Monday, September 28, 2009

Those Extra Pounds: The Real Story

A few weeks ago, I told the story of Moy Moy's mysterious weight gain. After some clever detective work, we decided it was due to her seizures finally getting under control and we gave full marks to Dr Sebastian for the transformation.

Moy Moy is still virtually seizure-free and Sebastian is still our hero but the weight gain, it turns out, has another source, and my sister Mary, Dr Anti-Cholesterol herself, will back me up on this one.

But first, as is usual with any story originating in India, a little background.

Let's just say we don't have supermarkets here. When we buy milk, for example, we don't go to the "Milk Aisle" of Stop and Shop and choose between skim, 1/2%, 1%, 2%, whole milk and half and half. Here we go to the corner shop, a rabbit warren full of sacks and boxes and the odd mouse scrabbling about in the background, and we say "Milk" and Mr Rana hands it over in five plastic pouches.

Every now and then, those plastic pouches get too offensive and I go back to the local dairyman who delivers to our doorstep. He vrooms up on his big black motorbike, with enormous milk cans strapped on both sides, and doles it out straight into the pan we will boil it in (for it is neither pasteurized nor homogenized) and there is a pleasure in the immediacy of the transaction.

However, there is also a fair amount of water added in and sometimes the milk cans don't look too clean and sometimes the milk has a funny smell and invariably I end up back at the corner shop for the plastic pouches.

Six months ago, even the pouch milk started to smell strange. Ravi and Vikram were convinced the dairy supplying it was adding caustic soda or potash (and in fact, right about that time, a "spurious milk factory" was raided in Agra where those very items were discovered). Just as it became simply unbearable to drink or even look at what we were buying every day, a new brand of milk hit the market.

It was more expensive than what we had been getting, but according to its advertising, it was processed by "European standards" and its quality was guaranteed. I decided to give it a try and found it was all it claimed to be and more. It was amazing.

It was also "Full Cream". That was obvious on the very first day. To the uninitiated, raw milk must be boiled before it is safe to drink. Boiling unhomogenized milk brings the cream to the top and the quality of the milk is gauged by how much cream rises. This particular brand was unbelievable. There was a full inch and a half of cream. We soon ran out of things we could do with it. We made butter and then we turned it into ghee, but there is a limit to how much of this stuff you can use.

Yet still we soldiered on. It took me SIX MONTHS to decide that this probably wasn't the best choice for our health and during those six months - at last! she gets to the point! - Moy Moy managed to gain her six pounds. Yessiree, six months, six pounds, just like Dr Mary has always said.

In food as in life, it's the little things that add up. We may think it's a small decision (full cream over low-fat, an extra glass of wine, the lift rather than the stairs, the justification over the truth), but six months down the road, the facts speak for themselves. And Moy Moy's extra weight doesn't just mean that neither her diapers nor her clothes fit anymore. It also means that we can no longer move her with ease, which means that we think twice and thrice about whether to move her at all.

Somehow, the fact that Moy Moy's size is totally in our hands makes this a much more serious dilemma. We believe so strongly in choice and in living with the consequences of our choices that when OUR choices determine something as personal as the size of pants another person wears we realize we are more connected than we thought we were.

Anyway, the amazing "European Standards" milk company added lowfat milk to their line a few weeks ago and we have made the switch. We expect that Moy Moy will slowly but surely taper back down to the thin girl we know and love and that all the size 6 Pampers we have been stockpiling will fit her once again.

In the meantime, we are working on our lifting muscles. Because Moy Moy, God bless her, has the right to go wherever she wants to.


cabazon said...

Oh Jo, I love the history! It is very familiar, as one often hears around here (usually in a grumble) "There are always ten steps before you even get to what you started out to do!" ... I expect you're doing your pushups right now! Alison

Kavita said...

and to "grow" wherever she wants to..:) Hug.