Eating to Live/Living to Eat

This week’s newspaper column:

I have fallen off the wagon. Though I must admit, at best my perch was pretty precarious. I ate two toaster strudels this morning (yes, with the icing) for breakfast. I am saved somewhat by the fact that at least I had a glass of 1% milk with them—so I upped my Vitamin D. I have been a bit fastidious of late concerning my sugar intake, having given up my usual three teaspoons in my morning coffee. I no longer enjoy coffee and while I still partake of one in the morning (it is rumoured to ward off Alzheimer’s) it is no longer a warm and cozy sweet treat. I have tried it with just a splash of milk. With stevia. With sweetener. But nothing replaces sugar for taste.

Last September I gave up sugar in my coffee. Perhaps if I had been satisfied with two teaspoons I would not have been so adamant about giving it up. But to make coffee palatable to my somewhat unsophisticated taste buds, I need three, and that seems excessive even to me. And anyway I was a few pounds over my self-set limit. As a young woman I was considered “skinny” which in itself is not all that attractive, but I had come to delude myself that I was still a “thin” person. Until I got on the scales. They told a different story.

even a cup of coffee is not safe anymore

It was a picture my sister took of me on the dock of her cottage in Quebec that convinced me that I needed to shed a few pounds. I have a full length mirror—-but use it as an accent piece in my living room. It lives behind a green velvet slipper chair, which I tend not to move. So I guess I was not aware that I was, well to put it kindly, kind of dumpy looking.

I aspire to accepting my body for what it is, but a little tweaking (not insufferable twerking—although that could be counted as exercise I guess) was all I really needed to get down to a weight I am more comfortable with. And now that I have lost a little weight I find that I am no longer stumping down stairs on slightly chubby legs but descending them with a lighter step. I will never be the picture of elegance (except in my mind) but taking a bit of pressure off my knees was a good thing. And I fit into my jeans a little more easily now—the stuffed sausage look I hope a thing of the past.

I am not totally diligent in watching every mouthful I eat, and I tend to treat myself to sweets a bit more on weekends (at the suggestion of my sister who also follows this “diet”). In making the decision to eat the toaster strudels this morning I told myself that if the sugar content was over 12% (I was giving myself a lot of leeway here) I would put them back in the freezer. Much to my delight the sugar content was only (I know, I know) 9 percent in each 180 calorie patisserie. Bonus! And they have a little tiny bit of fibre, and hey—some iron. I just ignored the saturated fat. Sugar was also not one of the first three ingredients (okay it was the fifth) after glucose-fructose and before dextrose and corn syrup, which of course are all sugars – but darn it, those two little pastries were good.

Despite my fall from grace today, I am finding that eating better translates into feeling better. But feeling better does not include denying myself all of my old habits—I still partake but much more moderately, coming somewhat late to the philosophy of “everything in moderation”. I realize that my metabolism has now slowed down to a snail’s pace rather than that of the energizer bunny, and have to take that into account when I eat.

I would like to adhere to the “eating to live” rather than the “living to eat” school of thought, but I am going to content myself with taking a few courses from each of their curriculums. I enjoy eating. I enjoy reading about food. I enjoy watching the Food Channel. I sometimes enjoy cooking (something I would enjoy a lot more if there were no clean-up). Food is one of the glorious things that this life has to offer—but a little restraint, a little portion control, and no sugar in my coffee are all things I find pretty easy to follow (most of the time).

I do drink more tea now. I do not need sugar or milk to make it more palatable. But I find I enjoy it much more in a social setting. Anyone want to join me for tea?

Published in: on March 2, 2015 at 1:00 pm  Comments (30)