The Shouldice Hospital I have decided is a mean and nasty institution! Today I received an email from their Reviewing Doctor in response to my application for admission to repair a right inguinal hernia. Here is the gist of what they had to say:
“Our reviewing surgeon would like you to reduce some weight.
WEIGHT CORRECTION BEFORE SURGERY is essential for a safe, comfortable and life-long successful hernia repair. Based on your completed questionnaire, your operation must be delayed until you have lost at least 45 pounds.”
Forty-five pounds! Yikes! I presently weigh about 230 pounds. A 45-pound reduction would get me to a sylphlike 185 pounds. I haven’t been there for years! Though I readily confess I would like to have been! In fact it is presently my constant refrain to anyone who will listen that I want to lose 30 pounds. Going for 45 pounds is far more ambitious than ever I would have imagined! And yet I concede that the longing is appropriate to my BMI (Body Mass Index) which regrettably calculates my Category as Obesity. Hopefully this abrupt communication from the Thornhill, Ontario clinic will succeed to set in motion a path I have been yearning to follow for some time. Like the Tories, I not only went up to the trough, I got in it!
The email from the Shouldice Hospital gratefully came with the outline of a diet, their so-called “Reducing Diet #4“. I have no idea what I did or have to have merited this particular prescription nor do I care to enquire. What matters is that at last I have a sketch of what I should be eating to lose weight and the advice is coming from people who clearly have my best interests at heart (in spite of being cruelly candid about it). Essentially the diet is about simplicity and plainness – some fruit and protein (poultry, meat and fish) and lots of veggies. It is a decidedly uninventive recipe but it at least has the advantage of being easy to prepare; viz., the meat, fish or poultry can be already cooked and the fruit and veggies can be served raw. Mercifully there is nothing wrong with a breakfast omelet of chopped onion, green pepper, tomato, one egg and an itty-bitty piece of cheese. The only zing is a teaspoon of peanut butter at each meal; and plain yoghurt, a titch of Bran and a handful of nuts once a day. It’s not exactly what one would serve at a dinner party.
Because of my purest inclination (my excuse for a lack of culinary creativity) I am content to eat like a rabbit; I don’t for example feel compelled to add spices or herbs to anything. I can however see the opportunity for inspiration by adding a classic oil and vinegar dressing to the veggies, maybe even a modified Caesar salad dressing (garlic and capers are surely veggies and anchovies in spite of their Seraphic quality are still only fish). So far I have had four meals on this plan and no complaints. My only sense of deprivation is having to cut back on cheese and peanut butter (the real stuff naturally, sans sugar) but that alteration is mostly just breaking a bad habit. I am fully aware that my current eating disorder is an aberration of otherwise good practices. For example my traditional breakfast included not just one fruit (which is Okay on this restrictive diet) but usually three or more. So instead of having just one banana or one orange or a cup of berries, I was having all three mixed together. Then instead of having just one egg and one piece of cheese (all included on this diet), I had two or three of each. And don’t get me going on my erstwhile preferred quantities of peanut butter and “Forbidden Foods” like bread! Just too embarrassing to recount!
The lunch and dinner menus (which are basically the same on “the Diet”) include a broth soup for starters and ample meat, fish or chicken with unlimited veggies. Depending on one’s appetite and time constraint, this can all be thrown into a non-stick pan or segregated with a homemade salad dressing on the veggies. And let me assure you that 1/2 ounce of grated Parmesan cheese goes a long way on the Caesar salad dressing! The humble broth soup might even be dignified with a thimbleful of Dry Sack.
What I am discovering is a new psychology of eating, in fact a new psychology of living. Just at a point in my life when I thought I had exhausted all novelty and adventure (other than a mere variation on the theme), I am awakening to a sublime insight into the melding of the mind-body dichotomy. Without having to compromise my innate fervency for excess I can now indulge in veggies. Such reckless passion! It is a well-known trait of mine that I have always adored vegetables, particularly raw. Certainly the Diet mandates a focus on fixed ingredients (and a commensurate distancing from others) but the accommodation amounts to training not displeasure. There is unquestionably an elevating element to this Diet not only physically but also spiritually. I have lately remarked that encountering this Diet is like discovering a key to a conundrum. It is reminiscent of the time I first got wind of the Atkins Diet though clearly this routine is far less dubious as a healthful remedy. For years I have searched for a workable diet. I can’t believe that Reducing Diet #4 is so accessible, so simple and so workable! Even with the tool of the internet at my disposal I have been unable until now to land upon a practicable scheme for eating and not feel perpetually repentant.