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 dessert breakfast, 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

So much for my anniversary surprise

Three pieces of fried chicken

Consider this my ultimate selfless act.

J. believes that sometimes the burden of decision making is on her because I question my judgement excessively. I do find decision making harder since this whole cancer thing, for reasons I can’t discern. (BREAKING NEWS: Psychologist lacks insight.) In order to show us both that I could indeed make the odd decision, I planned a low-key anniversary celebration for us all on my own.

I had to balance my plan with the knowledge that J. is not fond of surprises; she prefers to know what’s coming. Yet if I share the surprise with her, she may question it, or talk me out of it, or just say no. That’s why I chose not to tell her what I had up my sleeve for our anniversary. I didn’t want to give her the opportunity to refuse.

I had planned something simple and fun: I’d take J. to the new fried-chicken place she’s been wanting to check out. We rarely go out to eat because of the persistent overseasoning (why not call it what it is, “oversalting”) of restaurant food. Eating fried chicken would be an ultra-high-sodium indulgence, and thus a huge sacrifice on my part.

Who cares? I don’t, now that research shows low-salt diets increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. (I’m kidding. I question those findings, as I imagine many researchers in the field do.) But I eat the odd piece of pizza, and even lox passed these lips a few weekends ago. Still, I feared J. would use the sodium as a reason not to go.

I mentioned to J. on Saturday that I had a surprise for our anniversary on Sunday. Of course that approach failed and, after her pouting and badgering and pleading for a full two minutes, I let the dog out of the bag. (That doesn’t sound quite right.) Her response surprised me. She got all excited and told me she’d be salivating over the anticipated meal for a full 24 hours.

Although the evil word (sodium) did cross her lips once, J. did not nix the outing, so off we went. We were the only customers in the small take-out shop–I guess not a lot of people eat fried chicken for lunch on a hot summery day–and the cashier slyly threw in an extra buttermilk biscuit, to our delight. J. sped us home while I tried to keep the grease off my pants. We downed our delicious salty lunch on our deck, even sharing a few celebratory tidbits with Jelly.

At some point during the day, I can’t recall exactly when, J. decided to surprise me. It wasn’t a gift–she’d already disclosed her gift of an upcoming weekend away–or a lowly takeout meal. No, she told me I’d gotten the date wrong: our anniversary is actually today. I thought yesterday was the 6th of June. Silly, silly me.

So Happy Anniversary, honey. I’m out of surprises, but I’ll look forward to seeing you later. There’s more fried chicken where yesterday’s came from if you’d like. Just say the word.

Turns out getting cancer isn’t bad luck, or is it?

Salt shaker spilled over, pile of salt around it

Good thing I closely follow media reports on health research. Without this information, I’d probably be dead by now. There’s a new study suggesting that a reduced-sodium diet places people at higher risk for heart attack or stroke. Last Friday night, J. and I did what normal people do regularly: we ordered a high-sodium pizza from the local place. After reading that study, I felt so much better about consuming the sodium bomb.

Remember the “bad luck” cancer study that was published a while back? It suggested that lifestyle factors were less important than the genetic card you were dealt in determining whether you’d be diagnosed with cancer. A new study published last week has countered this finding, thank God. Male and female health professionals were followed for several years. The researchers discovered that four factors contributed to their not getting cancer. I’ll review them for you so you can implement them immediately.

First, in case you hadn’t heard, smoking is a bad idea, especially if you indulge over the long term. I do not smoke, I have never smoked, and I don’t plan to take up smoking in the near future. Why not, you may ask, since I already have cancer? Good point.

Second, alcohol consumption should not exceed one drink per day maximum for females, and two for males. (And they say girls have more fun.) Keeping within this range has never been a problem for me. I am not a drinker, I never have been, and, now that my liver is ailing, I don’t plan to take up drinking anytime soon. But don’t worry, I have many other vices in place to fill the void.

Third, the BMI range for cancer prevention is somewhere between 18.5 (very skinny) to 27.5 (chubby but not obese). Most of my life, I have stayed within this range, despite my high sugar and chocolate consumption. Sure, I trained for a marathon so I could replenish after long training runs with ice cream sundaes. Do you have a problem with that?

Finally, 75 minutes of high-intensity or 150 of moderate-intensity exercise is recommended each week. Easy peasy. Exercise is my Prozac. I may not be the high-intensity gal I was through my teens into my forties, but I still manage to meet and exceed the moderate-intensity guidelines by walking the dog at a furious pace and attending regular strenuous yoga classes.

But wait a minute, through my life I’ve met all those guidelines, so why do I have cancer? Maybe this study applies to health professionals, i.e., doctors and nurses, but not mental health professionals like me. (Had I just gone to medical school, I’d be cancer free.) Or maybe the study is looking at trends within a population and not at specific people. Guess I do have bad luck after all.

Now that I have leukemia, should I keep up the health-promoting behaviours so I don’t get a new and different kind of cancer, or should I give it all up? Has all this fretting about my weight, and my sodium intake, been for naught? Might as well pick up another pizza on the way home, honey. Yes, extra cheese and pepperoni. Thanks.

Pizza with one slice lifted, cheese and pepperoni