Sunday, July 01, 2007

Call me Ptomaine Toni

About six weeks ago, I decided it was time to lose some weight. The catalyst for my decision came in the form of an old pair of shorts. Actually, it wasn't the shorts as much as it was the zipper ... and its reluctance to zip. That. was. it. I started the South Beach Diet the next day. Roy joined me, which made the whole thing easier. Although the word "easy" is perhaps misleading.

South Beach was developed by a cardiologist for his patients and spread by word-of-mouth until he eventually wrote a book that has sold a gabillion copies (give or take 12). Phase 1 of the diet lasts two weeks and is pretty strict: no pasta, bread, juice, fruit, corn, peas or alcohol. Other than the pretty hardy breakfasts and fish allowed, you might as well pack yourself into a cardboard box full of lettuce and sugar-free Jell-O and eat yourself out in 14 days.

Phase 1, for all its restrictions, worked like gangbusters. But not before, in the first few days, I felt hungry enough to suck the toothpaste right out of the tube, not before I got so SICK of grilled chicken salad I couldn't bear the sight of a freshly mowed lawn. But because Roy and I were doing it together and because it became a matter of pride for me, I stuck with it.

About four days into it, I was throwing dinner together in a hurry, trying to get things on the table before Roy had curtain call. (My renaissance man was in the local production of "To Kill a Mockingbird.") I grabbed a bowl, marinated and seasoned several chicken breasts, popped the chicken in the oven, heated some green beans (minus a dab of bacon grease. sigh.), sliced and diced for the salad and washed up a few dishes. Roy was running out of time, so I went ahead and threw the salad together and sat with him to eat while the kids played. He left. I set the table for the kids, got the chicken out, told the kids to wash up and put dishes in the sink.

That's when I grabbed the salad bowl. The perfectly empty, spotless salad bowl. I stared into it, at the tiny oval reflection of the overhead light, the one covered in asymmetrical yellow daisies painted there by my grandmother. I stared stupidly, as if by not moving, I could alter the reality that I had served salad in the same bowl used to prepare raw poultry.

My response was a cross between panic and self-rage, with liberal use of a word rhyming with shmum-ash. I called Roy at the theatre to let him know if at some point in the second act he began to feel a little queasy, it likely wasn't nerves, but the first twinge of a horrible bout of food-poisoning that might have both of us curled in the fetal position with our faces pressed against the cool, cool bathroom tile.

Rather than acknowledge the fact that he had, sadly, married a shmum-ash, he assured me it would be just fine. That the bacteria from the uncooked chicken surely wouldn't be a problem. I responded by lovingly assuring him that, no, we were both about to die, thank you very much, and I'm pretty sure Harper Lee never envisioned Boo Radley projectile vomiting on Atticus.

The only silver lining was that, thankfully, the children hadn't eaten the salad.

About half-an-hour later, my friend Cathy pulled up. Her children were in the play, and she had heard from Roy about our impending date with acute gastro-intestinal cleansing. She pulled a bag out of her car and explained that her family used some products that might be very helpful to us. Out of the bag she pulled items I'm pretty sure even Whole Foods doesn't carry: a 32-ounce bottle of Liquid Chlorophyll; another of Whole Leaf Aloe Vera and a little squeeze bottle of Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE). The GSE is a "bit tart," Cathy warned and would be more palatable mixed with fruit juice. I didn't bother explaining fruit juice was a Phase 1 no-no. With a few directions, she left me with the sack, on her way to deliver one large Chlorophyll/Aloe/GSE cocktail to Roy at the theatre.

Now, look. I don't particularly like green vegetables. I eat green beans because I know they're good for me. I eat asparagus and steamed broccoli, as long as it's smothered in butter. I don't care for much else green. So standing over my sink holding a white bottle of Liquid Chlorophyll stained green around its lid was similar to that moment right before the technician yanks the wax off.

The prospect of food poisoning, however, was sufficient motivation for me to dutifully mix a teaspoonful of chlorophyll into eight ounces of water. The smell isn't actually that bad. It's rather minty.

The smell lies. If you've shockingly never enjoyed a glass of chlorophyll, imagine gathering two large handfuls of grass clippings from your yard. Grab a few pine needles if they're handy and four or fives leaves from any available shrub. Place your harvest into the blender, add a little water and, voila!

If you don't remember your science that well, chlorophyll is the green pigment in plants that helps out with photosynthesis. According to Nature's Sunshine Products, Inc., it's also useful as a digestive tract detoxifier and supports intestinal health. I clung to that bit of propaganda as green water dripped down my gulping throat.

Next: Whole Leaf Aloe Vera. This time I mixed an ounce with water. The bottle assured me I was in for a "refreshing and pleasant tasting vegetable juice drink" which would be "intensely cleansing."

Refreshing and pleasant my ash. It tastes precisely how one might imagine it would if you broke a leaf off your aloe plant, jammed in a straw and sucked. Except maybe not that good.

I just managed to fight back the gag reflex, reminding myself what I was drinking would combat the bacteria in my digestive system. Fortified by that thought, I proceeded to put several drops of the grapefruit seed extract containing Citricidal into a third glass of water and knocked it back.

I like grapefruits fine, cut open and served with a sprinkling of sugar. I have nothing against grapefruit. But this stuff was so intensely tart that hours later I could still taste it on the back of my throat like a sour paste. I couldn't finish this drink all in one take, stopping to stomp, slap my hand on the counter and gasp.

A couple of hours later I repeated the process. The good news is, neither Roy nor I were ever sick. I can't say whether we just got lucky or the stuff we took really lived up to its billing. Either way, we were very, very fortunate -- if you call eating Salmonella Salad with a chaser of Liquid Plant fortunate.

In this case, I suppose the glass of liquid chlorophyll was half full.

-30-

15 comments:

Big Mama said...

Well, I about fell on my ash when I saw that Bloglines showed you had a new post up. And you did not disappoint, my friend.

I am so glad that y'all didn't get the salmonella poisoning, although the only thing I personally want to be "intensely cleansing" is someone cleaning my bathroom.

Mayhem And Miracles said...

Your last paragraph was hysterical! And that's a talent, to turn near food poisening into FUNNY. :)

dcrmom said...

Oh I was wondering just the other day if you were ever going to post again! Sounds like all's well that end's well. But I hope you'll understand if I decline your invitation to dinner. ;-)

Scratchin' the Surface said...

Award worthy! Nice to have you back, especially since the last post was all about your marital congress and we don't want people thinking that's all you've been up to. I have to have a colonoscopy next week, which I'm oh so excited about and rather than the concoction they recommend, I think what you took just might do it, if I ever was able to choke it down. Bet you don't ever ever ever do the raw chicken/salad thing again.

JT said...

See, that was just a bad call on your part. It's part of the whole South Beach plan--to get you so confused from lack of carbs that you cross-contaminate, thus moving on to the "lose 15 pounds in 24 hours" phase of the program.

Maybe by the time you're reincorportating red meat, you won't panic after realizing you've given yourself and Roy e. coli.

Kelly said...

That is the funniest thing ever. I would have totally panicked with you, however, I would not have immediately notified my husband since he has an outright salmonella phobia. I would have pretended we were both simultaneously stricken with some bizarre strain of stomach virus and left it at that!

Sandy C said...

Toni,
I'm so glad you didn't get sick. It was good for a laugh, though.
Just so you know...I live on the South Beach Phase 2 or 3. Occasionally, when my pants feel tight, I will suffer through Phase 1 for a week or so and they feel good again. It really works for me.

Kelli said...

So, one can only conclude that - if not sisters - Kathy and Jaymee are cousins?

Becky said...

Bless your heart. I had to take chlorophyll with one of my pregnancies and I was feeling for you. Ick!!! I agree about grass clippings. Did the whole thing make you want to give up South Beach and go back to carbs quickly? (my hubby and I have done South Beach twice, so it was fun to read about someone else getting sick of grilled chicken salad!)
Blessings,
Becky

Barb said...

Hmmm. I didn't know my sister's having a colonoscopy next week. So much email fodder there, I'm glad I stumbled across that information.

You must have been pretty scared to just start shoving all that stuff she brought over down your throat. My gag reflex was in full gear through this whole post.

Good luck to you with the South Beach diet. There's no way I'm eating a green bean that's not drenched in bacon grease. Actually, I may never eat anything green again. LOL

Sarah's In the Midst of It said...

So I'm wondering if you could just give up and buy a bigger size of shorts? It seems a lot less painful. :)

Jenny from Chicago said...

I've never laughed at Salmonella before....nicely done.

Kelli said...

hey there!

Just checking in to say Howdy!

Miss you, but been thinking about you.

BooMama said...

Where in the sam hill are you?

Grafted Branch @ Restoring the Years said...

An audible *gasp!*

Come back; write more!