so here's the deal: after 30 odd years of being a vegetarian, although i only gave up fish about 12 years ago, my doctor says to me that my diabetes meds are maxed out and i should try the south beach diet since many of her diabetic patients have reduced their meds through doing it. but one cannot do it as a vegetarian. i just won't eat meat, but wavered a little about fish. then she gives me the choice: fish, or insulin. you'd think that this would be an easy choice. it is not an easy choice. apart from the fact that after passing for all these years, i might actually have to decide whether or not to be kosher (yes for now); there is also the guilt, the taboo, the principle, the loss of integrity. on the other hand, as my mother said - quatsch! (german for 'bollox!') fish aren't cuddly! in september, when i went home for the stone-setting, she made plaice for me my first night there, and insisted i try it. it tasted very fishy, and full of guilt & taboo. last month, when she came to visit me, i ordered salmon at every restaurant in which we ate, and a tuna melt at the diner. less guilt, but still some indigestion. gosh i do like salmon. i always have. it was one of the major reasons i decided i could be a rabbi, since in those days it was served in one form or another at every lifecycle occasion. meanwhile, i had not yet begun the diet.
this week i ran out of excuses. the fact that every single thing i love most to eat is now totally banned for 2 weeks - not naughty things, but all fruit, even healthy bread, and potatoes :-( - is utterly depressing. nevertheless, i had told so many people i was going to do it that i really had to have a go. so tuesday evening found me trolling through the supermarket, and filling my trolley with new and different things. an awful lot of green stuff, the kind i often buy a small amount of with the best intentions and then have to throw away when it goes brown and starts to become liquid. an awful lot of stuff that has to have something done to it - slicing, peeling, cooking - before it is palatable. an awful lot of ersatz stuff - i can't believe that i had to buy i can't believe it's not butter spray. i could not bear the sight of cottage cheese, but did buy my first pot of skim milk ricotta cheese. and, possibly for the first time in my life, i bought a fillet of salmon.
the next day was wednesday, and my first big test. in the afternoon, there are always piles of fresh, delicious bagels awaiting the students for snack before classes begin. i decided not to arrive until after the bagels were put away. nevertheless, it appeared that each child walking past me had hands filled with leftover halloween candy and a lollipop in each corner of its mouth. i began to practice with a batmitzvah student, and became convinced that someone was frying latkes in the synagogue kitchen. o dear - an olfactory hallucination. after class i ran home and inhaled the latest of several giant bowls of salad liberally drizzled with carb solutions dressing. i then returned for a committee meeting, and someone brought snacks: leftover halloween candy and cheese puffs and a bottle of wine. i am very grumpy.
today, it just seemed easier not to eat at all (except for a glass of skimmed milk in the morning to persuade my body it was being fed so it didn't lock down into starvation mode). and then ... all ye who know and love me please sit down and do not faint ... for dinner tonight i made myself broiled salmon with sauteed spinach and garlic. and there is salmon left for shabbat dinner tomorrow!
the only problem is the amount of washing-up i have to do. later ...