Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Fighting Weight

As a part time teacher, I guard against being a bad influence on my pupils. This sense of caution was reinforced for me when one of them came to class with her hair braided up just like mine. ("Look!") Well, that's okay, but I would be abjectly horrified if any of my pupils talked about food and dieting as much as I do.  I have explained that dieting stunts teenage brains, but occasionally I still let it slip that I am anti-sugar or not eating bread. Over-emphasis on food, dieting and body-size is a North American epidemic, and I do not want to pass on the germs to naturally slim, healthy, physically active Scottish lassies.

(She collapses forward and bangs her had on the coffee table.)

Okay, that's done. Now let's talk about my super-brilliant Low Blood Sugar Diet. I promised an overweight male reader  I would post about it, so here we go.

Right. So I followed Dr. Michael Mosley's Low Blood Sugar Diet more or less strictly for 8 weeks, and then, as it was Good Friday, I baked up some delicious full-wheat hot cross buns from scratch and ate two or three. I ate another two on Holy Saturday although for supper I had the ever-tasty Red Pepper and Squash Soup from my best-friend-for-eight-weeks, the Low Blood Sugar Diet Cookbook. So, incidentally, did everyone else at the table. There are a number of garnish options for this soup, and on this occasion I chopped up some of the mountain cheese Polish Pretend Daughter brought from Poland and fried it like halloumi. It melted much faster than halloumi, but it was still delicious, adding much-needed texture and salt.

On Easter Day I had that splendid breakfast, including cake and a potato pancake or two, and I ate a magnificent dinner, including cake and trifle, but a minimum of roast potatoes. On Easter Monday I tried to keep bread and sugar to a minimum while otherwise scarfing what I was served. By evening my resolve had collapsed, and I ate the sugared wedding almonds. Next to dates stuffed with walnuts, I adore sugared wedding almonds.

Sugared wedding almonds are the official snack of marriage. They symbolize marriage because the sugar is sweet and the almond is wholesome but the almond skin is bitter. Sugared wedding almonds are a reminder that Marriage is Hard and has its bitter elements although, all-in-all, it is lovely and eventually your teeth fall out.

Actually, our teeth wouldn't fall out quite so much if our Elizabethan ancestors hadn't added sugar to our diet, but they did, so good-bye teeth. However, I believe you can preserve what teeth you have left by cutting out as much sugar as possible, plus visits to the dentist who beg you to floss.

Besides cutting out sugar and anything that swiftly turns to sugar in your blood--wheat flour, anything made from wheat flour, rice, alcohol, potatoes, oranges, dates (boo)--the Low Blood Sugar Diet discourages SNACKING. All my current diet gurus, including Toronto's Doctor "Obesity Code" Fung, hate snacking and love fasting between meals. Dr Fung also loves fasting between supper and lunch, which is not all that difficult, if you sit down to work with a big mug of coffee and forget all about eating until noon.

Some diet gurus think you should eat all your meals in eight hours, leaving your body 16 whole hours to recover. If you eat,brunch at 12 PM and finish supper at 8 PM, this is doable. When I finished eating my allotted 800 calories much before 8 PM, however, I went to bed feeling hungry.

It was possible to stick to 800 calories or thereabouts thanks to coffee, herbal tea, water and--especially--sparkling water. Sparking water is a profligate use of money--as drinking water is more-or-less free from the tap--but in our house it has replaced wine, which costs at least ten times as much. Because we derive a lot of water from our food, not eating food makes us dehydrated and headachey. Also, most of the recipes I tried in The Low Blood Sugar Diet Cookbook were delicious.

Underscore most. There were some failures, most notably the almond flour pancakes I tried to make on Pancake Tuesday. Woe. Then there was the lackluster Chicken Korma, so inferior to my usual korma, which could have been easily adapted to my stringent regime. However, the "Thai Red Curry" was a hit, as were the "Thai Fish Cakes" until B.A.'s gag reflex decided fish sauce (i.e. fermented anchovy juice) is a kind of vinegar.

The "Guilt-free spaghetti" recipes were so good that eventually I bought my own spiralizer for the courgette (zucchini) "noodles". You really can trick yourself into thinking you are eating pasta when you eat a bowlful of "courgetti" with sauce.

"Fast off, fast on" is the usual advice about losing weight, but I have been weighing myself every morning since I ended my eight week regime, and I am still 15 lbs lighter than when I started. This is 10 lbs heavier than my "fighting weight" when I was a 20-something boxer, but I'm not complaining as I am not a 20-something boxer anymore.

The Low Blood Sugar Diet is predicated upon "lifestyle change", and my lifestyle changes include:

- drinking over a litre of water every day

- eating a lot more veg and berries

- not snacking (except on coffee, tea and water) unless in a social situation

- keeping the simple carbs to a minimum (so only small helpings of the ever-fattening potatoes)

- counting ye olde calories

- continuing to use the Low Blood Sugar Diet Cookbook

- avoiding sugar

Not snacking and avoiding sugar are difficult in social situations, as I reflected the day I was handed a piece of sugar-topped mazurek during a mid-afternoon visit. I took it with thanks and ate every delicious morsel. I don't think the odd lapse made to please a hostess is hurtful in the long run.

However, I am keeping the German and sugar-loving part of my ancestry in mind.  My father's Great-Aunt Tilly features hugely in family legend as, thanks to her addiction to soda pop, she weighed well over 300 lbs. I appreciate that my German ancestors and relations were good at making money, loved to cook and loved to eat, but some of them had a fatal tendency to run to fat. And, alas, none of my siblings are naturally twig-like in adult life, and we all have to fight against the inexorable creep of fatness.

By the way, I cannot emphasize enough how silly it is to think we will keel over and die if we do not eat 2000 calories a day. A woman my height and weight who sits at her job and takes only mild exercise should eat about 1500-1660 (and these 1500-1660 should be full of nutrients). Here is a handy calculator.  Oh, and this is where I should say I am not a medical doctor, am just stating my layman's opinion, and am no substitute for a proper medical adviser, etc.

Update: Another lifestyle change: daily weigh-in. I've heard that's important.

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