Friday, April 4, 2008

Another Hill To Climb

Tool Guy is inducting again. For the uninitiated, that's Atkins Diet speak for being back on the wagon. He's coasted along complacently, thoroughly enjoying the dangerous activities going on in the kitchen, like sourdough bread and pear butter muffins. It was Princess who shook him out of that complacency. Small children are brutally honest. She told him that she was no longer able to hug him, because he had "a hill." This is the same child who a few years ago deduced--and announced loudly--that the reason I didn't camp out in the tent was that I was "too old and fat." (Vanity forces me to report that I was 43 and 115 lbs. at the time.) She demands that I inform everyone that, as a newly arrived five year old, she no longer says this about me. It doesn't, apparently, preclude her from making such comments about her father. There's probably some logic in there, but it is too arcane to follow. Such are the vagarities of a pre-schooler.

Tool Guy took this to heart, however, and is inducting faithfully...more or less. It made me think about the beginnings of his love affair with Atkins' theories. It was quite a few years back...even before Dog was born. After years of low fat, high carb eating--you know, all the stuff that the "experts" say is heart-healthy and "good for you"--he was over 250 lbs and even at 6'3" that's more than he wanted to be. When he tumbled across the Atkins plan, he was excited to be able to eat, not feel hungry and still lose weight. And there's a good reason for that. Fat is the trigger that controls our appestat; it's what tells our body that we are full. When we don't eat enough fat, we are hungry in a very short time and "portion control" becomes torturous or impossible. Traditional diets prized fat for lots of very good reasons.

This was probably the very embryonic beginnings of thinking outside of the nutritional box for us, because everyone...including Tool Guy's doctor...swore that it would be the death of him, it was unhealthy, ad infinitum. Tool Guy even had a full physical done before starting and had a check up six months later. When his doctor called with the test results (this was pre-HIPAA), I took careful notes of the numbers. I asked him to repeat the cholesterol numbers from the first test. It had dropped 60 points. Being the professional gadfly that I am, I pointed out this little detail to the doctor. He was not amused.

Going low carb had other benefits that we hadn't expected. Persistent skin conditions that the doctor couldn't cure, repeated ear infections that resisted all treatments disappeared never to return. He even seemed calmer and in a better overall mood. It wasn't after we'd discovered gluten intolerance that we began to connect all of the dots. Because the main carb that Tool Guy avoided was...yeah, you guessed it...bread. Wish we'd known to have that rash biopsied. Dermatitis Herpetiformis is a topical manifestation of gluten intolerance and we might have had an earlier diagnosis. A few years later, while networking with other folks who were going gluten free, we began to see a pattern: a goodly percentage of them had also responded positively to the Atkins many that we began to quip that it was an unofficial diagnostic tool. If you lost weight on the Atkins Diet, then you were gluten intolerant. And only half in jest.

In addition to low carbing, which means no sugar at all as well as cutting back on carbs, Tool Guy has decided to start winnowing out the corn syrup and not go back. I guess all of my preaching is starting to seep through. He doesn't know it, but I've been playing King Corn in the player next to the bed while he sleeps. I, for one, have never believed the tommyrot that subliminal suggestions don't work. Mwahahaha... So this time, one of the first things he struck from the menu was that bottle of hunter's orange-hued French salad dressing. Since this is his favorite topping for just about everything, I promised to provide him with an Atkins-friendly version.

French Dressing

1/2 cup vinegar
2 tsp. dry mustard
1 T sweetener or to taste
1 1/2 tsp. Real Salt
2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 cup olive oil
1 raw egg yolk (from pastured hens)

In a food processor or blender, mix vinegar, sweetener, egg yolk, and dry ingredients. Slowly, while blending, pour in oil until thoroughly mixed. Refrigerate.

Dr. Atkins, while vilified for a very long time, is slowly being vindicated by the fact that science is finally catching up with many of the things that he proposed. You can go without bread and still remain healthy. Animal fats are good for you. Red meat won't kill you. It's the sugar, refined carbs, and trans fats that are bad for you. It is a pity that his ideas have been co-opted into selling more processed junk food, albeit low carb, instead of encouraging people to continue eating healthy whole foods.

Tool Guy is presenting a trimmer, more svelte figure these days and Princess has deigned to hug him again. Oh, and he turns the big Five Oh this year. Can we say that he's over the hill?

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