Doctor says fewer carbs; but what is life without carbs_ _ food and cooking _ stltoday. com

She may be the person to go to for all your questions about medicine and the human body. On the other hand, if you want to discuss the symbolic significance of the ash tree in James Joyce’s “Ulysses,” I’m your man.

So she’s probably right. But that doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it.

I don’t have to give up simple carbs entirely. When I saw her a year ago, she made a cup of her two hands and said the amount of carbohydrates I eat every meal should fit into that cup.

I gasped. There was enough room in there for, literally, a handful of pasta.

My doctor is about average height for a woman, and I would guess that her hands are the average size, too. I am a bit taller than most men and, if I can say this without getting all presidential debatey about it, my hands are larger as well. Not freakishly large, but bigger than most.

So when I saw her again most recently, I put my hands together in as wide a bowl as I could make them and said, “I can have this much simple carbohydrates, right?”

She smiled sadly and held out one single hand, cupped. “No,” she said. “ This much.”

I had misremembered. Whether it was willful or not, I would leave to the psychiatrists — but my doctor probably has a degree in psychiatry, too.

One single handful of simple carbohydrates is all I should eat, and a smallish hand at that. That’s barely worth the effort it takes to chew it.

I love carbohydrates. Carbohydrates love me. They love my waistline, and they especially adore the way they make my blood sugar levels spike. They have so much fun with my spiking blood sugar levels.

They call to me on warm moonlit nights, when the scent of jasmine is in the air. They call to me when the snow is dropping hard from a steel-gray sky. They call to me on a hot summer’s noon, when the obliterating sun bakes the blistering pavement.

I am not really addicted to carbohydrates. I can quit them anytime I want — I just don’t want to.

Without carbohydrates, pizza is just tomato sauce and pepperoni. Without carbohydrates, red beans and rice is just an empty plate. On the other hand, without simple carbohydrates a salad is still pretty much a salad. And I’m sick and tired of salads.

I have never understood the allure of heroin until now. It may make you feel good, but it carries with it a very good chance of killing you. To me, there has never been a question: I don’t care about a temporary euphoria; why do it if it is going to kill you?

Ah, but now carbohydrates present something of the same conundrum, and I understand. Can I give up my beloved rice for a few additional years of riceless misery? Is a life without spaghetti truly worth living?

Fortunately, the situation is not nearly that dire. Like many Americans, I may be eating far too much carbohydrates, but that doesn’t mean I have to quit cold turkey.

Besides, carbohydrates are an important part of a healthy diet. In moderation they are good for you; the hard part is reaching that point of moderation.

So I’m working on that. I’ll try to cut back on my carbs.

Meanwhile, I’m looking for a doctor with bigger hands.