Category Archives: Food & Fitness

The Good Daughter

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

My brother is addicted to pills, though will just get drunk if that’s all he
has. He has now lost her room in the house she was staying and her
fourth job as a nursing aide in a year. He relocated to my city to live
with our other, who is in the last stages of a terminal blood disorder,
though Mom has already outlasted the doctor’s predictions by almost
two years. Two points: (1) Mom is not supposed to drink, but often
they do that together; (2) David is “exhausted” from the move, and
wants to “take a month off to recuperate” before he looks for work. I
think he should not get a vacation but start putting out resumes today,
but both of them loudly told me off and said I was being “controlling
and judgmental.” I’m the responsible daughter who has to pick up the
pieces when they break things. Is there any way to avoid this train
wreck?

The Good Daughter

 
Dear Good Daughter:

In a word: No. You can try to ban alcohol from the house but addicts
always find a way to get their fix until they get clean and sober. You
can try to scare your mother with mortality, but if she’s already past
the doctor’s predictions she probably figures she can do as she
pleases, and who knows, maybe she is right. But it sounds like the
codependence will not help your mother as much as your brother.
Regarding the proposed vacation, your suggestion makes sense to me,
unless he needs the month to prepare for a pee test that would likely
be required to get a job. But even so, getting his resume together and
sending out letters and applications seems like a basic reality check to
reinforce the idea that he is there to help your mother, not live off her.
It might help to start with optimism when you speak to them, even if
you get heartburn and grit your teeth. But short of a miracle I think
you will be in this soap opera for a while.

Feeling Annoyed

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

For the past two years I have played ping pong for exercise. The club
has about 100 members and at the time I play, 9:00 am, many retired
folks, some of whom are completely out of my league excellent and
others welcoming and helpful. I was a newbie for a while, but got
pretty good, certainly mid tier. One of the very regulars is a man in his
80s, who had eye surgery that seems to have failed utterly. He used
to be mid-pack but now couldn’t hit the ball if it were the size of a
basketball. In addition he tells long stories and jokes to cover up his
frustration, which just slows down the game even more. I like him,
and I feel sorry for him, and I know this will happen to us all. But for
me this is exercise time, and I cannot give it all over to kindness, even
though I feel guilty saying that. Is there a gentle way to convey my
need to rotate with other players without offending someone who was
kind to me when I needed it?

Feeling Annoyed

 
Dear Annoyed:

There’s a certain amount of kindness and grace that’s required from us
all, in every situation. Here’s your chance to step up. When you play
with him, gently suggest that stories are great and interesting, but
they slow down your need to keep in motion, something your own
doctor has said is essential. Say you’re happy to hear them but could
he please keep playing while he talks. If he complies, hooray. If not,
try to rotate to a different table after a politely appropriate amount of
time.

 

Most clubs have some kind of manager or facilitator. Quietly take that
person aside and ask if s/he has noticed to decline in this person’s
play. Say that you like him and are happy to keep playing with him a
little while each time you come. But that given the large number of
players, there should be a rotating pool of people to help care for the
elders. Ask him if he would be willing to speak to the man directly,
suggesting that he schedule a follow-up with his eye surgeon. The
difficulties might be temporary, or they may presage something that
requires more medical attention. No matter what, stress your
willingness to be a good person. You’ll need the same grace someday,
as will we all.

Sick of Being Sick

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

Long, ugly, medical story made short: I had ankle surgery that went
bad and I was on too many meds for too long. Even after I got off the
opioids I was on anti-inflammatories for a long time. Two weeks ago I
landed in the emergency room with an attack of diverticulitis.
Apparently the meds had inflamed my gut in bad, and hard to
remediate way. My birthday is in two weeks, fortunately one ending in
a 7 not a 0 or a 5. In my social circle most people like to take the
birthday gal out to lunch. But right now food is sweet potatoes,
steamed vegetables, rice, broth, and applesauce, with an occasional
treat of oatmeal. I’m not eating gluten, sugar, dairy, salads, pizza,
alcohol, or a host of other delicious things. While it’s making me
healthier it is also very boring and unequivocally not very festive. As
people are asking about taking me out to celebrate, I sound like an old
wet blanket. Do you have an idea about how to enjoy being the center
of attention without destroying my tender tummy?

Sick of Being Sick

 
Dear Sick:

I have two ideas and suggest you employ them both. Idea number
one: Tell folks what you can and cannot eat and a safe set of
restaurants you can go to. Explain that what’s much for fun for you
now is doing and experiencing rather than eating. Suggest that your
friends invite you to a movie or a show, with a light bite or cup of tea
before or after. Say the pleasure of their company should not be
overshadowed by the after-effects.

Idea number two is to spread out the joy. Explain that your system
is on overload, both from the medical events and the number of folks
who want to express their love. Ask if you can take a rain check until
your gut is healed, and set a specific date on the calendar that feels safely
far off. Good friends would understand either option, and you can give
them a choice. Sound appreciative for whatever they say yes to and focus
on getting healthy. By next birthday I hope you are eating everything that
you enjoy and that’s good for you.

Primo Fan

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

My name is Jessica and I love watching football. I feel like someone in
a 12-step program who is supposed to confess my sins and never turn
on the television on weekends in autumn and winter. I know there are
bad injuries caused by the game. I would not want my child to play.
But I am a real fan of the local college team and of some of the pro
teams that my guys now play for. Someone just compared me to a
person who likes dog fighting, and I was horrified and insulted.
Football is coming. What can I say or do, and is it as bad as that?

Primo Fan

 
Dear Fan:

Yes, and no. Yes what happens on the football field is violent and yes
there is increasing evidence that the sport damages people. At a
minimum it damages players who get clunked in the head. It is
possible it damages us viewers (and yes I too am a college fan) in that
we become too desensitized to violence and start to care less about
people’s health and too much about our own entertainment. Does that
mean I won’t be watching kickoff Saturday? No. Does it mean I think
much more than I used to about why this sport, like boxing or other
full-contact sports? Yes. Do I think we can make a transition to
watching sports like tennis, track and field, or other ways people use
their bodies competitively, or even to chess or bridge or mental
sports? On a good say Yes. But as I watch the horrifying news cycles
we are living through, I fear more often than I used to for our
collective humanity, and for our ability to see kindness as a goal at
least as worthy as winning.

 

My summary advice: If you have a team you really care about, go
forth and cheer, both for them and for the sport to become more
humane, and more protective of its players (in rules and equipment).
Then go out to do something good for the planet for at least as long as
you watched the game.

Desperate

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

Yikes! The resolutions lasted but a few weeks and here I am, again
feeling fluffy and addicted to sugar. I tried to go cold turkey, then got
the flu and ended up back on jello, which let to one treat after
another, and down the rabbit hole. I need to take off not just the five
pounds of holiday fressing, but the twenty that they landed on top of.
Don’t tell me about diets and Weight Watchers. I need something that
threatens to cut off my hand at the wrist if I move it towards my
mouth with sweets in it.

Desperate

 
Dear Desperate:

Desperation isn’t always the best time to make decisions, especially
not a draconian one. Instead of a meat cleaver, you need a muzzle. Or
perhaps better, a cup for tea or a glass for water. Or perhaps a long
manifesto you are obligated to read aloud each time you want sugar.
The hard part is remembering to read it or drink it before the sugar is
already down your gullet. How to do that? Make sure there’s a longer
reach than your arm for the sugar you swear you don’t want to eat.
Don’t buy sugar. Don’t buy it in any form. Don’t stop at store, “just for
one thing” and then crack and have a treat to keep around “to prove
you are strong enough.” You’re not. You will eat it. Just don’t let sugar
in house. When you are driving part the market, tell yourself all the
reasons you want to NOT EAT SUGAR until you are safely home.
Practice just saying No until your habit is to say Yes to health instead
of treats. And don’t discount monitored weight-loss programs that hold
you accountable for what you eat. Once you are on track you may be
allowed desserts like fruit that are natural sugars. Carb counting is a
simple plan that shows you how “expensive” a choice sugar can be.
Work with your doc, not a machete.

Seeking Inspiration

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I had a really rough year. I lost a beloved friend and a beloved
pet. I had medical issues that were difficult to diagnose and to cure. I
had to cut far back on my social life to accommodate all the
immediacies of family and healing. Now I am feeling isolated,
somewhat vulnerable, definitely poorer, and very protective of both
my body and my soul. I miss being the optimistic and outgoing person
I have been most of my life. I am wounded and fragile. Do you have
good advice for getting my mojo back?

Seeking Inspiration

 
Dear Seeking:

That old saying about the Chinese character for “crisis” also represents
“opportunity” is highly relevant. You’ve been through the worst of it,
one can only hope. Now’s the chance to create a better life, not just
re-create the one you had before all the bad (as if you could). Instead
of being in resistance to the changes, look for ways to become the new
and happier you.

 
Think about hummingbirds in a late summer garden. They’re attracted
to the bright colors, the reds and oranges, and they come seeking
sweetness. Your mojo’s only going to come back when you make an
attractive landing zone for it. Instead of cowering in your room hoping
the world turns into a friendlier place, go out and engage with it. Seek
out the sweetness life offers. Try new things and even new people.
You’ll have dead ends and misses. But you’ll also have surprises and
delights, and those joys– both hoped for and unanticipated– will start
to fuel your spirit again.

 
Think about your time: what’s fixed and what’s malleable about your
schedule. Identify zones that are available to pursue happiness. Then
go after it in a variety of forms.

 

 

Get into counseling: Even if you think you understand what’s been
going on in your life, heart, and soul, it can really help to get fresh
perspective. Friends know us inside and out. A new person, especially
someone trained to listen, probe, and help us open and see ourselves
differently, can add new perspective and insight. As you do the more
worldly things below, invest in your heart to keep your motivated
change pumping.

 
Do for others: Look for volunteer opportunities, from your local food
bank to a Habitat for Humanity build. See a bigger world than your
small life.

 

Get involved with a cause: Commit to helping, whether it’s for your
favorite candidate or a local or environmental issue.

 
Learn something new: Take an art class, study a language, or explore
a new way of cooking. But push your gray cells to work and play.

 
Get physical: All the gyms have New Year’s specials. Try Sufi dancing,
weight machines, Nia, spin, or restorative yoga. Look for ways to get
back into your body.

 
Get metaphysical: Start reading uplifting writers. Meditate regularly.
Even ten-fifteen minutes a day of quiet breath or life-affirming
mantras will impact your soul. So will going to synagogue more often,
both the prayers and the music.

 
Get mental: Join a book group by asking your friends if they know of
an opening, or start one based around your own reading preferences.
Share opinions and tastes, and get to know other people’s worldviews.

 
Make time for old friends: Get deeper with the friends who stood by
you in your tough times. Have them over for dinner one-on- one, or
start a monthly salon.

 
Meet new folks: Tell people you’re interested in expanding your social
circle. Ask to be invited to parties. Look at the “happenings” section in
the Weekly and go to gatherings that are a little bit of a stretch to
push you out of your comfort zone.

 
Cultivate curiosity: Like a child learning to walk, every baby step will
help move you down the road to happiness. Don’t isolate or clutch
what feels safe so tightly that you cannot embrace the new. Leave
room in your life for unexpected joys. Ask for and welcome surprises.

 

 

Give gratitude regularly: Times were hard. They’ll be hard again. The
best insurance policy is a warm personality and a resilient soul. Believe
in and cultivate goodness. Practice tikkun olam. Help the world heal
and you will heal too.

On Track

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I just inadvertently lost a lot of weight. Don’t get me wrong. At least
half my adult weight has been a struggle with mild obesity. Mild if you
consider thirty pounds a small problem. Before that it had much more,
as I put on a whopping ninety pounds in my first marriage. I know it’s
an old cliché to say that shows I was unhappy, but in this case it was
true!! Slowly I managed to lose and keep off ten pounds. The last
twenty-thirty was a fifteen-year battle. I’d get close and then fall
behind.

 
I recently survived a medical struggle. Maybe it was the meds
or maybe it was just the right time, but now I am ten pounds from
goal. I feel lighter in a way I haven’t for a very long time. People are
noticing. They keep telling me “how much smaller” I am, and that they
“hope I won’t put it back on this time.” Frankly, I’m a little insulted. I
always dress nicely, in clean clothes appropriate for the occasion. I am
intelligent, kind, and helpful to others. Why should what size I am
matter to anyone except me? How can I accept the compliment and
educate people at the same time? Should I just be grateful that I am
healthier and thinner and leave it at that? How can I get through the
holidays without backsliding?

On Track

 
Dear On Track:

Sadly we live in a society where everyone feels like they have the right
to have, and to share, an opinion about virtually everything in
everyone’s life. Also a society that idolizes thin and young, despite the
fact that most people are getting fatter and older. So if you go by the
cultural norms, you’re doomed to feel like a loser, and I don’t mean in
the good way that you are proud of becoming. So first of all
congratulations on surviving your medical battle, and secondly on
having kept off the bulk of your bulk for a long time.

 

The happy accident of recent weight loss is an achievement you can be
proud of. It’s one you should be able to hear praised by others. So
learn to accept a compliment and be proud of your success. You can
mention to others that you feel relived and happy about your medical
success, and that the weight loss, while a boon, isn’t what’s making
you so happy. In fact, what you’ve learned is that thinner is good, but
healthier is better. Say you plan to stay on track with both weight loss
and healing, and that you are happy to talk to others about why being
thin is fine, but not an answer to being happy. Tell them they should
go out of their way to compliment people who have worked hard to
heal as much as those who have dropped a dress size.

Sis

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I have a very dysfunctional sister. She is mentally ill though she has
never been officially diagnosed as such. She is a persistent abuser of
prescription drugs, which she manages to steal from work and/or
extract from doctors for various ailments. She’s a nurse, if you can
believe it, though is now working in a limited caregiver capacity in a
group home. Her life has been a declining series of tragedies
culminating in her losing her house. I went up to help her clean it and
move into a one-room rental in a friend’s home. When I saw her for
three days, I witnesed the level of her collapse firsthand. She slept in
till noon while I did all the practical things I could: dealing with movers
and a storage unit. I tried to explain to her how to post her valuables
on Craigslist, and gently alerted her future roommate that “she stays
up late ‘celebrating’”, without saying she is a pill-popping moocher. I
had filmed her with my iphone, high as a kite and dancing like a
madwoman in the middle of the night. I suspect it’s a drug interaction
from her random consumption of pills. She could die or have a seizure,
or she could end up a bag lady living on the street after she loses her
job because she treats the meds cabinet at work like a candy shop.
Also she is a shopaholic. I’ve lived a frugal life and always been a
responsible citizen. I know that some day I will get “The Call.” What
can I do between now and then? I do NOT want to take her in!!!

Sis

 
Dear Sis:

You are not going to be able to stop this train wreck. Your sister is
bound to be caught stealing meds, especially if she has an accident at
work. Just having her working in a group home could endanger the
health and sobriety of residents. One also has to wonder about the
level of supervision of both meds and employees, though turning her
in to her bosses exacerbates and hastens her and your inevitable
problems, rather than solving them.

You need a “come to Moses” meeting with her. You should tell her
everything you have observed, your fears, and, as hard as it may be
to do, your boundaries. I wouldn’t say you had filmed her, in part
because it will make her more cautious around you. But save the file
somewhere, in case you ever need to show a doctor or intervening
authority. You could threaten to tell her supervisor about her drug
habit if she will not voluntarily enter a program like Narcotics
Anonymous, go to regular meetings, and provide some kind of proof of
attendance. You should also insist that she meet with a financial
advisor, the type that helps people downsize debts, and put some kind
of long-term plan into action, including cutting off her credit spending.
Lastly, as hard as this may be to say, you need to tell her you are not
her final or financial safety net. Say that if there were an emergency
you would find her a group home but that you and your family cannot
do more. Suggest that she make plans with other family members who
may be more flexible or wealthier. Though she is unlikely to heed
much of this advice, you will have entered a new phase of relating,
and have had a conversation that you can reference as needed. But
ultimately, she will come to your door.

Dilemma of Riches

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I’m a month into a new relationship. We are both of age and well-off.
Neither cares about marriage again, but we have lots of interests in
common including travel. We are just getting used to and learning
each other’s likes and dislikes. Our tastes in movies and books are
quite similar, but in food very different. He is a bigger guy than I have
been with before, but I don’t mind. I am a little zaftzig and trying to
reduce before surgery. I don’t want to go fanatic on him about calories
or carbs. I don’t even care if he decides to lose weight. But I care a lot
about not having to choose between a potentially very good
relationship with him and a healthy relationship with my own body. Do
you have any wisdom to navigate the next several months?

Dilemma of Riches

 
Dear Dilemma:

The reasons we eat and overeat are many and varied. As one of my
very zafzig friends once said to me: I genuinely LIKE food. Assuming
you are an adult about what you like and what you need to do for your
body, create a generalized set of rules to address your pre-surgical
needs. Try to set limits of calories or carbs that are at least a little
elastic within a given week. That might be an allowance for eating
meals out or a one-day- a-week of not counting, as well as giving
yourself some special occasion passes for weddings or other big
events. What I have learned the very hard way is that any plan that is
pure black/white yes/no day in/out is almost certainly doomed to
failure. You’re going to have to learn to trust yourself and to be able to
say both Yes and No as necessary.

 
Once you know what you’re doing, take your new honey out for dinner
to discuss it. Be very clear about saying, I do not want my food habits
to harm this emerging us. I want you to decide what works for you
and I am not making any judgments about what you decide to do or
not. But I want you to know what I am going to try, in the hope that
when we are together, you will be more supportive rather than
tempting me to go off program. I promise to make it up to you in
kisses, if that’s any motivation. My guess is that your honey will say
yes and you will both reap the benefits.

Couch Potato

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I need to get off the sofa. I’ve been in a long-term vacation from
exercise after some very traumatic surgery a year ago. I’m finally off
the pain meds but I can’t seem to motivate myself. I pay for a gym
membership dutifully every month. I make dates to go on walks with
friends. I swear to my children every week that I will get back to being
the active senior that I was before the surgery. But when I go to get
ready to exercise, it is simply too easy to pick up the remote or the
phone. What can I do to motivate myself that will work. It’s not my
weight I am worried about, but my overall health, physical and
emotional.

Couch Potato

 
Dear Couch Potato:

Start with a general physical and visit with your doctor. Get reassured
that all your vitals are healthy. If there’s a concern about depression
being the cause of your inactivity, a doctor’s the best person to assess
it. S/he can develop an overall fitness plan for you. Because you’ll
probably have to wait for an appointment, at least a few weeks, start
by some gentle walking. Literally, walk out your front door after
breakfast and walk for, say, fifteen minutes the first day. As you walk
around your neighborhood, don’t forget to talk to people: other
walkers, dogwalkers, gardeners, shop owners. Just a Hi and a nod, a
Good morning, or just a wave will get you in the habit of connecting
with people again. You’ll even start to look forward to the walks which
you can extend for a couple minutes or blocks as you develop the
habit.

 
Another motivating tool is a pedometer. You can buy simple ones for
about $50 that you can wear around your neck. They track every step
(especially if you take it off last thing at night and put it on first thing
in the morning) and will inspire your inner competitor. (I attest that
this is true, she said proudly .) Setting a goal is very useful and
watching yourself get closer to it will inspire you. The traditional model
is 10,000 steps a day for weight loss. But just monitoring your daily
total will help you get closer to that goal. Bonus points if you can
inspire a friend to get one too and to compare notes and progress.
It takes time get back into exercise, especially after medical issues and
a long vacation. But as you begin to generate endorphins from moving
off the sofa, you will find yourself quickly looking forward to your time
on your feet.

Trimming

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I’m in a wonderful new relationship. It has been three months and I
don’t think I could be happier. He is sweet, funny, charming,
intelligent, and kind. We share similar values, hobbies, and politics. So
far my friends all like him, though his are far away (he just moved
here). The problem is that I have very strict orders from my doctor to
lose twenty pounds before an impending knee surgery this winter. I
am working with a dietician and changing how I eat. My new beau is a
foodie and we go to great restaurants. I am pretty good about what I
order for a main course, but he is always suggesting that we have
drinks, bread, appetizers, and desserts, and acts hurt when I demur or
don’t show the same enthusiasm about them. He is a big guy and
could lose some weight himself, but that’s between him and his
body/doc. I just need to stay on my program. How can I explain this
without ruining what could be a great thing?

Trimming

 
Dear Trimming:

Virtually every new relationship looks great in the first three months,
even six if you are lucky. Then the true issues begin to emerge. That’s
not to say they are fatal, just that they need to be addressed, and the
more difficult issue of how you communicate when things are less rosy
can quickly become the focus of how you relate, not just the kissing
and hugging and being happy.
You can start by reminding him when he wants you to order more than
you want to eat that you are trying very hard to follow your doctor’s
orders. You can try to allocate your calories/carbs/etc to allow a little
extra splurge for the times when you two are out, but he should be
willing to hear a No thanks when you order the same way you have
the right to respond Not tonight, dear. You get to decide what to do
with your body, and you should not be pressured (actively or
passively) into doing something else. There are legitimate health
reasons for your decisions, and if he is a keeper for the long run, he
will respect and support them. If not, you will have had a delightful
interlude, and have new criteria to add to your list when you start your
next relationship. I hope he is a mensch, and can be supportive and
encouraging, or at least not subversive to your efforts to get healthy.
Because if he’s not helping now, he probably won’t be a reliable person
post-surgery. Speak simply and clearly, and be consistent in your
behavior. Then hope he steps up. If not, think about new boundaries
for the relationship.

On Track

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

What can one say to someone who is unconscionably rude about
weight issues? I am fat. I admit it up front. I am on a medical program
and on Weight Watchers. I have taken and kept off almost 100
pounds. But the reasons that make it hard for me to lose more weight
faster are no one’s business but my own. I work out in an aqua-
aerobics class and there is a woman there, a former fattie who lost
with a radical medical procedure, who is very critical of everyone not a
skinny-malink. She told a man in the class who is planning a 1000-
mile tandem bike trip with his zaftzig wife to “get another partner or
she’ll strand you by the side of the road!” She hasn’t made rude
remarks to me directly, but I can feel her glaring eyes on me all the
time.

On Track

 
Dear On Track:

People who are rude, judgmental, and confrontational rarely respond
well to having the mirror turned around on then. While you may be
sure she is saying bad things about you behind your back, unless she
does so to your face you probably shouldn’t engage her in a battle of
who’s ruder about whom. Your judgments about her rudeness might
be construed as equally offensive, certainly by her and perhaps by
others. If you know for sure that she has said something about you,
you can talk to her. But be very sure that you do so with other people
around whom you believe will be reliable and articulate witnesses.
If she does say something to you directly, you can say something akin
to this: I’d heard that you have no boundaries to your rudeness,
especially about people who look like you used to. To be clear, my
relationship with my body is none of your concern. I do not give you
the right to judge me, nor will I internalize any of your opinions.
Please keep them to yourself. Others may not have the guts to tell
you, but we all think you are rude and unpleasant. Then turn and walk
away. It may not stop her, but it might quiet her down.

Twenty Pounds Over the Line

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I’m trying to get ready for knee surgery later this year. It’s very hard
sticking to a food and exercise program when you are dating and have
friends who celebrate life. There are too many occasions for eating
out, catching a drink, going to BBQs and graduation parties. I know
you have heard this a thousand times before, but what’s a polite way
to be social and engage with people without compromising my
principles and priorities. To be clear, this is not about vanity. It is
about medical necessity.

Twenty Pounds Over the Line

 
Dear Twenty Pounds:

Unless your friends are unusual, the person who raises a fork or glass
to her mouth and decides what goes in is you. And only you. So all the
advice in the world is no substitute for self-control, commitment, and
focus. Each meal, even each mouthful, is a choice. You may see a
warm fresh challah, inhale its aroma, imagine its pillowy goodness,
and yearn for its sweetness. But that doesn’t mean you have to eat it.
Or if you do, to have more than one appreciative bite. Or slice, or two,
or..….It is a slippery slope. Only you decide what is enjoyed by your
eyes and nose but not by your mouth.

 
Make a list of your food principles. There’s the obvious about low
sugar, low fat, maybe even low gluten. But there’s also the idea of
portion control within whatever food program you choose. If you are
going to a party, ask the hostess what’s going to be served. Don’t be
shy about saying That sounds lovely but my doctor has me eating
veggies. I hope you don’t mind if I bring a platter of fresh veggies and
low-cal dip to add to the offerings. When you dine out, order a salad
and an appetizer, not a full meal. Control your alcohol consumption.
Talk your diet plan over with your doc and get a sign off and set goals
together.

 

 

Don’t neglect the exercise part of the equation. Find a low-impact class
that you can tolerate, or learn to love water aerobics. Again, your
docwill have ideas. But once you have a plan, stick to it like glue until
after the surgery. You will be very happy later when you are light and
svelte and can embrace life more fully in your newly bionic body.

Stuck

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I am feeling very stuck. I had been doing really well on my food
program (staying off sugar) but along the way I seem to have become
a complete carb junky. I can avoid sweet foods and still; find lots of
ways to keep myself sated with bread and butter. My clothes are
getting tight on me again and the holiday season is looming. I cannot
fall into the giant abyss of mindless eating or I will need more diabetes
meds. I wish fear were a sufficient incentive but it doesn’t seem to
work. What can I do?

Stuck

 
Dear Stuck:

Fear is not a good motivator. It may work for a little while but not for
the long run. Most people change by being pulled towards something
(e.g. health) or by being pushed from it (e.g. death). In your case a
lot more information would be a great cure. Because what works on
most diet plans may or may not right for a diabetic. Virtually every
health plan and Medicare will pay for a diabetic education plan. Sign
up now and treat it like your life depends on it. Then develop a cue
word or behavior, a mantra you have to say or an act or pre-contrition
to perform before you put anything in your mouth. The weeks between
Thanksgiving and New Year’s add five pounds to most people’s waistlines.
You don’t have the room, even if you have elastic waists. A little more
consciousness can save a lifetime of tsoris.

Hit the Brink

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I am starting a very stringent food program. I’ll spare you the medical
details but assume they include long-tern chronic debilitating
conditions, mild obesity, and a sincere but wavering desire in the past
to “get healthy” and kick the medical issues through nutrition. I have
my doctor’s sign-off to do a three-month experiment that I have been
working my way into. The punch line on the NO foods are: no gluten
(and little non-whole grain), no sugar, no dairy, no caffeine, no
legumes. I’m not vegetarian but consume animal protein only
modestly. I can still imbibe small amounts of alcohol, assuming my
blood sugars are within certain limits. Here’s the problem: Look at the
calendar! I’m social and there’s no “Just wait until January” in this
experiment. In addition to Hanukah, office, Xmas, Ney Year’s and
other December events, there are birthdays, parties, Valentine’s, and
regular weekend socializing, all of which occur based on the Standard
American Diet, plus dessert. I don’t want to miss all the fun. I know I
can resist some temptations but I am not sure if I’ll cave or not. My
doctor is eloquent about what happens if I do.

Hit the Brink

 
Dear Brink:

It’s always tempting to say, I’ll just wait another week, month, or
season. But the reality is that there’ll just be a different set of reasons
not to begin, and your doctor’s eloquence is nothing compared to what
your pancreas and other organs are screaming at you. So you’ll need
to decide how committed you are, what’s fungible and what’s not, and
how you’re going to get through this well. You need to be clear, as in
100% clear, about what you’re not going to cheat on. If it’s wheat,
then no wheat means no wheat, as in zero none. If it’s sugar, then
none. The minute you give yourself permission to eat the target food,
especially “just this once,” you’ve put one foot on the slippery slope to
failure. The slide is exponential. I can testify. If your list is fixed, write
it down. Put it on the bathroom mirror and recite affirmations every
time you brush your teeth: I don’t eat……

 

 

Prepare yourself for social situations. Since you’re clearly going to be
eating something for this duration, you’ll be acclimating to substitute
foods. Bring a piece of fruit or whatever dessert you’re allowed. Ditto if
you can do special kinds of bread or other carbs. Develop simple
explanations for a hostess (I don’t expect special treatment) and other
guests (It’s a temporary but rigid approach to address a medical
condition). Mostly you&'ll need to develop a strength of personality
that’s unusual for most people. But if you’re truly motivated you can
get through this and get healthy. And if you don’t you’ll be asking for
very different accommodations.