Going back to bread
I wrote a couple of weeks ago in my "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy" column about being scared of bread. Specifically, I have become wary of reintroducing home-made bread, once a staple, into my diet after having lost weight on my Me Minus 10 campaign. If I were to bake bread again for my family, I wondered, would I be able to keep myself from pigging out on the stuff?
Last week I decided to find out. I had planned to make a big batch of chicken soup, and I knew everybody would like to have bread with it. (Soup-and-bread dinners had been, before I started losing weight, a weekly tradition in my family.) So I got out my yeast and my baguette tray and went about baking two lovely loaves.
A week later, one of those loaves still remained, wrapped up in foil and stored out of sight behind the fruit bowls that I keep (filled with fruit) on top of the microwave.
That never would have happened a year ago. Back then, I'd gorge on bread during that soup meal. The next day, I'd start fantasizing about leftover bread early in the morning, sometimes during yoga class, and by mid-day I'd be tearing into the loaf, chunk by chunk, dipping the bread into a plate of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I shudder to think how many extra calories I was consuming, and in such a mindless way.
But this time I did everything a bit differently. First of all, instead of cutting a whole loaf and piling it in a breadbasket to take to the table, I cut just enough for everyone to have a modest slice or two and had them take that to the table with their soup. (That's a trick I learned from "Mindless Eating" expert Brian Wansink.) If anyone wanted more bread, they'd have to get up from the table and walk to the kitchen to slice more for themselves.
I also immediately placed the second baguette in foil and wrapped it tight as soon as it was cool enough. Then I stuck it in its hiding place and put it out of my mind.
It worked. Last night my husband made a pot of gumbo, and I plucked that foil-wrapped baguette from behind the fruit bowls and stuck it in the oven. I served it the same way I had the week before. Nobody took seconds, even though the bread was as delectable as it had been when it was fresh. As I had the first night, I savored every morsel of my slice of baguette, then moved on.
Why am I telling you this? Two reasons: First, to inspire you. Had you told me a year ago that I could have home-made bread in the house and actually forget it was there, I would have scoffed at the notion. If I can overcome my strongest food fetish, so can you.
The other reason? It's important for all of us, whether we're watching our weight or not, to maintain a healthy balance in our diets. It's not ideal to eliminate a whole class of food, as I had with bread; learning to enjoy all foods in moderation is key.
I'm happy to have bread back in my life. I'm even happier that it has apparently lost its strange power over me.
A big thank-you to all the readers of The Checkup blog and "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy" for the tips they shared about coming to terms with bread. I appreciate your help. Let's revisit this topic: What food holds you most in its thrall? How do you manage that relationship?
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