Thursday, March 6, 2014


So today, I cheated.

Tomorrow marks eight weeks - two fucking months - of living grain- and refined-sugar- free.

And I have not cheated, not once. And if you don't know, I work in a literal candy store. Yes, it's a software firm, but it's all the tales you've heard about these insane, hedonistic, childlike Googlesque workplaces? They're true.

Snack plates are put out once or twice a day in the three most high-trafficked areas. Perhaps brie and summer sausage, perhaps guacamole and chips, perhaps almond mini croissants and a bowl of coconut whipped cream, perhaps peanut butter-filled celery sticks. And that's just those three areas. Then each kitchen (there are also three) is stocked: a cereal cabinet with 15+ kinds. A candy cabinet, a cracker drawer, all the bagels, bread, and muffins you could want (cinnamon raisin, plain, vegan, wheat, etc.). There is a sweets cabinet - Oreos, Petit Ecoliers, Nutter Butters. There are at least ten kinds of granola bars: Kind, Kashi, Nature Valley, PowerBar, Clif. There is, ok, a nod to health, with a fruit bowl. But there is a soda cooler, there is beer and wine, there is endless tea and coffee with your choice of soy, coconut, almond, regular, skim, whole and lactose free milk - half and half. (One guy eats two bowls of cereal a day, with half and half as the backdrop.)

This is meant for us to enjoy, every day, all day, for free, day in and day out. Since the second I have worked there. There is also at least one company lunch each week from the nearby food carts (variety makes it impossible to prepare your defenses against the deliciousness), and I've yet to work a week there when there is not also another pile of leftovers for lunch or at about 3 PM, everyone's best time to avoid high-cal snacks - it is often Voodoo Doughnuts, or Elephants Deli sandwiches, or Pizzicato pizza of six or seven varieties.

Oh, and we have a monthly food holiday - National Milkshake Day was one. Just come order up! The soda jerk is ready to help you out.

And so it is that in the face of this, I have not cheated once. Not one time. I have not eaten half a broken Chips Ahoy as I filled the cookie jar. I have not licked the spoon after slicing up chicken enchiladas. I have not had a Twizzler. Not a Dove chocolate square. Not the edge of a pizza slice. Not a quarter of a doughnut. And yet it's all staring me in the face, for the eight to ten hours a day, sometimes more, that I spend in the office.

But today, friends, I broke.

I came to work to help set up a breakfast buffet for visiting colleagues from the remote offices. French Toast. And pancakes. And look; I love pancakes like Phillip Seymour Hoffman loved speed balls. One is never, ever, ever enough. There were mountains of butter pats and maple syrup. But no, I set it up - and I walked away.

Then I attended a lunch event on behalf of the company. We were served a chicken sandwich on fluffy ciabatta. And if I can't get heroin but I can get oxycontin, to continue the inappropriate and gross metaphor, then bread is the very best next thing after a pancake.

But I didn't eat it. I ate the chicken out of the sandwich. I declined the basket of rolls (yes, rolls, with a sandwich, good sweet Jesus) and I declined the cookie assortment after that. It's true that I love cake more than cookies, but don't get me wrong - I love a cookie, even a bad one, too.

I made it back the office, still slightly hungry. I decided to heat up my almost-cooked-into-baby-food-texture carrots and a little beef short rib. And what is waiting in the kitchen?

A Thai buffet. With a giant hotel pan of fluffy, steamed white rice.

My doctor told me that if I'm melting down, and freaking out, the very best cheat on this diet is white rice. It has no nutrition - it has no fiber to feed the SIBO bacteria - and it goes right through you.

And willpower, as scientists are learning, is a muscle. Like any muscle, it can get fatigued. It needs rest to get strong again. I think - side note - this is why I am averaging 8.5 hours a night of sleep right now. I need to replenish the willpower reserves! And by the way, people with kids, plug your ears: that is 8.5 hours of sleep. I measure it with my UP band. I'm actually IN bed a good 9 hours or more. That's the pure, sweet sleep of someone not actively consuming peanut butter by the gallon, hoping to stop thinking about bread and pancakes.

So the willpower muscle was tapped out, and I added about a third of a cup of fluffy white rice to my dish. And Oh. My. Lordy. It tasted like sugar. No. It tasted like nectar. It was like some kind of divine manna. And I am talking white rice, I know. But it was almost funny, I almost laughed - how good it tasted.

And then, about twenty minutes later, I felt like I was on speed myself. I was hyper alert. Vigilantly awake. I was giddy, smiling. I had more energy than I have had in weeks. I was giggly, bright, amazed. What a world! What a day! What a gorgeous life! I'm going to the gym, to my crazy-tough fusion workout class!

Which I promptly did. And I set a new (self) pushup record, which my teacher noticed and was impressed by.

Powered by the blandest thing in the world. I may be a cheater, but I'm definitely a rice rocket today.

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