Breaking Bread

I’ve never been one to follow fad diets. I like food too much to limit my choices to cabbage, grapefruit and a toxic drink of lemon, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. I’m pretty sure that’s a mixture they use to waterproof asphalt.

So when I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease in 2016, the idea of taking my favorite foods off the table was . . . well . . . off the table.bake-bakery-baking-5765

My doctor insisted I’d feel better if I stopped eating gluten. I laughed and told him I’d never be one of those people who badger waiters about menu ingredients, scour Pinterest for gluten-free cookie recipes or bore friends to tears with a recap of my gluten-induced misery.

I was in denial for several weeks but after a trip to New York where I gorged on pizza, bagels and, basically, bushels of gluten, I ended up in a bread coma. I went off gluten cold turkey, which is pretty much the only thing I can eat now.

My husband has been super helpful as I’ve transitioned to a life of wheat-less sadness. He chokes down gluten-free pizza and cookies without acting like I’m poisoning him (usually), but when I suggested making gluten-free onion rings, he clenched his jaw so tight his ears started bleeding. I heard him sobbing later in the bathroom.

Changing my own diet is one thing. Changing my family’s traditional Thanksgiving favorites is another. Everything about this holiday is a freakin’ gluten fest. You have dinner rolls, gravy, pie crust, carrot cake, Ritz crackers with spray cheese, and stuffing (which I don’t mind skipping because it’s a disgusting garbage of a food).

I experimented with gluten-free pumpkin muffins that had the consistency of ground up snails. Even my dog wouldn’t eat them. Well, he ate them because he’s a Lab and he eats everything; but he whined the whole time.

Researching gluten-free Thanksgiving Day recipes, I found a plethora of tasteless fare. Brussels sprouts in mustard sauce, quinoa stuffing with zucchini and cranberries, and a wheat-free, egg-free, dairy-free, taste-free pumpkin pie headlined my options. I tried making the organic, gluten-free, high-protein breadsticks. Yeah, they’re basically jerky.

And what do you call gluten-free brownies? Mud.

Why is gluten only found in foods that are delicious, like waffles and cinnamon rolls? It would be so much easier to avoid gluten if it was just in cottage cheese, foie gras or earthworms.

At least I live in a time where gluten-free products are available. Ten years ago, people going gluten-free could choose between kale chips or toasted particle board. Granted, most gluten-free products still taste like you’re chewing on a handful of toothpicks, but with new flours available, like amaranth, chickpea and cricket . . . never mind. It’s still terrible.blur-close-up-environment-289417

I could have gone my whole life without knowing things like kelp noodles existed. Which brings me back to Thanksgiving.

I realize the irony of me whining about what to eat on Thanksgiving—a day dedicated to gratitude and abundance. So as I’m sitting at the table, nibbling on dry turkey breast and jerky breadsticks, I promise to be grateful for all the things I CAN eat, like cabbage and grapefruit, and even lemon, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. Just not mixed together.

Originally published in Iron County Todayhttp://ironcountytoday.com/columns/life-laughter/breaking-bread/

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Reality Pageants

Summer brings mosquito bites, melted snow-cones and beauty queens in parades. As a community reporter, I’ve sat through many beauty pageants, cringing as teenage girls offer themselves up for physical, mental and emotional critique.

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Unless you’re 4-years-old, or were born in Buckingham Palace, tiaras are not everyday accessories. But young women nearly kill themselves to get bikini-ready so male judges can gawk and rate them. In any other situation, adult males ogling teenage girls would get them landed in the county jail.

Organizers of these “scholarship” pageants say they are promoting education, but I don’t remember when education required walking across the stage in teeny bits of fabric and high heels. Or twirling fiery batons while singing “God Bless America.” Or having a veneered smile, and no pores whatsoever.

Girls have enough pressure to be beautiful without the pressure of pageant preparation. I’m advocating the ban of beauty pageants, unless the following guidelines are met:

Include a hot dog eating contest: This will force contestants to eat at least one meal. I talked to one pageant participant who hadn’t had a solid meal for three months. She was very thin, but about as healthy as a doorframe.

Be heard in a room full of men: This could be the talent portion of the program. Young women need to learn to have their voices heard without dealing with condescending comments like, “Isn’t that a cute idea?” or “You leave thinking to us men. You just need to look pretty.” I call bulls***.

Enough with the haters: Recently, the gorgeous Miss Thailand stepped down as Miss Universe in part because of nasty remarks made on the Internet. She was booed, jeered and even called “chubby” by the Neanderthals roaming social media pages. Get a grip you moronic heathens!

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(She even looks pretty when she cries. I didn’t think that was humanly possible.)

Be honest about fitness/diet:  Don’t tell me you eat cheeseburgers and onion rings on a regular basis–unless by “regular basis” you mean on Maytober 31. Tell people how you only eat jicama, kale and blueberries, and work your A** off every day in the gym with your personal trainer.

Detail a budget:  It’s lovely that you want world peace. But be prepared to demonstrate how you can earn 30 percent less than your male colleagues, and still afford groceries, utility bills and those weekly manicures.

Must be over 35:  Most teenage girls, and young women, can rock a bikini. But find me a woman who’s given birth to three children who still wears a swimming suit AT ALL, and suddenly the pageant is much more realistic.

No male Judges: Men, unless you’re Neil Patrick Harris, chances are you’ve never had to walk in heels, wax your eyebrows and nether regions, or look cute while answering impromptu questions about world politics. Women judges only. In fact, men shouldn’t be allowed in the building.

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 (This guy knows the pain of living in heels.)

 And don’t get me started on child beauty pageants.

Terrible Things to Say to Someone on a Diet

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If you are speaking to, dating, married to or just looking at a woman, there’s a good chance (100%) that she’s just finished a diet, just started a diet, is cheating on a diet or will be starting a diet tomorrow. There’s never a time women don’t think about food/calories/dress sizes/exercise/futility.

If you are a sensitive-type person, you’ll be conscious of this fact, and avoid saying something stupid. If you’re not sensitive, here’s a handy list of things you shouldn’t say if you want to avoid having someone punch you in the throat.

  • “I like a woman with meat on her bones.” What the hell are you? A Velociraptor? That’s like saying, “I love all the mounds of flesh barnacled to your skeleton.”

velociraptor(“I’ll just baste you with some lemon juice.” Tasty.)

  • “You just need more willpower.” The only willpower I need is the willpower not to stab you in the kidney.
  • “Are you sure you should eat that?” Unless I’m unknowingly placing a live scorpion in my mouth, shut the hell up.
  • “I thought you were on a diet.” Well, I was on a diet from murdering people. But now I’m not. I’m a yo-yo murderer.
  • “I like having something to hold on to.” That’s what handlebars are for. Leaving my muffin top alone!
  • “How much do you want to weigh?” I want to weigh enough so I can sit on your chest and asphyxiate you boa constrictor-style.
  • “Just think like a thin person.” The thin people I know seem angry, depressed and very, very hungry. I’ll just eat this apple pie and call it good.
  • “It’s probably a glandular/hormonal/metabolic/pre-menopausal problem.” Unless my glands weigh 20 pounds each, that’s probably not it. And if you say I’m pre-menopausal, you might want to run from me as far and as fast as you can.
  • “Aren’t you hungry?” Yes!! By all the Norse Gods! I’m starving here!
  • “Have you tried exercising?” Wow! Exercise! Why didn’t I think of that?

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In fact, there’s really not much you can say that will keep you from getting slapped. Just leave a plate of lemon squares on the porch, and you’ll probably be safe.

Top 5 Diet Tricks That Just Don’t Work

Yes, I know in order to lose weight I should exercise more and eat less. But that’s absolutely not fun. So I keep looking for sneaky ways to burn calories–that doesn’t involve any effort. Fitness magazines list “tricks” to losing weight–like it’s some kind of magic sleight of hand that keeps the extra 10 pounds hanging off my butt.

Some “tricks” make sense, others–not so much. Well, they might make sense to people who aren’t looking for “tricks” to make the “tricks” allow for more food.

Here are the top 5 diet tricks that always trip me up:

1. Get 5-9 servings of vegetables every day. I can do that. The problem comes when I start counting apple pie, peach cobbler, raspberry muffins, zucchini bread, applesauce cookies, sweet potato fries and pumpkin pancakes as fruit/vegetable servings. The scale is definitely moving–just in the wrong direction.

(Raspberry muffins with pecans and coconut. Now THIS is diet food.)

2. Use a small bowl for portion control. Great! I took a small bowl out of the cupboard and filled it with potato chips–10 times. Did you know an entire bag of Limon-flavored Lay’s will fit into a small bowl? Crazy.

 3. Ask yourself if you’re really hungry. Well of course I’m really hungry, stupid. Why else would I be stuffing my face with Dove chocolates at eight in the morning? And don’t tell me I’m eating to mask my feelings. I’M NOT! I’m not angry, frustrated or upset, you nosy, obnoxious, know-it-all pain in the a**!!

4. Enjoy your favorite treats so you don’t feel deprived. Done. Next.

5. Eat several mini-meals each day. Now, when they say “mini-meals,” does that mean a small burger, small fries and small shake five times a day? Because if that’s what that means (and that’s how I’ve chosen to interpret that advice), then I don’t see myself fitting into a slinky dress anytime soon without the help of 3 sets of Spanx, a forklift and 2 broken ribs.