Carol brought up the topic of calories at dinner.
She had compiled a list of what we eat and, with a little research on the internet, calculated our calorie intake.
“A banana,” she said, “now there’s 100 calories.”
I hadn’t thought of fruit in those terms. Whether a banana, an apple or a handful of peanuts, from my perspective fruit and nuts always seemed a healthy way to bridge that gap between meals when you need to resist finishing off that last piece of pie in the fridge.
Now should I be calculating calories, and putting aside the banana and going for the apple?
“And then there’s water,” she said.
Water? There’s no calories to water. Of course, that was her point. Have a glass of water instead of indulging in “real food” to put off that urge to nibble.
Just imagine giving yourself that pep talk. I can’t wait for that next drink of water. I think I’ll go for a bigger glass this time because I deserve it, and I get that great feeling without any calories.
My mother found the perfect way to snack without the guilt. Coffee cake, with its rich crust of sugar and cinnamon coated nuts, was a favorite target. The first cut was always the most difficult. An Entenmann’s cake could sit untouched for a day, if not longer, in its box on the kitchen counter – a temptation to everyone.
She wouldn’t say anything. She didn’t have to. She knew one of us would break down and cut that first slice. After that it was open season.
She wasn’t a pig about it. She often left a kitchen knife in the box to shave off as thin a slice as possible. Naturally, that was difficult. The cake crumbled, leaving irresistible mounds that she had to “clean up” for the sake of neatness. The closer the cake came to being fully consumed, the faster it disappeared by handfuls of crumbs.
She never talked about calories. This was her way of enjoying eating, by small bites rather than heaping platefuls.
Water was not on her list of consumables, and never would she consider it as placeholder between meals or a means of satisfying those pangs for a bite.
We didn’t get into the proclivities of my mother’s eating. Rather, we turned to Ollie, who was attentively taking in our dinnertime discussion about calories and what’s considered a desirable daily intake.
He’s put on weight, which became apparent on Super Bowl Sunday when he returned to visit the folks at the East Greenwich Animal Protection League for their Puppy Bowl. When we adopted Ollie he was a stealth hound, surely neglected and arguably malnourished. That changed, although Carol didn’t go overboard. He was put on a regimen of dog food. The only deviation was licking the plates before they went into the washer. Well, it used to be that way. Now Ollie gets snacks, too.
The consequences became apparent as we tried to slip on his harness. It was a squeeze. The straps bit into his coat in a full display of his girth. We took it off and loosened everything up. He was ready for his visit, but we vowed to make some adjustments in his diet.
We debated making a list of calorie intakes for Ollie. Carol vowed to reduce meal portions and we agreed to cut out table tidbits. Ollie was keeping a close eye on our dinner progress.
No doubt he expected that final mouthful at the edge of my plate. That’s the way it’s been lately.
Not this time, I said finishing it off. This was the new regime. And then the thought occurred, who had I helped out?
Next time I’ll get a glass of water.