My Last Suppers, and Lunches, and Breakfasts

I think I clarified in my last post that I will not be consuming any trifle before I die. But dying does open the door for a host of long-neglected culinary indulgences. For an eternity, as you know, sodium has been my nemesis. I have been on a sodium-restricted diet since 2013, with occasional lapses when I venture out for a meal like a normal person.

With my death sentence, all food restrictions have flown out the window. A little sodium isn’t going to kill me now; my failing bone marrow is taking care of that. I dare say that my burgeoning baby bump may be surrounded by a fair bit of fluid due to my recent increase in sodium consumption. It turns out all the foods I want to consume with abandon before I die are all salt bombs. Pizza, dim sum, Thai food, grilled cheese with bacon, anything that actually has some salt flavour. You may have some suggestions for me. I’m listening.

You can recall I recently tackled the Golden Arches, to my deep disappointment–darn that excess special sauce–but I have had many more tasty indulgences since. Why, just yesterday a dear friend treated me to a lovely Thai lunch. I approached the meal cautiously, ordering vegetarian salad rolls and coconut rice, but I thoroughly enjoyed every bite. My friend’s Pad Thai was to die for, but I’m taking small steps.

Forget that; I haven’t time for small steps. I’m going to eat every previously banned food between now and my end. If only my appetite weren’t suppressed by my spleen’s pressing on my stomach, and by the progression of the illness itself. I’m eating, but not enjoying the food as much as I might have in the past. Sadly, eating to my heart’s content gives me heartburn. Hunger pangs are largely absent. I know, I don’t believe it either.

Then it hit me how selfish I am to indulge in relentless sodium-laden meals before I die. There are grave consequences of my doing so, especially to my pallbearers. How much extra weight will they have to lug around because of my overindulgence in long-forbidden foods? My nearest and dearest are getting older. Many of them have back or hip or other joint injuries. Will my excess necessitate orthopedic surgery?

Hopefully not. Pallbearers these days often aren’t tasked with the physical labour they once were. Now there are wheelie carts to move the coffin and suspension systems to lower the casket (and whatever ginormous body lies within) into the ground. (Let’s assume I’m not the only one trying to move through my long list of Last Suppers.)

So I will continue to work through my coveted food list, hoping I reach its end before I reach my end. Truth is, I can only eat so much at a time, and thus far my weight has barely budged. I don’t envision my BMI reaching the obese, or even the overweight, range before I die, although stranger things have happened. Even if I do balloon, I’ll rest assured that advances in graveside services will prevent serious injury to others. If you decline the request to be my pallbearer, I vow no hard feelings. I’ll be dead by then.

Pallbearers pushing coffin on wheelie cart

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Restaurant review: The Golden Arches

Big mac laying on french fries

Last Tuesday, J. and I spent a long morning at the cancer centre. I’d received not-as-bad-as-it-could-have-been news from the doctor. My body is stabilizing somewhat, and my brick is less thick. After a quick infusion of platelets, I was sent off for two weeks. Since a celebration was in order, and we were both peckish, J. suggested the Golden Arches on the way home from the hospital. Off we went.

There is ample free parking outside the restaurant. If you are lazy enough to want your fast food without even leaving your car, there is also a drive-through window. Such conveniences for the lazy cannot be overstated.

It’s been 25 years or more since I’ve entered a Golden Arches. The decor was updated minimally from what I recall, and there was ample seating. Unfortunately, moulded plastic is not an especially comfortable seating choice, perhaps used to discourage patrons from lingering. We found ourselves a table for two. Surroundings were spic and span, especially considering the heavy traffic through the restaurant.

Unfortunately, we arrived 15 minutes before the grill was open for lunch. Although the Golden Arches now offers all-day breakfast, burgers are not available until 11 a.m. We returned to our uncomfortable seats to wait.

The menu has expanded considerably since I was last there, but I only had eyes for the Big Mac I have been coveting for months now. Also, I was worried that were I to sample an absurd variety of items, like a real restaurant reviewer, I might hasten my own death. Thus, J. and I agreed on splitting one Big Mac (my choice) and a large fries (her choice).

At the top of the hour, J. placed our order. Prices have certainly gone up since I was last here. Can you imagine nearly $10 for these two measly items? Our food was ready within minutes and J. brought our tray to our table. With it came considerable packaging waste, and the restaurant does not provide composting bins. Shame on you, Golden Arches!

I must note that portion sizes have decreased since I last visited. That Big Mac was anything but big. The basic recipe was unchanged, however: there were indeed two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, and onions on a sesame bun. J. and I agreed that the chef had been overly generous with the special sauce, drowning out all the other elements. Overall, the burger was meh. The shoestring fries arrived steaming hot, and there were more than enough for two to share. We managed to scarf every single one down easily.

Overall, this experience was a huge disappointment. Although I had consumed a larger lunch than I normally would, and an excess of sodium and fat, I was hungry within an hour of eating. Perhaps I should have also ordered the chocolate shake I used to buy when I was younger and had a faster metabolism. Does this omission warrant another visit? Likely not. Once in 25 years is more than enough for me.

Reservations: Not required
Alcohol: Not licensed
Free Wi-Fi: Yes
Open: 24 hours daily
Ambience: A little too bright and cheery for me
Locations: On every major street corner
Good for: Rich people, including those with small children
Overall Rating: 2/5 stars

A true Israeli breakfast of champions

Israeli breakfast buffet, eggs, olives, etc.

Lest I leave you with the impression that if you go to Israel, you’ll come back with a high bilirubin count, let’s talk about the food. It’s incredible, every single morsel.

Because Israel is surrounded by countries that are, at best, ambivalent about her existence, Israeli food is largely produced within its borders. In our travels we passed olive trees, date trees, banana trees, grape vines, and pomegranate trees dripping with fruit. The bananas were so tasty, J. refuses to eat another Chiquita.

(By the way, I don’t recommend eating an olive straight from the tree–it’s not a pleasant experience. Squeeze it and watch the oil ooze out, but cure your olives before you take a bite. I learned this lesson the hard way.)

Then there are the milk products, the yogurt and labneh and white cheese, which is a loose facsimile for our cream cheese but smoother and much tastier. Because so many restaurants and hotels in Israel have kosher kitchens to accommodate the religious Israeli residents and the tourists, many kitchens exclude meat from their menus. There isn’t enough space in this small country to produce a lot of meat. Rather, there is a very large sea known as the Mediterranean that is bursting with fish, and since fish can go either way–it can be eaten with milk products or with meat–the fish is aplenty.

Now imagine that all of this food finds its way into the buffets of the typical Israeli breakfast at hotels. This meal is often included in the cost of the hotel. We call it “Israeli breakfast” while Israelis call it “breakfast”. Whatever you call it, it is a perpetual exercise in self-restraint.

Imagine a variety of yogurt and cheeses, granola, dried fruits, and preserves. There’s smoked fish and tuna salad alongside a variety of breads and rolls. Add in eggs in various preparations, perhaps in spicy tomato sauce, or as an omelette to order. Of course there are sliced tomatoes, olives, and a mishmash of salads, including Israeli salad (which Israelis call “salad”). It’s finely chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions. Then there’s the stuffed pastry with savoury fillings like mushrooms or cheese.

Finally, there’s breakfast dessert, usually consisting of babka, i.e., chocolate- or cinnamon-swirled heaven, and halvah. Halvah is tahini and sugar, with added flavourings like cocoa powder or pistachios or whatever you can imagine, pressed it into a block. For immediate sugar shock, shave some halvah onto your babka.

If Israelis ate breakfast like this every day, they’d all be morbidly obese. The full Israeli breakfast is purely a tourist phenomenon, not that I’m complaining.

You won’t be surprised to learn I gained 10 lbs over the course of 14 days. But you may be surprised when I tell you that J. gained 0 lbs eating as much or more than me. Then we came home, and within one week on my strict low-sodium diet, I was back to my fighting weight.

I’ll admit it feels crummy to gain 10 lbs in 14 days, but losing 10 lbs in a week more than makes up for it. Best diet ever. You’ll come back with your bilirubin level intact, but if you gain weight, it’s all on you.

 

Musings on avocado toast

Avocados have gotten a bum rap of late on two fronts. In case you missed it, an Australian real-estate mogul had the gall to assert that the younger generations cannot afford to buy their own homes because they are wasting their money on frivolous items like $19 avocado toast. Needless to say, the social-media backlash was fierce.

Don’t tell me you’ve missed the trendy toast movement altogether. FYI, it’s not all melted margarine slathered on highly processed white bread anymore. The toast I’m speaking of has fancy toppings, including but not limited to avocados, smushed on thick slices of organic sourdough toast. You can order it in restaurants with a variety of additional toppings, at unfathomable prices.

I’ve read about the toast movement but I’ve never gone out to a restaurant in search of avocado toast because I don’t eat out, remember? Since I was placed on a sodium-restricted diet in 2004, I have largely been restricted to reading about the hot new restaurants in town on the internet. Sometimes I salivate at the pictures, but God would punish me if I deigned to consume their wares. Did I mention how much weight I gained on my last vacation, despite my only eating only one pain au chocolate over two weeks? No? Well, let’s keep it that way.

The mogul’s lame argument was countered by a respected business writer at the Globe and Mail. Said writer noted that young people would need to consume over 33 slices of overpriced avocado toast daily to spend the $180,000+ dollars Toronto house prices have risen over the past year alone. Anyone consuming that much avocado toast has a bigger problem than covering her house payments. I suspect a binge eating disorder, but I’d need more information to make a definitive diagnosis.

If these house-less restaurant-going kids decide, instead, to make avocado toast at home in order to save a few dollars, they need to be aware of the second strike against the poor avocado: the potential dangers of avocado-pit removal. According to recent medical reports, a phenomenon dubbed avocado hand is showing up increasingly in ERs everywhere. The injury results from a missed stab at the avocado pit, where the knife slips off and pierces the palm of the hand. These cuts can be deep, and may therefore result in serious infection. A local emerg doc noted that his hospital sees approximately one case of avocado hand weekly.

Thankfully we have socialized medicine in Canada, so that your ER visit will not cost the you anything except your pride. Rest assured the ER docs will view you as one of those earthy millennial types who needed a healthy snack following hot yoga to sustain you through the afternoon.

I’m not that person–I prefer to keep my yoga sweat to myself–yet I confess that I too like avocado toast. I often slather half an avocado on my morning toast, sometimes topping it with an also-trendy poached egg. It’s a surprisingly filling meal. But I’m too cheap to pay $15 for all this rigamarole at a restaurant. I’ll pit my own avocado, thank you very much, very carefully, and pray for no deep-tissue injury since I’m infection prone. Already I’ve cost the health system much more than my share.

Picture of avocado on toast topped with poached egg and herbs

False confessions

Swimming pool crowded with adultsSometimes I think of my blog posts as episodes of True Confessions. I bare my soul to so many people, many of whom I do not know, with each post. Well, not today. I’m taking the day off disclosures. I need a break, a boundary reboot, a moment to catch my breath. So expect only a trite review of some compelling research conducted by researchers at the University of Alberta. When you read about this study, you will appreciate that Alberta is a hotbed of medical research.

You may have heard about this recently published study already, since even NPR and the Guardian believed it worthy of reporting. The study assessed the amount of urine in public swimming pools, and the findings were not pretty. In an 830,000 litre pool, they estimated 75,000 litres of urine. That’s a lot of pee. Don’t blame the kids, either, since prominent U.S. Olympic swimmers confessed to peeing in the pool if nature calls. (I’m sure Canadian Olympic swimmers would never be so base.)

The amount of urine was estimated from the detected amount of acesulfame potassium (Ace K), an artificial sweetener added to a variety of processed foods. This substance leaves the body unaltered, allowing researchers to estimate the total amount of urine. Using this measure, all pools had urine in them, and one hotel hot tub contained 3 times as much urine as the number 1 pool with Number 1. I’ve always been leery of hotel hot tubs, and now I have a valid reason.

There is an obvious solution to this problem, other than swimmers peeing in toilets, that is. If people would stop consuming foods with Ace K in them, they could pee freely in the pool and their urine would go undetected. There’s only one fatal flaw with this solution: Ace K is in EVERYTHING. In fact, I copied the following list of foods potentially containing this substance from the official Ace K website.

  • Carbonated beverages
  • Non-carbonated beverages
  • Fruit juices
  • Beverage concentrates
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Tabletop sweeteners
  • Dairy products
  • Ice cream
  • Desserts, gelatins
  • Fruit and vegetable preserves
  • Jam, jelly and marmalade
  • Baked goods
  • Confectionery
  • Chewing gums
  • Marinated fish
  • Toothpaste and mouthwash
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Yogurt
  • Milk products
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Processed fruits and vegetables
  • Salad dressings and sauces
  • Condiments and relishes
  • Snack foods
  • Soups
  • Vitamins

I almost neglected to tell you about this study, but I was driving in my car and I grabbed myself a piece of sugarless gum. I don’t know why I chew sugarless gum occasionally. My breath needed a refresher, probably. And I got to wondering whether my gum contained this offending substance. Of course it did, and it does, and had I brushed my teeth instead, I’d still have potentially ingested Ace K. I’ve given you yet another reason to do away with processed food (and toothpaste), folks.

Did you know I used to be a swimmer? For years, I’d be in the pool at 7 a.m., doing laps or a deep-water aerobics class. And I’m sure in that time I swallowed gallons of pool water. But did I ever pee in the pool? Honestly, I can’t remember–I stopped swimming several years back–but if I could recall, I wouldn’t tell you. I said no true confessions today, didn’t I?

My salty little secret

Every Monday from 3 to 6 p.m., I volunteer at Canadian Blood Services. As I’ve already mentioned, this volunteer position is so complex I can’t believe they hired me. I am expected to serve soup, cookies, and drinks to blood donors, thank them for their donation, and watch that they don’t fall ill. Sure, there’s some juice and cookie restocking and occasional dish washing, but it’s a pretty lame position that I have mastered handily, except for my soup ladling, which could use work. I’m always dripping everywhere, despite my best efforts.

I chose my shift to keep myself awake once weekly during my usual rest hour. If I’m not napping at that time, I’m eating to keep myself awake. (Bad habit, I know.) It takes all my energy to get to the clinic some days, but once I’m there, I stay awake through my shift. I’m in trouble if I forget to take a snack along with me, though, since the generous pickings are slim for my liver-compromised body.

Donors need to replenish their fluids and one of the best ways to do so, other than taking in liquid, is to eat foods that are sweet or salty. That’s why the clinic stocks canned soup and salty crackers, as well as an endless variety of cookies. Because I am still trying to reduce my sugar consumption, I do not fall down the slippery cookie-laden slope. I’m focussed on the end goal here, so steering clear of sugar is no biggie.

That leaves the salty options, including the soup sodium bomb. As a child who walked home for lunch every day, I often ate canned soup to warm up in the winter. Since I’ve had to monitor my sodium, I’ve scorned anyone who indulges in canned soup, mostly out of envy. I miss canned soup and wish they made it for sodium restricters like me. Ah, the nostalgia I feel at the thought of eating soup from a can.

The past few weeks, I’ve become so hungry (or is it tired?) during my bloody shift that I’ve ladled a very small amount of soup, maybe a few tablespoons’ worth, into a cup and eaten it, relishing every drop. I feel like I’m committing a sin before God every time I do it. The guilt is overwhelming. I can’t help but hear His disapproving voice, “Hey there, pufferfish, yeah I’m talking to you, what’s the point of reducing your sugar consumption if you’re going to increase your salt intake?” Is it rude to tell God to mind His own business?

So far my favourite indulgence has been the vegetable soup, with the mushy vegetables and the tiny letter-shaped noodles. Today I caught myself searching for copycat recipes on the internet. I may have to make one or two or seven to try to replicate this little can of mushy sustenance, but I’m sure whatever I make won’t will taste nearly as good as the real thing since I’ll be leaving out the salt. At least God won’t chide me when I eat it.

Bowl of Campbell's vegetable soup

Not all desserts are just.

Since J. so quickly jumped off the flossing wagon, I’ve been thinking about how hard it is to change bad habits or foster new ones without the support of the people around you. We might not even have dental floss in the house were I not a recently reformed flosser, and I’ve silently encouraged J.’s new habit by modelling appropriate flossing behaviour every night before I brush my teeth. Similarly, some people need a workout buddy to get to the gym–being accountable to that other person motivates them to show up.

Bad habits are no different. If all your friends like to go for a drink after work and you are trying to abstain, you may find it hard to socialize with them at the bar initially because the setting may trigger your urge to drink. If you want to give up smoking, and your spouse continues to smoke in front of you and to keep cigarettes readily available in the house, you might be more likely to relapse.

Let’s consider my Great Sugar Revolution, which will soon be entering its seventh miraculous week. I’m sure I would have had a much harder time eating less sugar were J. to share my sweet tooth and to indulge in excessive dessert consumption in front of me, but she is not. She was not born with the genetic predisposition to sweets that I was. Hence giving up dessert was not that huge a shift for her as for me. She was never one to overconsume chocolate or other sugar-laden treats.

Potato chips on white backgroundSince J. didn’t feel she was making that great a sacrifice by reducing her sugar consumption, she decided, to even the score, that she’d give up potato chips. I didn’t ask her to give up anything since I don’t care what she eats. Furthermore, an open bag of chips in the house poses no threat to me. My sodium-fearing persona keeps all chip urges at bay.

J. seemed to be managing well without her potato chips, although she may have been consuming her contraband out of the house and I’d never have known. Occasionally I’d text her from the grocery store to ask her if she’d like me to pick up a bag of her favourites when it was on sale, but she’d decline. I’d respect her wishes since I’m not one to sabotage J.’s efforts to make what she views as a positive change.

Imagine my surprise when, one evening last week, J. pulled out a mystery bag of chips from the cupboard, opened it, and poured herself a bowl. I was shocked beyond belief. J. is a diligent and determined woman and she follows through with whatever she sets her mind to, flossing aside.

I gently asked her what happened to her resolve. J.’s response, with her tail between her legs, in the most pathetic of voices: “I am weak.”

How did I feel when I witnessed her regression? I was relieved. At least she’s human, fumbling along like the rest of us. Sometimes I forget that.

 

Sugar mommy: it’s not what you think

Being married to someone who is always right is challenging. I spend considerable time trying to avert situations where J. can say: “I told you so.” Some days, this is not easy, like today.

Please sit down before I go on. I don’t want you to faint when you read on.

I have largely dispensed with my last remaining food vices, sweets and sugar. I say “largely” because I would never banish these evils in their entirety; were I to, I’d be setting myself up to fail. But I have recently become one of those people who eats one square of chocolate for dessert rather than the whole bar. I’ve become blind to the supermarket’s tempting bulk bins too. I despise people like me.

Following our strudel-filled vacation, I spontaneously slashed my sugar and, I must say, I feel like a million bucks, for someone who has leukemia. Miraculous things have happened since I’ve made this change. I can see my toes again, and my belly no longer enters the room well ahead of the rest of me. My waist circumference is barely recognizable. I’m no longer having blood sugar crashes, or insatiable cravings, and, watch out, I’ll fight you for that washroom stall. Look at me, the incredible peeing wonder!

This shift was unplanned and unexpectedly easy. One day I asked myself why I cook healthy food if my chaser is sugar-laden dessert. I have always known that sugar consumption leads to fluid retention via osmosis. (Don’t ask me to define osmosis; chemistry is beyond my soft-science scope.) Simple sugars spike insulin release, resulting in the body’s hoarding sodium and retaining fluid. Hence, just like Chinese food, excess sugar causes bloating.

J. has been asserting this truth for years, but I have not been listening. (I can be a petulant child sometimes.) I did not want to give up sugar; I love sugar. I can’t get enough of wine gums and licorice and chocolate and baked goods. Leave a bowl of Jelly Bellies within reach and I’m the first to dig in, and dig in, and finish them off.

Don’t confuse this change with dieting, however. I don’t believe in diets. Diets inevitably lead to a binge-starve cycle. No thanks. Rather, I’m making a minor adjustment to my diet, which so far seems to be helping. My goal is to feel better, not to lose weight.

Drawer filled with chocolate and sugary treatsHow have I accomplished this wondrous feat? With the support of my sugar mommy, who is keeping our current treat stash out of my sight and out of my mind. (I understand she plays a similar role at work, where her colleagues are permitted reasonable access to her snack drawer.) When I want a little something, I have to ask J., which I do surprisingly infrequently. I’ve discovered her hiding spot, by the way, but no matter; I’m treating the easy-access container like a safe with an uncrackable code. I could dig in, but since I’m feeling so much better, why would I?

So no, I’m not dieting, I’m breaking a bad habit. Reducing my sugar consumption hasn’t killed me; it’s made me stronger pee. And so today I concede publicly but begrudgingly: J., you were right. You always are.

 

The dire disaster with my vacationing diuretics

Pufferfish swimming in black backgroundJ. and I usually take a longer, i.e., two-week, vacation once a year, although this year we’ve doubled our fun. This is what happens as our long trips wind down:

1) We start missing Jelly, which is ridiculous because she is a dog.

2) We miss our own bed, and our kitchen, and our hers-and-hers sinks in our washroom, and our daily routines, however boring they may be.

3) Our bodies start to hurt from the hours of daily walking.

4) I become so tired I can barely put one foot in front of the other, and even J. slows her pace somewhat.

5) (And here we diverge,) J.’s pants start falling off and mine start bursting at the seams, even though we’ve eaten comparably for the whole trip.

Let’s focus on (5), shall we? By the end of our vacation, while J. is wasting away, I start to bear a frightening resemblance to Bloat, the aptly named pufferfish in Finding Nemo. Although my fluid intake stays constant, my output slows to a trickle. I take my diuretics religiously every morning, but they too go on vacation. So much for needing to stay close to the washroom for two hours after ingesting my wee pee assistants; there is no need because of their temporary hiatus.

People with problems like mine–liver issues and resultant sodium sensitivity–are advised to weigh themselves regularly to monitor for major fluctuations, which may indicate fluid retention. Nonetheless, I don’t haul my scale on vacations. I also don’t eat to excess, and I increase my activity level considerably.

Once we return to, among other things, my washroom scale, I resume my regular weigh ins. Thus I learned that I had put on 7 lbs in 14 days. To provide a reference point, J. lost three lbs. over the same time period. Needless to say, I resent J., a lot, and I become discouraged. “Dear God, why can’t I pee like a normal person?” Then I wonder, how could I possibly have gained 7 lbs when we ate two of our three daily meals at our vacation apartments? Need I mention it doesn’t feel very good to retain that much fluid over that short a time?

J. is always there to catch me after my first weigh in, although she might not be able to hold me up because I’m veritably chunky. She reminds me that every time we go away the same thing happens, and that within a few days, I’ll be back to my old slimmer but in no way thin self. She’s always right, but am I the type to listen to the voice of reason? Of course not. I’m too busy being despondent, in between trips to the washroom.

Turns out not long after J. shares her wisdom, the floodgates open and I experience what most people do on a regular basis: I have to pee. And then I have to pee some more. And even more. It’s a miracle, I’d say, right up there with the wonder of creation. Now, five days after our return, I’ve lost all 7 lbs. My size 12 jeans are falling off me again.

Thank you little pee pills. I couldn’t have done it without you.

 

 

Visiting the Land of Pork and Cream

 

Bowl of sauerkraut soup with cream and pesto

Last post, I acknowledged I write my blog to soothe my own soul, with the hope that your soul may come along for the ride. Miraculously, despite my self-acknowledged selfishness, I did not lose any followers but gained one, and five kind readers liked my post. That may be a personal best. For a fleeting moment, I felt like the popular girl on prom night.

Variety of Czeck meats, including pork sausage and hamWe are having a lovely trip in the land of pork and cream, which I have chosen to call this beautiful place. It would not be easy to be vegetarian, or to diet, in these parts. I can attest to this because on our food tour yesterday, there was cream not just accompanying a dessert course but in the savoury courses as well. (The sauerkraut soup was surprisingly tasty, but it was probably because of the cream.) The soup had cream, the strudel had both cream and custard on the side (of course), and one dish sported cream in the gravy, and whipped cream atop the meat.

You’d think the people here would be kind of porky given how they eat, but, surprisingly, they are not, compared to Canadians at least. I have left the land where 62% of adults are overweight or obese according to their Body Mass Indexes (the most recent research I could find is already 5 years old, so this number has likely inched higher) to arrive in what is considered the fattest European country. My limited research revealed these Czech chubbies have nothing on us; Canadians are still fatter.

Baker decorating gingerbread batsHow do they do it? Or, more importantly to me, how can I get through a week in this country without busting out of my pants? Vacations are my perfect opportunity to remember what it’s like to eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. It sounds easy but it’s not for someone who is a habitual plate cleaner. Vacations force me to think carefully about whether I’m actually hungry before I eat (there’s no fridge within reach all day), and to stop eating when I’m full. Needless to say, my low-sodium diet at home stays home when we travel.

Three types of open faced sandwiches and lemonade drinksHaving said this, yesterday was indeed a challenge. That four-hour food tour happened to be a fantastic way to learn about the customs and culture and history of this city while sampling, and sampling, and sampling some more local cuisine. We traipsed through city streets in search of traditional Czech food, which, it turns out, is gingerbread and apple strudel interspersed with a whole lot of pork.

Then J. and I skipped dinner, and today we ate like birds because we went back to determining our own meals. I don’t think my appetite is fully back yet. I know, I too am questioning whether I’ve been taken over by aliens.

On the plus size side, whipping cream is tremendously sustaining, and would be an excellent product to hoard if ever a food shortage is threatened. I highly recommend it. But if you understand the hunger-satiety continuum better than I do, you can leave a little uneaten grub on your plate. You’ll be my hero.

Apple strudel with custard and whipped cream from Cafe Louvre in Prague