Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘cravings

Here Goes

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‘Tis the season. The aromas and the flavors of November have arrived inside our house. My ongoing challenge to control gastronomic excess for the good of my hemoglobin A1c and my waistline love-handles intensifies significantly as my childhood favorites show up in amazing succession.

Chex mix and pecan pie appeared this week to start the month with intensity.

I’ve noticed these hold a much greater draw for my cravings than all the scones and hand-pies Cyndie has been baking for the Berry Farm lately. As delicious a treat as those are, I wasn’t exposed to them growing up. That seems to be the key difference in the intensity of the attraction.

Oh, those childhood flavor memories.

Mmm mm good.

Yesterday, at sunset, I was tasked with tending the chickens into the coop because Cyndie wasn’t going to be home from errands until after dark. That’s not usually a big deal, except this time we have the ailing Australorp who had vanished on me.

Earlier in the afternoon, when I looked in on the brood, I found all the young ones romping in the vicinity of the barn. As I cooed at them and chirped my falsetto chicken-dad love-speak, I heard chicken feet running through the leaves in our woods. It was two of the adult hens coming to make sure they weren’t missing out on treats.

Only two hens.

Where was the Australorp? I searched and searched but found no sight of her. Uh oh.

Of course, I assumed the worst. When she didn’t return to the coop at sunset with all the others, I called Cyndie, in case she would know any other places to look. After begrudgingly closing up the coop for the night, I headed up toward the house. Since this was the direction the two hens had come running from earlier, I decided to detour behind the shop garage for one last look.

In the low light of dusk, the black silhouette of our Australorp stood out distinctly against the lighter background or our neighbor’s harvested soybean field. She was standing out in the open all by herself, poor little thing.

I have no idea if she didn’t return because she couldn’t or because she didn’t want to, but she obviously still isn’t well.

She didn’t warm up to my approach, but she didn’t run away, either. As I slowly talked my way closer and closer, she moved enough that I thought maybe I could walk with her back to our land. She got a few feet into the woods before I decided to just pick her up and carry her.

We’ve given her electrolytes with the hydration but didn’t have any antibiotics. Cyndie is heading to the feed store this morning to see what she can find there. We would like to offer our precious hens whatever support we can.

This morning, Cyndie pointed out the fact that this was the bird that survived an encounter with a fox a few months ago. We don’t know what internal injuries she may have dealt with at the time that might compromise her ultimate longevity.

My inclination this morning is that I might take some Chex mix down to share. She won’t have childhood memories of it, but still, it tastes like an elixir of love and life.



Written by johnwhays

November 7, 2020 at 10:15 am

Surviving Halloween

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Today is the first day of November, so that means last night was candy-stravaganza! It also means the next week or so will consist of people trying to unload leftover treats.

All holidays are challenging for those of us striving to conquer cravings for sweets, but Halloween is particularly ominous. There tends to be an overwhelming amount of bite-size treats in seductively colored wrappers well within reach at every turn.

I have been enjoying uncharacteristic success with my self-control in the days leading up to last night. I celebrated by raiding Cyndie’s secret stash of Reese’s Peanutbutter Cups hidden in a drawer. I ate exactly one and was just fine with that.

I think I’m getting the hang of this routine. The longer I go without consuming more sugar than is healthy each day, the less my body craves.

On the way to the airport on Tuesday morning, I mentioned that I would be home alone on Halloween and Cyndie told me where I could find candy if anyone decided to venture up our long driveway and knock on the door. No one did.

In the six years we have been here, we have received a total of two visits on Halloween night. Both were by the same family that lives around the corner –a couple of miles away– on two successive years. It’s the only time we have ever talked with them.

I’m guessing their son is old enough now that he doesn’t want to be dragged to all these strangers houses by his parents, just to listen to them gab for 20 minutes at each stop. It wasn’t as much trick or treating as it was social networking.

Now, after the sun comes up, if there is no toilet paper hanging in our tree branches, and no egg stains on any of our structures, that will be the true, full measure of surviving Halloween.

The next thing I need to do is survive the days after. In the end, that’s possibly the bigger challenge.



Written by johnwhays

November 1, 2018 at 6:00 am

Improvement Movement

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In my grand scheme of a continuous improvement movement toward optimal health, I have recently added new attention to not cleaning my plate. It’s an old habit, but eating everything served has long contributed to my consuming more food than my body needs at a sitting. I’ve decided to take another crack at altering that pattern.

It’s a project I tried off and on in the past, just like my attempts to stop snacking directly out of the bag, or trying to get a full 8-hours of sleep a night. I have not accomplished everything I set out to achieve.

I’m hoping to springboard on the success I have been experiencing with my daily regimen of planking and stretching exercises.

Actually, it parallels well with my recent decluttering effort. The latest accomplishments have inspired me to keep going to the next level of clutter out in the shop.

My planking success –started about 6-months ago and still making daily progress, well beyond the initial 30-days-in-a-row goal– seems to be inspiring me to take the next step toward better (and consistent) attention to portion size.

This whole portion control thing rides on top of my earlier focus to kick a sugar addiction and rein in the percentage of my daily sugar consumption in my diet.

Last night, I took a moment to calculate the number of grams of sugar in a serving of Trader Joe’s Chocolate Coconut Almonds that Cyndie brought home as a treat on our anniversary. It’s the coconut that sends these over the top. It calls out to me every time I walk past them.

Sixteen grams in a 1/3rd cup serving, which is a little under 1-gram per coated almond.

I have tried to satisfy myself with eating just 2 or 3 almonds at a time, but then the challenge I face is to honestly track how many little visits to the well I make in a day.

Craving is a powerful thing.

I’m happy that I have developed a bit of a craving to do my daily planking routine, and I struggle with the craving to sleep that washes over me at times of the day when I can’t.

Now, if I could just get myself to crave small portions of really delicious large servings of food on a plate in front of me, I’ll really be getting somewhere.

Here’s to continuous movement toward optimal health, one step at a time. Mind, body, and spirit.

Join me, won’t you?



Cereal Torture

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With our Thanksgiving holiday less than a week away, the inevitable overindulgence of delectable foodstuffs is close enough to taste. Yesterday, Cyndie unleashed the first assault with one of my all-time favorites: Chex mix.

The most difficult healthy change I made in my diet when I decided to monitor my daily sugar consumption was to control how much cereal I ate. Sure, I love ice cream as the absolutely best treat around, but I even garnish some of the best scoops with Grape-Nuts cereal to take it over the top in extravagance.

Admittedly, one of my big reasons for loving cereal so much is the fact it is ready-to-eat without cooking. Can you say instant gratification?

Unfortunately, most cereals are also high in sugar, among any number of other less than ideal potential additives. While I used to avail myself of unfettered bowlfuls, my servings now are precisely measured to keep portions at or below 10 grams of sugar per meal.

It’s torture.

I have one other persistent craving. I like snacking almost more than a meal. Appetizers are better than dinner. Finger foods are the best!

Yesterday, the house smelled amazing. There was a fire in the fireplace and Chex mix baking in the oven. Butter and salty spices slathered all over the cereal, pretzels, garlic chips, and nuts, slowly roasting.

This morning the giant oval roasting pan filled with gold sits atop the stove and I am desperately trying to pretend it isn’t there.

I already snitched a double-dose beyond my ration yesterday, so I would like to demonstrate a little more restraint today.

Cyndie is gone for the day, so I had a very respectable serving of some banana nut crunch flakes for breakfast. Two bowls of a half-cup each. Ten grams.

I closed the box and put it away. Washed my bowl.

Then I lifted the lid on the roasting pan, just to see if the treasure was still there.


I told Cyndie yesterday that I noticed she forgot to include any Cheerios.

As if that will make it any easier for me to resist.

Oh for the love of cereal.



Written by johnwhays

November 18, 2017 at 11:19 am

Periodic Assessment

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Yesterday was the day of our annual furnace inspection by the company that installed it a few years ago. So far, so good. Honestly, I would have been shocked if he had found something amiss. We are past the initial break-in period where manufacturing or installation issues could appear, and it is still new enough that no parts should be wearing out. Plus, it has been performing flawlessly from the start.

Still, I pay good money for the peace of mind to know all is well.

Our experience last fall of discovering the cracked tiles in the flue of our chimney bolstered my confidence in the value of regular check-ups.

Upon recommendation from someone at work, I watched “That Sugar Film” last night. I invite you to check out the trailer for a sampling. It might make you crave seeing the whole movie. It served as a periodic assessment of my sugar reduction/control efforts, not that I wasn’t aware of some slippage in the wrong direction.

I struggle with a physical addiction to sweetness. Well, mental and physical, frankly. Every time I cheat a little on my attempt to stay below the recommended healthy daily amount of calories from sugar, I feed the mental monster. My mind then works with my body to coerce me into feeding the urge.

It is weird to watch the movie and get a sense of how similar my sugar craving is to drug addictions that are publicly looked upon as all around bad things, while the food industry flashes spectacular and colorfully happy ad campaigns in broad daylight for products laden with the chemical that will capture our minds and make our bodies sick.

Think, tobacco industry. How many years did they get away with it? Cigarettes were safe. Heck, they were even good for you! NOT!

That scene is happening today with soft drink companies, cereal, yogurt, pasta sauces, …pretty much all processed foods. They are all safe! Enjoy!

We can trust them, because they pay scientists to collect data that shows everything is okay. It’s fine. Don’t worry. Have some more. You know, a calorie is a calorie, whether from sugar or otherwise. NOT!

Don’t fall for the ruse that you should be able to exercise enough to justify that next sugar laden meal. That is a war that can’t be won.

If you have children, save them from this. Please, understand the effects of sugar on our brains and bodies.

Addiction is addiction. Pick a poison. Street drugs, prescription drugs, tobacco, gambling, sex, shopping, food, sugar.

When choosing to profit off the human brain’s cravings, a company should have a plan to hide the facts about making their customers sick. Maybe no one is noticing the obesity trend and subsequent increase in associated diseases, like diabetes and heart disease. Go ahead, keep on eating the convenient foods filling the grocery store shelves.

What this movie points out is that he doesn’t eat the obvious soda pop, candy, and ice cream which most people know should be moderated.DSCN4499e He chooses supposed “healthy” choices of cereal, yogurt, juices, and snack bars during his 60-day experiment. It’s eye-opening, even for me.

I need to renew my effort to spot what my brain is doing to feed its craving.

Last night, it was pasta for dinner. It was soooooo good.












Written by johnwhays

March 5, 2016 at 10:40 am

Try Imagining

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Try imagining that you are daily striving to tightly control the percentage of sugar in your total caloric intake, despite the onslaught of incoming treats at work from a number of generous, well-meaning sources, and yesterday, when you arrived home from work and opened the door to your house, you were met by an overwhelming aroma of fresh-baked goodies that practically lifted you off your feet.

For some reason, as soon as I am home from work, I want to eat something. It is one of the trickier parts of my day, in terms of managing my choices in avoidance of unnecessary sugars. I’m happy to eat anything, as long as it doesn’t take any time to prepare. Crunchy, salty, and sweet tend to be cravings that most strongly nag me.

Yesterday, at my weakest moment, Cyndie was moving fresh-baked cookies off a tray, onto the cooling rack. I don’t think there is any better time to test a cookie than when it is still warm from the oven. I hadn’t even finished setting down things I had carried in the door when I sank my teeth into the irresistible goodness of a cookie that tasted like a cinnamon bun.

Cyndie mentioned that she hadn’t put the icing on yet, which helped to calm some of my angst. Knowing that I was eating less sugar than the cookies would ultimately have helped me justify my choice. See how that works?

Really, try to imagine walking in the door to this:

DSCN4211eI wish I could provide a smell-o-vision feature, to give you the full effect.

Next Sunday afternoon we are hosting a “neighborhood cookie social” for folks living around us, most of whom we’ve yet to meet in the three years we’ve been here. Cyndie printed out an invitation and then drove a loop of the immediate roads surrounding us to the west, where we know a handful of folks, including our good friend and trusty farrier, George Walker.

Multiple locations have mailboxes grouped, and she wasn’t sure about which mailbox went with which house, so she just put an invite in every box. Roughly 30, she said. We have no idea how many may show up, and we likely won’t recognize but a few.

Imagine that. It should be fun!










Written by johnwhays

December 16, 2015 at 7:00 am