutting total calories will help you lose weight, like Weight Watchers, etc, but you lose weight because you're cutting calories from CARBS, not because you're cutting calories from FAT.) A low-fat diet also doesn't prevent heart disease. Taubes shows this over and over again, citing study after study that shows that CARBOHYDRATES and SUGAR create obesity and heart disease. Well, I asked, why isn't every vegetarian overweight? Taubes uses the example of lung cancer--some people can smoke and not get lung cancer. Some people can eat a diet with a lot of whole grains and not get heart disease.

Gentle Reader, if I have offended your sensibilities with this information, I do apologize. You might want to look away now, because I'm going to continue along these lines. Allow me to offer my very crude shorthand for how exactly carbohydrates (including whole grains) screw up your metabolism. (I'm not a doctor or a medical expert, so my explanation is crude and you shouldn't use it as a substitute for medical advice. From a doctor who has read Taubes's book.)

Carbohydrates metabolize as sugar. Sugar raises insulin. Insulin's job is to pack sugar away as fat. The more frequently you eat carbohydrates, the more insulin you have floating around in your system. People eating carbs all the time have a ton of insulin floating around ALL THE TIME. Consequently, they are HUNGRY all the time, because insulin is packing away blood sugar into fat cells and not making it available for other tissues. (One of the craziest things I learned from Taubes's book is that when overweight, carbohydrate-fed rats are starved to death, their bodies will actually start breaking down their ORGANS before they break down fat! Don't get me wrong, they'll lose some fat. But they will die carrying FOUR TIMES as much fat as their lean counterparts.)

Perhaps, like me, you are recoiling in disbelief at this information. I sympathize. However, after reading this book and learning the science, I personally could no more believe that whole grains are good for you than believe in creationism. If you're interested in exploring the science more, you could get Taubes's book, check out the New York Times*** (Link: or just look around on PubMed. A particularly damning study out of Stanford, called the "A TO Z" study, compared Atkins, a Traditional diet, the Ornish diet, and the Zone diet. The lead researcher was a vegetarian. He described the outcome as "a bitter pill to swallow". You can find the abstract online. Here's the main conclusion: "In this study, premenopausal overweight and obese women assigned to follow the Atkins diet, which had the lowest carbohydrate intake, lost more weight and experienced more favorable overall metabolic effects at 12 months than women assigned to follow the Zone, Ornish, or LEARN [Traditional] diets."

Taubes's book clarified WHY I personally do much better on a Paleo-type diet. Why I've struggled with low energy and a range of strange auto-immune problems for a lot of my adult life (if not my childhood). Of course I can't say that it would work for everybody. But it works for me and is supported by a wide range of scientific studies. I'd be a fool to ignore those data points.

Food is always controversial, and perhaps even more so in the yoga community, where some studios insist their employees sign a contract enforcing vegetarianism. However, I wanted to post about this book because I feel so empowered by actually understanding the science behind my metabolism. Even if you are outraged by what I have written, go out and read the book! If nothing else, you will have the pleasure of scoffing all the way throughs. And more likely, you'll be blown away, as I was, by how wrong my assumptions were.

If you are intrigued by these ideas, and want to pursue them in your own life, please bear the following in mind. Taubes writes:

"When you replace the carbohydrates you eat with fat, you're creating a radical shift in the fuel that your cells will burn for energy. ...This shift...can come with side effects. ...In the 1970s, the authorities insisted that these 'potential side effects' were reasons why the diets could not 'generally be used safely,' and the implication was that they shouldn't be used at all. ...But that was to confuse the short-term effects of what can be thought of as carbohydrate withdrawal with the long-term benefits of overcoming that withdrawal and living a longer, leaner, and healthier life. ...These side effects speak to the importance of having he guidance of a knowledgeable physician when making the decision to avoid fattening carbohydrates."

SO: Don't go crazy. Just read the book.

* This actually brings me to one of my pet peeves about weight/food issues. I hate it when you lose weight and someone comes over to you and gushes that you've lost weight and asks you about your diet and tells you you look great, when in fact your life's going down the toilet, and you're losing weight on what my friend Leslie calls "the Misery Diet".

** This is a bit of a misnomer--vegetables are also carbohydrates--but they do not have the effect on insulin levels that grains, whole or otherwise, have.

*** The NYT got diet issues completely wrong during the '80s and '90s--Jane Brody was a particularly enthusiastic proponent of how good pasta and potatoes are for weight loss and heart disease. I am hopeful they are beginning to get it right. The NYT gets a lot of stuff wrong about yoga, too FYI. I love the Grey Lady but in these two areas she has a terrible track record.

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Day 16, Tuesday: In Which I Reveal My "Problem Area"

Felt great today. My eyes actually looked sparkly when I saw myself in the mirror by chance! And I'm looking slimmer, which is a nice perk.

I agree with Susie Orbach that "fat is a feminist issue." I generally don't define myself by how I look. I've been lucky not to have struggled with the issue of body image with the same intensity as many women of my generation. That being said: I've found that substantial weight gain, for me, is a sign that something is out of whack. It's a marker of my health, so I keep an eye on it.

A lot of people monitor their weight with a scale. I don't own one. You may think this is a careful strategy to avoid weight obsession. No, it is because I am too lazy to either get a scale or go downstairs to my building's gym and use that one. Other people gauge their weight by how their clothes fit. That doesn't work for me. 90% of my clothes are stretchy yoga clothes. So I don't notice I'm gaining weight until I'm REALLY straining the waistband of my lululemons.

Instead, here's how I monitor my weight: I keep an eye on my arms. That is the FIRST PLACE I put on weight. Trust me, it's not body dysmorphia speaking here--while I'm no Michelle Obama, I'm pretty proud of my arms. Even when my arms were blowing up like marshmallows toward the end of my Chicago visit, my sister rubbed my shoulder and was very impressed by the muscle under the fat. "You're solid all the way through!" she said. Hell yes! If there's one thing plank/caturunga/downward facing dog gives you, it's biceps, triceps, and delts of steel. Now, after two weeks plus on the Detox, you can actually SEE my steely biceps! and I like that.

Today I worked my ass off and actually didn't have time for snack.

Breakfast: two hardboiled eggs.
Lunch: leftover pork and cabbage.
Dinner: Lime skirt steak, avocado, lettuce wraps. Holy crap this was good. It was one of those situations where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The flavor was excellent, but I just can't manage the whole "wrapping with lettuce" thing. Invariably, the lettuce falls apart and the juices drip down my arm. This puts a real damper on me shoveling food into my face as rapidly as I'd like, so I've decided I'm just not doing it anymore. Instead I shall lay the ingredients over the lettuce like a salad and eat it like a lady. A lady with rippling, powerful arms.

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Monday, September 2, 2013

Day 15, Monday: In Which Our Heroine Actually Reads the Directions

I felt fantastic on this day.

Breakfast: Two hardboiled eggs. Shockeroo.
Lunch: remains of my Parkview Diner salad from the day before.
Dinner: pork chops with Diane's awesome cabbage dish. Can take the girl outta Poland but you can't take the Polish out of the girl. Other Eastern European foods I love: potatoes. Kielbasa. Mustard. Yum! This photo does not do the cabbage dish justice. It is cabbage, onion, and green apple cut up thin and sauteed in bacon fat.

Today I had a serious ruh-roh moment when I actually re-read the 21 Day Sugar Detox manual and discovered that I've been doing a ton of things wrong. Well, four things to be specific. I shall reveal them to you in ascending order of my shock.

1. Turns out sweet potatoes are not on the sugar detox. I had a sneaking suspicion about this, and embarrassingly my husband even checked in with me about it before we ate them. "Are you sure these are on the Detox?" I blew him off. "YES, I'm sure!" I had convinced myself they were on the "occasionally" list. They're not.

2. Turns out CASHEWS are not on the sugar detox. WTF? Are they a legume? Too much sugar? High glycemic index? This is a big blow to my snacking habits, because I am a big fan of cashews. This means that my cashew cheese eggplant rollatini is a big wash, Detox-wise.

3. Now this next revelation blew my hair back, I was so stunned: a half cup of rice IS allowed on the Detox!!! Occasionally. I am shocked by this. I do pretty well with white rice myself but nothing, I mean nothing shows me the danger of simple carbs like what happens when my husband eats white rice. I LITERALLY SEE HIM BLOW UP IN FRONT OF MY EYES. Like we start eating at 6:15 and at 6:20 I look at his face and he has another chin. Seriously--that stuff must be poison. I told Chris, against my better judgement, about the half cup of rice thing, and his eyes started sparkling and he asked me a bunch of questions about it in a pushy voice. "Really? Are you sure? How much? When did you find this out? How often can I have it? Can I have it with condiments? If I don't eat a half cup each day can I save up each day's allotment and have seven cups at once at the end of two weeks?" (Answers: Yes. Yes. Half cup occasionally. Today. Occasionally. Only if they are free of sugar. No.) I strongly advised him not to go down that road.

4. And finally, this sentence from the manual, in response to the question "Can I eat as much as I want of the 'Yes' foods?": "If you find yourself eating 1/4c of almond butter in a sitting, you may be eating too much of it."


I have been eating easily a THIRD to a HALF cup of almond butter every time I have my "apple and almond butter" snack, and you know, Gentle Reader, that I've been snarfing that up with the precision of a Dyson vacuum! AAAACK! This caused me great tsuris for about five minutes. Then I said to myself, "Self, you are feeling good and looking good with this diet, and following it pretty faithfully with the exception of the night at Nina's and the Sweet Potato Pancakes and the Cashew Cheese fiascos. Don't worry about this. Maybe eat a little less next time."

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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Day 14, Sunday: In Which I Reveal My Not-So-Revolutionary Food Management System

Breakfast: two hardboiled eggs. BO-ring.
Lunch: Fantastic salad at the Parkview Diner: greens, marinated red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, mozzerella, artichokes, onion, cabbage, chicken gyro.
Snack: the remaining half cup of milkshake.
Dinner: eggplant rollatini with cashew ricotta--amazeballs!

Regarding dinner: The cashew ricotta sounds gross, right? I substituted cashew ricotta for my usual mozzerella in this dish because I am trying to eat less cheese on this round of the Detox. I wasn't crazy about it, but Chris thought it was pretty good. More about this topic, and the unfortunate sweet potato pancakes, tomorrow.

Regarding lunch: I didn't notice the sun-dried tomatoes when I ordered the salad. I probably would have left them off if I had, because dried anything is a huge source of sugar. For example, the dried cranberries that we all love to put on salads, etc. are CHOCK full of sugar. You have to hunt for them. I shop at Trader Joe's a lot and their dried stuff is full of sugar.

I shop at Trader Joe's for economic reasons. I really don't like the store--the produce, though organic, is meh, and there's a very limited selection of organic meats. It has ended up being the least of all evils, so that's where I shop. In the summer, I prefer to shop at our local farmer's markets, but that's expensive too. I probably spend about $140-$180 a week on groceries at TJs. That's a lot for a two-person household. If I were shopping at Whole Foods, I would probably spend $225. What drives it up? Nuts. Meat. High-quality oils. I am happy to say that we generally eat everything I bring home, for one reason: WE DO MEAL PLANNING. (Well, one additional reason--we overeat!)

My sister and I agree that meal planning is the great untaught skill. Do they teach it in Home Ec? I don't know, I never took Home Ec and I don't even know if they still offer it in schools. My parents were of the opinion that you could learn what they were teaching in Home Ec at home. And indeed I did learn how to attach a button, mend a sock, cook dinner, wash dishes, clean a toilet, do laundry, hang a picture, and take care of plants and animals in my parents' house. God bless my parents! Our house had plenty of chaos but I am so grateful that I was taught how to do those fundamental tasks.

What I didn't learn was meal planning, even though I'm almost positive my parents were doing it. Why? Because I DO remember that we went to the grocery store about once a week for a week's worth of groceries, and we always had a hot, multi-component dinner at night. Putting out hot dinner for seven consecutive nights on one trip to the grocery store means that somebody thought ahead. Maybe you're a meal planning pro and have been doing it your whole life; I didn't figure out this fantastic key to managing your diet, and indeed your life as an adult, until I was probably 33. Before then, I would shop at whatever grocery store happened to be close. I'd go anywhere from two to seven times in a week, and only get enough food for one or two meals. We ate out A LOT, which is bad for your waistline and your pocketbook. There was never anything to eat in the house. What food we did have would often rot in the fridge, because I knew that I should be buying lots of vegetables at the grocery store but I never thought ahead about what I'd like to do with them.

Now I manage my food like this: I do all my shopping on Monday, generally. Before I go to the grocery store, Hubby and I sit down and write out the week's meals together. We consider what we want for breakfasts, snacks, and dinners. (Lunches are always a little laissez-faire around my house--we tend to have leftovers or snackish things--it's the weak spot in my system.) Then we put all the components on a list. We go and get it. Then we cook it up and eat it! Simple, right? Should be, but it took me a long time to get it down. It's really the only thing that makes this sugar detox possible, for me or for hubby.

Today I continued to feel kind of shitty. Is it candida die-off? Is it the aftereffect of the meat sweats? Regardless, one foot in front of the other.

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