Tuesday, May 14, 2013


So, I was talking to my friend Jodi last weekend and I was telling her how I was trying to cut out sugar in my diet.  I started by eliminating cookies, the next week I stopped the ice cream. But the more we talked the more I realized that this incremental getting rid of sugar was a bit bogus.  I can eliminate one thing every week and still eat plenty of sugar for months. This is why talking about it is good - it gives form to nebulous thoughts and helps to tighten up your resolve. So I decided then and there to just quit sugar and wheat. I added the wheat part because so many of my favorite things are baked goods. If I eliminate both, then temptation for scones and pastries gets a double whammy.

Many friends recently have eliminated wheat from their diet and they all feel much better for it. And as Jodi said, wheat is inflammatory, and inflammation is strongly correlated to disease. So - no wheat, no sugar.

It is now day 8 of no wheat, no sugar. Here is how it is going. It's kind of like when I became a vegetarian and I thought I was eating a vegetarian food only to find that there was a meat product in it; Chicken broth in the vegetable soup; Animal fat in pastries. Or like when I went out for dim sum with friends from work and every time the wee Chinese lady brought a dish by I would ask if there was meat in it, and she would reply. "Just a little bit."

I was at Uwajimaya the other day (our local Japanese supermarket) and I thought, rice crackers! Perfect. I lived in Japan until I was 6 so there are Japanese foods that are so much a part of my life, and Osembe (rice crackers) is one. I picked up a bag of nori maki - the crackers with the little piece of seaweed wrapped around it - my favorite.  I snacked on them at work and the next day too, and then I decided to read the ingredients and they have BOTH wheat and sugar!  One day I went into a bento café and had orange chicken which came with the iceberg salad with the delicious rice wine vinegar and sesame oil dressing. As I was eating I began to suspect that the chicken was breaded with wheat instead of panko, and I had a real sneaking suspicion that there was sugar in that dressing…

So here's the deal - you really need to read the labels. Some peanut butter has sugar in it, some rice crackers have wheat. It is ubiquitous. It's kind of like high fructose corn syrup - it's in everything! Also, I realized that eliminating sugar means really curtailing what I drink. I am mainly a water drinker, but I have coffee a couple of times a week, and I drink my coffee sweet - so no coffee. I don’t really drink soda, but every once in awhile I like a root beer or a ginger ale, and. no shaken black tea lemonade from Starbucks in the summer! Oy!

I decided that the easiest way to stay off the wheat and sugar was to make a big pot of something at the beginning of the week and eat it all week long. Last week I made a huge quinoa salad with root vegetables and tarragon vinegar. For book club I brought a quinoa salad that had sautéed onions and zucchini in garlic. Today, as I finished the last of the quinoa salad, I made a crockpot full of chicken, quinoa, barley, onions, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, corn and pozole. And lots of garlic. That will also last me all week. This works well for me because in the kitchen on a daily basis, I am lazy. If there is nothing ready to eat I will just make a sandwich. Which is not really an option any more. Though, when I am off the Coumadin I can make "lettuce wiches", and eat lots of salads. And have broccoli for dinner. I think I'll make my favorite Hungarian dish of all the ones my Grandma taught me, Szekele Goulash. I can't eat it now because it's a lot of sauerkraut, which is cabbage, which is high in vitamin K.

They say it takes a month or so for the sugar craving to go away. I hope it happens sooner. Tomorrow morning I'm meeting my friend, Trout, for coffee at Fremont Coffee House. They roast their own beans and brew a really great cup . I don’t think I'll be drinking coffee though. Maybe a cup of Earl Grey instead. I usually arrive hungry because they have good pastries and quiche, but I think I'll have to eat breakfast before I go, to keep temptation at bay.

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