Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Baltimore Wrap-Up Part I-- The Food Part

I'm finally home, as of yesterday afternoon, and just so happy to be here. Best of all (well, really best of all is being with Michael, who couldn't come with me) is sleeping in a bed that doesn't kill my back and in which I actually sleep. Between Maine and Baltimore, I think I've had three good nights of sleep in about three weeks. Happiness is a comfy bed.

In the midst of a lot of chaos, though, I thought off and on about what I was eating, even under this really stressful circumstance. And the interesting thing is that its really solidified in my mind how much low carb and high-quality, largely unprocessed foods have become a way of life for me. That apartment is just filled with... oh, everything that I don't eat these days, cookies and chips and bread and so forth. Carb paradise. And I didn't eat any of it. I look at it, and I think , this is not food.... in the same kind of way that you'd look at something you totally disliked and say, ick, eggplant (or whatever); I'm not putting that in my mouth.

But a second facet of this is the truth that you can eat very low carb and still eat pretty badly. And that calories do count. In all the chaos, there wasn't a lot of time to eating. I cooked exactly one proper meal, and the rest of the time, we mostly all grazed or went out to dinner. For me, grazing is cheese and meat; and it's easy to eat a lot of calories without a lot of nutritional value when your primary food is cheese. I haven't weighed myself yet, but I'd be beyond surprised if my weight wasn't up, at least a bit.

If it is, one culprit is eating out. We did eat out a few times, and that's where the carb load, such as it was, happened. But that's kind of my third point about all of this, and it's back to my favorite issue of late, portion size. One night, we ate a what I'd call kind of a standard restaurant... not so standard in that it makes sort of American diner food plus an Indian selection, but the big point is that the portion sizes were HUGE. Although what I ate was relatively low carb (a chicken Caesar salad and Saag Lamb, no rice), I felt unbelievably stuffed, and yet I didn't really finish either of those things. The size of things that everyone else got was even worse. (Actually, I have to say that the food at this place was pretty bad in my opinion, too... oversalted, and the salad drenched with dressing). The next night, we went to a fantastic sushi place. Although I did, of course, eat rice, the difference was that portion size was reasonable, and the quality of the food was wonderful. (I was bloated as hell the next day from the soy sauce, which always happens, but it passes.) And the last night we went to a restaurant that I highly recommend, Meli, which was fantastic. Anyway, I didn't try hard to eat religiously low carb; I had a little toast with the cheese selection, a little crispy tempura batter on the onions and so on... a few bites of dessert... but the lesson here is again, portion size. A few bites of dessert, a toast point, etc... these things are not going to kill you. These things are probably not even going to cause you to gain weight, eaten on a rare basis. What kills you is the mounds of toast and pasta and rice and so on... and that's just as true, in a way, about mountains of meat and cheese and whatever, low carb but it packs on the calories. The big secret, the one that I just can't quite wrap my head around consistently, is that less is more. A little of something of perfect taste and quality, not a heap of junk.

If I could just master that, it would make a lot of difference.

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