Note: This post was inspired by a PR query from the folks behind Hellman's "Real Food" campaign on Yahoo. I actually felt like I might have something to say on this subject, so I took their challenge. I have received no payment for this post -- just a vague offer to link back to me from Yahoo IF the powers that be like it. Let me know what YOU think.
Earlier this month, I enrolled in a radically restrictive diet program.
I'm feeling pretty low. After all, everything I am eating right now is low calorie, low fat, low carb and low sodium. I have to weigh everything into tiny portions. I am allowed two cups of lettuce with lunch and dinner, but may only use two tablespoons of fat-free, sugar-free salad dressing (basically, vinegar).
My breakfast this morning was half a slice of whole grain bread (because an entire slice would be 17 grams of carbs, which is a big chunk of the 50 I'm allotted per day)...
...and two slices of fat-free American cheese.
Fat-free American cheese reminds me of an old episode of "Friends," the two-parter where the gang all wonders how different their lives would be if they had chosen different paths. Courteney Cox sports her "Fat Monica" suit for the entire episode. There's an exchange where Joey points out that he feels about something the way Monica feels about low-fat mayonnaise, and she cries, "It's NOT mayonnaise!"
Which is exactly how I feel about American cheese, with or without fat. My idea of cheese is a nice Stilton or a double cream Brie. When I eat my fat-free American cheese, I find myself longing for some smoked Gouda... or my current favorite, a Cotswold cheddar that's been infused with green onions.
This, I know, is why I'm on the hateful, restricted, limited diet program now. I truly love good food, and the higher it is in fat and carbohydrates, the more I love it. I don't waste my time on junk like cheap potato chips and cheap chocolate bars ... but my senses soar over gourmet kettle crisps in exotic flavors and Scharffenberger (especially with cocoa content over 70%).
I won't be enjoying those things again for a very long while, and I'm sorry to say, that takes some of the fun out of social gatherings. We attended a 50th birthday party on Saturday for a member of our extended family, and I was in a sour mood all day, because (a) I wouldn't know the majority of the other guests and (b) I would not be able to rely on my usual party crutches (i.e., munching and drinking on whatever is around).
On top of that, the weight counselors at the program had deemed that I should follow a "protein" regimen on Saturday. That meant that I wouldn't even be allowed the dubious pleasure of fat-free American cheese. Instead, I was to only eat "protein infused" products I purchase from them. So, prior to leaving for the party, I prepared "vegetable chili" for myself. I dumped a packet of desiccated powder into a small saucepan, added 2/3 cup of boiling water and simmered it for five minutes. And that was dinner.
All I can do is echo Fat Monica: "It's NOT chili!"
I'm proud to say that I got through the party without breaking my resolve, even though there was a huge spread of ethnic food. I sipped water while my family enjoyed egg rolls, sushi, chow mein and some Armenian treats. After we got home, I continued to sip water while my husband, sister and brother-in-law drank champagne.
And when I went in for my weigh in yesterday, I was down another pound.
I'd be happy about that, except for the fact that I've got such a long way to go. And I'm not sure if I'll be so strong the next time I have social facedown with a buffet of "real food."