Archive for the ‘What I'm Not Eating’ Category

The ice cream in Rye that I’m not eating

March 17, 2011

Am I ready to do this again? Maybe. If I wasn’t ready, I wouldn’t be sending the picture, right?

I fell off the wagon around the holidays because it was the holidays, and because of emotional pain over a dead friendship. Then, at the end of January, right when it felt like I was getting back on track, I slashed my knee open on a broken television screen.

Two days in a hospital and two weeks in a leg brace had me not just off the wagon, but buried in the lowest rut. Since the brace came off I’ve been in physical therapy, which is going well. But it’s going to be a while before the leg is back to normal.

In the meantime… it’s high time I stopped feeling sorry for myself and got back on the path. So. That’s one ice cream cone not eaten. More to come.

The Hershey’s Kisses I didn’t eat at the Jay House

January 12, 2011
One of the several inviting containers of Hershey's Kisses at the Jay House

One of the several inviting containers of Hershey's Kisses at the Jay House

Whew. That was a tough one.

About a month ago I went to the Jay Heritage Center in Rye for the first time. I met John, who does maintenance at the site, and we had a lovely conversation about history. He offered to give me a tour, and I’d arranged to take him up on that offer today.

John started giving me his tour, and then some other folks showed up. It turns out that they were from France, and were doing some historical sightseeing before they headed back. We all followed along as John told us about the sleuthing that had gone into the reconstruction of the building. Unfortunately I had two distractions.

My first problem was sleepiness. I was yawning and fidgeting nearly nonstop, and since the context brought the late eighteenth century to mind, I couldn’t help worrying that, at any given moment, I was probably violating at least one of George Washington’s Rules of Civility. I was able to mitigate the sleepiness by drinking some of the tea in the thermos I’d brought with me. But this probably just exacerbated the main problem.

On shelves throughout the house sat the second problem: Hershey’s Kisses. Hershey’s Kisses wrapped with festive colors, there for the taking.

See, free food sort of breaks my brain. I find it difficult to explain, but there it is: when there’s food just there for the taking, it triggers an obsessiveness in me that makes the eating of the food seem nearly imperative.

So I spent a lot of time distractedly glancing over at the Hershey’s Kisses and vacillating between thinking about taking a handful, and resolving not to. The outcome was very close; I probably would have caved if I hadn’t talked myself down: I kept telling myself that I was not missing out on some great cost-saving opportunity, because if I wanted some Hershey’s Kisses I could just go to CVS and spend a couple of bucks on a bag. Since I knew that I’d had no thought in my head of buying any Kisses at the moment before I saw the free ones, the compulsion that erupted within me was clearly irrational.

So I made it out of there without eating a single Hershey’s Kiss. I feel good about that. And when I consider how good those Hamantashen at Zaro’s in Grand Central looked last night, and that I didn’t buy any, I feel even better. I think I’m almost fully recovered from the holiday crazies.

Stop & Shop & Hyperventilate

January 3, 2011

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I went to Stop & Shop to get milk and carrots. I’m not particularly fond of carrots, but they’re handy for keeping my mouth and belly occupied. After grabbing a bag I walked around the produce section to see if there was anything else that caught my eye. There was.

I saw the sweet potatoes and realized that I hadn’t baked one in a while. That made me think of acorn squash, which I then found in the bin beyond. Please don’t make the mistake of treating either one as a get-out-of-jail-free card; there’s a reason why they’re so tasty, even unbuttered. Always look up the nutritional values of your food. If you do that for either of these, you’ll probably decide, as I did, to make your standard serving much smaller than you first envisioned.

I swung by the far corner of the store to pick up a gallon of 1% milk. Then I did the thing that, to most of you reading this, is no doubt indistinguishable from masochism: I hung out in the bakery.

The bakery at Stop & Shop defies all my expectations. Usually baked goods from grocery stores are tasteless, textureless, or so overloaded with sugar that the cloying sweetness blots out whatever other flavors may be present. But somehow, this store is different. Their bagels are very good, and that’s coming from a bagel snob. Their muffins are good. I honestly haven’t tried much else, because I’m utterly addicted to their magnificent oatmeal raisin cookies. For god’s sake, I don’t even particularly care for oatmeal raisin cookies!

So, on to the masochism. Or rather, allow me an attempt to show you the fine distinction between my method and masochism. Let me take you on a tour of the Stop & Shop bakery with my brain as a guide. Maybe once I’m done, you’ll see why, for me, the only way to leave behind my maniacal cravings is to wade right through them and come out the other side.

First, take a look at the plastic bins covering the shelves facing the bakery, at the end of the dairy aisle. Some of those bins are filled with sugar cookies, some with chocolate chip, some with peanut butter, and some with my favorite: oatmeal raisin.

I can look through the transparent plastic and judge the texture of those cookies. On some days they’re slightly more browned than at other times. The variation is part of the appeal. If they’re darker, I can imagine their crispness as my teeth crunch through them. I prefer them to be a bit lighter; in that case, I know how each one would sag slightly as I raised it to my mouth. I can feel my teeth shear through the relatively crisp outer layer and into the softer, not-quite-gooey insides. I can feel the pleasant, rasping texture as I chew. I can taste the brown sugar and raisins and oatmeal, and the contrast between each bite of cookie and each sip of the sweet black tea I’d drink along with the cookies.

Now, look at the piles of boxed items on the table. Start with the muffins. There’s a box with one butter rum and one lemon poppy seed, among others. Another has two carrot cake and one cranberry. The butter rum is my favorite: I can see the way it tears apart in my hand, feel the crisp crust and slightly spongy interior, taste the melding of the sweet and buttery aspects. I gauge the texture and taste of the others by their appearance. Is the lemon poppy seed lemony enough, moist enough? The carrot cake looks perfect in texture, perfect in doneness; I salivate as I imagine the flavor. I imagine the light flakiness of the cake in the cranberry muffin, the tartness of the cranberries contrasting with the sweetness. My saliva ducts work even harder.

Walk around the side of the table. Look at all those ring cakes. There’s the coffee cake with the raisins and the white icing, that brings me straight back to the weekend mornings during my childhood when my parents would bring back one very much like it from Freihofer’s. There’s a… what is that, raspberry? Mmmmmmm… tempting. But right next to it… ahhhh, that’s the one I really want: the cheese. It looks utterly perfect: the cheese-to-cake and icing-to-cheese ratios seem spot-on, and the cheese looks moist. I must try one of these during an upcoming eat-whatever-I-want day.

Turn from the table and take a look at the racks and racks of pastries and muffins. There’s a pain au chocolat alongside its cheese equivalent; they look a little dry, but I’d love to try each of them. And there are the ranks of fresh muffins, tray after tray after tray. There are the butter rum muffins at the bottom right corner. And there go my saliva ducts again.

Turn around once more. Go back to the same set of shelves with the oatmeal raisin cookies. Above them and to the left there’s a rank of “gourmet cookies” in shallow plastic clamshell trays. God. They have white chocolate macadamia nuts cookies. I love white chocolate macadamia nut cookies. And the way they’re browned… they took them out of the oven at just the right moment. I want to see if they’re as crisp as they look on the outside, as soft on the inside as they should be. I want to know whether they’re as good as they look. Too few bakers bring their A game to the dough, so their white chocolate macadamia nut cookies amount to little more than chunks of white chocolate whose cloying sweetness drowns out any other flavors that might be present.

Oh look, they have companions worthy of their glory: triple chocolate chunk. Again with the saliva. I may need a hanky.

I took it all in. I swallowed buckets of saliva. And I walked away. Today, I walked away.

This is why I wallow in my desire for food. The compulsion ebbs and flows, but it’s too powerful to deny or avoid. All I can do is steer into the wave, let it wash over me, and hope to come out the other side intact. One day at a time.

That right there? That is some good bread.

January 2, 2011

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Grace recently discovered a fantastic recipe for no-knead French peasant bread. It is absurdly delicious. She just made some, and I couldn’t resist tearing off several mouthfuls that amounted to a good-sized piece. Then, once the soup was done, I tore off another good-sized piece, shown in the picture.

I just ate that delicious second piece with the bowl of soup. And with that, I’ve already had more bread than my body needs in a day. I do not need any more. So I’m not going to eat any more.

Really. I’m not going to eat any more. Never mind that I start to salivate and my palms start to sweat when I think of it, just sitting there on the counter. Rather than indulge in more bread, I’m going to focus on being grateful to have had any at all. ‘Cause, damn… that’s some good bread.

I stopped. And I shopped.

January 2, 2011

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So I went to Stop & Shop. What I stopped was: eating those delicious oatmeal raisin cookies by the bin; and eating toasted and buttered bagels. What I shopped for was: apples; bananas; broccoli; oranges; and biscotti. The biscotti remain my go-to solution for the muchies: 100-calorie emergency satiety ampules. The fruit provides vitamins and sweet but healthy snacks. The broccoli gives me vital bulk, fiber and vitamins.

Day Two Hundred Fifty-Five

January 1, 2011

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Today was a good day — my first day of following my diet in weeks.

I had my modest egg sandwich for breakfast, went on a walk with Grace and Katherine, limited myself to two unbuttered scones with tea, and had another egg sandwich when we returned. I went running with Grace in the afternoon; we’re proud to be continuing on the “Couch to 5K” program.

Before we hopped on the train into town to see “True Grit” with Eric, I brewed my usual thermos full of tea. Between 5:30 and 10:00 I drank most of that pot of tea and three Zone Bars, and ate the apple I’d strategically saved for the theater. I did not eat anything from Zaro’s or any of the popcorn that Eric bought at the Ziegfeld.

I’ve been thinking of all the food I chose not to eat today, which results in me thinking very fondly of all the food and drink I’ve consumed during the last month. I’m not beating myself up over that, because it feels like I needed it, and because I don’t think beating myself up is going to do any good. What I am going to do is follow up on this first day of not eating those things. I can compensate for that month of overeating — one day at a time.

Good night!

Not buying anything at Zaro’s

November 25, 2010

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On the way back from Manhattan on Tuesday night, I made my customary willpower pass by Zaro’s in Grand Central. I knew there would be special Thanksgiving goodies in the window, and they did not disappoint.

These Thanksgiving treats look so ridiculous that they’re not actually appealing to me, so not buying any was no challenge at all. There were some other things on the shelves inside, though, that were a different story. Pecan pies. Various other pies. Coffee cakes of every stripe. These I would have liked to have bought and devoured. But I didn’t. This doesn’t count for as much as it would during a normal week, because I knew I’d be eating my own delicious pumpkin pies on Thursday. But it’s a small victory, or at least a reminder that I have a vastly clearer head than I did last winter.

The many, many things I didn’t buy at Trader Joe’s

November 18, 2010
Trader Joe's bakery goodies

Trader Joe's bakery goodies

I went to Trader Joe’s twice today. At neither time did I buy the cranberry orange apple crisp or the pecan caramel tart behind it. I also did not buy any of the myriad cookie variants sitting there on the shelves, proclaiming their suitability for consumption with tea. And when I got done not buying those, there was still plenty of not buying to do, including but by no means limited to the chocolate-covered pretzels and the mini-stroopwafel.

I may indulge in one — one — of those items on Saturday, my eat-whatever-I-want day. But not today.

Not going into Zaro’s was a lot harder tonight

November 16, 2010
Zaro's near track 20 in Grand Central

Zaro's near track 20 in Grand Central

I’ve done Zaro’s a few times, but tonight is different. Tonight I had to do a fair amount of work to convince myself that I didn’t deserve a pastry from Zaro’s. That hasn’t happened in months. The difference is that tonight I’m sick.

I’ve talked to enough people to know that, in general, humans lose their appetites when they’re sick. Not me. Uh uh. Nothing short of nausea puts a dent in my wanting to eat the world. And what makes it worse is that self-pitying voice that comes out of nowhere and starts whispering words like “comfort food” and “deserve”.

Well. I’m not a horrible person. So I don’t deserve to stuff my face at the very time when I’m incapable of burning calories. I don’t deserve to feel good for a few minutes at the cost of feeling bad about myself for a lot longer than that, not to mention the time it’ll take to work it off.

I don’t deserve to do stupid things to my body while I’m sick. I don’t deserve to compound my sickness with further suffering. And my demons don’t deserve to cavort while I’m laid up in bed.

The kettle corn that I’m not eating

November 6, 2010
Kettle corn vendor in Bryant Park

Kettle corn vendor in Bryant Park

This morning, on the way from Don’s place to Grand Central, I walked through Bryant Park. Little did I know what temptation would be waiting for me. This kettle corn vendor was open, and boy were those bags enticing. I didn’t indulge, though… in marked contrast to my consumption of an unseemly amount of the kettle corn I got at the sheep and wool festival a few weeks ago.

If I’d beaten myself up over going off my diet around Halloween, I probably wouldn’t feel as positive and strong as I do now. I need to keep that in mind.