Saturday, May 23, 2009

In Moderation

I'm trying to remember: Food in moderation. It's why I treat lunch at Philippe's in downtown Los Angeles like it's the holiest Jewish synagogue on Earth. It's why I never take any food home. No further lamb sandwiches, no slices of pie, no macaroni salad. After an exalted lunch there on Thursday, I bought only an impressively thick coffee mug with Philippe's printed on it and "1908-2008" below the name, heralding 100 years of business so far and hopefully forever.

That's forced moderation, though. We don't go to downtown Los Angeles often. We haven't been to Las Vegas in a while either. We haven't been back yet to that Asian buffet off the Strip that we all like, nor the Carnival World Buffet at the Rio, nor one of the Blueberry Hill family restaurants, one in a high-quality chain. They make everything with care.

The refrigerator is the major problem. Get enough deli in there, American, Muenster and string cheese, the occasional cake, some fruit (once in a while), leftovers (preferably spaghetti, because fettucine alfredo, my favorite, is always gone in one sitting at dinner), whatever my sister's brought home from working in the kitchen at my dad's school (sometimes small subs from Subway, ham or roast beef), and peanut butter (for the occasional sandwich), and gradually, day by day, there won't be a whole lot left in the fridge. Add yogurt to that list. I almost forgot yogurt, but I don't blast through that as often as I do the rest because cheap as yogurt is, it feels awkward to have at 1 or 2 a.m.

I know what I am: An overeater. Not a binger, so much. Ok, maybe a slow binger. A box of Cheez-Its doesn't become a flat box to put into the recycling bin in one night. There's a one-and-a-half quart container of Dreyer's Summer Peach Pie ice cream in the freezer. I wish it was at the supermarket for longer than the summer because Breyer's peach ice cream has peach pieces in the ice cream that taste more like ice than peach. The Summer Peach Pie flavor actually respects the peach pieces. They must adhere to some method that Breyer's doesn't know. That container won't be gone by tomorrow night, but I've already shaved off the top layer.

I don't know why I overeat, but I have a clear motivation for why I shouldn't, and I'd better start quick, lest I land in my father's territory. There's a history of diabetes in our family, but only if there's enough weight gained. My father got to that weight easily. He worked in the bakery his father managed when he got older and the overeating stuck. I don't want to end up with diabetes.

It's hard to scale my eating habits way back. I did it once a few months ago. It actually lasted for a long stretch of time, my right knee stopped hurting, and I could swing my arms at my sides without hitting flesh. The right side of me was more stubborn than the left, but there was very little there.

Now the knee's back to its occasional pain regimen and I hate the term "love handles," so I'll say that I'd better knock my weight down soon or Goodyear's going to examine me front and back for inspiration for a new tire design. It's not that bad yet, but I know it could get worse from this point.

I need to do this for another reason: I savor every visit to Philippe's. Even though Claim Jumper is overpriced now (even in this recession), I love getting a table at the right side of the restaurant where I can have a view of the freeway and the back of the major Stevenson Ranch shopping center. It's high up enough where you can see both, side by side. I sometimes see a security car driving at the back of the shopping center, near a dumpster and the loading docks, and I like to think about what the driver's like, if he likes the job, what he does on his days off. As for the freeway, where is everyone going? Are the big rigs only traveling within the state or are there a few from the east coast? I haven't thought of a short story or essay yet from watching all that, but I like letting my mind work out.

I love those experiences because I don't have them often. I mentioned this point early on in the entry, but I wanted to repeat it because of those visits to Claim Jumper.

I don't get the same feeling from the refrigerator anymore. I know there's cheese in there. Sometimes there's pie and I'm crazy for pie. Ginger ale, iced tea, sometimes root beer, I know where those are on the shelves inside the door.

I don't like it. Muenster cheese with tuna spread on it isn't as pleasureable as it might be if I wasn't going for it so often. I might even like deli even more if I wasn't so familiar with honey-baked ham versus ham off the bone. I want to enjoy all this again as much as when I go to Philippe's. I do have tea every day, going between Bigelow's Lemon Lift and Twining's Lady Grey, but it's a daily pleasure that's not the same as everyday binging. The Lemon Lift tea is comforting and the constant question I keep in mind when I drink the Lady Grey Tea is, "Will I catch that hint of orange in my mouth this time?" It's especially wonderful when the orange and lemon flavors intermingle.

The tea is part of my lifestyle, just like my near-obsessive reading habit, just like my obsessive movie habit. I wouldn't give that up. It's part of me. But the overeating shouldn't be. I need to stop now before I end up with a handheld device that tells me if my blood sugar is normal, and the fingerpricks to make that happen. I'm 25 now. Immortality isn't as assured as it was when I was a teenager. Back then, I didn't believe all of me was immortal, but maybe my body. It isn't. That mindset has to disappear. Today and in the following days and months, I need to gauge what I eat, when I eat, and how much I eat. I should eat only at lunch and dinner (I don't get up in time for breakfast), and when those daily cravings take over and constantly command my brain, only water and tea should prevail. For a few weeks now, I've been thinking that I should pay more attention to tea, drink more of it, read more about it. This would be a good time for that.

I need to make it work permanently this time.

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