Monday, May 05, 2008

And then things come around full circle just like a food pyramid

I wrote a long long post and then realized this is actually a tale of two stories - one of a reconnection, and the other of a pair of jeans. And so today, reconnection.

In the random way of the world, Mark and I reconnected through our blogs. We knew each other from high school in India and had seen each other a few times over the years, but had not really kept in touch.

And the thing Mark doesn't know is that long after we lost touch, he defined my parameters for skinny. Via the casual handing down of a pair of old jeans.

I knew he was a lawyer in Texas, and if asked, he'd probably have been able to say that I lived in DC. But that was the extent of it.

And then one day I got an email from him, sent to all the members of our high school class for whom he had email addresses. He'd been maintaining a list, and there were people he was looking for. At the bottom was a link to his blog, Defending People.

I was interested in getting a glimpse into his life. Having known since 9th grade that he had a keen intellect, I knew his blog would be well written and his arguments would be compelling.

So I poked around it a bit, and then sent him a note, essentially say the following. That it was nice to see who he is as an adult, and that I was glad to be back in touch. And I sent him a link to LG, noting that it is a very different type of blog from his and those on his blogroll.

We've been in sporadic touch ever since. And then a month or so ago, he came to town last minute. I think he spent the bulk of his hours in DC at the jail. Visiting clients. Not in jail.

As we had two obligations on that Tuesday evening, we weren't able to catch up with him till near midnight at Local 16. We had a whirlwind introduction and beer, and that was that. Hi, nice to see you, meet Nick, bye! Until next time!

Then the other night, in response to my post mentioning Nick's and my divergent eating habits, he wrote and asked for Nick's address. He wanted to send him a wedding gift - a pro-butter-on-steak one.

He sent a book entitled Good Calories, Bad Calories. It looks really interesting, and I'm going to read it after Nick does. In a nutshell, the premise is that we should be looking at the kind of calories we ingest rather than the number. And refined carbs, because of their effect on our insulin, are the main cause of obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, and cancer.

The low-fat high-carb approach that we've been told is healthy for so long, according to him, is wrong.

He's suggesting eating a low refined carb diet - but it's not a diet book. And cutting out refined carbs, which are so low in nutrition, just makes a lot of sense. Which is what appeals to me about it.

Because honestly, my approach to life for so long has been to just never eat very much. I love, I mean love, refined carbs. Really good pasta? With just olive oil and salt? Heaven. Chocolate chip cookies or brownies? Up there with sex. M&Ms? Daily staple. Cheez-It's? Super guilty pleasure.

I could pretty much eat sugar cubes straight. In fact, I have. I love dipping them in espresso and sucking on them.

I know - probably sets your teeth on edge.

I have spent a lot of my life avoiding fat. And eating a lot of bread, bagels, pasta. I have spent years eating so much less than I'd ever like to. Because I couldn't and remain the same size.

I still love the carbs. And I think a carb-free diet is creepy. I've always been suspicious of Atkinsers. Life without carbs makes people angry.

So lately we are trying a different approach - more along the lines of eating some of everything, but trying not to eat a ton of high fat meats or refined carbs. It started with introducing Nick to vegetables. His mother is British, and his experience with vegetables growing up was very, very bad. And then once he left home, he never ate one again.

Until he met me. The queen of bowl of Brussels sprouts and popcorn for dinner.

We are slowly slowly introducing the vegetables. So far we've figured out that he likes raw broccoli and cauliflower and carrots. Not so much on the asparagus and not at all on the mushrooms.

Still, pretty all around positive.

Although I should add that this has thrown off his Time schedule a little.

But the fact is that he would much rather eat cheese, sausage, ribs, BBQ, steak. And butter. With maybe some sour cream on the side. And cheese on top. Which, considering where I'm coming from, makes me really twitchy.

I'm quite sure he'll never cheat on me or develop a coke habit, but I could easily envision coming home to him mainlining whipping cream.

But maybe I've been focusing on the wrong stuff? Maybe I shouldn't freak out quite as much about cheese and sausage? Which would make us both happy.

As Mark said in his note, "Go ahead and butter your steak."

And so, I'd like to thank him. Because not only is it a thoughtful present, but I think this book is going to be the catalyst for some very positive change.

Now, the thing that makes this an odd coincidence is that Mark - who, as I mentioned earlier, has no idea about this - was my measure of dieting success for years. In a personal fucked up body image way, not in a creepy way. I promise.

And that's tomorrow's story.


  1. Oh dear. So I guess I won't tell you how I went on a cooking/baking spree while a long, laborious virus scan ran and I couldn't possibly do paid work.

    Baked macaroni and cheese, baked penne and red sauce with cheese! brownies and lentil soup.

    Does the lentil soup redeem me from trying to kill my family with carb poisoning?

    And mainlining whipped cream? Only with an Oreo chaser, right?

  2. All I have to say is, can I eat dinner at your house? Because, YUM.

  3. Can I come over for dinner too? Because, um, yum.

  4. life is too short to live without naan.

    for real.

  5. I remember a cover for a medical journal a while back... I don't remember which journal, but I think it was a cardiology one... Anyways, they had a picture of a donut and a bagel on it, and underneath, in large letters, was "Which is Worse?"

  6. Oh, this has to be one of my favorite quotes ever:
    "Life without carbs makes people angry". Absolutely. I could happily pass on never eating a piece of meat again, but carbs...? Impossible. Unthinkable. And horrific.

  7. I could never give up pasta. White flour, refined-carbs-in-your-face pasta. Maybe I should read this book?

  8. Maiden Metallurgist - Let's both get ourselves invited down to GA for dinner.

    Slightly Disorganized - Oh, yum. I haven't had naan in ages.

    VVK - Apparently they're not that different, right? All empty carbs and pretty shockingly similar in calories or something?

    Susan - I am right there with you. Meat is of so little interest compared to really good bread, pasta, pastry.

    Nicole - I will let you know. But I can't imagine ever giving up pasta anyway.


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