Oh the Irony

Post Slug ImageI’ve spent more than two decades devising a wide array of methods in an (apparently) futile attempt to solve the complex biological issue known, in medical terms, as “pigging out.” While many factors contribute to the condition of being above one’s ideal weight, I’ve found that, for me personally, caloric intake is right at the top.

Oh sure, once every few years or so I try exercising. But considering that it takes seventeen hours at the gym to work off one inadvertently-consumed quart of ice cream, for the most part, simply avoiding the calories in the first place is a hundred times easier.

So it’s ironic, then, that just when my medical team tells me the thing I’ve been waiting my entire life to hear (“Stop losing weight. You need to eat more!”) I find it difficult to do so. “What’s the problem, stupid?” you ask. “Why, when you’ve finally been prescribed the see-food diet, do you have trouble complying?”

Well I’m glad you asked.

There are three primary reasons, which I like to call “the Three Ts”: tolerance, taste, aversion. (The astute reader will notice that “aversion” does not start with, nor even contain, the letter T. In response to that I offer another T: “too bad.” I like the sound of “the Three Ts”.)

Tolerance is all about physically being able to eat something. Taste is where I can tolerate it, but I just don’t like the way it sits on the tongue. Aversion is where some prior negative experience psychologically eliminates the food from all subsequent attempts. You know, like okra.

So let’s talk about my current relationship with a few select food items. These were a few of my favorite things:

picture of breadBack during my low-carb days, I doubt I missed anything more than bread. While I did end up losing sixty pounds, it wasn’t without a wistful glance back at warm loaves, buttery rolls, and fresh bagels. So now it’s almost painful to have a kitchen full of various breads and me with the inability to eat it. I can’t even describe it: something about the taste, texture, consistency . . . I just don’t like it, is what it comes down to. I would like nothing more than to pop a couple slices into the toaster and then slather them with peanut butter (er, after the bread comes out of the toaster, that is), but alas, it’s not to be. The wistful backwards glances continue.

picture of peanut butterSpeaking of calories and peanut butter, I could easily reach my two thousand per day quota with nothing more than a large tub of the “crunchy” kind, a spoon, and five spare minutes. I’ve been known to consume cafeteria-sized containers of peanut butter in mere hours. It’s definitely a weakness and the reason that giving up peanut butter is typically one of the first things I do when I try to dial things back a bit. Until now. While I don’t find it quite as distasteful as bread, it just has a very stale and unappetizing quality to it now. So sad.

picture of fried tofuThat’s fried tofu and it actually doesn’t fall into one of The Three Ts. The see-food diet, in truth, doesn’t include soy products. I can’t pretend to understand the reasons why; and from what little I’ve read, there still seems to be a fair bit of controversy over the connection between soy products and cancer, but for now I’ll stick with the directive. And what rotten timing too, because in the last year or two I’ve grown quite fond of it being the main protein in various dishes. When they ask, “Chicken or beef?” I say, “Fried tofu!” When they ask, “Noodles or rice?” I say, “More fried tofu!”

picture of soft drink cansThe ultimate irony: in the two months leading up to my diagnosis, I’d voluntarily given up diet soda (actually, artificial sweeteners, but by extension: diet soft drinks) and in doing so created a craving for soda pop that I’d never before known. Today, soft drinks burn my mouth like grain alcohol, so they’ve moved into the ‘aversion’ category. I hardly even think about them any more. Which, I should be happy about, I suppose, but every time I go out and I’m asked, “What would you like to drink?” I so desperately want a Diet Coke. With lime. Just for the taste of it. Instead, I end up ordering a tall glass of fried tofu.

picture of potato chips / crispsIf a year ago someone told me, “A year from now you will open your cupboard, gaze upon bags and bags of delicious chips, and walk away in utter disgust,” I would have said, “I’m getting cancer next year?!” All of my favorites: kettle cooked, salt & pepper, or just plain ‘ol Ruffles: they’re all on the list. This particular aversion I believe is grounded in the potato itself, for I am also unable to enjoy mashed potatoes and french fries properly. (I must say, I’m very much looking forward to properly enjoying a fresh, mouth-burning, pile of fries again someday soon.)

This, of course, just scratches the surface. But it easily explains the thirty-five pound loss in record-breaking time. Unfortunately this isn’t the time to “get in shape.” It’s the time to “get well.” Fortunately, ice cream still tastes good. (Fried tofu flavored, of course.)

27 Responses to “Oh the Irony”

Sandie said
May 22, 2012 at 4:55 am

Oh my, I would live on chips.. I can’t imagine not wanting them… or bread…. or fries…. eeek!! Can you say ‘carb junkie’?

Hope the treatments are going well.

Shelley B said
May 22, 2012 at 6:12 am

Irony and unfair – I mean really, how often does anyone get the green light to EAT? Glad you can still tolerate ice cream, at least!

Kristen D. said
May 22, 2012 at 6:24 am

Back in December I had surgery to remove an ovarian cyst (lovely, I know), and for about two weeks after, for the first time in my entire life, I had absolutely no interest in food. It was so weird and foreign to me- the only thing that tasted good at all were those beautiful percocets I was allowed to take every 4-6 hours!

If all you can eat is ice cream, then I hope that it’s at least the good stuff. Ben and Jerry’s Red Velvet Cake ice cream is my personal fav. =)

Debbi Does Dinner Healthy said
May 22, 2012 at 7:30 am

Clearly you need an ice cream maker for your birthday!

I wish you well and hopefully when this is behind you, you can enjoy bread and potato chips again. In moderation of course. πŸ™‚

Deb said
May 22, 2012 at 8:09 am

Well, that is disappointing news…. I suppose it is the drugs they are “making you take” to save your life that have (fingers crossed) temporarily altered your experience of eating? Insult to injury, sir. I am thoroughly offended on your behalf.

Cheese? Can you stand dairy at all besides ice cream? I think I’d be back to dragging pretzel sticks through butter (don’t anybody steal that “idea” and get rich off it instead of me, ok?). How about smoothies? Are they at all tolerable?

Oh, you can be so SO glad I’m not living in your house. I’d be perfectly willing to spend every waking moment preparing and watching (read:forcing) you taste various food stuffs until we could make a list of any sort. Maybe it would be a short list, ok, but it would be a bygolly! list of The Foods Charlie Can Stand to eat.

It could be like chemistry class in school only with food instead of reagents and you would be the test tube. Which come to think of it sounds a little like chemo but hopefully in that “fun” way. Yeah, I’m IN. I can be at your house in under an hour.

    Charlie said
    May 22, 2012 at 8:26 am

    Chemo works by killing fast-growing cells, which is what the core issue is made up of. Unfortunately that’s also what most of your mouth is made up of too. Basically, most of my taste buds are dead or malfunctioning. It’ll probably take weeks and months to return to normal after this is all done.

    And in spite of my lamenting in this post, I’ve found enough things that are okay to get me my 2,000 per day. My weight has stabilized (if not gone up a pound or two) in the last week, so overall, it’s cool.


Helen said
May 22, 2012 at 8:31 am

So unfair! But ice cream is a pretty good food to still have a taste for.

Of course, the up side of all this is that perhaps the weight loss will be permanent and you might just be able to go back to some of those other foods you love. Here’s hoping!

Biz said
May 22, 2012 at 9:48 am

No chips?? Not even your beloved Cheez-its?? Thank goodness for ice cream Charlie!

I am with Deb, I’d be driving you nuts saying “try this!” seeing what would work.

I love you Chowlee! πŸ˜€

Love, your prettiest sister, Biz

Suzie said
May 22, 2012 at 11:45 am

I say bummer on the chips too, that sucks Charlie! I know other’s that have went through treatment and their tastes have dramatically changed also. I hope you find other things that can satisfy you and fill you up! πŸ™‚

Miz said
May 23, 2012 at 5:18 am

all Ive gots is this:


and the tacky ability to still covet your writing style and voice.

    Charlie said
    May 23, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Coveting my abilities isn’t tacky. Everyone does it. πŸ™‚

Jenn@slim-shoppin said
May 23, 2012 at 7:48 am

That stinks Charlie – no fun when food doesn’t taste like anything….

Thinking of you today! Love you!

Anonymous said
May 23, 2012 at 8:44 am

There is no food that tastes better than skinny feels….well, at least under normal circumstances.


K Flint said
May 23, 2012 at 10:08 am

Thank goodness for ice cream! What’s your favorite flavor after fried tofu? The store is all out of that one!!

Joce said
May 23, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Have you tried popsicles? I know somebody that (they?) worked 4.

    Charlie said
    May 23, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    I have a bit of a popsicle aversion too. I ate a lot of them going into this (both while we were trying to figure out what was wrong with me and then right afterwards in the hospital) and so I think that’s put me off them for a good while!

Jess said
May 24, 2012 at 11:24 am

Facebook definitely needs a plug-in that determines when your friends are posting about major, life-changing events, and bumps them to the top. The fact that it doesn’t is why I’m only just catching up with this.

For some reason (I’m a weird semi-vegetarian?) the thing I most sympathise with you about is the fried tofu. I don’t know what I’d eat!

Glad to see your humour is helping you through this. Just think–before this, you’d run out of stuff to write about. Now you’ve got the material for a whole new book! (I will totally proof it if you need someone πŸ™‚ )

JohnGL said
May 24, 2012 at 9:24 pm

What about onion rings?

    Charlie said
    May 24, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    I actually had some (my first) just last night. They were “restaurant” onion rings, of course, and therefore heavily breaded, but were tolerable.

    I should just slice up an onion, dust it, and throw it in some hot oil. The thought has crossed my mind once or twice.

Doug E said
May 25, 2012 at 3:03 pm

First things to come to mind are the not terribly original chocolate bars and chicken soup. Not at the same time though.

Anna said
May 25, 2012 at 6:57 pm

Well TG you’ve gone off tofu…..urghh!! πŸ˜‰

You need your protein though, protein repairs cells! You need to develop a love of tuna or chicken or something…. πŸ™‚

yeah, chicken soup is always good.

Good to hear your weight has stabalised, that’s a good sign,

All the best Charlie

Anna (UK)

Parveen said
May 31, 2012 at 5:48 am

Invitation to Participate

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I have created an online survey asking questions in relation to this topic and am sending the link to bloggers such as yourself who appear to see themselves as overweight and are attempting to lose it. I am specifically interested in individuals aged 30 years or over and who have now or have had previously a BMI of 25 and over due to this being classed as overweight.

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Bonnie Richmond said
June 1, 2012 at 9:50 am

Off and on through the last 5 years, I’ve perused your website that I found when reading Roni’sWeigh, and today I found where you had commented on one of her posts, so followed you to your page. I don’t even know you, but was so sad to hear that you have cancer. Because of what I do know about you from reading your page off and on through the years, I believe that you will get through this, just because of your humorous and positive outlook on life. Prayers and blessings to you, Charlie….I’m praying that the Lord heal you and take care of you through this. God knows this world needs more people like you! Through my years of dieting I’ve often thought it would be so great to finally get to a place where food didn’t even sound good, yet in the back of my mind I knew that if that happened it would probably be because of some kind of illness or at least very old age. So I knew deep down that I really didn’t want that to happen. Hearing about your plight really puts that whole thing into perspective. Again, blessings to you and your family as you get through this road block in life! Bonnie Richmond from central Illinois

    Charlie said
    June 1, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Thank you for the note, Bonnie. I’m hanging in there (and a bit past due on my next post). This has been a down week but if the pattern repeats, next week should be much more productive.

Biz said
June 1, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Sorry you’ve had a bad week Charlie – I love you!!

Brett Blumenthal said
June 2, 2012 at 8:02 am

Your humor is going to take you far far past this. Your attitude is extremely admirable. And a positive attitude will do you and your body more good than anything else.

Aunt Pat said
June 2, 2012 at 7:43 pm

Hey Charlie–this is your Aunt Pat – The hair comes back–but not until you look like a 12 yr old. You know what I mean. Even the eyelashes and eyebrows. But they ome back and mine came back urly, LOL sorry bout the loss of appetite. That really sucks. You have 1 more treatment to go? It definitely gets better after that. And you start to feel like a human being. Am keeping track of you thru you blogs. You have not lost your sense of humor, and remind me so much of your Dad and your Uncle Jim. Love ya”. Keep going!