Day 26

I’ve never been on any sort of “diet” for this length of time. I’ve almost stopped missing food, but I miss meals something fierce. Humans are designed to break bread with each other, share sliced meats, divvy up the vegetables, refill the wine glasses, and make yummy noises together. I’m ruining the meal aesthetic with my liquid substitute in an oversize plastic cup. Drinking your dinner—unless that means wine accompanied by bits of cheese and crackers and sausages—just isn’t social. Frankly, it makes me feel like a jerk.

About 219 people have asked me why I’m doing this/torturing myself/dieting at all. At first, it was to slide the scale back for an upcoming oncology appointment. Now, it’s really about willpower. Can I eat only one meal a day for 30 days? Will I be able to navigate cocktail parties and (let’s be honest) chilly, dark school nights without a glass of Cabernet? Is a shameful, furtive, late night potato chip binge inevitable? This diet feels like a hair shirt, and the old Catholic sensibilities have kicked in. I’m starving and I’m offering it up. No lie.

I have cheated. A little. Teddy requested teeny, spiced cupcakes for his birthday (cream cheese frosting), there’s a HUGE candy bowl (Almond Joys and 3Musketeers!), and I’ve been to six different cocktail parties (an occasional glass of Prosecco). But my restraint has been LEGENDARY. I’m wildly hungry, headache-y, and occasionally dizzy. Brodie wants to know the difference between this powdery meal plan and an actual eating disorder. I have no good answer.

And now it’s Day 26. I’m lithe and slim and fabulous—that is, if those adjective also mean “look exactly like I did in October,” which is what my kids tell me. Either they are doltishly unobservant, or they’re right: I was actually fabulous then, and remain unchanged. However, my skinniest jeans fit right outta the dryer, which is how all women gauge their weight no matter what the scale says.

Happily, as I enter my fourth week as an ascetic, the scale has budged. But it’s probably not because these liquid meals are magic. It’s because I’m not drinking them. After the first few attempts, I just couldn’t gag down powdered milk mixed with water. I cannot. I will not. I refuse. I’d honestly rather starve, and have chosen this option. How anyone incorporates a whey protein “shake” into her daily life eludes me. Had I known I’d have to drink all of this reconstituted milk, I would never have signed up. First of all, I really do love food. But more importantly, I really really really hate milk.

Remember when President Bush declared, “I’m the leader of the free world and will never eat broccoli again,” or something like that, and then banned it from the White House kitchens? That’s me with milk. I can’t even watch you drink milk. The very idea of someone tipping the bowl to lap up, sweet, chunky, stagnant cereal milk makes me dry heave. And Teddy does it all of the time. I have to look away. It’s my bugaboo. And as Tony used to say when challenged about his limited palate and inability to eat food anyone else had touched, “I reserve the right to be irrational.”

To be honest, what feels really irrational right now is any sort of maintenance on this “system.” I did appreciate the two cleanse days avoiding all food and just drinking an ersatz Gatorade, effectively hydrating my cells and shrinking my stomach. An occasional fast? Redemptive suffering comes naturally (though never easily) for those of us who were raised in the Catholic tradition. But I’ll never swap a fake shake for a real meal ever, ever again.

Four more days, friends. Sauvignon blanc is chilling.

rosary

The fasting and near Lenten devotion to restraint and sober reflection on this “diet” has felt decidedly Catholic. When you learn this a small child, you never forget it. It’s also quite a soothing practice when you’re trying really really really hard to forget there are potato chips in the house.

9 responses

  1. Oh my God, Britt, how did you remember that? As soon as I read it I said, yep, I used to say that alright. Bravo for your Catholic-bolstered success on your diet my friend. I couldn’t agree more about humans and our bread breaking DNA. I’ve been thinking a lot about this actually, and will likely blog about it in the near future. I look forward to discussing insane diets and eating quirks soon. But we will probably want Ran for that conversation.

  2. ♡ Brit, you always say something that reminds me of something else–like remembering to say the rosary. I’ll be thinking of you! 😇😘 ♡

  3. Britt, I am so impressed at your willpower and restraint. Kudos to you on this monumental accomplishment! I also despise milk. When I turned 18, I declared that I would never drink another glass of milk again, and I have stuck to that declaration.

  4. OMG Britt, I laughed so hard reading this I splurted out my coffee this morning. I am so impressed with your willpower of which I have none myself. Raised a Catholic girl too, I get the whole penance thing, or as my mother, rest her soul, used to say “offer it up for the holy souls in purgagtory”!

    • Years of catechism with actual nuns means I still do a little head nod when I hear someone use “Jesus!” as an expletive. Some things never leave us. Thanks for including me in the ROUND UP!! xoxo

  5. Pingback: Weekly Round-Up | Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer

  6. I am so impressed at your willpower and restraint. Kudos to you on this monumental accomplishment! I also despise milk. When I turned 18, I declared that I would never drink another glass of milk again, and I have stuck to that declaration.

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