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Cooking With Myra: Healthy meals, exercise, key to weight loss

Oct. 11, 2010 at 5:11 a.m.
Updated Oct. 12, 2010 at 5:12 a.m.

Mrs. Gannon's Cheese Cookies

By Myra Starkey

Several weeks ago, I stood in my closet, clad in my robe. My husband and I were going out to dinner, and I was surveying my wardrobe for what to wear, which translates into "what fits."

I gazed upon at least six pairs of black pants, four browns, one khaki-colored Capri and more jeans than I could count. I took them down one at a time and looked inside for the size. They were across the range from 6 to 8 to 10 to 12, all waiting there. It was as if they were posing the question to me; eat or starve.

Of course at that moment, it would not much matter what my decision was other than what would fit.

I selected a pair from the double digits and found a loose tunic top. I made a mental note to clean out my closet, but wasn't sure which ones should go.

At middle age, I find that I am constantly fighting to stay the same size. It seems that no matter what I eat, the calories multiply during consumption and create fat.

If I limit my calories, then I feel deprived and soon start craving all the wrong carbs.

If I indulge, I feel guilty and vow not to lapse into calorie oblivion again, but it only lasts until the next meal.

My skinny friends say that it is a matter of what you eat, except what I am supposed to eat is not what I crave. Perhaps they have been blessed with a mega-metabolism, while mine is slowing to a halt.

I had been trying to curb my appetite with diet sodas and was drinking at least four per day. A friend told me that there was a controversy surrounding that beverage.

Apparently, women who consume diet drinks have a higher chance of gaining even more weight. The thought is that the artificial sweeteners in diet sodas may generate a desire for more sweets and carbohydrates after drinking the diet soda. Bingo. That theory seemed to explain my downfall.

Those tasty drinks were the culprit. It didn't have anything to do with my excess calories or if it did I was merely a victim of some non-caloric chemical sweetener conspiracy. If only this revelation turned out to be true.

I did what any desperate middle-aged woman would who was armed with this new found scientific explanation, I gave up Diet Dr Pepper.

The first few days sent me to the medicine cabinet in search of Tylenol for my caffeine-withdrawal headaches. I somehow figured that if diet sodas were bad, then caffeine must be harmful also.

The following week, I could not get the idea of a diet soda out of my mind. I was craving the taste and the caffeine jolt. Day by day, I held on to my mission of abstinence in order to lose weight and be healthier. It wasn't easy. I had switched to herbal tea and plain, old water.

I craved the bubbles of my sodas every day. I made it for three weeks, four days and about five hours.

One might inquire whether or not I lost any weight during this inhumane experiment. The answer is no.

I had a weak moment when my flesh gave in to my desire and I succumbed.

It didn't help that my husband (who acts like a doctor) told me that caffeine does not cause weight gain and, if anything, it may make a person lose weight. And he also sabotaged my efforts by telling me that diet drinks don't cause weight gain because they contain no calories.

He added that diet drinks can be a perfectly suitable substitute for some other sweet snack that contains real sugar. If only I can stop with the diet drink.

As hard as it was to give up something I enjoy, I don't think I was as hungry. All of this may have been in my mind. I know what I must do. Eat three healthy meals a day, avoid carbs and starches, don't eat late and exercise regularly.

And just to be on the safe side, I better keep a few pair of those bigger pants in my closet.

In my current quest for weight loss, I am not spending any less time in the kitchen. Cooking is something that feeds my spirit. I just made cookies for a friend, although I refrained from tasting them, or at least from tasting them too much.

I prepared Mrs. Gannon's cheese cookies, and they are wonderful. She said I could share the recipe. Yes, they are full of cheese and nuts, so you can't have too many if you are trying to cut back on calories, but you will not be disappointed in their taste.

The dough freezes well, so you can pop them into the oven at a moment's notice and in 10 minutes, you will have an appetizer.

Myra Starkey lives in Victoria. Write her in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901, or e-mail myra@vicad.com.

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