pop goes the world: sinful and sweet

POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 30 December 2010, Thursday

Sinful and Sweet

I was at work yesterday afternoon when someone dropped by with a luscious chocolate mousse cake. It was a three-layer concoction composed of a sinfully rich chocolate cake base, chocolate mousse center, and whipped cream rosette topping. Like all desserts are made to do, it beckoned, tempting me – “Eat me. You know you want to.” I knew it would melt in my mouth and coat my tongue with pleasure.

Yet I hesitated – it was a calorie- and fat-laden time bomb that would further expand my waistline and elevate my glucose and cholesterol levels. Should I taste it – or not?

The matter was taken out of my hands when an officemate cut a slice, plated it, and handed it to me along with a fork. Now, I couldn’t very well be rude and refuse it, could I? It would have hurt her feelings. So I sank the fork in that three-tiered treat and dissolved into a puddle of sugar-fueled ecstasy when the chocolatey goodness hit my tastebuds.

I was dumped from my cloud of baked bliss when a voice spoke. “Jenny, don’t finish that cake.” It was a visitor, one of my former bosses. “Give the rest to someone else to finish.”

I stared at the cake with different eyes. Yes, Attorney Mon was right. That cake would have gone from my lips straight to my hips. Already carrying excess poundage and having trouble losing it, any extra avoirdupois was just an added health liability I could ill afford.

Which brings me to the point of this article. The holidays are a traditionally a time for feasting, when abundance and the pleasures of the table are an essential part of the celebration. Almost every household has its Christmas and New Year recipes for ham, pasta, salad, whatever. It is a ritual, this preparation of the holiday food that is often not made at any other time of the year. And when the special dishes are served, it marks another cycle in the circle of cultural observances.

But many traditions we observe, while fulfilling psychological needs, are not always good for us. The overconsumption of sugar, fat, salt, protein, carbohydrates, and alcohol wreak havoc on our health, which we pay for in the future, if not right away in the form of, let’s say, indigestion, hypertension, and diarrhea.

After the holiday feasting, we step on a bathroom scale and watch the needle swing much farther to the right than we’d like. Some panic and look for quick fixes. Diet pills, for one. Through the years, there have been many, some with evil side effects.

Some 20 years ago, fen-phen – a combination of two drugs, fenfluramine and phentermine – caused a global sensation for resulting in very rapid weight loss.Fenfluramine was later shown to cause heart problems and other internal damage. It was withdrawn from the market and “led to legal damages of over $13 billion.” This is one case where the “cure” proved to be more harmful than the cause. (“Phentermine was not shown to cause harmful effects.”)

Undergoing scrutiny now by the American Food and Drug Administration is bupropion/naltrexone (trade name Contrave), “designed to affect the hypothalamus to decrease food intake over extended period of time…On 7 December 2010 an FDA Advisory Committee voted 13-7 for the approval of Contrave, and voted 11-8 for the conduct of a post-marketing cardiovascular outcomes study.”

The current popularly marketed medication, available over-the-counter here, is orlistat, “a drug designed to treat obesity… [by] preventing the absorption of fats…thereby reducing caloric intake.” (All citations from Wikipedia.)

Succumbing to the ease of taking a drug panders to our desire for convenience and immediate gratification. For some, under a physician’s care, such medications could even be necessary. But the best results come from the old-school way to weight loss – healthy eating that is predominantly vegetarian combined with sweaty exercise (both aerobic and strength training), adequate sleep, and less stress.

I’ve done it both ways, and only the natural method really worked and made me feel better. So this is one of my resolutions for the coming Year of the Rabbit – to regain wellness.

I will lay off the White Rabbit candy, and lace on my walking shoes once more. Because of my hypertension, I will reduce my caffeine intake. My 12-year-old daughter is helping me get healthy by giving frequent reminders. “Mama, you have to stop drinking too much coffee, eating sweets and chicharon, and sleeping late. Those are bad habits. I’m just glad they’re not illegal.” Thanks, Ik.

I must harness my willpower and discipline to achieve the goals I’ve set because it’s the only way I will get well. And only I can do this for myself – no one else. And because I have loved ones to take care of, I have to stay healthy as long as I can.

It’s a resolution I think we all need to make – and stick with. Happy new year, everyone.

My thoughts return to the chocolate mousse cake that got away. Bereft and forlorn without the other half, I console myself with a chunk of banana loaf someone else left behind. That should be healthier, I figure, because it’s got fruit in it.

Right?   ***

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3 Comments on pop goes the world: sinful and sweet

  1. JoniB
    31 December 2010 at 4:52 am (2342 days ago)

    Good luck with the diet! I’m going to be right there with you. Maybe I’ll be able to stick with it longer than the two weeks I did last year…

  2. amer
    31 December 2010 at 8:18 am (2342 days ago)

    That’s a good resolution, to eat like a rabbit! Leaves, carrots, carrot juice, carrot cake………skip the last one.

  3. Bea
    1 January 2011 at 2:28 pm (2340 days ago)

    I think desserts should be shared. I always look for someone to finish mine off. Mahirap na.

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