Monday, 25 April 2016

Good-bye to Simple Sugars, Gluten, Potatoes, Cake

Fatal. Just fatal. B.A. and I stopped in at a railway station W.H.Smith and I thumbed through The Blood Sugar Diet.  This was written by the same chap who wrote The Fast Diet, which worked like a charm until I gave it up. (I forget why I gave it up.)

"Women have a strange relationship with food," quoth I to B.A. the next day as we were sitting outside an art gallery, taking a rest before going to Mass. "This is a feminist cliché, of course. It's probably because women used to be in charge of cooking the stuff."

Actually, it's probably because women are worried about becoming fat, and actually once we are over a certain age and weight, we probably ought to be. This is particularly true if you are a freelance writer because (A) you spend long hours in front of a computer getting squodgy and (B) you can't afford new clothes when you grow out of your old ones. Apparently belly squodge is the worse squodge, too, leading to DISEASE, and I have more of it than I used to. Oh dear, I used to be so fit. 

The Blood Sugar Diet  is actually meant for people with Type II Diabetes, but claims it can rid any dieter of great slabs of belly fat in eight weeks. The basic idea is that you eat only 800 calories a day, and none of them must come from sugar or easily digested carbs like flour, bread, cookies and potatoes. 

"What about booze?" demanded B.A., and lo, the good doctor-turned-diet-superstar concedes small amounts of wine, preferably red and probably because he knows his British readership. I think the supermarkets do, too, for suddenly there are plastic pots and bags of "courgette spaghetti" and "butternut squash noodles" for sale in local supermarkets. Naturally they cost more than uncut courgettes (that's British for zucchini) and butternut squashes. However, they do really fill you up like spaghetti. 

Eight weeks does not sound like a long time for a middle-aged woman free from eating disorders to participate in the latest dieting craze, and indeed it seems tailor-made for people who give up diets out of sheer boredom. It also encourages you to eat a lot of foods I happen to like--blueberries, lentils, avocados, aubergines (British for eggplants), salmon, nuts (well, not too many nuts) and eggs. Really, it's more about what you don't eat, which I find much more relaxing than a charge sheet of what you must eat. When you get hungry between meals, you just drink a lot of water, coffee and tea, especially green tea, which I also like. 

That said, I spent yesterday (Day 1) thinking about cake. I went through a gluten-free baking book to see if it had any sugar-free recipes for cake, but it didn't. If this seems like a fool's errand, you must understand that the cake is the British national dish. British women get fat because of cake. Slender American girls, be they foreign students or starry-eyed brides, arrive in the UK, and British women stuff them full of cake until they are fat. We are a cake-eating people, and Victoria Sponge is our song. 

(Here, by the way, is how you make a Victoria Sponge. Having been here 7 years, I know this by heart: 1:1:1 butter, sugar, flour. 1 tsp baking powder, 2 eggs and 1/2 tsp vanilla per 100 g flour. Cream butter and sugar. Sift flour with baking powder. Add eggs, putting in 1 Tbsp of the flour per egg. Beat. Add vanilla. Add sifted flour/b.p. Do not beat too much. Put buttered, floured tin. [For best results put a square of baking paper on the bottom.] Put in oven at 180  C (350 F). Done between half an hour and forty-five minutes depending on size. [Check with fork.] It will be flatter than an American/Canadian cake. Cool. Cover with jam, cream, butter icing. Eat. Repeat. 

Normally you make two at once and stick them together with whipped cream and/or jam in the middle, but if as slim American guest drops in without warning and you have only two eggs, you just make one and cover it with buttercream icing [soft butter, half box of icing sugar, smidge flavouring].)

So far seems to be impossible to make a cake without (A) sugar and (B) flour. I have made gluten-free cakes with great success, but a cake innocent of sugar, honey and all those frightening substitutes from Argentinan bark, etc. is hard to imagine. The only hope are the fruits The Blood Sugar Diet seems to like, i.e. blueberries, strawberries, apples and pears. Can you powder apples? I bet Heston Blumenthal knows how.

Meanwhile, I can think about this all day, which no doubt is an indictment of myself and my food-obsessed culture. When I announced on Facebook that I was going on a sugar-free, gluten-free, anti-simple carb diet, there were a flurry of comments from a wide assortment of Facebook friends, including one I was sure would drop me when I linked to the Eucharistic miracle in Legnica. He immediately gave me a recipe for cauliflower rice. 

My mother, the annual post-Christmas dieter, remarked that it sounded worse than her tomato-open faced sandwich diet, which I can well imagine as the slice of bread under her tomato is most of her post-breakfast calorie intake. However, even at 800 calories a day I shall be eating more food than my mother does. For lunch I had half a cup of Umbrian lentils and a strip of streaky bacon. That was a wide strip, so I am guessing it was 90 calories whereas the lentils were 116 plus 119 max for the adhering olive oil (goodness), if a whole tablespoon adhered. So that's 325 calories. This morning I had 158 calories of oatmeal porridge and about 45 calories of blueberries, so that's 203. Goodness me, not a lot left for supper. Oh well. Time for a green tea. 


  1. I thought 800 calories a day was a starvation diet...

    I already eat the way this diet recommends, but there is no way I could do my gym work on 800 a day.

    P.S. Do British men get fat on cake? Or is it more the booze?

  2. I don't have gym work, so I think I'll be okay. I'm okay so far. I am eating 800 calories of very filling stuff. Oatmeal porridge, lentils and avocado are very filling. I always thought filling=high calorie, but I was wrong.

  3. Porridge from non-instant oats is really filling for sure. I eat that every day for breakfast (usually at about 6.30) and I don't feel hungry again until about noon.

  4. I think you'd find that going up to 900 calories a day - allowing 300 per meal - would work just as well and leave you more room for dinner. If you keep the carbs low enough you'll find that you're less hungry. One can - ahem - buy keto sticks at the drugstore to check if one is burning fat. No I won't explain that here...

    I don't know about other kinds of cake, but there are recipes for flourless chocolate cake, and I have made these successfully using Splenda (sucralose), which is one of the more benign sugar substitutes. You can also look into German tortes, which replace some or all of the flour in cake with ground nuts, usually almonds.

    Alias Clio

  5. I have some wheat-free recipes, but sugar-free is a challenge. I think it's going to be strawberries with yogurt for a while. Meanwhile, this dinner after 8 thing really has to stop.

  6. Well, if you need a treat some time soon, you might try this one; I've had good luck with it:

    I'm afraid the measurements are in cups etc. rather than weight, but I assume you still have such equipment somewhere, or you can check for equivalent measurements online.


  7. Don't know if this fits the bill as it has maple syrup but everyone at my daughters first birthday party enjoyed it!

  8. Thank you Clio and Anamaria! I will have a look.