Wednesday, January 31, 2007

New York City, here we come!

I'm always excited to be heading back to New York City. I lived there for 14 years, most recently here. Next Tuesday my friend Gale and I will be heading east for 4 days in the city I love most of all.

Tuesday night I go right from the airport to a midtown radio studio, where I'm a guest on the "Busted Halo Show" with Father Dave Dwyer. That should be interesting! Then it's uptown to 190th Street to stay with dear old friend (and ex-Mr. Wrong) and his really great wife. (It really is true--one woman's Mr. Wrong is another woman's dream come true!)

Wednesday night is The New York Reading. Come on out and have a good time! I'm bringing some of these with me, unless airplane security takes them away before we board. Some of my favorite writers are reading, too--Roxana Robinson, Catherine Texier, Dana Kinstler, Raphael Kadushin, and me. 7 o'clock, Barnes & Noble, 82nd & Broadway. I'm bringing my Mr. Wrong T-shirts, too--maybe you'll win one at the reading.

Oh, and along the way I plan to eat a lot of Japanese food. Yum. At my favorite restaurant, Natori, if it's still around.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Valentine's string cheese?

In today's Wisconsin State Journal, columnist Susan Lampert Smith wrote about how parents at one school in southern Wisconsin have been asked not to send in the traditional Valentine's treats--cookies, cakes, and especially those little conversation hearts. Only slightly tongue in cheek, Smith suggests that parents send in string cheese for Valentine's Day treats, and writes, "This, sadly, is what Valentine's Day has become in schools where the federal wellness policy is being interpreted with revolutionary zeal."

You go, Susan. The zealots at this and other school districts obviously haven't read the studies on the effects of deprivation on eating habits. Restrained eating--in this case, telling kids they mustn't eat sweets for Valentine's Day--usually winds up making them eat more sweets, later on. If you've ever been on a diet, you're familiar with this paradigm. We're hard-wired to eat, and deprivation only triggers that urge, often leading to binging--often on the very thing you'd been deprived (or deprived yourself) of.

I saw this in my own children when they were young. Anxious to save them from the conflicted relationship I had with food, I enforced a stringent low- or no-sweets policy at home. The result? They became dessert hounds on playdates at other kids' houses.

A more sensible approach--and one I've applied to my own eating--would center around moderation rather than deprivation or binging, with plenty of opportunities for physical activity.

Of course, anyone who expects the school system to be sensible about anything is in for disappointment. But I hate the thought of all those federal dollars going toward food policies that actually cause some of the problems they're designed to help solve. I'll be sending a treat in my younger daughter's lunch bag on Valentine's Day. And I'll be glad to explain why to anyone who asks.