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The D-Word

My doctor didn’t actually say the D-word. She actually didn’t say anything about weight at all until I mentioned that, due to a health scare last week, I felt like I was suddenly under examination (literal and figurative) related to every aspect of my being, from blood pressure to blood sugar. My blood pressure is already too high (which I have mistakenly attributed to my son), I am genetically and historically at risk for diabetes, and when the cholesterol numbers roll in, I’m sure I will be getting a call from the American Heart Association Emergency Prevention Patrol who will appear at my door with a red plastic case full of Promise spread and salmon.

According to my doctor, it would be good preventative medicine if I dropped about 10% of my body weight, which is a number somewhere between 13 and 18.  (I don’t have to tell you all everything). She added, kindly,  that she probably wouldn’t have brought it up because she knows I am phobic about discussions of weight but that since I had raised the issue, that would be her recommendation for resolving my worries about hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.

I told her that I would willingly walk 10 miles a day if it meant I could continue to cook and eat as I liked. I know (really) that people cook and eat healthy food that tastes good all the time. I actually like healthy food. As I have mentioned in the past, though, I am cooking for two other people who are not me. One of them is a growing, football-playing kid who could probably eat both of our dogs and all three cats after a long practice, and the other is my husband who becomes quite forlorn and grumpy in the presence of petite, vegetarian, butter-less or salt-less cuisine. Then there’s the whole ban on fish, tofu, ground turkey, whole wheat pasta, and many other things that we should all be eating instead of what we actually eat.

The problem with the just-walk-a-lot plan is that I just don’t have time to walk 10 miles a day. (By my calculations, that would occupy 2.5 hours a day, not including the shower afterwards). I have time to walk/jog about 2, which I’ve been doing for a while, but according to my doctor, its not enough unless I also make a change in what I eat. I explained that I loved to prepare all manner of authentic, delicious, un-healthified dishes. I also explained what I was up against in terms of The Health Resistance at home. She suggested that I eat smaller portions of the rich parts of dinner, and fill the rest of my plate with fruits and/or vegetables. I can do that.

That being said, I am motivated by this situation to be more aware of what I am cooking and eating, and to make at least one or two meals a week that are really healthy. I will have to do it without alarming the boys, and that means I will need really good, flavorful recipes that will satisfy them without quite so much butterfat and cheese.  I am not without resources – I love “Cooking Light,” and I have just received another beautiful cookbook from my father-in-law called Isabel’s Cantina which is full of healthy Latin-Asian fusion recipes. I am generally of the opinion that I’d rather eat an ounce of good stuff than a pound of “diet” anything, and I will seek out recipes that make great use of that ounce of richness rather than giving us  pound of bland and not-quite-good-enough. I find that the latter experience tends to lead directly to late-evening pantry raids and the consumption of far more calories than one would have consumed by eating a really pleasing meal in the first place. That’s why French Women Don’t Get Fat, you know.

I blossomed in my cooking this past summer; it was my “summer of love” in terms of what I could do in the kitchen. I can make people swoon with a little red curry paste or fresh basil, and I know what a joy it is to work with fresh, local ingredients. I don’t have to give that up and cook a steady diet of baked chicken, brown rice and steamed broccoli. I am not a movie star, and I do not have to be a size 2. I actually do not have to do any of this at all; I can choose to do nothing at all, “live for today,” and blaze out of this world in a trail of butter and Brie.

Except that I have a little boy that I love, and I want to see his great grandchildren.

So: if you have recipes, resources, or ideas about healthy cooking that appeals to burly, meat-eating men and picky kids, please pass it on. Also, please don’t be concerned that this blog will be turning into a daily recitation of my diet and exercise experiences. Aside from the challenge of preparing healthy meals that are delicious, I will not be “sharing.” Frankly, aside from the practical necessity of “getting it done,” I am not all that interested in the details of what I eat for breakfast or how far I walk. There are many, many other blogs out there that address those issues in minute detail.

As for me and my blog, we will still be giving you recipes for cookies, cakes, brownies, pastas, full-fat cheeses and Great Hunks o’ Meat. And the occasional Quinoa with roasted vegetables.

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About imagineannie

I am a 40-something Midwestern wife, mother and lawyer with a passion for cooking, reading about food, eating food...you get the picture.

8 responses »

  1. ok girlfriend. now you’re speaking my language. i so so so feel your pain, frustration, etc… like why can other people eat what they like and not have to deal with this crapola? so when i get back from nyc i am truly truly on the wagon. time to rope it in before the holidays hit… now get out and walk/jog whateva it takes. maybe do it less time but go faster. we gotta burn that fat so that we can eat some…

    Reply
  2. I thought you might “get” this – I do read your “Frets.” Any suggestions about a good way to cook spinach healthy to fill the part of my plate that is not filled by my tiny allotment of macaroni & cheese? (Planned pre-health scare). I’m thinking of sauteeing it in some olive oil with garlic, but I want it spicy. Do I want onions? red pepper flakes? Real jalapenos?

    Maybe I’ll think about spinach whilst I am burning calories….

    Reply
  3. This is exactly where I was this summer before this BC thing happened. My plan was to get the family back to school, then overhaul our eating habits to only REAL food. I just know it will make me slim and trim….right? It’s gotta work….it has to….right? I love to cook good food too much. And I love real whole ingredients: I want the full fat everything. I’m with you, I’d rather eat a little real food than a plateful of low fat, low salt, low taste yuck.

    I have to say that chemo is a good weight loss method but I don’t recommend it! It has almost destroyed my sweet tooth, which isn’t really a bad thing I guess, and the only thing I really want to eat is chicken. I’m looking forward to getting my taste buds back.

    Reply
  4. Vicky, I think this is one of those “keep on quitting” things. I’ve done it before, only I couldn’t/didn’t cook as well as I do now; my hope is that I have the skill and imagination to create food that is healthier but still tastes really good to everybody.

    I would prefer that you have a method other than chemo for weight loss. I wish you all the candy, cake and ice cream you want the day you crave it again. The next day you can eat whole grains, fresh produce and low fat dairy, but you’ve definitely earned a sugar binge when you feel like having one again.

    Reply
  5. Have you taken a look at any of the “Moosewood” cookbooks? They are a veritable feast of healthier and meatless… but still really great recipes!

    Reply
  6. Arolyn,

    I personally love the Moosewood books – they were among my first cookbooks along with Laurel’s Kitchen. I don’t know where mine are any more, but I know they have them at the local library, Some of the dishes are too “Birkenstock” for my husband, but there are lots of great soups and spicy things he would happily eat. Just no tofu, brown rice, couscous, hummus, sprouts, or natural peanut butter. Sigh.

    Reply
  7. I feel for you too.

    It has been 12 years ago now, but when my ex husband and I parted ways I wore a size 16. I still struggle with weight but for over 11 years a size 8 is my “big” size.

    My husband won’t eat any of the things your husband won’t. But, he does like roast chicken and we grill out a lot. I do keep portions small. But, I make and eat pies and dessets fairly often and my husband brings home donuts and things. Going with the French Girls Don’t Get Far theory, I indulge in the homemade stuff (not the donuts…I don’t like them that much. But will eat them if I see them) and THEN I tell my husband to hide THOSE foods from me and to eat them in secret.

    Seriously.

    I have NO willpower.

    Reply
  8. I’m trying. The willpower issue is a big one (no pun intended). When I was single, I just didn’t prepare certain things, or have them in the house. I had good things to eat, but nothing snack-y aside from fruit and veggies and Cheerios. If I was really hungry, I had to decide if was hungry enough to prepare “real” food,” and if I was, then chances were that I was actually hungry enough to be eating. Now I live in a world of perpetual cookie baking (church, school, family gatherings) and in-house snacks.

    I don’t like donuts either, except for the old fashioned cake type, so I am safe from the fluffy glazed puffs that show up here occasionally. The grill is also our friend – a piece of lean, marinated grilled meat and some salad and a cooked veg or fruit is yummy and healthy.

    I am worried about the upcoming days of too-cold-for-the-grill and no vegetable choices except grocery store yuck and root vegetables (which tend to have an affinity for butter). I guess that will be my next big challenge as a cook. I will try to have a great attitude about it and learn to make healthy, tasty meals using produce with less flavor BUT not using more butter, salt or cheese. I can do this…right?

    Reply

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