Mary Oves Danny Drake

Crudites enrage me.

What psychopath ever figured out that munching on cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, strips of bell peppers and celery was good for the mind and body?

I hate bite-size raw vegetables. I know they are good for me. I know every bite supplies minerals and vitamins to my swiftly aging body. I know that they fill my stomach, and negate my desire for Combos, Cheez-Its and Pringles.

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But I resent them. They make me feel fearful, cold, brittle and crunchy. They are a great appetite suppressant, because I get so depressed after eating them, the only thing I crave afterward is a Zoloft.

I just ate a soft round sweet blueberry muffin, and now I feel soft and round and sweet. That little muffin comforted me, and reminded me that not everything in the world is tasteless. But I also know this credo: you are what you eat. Eat a muffin, look like a muffin. Eat celery, look like a stalk.

I haven't decided if I'm going to tell my nutritionist about this blog. She has a good sense of humor, but insists that I get those five servings of fruits and veggies a day. She even gave me a colorful stretchy bracelet - each color represents a fruit or veggie I should eat every day. Yesterday I got close. I had green for salad, white for cucumbers, orange for carrots, purple for a plum, red for a nectarine.

I even kept it going when I got home from work. Red for original Doritos, blue for Cool Ranch and white for Pringles.

The part that gets me is that it works. The more fruits and veggies I eat, the leaner I get. If it didn't work, it wouldn't make me so frustrated. Because here is the secret that everyone wants to lose weight needs to hear. Ready? I'll whisper.

You. Can't. Eat. Anything. That. Tastes. Good.

Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, NutriSystem - none of them tell you that there are only really a handful of things you can eat (different variations of) and lose weight. Sure, you can have the chocolate cake that has 800 calories, but wouldn't you RATHER have two meals plus a snack, and not have to run tomorrow? Decision's yours.

I might be a bit negative. I'm far from being deprived. Last night I had steamed broccoli and grilled tilapia, mmmm. But for the most part? Please. Epicurus would shake his head in dismay.

I'm a salty snacker. Give me a bag of Cheetos and I'm in a trance. But I'm also old enough to know I can't eat Cheetos and wear J Crew clothes, so I compromise to whole grain crackers.

Too much sodium, my nutritionist says. Replace those crackers with some mushrooms.

Huh? Who the hell pops mushrooms in their mouths on purpose? Survivor Man on the Discovery Channel might, but he is getting paid and has a camera man giving him M&Ms between takes. Mushrooms are the things that are always lying on the side of a plate because everyone picks them out of their food, and you want me to bring a zipped baggie of them to work?

Mushrooms are ugly, and look like bugs. They're a fungus, and fungi grow. I'd be afraid of them morphing into a small woodland animal. Imagine my co-workers' surprise when a small squirrel jumps out of my lunchbox. "Mary brought mushrooms again," they'd say, as I chase the squirrel around the faculty room.

I've been on this program for almost eight weeks, and I'm doing alright. It's not like when I was 20 and could lose 10 pounds in a week. It's tougher at my age.

I'm cranky, but I'm losing. And I have figured out the things I can eat: yogurt, eggs, nuts (small quantities), fruits, vegetables, fish, lean foul, and any strange exotic grain that sounds like toubaleh, hummus or bulgar. Oh, and nutritionists are big on quinoa, pronounced "keen-wah." It's like some magic food, like salmon and spinach, but needs to be prepared in a certain way for it to taste good. Quinoa is like having a small child in the house - it needs attention and appeasement.

But things like pizza, cheese, lunchmeats, pasta? No one comes out and says you can't eat these things, of course; the line is "everything in moderation." Hah! Ever try eating a tablespoon of cheese? Dandelion fluff would provide more substance.

I have to make a choice. Eat the veggies and get the results I want, or not. I am getting the feeling that there is no in between. No moderation. No splurging. Just pure and unadulterated nutritional imprisonment.

Not that I'm cranky.


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