Mon | Nov 30, 2020

Tony Deyal | Half a loaf

Published:Thursday | September 7, 2017 | 12:00 AM

I just burned 1,200 calories. I left the pizza in the oven. That is a joke, because these days I have eschewed pizza. Papa John's can starve for all I care. I will play dominoes but not eat them.

The fact, though, is 800 calories. I stared at the calorie reading on the treadmill and shook my head sadly. Eight hundred calories represents two and a half plain bagels without cream cheese. A plain bagel scores 289 calories, according to one source and 320 if one is to believe 'What's Cooking America'. A wholewheat bagel, the 'healthier' option, is 360. My 800 would be two bagels and a slice of bread, which can be anything between 60 and 80 calories. Some books have a slice of plain bread at 100 calories, which makes my 800 calories amount to half a loaf.

There is an old saying that half a loaf is better than nothing. However, one of my PAHO colleagues, Dr Frederick Nunes, was fond of a false syllogism that goes, "Half a loaf is better than nothing. Nothing is better than justice. Therefore, half a loaf is better than justice." In my case, I felt the injustice of my situation.

I had gone on the treadmill, programmed it to burn fat for a 45-minute marathon, starting at 4.5 and ending at 5mph at a heart rate of 124 beats per second and a varying incline, depending on whether my heart rate needed raising or lowering. In fact, when I went to 4.6mph, the machine warned me that it was inadvisable to hold on to the handlebars when I was running, but then changed its mind and showed me how fast my heart was beating from the exertion.

After the 45 minutes had elapsed, at times with an incline of about 10.5 which had me huffing and puffing, and my legs were heavier than a home-made wholewheat bread with expired yeast, all I had accomplished in terms of fat disposal was 800 calories. It would have taken me 90 minutes to lose a bread's worth.

Some of you would probably admonish me by asking, legitimately so, "Why bread?" There are a lot of people who insist that the Lord's Prayer should be changed and that 'Give us this day our daily bread' should be replaced with some other message that is healthier. It is said that the KFC boss, Colonel Sanders, went to the Pope with an offer that was difficult to refuse. He said he would give the Church $500 million if the prayer was changed from 'daily bread' to daily 'fry chicken'. The Pope was adamant. That is the Word of the Lord. No way it can be changed.

The Colonel upped his offer to a billion dollars. The Pope refused. Finally, the Colonel offered five billion. The next day, the Pope met with the College of Cardinals and told them he had good news and bad news. He continued, "The good news is that we got a donation of $5 billion to spend on improving the lot of the poor. However, the bad news is that we are losing the Wonder Bread Account."


Suicide by sandwiches


Actually, there is talk about suicide by sandwiches, and some people have come up with at least 12 reasons to banish bread from our diets. These include a high-glycerine content that, in two slices of bread, is the equivalent of the sugar content of a Snickers bar and lead to diabetes. I snickered because I prefer dark chocolate.

Eating bread can clog your arteries and, this one, wheat consumption stimulates an excess of female hormones in men that reduces testosterone, creating male breasts and erectile dysfunction. This is something to chew on, I thought, as I ate my morning toast, but then I read, "Wheat consumption can interfere with the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin in the small intestine, creating depression, rage and anxiety in many people." End of story.

I am a bread man. When I buy a freshly made cinnamon raisin bread or bagel, I don't wait for cream cheese, butter or jam. I eat it in the car on my way home without any road rage. I leave the depression to the roads.

The fact is that if I were to be reincarnated as a fruit or vegetable, I would return as a bread-nut. I can be described as 'well bread'. As I travel through the Caribbean, when people call me 'Breads' or 'Breaddah', I marvel at their perceptiveness and insight. How do they know that bread is my favourite food? My preferred hymn is 'Oh Breadder Man'.

So I will not banish bread from my diet, pantry, kitchen, home or life. I know three things about exercise that make me continue to eat and enjoy my daily bread. The first is that the day I stop eating bread or flour products, my ghrelin will believe I am starving and start storing up fat every opportunity it gets so that any weight loss will be followed by substantial weight gain.

Erma Bombeck, the humorist, put it this way: "I have dieted continuously for the last two decades and lost a total of 758 pounds. By all calculations, I should be hanging from a charm bracelet." The other thing is that once you start exercising, you burn up more calories from even your ordinary activities like walking around the house than when you're not exercising. This is why the half a loaf of exercise should not be taken in isolation. You are burning up more calories all the time. My last refuge is in the fact that weight loss is based on a simple equation. Essentially, if you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight. You can do it by going on an 800-calorie diet and then collapse after you exercise, or you can stay off the starvation and burn up the calories. If you're eating bread and you're aiming for a 2,000-calorie day, you have to go easy on the bread and anything else you consume.

If you decide you would have only one meal a day, remember what Ms Bombeck said, "One meal a day is enough for a lion and would be for all of us if all we did all day was swat flies."

- Tony Deyal was last seen saying if we're not meant to have midnight snacks, why is there a light in the fridge?