For those who are used to my regular updates, sorry! I’ve had a ton of writing work lately, which pays the bills, and is satisfying. I’ve also been focused on other things… In fact, it seems everyone I know is focused on this particular thing lately: health.
Two of my friends are on a serious cleansing program. When I went sailing with one of these friends on Saturday, he told me ahead of time: no dairy, meat or carbs. I made a little portable salad bar. I dry-roasted nuts and boiled eggs. I made a dressing with only a little canola oil but mostly grapefruit juice and fish sauce and spices. I let some garbanzo beans sit in soy sauce for a while. “Nope,” he said when I got there, “no beans, no eggs – at least not the yolks, no sugars, no soy, no nuts.” Even the dried cranberries were nixed.
I’ve been doing what I call my ab-alicious workout for almost three weeks now, chipping away at the weight I gained while cooking over the holidays, and I’ve been eating less, and trying to reduce my alcohol intake… but no beans, no eggs, no sugars, no soy, no dried cranberries?
“I think your diet would turn me into one resentful human being,” I told him.
“Yeah,” he said, “but only for a month.”
On a recent evening out my date told me he was on the Paleo diet (no bread, nothing that’s post agricultural development). “Geez,” I asked him, “what’s everyone got against bread these days?” If you’ve ever been into bread, if you’ve ever made it, it’s hard not to be in awe of the evolution. Imagine how much trial and error it must have taken to go from grain to wafer, wafer to flatbread, flatbread to risen loaf… Oh, how that first person who put a dab of butter on a slice of hot bread must have felt!
Two other friends of mine are going vegetarian. Which I get. I did it for nine years (with allowances for bacon at brunch). Especially nowadays, with the curtain drawn back on the evils of mass meat production, eating less meat or only meat from a local butcher or farmer is a way of putting your money where your mouth is. Although on a recent visit from a vegetarian friend of mine we ate at a few vegetarian restaurants and they were decent (the photo above is from an Indian place near me called The Samosa House), when the weekend was up, I can’t remember ever craving meat so badly.
A diet by any other name
I support every one of these friends in their efforts, just as I hope they would encourage me to continue my ab workout. (I’m already seeing results thanks to Jillian.) But I can’t shake the feeling that we’re all trying pretty damn hard to compensate for something.
My other friend who’s cleansing said, “It’s about control. I’m not in control of a lot of the aspects of my life, but this – my health, my diet – I can control.” She said it was giving her some sense of stability and strength. I get that, too. Actually, isn’t that why people become anorexic?
Today, while putting together an article for a client on how maintaining your health and beauty can increase your level of happiness, I found this information which suggests that foods can make us happy, but in two ways. There are foods that contain certain fatty acids or serotonin boosters which can therefore increase our happiness. Then there are comfort foods which are usually bad for our health but which do give us some degree of satisfaction. Ah, my beloved bread and butter. I finally found a way to justify your nasty carb count.
Did you also read this recent update on obesity? One in three American adults is obese. The crazy thing is, only one of my friends out of the six who are currently on the diet train is overweight. So what are the rest of us doing? Maybe it’s not really the perfect abs we’re after or the lower body fat index ratio thingy. Maybe what we’re looking for is that more elusive state we call happiness.