Weight Loss & Being Frugal

A nice bowl of stoup!

This isn’t about comparing the relative costs of grass-fed beef against factory-farmed meat. Nor is it comparing the merits and pricing of organic veggies to those herbicide and pesticide-laden choices we sometimes make. This is about the challenge of sticking to a diet when you’ve been endowed with the frugality gene. And I am so endowed with the frugality gene!

Being raised in a household where “clean your plate” was a dinner time mantra, I learned my lessons well. Perhaps too well. I struggle to leave that token amount on the plate. What a waste of good food, I just can’t do it! My habits are more to the contrary, and I’ll mop up whatever residue remains on the plate with just one more bread roll. Buttered, heavily, of course. Now that I mostly don’t eat bread, I have nothing to mop up my plate with. And I haven’t reached the point of licking the plate yet! But I have transferred the expression of my frugality gene to the fridge.

As we approach garbage day, I start surveying any foods that are likely to wind up in the garbage. Or that I know will not be consumed by other members of the household. I feel obliged to consume such foods. And I often do it in the form of a stoup. A dish that is too thin to be stew. Yet too thick to be soup.

My latest stoup was an Irish-German-Mexican-Thai fusion! Garlic & onion, sauteed in the bottom of a large pot starts the process. Add a liter of (organic, as it happens!) chicken broth to the pot. One large, peeled & sliced, potato as a thickener for the broth. Then I go hunting through the fridge. A full head of cabbage, excellent! A bunch of ignored cilantro. Half a dozen wieners that somehow survived a barbecue. Oh look, a little bowl of leftover mashed potato! And another chicken broth container, with a little less than half the contents remaining. A quick smell … yep, that’s good too. Good job I had that extra mashed potato to thicken up all that extra liquid! A couple of slices of cooked bacon. Wash the inside of that German mustard jar with a little broth & in that goes to the pot. Another half an onion in a container. And … wait for it … half a tub of sour cream! Season that pot with some salt, pepper, some other weird condiment mixes & then … a spoon of curry powder. Absolutely essential that.
Oops, now I’m short some liquid. Can’t spoil the pot by adding water, can I? But a can of coconut milk will do the trick!

I can tell you that this was quite delicious. And I should also admit that that one cute little bowl of stoup in the pic wasn’t all I ate!

It probably wasn’t the perfect dish to have on what should have been a low-carb day. Though I’m sure I’ve done worse. But, being frugal, I’m forced to eat all those leftover foods that others (all of them skinny!) won’t eat. It’s just not fair!

But … with all the money I’ve saved … we’re going out & I’m going to treat myself to a nice steak dinner now! 🙂

Results … Month #11

I don’t have a result for this month yet because I can’t get to my scale. I’m writing this from my hospital bed!

My book wasn’t on the used books rack! Might have to sneak back in & donate!

Instead of writing up this month’s results, I’m worried about how my upcoming surgery will impact my weight-loss strategies. My superstitious Celtic nature prevents me from talking about the surgery now (in case I hex things!) but I will cover it later. Along with whatever new challenges that it might impose on my diet. But please, God, let me still be able to eat lots of fat. And hot & spicy stuff!

The dietary component of this week’s post is about the food provided by, what I believe is our best medical facility on the east coast. I’ve been in the Halifax Infirmary, part of the QE II medical complex in downtown Halifax, all week. Up until a few days ago, they fed me salty water in a bag. They they finally served me breakfast. They shouldn’t have bothered!

A low-fat yogurt, with added sugar. A lighter-than-air bread roll, that might as well be sugar. Accompanied by an industrial seed oil margarine. A refined grain cereal, ‘nuf said. And to wash it all down with? A wan-looking 1% milk. Who drinks this stuff!?! Even baby cows would be repulsed!

Now I have spotted better leftovers down the hall so, after a little chat with my favourite catering services person, I’m hoping things will fatten up for me going forward! 😁

Meantime, you can’t help but wonder how menu planning advances happen in the medical world. Most of the folk working here know all about keto, low-carb, whole food, paleo, and so on. And I see them sneaking off to their break room with real food under their arm! Okay, a big chocolate chocolate chip muffin is a bit dubious. But if you’re gonna be bad, then be really bad. One day they’ll rise up & help us powerless patients get some real food too. I can only hope it’s before my next visit!

Talking of the people, they’re something special here. I’m sure everyone says that about their favourite local hospitals. But I think these guys have pushed the curve far to the right. I am almost ready to bawl my eyes out witnessing the patience, the perseverance, and pure kindness so many of these good folk bring to their job. And for the people who depend on them. Broken and distressed, as we patients can sometimes find ourselves.

Thanks a bunch, all you guys at the 4.2 & downstairs, I truly luv y’all. Even those cruel few who take just a little too much pleasure in taking my “vitals” at 4 in the morning!

But I hope the next time I see any of you again is in a pub. And when that happens, the beer’s on me!

Eat More Fat!

Eat More Fat!yougurt copy

With advice from just about all of our governments, certainly in the west, & our medical communities, we have spent several decades now trying to reduce our fat intake. During that time, I think we may even have achieved that goal, but western populations continued to get fatter. Higher fat diets, though now far more prevalent, are still considered unhealthy by the majority. You don’t need to go any further than the dairy case in the supermarket to see which philosophy is leading in the popular opinion stakes. The low & reduced fat milks predominate. Low fat & 0% fat yogurts occupy most of the shelf space. This, still current, reality was more harshly brought to my attention when I joined a couple of Facebook groups over the recent holiday. I joined some Instant Pot® communities so I could learn more about my new toy. Then I realized there were probably groups out there for my much older T-fal Actifry® too. There were!

In both communities, you’ll find that supermarket pattern mimicked. The tone of many comments suggest that eating low-fat is just a given thing. Obvious & matter of course. An indisputable & irrefutable fact that goes unquestioned. Many people are trying to avoid the fat. Indeed, the Actifry was designed for that very purpose. When I first opened my Actifry, I threw away the little green spoon that suggest that I limit my fat! On the Instant Pot® groups, I shared my yogurt success with the 10% fat cream. The silence was deafening! And as other conversations resumed, most went back to talking about low fat ingredients again. Though there were some using, almost with guilt, that positively decadent whole milk!

I find it very difficult to lose weight without adding fat to my diet. While I’m still struggling with getting back on track after the holidays, fat is still very much a favored part of my diet. I can only diet well when I up the fat intake. Eating a good diet, for me, means that I’m not putting on still more weight during times of stress. And fat is equally useful when I’m trying to lose weight. Why is fat so important?

Consider the mainstream dietary regimen of choice during past decades, the recommendations all centered around eating less and moving more. That basically means eat a low-fat, low-calorie diet. Fat has more calories per gram than protein or carbohydrate, so it sounds like the obvious macronutrient to target. Protein is touted as the best macronutrient for satiety, so who needs fat? While all these are true, reducing fat in my diet has never worked well for me. Most often, it was because I couldn’t stick with the low-fat diet that remained.

Adding fat to my diet helps me stay the course better, & for longer. Will it get me to where I want to be? We’ll see.

Now I am not implying that I simply added a big dose of fat to the diet that was already making me fatter. Though even that might have helped displace some of the more truly fattening foods I was eating! The deadly combination, for me, is fat combined with sugar & processed starches. Though I can do a good job of gaining weight eating products advertised as low-fat, or zero-fat, too.

We’ll take a look at some of those fats that I consider good another time but for now, I’m off to enjoy some more of my 10% fat yogurt!

 

 

 

Surviving a Bad Diet Week

Surviving a Bad Diet Week

Lobster Poutine

Lobster Poutine!

I was travelling all last week. I’m usually better prepared for eating well on the road but the stress overload on this particular trip was way above & beyond anything I would consider normal. I won’t dwell on the details now, for fear that I’ll bring on another panic attack! But believe me, this was a heavy-duty week. When I tell you that the healthiest meal I had all week was a lobster poutine, you might get some idea of just how poorly my diet fared.

Don’t know what poutine is? Get ready to have your mind blown!

It’s a dish that originated in the province of Quebec. The basic version consists of French fries, loaded up with a big fistful of cheese curds. And all of that gets slathered in gravy. Gravy so hot that the curds melt into the matrix of fries! You can nuance the dish by adding all sorts of other ingredients. I like chunks of German or Hungarian sausage myself. But you can add pepperoni, perhaps with a dash of Parmesan cheese & some chili flakes, to give it a little Italian pizza-like flair. The lobster poutine I’d never had before though. And, despondent though I felt about how I was eating all week, I just couldn’t resist the temptation. Once again, I was so enamored of the dish before me, that I attacked it before remembering to grab of a shot of it. Apologies!

I didn’t get home ’til almost midnight on Saturday. I was so exhausted on Sunday that I was couch-bound all day. The scale mocked me that morning, I was up 5.6 lbs after my week of debauchery. Horror! I stuck with a low-carb regimen through the day, on Sunday. Though I did have some baked beans. And some mustard pickle. And that cherry ice cream. With dark chocolate thrown in for good measure. Please … cut me some slack, I was hurting!

Monday showed a drop of 4 lbs. Phew! The big gain was likely water retention from all that starchy eating the previous week. In any case, I’m not quite back on track yet. And I’m looking at a pretty daunting schedule between now & Christmas. I’m really not sure if I’m telling you all this in anticipation of failure over the coming weeks. Or maybe I’m preparing to test myself, and the robustness of the program, during such trying times. Whichever it might be, it’s going to be an interesting time. Please send me a word of encouragement here and there. I could use the help!

And if you’ve never had poutine before … give it a try!

Dieting on the Road

Dieting on the Road

Tandoori Platter

It’s not as challenging to eat “well” on the road as we dieters like to imagine. I’m not talking about going the chicken salad route (hold the chicken skin, the croutons, the dressing and the dried fruit & nut pieces) … you can do that if you want but that’s not how I diet!

Yes, you have to have some dialogue with the server. And yes, they’ll probably think you’re a bit of a pain. But better that than blow the diet. Again!

On the road last week, I was led towards an Indian restaurant this particular evening. And that was just fine by me. I pretty much love all food but if you forced me to pick just one national cuisine, I might have to go with Indian. As it happened, I was on a low-carb regimen that particular day. Oh boy!

I love rice, naan, samosa & pakora but those were not going to be allowed today. Yes, there were salad options. And yes, there were vegetarian dishes aplenty. But I was drawn to the Tandoori Platter. Right away, the word platter promises a gut-busting feast of goodies. And it was. Beef, chicken, lamb, shrimp and who knows what else. There were some token veggies in there too, just to assuage any little fear I might entertain of it being an unhealthy choice. One of the key reasons for this choice was that it didn’t come with a sauce, Tandoori dishes are dry spiced. And I refused to ask about their spice recipe … just in case there were any bad ingredients in there that would have forced me to order that chicken salad! I do love those sauces, by the way, but there’s always some bad stuff hiding in them. And today was to be as sugar & starch-free as any reasonable road warrior could make it.

The bottom line was that it was delicious. I was stuffed. And I was sufficiently fortified to resisted all the starchy temptations offered by my dining companions!

But did it work?

I don’t know!

I’ll have to wait for the official end-of-month weigh-in on October 1st to see how it all plays out. Though I might have been grateful that I didn’t have my scale with me during my travels!