We managed to finish off the turkey yesterday, mostly because I made myself a big lunch consisting of turkey meat, lettuce, cheese, sour cream, a hard-boiled egg and some hot sauce, all stirred up in a bowl. My wife has threatened to boil the scraps and bones to begin a soup, but I’m hoping she changes her mind.
I used to wake up on the Monday following Thanksgiving feeling very un-thankful about the size of my waistline. After four days of indulging in mashed white potatoes, sweet corn, white-bread stuffing and pumpkin pie, I’d look in the mirror and make one of two promises:
- I’m going to go on a diet until Christmas.
- I’m going to accept that this is what happens during the holiday season and go on a diet after New Year’s.
We don’t have a scale in the house, but my clothes tell me I survived Thanksgiving this year without getting any fatter. That’s because Thanksgiving weekend isn’t the sugar-and-starch fest it used to be. My wife roasted a turkey, of course, but the side dishes were green beans, whipped cauliflower, and mashed sweet potatoes. She also made stuffing with Ezekiel bread, and I ate some with my meals, but not much. For dessert, she made her famous (in our house, anyway) squash pie: squash, cream, eggs, pumpkin spice and some Splenda or Truvia, all blended together and then baked. Top it with some whipped cream, and you don’t miss sugar-laden pumpkin pie one bit.
The food was excellent, and so was the company: My friend Tom Monahan flew in from Albuquerque and stayed with us for a few days. If you recognize the name, it’s because he composed the music for Fat Head and sang most of the songs.
In the working versions of the film, I used pop songs for music. As a programmer, I’d produced a musician-payments system for Disney, so I had some idea of the musician royalties for songs that are picked up for TV shows and films. I was willing to pay those royalties. What I didn’t know is that the real cost is in licensing the songs, not paying the musicians. So imagine my reaction when I learned that licensing the music I’d selected would cost well over $300,000.
After the smelling salts were administered, I remembered that during my years in Chicago, I had a good friend who composed music for a CBS children’s show called the Magic Door — Tom Monahan. Tom and I hung around together in Chicago and recorded some songs together. I always liked his music and his singing voice.
I’d long since moved to Los Angeles and he’d long since moved to Albuquerque, but I dug around in my Outlook files and found what I hoped was his current contact information. Just one little problem: The last time I’d seen Tom, several years earlier, he was a vegetarian who ate mostly low-fat, macrobiotic meals. I wasn’t sure how he’d feel about working on a documentary demonstrating how I lost weight eating cheeseburgers and sausage patties.
So I called him up, chit-chatted a bit, and then (as he reminded me this week) finally got around to, “So, Tom … are you still a vegetarian?”
Call it luck, fate, kismet, or whatever, but no, Tom was no longer a vegetarian. After years of living on a mostly macrobiotic diet, Tom had found himself exhausted, heavier than he’d ever been, and with a lousy lipid profile. He’d gone on a mission to discover the truth about good and bad diets, and had since become fan of the Weston A. Price Foundation. It was Tom, in fact, who suggested I should get in touch with Sally Fallon and ask for an interview.
I sent Tom a rough cut of the film, and he started sending me compositions almost immediately. Eventually he flew to Los Angeles and we worked with Martin Blasick, a talented music producer recommended by someone I knew at Disney. By the time we finished the recordings (complete with Martin’s guitar and trombone licks and professional mixes), I considered it a stroke of luck that the licensing fees prevented me from using pop songs. I liked Tom’s music better. His compositions fit the tone of the film.
During Tom’s visit last week, we spent many hours talking about nutrition and health. Like me, Tom is in his fifties but healthier than when he was in his thirties. We compared notes on the ailments we both had back in our grain-eating, vegetarian days: arthritis, fatigue, skin rashes, frequent infections, etc.
We both have acquaintances who are falling apart, but still insist their meatless, low-fat diets must be good for them. They chalk up their ailments to bad luck or bad genes. One of Tom’s friends in Albuquerque is in constant pain and walks with a cane, but refuses to believe his diet of grains and soy has anything to do with it.
Tom and I are both grateful we figured out the connection between diet and disease before it was too late. And of course, that’s what Thanksgiving is supposed to be about: giving thanks. So I gave thanks to Mike and Mary Dan Eades, Uffe Ravnskov, Gary Taubes, Sally Fallon, Mary Enig, Malcolm Kendrick, Mark Sisson, Jimmy Moore, Robert Lustig, William Davis, and Al Sears.
The turkey is finally gone, but the gratitude remains.