I struggle with weight these days. The irony of that battle lies in my having lost 85 pounds from 2008 – 2010, then dropped another 20 in the following year. The current extra poundage started to accumulate as I got ready to sell my house. I understand my proclivities: I worry. Worry morphs into fretting. As I fall into the quagmire of panic, I either do not eat or do not moderate my food. I’m an emotional yo-yo.
I’ve spent the last several years trying to minimize my intake of gluten, white sugar, and refined food. These tend to inflame nerves. My neurologist excoriates white sugar, considering it to be poison. He’s less convinced that I need to avoid gluten. He agrees with the ban on processed foods. Our bodies do not need this garbage, and my corrupted nerve cells least of all.
Yet there I sat, in the Lodi branch of Panera’s, having eaten a modified Caesar salad (no cheese) with 10-vegetable soup, eyeing the bread and butter that I did not tell the server to hold. I’m suddenly six years old. My mother sits at the breakfast room table with a cup of coffee, a piece of bread nestled on the edge of the saucer. She’s tipping the cup to splash the hot liquid over the bread, then greedily dipping, so the coffee seeps into every cranny.
I watch in fascination. This says “dessert” to my mother: White bread, preferably home-baked, dipped in black coffee. Not a sweet, but an after-meal treat. I wonder years later if any of my siblings remember my mother’s delight in this simple indulgence.
I allowed myself that same enjoyment after my healthy lunch yesterday. I had worked all morning and then spent two hours in an intense appointment while hunger gnawed at my belly. I couldn’t make it back to the Loop without eating. The soup and salad gave honest, acceptable nourishment. But that bread! I savored each morsel, for its own richness but also for the memory of my mother, offending checkbook fallen to the side, stack of bills forgotten as she savors the little meal. Tension lines smooth. She holds one corner of the bread and dips it into the puddle on her saucer. My own small repast, my after-lunch allowance, reminded me of the comforts of home.
With effort, I have lost 15 of the 25 pounds which I gained during the first half of 2018. When I keep my weight down, I walk steadier, I breathe more easily, and I fall less frequently. I get that. I also understand that I will likely never again weigh the scant 100 pounds of 2011. More than that: I know that food should not be a fixation. But once in a while, I let myself sit at a Formica table top, dip bread into coffee, and think about my mother. I do not feel guilty. I do not castigate myself. I enjoy the brief sojourn, then go about the business of navigating whatever the universe brings me.
It’s the twenty-fifth day of the sixty-first month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.