Organizing Theory & Artistry

Lent: Days 14 and 15

Lent: Days 14 and 15
The joy of dessert!
The joy of dessert!

Today, I awoke with no voice to speak of — just a scratchy sounding rasp. I am not sure how this happened but it does explain why I have been feeling an energy deficit lately. I must be fighting off some last-minute winter virus. I have a few sniffles but it’s mostly just the voice.

Yesterday was a busy day filled with the joy of attending a friend’s baptism. The morning began with the usual meals.

The energy-fueling pumpkin pie shake. . . about the closest I get to a sugar rush on this diet.  Sweet potatoes are awesome.
The energy-fueling pumpkin pie shake. . . about the closest I get to a sugar rush on this diet. Sweet potatoes are awesome.
Quinoa with bananas and dates . . . also a good sugar rush of sorts.
Quinoa with bananas and dates . . . also a good sugar rush of sorts.

Then there was a full afternoon of dressing the children up appropriate for a church service. For some reason, dressing all the children for formal occasions is always a tiring experience. There are a lot of parts that go into dress clothes. But it was fun to see everyone looking gorgeous, including my son.

2014-03-19-dressedup1 2014-03-19-dressedup3 2014-03-19-dressedup2

After the baptism, there was a reception with punch and cake. I had to abstain of course, but my children were ecstatic about the cake.

Mmmmm...cake!
Mmmmm…cake!

As we imagine a future where we might all be cutting down on our sugar, I was thinking about milestone celebrations like these. I find it hard to imagine attending a birthday or a wedding or almost any celebration without some sugar confection as part of it. It just wouldn’t seem the same if we were all invited to share a glass of kale juice or a vegetable platter or fruit salad. It might be better for us, sure, but our celebrations seem to demand the presence of sugar.

Could sugarless celebrations be in our future too? Michelle Obama has apparently cut back on sweets at the White House, and the White House pastry chef will be leaving at the end of June.

Personally, I hope we can preserve the sugar celebrations. If I get to the day where our family is eating little extra sugar at home, boy will we be looking forward to sharing a slice of someone’s birthday, wedding, or just-because cake! Usually those treats are extra well-made so it would be a great use of the calories.

By the time we got home, I was starving as there just wasn’t time to eat lunch. So, lunch, dinner and the afternoon snack merged together.

The last of the Thai chicken burgers.  I read today in Gwyneth's cookbook that burgers are one of her favorite foods (just so long as they don't have red meat in them).
The last of the Thai chicken burgers. I read today in Gwyneth’s cookbook that burgers are one of her favorite foods (just so long as they don’t have red meat in them).
The imperious sweet potato chili.
The imperious sweet potato chili.
Almonds.  Plain and simple.
Almonds. Plain and simple.

I managed to work up the energy to resume my exercise yesterday which I was proud of.

Today was a fasting day. The day has gone fairly well. I found myself longing to make something from a regular eating day….even a salad or a smoothie but wasn’t too hungry throughout the day. As usual, the day was full of activity with homeschooling and a run to ballet class.

Tonight's fasting salad.  Salmon with chickpeas over greens with the last of my Green Goddess dressing.
Tonight’s fasting salad. Salmon with chickpeas over greens with the last of my Green Goddess dressing.

I wanted to share a few other bits of research on diet and health I uncovered recently. First, Dr. Lustig (the sugar doctor I mentioned before) was interviewed on Diane Rehm last year. In the transcript, he answers a couple of questions I was wondering about. Specifically, he says there is not enough data to know yet what artificial sweeteners (like saccharin, sucralose, etc.) do to the body. It is apparently clear that they do not raise your insulin level, which sounds kind of like a good thing because you will convert less of the sugar to fat, until you know that because they don’t raise insulin they will never activate leptin, the protein responsible for feeling full. So, just because you swap out sugar for Splenda or something similar in your desserts, you might end up overeating despite your efforts. I don’t like the taste of artificial sweeteners so I avoid them wherever I can.

The other thing Dr. Lustig reminds us of is that “a calorie is not a calorie.” He thinks this is one of the biggest problems we have in nutritional information lately. He indicates that 100 calories of carbohydrate are absorbed rather rapidly by the body whereas the body has to work harder to use 100 calories of protein and in 100 calories of nuts, some of the calories won’t be absorbed at all because of the fiber in them and the way the digestive process works. So, two people eating the same number of calories could see dramatically different effects on their weight if one person is eating mostly carbohydrates and the other lean proteins and vegetables. It seems to me that this is an evolving area of nutrition. For most of us, this means we can expect to have to learn a lot more about the nutritional values of each type of food and how to combine foods effectively.

Finally, this article was shocking but interesting:

While keeping your body weight down is wonderful and helps you avoid numerous types of disease, being thin but inactive (like I was before last year) is also a huge problem. There is no way to get around engaging in regular exercise. Making exercise a part of your daily routine is an extremely great habit to have.