Food File: December 9 2018

Target Audience: Evangelical Christians

Sugar Rush! I will admit that I ate way too much sugar tonight. I went to my church’s Carol and Dessert night. How did I do? Well, it wasn’t as good as I had hoped, but not as bad as I had feared. I decided that I would not eat manufactured desserts, such as cookies, cakes, pies, etc., that people bought ready made in stores. So, as I browsed the 30-foot buffet of sugary desserts, I selected those which I felt people had baked themselves. I also restricted myself to a very small Chinette plate. It seems my best efforts were not enough. I have not indulged in sugary desserts in months. Right now, I am not feeling very well. I do feel like I am on a high and it does not feel good. It is almost like my system is racing and yet I want to get to sleep. I have taken my Melatonin for the night, yet I might have to take yet another one to actually shut my mind down to the point that I can get some rest.
I need no more proof that sugar and I are not friends. While I didn’t eat anything that was ridiculously outrageous, I also didn’t use the kind of self-control needed at one of these events. Mercifully, I do not have another Christmas event until the 23rd when my church hosts Christmas Dinner for those who may not have a place to go on Christmas. That, I think will be more manageable. It is a catered affair and portion control won’t be an issue. I can always refuse the dessert, thus avoiding another sugar calamity.
So, let’s move on to some positive news. This past week, I lost 3 pounds at Weight Watchers. In total, I have dropped just over 30 pounds. My goal for the month of December is to lose weight every week in December. I think I can do it. Tonight’s experience with sugar has reminded me of the bad old days when I would consider a box of a dozen donuts to be supper, breakfast, and perhaps lunch for the next day. Those were really dark days with respect to food. I have come a long way. The fact that I briefly stepped back into an old habit means less than what I have achieved over the past three months.
The even bigger challenge than Weight Watchers is exercise. I will be the first one to admit that I feel so much better when I exercise, but last week, I made it to the Y only once. It definitely is a challenge.
Moving forward into the week ahead. I am not bound by my losses this weekend. I went to a potluck dinner on Saturday night. In my Weight Watcher online tracker I listed the dinner as BLT (Bite Lick Taste) and recorded 20 points for the affair. I have no idea if that is close, but it is better than not tracking at all.
So, for this week, I am back on track tomorrow morning with a high protein breakfast of bacon and eggs with black coffee. Lunch may very well be my homemade chili with two tablespoons of Parmesan cheese and 1/4 cup of yogurt. Lettuce is so expensive right now it is actually cheaper to go to a restaurant for a salad.
Anyway, I think that will do for my report this week.

Why I Left Apple

Had you asked me a few years ago whether I would ever leave Apple, I would have suggested you need to grasp reality. I think my first Apple product was my iPhone 3 and I loved it. Next, I bought a Mac Mini. Once again, I loved it. It was so easy to use and I could boast that I didn’t even have a virus checker on my computer. I didn’t need one. Then, I bought an iPad 3rd generation. I was totally in the Apple world and so happy. Like most Apple users I accepted the limitations of Apple in exchange for the security their operating systems offered. 

Time passed. My Mac Mini was almost 10 years old and eventually it just died. At the end, I could not even load some web pages. Apple told me that is what happens when a device gets too old. I had no complaints really because I got almost 10 years out of it and for any computer that is pretty good. Then recently I noticed that my iPad would no longer accept updated apps. I knew it was time to let it go.

When I shopped for a new computer, I went right back to Apple initially, but the new Mac Mini was $1000 in Canada. It looked good but when I asked more questions I found out that I would have to spend another $100 or so on adapters so my peripherals would work. So, we were now heading to $1400. I then realized I could get a laptop for $1500, the new MacBook Air. Then the guy in the Apple store told me it was actually less powerful than the Mac Mini. Suddenly, Apple didn’t seem like such a good investment.

So, I went to Best Buy, looked at their PC laptops and bought one that is slightly more powerful than the Mac Mini for $300 less with double the flash drive storage. Yes, I am back in the PC world, but Apple just priced themselves out of my range, plus I came to the conclusion for the money they are charging, it just wasn’t worth it. When I bought my Mac Mini in 2009, it definitely was the best deal, but no more. Windows 10 may be porous, but with a good antivirus program, I should be okay.

The next item I wanted to change was my iPhone 6. There was nothing wrong with it. I replaced the battery in May and I had no other problems with it, but then I began to think about the appalling greed of Apple when it came to storage. They give you 5 gigabytes which seem to go very fast. Now there is a dispute about whether you can delete backups and data from your iCloud account. I have never been able to do that. I have called Apple on many occasions only to be told that there is nothing they can do to delete the information for security reasons. In reality, Apple is selling storage. Home users that would manage their iCloud accounts properly might never exceed the 5 gigs of data storage available to them, hence Apple wouldn’t be able to sell them additional storage. I have no problems with companies making money. They have to in order to stay in business and develop new and better products. I do have a problem with excessive greed particularly when they exploit their customers. This is what I believe Apple is doing with iCloud. 

So, I called my cell phone provider and asked about a $0 phone. There were a number of choices that were not Apple. According to a friend of mine, the only place in the world that Apple is number one is North America. In all other regions of the world Android is well ahead of Apple. I also found out that my iPhone 6 was worth money, so I sold it to a friend along with my iPad. I now own a Samsung Galaxy A5. I am still exploring it, but it does look like a step up from Apple. 

The next part of this saga is one of those mind bending, draining experiences that we often go through in life. I realized that if I am no longer in the Apple world, I no longer need my iTunes account. For security reasons, it is best to just delete the account and move on. So, I called Apple. If you are also thinking of closing your iTunes account, make sure you have spent every cent in the account. I was left with 17 cents, yup 17 cents and had to be transferred from tech support to iTunes support to have someone delete the 17 cents. Then, the tech in the iTunes department bounced me back to tech to finalize the transaction! It sounds pretty straightforward, but it took me hours to plow through both departments, waiting the phone. 

I am under no delusion. All major companies offer poor customer service. I am happy to be away from Apple.

Food File: April 17 2018

This may be different than most of my posts. I will share more in another post but I am without Internet at home so I use wifi wherever I can find it. 

Food remains a significant challenge. Since my last post I tried doing Weight Watchers without going to Weight Watchers. That was working fine until. I lost the Internet at home and blew through my data in less than a week. So even tracking is not possible at this point I really don’t feel like creating a new spreadsheet just for a couple of weeks. 

I eat a consistent diet which probably isn’t the best but far from the worst. 

Anyway I will keep this post short for now. 

Food File: March 13 2018

Target Audience: Evangelical Christians

At the end of February I reset my food sobriety with Celebrate Recovery.  It wasn’t a binge that ended almost 7 months of sobriety. It was the realization that I had begun to manipulate boundaries to the extent they were meaningless. This journey continues.

In the middle of May I will be attending a 50th wedding anniversary celebration and have determined to lose at least 25 pounds by then. This is a good and reasonable goal, but I needed a diet plan that I could follow that was manageable. I have never been attracted to, nor had any faith in, fad diets.

For me, the easiest and simplest diet program has always been the Weight Watcher point system. While I have found in recent years Weight Watchers has commercialized (my opinion) their program to the extent that people who need to lose serious weight have trouble because there is almost no way you can screw up. I am not entirely sure why they messed around with their original point system, but it is that system, the original one, which they used from 2002 to 2010, that I found most useful.

Last week, I dropped by my doctor’s office to get weighed and have my blood pressure taken. I am 5’7″ and tipped the scales at 367 pounds. My blood pressure was slightly high, but acceptable. So, according to the old scale at Weight Watchers (WW), I have 36 points per day. When I was actually going to WW, I found that using a range for points was more successful than trying to hit the 36 mark every day. Some days I will eat 32 points while other days I might eat 41 points. In the end, it will usually average out.

What is most important is that I am once again doing something about my weight. Exercise will be a challenge until I drop 25 or 30 pounds, but even at my weight, once I start eating properly, I will have more energy to do routine tasks that will count as exercise. The Daniel Plan, another diet program quite similar in some ways to WW, considers exercise any activity that you do in addition to your current routine. So, if you are extremely sedentary, meaning you move only when necessary, anything you do that is above your normal routine would be considered exercise.

As I begin yet another journey, one of the more significant challenges is fighting phantom hunger. In the first world, I don’t think many people really experience true hunger, as it is known in the third world. I have found that often after I eat a meal, within an hour I think I am hungry again. When I am not on a diet regimen of some kind, I merely reach for a snack. The truth about phantom hunger is that it will go away within about an hour. Often drinking water can help, or just being distracted so my mind is not focused on how I feel at that moment in time.

A few weeks ago I promised a Bible study group that I would stop eating sugary desserts. On that particular day, I had a cinnamon ring for breakfast, a large pizza for lunch, and a box of Timbits for supper. At the Bible study, I ignored the baby carrots and hummus in favor of mini Halloween chocolate bars, and chocolate covered raisins. I am happy to announce that I have not indulged in sugary desserts since that evening.

The battle continues …


Food File: February 17 2018

Target Audience: Evangelical Christians

When I started the Food File last year, I had hoped to post weekly or much more frequently than I have. When I went back to it this morning and discovered that I had started a post on January 2nd that I barely started, I realized that perhaps I need a reminder each week to post an update about what is happening with food in my life.

Valentines Day happened this week. While it could have been a lot worse, it wasn’t the best week for me. I bought a bag of dark chocolate covered cherries with caramel for a party that I attended Wednesday night. I took the unopened bag to the party and left it there. That was the good part of this story. I also bought a second bag for myself, and to share with various individuals I might encounter on Valentines Day and beyond. I did share some of the chocolates in the bag, but on Thursday, I took a Ziplock bag of some chocolates that were supposed to be daily portions and “grazed” 14 chocolates over the course of the day. Grazing is when I eat stuff like that over a period of hours as opposed to bingeing, which means I eat them all at once. That was the low point in the week.

Being on social assistance means that I don’t always have enough money to buy good food, so I rely on a local food bank. They serve meals during the week, but I am also able to get food for free. This week I thought I scored when I saw half a salami. I’m not sure if it caused severe cramps and lower back pain last night, but it was the only change in my diet apart from the chocolates this week. As much as I love the salami, perhaps it is best to toss it rather than take a chance on more problems.

I have been going to Celebrate Recovery for months now. I began going because I realized my food was out of control and I just couldn’t lose weight. While I have managed to avoid bingeing, which was a huge problem, and I have established healthy boundaries around desserts in restaurants, I haven’t lost any weight. Last night I had to leave my Celebrate Recovery meeting because I had severe lower back pain. I thought that laying down would relieve the pain, but it continued most of the night. Yes, by the boundaries that I have set, I have maintained my sobriety and next week can collect a 7 month chip. That may be true, but I am not moving forward and need to revise my boundaries so I put a lot more pressure on myself to be more disciplined, eat healthier food, establish good portion control, regular meals, and avoid unhealthy snacks. That’s so easy, isn’t it?

It is so easy writing a blog. It’s a wonder that I don’t do it every day because there is no work involved beyond moving my fingers. The reality is that most of the food in my kitchen is actually healthy food. Green vegetables, fresh lean meat products, eggs, egg whites, are among the things that I have on hand almost always. I do not have desserts because I know I can’t handle them. My one weakness is bread, which I can get for free at the food bank, but I don’t have to take it.

So, right now I am struggling with discipline. I like making good food, but I am not always up to doing the work that is involved.

Food File: December 12 2017

Target Audience: Evangelical Christians

This is a particularly good week for me to post an update about my journey with food because I have a string of parties to attend starting Wednesday through Sunday. This is the first year that I have had such an active social calendar at Christmas time. It is largely due to my participation in a number of Home Church (small group Bible studies) at my church.

The past few weeks have had their own challenges as I have weathered the storms of cravings. Sometimes I have to establish a boundary in order to satisfy a craving. For me, anyway, attempting to suppress a craving might work for the moment, but ultimately I have found that it can result in a binge. Now I give in to the urge for whatever I want, but I set a limit on quantity. Yesterday I was at Walmart when I asked about eggnog. This is a once-a-year treat mainly because it is only sold once a year. I decided to buy a liter of the stuff, but I knew when I bought it that I would likely drink it all in one sitting, which indeed I did. The boundary was: only one per year. I can drink it all at once or make it last, but whatever I choose, I only buy one per year. I am satisfied with that compromise. I had my eggnog. The craving is gone and it didn’t lead to a binge.

I have learned in the past not to set ridiculous goals for the Christmas season. One year I decided that I would buck the trend and actually lose weight over Christmas. When I got myself weighed at Weight Watchers (I was part of Weight Watchers that year), I had gained a pound and a half. I felt a bit better when I found out that the average weight gain for the Christmas season that year was 11 pounds.

My goal this year is to honor God with my food choices at all functions. That’s a great goal, right? I plan on doing this by thinking ahead. Wednesday I have a Christmas celebration at my Wednesday night Home Church. It is a large Home Church held at the church itself. It will be snacks. I have no idea what that means, but I intend on having dinner ahead of the event. That will allow me to have a reasonable amount of snacks and not break any boundaries.

Thursday I go to a church member’s home for supper. They are serving lasagna with salad. That is a much easier meal to navigate. One helping of lasagna and salad, plus whatever they are offering for dessert and I can relax. Friday evening I have a traditional Christmas dinner to attend at my Celebrate Recovery group. It is a catered event, so I am guessing the portions will be weighed and measured ahead of time. Saturday I have yet another traditional Christmas dinner to attend at a local church. The portions are usually quite reasonable and going back for seconds can be managed by choosing wisely. Dessert is usually not a temptation. Sunday is a potluck affair at my church. I have found that potlucks can be either easy or treacherous. They are easy if I am able to pick wisely from the tables and am satisfied with my first course. It can be treacherous if the selection is limited or if I see too much that I like and overload my Chinet plate.

I think an important key is to focus on the fellowship of the event rather than the food. I know people who will not eat the day of a party. They go there virtually ravenous and attack the food as if they were indeed starving. That was my approach to such events when I was younger. As I have gotten older, though, I have found the consequences of overeating at that level to be quite uncomfortable.

The other thing that is really important is to eat a normal diet the day of an event. I plan on having a normal breakfast and lunch before each event.  That way I won’t arrive at the event overly hungry. Of course, it all sounds so good and so workable in theory, which is what this is.

Food File: November 25 2017

When I started this page, I intended to update it every week. Obviously, I haven’t updated it every week as planned.

Last night at Celebrate Recovery, I got my four month chip for food. When I started this journey four months ago, I intended it to be a slower, more steady path to losing weight. While I have lost some weight, the journey continues.

The approach that I am taking this time involves boundaries instead of food items that I can and cannot eat. Deleting things like cake, donuts, and other desserts worked for me for a short period of time, but ultimately failed as I felt left out of social settings and the cravings for such food became overwhelming. Ultimately, I didn’t change my behavior toward food or my attitudes toward food that was problematic. I still idolized certain foods above all others and when I couldn’t have them for whatever reason, I felt deprived and often felt like I had been cheated or defeated in my quest for these foods.

I designed the boundaries to be inverse concentric circles. Instead of starting with a small circle and moving to a larger circle, the concentric circles are more like a target. I started with a large, broad circle, then moved to a smaller circle, then to a smaller circle again as I added more limitations to my “sobriety”.

The first circle represented a boundary that forbade bingeing on food in private or isolation. I am more prone to bingeing when I am alone than when I am with other people. So, the first circle of my sobriety was that I could not buy food such as bags of tortilla chips from Costco, salsa, or tubs of sour cream. Once I gained some success with bingeing, I began addressing my cravings for desserts. The next circle was I eliminated buying desserts and bringing them home to eat at home. The only exception was ice cream bars in the summer. I decided to try to manage them by allowing myself to have one per day, at lunch, as a dessert, and I could never have them as snacks because any time is a good time for a snack, right? This worked well and I never ate more than one bar a day. I allowed myself desserts when I went out for coffee, but found that I was going out for coffee way too much and each time I would have a dessert. So, I added another boundary circle. I eliminated buying desserts with coffee when I was alone. I added that to my definition of sobriety. Next, I realized that there would be times when I would be with friends in restaurants or coffee shops and would like a dessert or they would buy me a dessert. So, I allow myself to have a dessert when I am in a social setting, but the condition is that I can have what I want as long as I do not draw attention to myself or feel as if I am not honoring God with my choices. Yes, it is subjective, but I try to err on the side of being a bit too hard on myself with this condition.

As I head into the Christmas season, it will be fraught with all kinds of challenges. Apart from Christmas, I am struggling with bread. I love bread, particularly good bread. The food bank that I frequent offers expensive bread for free and the temptation to grab a white loaf is virtually irresistible. I know that bread is an aggravating factor with my arthritis and I would be much better off without it. Bread will likely be the next boundary circle as of December 1. It isn’t bread as much as the gluten in bread that is the problem.