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This started out as a friendly wager with my friend Mary Anne. The goal was to lose 5 pounds by end of summer and the loser would buy the winner dinner. The next thing I knew, Mary Anne had talked me into going to a medically-supervised weight-loss clinic with her. The average client is a 50-60-year-old woman who weighs 200 pounds. She loses 35 pounds in 12 weeks.

No! Wrong age, wrong weight, wrong goal. I don’t even want to lose 35 pounds. I don’t want an all-new wardrobe. By Christmas, I want to fit in the dress I bought for my grandson’s wedding three years ago. But, nevertheless, I am enrolled…paid up and signed on the dotted line. For the first two weeks, not a gram of carb, fruit or wine is supposed to touch my lips. No fat to speak of, either. Instead, I am supposed to stuff myself with lean meat and vegetables–a little low-fat dairy allowed–5 times a day. I have succeeded on individual meals but not for a full day. I may never succeed.

I have eaten cereal for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch my entire life. Peanut butter and crackers are my favorite snack, and Coca-Cola gives me the best “high” of all. That glass of wine when I watch the news represents the end of my work day. Now I can relax and move from “Lev work” to “Ella time.” Nevertheless, I am modifying my diet. I recognize that I must change my lifestyle if I don’t want to be a blimp. The problem is that I was a string bean–5’8″, 114 pounds–for years. I could eat anything. I am a good cook (who doesn’t like to cook for 1), and I like good food–rich French food, Italian pasta, Tex-Mex, Southern comfort.

Food is a comfort, and widowhood has made it worse. As Lev’s health declined, I ate and, in the course of a decade, added about 20 pounds. In the year after his death, I added another 5. I gained some control over my eating then and added only about 1 pound a year for the next 5 years. But I have gained 7.5 pounds this past year. I can’t keep going this way. I think I am eating the same, but something has changed. Metabolism? Exercise?

I’m on the road as usual, and yesterday was my first day in the kitchen. Everything I prepared was awful. The menu suggestions are awful. I can’t imagine all the chemicals in these products that are zero everything. But today I succeeded at breakfast!

Recipe: Egg White Frittata

2 egg whites
1 oz. Canadian bacon, chopped
1 oz. low-fat grated cheese (I used fresh Parmesan)
1 cup chopped vegetables (I used tomatoes, red bell pepper, mushrooms and spinach)
salt and pepper to taste
salsa (optional)

Pre-heat broiler. Place vegetables and bacon in a small saucepan over low heat. Season lightly. Cover and steam. Spray a small nonstick skillet with Pam. Heat over medium high heat. Add egg whites, coating the bottom of the pan. Season lightly. When the eggs begin to set, sprinkle cheese over the top. Remove lid from saucepan to allow moisture to evaporate. Stir often. Spread the vegetables over the almost-done egg whites. Run under the broiler for a minute or two. Serve with salsa if desired.

Any good suggestions or recipes for a carb lover on a carb-free diet?