Friday, September 08, 2006

Fake food, cravings

Took the car for servicing this morning ~ had to drive 100 miles to do it because the only dealership is in the armpit of the free world, Oklahoma City. To reward myself for spending one of my three days off languishing in the service center lounge, I went to dinner at a new seafood restaurant, reported to be very fine.

Ordered a broiled fish platter with salad and fresh veggies. Sounded lovely. It was decent, not worth the $$, but my complaint is this: fake scallops? WTF? Why bother? My first memory of the taste of real scallops dates to 1965. I was eight years old and we were dining at a marvelous restaurant in Baltimore. I haven't a clue what the name was, but it was very elegant with white glove service, marvelous architecture, very tall windows looking out over the water.

The scallops were perfect: broiled, extremely plump, fresh, tasting of the sea with a sweetness unmatched by any other seafood or shellfish. They were also perfectly sized and each one was just a bit different from the others.

So how do we arrive at a point where we're trying to pass off these nasty little bits of white fish as actual scallops? What fool decided you could just stamp out some little round circles from any old scaled thing and call it a scallop? Because it looks like one, it will taste like one? What idiocy. These criminally named scallops were rubbery and dry and contained not a hint of the sweetness for which the real ones are famous.

It reminded me of the low-fat promoters who insist that a despicable green pea mash is a suitable substitute for the richly luxurious taste of avocado-based guacamole. Idiots. But then I was an idiot, too, once upon a time.

When Mike was first diagnosed with diabetes, I got into cooking low-carb with a vengeance. He loved potatoes, so I read everything I could find and regularly came across a substitute for mashed potatoes referred to as mashed fauxtatoes. It was so popular and so ever-present, I jumped right on them to assuage my baby's taste for potatoes and provide for him the comfort of the familiar at mealtime.

Mashed fauxtatoes are made by steaming cauliflower to absolute limpness, then pureeing the result in a food processor, seasoning with salt, pepper, and a bit of butter. I did all of this out of love for my ailing sweetie and the result was lovely! Pure white, fluffy, speckled with a pepper, a tiny well of molten butter in the center.

The look on my angel's face was decidedly not lovely as he quickly scooped up a spoonful of what he hoped was potato. His eyes got huge and his mouth fell open. He whispered in horror, around the wad of fauxtatoe languishing on his tongue, "what the hell is this?" before spitting it out. It was a low spot in the course of his diabetes treatment, now greatly improved with the addition of an insulin pump, and it was a low spot for me as well. He went hungry and I retired to my room in high dudgeon, wounded that my efforts were unappreciated.

Mike hated (hated!) the idea of controlling what he was eating. He despised having to think about it. He was disgusted by the prospect of having to write down, look up, make decisions about what he was eating and ~ horrors! ~ to actually restrict some of his choices. I was decidedly unsympathetic, having thought about, written down, looked up, restricted, agonized over food all of my life.

I don't even know what it's like to be normal. I could not muster up any poor babies for someone who, in my view, had skated through life for 47 years. So all of this rambling is just to say that I want to experience the feeling of not having this eating disorder. I want to know what it's like not to have to think about food, to constantly be aware of what goes in my mouth. I want my mind to be free, to have eating just occur to me as a direct result of actual hunger. I am tired of obsessing about calories, exercise, excess pounds. I just want to be normal.

So there's my whah-whah-poor-me for the day. I am trying to remember when I felt as close to normal as may be possible and it was on an old OA food plan called grey sheet. It was a low carb plan, three meals a day, but the miracle of grey sheet was that hunger vanished, food obsession vanished, it was as close to free as I've ever been.

I'm thinking about this because I find myself eating really healthy food and then thinking, thinking, thinking about the next meal. It's always on my mind. I'm tired of it. I'm not sure what to do, but I am thinking that feeding my addiction with higher carb foods keeps me in a state of discomfort, of craving. They're wonderfully healthy high carb foods, but maybe my disease doesn't distinguish between a baked potato with low fat yogurt and a candy bar. It would be the same if I, as a recovering alcoholic, decided to have a glass of wine each day. I might be able to do it, but the craving would kick in and I'd be miserable. (I know this because I tried it in 1980, two years before I got sober and it was a wretched two months.)

It's the eternal struggle for me: what to eat. Grey sheet is lower carb, but not carb-free. I just don't know and therein lies the thing that's frustrating me today. It's always a struggle, always a fight.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

good grief that was long! :(


September 08, 2006 5:38 PM  
Blogger Kimberly said...

When I was eating whatever I wanted to all day long, I rarely thought about food or calories or even weight except for the "I'll start tomorrow" after I realized that I had eaten a lot. Now that I'm dieting, I think about food probably a third of the time I am awake. I wish I could put the thoughts aside until I am nearing hungry again, but I don't think I'll ever be able to do that, not even at or far beyond goal weight.

I guess your posts are all long, but they don't seem like it when I'm reading them. Your stories are very engaging and I am now compelled to taste scallops, which I have never had.

September 09, 2006 12:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the luscious post. :)

I was once like Mike was -- unable to give attention to my diet; unable to acknowledge that I had an eating disorder. I was running Marathons, and thin. I thrived on desserts. My weight didn't increase, due to the running and youth, but my immune system was compromised (resulting in constant colds), and I suffered migraines due to the sugar load. But still, I ate and ate. Desserts were a passion --and a constant craving.

Now, I no longer run marathons, and, since my age approaches Mike's, I gain easily. Recently, I lost ten pounds. Yes -- by giving up desserts. The cravings were relentless at first, almost an obsession. They've begun to fade, finally, but still attack when I walk by a bakery or see a TV commercial.

My weight has reached my major goal point. I could begin eating more desserts again. But you know what? I don't think, for one minute, that I'm out of "recovery." The eating disorder connnected to desserts continues, no matter what my weight. It's got nothing to do with fatness. It's deeper than that.

My point is, that when you're eventually thin, you'll never reach a time when you can forget about the disorder, and eat what you want when you want. It's like drinking, as you point out. Fat- or sugar-laden foods will always be a quick trip to more weight gain. And even if you take out the weight gain aspect, these things are unhealthy and should be avoided altogether. Or so I'm beginning to feel.

Maybe we should give up the bad foods, and live entirely on veggies, fiber, lean meats and fish, and whole grains. Is this possible? I don't know. But I'm wondering.

September 09, 2006 4:38 AM  
Anonymous Lynn said...

I wish I had an answer for you but I can say as someone who is "normal" about my eating I am still tortured about what goes in comes out and what I can eat again. I think everyone is like this to a degree--how could we not be living in a society that glorifies coat hanger bodies and sunken cheeks? Your struggles may be more amplified,Lynette, but you are so not alone.

September 09, 2006 10:23 AM  
Blogger angelfish24 said...

I agree w/ the above post. You are not alone in this thinking about food. I'm always thinking, what can I have for dinner and my dh is like what? I never think about food ahead of time. So I call it my fat gene as my dad is always thinking about food. But, when I was young I didn't feel this. I just ate normally and was active. It was later in my 20's that this obsession w/ food came into focus. Still trying to figure that one out. Seemed to be when I got into a serious relationship or maybe it was just eating out more and being less active. I'm just taking it one day at a time and trying to figure this mother out. It's hard and it helps to read blogs such as yours to see others have similar thoughts. For me I can't cut out all high carbs. I don't want to live like that but I can limit them to occassionally. Ok, will go now that I posted a book here.

September 09, 2006 12:13 PM  
Anonymous Big Fella said...

In terms of the “scallops”, I think that is the kind of dish you have got to be leery of in the heartland. Recently there has been a shortage of real scallops on this end of the country, which happens to abut the Pacific, so I would imagine the real deal is not so easy to come by in OKC. If you want real scallops, come out here sometime and I will take you to place where you can get the real deal, plumb day boat scallops wrapped in pancetta, seared and served atop a wonderful complimentary sweet sauce. (Oops, I just let it slip that I am constantly obsessing on food.) Never, and I mean never, get suckered by “krab” meat (imitation crab made from surinimi, which is ground up fish parts, on the order of all of the “meat byproducts” that they put in hot dogs). With seafood, as with anything else, always insist on the real deal, or if it is not available, take a pass, the wasted calories are not worth it for fake food.

Now as to those “fauxtatoes”, if I ever come across the wise ass who coined the term “faux”, I will commit homicide. Call it like it is, “false”, “phony” or “fake”, don’t try and gussie it up with some bogus, curly pinkie, fake French term.

Never, and I mean never, try to disguise one type of foodstuff with another, the replica is always going to be a disappointment. I too love potatoes, and I have a hell of a recipe for mashed potatoes that utilizes truck loads of butter, sour cream and romano cheese. But, being a diabetic, and grossly overweight, when I am sticking to my food plan, I don’t indulge mashed potatoes. I do, however, indulge in cauliflower, but not disguised as something that it isn’t, but as pure, unadulterated cauliflower. My rendition involves stripping off the leaves and stem, and slicing a head in half. I then spray olive oil all over those babies, sprinkle on some Kosher salt, put ‘em on a jelly roll pan, and pop them in a 350 oven for about 45 minutes. They will turn golden brown, be easy to cut and chew and retain their moisture. And they will taste like baked cauliflower, they way they are supposed to taste. So that is what I do if I have a potato craving, that, or bake a slab of butternut squash with plenty of cinnamon sprinkled on it and some olive oil. Who needs fake food, when the real deal is better?

I agree with you as to feeding a vicious cycle when eating simple carbs, they don’t satisfy, and they do trigger cravings for more. We have got to concentrate on the complex carbs (live vegetables) and forget about grain based carbs, and stay away from sugar, and go easy on fruit.

Now as to the constant obsession on food, we could have a very long, “therapeutic session” getting to the bottom of that, which I am sure you will agree. My simple minded advice from afar, just try and keep your mind occupied and stimulated with other thinks, and your day full of other activities. When you feel you need some sort of emotional gratification, just save that urge for the next time you are with Mike. (Now if I could only practice what I preach.)

September 09, 2006 3:11 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

My heart goes out to you! All those reasons you gave, they are why I am coming back to Greysheet. It's simple. No math involved. Carbs? Where? The broccoli and carrots? Remember: There's another meal coming!

December 01, 2006 4:02 PM  

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