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.