Sorry to have been absent lately. I've been going back and forth as to whether I wanted to keep this blog going or not.
I've finally decided, at least for now, the answer is "not." I've been floundering as to what this blog should actually be about. While still a proponent of moderate-to-low-carb living, I'm actually doing Weight Watchers (gasp! horror!)because it allows/forces me to be accountable each week for what I eat and gives me a lot of freedom to just live.
So, bye for now. In the meantime, I invite you to join me at my books blog, As the Bookworm Turns, where I'm still working out a style but expect to find my own sarcastic voice before long.
I'm back from Mardi Gras, not too much worse for wear, and think I kept the junkfood in check. There was a fabulous repast of turtle soup, beef tournedos and -- so, sue me -- bread pudding souffle with whiskey sauce, all from Commander's Palace on Lundi Gras.
Anyhoo, I'm recuperating and trying to get back in the groove at work. In the meantime, here are some Mardi Gras 2008 memories...
I'm off early tomorrow for Mardi Gras and won't be back online till next Thursday, so I'm having "Ruminations Friday" a little early this week. The best and worst from my bookmarks....
* Forget the tax rebate checks the feds are promising us. The British government has the right idea. Reward people for losing weight by paying them. "Money for Weight" was one of a number of ideas put forth, along with such boring and sensible things as locating fast-food restaurants farther from schools. But the school idea is aimed at kids; the money is aimed at overweight adults. Let's see, at $1 per pound, I could make....
* Ever wonder how cows feel about low carb? Just ask Runaway Steer, a big beefy guy who escaped from a slaughterhouse in Cincinnati. I was having fun thinking about this, imagining Big Beef on the rampage through urban Ohio, when I read that this is a repeat incident--a steer named Little Red escaped in the Cincinnati area last year. Now I'm wondering what it is with Ohio and cows...
* As if hauling my own big butt around isn't enough, now I can "exercise" throughout the day by wearing myPower Diet Shoes. These are athletic shoes with weights in the insole, so you lug around a few extra pounds as you shop for groceries or, as the photo on the website shows, as you jog through the sand on an isolated beach. And don't we all do that?
* Leave it to the spoilsport Aussies to tell us that, after all, chocolate isn't good for us. Now that they're slipping dark chocolate into everything under the sun, this study from the University of Western Australia says that consuming cocoa can lead to bone weakening in women due to the oxalate in the cocoa that leeches calcium. I say, just put extra calcium in the chocolate and bring it on.
* Finally, someone has come up with a way to punish Chinese industry for selling us all those unsafe pet foods and kids' toys. According to this Reuters story, Dunkin Donuts is moving into the Chinese market by opening its first store in Shanghai. Yep, that'll show 'em--send them our trans fats and sugar.
* Some aroma researchers have isolated a handful of smells that they claim stimulate male sexual response. I tried to imagine how these results were tested and verified, but decided it was really better that I didn't know. So, ladies, light your lavender candles and bake some pumpkin pie. Here are the aromas and the percentage of "increased penile blood flow" (and how many times do you get to type that into a food blog?):
Odor or odor combination....Average increase in penile blood flow
Lavender and pumpkin pie...40% average increase
Doughnut & black licorice...31.5%
Pumpkin pie & doughnut....20%
Lavender & doughnut...18%
Black licorice and cola...13%
Doughnut & cola...12.5%
Lily of the valley...11%
At first, I thought this was going to be an entertaining read, and for a while it was. The foodie site, "Divine Caroline," set out to expose the Top Ten Most Ridiculous Diets."
And what are they? In reverse order, "best" to "worst," a la David Letterman, here they are:
10) Dr. Siegal's Cookie Diet. Now, if you work for Dr. Siegal, don't send me tons of "informative" e-mails. I'm not saying it's the 10th worst diet ever. Talk to the folks at the above-referenced website. I've been down this road with you before. I haven't tried your cookies, I don't intend to try your cookies. Anyway, you eat these cookies, which the Divine folks call "bricks of fiber-coated oats sweetened with prunes," and you lose weight. Uh-huh.
9) The Subway Diet. Eat two meals a day at Subway and, like the guy Jared on the TV commercials, you can lose weight. My only real problem with this one is the cost. Who can afford to eat twice a day at Subway? Not me.
8) The Cereal Diet. Eat two bowls of (fill in your favorite cereal here) plus a healthy dinner and you can lose six pounds in two weeks. Let's not even talk about the sugar in Special K. Let's just say that I, the sugar junkie who must be kept away from her fix, cannot be around cold cereal because I will eat it right out of the box.
7) The Cabbage Soup Diet. Never tried this one, but I gather you eat lots of cabbage. I like cabbage. I don't think I like cabbage twice a day for a long period of time, however.
6) Slim Fast. The Senior Adult in my household is drinking Slim Fast for lunch. Of course she has a snack at 10 a.m. and another at 3 p.m. And have you seen the amount of sugar in those babies? Yes, there's a low-carb version. They taste pretty crappy.
5)The Blood Type Diet. Yep, I always thought this one was pretty flaky, too. O's eat meat, A's eat veggies, B's eat dairy, and A/B's eat everything. Of course I have no idea what my blood type is, so I'm saying A/B.
4) The Russian Air Force Diet, supposedly developed in Russia as a quick trim-down for their recruits. Coffee for breakfast, two eggs and a tomato for lunch, a thin slice of meat and a salad for dinner. What's that, about 500 calories a day? Wonder if Kimmer was ever in the Russian Air Force?
3) The Hot Dog Diet. You eat hot dogs a couple of times a day, plus a cup of ice cream and a tablespoon of peanut butter. Ummmm...sounds nutritious...
2) Apple Cider Vinegar Diet. The one J-Lo (or somebody like that) swears by. Guzzle a few teaspoons of vinegar before your meal to cut your appetite. Or eat away your esophagus, which would also be an effective diet aid.
1) The Writing Diet. Hoo-boy here's a touchy-feely one. Since we do so much emotional eating, we should purge those emotions on the page. Like in a blog. Which I can write while eating hot dogs, ice cream and peanut butter.
And (drumroll) the "number-one most ridiculous diet"....yep, you knew this was coming. According to the Divine Caroline folks, it's the Atkins Diet, of which I feel protective even though I'm not on it right now. The author apparently tried it for a whole week and...surprise!...she felt like crap. Never heard of the carb flu, I guess. She sums it up thus: "The Atkins diet isn't a healthful lifestyle change, it's a limiting diet that requires you to eat a lot of not so healthy foods." What an absolute, mind-numbling idiot.
I'll just go off and have my Atkins-friendly chicken and vegetables now.
What's the grossest junkfood you've ever eaten? Ever tried the infamous Krispy Kreme burgers that were all the rage a couple of years ago--a big honkin' hamburger patty between two Krispy Kremes? Or how about the fried Snickers bar?
Of course, those were funky fair food offerings so you can forgive them just a little.
But what do you say to Frito Lay, who has come up with this new concoction for its Japanese market?
Yes, in case you can't read the Japanese script, it's Strawberry Chocolate Cheetos, just in time for Valentine's Day. It's a basic Cheeto, except instead of being drowned in messy orange cheese powder it's dunked in white-chocolate strawberry powder.
But if there's no "chee" are they still "chee-tos?"
I called my doctor in New Orleans by the accurate-but-unflattering name of "M.D. Lite." She was my post-Katrina doctor, since my real doctor never returned to New Orleans after the storm, preferring, for some reason, the relatively safe confines of her evacuation site, Texas. So, floundering in the early months after the storm and needing a doctor, I pretty much closed my eyes and pointed to a name. Thus began my two years with M.D. Lite.
She was nice enough, didn't treat me like an overweight fool without the sense to put down the sugar jar, and seemed competent to treat my (thankfully minor) ailments, which were generally limited to the flu and a ripped tendon in my foot (which to be fair she didn't recognize but at least had the sense to send me to a savvy physical therapist who recognized the problem).
So now here I am in the wilds of east Alabama, and I have no nickname yet for my new doctor because, quite frankly, I have yet to see her from the front. How does that work, you might ask?
Well, first, early last October, as my blood pressure meds were running low, I called to make an appointment, armed with my spiffy new Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance card that will allow me to see most anyone. Problem: only two doctors in the county were accepting new patients. So, I make an appointment with Dr. X on the first available date: January 14. Sheesh! More than three months' waiting time. Hope I don't get sick, I thought.
Around Thanksgiving, Dr. X sent me a card saying she couldn't see me after all on Jan. 14--I'd have to come in on Feb. 5. By then I'd already been off my BP meds almost a month. So I called to whine and complain and beg, and her nurse relented and gave me a Jan. 23 appointment.
Here comes Jan. 23, and I show up for my appointment, only to be told there was no record of me having an appointment and the first time Dr. X could possible see me is Feb. 22.
I ask for the other doctor that was accepting new patients in October. Now, he's not taking anyone new.
I head for the Urgent Care clinic to get some prescriptions since I'm massively pissed off, and a stroke in my unmedicated high blood pressure state must surely be imminent. (BP: 110/70. Maybe I don't even need those meds.)
Before I left, though, I spotted the elusive Dr. X, all neat and trim and tidy in her little gray pants and white doctor coat, with her back to me, explaining to the nurse who denied making the appointment for me that she could not possibly work in a new patient.
So, I think I do have a new name for her after all: The Horse's Backside.
So, we're headed toward Mardi Gras--Fat Tuesday. It is preceded by Lundi Gras--Fat Monday. And even though I no longer live in New Orleans, I'm getting ready to head back down with friends for the festivities, from Feb. 1 through Feb. 5. So no blogging those days--there are beads with my name on them headed my way.
So, what's involved in Mardi Gras besides bead catching and parade watching? I didn't get it for a long time, but it's people watching and, being as it IS New Orleans, after all, eating.
Here's the routine. Hours before parade time, you head with your camping or festival chair out to the neutral ground (which the rest of the world knows as a median), where you strive to be closest to the street. You park your butt in your chair alongside your pals, and in a spot convenient to all you place your cooler. If you're a REAL man or woman, you rope in your seating area with police tape, set up your grill, put up your folding table full of side dishes and set your cooler of beer or whatever underneath, and plan to stay in the area until the cows come home or the parades end for the day, whichever comes first.
We're planning a middle range of activities--we're taking out the chairs and snacks, but no grill or police tape.
Which is all a long way of thinking about King Cake, the traditional New Orleans pastry covered with sugar dyed in the Mardi Gras colors of green, purple and gold. Sometimes it also has icing and often is filled with cream cheese or some sticky sweet fruit filling. And if there's anything worse for you than sugar, I'd imagine it's sugar coated in purple vegetable dye.
I haven't seen a King Cake since last year. Usually by this time, my office in New Orleans would have shared at least a dozen. If you look back at my NOLA blog about this time last year I was bemoaning the sea of King Cake Carbs floating around the office on a daily basis.
Now I look in my new office area, and I see a carton of yogurt and a bottle of Kraft Light Three Cheese Ranch salad dressing. Sigh. It ain't the same, but no doubt it's healthier.
Sigh. Here's the new modified government-issued Food Pyramid for senior adults, ages 70 and older.
No, I'm not there yet, though I'm barreling toward that age at an alarming rate.
But I do have a senior adult living with me, and my Resident Senior already has a fixed view of nutrition based on a combination of conflicting scientific reports over the years.
There's good news and bad news with this new food pyramid. The good news is that they've done it at all--recognizing that what's good for a hyperactive 20-year-old (theoretically)doesn't meet the needs of an octagenarian. Yes, before you even go there, I fully realize the food pyramids are so warped for any age that they're virtually useless. And that's the bad news.
So what changes have been made for folks like my Resident Senior? Mostly, more dairy. Unfortunately, the more dairy came at the expense of protein rather than breads and grains, which seem to have grown even larger. So still 9 servings a day in this category (the foods they show are whole grain bread, waffles, something that looks like a cow patty but is probably a rice cake, Frenc bread, whole grain cereal, oatmeal, pasta, rice and crackers).
* From the "what on earth will they think of next" files...The Tapeworm Diet, which advocates that, although people have an inexplicable aversion to worms, a nice tapeworm can be a lovely means of weight loss. The diet's proponents, who will take your donations to help support their efforts in protesting the USA's unfair decision to prohibit the sale or transport of tapeworms into the country, then proceed to tell you how to obtain one from the cyst from a cow or pig. Note to self: don't even think about it.
* From the "I'd snore if I could only get to sleep" files...More evidence that lack of sleep plays havoc with weight and health. A Dec. 31 study showed that even three consecutive nights without deep sleep has the same negative effects on the body's insulin-management capabilities as gaining 20-30 pounds. I'm a bonafide insomniac. I can't remember the last time I actually slept for more than four or five hours. And I don't know what to do about it. So there.
* This poor guy in Houma, La., near my old New Orleans stomping grounds, was recently banned by a local Chinese all-you-can-eat buffet because, at 6-3 and 265 pounds, the tiny little owners thought he might eat too much of their food. Well, okay, apparently he had been there before and had eaten quite a lot. Still, if you advertise it, stand by it.
* From the "scare the hell out of you" files, this article about a Canadian woman who struggled with weight her whole life, dieted like mad to lose enough weight for weight-loss surgery, and then died four months later. For the first time, I have insurance that would pay for this kind of surgery, but frankly it scares the heck out of me.