Friday, June 6, 2008

Cheating: Diva Style

Frankly, I don't like the term "cheating." Its far too negative and conjures images of smarmy, back-room characters trying to weasel me out of my money ... like say George Bush and Dick Cheney come April 15th. And yet, I can find no appropriate substitute for it. I've thought about "enhancement" or "enhancing" ... as in: "Waiter, I'd like to enhance this meal with a large order of fries and 6 gallons of vodka."

While that's got a certain ring to it- yay, vodka! - its not exactly what I'm looking for here. I'm wary of "reward" as well. That's a trap most dieters, the Diva included, have fallen into. And we all know where it leads: "I've been so good, I'll just have a teensy little bit of this 9 lb. chocolate cake" ... and BOOM, next thing you know you're on the fast train to fatville with an empty plate in front of you and the top button of your jeans across the room on the floor. Not a pretty picture.

Its a slippery slope when you start thinking of food in these terms. A far better tack, I think, is to remove thoughts of "good" and "bad", "cheating" and "rewarding" from both our minds and our culinary lexicon. What works best for me is to think about eating sensibly, mindfully; to be fully present in my actions and in my choices. If I choose to have a square of chocolate, it is not a reward. Its a conscious decision I've made to allow for that indulgence and I account for it in my view of the day's meals. In fact, I actually plan for it and have a piece of chocolate every day.

By now you're saying: "Hey, Diva, I thought you were on the South Beach? What gives?" To which I reply: "piss-off!" No, kidding again. While its true that chocolate is not on the list of approved foods for Phase 1 of South Beach, it is equally true that it is essential for my health and well-being. I simply cannot and will not live without my dark mistress. What I can do is modify the extent to which I indulge.

Which brings me to the point of all this rambling. Yes, I'm working the South Beach thang, but I'm really not into their idea of suggested "sweet treats", many of which contain artificial sugars and such. I really don't like the idea of putting so many chemically altered additives into my body, but I do recognize that I need a little chocolate in my life. Let me introduce you to my new hero: Scharffen Berger's tasting squares. I buy a package of the Bittersweet tasting squares and, voila, instant portion control.

The squares are 1/4 ounce each ... I know, I actually weighed them ... and come in all of the Scharffen Berger varieties I know and love. For those of you unfamiliar with this brand - where have you been? It is my absolute favorite and fortunately, or unfortunately, they have a store in my neighborhood. The company was recently bought out by Hershey's, which makes me sad, but not sad enough that I care to do without it. Happily, they haven't changed the chocolate at all. I'm partial to the Bittersweet, and really that's the heart healthy option - but I must say that I've never had a milk chocolate as rich and as satisfying as Scharffen Berger's.

My strategy of switching out the South Beach's suggested "sweet treat" for one or two squares has been successful. I've still lost weight, 9 lbs. and counting, and I don't feel deprived. This is "cheating" - Diva Style ... mindful indulgence in a luxurious product.

I'd ask you to tell me about your "enhancements", but you need to keep that shit to yourselves. I'm not running that kind of blog here - and my mother is reading! Instead, tell me how you navigate the waters of indulgence and your favorite brand of chocolate.


pixelgal said...

My Dear Dieting Diva;
Your column rocks! I've learned a great deal from it already and will be a steady viewer. And now I have some tips for you:
1. Never use the s--- word if your Mom is reading.
2. It's probably not a good idea to share all your secrets (gallons of vodka!!!)
Nevertheless, being a chocolate lover through the ages I learned that chocolate is a necessary ingredient to sanity maintenance in modern times. And now experts agree that it's GOOD for you too. Helps blood pressure decline and other malaises (?) to improve. So any guilt we may have felt about it was really unproductive. But you may have to give up your favorite brand since it was bought out by Hershey. Hershey recently closed it's factory operation in the U.S. and is moving it to Mexico causing many to be unemployed. Switch to Dove chocolate "Promises" the dark kind.
And there's a message for you in every wrapper. My latest one says 'Listen to your heartbeat and dance!" Good advice, No? Enjoy your weekend and I can't wait to read the next subject!

rachel said...

kinda related - "Enhancements" made me giggle - as this is the worrd my mom's husband always uses instead of "argument." If someone says "Hey, were you fighting?" He's respond, no irony at all -"No, we were having an enhancement!" So, now - we have ANOTHER use of this terrific word...

The Diva on a Diet said...

Hi pixelgal!

I hope you know I'm kidding! :)

As for the chocolate, I'm happy to report that Scharffen Berger is still being made in San Francisco, where it first originated and will not be moving to Mexico. It started out as a "small batch", artisinal product and I think they intend to keep it that way.

Still, I love the Promises too and look forward to they always being available on your buffet!

The Diva on a Diet said...

Morning Rachel!

Ha, I love that use of "enhancement" and will totally adopt it! Sound so much more pleasant than "argument". Like it, I do!

HjDinny said...

Diva- You’ve just helped with the chocolate situation. And I’m psyched. Now how about chips. What is a girl who likes to snack on chips do? Should I try popcorn or rice cakes or pita chips. How can I get my snack on?

The Diva on a Diet said...

hjdinny - Girl, you are singin' my song. Getting my snack on is what got me here in the first place ... see Doritos references.

You've given me a great idea for a future post, so look for a snacking entry soon. In the meanwhile, you may not like the advice ... back away from the chips and think lean protein with some kind of veg. This is especially true for you as you train for your triathlon.

One of my current favorite is sliced red and yellow peppers with hummus. Nice and crunchy and filling.

Good question, so thanks! I'll have more to say on the topic in the future.