Well, the time has come around (actually, come and gone) when a new post is due, and I have been busy doing other things and not getting anything much read to post on. Oh, I read three tankas (an Eastern poetic form), but I don’t think it’s a case of “there’s glory for you,” as another character said to Alice about the matter of interpretation, and so I desisted from interpreting a foreign poetical form due to my lack of experience with it. That needs some explaining, I see. In Through the Looking Glass, Alice is conversing with Humpty Dumpty, and in re of their discussion, he says, “There’s glory for you.” “‘But “glory” doesn’t mean “a nice knockdown argument,”‘ Alice objected. ‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean–neither more nor less.’ ‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’ ‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master–that’s all.'” Now, since it would be quite immodest of me to pretend to be master of a very ancient poetical form and sets of symbols in a tradition quite different from my own (not that I won’t ever take a stab at things that way, but the tanka form is not like the haiku, which I might be able to be a pretender about), I decided this week to use my time doing some other kind of creating than the critical. Since I’m on a new diet which is quite successful because it is not a diet but a lifestyle change, a permanent thing, very delicious and fulfilling, I’ve been cooking and storing food and cooking again, and sharing my treats with my family members. But I’ve also lost 9 pounds in 2 weeks’ time, and though most diet plans suggest that slow and steady wins the race, this diet plan is known to be safe for faster weight loss because it’s just plain good sense and safe all around.
I don’t know if those of you who watch PBS have ever caught Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s programs on the tube, but that is where I first encountered this diet, during one of their periodic and typical fundraisers, where special programs are aired that break occasionally for a fundraiser message. This is the very type of program which generally speaking most annoys me, and I hate self-improvement speakers and diet plan managers. But there was something compelling about this guy. He seems like just an ordinary guy, whom I was ready to dismiss as a bit of a health-food nut until I just somehow got hooked, I can’t explain how. Of course, I like veggies and most of the foods he was pushing, beans, whole grains, but I like a lot of stuff that’s not that good for me too, so I was at first inclined to be skeptical when he said I wouldn’t miss those foods after a week or so. For me, it was even faster than that, despite the fact that I’d had potato chips in my mouth the night before: I had no detox period from “toxic” foods, and took to the diet right away. And the rest is history.
Of course, everybody has something that’s particularly hard for them to give up, and following a largely vegan diet with occasional “meat as a condiment only” supplements and my daily yoghurt-and-fruit smoothie (and he recommends giving up as much dairy as possible too) sounds grim. But I actually enjoy it. And there’s no denying that it works. I decided at the beginning rather than buying the very expensive fundraiser kit of several CD’s or DVD’s and a couple of cooking guides and books to just pick the two books I wanted most from the admittedly copious list of his publications, and order them cheaper from Amazon.com. So, after some studying, I chose “The End of Dieting,” his basic guide to the plan complete with a daily schedule and some recipes, and “The Eat to Live Cookbook,” and had them in the mail the next week.
I know this all sounds crazy, but it’s been a real pleasure to eat food again, because not only is it a general health plan for life (i.e., there are many menus not just for people dieting), but I can eat it without feeling guilty, as much as I want until I’m full. I’ve cooked this two weeks from it and put some food in the freezer, such as a veggie-bean-and-mushroom stew, a baba ghanouj-cum-hummus (eggplant hummus, basically), a mushroom-walnut-Swiss-chard-onion-etc. burger, a bean-turkey-spinach burger, a creamy almond vinaigrette dressing; I’ve also indulged almost every evening in one of two fairly lo-penalty desserts, a fudgy black-bean-and-date brownie (the icing is made partially with avocado–I know, sounds gross, but tastes delicious) or a banana walnut soft ice cream dessert you can make in the blender.
Of course, I’m getting 80 minutes a day of exercise most days too, but I haven’t started strength training yet, and that 80 minutes consists mainly of stretching and walking at a moderate pace inside a carpeted hallway (many people in our condo walk inside to avoid the weather and bad sidewalk conditions outside, or for other reasons of their own). Life is good. I’ve even been able to supplement my food plan (it’s hardly fair to call it “diet plan”) with recipes from some of my older vegetarian cookbooks, making sensible substitutions where necessary. So far, I’ve got a recipe for a chunky dill borscht (we had it last night and it was quite delicious), an eggplant-and-onion-and-red pepper-and tomato sauce dish with whole wheat pasta or brown rice, a whole wheat pita bread, and a braised celery with walnut dish (this last is actually from FreeAmericanRecipes.com). [The borscht and the pita recipes come from Julie Jordan’s “Wings of Life,” a cookbook from Cabbagetown Café in Ithaca, NY].
One thing that of course has to be considered is the cost of eating this way, but it’s not as bad as you might think, though things may get a little tighter as the cold weather sets in. We haven’t regularly bought processed foods much for quite some time already, and were already eating mostly poultry and fish and eschewing much red meats or salted ones. The grocery costs have skyrocketed almost everywhere in the U. S. and probably elsewhere too in the last year, with several rises having happened almost in a row, but many grocery chains are now trying to follow Market Basket’s exemplary lead and pay more attention to the customer’s needs and costs, so we’ll see what happens. It’s always possible, once you get the hang of things, to figure out which ingredients you can’t do without and which recipes you need to substitute on because of cost of ingredients; this allows you to take advantage of store sales that you may not know about when you leave home. You can be inventive, and make up your own recipes, too, once you know the very-easy-to-follow rules.
Dr. Fuhrman and his colleagues of course discourage cheating, but they allow a lot of leeway for experimentation, and allow for occasional backsliding, simply warning that you can’t let it become a habit once it has happened, but need instead to start back in your fairly easily acquired good habits. I’m so happy on this plan, and it’s quite true as far as the claims that are made for it (clearer thinking, better sleeping, lighter feeling, better body, etc.). At other times, even on a Weight Watcher’s diet for a while, I had convinced myself–even though I’ve always liked vegetables–that people who claimed they could entirely or mostly go without meat had probably starved themselves so silly that they were digesting their brain tissue in desperation. But now I find that an ice cream scoop size serving of salmon salad (made with only 1 tablespoon light mayonnaise for the whole batch, technically a “cheat,” since regular vegetable and olive oils are supposed to be used only rarely) is enough to keep me happy, and I’ve not eaten chicken for quite some time. I usually have the salmon on my daily vegetable salad at lunch, and whatever fresh vegetables and even some fruits (like apples) I have which can be eaten raw go in this as well, along with some cooked beans.
So, when I say that I’ve been creating this week since I last posted, I have: it’s just been creating in the kitchen instead of on the page. And now that I’ve thoroughly bored and exasperated you with my fervor and enthusiasm for something you yourself might not especially like (though in my zealot’s glee I can’t imagine that possibility particularly well), I’ve told all. For now, anyway–see you in a few days, I hope with another literary post.