The diet dilemma

I recently discovered a new comfort food: scorched English muffins with grape jelly smeared on them. (They’re always scorched because my decrepit little toaster oven has gone haywire and the timer no longer works.) I spent most of my Thanksgiving break lounging on the couch, watching Benson, and eating a charred English muffin from time to time. It was heavenly.

A few weeks ago, I attempted to go on the Atkins Diet, but I ran out of food … and I didn’t have enough money to buy more Atkins-friendly groceries.

So I’m trying to lose weight the “regular” way: power-walking at the park, cutting back on soda, drinking more water, and avoiding food that tastes good.

Still, I wish I could continue with Atkins. I lost 70 pounds that way in 2003.

The Atkins Diet is easy if:

1.) You have an unlimited amount of money.

2.) You’re the only human being on Earth.

I’ve found that it’s nearly impossible to stick with the Atkins Diet during social gatherings. If you say you’re on the Atkins Diet (or any diet, for that matter) people immediately start to squirm and twitch. Maybe it’s because they think you’re miserable and they feel sorry for you. Maybe they’re worried about your health and well-being. Perhaps they can’t enjoy their own food while you’re sitting in their presence, “depriving” yourself.

Whatever the reason, if you arrive at a birthday party and tell people you’re on the Atkins Diet, they will inevitably pin you to the floor and cram handfuls of cake and ice cream down your throat. It’s just a law of nature.

It doesn’t matter if you say, “Hey, don’t feel bad for me. I’m fine. My body is in ketosis right now. My appetite is pretty much non-existent. Just go ahead and enjoy your food and don’t worry about me, OK?”

They won’t listen. They will force you to eat what they’re eating.

***

Before my doctor absconded to Mexico without warning, he told me that exercise is the most important part of an effective weight-loss program. While your dietary choices are obviously crucial, your exercise regimen is the real key to getting rid of fat. (Marcia, please correct me if I’m wrong. You know more about these things than I do.) I’ve made it a point to start walking at the track a few times a week. In fact, I need to finish typing this post so I can get up early in the morning and take a good, long walk.

Still, my relationship with food is what got me into this situation to begin with. Especially fast food.

In the back of my mind, there’s a hazy memory of a family road trip. I was about three years old. It was late at night, but I was wide awake. Boredom gnawed at my mind as I sat in the back seat, watching illuminated billboards float by in the darkness. (We were traveling from Central Florida to Northwest Georgia. It was a horrendously long ride, especially for a child.) My heart skipped with delight when my dad veered off the interstate and stopped at McDonald’s. I got a Happy Meal. The hamburger and fries were delicious. There was also a plastic pencil sharpener in the shape of Grimace, one the McDonald’s characters.

The feeling of boredom and restlessness gave way to euphoria as I ate my hamburger and played with my new trinket. In my little toddler mind, there was almost no difference between the Happy Meal and … say, Christmas morning.

That’s where it all started, I think.

I’m a grown man now and I’m responsible for my own actions, including my eating habits. But I’ve always found myself reaching for fast food whenever I feel anxious and uneasy — and I always feel a little bit anxious and uneasy.

***

I’m not going to draw anything else for the rest of the year. I want to spend the whole month of December relaxing, praying, reflecting on 2013, and taking stock of myself. (And eating burnt English muffins. And watching Benson. You know, I drew a picture of Robert Guillaume the other night and sent it to him on Twitter. It actually looked more like O.J. Simpson, but Mr. Guillaume seemed flattered. And that’s all that really matters.)

Anyway, I will write more later. It’s late. I need to sleep.

In the meantime, here are some “healthy” foods that I plan to start eating on a regular basis. If you would like to suggest some more, feel free to post a comment below.

* Broccoli with melted cheese

* Grilled chicken from KFC (by the bucketload)

* Canned corn

* The aforementioned English muffins

* Banana chips

* Baked potato chips

* Raisin bagels

* Tuna

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20 thoughts on “The diet dilemma

  1. OMG Benson I loved that show as a child… Here is something easy to do similar to Atkins without the cost. Cut heavy carb loaded foods. No pasta, bread, potatoes. Eat veggies and chicken or pork and a little red meat. It’s basically high protein low fat diet. You will feel the difference, no seriously. No matter what you choose, good luck. I believe you can do it. 🙂 Crystal p.s. I am off to find your picture of Robert Guilluame. I have to see it.

  2. Great post, Matt! To lose weight, try juicing. That’s what worked for me. It’s healthy, has lots of health bennies, and gives you oodles of energy. Also, you are going to have to reduce your caloric intake by a lot. Noone ever tells you the truth about weight loss and that is you have to suffer a little to get great results. Your doctor is right about exercise but diet is uber important too. Cardio daily, replace a couple meals with a juice, and you’ll begin to lose weight immediately. Results make you want to keep going and there you have your motivation 🙂 Best of luck!

  3. I understand what you are going through… I too want my junk from time to time but as I am a relatively new vegetarian gradually becoming vegan, I haven’t yet settled on a diet… 3 great tips for healthy eating however, are: 1. to chew slowly and thoroughly (is that word right?) your food. 2. wait until your bite has reached your stomach before you raise the fork with the next bite and 3. stop eating while you feel pleased but not full. It is also very important that when you are about to eat, you sit on a table and do JUST that! No tv or computer or phone…!!!! I hope they make sense!
    Have a great rest of the week, Matthew! 🙂

    • Yes, it all makes perfect sense! 🙂 Those are some good ideas. For a little while, I only ate at the kitchen table. That helped a lot. But then I fell out of the habit. I need to start doing that again.

      I hope you’re having a good week too, Marina! 🙂

  4. I’m a “grown-up” and I still love my Happy Meals. Grimace is one of my favourite characters and I still have Grimace toys in my room til this day 😀

    I agree exercise is key to losing weight, but most importantly staying healthy. Walking is the most convenient form of exercise I reckon. You can walk almost anywhere and everywhere. Good on you for walking, hope you find it enjoyable!

  5. Burger King has these new fries that i guess they are trying out. I cant get enough of them. Every time I drive past a BK i want to pull in and just order french fries. What is it about those little krinkle fries that has bewiched the pleasure centers in my brain? Is it chemical? Or is it some emotional response attached to a buried memory of eating them as a kid?
    My body’s way of responding to the Atkins diet was to go along with it for awhile and then when I started eating normal food again it sucked up every calorie I ate and put it all into fat storage just in case i tried it again. I ultimately gained 30lbs more than my average pre-diet weight. Intense excercise is the only way I will ever be thin.

    • Great to hear from you! I’ve seen those fries in the commercials, but I haven’t eaten them yet. I’ve heard they also have a burger now called the Big King, which is an unabashed rip-off of the Big Mac. I hate to admit it, but I’m dying to try it…

  6. As a carbohydrate addict, this made me laugh out loud. I love it when my friends are on Atkins – more mashed potatoes, rice, and bread for me! 😀 I lost thirty pounds during a pretty miserable period in my life when I ate a lot of pastry and Cheetos, and have gained weight when I count calories religiously. So I don’t know the formula, obviously. I just try to let myself love what I eat and eat what I love. Good luck!

  7. i honestly applaud you for trying and for coming to the realisation that you need to act (positively!) on your weight. the first step (which is really the hardest) is admitting it. admitting you first have an issue and then admitting you need help. i think what would honestly help you would be to have a buddy who’s both into fitness and healthy lifestyle habits and you guys just hang out all the time. then it gets easier (:

    i hope you’re still on this road— to a fitter, better, healthier you! thanks for sharing bits of your journey. (i loved reading this by the way!)

    thanks for dropping by, too. and for leaving a comment. it was a nice surprise.

    • Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it. Yes, I’m still sticking with it. I’m planning my meals ahead of time and trying to eat smaller portions. And drinking more water. I’m saving money this way too. 🙂 Nice to hear from you!

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