Sweetsville

Last week when I stepped on the scale, I was thrilled. I’d lost two pounds after a couple of weeks of plateau. It was due, I knew, to my decision to stop drinking alcohol. Alcohol isn’t banned from plant-based whole food diets. But it has calories, lots of them, empty ones that add no nutrition. So with weight loss as my #1 goal to reverse the diabetes train, dropping wine (and the occasional martini) from my life seemed obvious.

I went without alcohol and stuck firmly to the PBWF diet and I lost weight. Then I started to eat a little bit outside the PBWF box. I didn’t drink any wine, but consoled myself with cake. Just a little square. Which led to more sugar. Because I hadn’t really wanted the cake, what I really had been craving was a chocolate chip cookie. Once the cookies were in my shopping cart, I knew I’d eat more than one.

Now it is Friday and I have done my weekly weigh in. The two pounds I lost last week are back. Even though most of the time I have been faithfully eating my vegetables and fruit, my potatoes and rice, my oatmeal and almond milk … most of the time isn’t enough.

Sure as the sun shines, eating sugar leads to eating more sugar. There is nothing like the high of losing weight unless it’s having a little something sweet to reward myself. I have done this over and over again for thirty years now. Why? Because not eating sugar is hard. And I say sugar but there is a very long list of what I am no longer eating: no meat, poultry, fish, bread, oil, no dairy or processed foods.

I looked it up. About 1% of the US population is vegan. That’s about a million people. I couldn’t find any numbers for PBWF vegans. But really how much lower can you go than 1% ??? So, even the numbers say this is hard. I’m sticking with it, though, because I want to have a healthy rest of my life. After a brief detour into sweetsville, I am back on the PBWF path.

It’s not a coincidence that taking away wine made me crave sugar. It’s replacing one treat with another. Some people who quit drinking alcohol will drink endless cups of coffee laced with sugar and cream. Others smoke two packs of cigarettes a day. That’s a trope of AA meetings, the addicts with their coffee and cigarettes. Cigarettes would solve my problem with sugar. I never had a problem with sugar until I quit smoking. Quitting smoking is harder than quitting sugar. I tried to quit at least ten times before I finally did it thirty years ago.

I am worried right now that my week of eating sugar is going to show at the doctor’s office. My next visit is in ten days. That’s when I do the fasting blood work. Meanwhile, I will not be eating any more sugar. Once you get off of it, with PBWF you don’t even want it. In that way, it’s so much easier to kick than cigarettes.

 

Diet Danger Zones

I know all about things that can get me in trouble when I go on a weight loss program. Plant based whole food really is more than a diet, it’s a lifestyle, but because my #1 directive from my doctor to avoid diabetes is to lose weight, I have to work this into the PBWF diet, and it’s not that hard to do. Except when I make it that way.

Wine is not illegal on a PBWF diet. But I have recently discovered (this didn’t use to happen to me) that if I have a couple of glasses of wine in the evening, I don’t sleep well that night. I really need a good night’s sleep to function properly. (That wasn’t always the case, either. Clearly these are age related indignities.) When I don’t sleep my brain gets lazy and I decide that I’m just going to have a little chocolate or potato chips, or both.

All of these things (empty calories, sleepless nights, junk food) ruin a diet. I did that life expectancy quiz¬†everyone my age has probably done at least once. The alcohol was set at 2.7 drinks a week and I left it there, not really wanting to know how much I drink. The quiz calculated I’d live to be 92! Not bad.

I asked my husband if I drank more than 2.7 drinks a week. He laughed. “You drink that in a day.” He has a point. I don’t drink every day, and I don’t drink 2.7 drinks every time I drink, but I know I drink more, maybe 6-8 drinks a week. That sounds high. I’m a little embarrassed by that number, but it’s pretty accurate. It’s really too many drinks for someone who has to lose 30 pounds. Or maybe more. For a person trying to lose a significant amount of weight, alcohol for the week should be zero.

And so should potato chips and chocolate and cheeseburgers. Zero, zero, zero. And yet, I am all too human. I make mistakes all the time. But it is really important to be me to straighten the curve and drinking 6-8 units of alcohol a week, which leads to eating junk food and not sleeping well, is not gonna help. I really don’t care about wine more than weight loss. I don’t care about wine more than sleeping. And so I am going to stop drinking alcohol and go with the #1 drink recommended by PBWF, a drink, as luck would have it, I really enjoy: water.

 

 

 

Changes Sad & Glad

Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, is one of my favorite TV people. Her show on the Food Network is about more than cooking. It’s about the flowers and table setting, too. Episodes that include her husband Jeffery are the best. I love the way their genuine warmth and admiration for each other beams from their faces. You just know they are still truly in love.

I like Valerie Bertinelli’s¬†cooking show too. She’s a warm and sweet person who knows her way around her charming kitchen. It’s not her home kitchen. It’s a set built using inspiration from her own kitchen at home. Ina has a “barn” out back with a deluxe kitchen and pantry. Both Ina and Valerie have cute themes to their menus, too.

Since changing my diet to mostly plant-based whole foods, I’ve avoided watching these programs, because I’d be too tempted to make the recipes. But today, instead of the increasingly depressing news, I really needed Valerie’s cheery face. Plus the Food Network was doing a repeat of Ina and Jeffery’s classic 45th anniversary dinner show. Everything Ina made related in some way to their shared history, while Jeffrey chose the wine direct from a vineyard and also picked up the wedding portrait he’d had framed for Ina.

To prepare myself, I ate lunch before watching the show. The great thing about PBWF eating is you really don’t get hungry between meals and even if you see great food (Ina made peanut better chocolate “globs” ~ something they had at a restaurant on their first anniversary ~ and Valerie made an caramel apple tart) you don’t get cravings. I used to get cravings if I even read about a food I liked. If I saw the word “wine” in a book, I’d look at the time to see if it was cocktail hour! But today I fortified with my healthy lunch and I enjoyed my favorite programs without pain. I even thought about ways I could make some of the dishes PBWF.

It helped knowing that the PBWF chocolate muffins I made a few days ago were on hand for a snack. The key to not feeling hungry between meals is to eat the vegetables and fruits first, then have your starches. Oh, and eat as much as your body needs. You should not be hungry between meals. I’ve learned just how many hash browns (my favorite lunch starch) make me happy until dinner, and just how many oats will see me safely to lunch. I eat larger portions than I used to–for so long I didn’t eat starches at all. But now that I don’t eat meat or dairy or processed foods, I can indulge my love of potatoes.

Before I give you the recipe for my muffins, I just want to add that I am not perfect on this diet. My husband and I, like Ina and Jeffery, have yearly traditions that make us feel close. And one of them is donuts and cider in the fall while the leaves are peaking. We did that, and yes I had a donut AND cider. I have often heard that if you try to be perfect on a diet, you are bound to fail; if you try to just do your best every day, you’ll be happy and healthy. And with PBWF I don’t “fall off” my diet for a week. It’s easy to just begin again after a treat.

Cindy’s PBWF Chocolate Muffins

1/2 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder, 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, 2/3 cup maple syrup, 1 cup canned pumpkin, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour, 3/4 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp baking powder

Mix dry ingredients. Mix wet ingredients. Combine. Use cupcake liners or silicone pan, bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until toothpick stuck into muffin comes out clean. Cool. Enjoy!