29 July 2008

More about Soy

New studies published by ESHRE and Human Production on soy and male fertility. Thanks to Modern Forager for posting it.

There were some questions brought up in an earlier post about soy consumption. Until a few months ago, I never gave it much thought, but the more I've been reading lately, the more I wonder if my soymilk chai latte is really a thing of the past. Men who are trying to start a family might particularly give this one some thought.

Public release date: 23-Jul-2008

European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology

Soy foods are associated with lower sperm concentrations

Men who eat an average of half a serving of soy food a day have lower concentrations of sperm than men who do not eat soy foods, according to research published online in Europe's leading reproductive medicine journal, Human Reproduction, today (Thursday 24 July). The association was particularly marked in men who were overweight or obese, the study found.

In the largest study in humans to examine the relationship between semen quality and phytoestrogens (plant compounds that can behave like the hormone, oestrogen), Dr Jorge Chavarro, a research fellow in the department of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, USA, and his colleagues found that men who ate the most soy food had 41 million sperm per millilitre less than men who did not consume soy products. (The "normal" sperm concentration for men ranges between 80-120 million/ml).

Isoflavones (daidzein, genistein and glycitein) are plant-derived compounds with oestrogenic effects that are found mainly in soy beans and soy-derived products. Animal studies have linked the high consumption of isoflavones with infertility in animals, but so far there has been little evidence of their effect in humans.

Dr Chavarro and his colleagues analysed the intake of 15 soy-based foods in 99 men who had attended a fertility clinic with their partners to be evaluated for sub-fertility between 2000 and 2006. They asked them how often and how much they had eaten in the previous three months; the foods included tofu, tempeh, tofu or soy sausages, bacon, burgers and mince, soy milk, cheese, yoghurt and ice cream, and other soy products such as roasted nuts, drinks, powders and energy bars.

Different foods have different levels of isoflavones in them, and so the researchers related the size of the serving to the particular food. For instance, a standard serving of tofu was 115g and for soy milk it was one cup (240 millilitres).

The men were divided into four groups according to their intake of soy foods and isoflavones. After adjusting for factors such as age, abstinence time, body mass index (BMI), alcohol and caffeine intake and smoking, Dr Chavarro found that men in the highest intake category had, on average, 41 million sperm/ml less than men who did not eat soy foods. "Men in the highest intake group had a mean soy food intake of half a serving per day: in terms of their isoflavone content that is comparable to having one cup of soy milk or one serving of tofu, tempeh or soy burgers every other day," he said.

"It is important to highlight that the figure of half a serving a day is the average intake for men in the highest intake group. Some men in this group had intakes of soy foods as high as nearly four servings per day."

The researchers found evidence that the association between soy food intake and sperm concentrations were stronger in men who were overweight or obese (and 72% of them were). They also found the relationship between soy foods and sperm concentration was strongest in men with the higher sperm concentrations. "The implication is that men who have normal or high sperm counts may be more susceptible to soy foods than men with low sperm counts, but this remains to be evaluated," explained Dr Chavarro.

The study does not reveal why soy foods have this effect on sperm, but Dr Chavarro speculates that increased oestrogenic activity may have an adverse effect on the production of sperm by interfering with other hormonal signals. This effect could be strengthened further in overweight and obese men because men with high levels of body fat produce more oestrogen than slimmer men, leading to high overall levels of oestrogen in the body and reproductive organs.

Soy foods are the most important source of phytoestrogens in people in the Western world, and the researchers say they were able to comprehensively assess the men's soy intake. They did not assess intake of isoflavones from other sources, such as bakery products made with soy flour. "However, the most likely effect of not assessing intake of these foods is that the associations reported in this study are attenuated," said Dr Chavarro.

The researchers say that the clinical significance of their research remains to be determined, and further randomised trials are needed.

[1] Soy food and isoflavone intake in relation to semen quality parameters among men from an infertility clinic. Human Reproduction. Published online under advance access. doi:10.1093/humrep/den243.

25 July 2008

The Balancing Act

Posted by guest blogger, Chameleon:

So, while I was in Lesvos I made a few notes to myself about some things that I planned to try integrate into my life. Amongst other things, I realised what would maybe be good for me is to see how and that I can create rest for myself. These days I am trying not to pressure myself to "produce" something each day, or to be active all day in a "useful" way, I try to simply balance things out a little better between my hobbies, social life, time spend on the computer, answering mails and time just for myself doing just what I feel like doing in the moment.

With my struggles in the past the one time of the day that has always been tricky for me are the evenings, including the evening meals. I would either eat nothing at all or too much and then feel lousy by the time I went to bed. I did not cook in the past years, only on rare occasion and then usually when I had someone over for diner, although I do like cooking. So while I was in Lesvos I planned that when I am back in Amsterdam I will go to the market regularly to buy fresh vegetables and fish, or fruit and salad and such, and then see to it that I also make space and time to cook for myself.

To be honest, I did not really think I would mange to keep it up for as long as I have by now, which is a few weeks, and what is even more surprising I am not bored or tired of it yet either! Actually it is nice also to just get out of the house for a while, to stroll over the market when the weather is nice, check out all kinds of different stands and to think of different "recipes" along the way. I am not a fan for cooking books but enjoy to experiment. I do like to keep it simply though. That means it should not take too much time to prepare and basically I also do not use any spices, once again only on rare occasion. I don't even use salt or pepper. I guess one reason why I don't use salt often is that I like to add things like soya or oyster sauce with rice dishes and pesto with past dishes – there is plenty of salt in those. However, the one thing I am kind of addicted to and that I do not want to miss in my meal is: garlic! Truly a must! I recall a time when I used to prepare whole garlic clove and enjoy it just on its own. It is nice to re-discover a few things I actually enjoy(ed) but that got lost somehow over time, even if it is just something like garlic.

Meanwhile I tried a few different sorts of fish – Red snapper, Sea Bream, Mullets, Trout, Mackerel, English Whiting, European Plaice … and others that I do not know the name of anymore. The first time I went to the market I had no idea yet what I was going to buy and when I looked at the sea bream they sold my mind was set instantly. That fish looked so good – I had to buy it! Unfortunately, later standing in the kitchen preparing the fish I encountered a little problem: my fish pan is too small. The idea was to prepare the fish as a whole though and I so didn't want to have to cut it into pieces … I have never prepared a whole fish ever so I wasn't quite sure how and what but I figured that it cant be that difficult and if I would screw it up well then I could still eat the meat. The first two times I forgot to turn the fish around on time and it did fall into pieces, which I ate nonetheless as it of course was till okay to eat. But really, it is not so much fun anymore to eat a whole fish when suddenly you have to fish for fish bones in your meal. Regardless those first small obstacles I kept experimenting and after a few days only I learned the "trick" and can now I enjoy a whole fish, except for the fish head.

Meanwhile I feel that the internal (dis)stress has increased again since I returned but of course that was/is likely to happen once you are back in the familiar setting and faced with old problems that a vacation will not magically let disappear. However, all those little changes I tried to implement and to maintain also during the day really do seem to make a difference what concerns living a bit healthier and being able to relax a little more. I notice(d) that especially on days when I am struggling a little harder due to deeper emotional issues. Recently, on such days the balance I try to maintain during the day as well as trying to create a good atmosphere for me by listening to what it is I need can make all the difference. Once again, it is "simply" about being more conscious of yourself, your emotional needs but surely also of what external aspects have a positive or negative influence in how you feel and therefore eat and eventually sleep. I never thought I would one day post a pic of my dinner and write about food but then again there are a few other things I do these days that I never thought I would be doing. Must be the age?

Anyway ... looks like I am off for dinner now:

For those who might wonder what all that is on my plate: trout with garlic of course, tomatoes, a mix of Rucola and Corn salad and rice.

Eruca sativa (syn. E. vesicaria subsp. sativa (Miller) Thell., Brassica eruca L.), also known as arugula or rocket. It is used as a leaf vegetable, which looks like a longer leaved and open lettuce. It is rich in vitamin C and potassium.

Corn salad (Valerianella locusta) is a small dicot annual plant of the family Valerianaceae. It is also called Lewiston cornsalad, fetticus, mache, mâche, doucette, rampon, rampien, lamb's lettuce, field salad. Like other formerly foraged greens, corn salad has many nutrients, including three times as much Vitamin C as lettuce, beta-carotene, B6, B9, Vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty acids.

24 July 2008

Little Trees - The Mighty Broccoli

That's how grandma got me to eat broccoli when I was young, by calling them "little trees." I'm not sure what about that notion touched a special weirdness in me, but being able to be a giant demolishing a forest of little trees appealed to me.

For many years in adulthood, I sort of stepped over this wonderful vegetable, but have recently become reacquainted with the little trees and now enjoy them several times a week, roasted, raw and - most often - steamed.

Jonny Bowden calls broccoli "vegetable royalty," and it appears more often than any other food on his experts' "top ten" lists (in contrast, say, with soy which rarely does). Broccoli is related to bok choy, kale and cabbage, among other great all-star plants and is loaded with protein and fiber, also has potassium and many other vitamins and minerals, and is great for maintaining healthy eyes. I whack mine up into big bite sized bits.

There are all sorts of fancy steamers out there. In fact I've got one in my kitchen that I use occasionally, usually at Church functions when the stovetop real estate is consumed with other megaprojects. But at home I use the low-tech steamer-basket-in-the-pot techique, the same one used by my mother and her mother - the same woman who taught me to love broccoli in the first place. They may not have known that broccoli and other cruciferous veggies would be credited with reducing breast and cervical cancer thanks to indole-3-carbinol.

I throw a bit of salt in the water and use some nice sea salt on the steaming broccoli since I'm a salt nut. Cover. Roughly fifteen minutes later, I'll be happy with the softness and texture of my vegetable.

While it's steaming, today I fine-grate some raw milk Rockhill Creamery Edam Steph left me as a gift. She picked it up last weekend when we were at the Farmers' Market in Salt Lake City. This is a wonderfully mild cheese. I want to top my freshly steamed broccoli with it and allow it to melt a bit into the vegetable.

After the heat and the cheese conspire to join the two flavors, I drizzle a bit of extra-virgin olive oil and add a bit more fresh ground sea salt and pepper.

Now, it's time for the giant to do his thing to the forest.

22 July 2008

More Fun With Raw Food

Want a really quick meal? Why cook when you can eat it raw?

I made this dinner in 5 minutes.

This is my spiralizer. It makes these really pretty spiral slices or strands out of raw vegetables.

Tonight I'm making zucchini and summer squash "angel hair pasta."

You simply cut a chunk of a zucchini or summer squash, place it in the spiralizer, lock the lid in place, and turn the crank.

Out comes beautiful strands of "pasta." The texture of zucchini pasta is almost identical to that of cooked "al dente" pasta.

Next I chopped up this beautiful heirloom tomato. These tomatoes are just being harvested now across the country (they were a little late this year because of droughts). They are sweet like sugar and as juicy as can be. You'll never want a store bought tomato again after eating these. I'm going to stock up on them this summer and can them so I can enjoy them throughout the year.

Then I drizzled a little extra virgin olive oil over everything,

added a bit of fresh ground sea salt and black pepper,

some fresh pesto sauce that I made a few days ago with basil from my fire escape garden,

and a few fresh basil leaves.

Look at those tomatoes!!

Do I look like I'm missing processed carbs?

21 July 2008

"Sowing Seeds for a New Future"

Last Saturday when Steph was visiting we spent part of the morning in Salt Lake City's Pioneer Park checking out the weekend Farmers' Market. One stand in particular caught our eyes.

The vegetables looked nice enough, but the person taking the money was wearing a Sheriff's Office uniform. Upon closer examination, we learned that this stand was operated and filled with produce grown and harvested by incarcerated persons from the Salt Lake County Metro Jail.

The guys we chatted with (after making sure it was okay with their custodians) were knowledgable about their produce and the program. They said that they've got two and a half acres in the jail compound upon which they've been growing their crops for the last two years. They're working toward a three-year "organic" certification through the Utah State University Extension program which they expect to have next year. In order to participate in the Jail Horticulture Program, the incarcerated person must complete a "Gardner's Certificate" through the Extension office. The program motto is "Sowing Seeds for a New Future."

It appears that Salt Lake County is trying to do a little something to allow some of its incarcerated persons to improve themselves and give back a little to the community.

I believe we all benefit from the Jail Horticulture Program.

What's for dinner?

How about grass-fed Lamb Osso Buco with red nightfall beans and heirloom tomatoes?

I did this in a pressure cooker:

Sear 3 grass-fed lamb shanks in 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in pot for five minutes on each side. Then remove lamb from pot and set aside on a plate.

Add a bit more oil to the pot and then sautee 1 sweet onion, 3 cloves of garlic, and 3 small carrots, and half a stalk of celery (mirepoix) until vegetables soften and start to turn brown. Season with sea salt and black pepper.

Add 2 cups of good red wine (I used a Napa Valley Cabernet) to deglaze the pan. Reduce the wine for a few minutes. Then add 2 cups of good chicken or vegetable stock. I used some frozen stock that I had from an organic chicken I boiled a few weeks ago. Then add 2 cups of red or white beans that have been soaked overnight and drained. Return the meat to the pot as well. Add salt and pepper to season. Cover the pot and bring the pressure up to high. Cook on high pressure for 1 hour.

Bring pressure down. Remove cover and add 3 chopped heirloom tomatoes, a handful of fresh thyme and a handful of fresh oregano. Bring pressure back up and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Then it's done. The meat will pretty much fall off the bone. This was intensely rich and delicious. I eat lamb about 1 time a year and this was it - so worth it!

You can also put all of these ingredients in a slow cooker and cook all day. You will get the same results, more or less.

Sleepy now.... good night.

20 July 2008

Berries, Berries, Berries!

What could taste more like summer than berries?

Many years ago when I used to spend my summers in Nantucket, I lived in a tiny rose adorned cottage that was situated on a small winding lane. In addition to the wild rose bushes climbing up the trellises of the houses, this tiny street was also perfumed by honeysuckle, and abundant with blackberry bushes. Those summers were filled with wonderful fragrances, tastes, and the simple pleasures of appreciating the gifts that each season would bring.

Just around late July, early August, those blackberries would be plump and juicy and ready for picking. I would just eat them right off the bush. Sometimes I could gather enough to use for a small dessert, but for the most part, I was never really sure who else was picking them and wanted to leave enough for other neighbors to enjoy.

Today, I'm a city dweller and rarely have the time to get out to the country to do my own picking, however I am extremely lucky to have the greatest farmers market that comes to my neighborhood every Sunday (in addition to the several farmers markets that grace our many neighborhoods in New York City).
Today I decided to buy berries. There was such a beautiful variety that I just decided to stock up on many of them and freeze them. Berries freeze really well if you don't wash them and seal them in zip-lock bags. Their texture may change a bit but they don't lose anything in flavour.

I bought blueberries, raspberries, goose berries, and black currents. There were also strawberries, blackberries and red currents as well, but I didn't have enough room in my bag to carry them without squishing them. I'll pick up some more this week as berry season is just peaking now.

I took a handful of each of these, threw them in a bowl, topped them with some creamy homemade yoghurt, and drizzled some raw, wildflower honey on top. There's no better breakfast than this in the summer. Berries and yogurt is an especially good recovery meal following an intense workout. Organic yogurt is a great source of protein (especially my goat milk yoghurt), the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of berries help prevent injury and illness, and the good carbs in both give you energy and help prevent that depleted, "run-down," feeling.

The landmark 2004 Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry study shows that just one cup of berries provides all the disease-fighting antioxidants you need in a single day. This research provided the largest and most comprehensive report of antioxidant content in fruits and vegetables. Berries actually won, hands down, in providing the most antioxidant bang for the buck.

What are antioxidants, you ask? Antioxidants are important disease-fighting compounds that are believed to help prevent and repair the stress that comes from oxidation, a process that occurs during normal cell function. A small percentage of cells becomes damaged during oxidation and turn into free radicals, which can start a chain reaction to harming more cells and possibly disease. Unchecked free radical activity has been linked to cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's disease.

I'm going to talk more about free radical damage and exercise in my next post so please stay tuned. In the mean time, eat your berries!!!

17 July 2008

The Joys of Leftovers

The other day when Stephanie prepared some meals for us she carefully wrapped and refrigerated some excess onion, asparagus and tomato. She's back on the road now, but late this morning the boys and I enjoyed those vegetables along with a little cheddar with our organic whole eggs, scrambled a bit. (I sometimes prefer the texture of a rough scramble to a smooth omlette.)

I've never before consistently taken the time to make my own food. It tastes so much better this way, no news certainly to those of you for whom such activity is a lifestyle.

14 July 2008

09 July 2008

On the Wagon...

Okay, I'm making it official now. I have one decent day under my belt and I'm hoping that by taking up the invitation to post on Mark and Stephanie's blog and laying it all out here that I too can get back to a healthy lifestyle. I want to be one of the cool, healthy kids like Mark and Stephanie. Guess I'd better go make some yogurt, aye?

And what could be more motivating than knowing any failure will be public? Such is my hope anyway.

My diet is similar to the one that Mark and Stephanie are on. I've been given this diet by a doctor as an alternative treatment for colon cancer. It saved my life, but for the last few years my eating disorder has taken over and I've been eating like crap and as a result I feel like crap. Crap sucks.

I'm starting with a carrot juice fast that is part of my program. I have to be careful with these because I have abused them in the past. I'm trying really hard to focus on health and not weight this time around. Key word there is "trying." In fact, I'm going to throw away my scale.


Heh. I can't tell you how many people have tried to get me to do that. Don't touch my car's stereo preset buttons or my scale.

So today is the end of day one. Lately, one day is pretty huge. Wish me luck for tomorrow.

The Primal Blueprint

I think a lot of you will appreciate this. It comes from Mark's Daily Apple ( a great blog on health and fitness!).

This way of eating sort of echoes the eating plan that Mark and I are on right now and I have to say that it feels very easy and very enjoyable. Read on. I've never seen an approach to food and fitness make as much sense as this one.

What is the Primal Blueprint?

06 July 2008

A Little Bump in the Road

Of course there are always going to be times where we all fall off of some kind of disciplined plan. For me, having an eating disorder means that every day that I don’t binge or purge is a huge milestone. I try to feel proud of the days that I triumph and not feel too bad about the days I don’t. Well yesterday I fell off slightly. It wasn’t disastrous and certainly didn’t send me spiraling downwards.

I spent most of the day doing the things I love the most: biking, shopping, cooking, and writing. Later in the afternoon I had plans to meet a family member for a movie and dinner.

We planned on seeing an afternoon movie together, a film of her choice, since I wasn’t really too keen on seeing anything. As I was sitting in the cinema, bored to tears and feeling somewhat compromised and cheated of my day, I started to pick into my grocery bag, which I still had with me. In the course of the film I managed to polish off a pint of fresh figs (not so bad) and a ½ lb block of Manchego cheese (very bad!). By the time the film ended I felt ill. Then we had plans to go to dinner. Of course, I pretended like nothing happened and proceeded to ingest an entire additional meal (belch!). This is what bingers do. We eat on the sly and then when it comes to mealtime, we appear to be ordering smart and showing a lot of restraint.

I recognized two types of behavior in myself that I could have changed. The first one being, the whole “feeling compromised” thing. Why would I put myself in a situation that has me feeling resentful in the first place? The second one was the lashing out. So my day didn’t turn out exactly how I planned. Why couldn’t I have just rolled with it and continued to maintain a healthy attitude toward myself? Instead I chose to check out, move out of the present, and punish myself in the process. There’s the distinct possibility that my attitude visibly shifted and perhaps my cousin felt it. Maybe she took it personally. So, I realized in the end that in attempting to spare the feelings of someone by going against my own wishes and punishing myself for it, I might have hurt that person anyway. These are just some of my self-reflections on what triggers me to binge.

Like I said, the damage was minimal. I went home last night and went straight to bed. Today has been a new day and has so far been delightful and rewarding. I haven’t strayed but I definitely scared myself.

Jumping On The Yogurt Train

I was excited by Stephanie's recent yogurt success. The recipe seemed simple enough that even someone like me might give it a shot, so I did.

First, I heated my milk - in this case goat's milk - to the boiling point in order to kill any bad, milk-spoiling bugs swimming about. I used a microwave and just watched my glassware. After it had bubbled a bit, I pulled it out, put in my thermometer and waited for the milk to cool to about 50C (122F).

Steph successfully made yogurt just using her finger and the thermal rule "not so hot you can't put it in, not so cool that it's comfortably warm." Once the milk reached the target temperature, I added my yogurt culture from existing yogurt and poured the milk into a thermos.

Then I just left it alone for about twelve hours. The range is 8-14 according to the instructions we were using. It's amazing how quickly all those little fornicating yogurt bugs get to it.

Just after midnight last night, I poured my new yogurt into a bowl and refrigerated it, but not before sampling a bit. The flavor was, as expected, "goaty" (to steal a descriptor from Steph) and yogurty. I'd been warned that warm yogurt is an odd sensation, and it was.

Today I've got cool, fresh, healthy, additive-free yogurt to go with my fruit. Life is good.

04 July 2008

It Yoged!

And it's delicious...

Recipe here.

Happy Independence Day!

02 July 2008

One Week Down!

One week of healthy eating, no binging, and I'm feelin' fine!

It's almost been too easy. I've been feasting on fabulous salads, fresh fish, protein-rich organic eggs, and yummy bowls of beans with assorted steamed or sautéed vegetables. I've having this new revitalized love affair with beans ever since I discovered these heirloom varieties from northern California. You can find them here. They are so delicious that I bought an entire case of them so I wouldn't have to create so many shipments. My favorite are the Ojo de Cabra (Goat's Eye).
They are so savory and flavorful on their own. After soaking them overnight, I boil them in 2 parts water to 1 part beans. All I add to the water is half an onion, a few cloves of garlic, and some salt and pepper. As these babies cook down, your entire house will smell like the richest, smokiest, meatiest something, and the water actually cooks down into this thick gravy. It's just too good. Tonight I had them with just a bit of hard goat cheese sprinkled on top.

Accompanying my beans was a very light summer vegetable curry. My curry consisted of some fresh picked vegetables I found at the farmer's market this morning: some small summer broccolis, some small yellow cauliflowers, and some spring onions. I sautéed the onions, some mustard seeds, and some cumin seeds in some ghee. Ghee is clarified butter and is one of the healthiest fats to cook with. Once the mustard seeds began to pop and the onions turned slightly brown, I added my broccoli and cauliflower, some turmeric, garam masala, and some cayenne pepper for a little heat. Then I added some water to steam the veggies down and create a little sauce. I finally added some salt and pepper to taste. You can mix in a little organic heavy cream at the end for a thicker sauce. This beautiful yellow tinted curry had a sweet and slightly spicy flavor. It went very well with my hearty beans.

I live very close to some great Indian shops where I get most of these spices but you can always buy them on-line. You can also just substitute all of them for a good quality curry powder. Commercial curry powder doesn't have the same nuanced flavors of freshly mixed curry, but it has most of the same basic elements so it's always a good standby.

Yesterday, my friend Tammie came to New York for some business and stayed with me overnight. We have similar food and health issues and did some real heart to heart bonding.

Tammie was an extremely gracious and kind guest and took me out to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Pure Food and Wine. The food there is all raw, organic, and masterfully prepared. We first shared a plate of assorted nut cheeses. Nut cheese, you ask? It was heavenly. They tasted like different varieties of goat and sheep cheese although a little "nuttier," if you will. Tammie then had a raw lasagna that looked amazing. I had squash blossoms stuffed with "cheese" and four different types of heirloom tomatoes with olives, avocado, and this wonderful olive puree. It was extremely filling and satisfying. We felt so good leaving the restaurant and then had a lovely walk home. It's been a good week.

01 July 2008

Sin and Absolution.

I pressed the binoculars to my eyes. Still no movement.

It was Sunday and I was in the middle of a long surveillance and I was dying of hunger. I'd had a quick, small breakfast of eggs and black coffee (both allowed in my diet plan). It was now early afternoon and my gut was past petulance and bordering on open rebellion. I was in an empty building with which I was familiar with a little kitchen not too far from my post. I ran to the kitchen and rummaged around in the shelves for something I might be able to eat. An open bag of croutons of questionable antiquity. Packets of Kool-Aid. A box of Pop-Tarts. Strawberry Pop-Tarts. Hmmm.

I was so hungry.

A whole bunch of things happened nearly simultaneously in my mind. I had to be quick. I needed to get back to my post. My inner angel, anticipating the ruckus my inner devil was about to generate, raised his pink little finger and stabbed it at me, and lectured using words like "faithfulness" and "honor" and "don't be a prick." My inner devil slapped my wee cherub on the back of the head, stepped in front of him, and recited a whole list of reasons why I needed to fortify myself that instant with those little sugary rectangles of quasi-fruity goodness. First, what if I needed to exert myself physically within the next hour or so? And one little deviation wouldn't hurt that much! And "strawberries" (my little devil illustrated the word with finger air quotes) are good for you! They're allowed in the Rubin dietary plan! He beamed, no small feat for a devil.

I'd love to report that, my face a mask of steely, manful resolve, I turned on my heel and put my back to those Pop-Tarts.

But I can't.

I ate one Pop-Tart and immediately felt (1) intense guilt and (2) a sense of sinking futility. I felt the guilt because I knew I'd cheated while Stephanie, my girlfriend and diet partner, was probably elegantly picking at something healthy and allowed. And I felt the futility because the single "toaster pastry" had done nothing for me. It was like dropping a brick in the Grand Canyon. I was still famished. I'd need two dozen of those things to put a dent in the hollow ringing in my belly. Anyway, in spite of my hunger the guilt sort of killed my appetite. Dejected, I droopily returned to my post and finished my tour uneventfully before dragging my hungry butt home.

Jordan Rubin, our diet plan author, wrote about people like me.

If you mess up and go off the program, do not beat yourself up. You are only one meal away from success. No one is perfect.

Rubin goes on to observe that if "forbidden" foods are consumed within a one hour period, it limits the damage that can be done.

I superhydrated and ate well the rest of the day, but didn't sleep very comfortably that night. The next day, yesterday, was uneventful dietarily. I had a new, quiet commitment to the plan. I inventoried what I had and made plans for additional purchases Tuesday morning (today).

And there was another thing I had to do; confess what I'd done to my partner. And so it was with some trepidation that I admitted my sin to Stephanie last night during our evening phone conversation. There was a bit of a gasp, an "oh no!" and then a hearty laugh. She gave me some good counsel about taking the time to find or prepare some portable, permitted snacks. And after that she granted me absolution and reassured me that I was still loved.

I've restocked today with what I need to get through the next week, and will be making some portable foodthings to have with me as I travel around during my very mobile and hard-to-plan-your-day sort of job.

I slept like a baby last night. An exorcised, potty trained baby.