Diet Tip: The Crunch Factor

By Catherine Hedge

My sisters work hard at being fit.  They recently invited me to join them on a 17-day diet.  One sister has already had terrific success.  My first reaction to her description of the diet was to gag.  That’s because a main ingredient for the first few days is yogurt.  Yes, I know it’s healthful, loved by many, and accessible.  But why do I have such an unreasonable aversion? Because it is missing a key element I must have to survive…The Crunch Factor.

I have a bad habit known to few except my former students and my dentist.  I am an incessant chewer.  I don’t know the origins of my affliction.  Perhaps it’s because I spent my first month in the hospital as a premature baby.  My mom barged in the nursery and rescued me when she saw they had propped a bottle in my mouth and left me alone.  I didn’t have a swallowing instinct yet.  She was a nurse at the hospital and no one dared stop this Momma Bear! (Thanks, Mom!)   So, is my habit because I wasn’t breast-fed or that I’d already grown addicted to the rubber nipple chew toy?

When I was five, I remember my parents putting some nasty tasting stuff on my little finger because I always had it stuck in my mouth.  Grade school offered a whole new buffet… rubber erasers, wooden rulers, and #2 pencils. I’d run these back and forth in my mouth like corncobs, leaving little bite marks the length of the tools.  I can close my eyes and remember exactly how that orange-yellow paint tastes.  It probably had lead at the time.  Even worse, my friends and I used to follow the road crews on our block.  We’d steal little chunks of sealing tar and chew them all day.

As I matured, I switched to Bic pens.  They had nice soft sides and dandy little plugs you could pop out with your front teeth.  When I was in the middle of a really difficult term paper, I could go through three or four pens.  I swallowed several end plugs.  Sometimes, a pen leaked in my mouth, but did that stop me?  No, it was just time for a new package.

I have tried to curb my habit.  For a while, I just used fountain pens.  The pens had hard cases, often metal.  Soon, however, I could only find pens with refill tubes…tasty, malleable plastic.  Toothpaste doesn’t get black ink rings out of the corner of your mouth, I discovered.

I am particular rabid when I am stressed.  The harder a paper is to grade or a scene to write, the faster I chew.  If I’m listening to intense music, the pen waves back and forth like a conductor’s baton.  I’ve tried keeping jars of jawbreakers, especially Atomic Fireballs, on my desk.  Bad idea.  After a long night of portfolio grading, I emptied 15 cellophane wrappers and my tongue was raw with cinnamon.  Back to the pens.

There are some advantages.  People don’t steal your stuff so often.  I once had a student ask to borrow a pencil.  I offered him the only one I had.  The paint was chewed half-way down.  The student, a perfect child, gasped and blurted, “What are you? A beaver?”   He apologized, I laughed, and he borrowed a pencil from someone else.

So…What about the diet?  In solidarity, I’ve forced down three cups of yogurt.  A record for me.  Otherwise, I am following a program by the American Diabetes Association.  I choose from different food groups and carefully monitor carbohydrate levels.  I limit meals to 45 carbs and snacks to 15.  I’ve discovered that if I choose certain foods, like apples, baby carrots, and peanut butter celery, I am satisfied.  I have met my Crunch Factor.

For example, I monitored my intake today of CF:

Breakfast: ½ sliced apple

Snack: 16 stick pretzels

Lunch: ½ c baby carrots

Snack :  3 stalks barely steamed asparagus.

Dinner: more carrots, ½ apple

Dessert: 1 pen

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About Catherine Hedge

I am a writer and teacher mentor.
This entry was posted in Humor, Nostalgia, Slice of life, Writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Diet Tip: The Crunch Factor

  1. OMG!! You are brilliant and sooooo funny!! Cathy.. you had Lindsey and I in stitches reading your fabulous story!! Good for you!!!

  2. Wait! I was going to say this was brilliant. Dang, skunked again. I had the good old laugh-out-loud moment at the end. Terrific!

  3. I love this! And it explains those fountain pens you liked to use.

    • Ha! Thanks, Marie. I’m working for something with Sac. State and have at hand…8 pretzels, three crunchy peppers, and a yogurt cup full of baby carrots (an EMPTY yogurt cup!)

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