Bread, Sugar and the Life Without Either: A Tragicomedy

Earlier this summer, my mother started talking to me about this new fitness program that she was doing. My mother is gorgeous in general, but I noticed that she was looking better and better as weeks had passed. So I had to ask her what this regimen of hers involved. She got very excited that I was interested and she was ready to share the information without a beat.

“Well, I drive up to the north side of the county to the gym and work out with my trainer…”

“That’s good,” I say.

“I eat about three to five times a day, and make sure I have plenty protein with each meal…”

“Awesome. Eating is my favorite this to do.”

“And I don’t eat bread.”

I paused. “Ex-excuse me?”

“Nope,” she said. “I don’t eat anything that is a product with grains. Or sugar.”

Have you ever had a moment where you’re in complete shock? Not just something small like you learn that your very first boyfriend just got married and his spouse’s name is Steve. The shock I’m referring to is the equivalent of you wake up one day to find that the world we live in is not real and we are actually being controlled by robots as if we’re humanoid puppets.

“But… no bread?” I asked.

“No,” my mother said. Her expression did not change.

“Or sugar?”


“But… but what about chocolate?”

She shrugged. “It has sugar in it.”

That was like a knife in my heart. Life with out chocolate? Bread? Cake? I’m sorry, but that sounded a terrible life! But I didn’t want to make my mom feel bad, so I had to come up with a mature response.

“You gave up chocolate? Are you insane!” Okay, not exactly a mature response…

Needless to say, my mother kept talking about her fitness training and this brand new diet, which was strongly based on the Paleo diet. I said, “I don’t know how you do it. I love bread and sugar. I don’t think I could ever give them up.”

A few weeks later, I found myself on this exact same exercise and diet plan. That’s what happens when someone in your family offers to pay for something. It’s a behavior that is usually picked up by young adults 18 and older, especially if they are current or former university students.

I said a sad goodbye to grains and sugar on the same night as a dear friend’s birthday party. I drank two beers, enjoyed as many chips as I could and slathered them in queso, and devoured a decent-sized slice of cheesecake. I promised I would come back for my beloved gluten and darling processed sugar when my sabbatical was through. It would only last for a month. A month isn’t that long, right?

The first week featured a lot of people asking what was wrong with me. And they were often the same questions followed by the same answer. Why didn’t you take any bread? Because I can’t have any. Why not? I’m on a diet. Aren’t you hungry? Yes, that’s why I loaded my plate with chicken and vegetables. Are you crazy? I’m starting to think so. Do you want any dessert? I hate you.

That last question was the one that swiftly changed my mood from polite to mad woman. If I wanted dessert, I would have baked a mixed berry pie with ice cream and laughed hysterically. Of course, these same people who have asked this question have the dessert while sitting right in front of me. Then they have the nerve to comment on it like they’re a food connoisseur. “Oh, the cream is so rich and the caramel adds a bittersweet taste…” I would think to myself, “Yes, mock me now. Laugh when you have diabetes and I’m walking down the street in a size six dress“. But then that thought would be followed by, “Yeah, but at least they can go out with friends and enjoy some chips and salsa while they wait on their food.

That was the other issue with starting the Paleo diet. When I’m invited to a restaurant, I want to try something new. Something with interesting flavors and I can take leftovers home and eat it for lunch tomorrow. Instead I have to have the following dialogue with a waiter.

“Hi,” I’d say. “I’m looking through your menu, and I was wondering what you would recommend for someone who can’t have bread?”

“Huh?” the waiter of the day would say.

“Well, I can’t have grains at all, and I was wondering what my options would be?”

“Um, everything has bread in it.” (By the way, the waiters I have come across are younger than 23 and don’t have to work hard for their figures.)

“I noticed that… that’s why I’m asking you for suggestions.”

Cue a shrug from the waiter. “Maybe a salad?”

I would sigh and ask, “Do you have anything other than salad?”

“Everything has bread in it.”

“Just give me a hamburger without the bun.”

Also, don’t get me started on the vacation I had that same week. I had an entire day during which I had to cheat on my diet or else I would have had nothing to eat. I was so frustrated that I figured while I was cheating, I might as well have a beer to calm my nerves. Besides, I was at a baseball game. That’s what you’re supposed to do during sports games.

The second and third week came, and I started to notice little differences.Yes, certain areas of my body seemed to look a bit more toned and perky due to the exercises I was doing, and that was nice. But the main difference I was noticing was that I had a lot more energy. This is huge because my mother and father are both convinced that I have A.D.D. So my day is filled with me running around and doing things. Running errands, drawing and painting, writing, dancing around to terrible showtunes, chasing my dog, seriously contemplating what I would do in the event of a zombie apocalypse. In the past, I would have some cereal and watch old episodes of AMC’s Mad Men for an entire day. And to me, watching Jon Hamm being sexy is a pretty productive day.

As I write this, I’m on my fourth week and I’m still in this high energy mode. I’m cooking more and not going out as often. And my clothes, which were once tight-fitting, are now simply fitted. So it turns out Paleo is not what I thought it was. Which basically means the elimination of grains and processed sugars is actually has some results and is not a brainwashing diet method used by fake fitness people to make money.

Mind you, I still have my days when I have a brief meeting with processed sugar and gluten. I don’t care how good Paleo makes you feel. Nothing will ever get between me and my chocolate addiction. Absolutely nothing.

If you would like more information on the Paleo diet, visit

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