Thursday, April 29, 2010

Doughnut by Doughnut

It was high noon, and the enemy and I watched each other warily from either end of a dusty, deserted road. My fingers twitched above my holstered weapon, ready to draw at his slightest movement ...

OK, actually it was 9:30 AM at Albertson's on 128th. The kids had just left the dentist and were selecting their rewards from the bakery case, while I swooned over the sticky-sweet smell of glazed, old-fashioned, and maple-drenched doughnuts. Listen: There's more than one way to face down your demons.

The kids each held a bagged treat, yet I couldn't bring myself to close the case, mesmerized by a puffy glazed cinnamon roll near the back.

"Are you having one too, Mommy?" Sweetpea finally asked.

"I shouldn't, but I really want to."

"Why shouldn't you? Because it has gluten? And sugar? And milk?"

Thank god for that kid. Yes, for all of those reasons. Because my naturopath has advised me to steer clear of milk and gluten (or, as Sprout aptly calls it, "guilten"). And though he lifted the ban on sugar this week in compensation for the gluten (you can't imagine how hard it is to find ANY prepared food that doesn't have one of those three ingredients), I know that every sweet, over-processed granule further taxes my already overtaxed immune system.

I closed the door.

There's no tidy lesson here. Just a daily struggle to make better choices. To forego the familiar paths to immediate gratification in favor of the less-traveled route that (I hope) will lead to greater health and well-being.

What I'm discovering is that the healthy route is not grim and tasteless. The gluten-free bread I had when I got home, toasted with melted goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes, surely gave me as much pleasure as that doughnut would have, without the negative impact on my health. But my brain has to be convinced of that one day -- one doughnut -- at a time.

Meanwhile, as I sent my kids off to school with glazed lips and eyes, I had the unhappy realization that unless we all make some drastic changes, they will inherit my same demons. It's not the occasional sweet treat that concerns me. It's that I've already taught them, at 5 and 8, to associate processed sweets with comfort, the reward for a job well done.

As always, they give me even greater resolve to kick my demons to the curb.

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