The Peril of #Plateau

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I’m stuck.  Again. I’ve been up and down the same three pounds for 10 weeks. I made it to 200 pounds, hit my 70-pound loss marker (a very big deal for me), squeezed out another pound, drifted back over 200 pounds, then back down, back up again, sticky for a week, then down again, dancing around and about the same three frustrating pounds.  And it’s gone on for… weeks.

I decided I might try and go back to the way I was eating this time last year, when I was comfortably losing between one and two pounds a week. I hadn’t revisited my food diary for this far back before. So what did I expect to find?

To be frank, I thought I’d be reminded that I was eating a bit less back then than I am today; I thought I’d be forced to face an uncomfortable truth. I expected to be jogged into some kind of ‘fair enough, I get it’ response; I thought I’d be forced to admit that as time has gone on, I’d let things slide a bit.

But I hadn’t.  Back then, so it seems, I was if anything eating more – and a little more indulgently –  than I am today.

I was still making my breakfast Bircher muesli with sweetened yoghurt (horrors!). I had a couple of favourite pre-made salads and even one or two less processed ready-meals (I hadn’t yet got properly to grips with a change in my cooking habits). I was snacking on cashew nuts and rice crackers, toasting soy and linseed bread. I was tucking into mixed Chinese starters and crispy duck pancakes. I was treating myself to cheeses and pates on a regular basis. I was getting away with all of this, and still losing a comfy pound or more every single week.

So I already eat less. I eat better too; more ingredients, fewer processed items, almost no bread, rice, pasta or potato, no added sugar.  But somewhere in there, if I’m to chip away at the remaining 30 pounds or so, adjustments must be made.

When you think about it, it makes sense. I’m hauling around the equivalent of two well-packed medium-sized holiday suitcases LESS than I was this time last year.  Logically, it’s taking me less energy to simply… exist; and when it comes to any level of physical activity, I’m expending less energy there too.

When I think back to last year, a simple 40/50-minute stroll was quite an exertion, resulting in me returning home with rather more than a gentle glow about me.  I would need to go out on any kind of walk in exercise clothes, and with time for a shower once I got home. My heart-rate from such a walk would be high, my sweat-glands over-active, my muscles twitching from the efforts. Today, a walk is… just a walk; executed in any old clothes, at any old time of the day, and without the need to carry a pocket full of kitchen towel for brow-mopping purposes. The first time I realised I needed to put a jacket ON to go on a walk (rather than strip down to a sleeveless vest, even on the chilliest day), was a joy.

So… two things:

  1. I burn less energy simply existing, so I do need to consume a little less fuel
  2. Without going all gym-bunny (never gonna happen) I need to up the ante a little in the exercise stakes. Walking still, but faster; maybe try that ‘Couch to 5k’ App I’ve been threatening to deploy.

Nothing stays the same. You have to adapt, modify, re-calibrate. Whilst, like last time, it’s been frustrating, getting plateaued, I’m also pleased, as it’s telling me positive things about the impact my lifestyle changes have had on my health and fitness over the last year and more – and that’s all good.

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Dietary Heresy – or New Wisdom? #functionalmedicine #sugar #fat #carbs #cholesterol

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A quickie post today: I thought I’d share a few of the websites and influences that I’ve found helpful in shaping my attitude to food and health in recent months.  One or two of the understandings I’ve arrived at, having read some of the material available on the internet and in books, are beginning to catch a wave – it seems they’re not such crazy notions after all.

Sugar – what people generally call either free sugar or simply added sugar (ie, not the sugar found naturally in whole fruits, for example) – is an unhealthy and unnecessary dietary additive and the root cause of the so-called Obesity Epidemic. It may be tasty, but it’s addictive, it brings long-term harm and lifelong weight challenges, and we don’t need it.

Simple Carbohydrates – I’m thinking pasta, white rice, bread – should not be the foundation stones of the average meal. They convert to sugars far too quickly and mess with the body’s insulin regulating mechanisms. Particularly if you’re overweight and want to lose excess pounds, or you have type two diabetes, or are pre-diabetic, ditch those simple carbohydrates.

Fat – is not the enemy. In many, many forms, fat is more friend than foe, and should be an essential component within a healthy diet. The food industry has got rich persuading us that low fat products, processed and stuffed with additives and sugar, are healthy. This is more than misleading.  Dairy fats have much to commend them, and so-called healthy fats in nuts, oily fish, olive oil and avocados, for example, are an absolute must.

Cholesterol – which Big Pharma has gone into overdrive to persuade us is killing us – is natural and normal and for the vast majority of us, does not need to be controlled by drugs.  Statins are a con being perpetrated against vast populations of healthy people, for profit.

Great reference sources and health heroes

Action on Sugar http://www.actiononsugar.org  is a group of specialists concerned with sugar and its effects on health. It is working to reach a consensus with the food industry and Government over the harmful effects of a high sugar diet, and bring about a reduction in the amount of sugar in processed foods.  Spearheading Action on Sugar is one of my dietary heroes, Cardiologist, Dr Aseem Malhotra http://doctoraseem.com.

Diet Doctor https://www.dietdoctor.com seeks to promote natural health. Focused on LCHF (Low Carb High/Healthy Fat) approach, the website is an enormous practical and inspirational resource, particularly for those battling weight issues and diabetes. It promotes what began as a revolutionary approach a few years ago (carbohydrate reduction, the happy consumption of fats), but which is gaining considerable credibility in the medical community and beyond.

Dr Mark Hyman http://drhyman.com is a practicing physician, prolific author and advocate of the power of Functional Medicine. It seeks to identify and address the root causes of disease, and views the body as one integrated system, not a collection of independent organs divided up by medical specialties. It treats the whole system, not just the symptoms. Dr Hyman has written extensively on issues around fat and sugar.

Dr Malcom Kendrick https://drmalcolmkendrick.org Practicing GP and author of ‘The Great Cholesterol Con’, Dr Malcolm Kendrick throws light on the lies, damned lies and statistics that surround the demonization of cholesterol, the pushing of statins to almost anyone over the age of 50, and the ways we are made to fear eating just about any foodstuff you can contemplate. Great blog and real insights into how statistics can misdirect, and the difference between correlation and causation.

Insightful videos, podcasts and films

The Big Fat Fix

http://www.thebigfatfix.com

Addresses the issue of how recommended but misguided dietary advice over the last 50 years has spawned the obesity and diabetes epidemics.  It looks at the role of healthy eating – based around what’s become known as the Mediterranean Diet – in treating and preventing these and other diseases.

That Sugar Film

http://thatsugarfilm.com

In this revealing film, Damon Gameau embarks on a unique experiment to document the effects of a high sugar diet on a healthy body, consuming only foods that are commonly perceived as ‘healthy’. The results are shocking.

The Truth about Sugar (BBC Documentary)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4LzSH9qU_Q

Even-handed documentary on how much sugar there is coursing through our everyday foods.

Dr Mark Hyman on Eating Fat to Get Healthy – with Lewis Howes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgWBKJsJtk0

An interview podcast, Dr Mark Hyman talks passionately about why eating fat is the key to weight loss.

That’s by no means an exhaustive list, and remember, I’m hardly the expert. But I personally have found each one of these websites (and their wealth of resources and links), health heroes and videos an excellent source of information and insight.  They have shaped my new eating and lifestyle habits, helped me towards a weight-loss of over 70 pounds in the last 13 months, and helped me to become healthier, happier and more energetic than I’ve been in almost two decades.

The BLECH Factor #fat #fryup

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Or… when fatty food doesn’t feel like it used to

I don’t eat out these days as often as I used to, which was at least once a week in the good old days of indulgence. I haven’t ordered a takeaway (also at least a weekly occurrence) or been to a fast food outlet (ditto) for over a year either.

When I do go, my strategy for restaurants nowadays is to take a look at their menu online beforehand and decide ahead of time, what is the best (ie, healthiest) choice to make. That way, when I sit down to eat, I don’t taunt my taste-buds. I know what I want, so I don’t tempt myself the way I used to do, into picking the dish, or dishes, which most excited my imagination. I’m not saying that wholefood salad and grilled salmon doesn’t excite my taste-buds, but… but… when hungry, and faced with acres of scrummy-yumscious descriptions designed to make you drool, it’s highly likely I would choose something altogether more… decadent.

However… on Friday evening, I had failed to prepare.  And by the time my friend and I got to the restaurant, I was also more than peckish.  And very susceptible to those drooliscious descriptives.

It was a seafood restaurant, so the potential for disaster wasn’t enormous.  It wasn’t a total tumbling off-the-wagon either, and certainly not a culinary crisis of the kind I’ve been so familiar with in the past. It was a short-lived, giddy overbalancing; but one from which I’ve learned an interesting lesson.

I began my meal with one single oyster. How about that for self-control, even when it wasn’t needed?  I just wanted the aroma of the sea, and a solitary slippy little creature dressed with a squish of lemon did the job. Happy days.

But then the proper starter.  And… oh… when you haven’t had a Chinese meal in over a year, and your seafood restaurant menu tantalises you with their version of Salt and Pepper Squid… Just the once, I thought.  Just the once, wouldn’t it be lovely?

Well, it was ok – not lovely – but ok.

Actually, it was greasy. It was properly yukky yuk-yuk greasy. 

If I’m honest it was just like Salt and Pepper Squid always is. But to me, whose palette rarely experiences deep fried anything these days, it was swimming in the stuff.  Ikky and claggy, it clung to my mouth.  It wouldn’t wash away – a glass of cold water served to set the grease, rather like when you leave a frying pan full of fat to go eat your breakfast and when you come back, it’s all congealed. It wasn’t pleasant.

But I pressed on.

Next came the main course. I know… I should have chosen a nice piece of poached white fish, grilled salmon maybe. But I was choosing with my taste-buds. I picked mussels, poached in cream, white wine and garlic. You see what I mean? This wasn’t a total crisis.  Mussels is not a bad choice, as such.  But I’ll admit, the creamy poaching liquor was less than prudent.  Oh, and I mustn’t forget the tiny tin bucket of French fries.  I probably ate about half of these microscopic and not in any way delicious little sticks of fry-up.  I eat almost no potato these days, so I was going carefully – at least I thought I was. But I can’t remember the last time I ate chips in any form – and their greasy coating settled all too quickly, like a second skin on the layer of greasy batter residue already lining my mouth.

To be fair, the mussels were delicious and I slurped about half the creamy, white winey jus.  I slurped until I began to feel it might be wise to stop.  My stomach, you see, had already begun to protest the slippery onslaught of batter, chip fat and lastly, that admittedly tasty slew of unctuous yummyliscious cream.

You can see I’m torn by this experience, can’t you? Good in parts, bad in parts. But with a claggy, fatty yuk yuk payload.

I had a great night out – I enjoyed it, I really did. The ambience, the company, the laugh we had, all perfect. But as I lay awake for almost the whole night, taking too many trips to the bathroom, feeling the silt swill around my stomach and occasionally wash high up my oesophagus (I haven’t had acid reflux in ages), I did indeed wonder, was it worth it?

I’m glad I had this experience though, as it’s shown me how far I’ve come since the days when I could happily put down platters of deep fried squid, fried pancake rolls, fried crispy seaweed, sweet and sour chicken fried in batter, fried rice and any amount of sweet, sticky sauces. It’s reminded me why I no longer buy and eat crisps (USA: potato chips) in epic volumes. It’s shown me how my sense of taste has adjusted, how I no longer crave the mouthfeel of those fattier, richer foods.

I do eat fat, just not deep-fry fat. I celebrate healthy fats like olive oil, oily fish, avocado and brazil nuts. I enjoy full fat yogurt, too much cheese, a little butter here and there. I love chicken skin and salmon skin (weird, I know). I leave the fat on meats likes steak or chops when I grill them and I relish the taste of it. I’m not against fat.

But I have left behind the deep-fry fatty mouthfeel sensations.

And yes, that would be yet another payoff of my new healthier lifestyle.

I’ve been D-Toxd! #healthy #retreat #juiced

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I was away last week – did you miss me? I went to Spain, to a beautiful healthy retreat up in the hills over the town of Calpe.  Check out D-Toxd here.

D-Toxd is a very level-headed Body|Mind|Life experience; not spiritual, but very contemplative, and very real; a well thought-out and balanced blend of juicing, healthy meals, walking, exercise classes, yoga, creativity time, motivational talks, mindset sessions and practical advice. Nobody corrals you into participation – you do only what you want to do.  I spent plenty of time reading by the pool, swimming and even catching up on sleep.  I’m not a big fan of yoga so I dropped out of a few sessions. I also… um… bypassed… the available colonic treatment, but I found time for a blissful Ayurvedic Massage.

Drinking my greens
Drinking my greens

Juiced!

Ah, the juicy detox experience. I’ve juiced intensively before, courtesy of a Jason Vale retreat in Turkey several years ago, so I knew what to expect of the detox element and I knew I wouldn’t be hungry.  Three days of juicing is a wonderful way to flush out – as it were – your internals. And it clears your head as much as it evacuates your intestines.  On day two I suffered an hour or so of caffeine withdrawal headache, which is quite normal apparently; but that was the worst of it. We were treated to a rainbow of juices, and always a choice between a sweeter/fruitier option and a less sweet version with the emphasis on the vegetables. Every vegetable imaginable, and plenty of fruit, found its way into five juices a day, along with ginger, milled flaxseed, bee pollen, fresh mint and more. My body rejoiced!

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A rainbow of nourishment

After three days of wonderful, vibrant juices, and three days of colourful and delicious vegetarian meals, the holiday rounded off with a celebratory fiesta meal and both the first meat, and the first (and only) alcohol of the week.  A grand time was enjoyed by all.

The Social Introvert (with the sensitive skin) goes Walkabout

An aside: I’m not generally shy, and I don’t lack confidence; I interact perfectly comfortably with friends and strangers alike. But I learned long ago that I’m some kind of introvert – I restore my energy by withdrawing, and being by myself. I only became aware more recently that there’s a name for people like me – we are social introverts. That means that whilst we’re cool with social situations and groups, we gain our energy from within ourselves. We love people – but we need solitude too.

Yours truly doing the early-morning no make-up no hairdryer wonky baseball cap selfie thing
Yours truly, doing the early-morning no make-up no hairdryer wonky baseball cap solo selfie thing

A week in the company of a group of like-minded people is very enjoyable on many levels, but it can be a little challenging for the social introvert. As the days pass, I seem to notice noise and chatter, more and more – it’s like the volume gets turned up in my head. Sooner or later when this happens, I have to listen to my protesting psyche and seek solitude.

And something else… The combination of 32-degree scorch, sun, sea-breeze, sweat and suntan oil on the mid-morning walks had been a little harsh on my English Rose complexion.  By midweek my face was puckered, sensitive and overheating.

So it was, for those two reasons, that for the last couple of days, I pulled out of the big walks and instead trundled off for a stroll (along the only path I could be certain I could follow there and back) at 07:30 in the morning, just as the sun began to peek over the hilltops.  This served both my tortured flesh and my solitude-seeking introvert.

Vineyards and olive groves in the early morning
Vineyards and olive groves in the early morning
My early morning walk, the retreat and pink-tinged mountains behind
The retreat at sunrise,  pink-tinged mountains behind
I've always wanted longer legs
I’ve always wanted longer legs

Those quiet early-morning strolls in the cool air, accompanied by nothing more than birdsong and the hum of waking insects, were blissful.

Refresh | Recharge | Refocus

I’d booked D-Toxd to coincide with the first anniversary of my not-so-new healthy lifestyle, and I envisaged it being of value in refocusing me and strengthening my resolve as I continued into my second weight-loss year.  It did the job magnificently.

It served to remind me why I had embarked on this path at the end of August 2015, and how far I’ve already come. It helped to jog me out of a few lazy habits which have crept in over recent weeks, and energise my attitude.  And (woo hoo!) the juices, salads and regular exercise nudged my system into releasing an additional four pounds – taking me over my next big milestone (70 pounds / 5 stone and 25% of my starting weight – gone).

All in all, it was exactly what I needed.

The D-Toxd Philosophy
The D-Toxd Manifesto

Gareth, Jeroen, Louise and the rest of the D-Toxd team go out of their way to deliver a multi-dimensional health and vitality retreat experience, with care and sensitivity.  Their philosophy is worth sharing – see the poster which adorns their wall.  They walk their talk, and D-Toxd has bucket-loads of integrity and passion as a result.  I could not recommend it any more highly.

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Just another sublime sunrise

The capricious workings of my internal combustion engine

cereal-805436_1920I’m fascinated – in a morbid kind of way – by the mysterious workings of my body.

Beneath my slowly diminishing folds of flesh, there is a processing plant of epic proportions, and a workforce of a billion trillion friendly bacteria, spinning nutritional gold out of the straw I consume; masticating, dissolving, digesting, extracting, absorbing, burning and eliminating.  Miles of colonic conveyor belt progress the rawest of materials along their 18-24-hour journey, mopping up the toxins and separating out the nutrients, transforming them into the fuel of my very existence.

What fascinates me more than anything about those mysterious workings is how the heck my body somehow manages randomly to increase and decrease weight on a daily basis, in a way which bears little to no relevance to the actual weight or volume of food I’ve consumed or (to put it delicately) the waste I have eliminated.

For me, this translates into moments of quite insane frustration, as I jump on the scales each morning.  Thank goodness for the weekly average weight my Fitbit shows me. If not for this, I would wonder if I were losing weight at all.  That weekly average tells me I am, even though, from one day to the next, my weight sometimes goes up by almost two pounds! How does that happen?

I look back at the food I consumed on one such frustrating day (the last time I fell foul of my capricious colon, a few days ago) – a breakfast of muesli with fruit and nuts, and a dollop of yoghurt, a lunchtime snack-on-the-run of a few slivers of chorizo and cheese; in the early evening, a salad (a mass of green stuff and seeds, no weighty dressing) topped with oven-baked salmon. Oh, and my one indulgence, a single handful of salted peanuts – I know, that was a bit naughty. Apart from that, there was water (I’m trying hard – a never-ending battle – to drink more water) and black coffee. That’s the sum of it.

So how come the magnificent processing plant beneath my skin managed to turn that into almost two pounds of added weight in the space of 24 hours?

I’m confounded, briefly, but whilst frustrated, I cannot afford to let it get me down. I weigh myself every day, and I’ve seen this happen time and time again. I know I’ll bounce back and on another day, perhaps one when I’ve consumed my own body-weight in soft fruit, my fickle internal factory will have somehow converted that into vapour, and I’ll see a pound or two loss that I don’t believe I deserve.

This is, however, why I think it’s worth weighing yourself every day. You get used to the unpredictable performance of your personal processing plant. You learn not to get too excited when you see an inexplicably large drop, nor too miserable when you’re dealt a mysterious body mass blow. And there’s always tomorrow, just a day a-weigh.

But focus your attention on that weekly average, because that’s where all becomes clear. And as long as that line on the graph is heading steadily downwards, you know you’re getting there.

Back on the Wagon

farm-464190_1920Yesterday’s dietary fail was the first real blip in eight months of new healthy lifestyle habits. I didn’t begin all at once with the full dumpster of dietary deprivations, I let myself gently into these new ways. But within the first two months I’d eliminated all the bad stuff, even the few things I was holding on to with excuses like, ‘oh, a little bit won’t hurt’… and ‘I’m giving up so much, surely I can get away with this’… Out had gone all the sugar (last to go was my favourite Rachel’s Organic Coconut yoghurt, which, I have to admit now, was very, very sweet). And then the biggie for me, out went the crisps (aka potato chips) and other processed salty snacks too (with the exception of my go-to lightweight wasabi flavoured seaweed snack, an ultra-low-calorie port in the snacking storm).

Savouries were actually harder for me to reject than the sugary treats, but I got there – and the challenge for me now is never to buy, never to have crisps/chips or similar munchies in the house. These days, I limit my salty snacks to tiny handfuls if they’re served up at friends’ houses, for example. But I never buy bags of crisps/chips for home any more.

But when Ocado, my supermarket delivery service gave me a full-sized 140g bag of ‘healthy’ organic chia seed corn chips as a sample, it was more than my money-sensible head would allow, to simply throw them away. I’ve thrown away odd chocolate samples before, and even ice cream samples, but ‘healthy’ organic corn chips?  They went into the cupboard for some future occasion involving guests.  They stayed there for two months. Untouched. Until my weakened willpower overwhelmed me, yesterday afternoon.

But that was yesterday – you felt my pain. And I resolved to make amends to my body with a fast-day. Are you interested in how I got on?

piglet-520883_1280Sunday 17:00

The humous is finished and the rest of the corn chips are in the bin, mulched into slurry. I feel piggish and pig-sick. But my fast-day penance – 24 hours at least – begins here.

Sunday 19:30

I let my angst spill across the screen and I upload my post.

Sunday 22:00

It’s been lovely, all evening, receiving such positive and encouraging comments on my blog post. It has softened the pain of my dietary fail.

Sunday 22:30

I will walk tomorrow morning, whatever the weather.  I set out my exercise clothes before I go to bed, making them impossible for me to ignore when I get up.

Sunday 23:00

Those corn chips have settled like a slab of concrete in my gut. It’s more than six hours since I consumed them, but for the first time in months, I have the sense of food in my oesophagus, a precursor to acid reflux. I take a couple of Gaviscon tablets to hold it back.

fire-227291_1920Monday 01:30

I’m awake and uncomfortable with heartburn, another sensation I haven’t had in months and months. I deserve this.

Monday 04:00

Awake again, restless. This time the discomfort is more emotional.

Monday 05:30

That’s it. It seems I’m to get no more sleep.

Monday 06:00

Might as well get up then. I weigh myself – no change since yesterday, the humous hasn’t headed straight for my hips then. That’s a plus at least. I dress and get out of the house.  Audiobook on iPhone. It’s chilly but not bitter outside, and nice to be out before the rush hour traffic has cranked up. I walk for 50 minutes, pushing myself to go left instead of right at the decision point, choosing my ‘big’ morning circuit over the quickie version.

Monday 07:15

Back home. Feeling good now, refreshed and virtuous. I know… it’s hardly a marathon, but it’s the right start to the day.

2015-09-10 09.50.07 copyMonday 08:00

I replace my usual breakfast Bircher muesli mix with a glass of warm water, lemon and ginger. I’ve found a way to prepare it using my Nutribullet, that means I no longer get icky bits of lemon pip and shreds of ginger in my teeth. I whizz it up until it’s frothy, then bung it in the microwave for a few seconds. Tolerable, it awards me a few more smug points.  Black coffee follows – that’s not a trial, as it’s my all-day drink of choice anyway.

Monday 08:30

Instead of munching my breakfast in front of the TV, I head straight for my office (that’s my spare bedroom, by the way), and make a start on this post. Then work – I’m still very busy this week, so good to get my head down and not think about if I’ll get to feeling hungry later.

Monday 10:00

Worth a mention, I’m even feeling (a bit) better about my brutal haircut today, having made judicious use of ‘product’ and straighteners. (Perry – thanks for reminding me of the proper way to use sticky stuff on my shorn locks – it worked a lot better this morning.)

Monday 12:00

A paper-shuffling desk morning, and I’m on my third cup of coffee, but no hunger pangs yet, and no inclination to break my 24-hour fast.  I’m feeling good; this is a head-clearing and re-setting of my commitment.

Monday 13:00

Gah! A neighbour has one of those horrible, relentlessly noisy power-wash services spraying (totally unnecessarily IMHO) their already spotless driveway. I’m all for taking pride in one’s property, but this grinding torture looks set to continue for the next couple of hours. It’s eating my brain cells and disrupting my hitherto calm and serene state of food-fast. My head hurts.

Monday 14:00

Feeling hungry now, but that’s okay. I think I want to enjoy the feeling of hunger, of readiness to eat – because I’ve decided I will eat after 17:00 today, once I’ve completed 24 hours. It means I’ve begun to look forward to what I might prepare for this evening’s meal.

Monday 15:00

Perhaps three hours to go until I finish work and eat. I’m thinking maybe grilled asparagus with poached eggs and a sprinkle of parmesan.  Not sure yet, but hunger is sharpening my need for more than fuel. I want a plate of food that looks appetising too.  And it must differentiate significantly from yesterday’s bag of corn chips and hummus scooped from the tub.

Screenshot 2016-04-18 08.46.27 copyMonday 16:00

I’ve had five cups of coffee today, which I confess is two more than I usually enjoy and one more than I have on an occasional caffeine-heavy day. I know I should have drunk more plain water, but there it is. I like coffee.   I’m buzzing a bit, but it’s not so gross. Water from now on, or I will suffer for it tonight.

Monday 17:00

That’s it – 24 hours – and I actually feel really, really good. I’ve always wondered if I could manage a fast-day and whilst my 24-hours has straddled two days, it is still 24 hours with no food, and it wasn’t even a little bit difficult. So I’ve learnt something about myself, and that’s a positive. I feel I’ve undone the damage from yesterday too, which is, after all, what this was about.

Monday 18:00

24+1 and I’m signing off. It’s time for dinner!

A Super-charged ‘Bircher’ Breakfast Recipe

2016-01-13 08.26.24I don’t plan to post recipes all the time, as there are plenty of sites doing this. But I do have one of my own that I particularly enjoy, which I’d like to share. For anyone looking for a really filling, satisfying, no-added-sugar breakfast, I’d recommend this. It’s basically an over-excited Bircher Muesli. It takes about 10 minutes to put together (I do it in the evening to give the oats a chance to soften) and it’s good for 4 breakfast servings – 1 person for 4 days or 2 people for 2 days.  I don’t count calories as a rule, but I’ve included a rough guide to the calories here as some people like the measure. You may want to do your own calculation.

Ingredients (4 servings):

  • 100g plain porridge oats (376 cal)
  • 260g Fage Total Greek Yoghurt, full fat (260 cal)
  • 60g mixed nuts or brazil nuts/almonds/walnuts (approx 372 cal)
  • 20 raspberries (20 cal)
  • 20 white grapes, sliced into 2/3 pieces or 1 green apple, grated (60 calories)
  • 20g milled organic flaxseed, for flavour and all sorts of goodness (113 calories)
  • Almond Milk (or whole milk) to moisten (100 calories – total guestimate, I’m afraid)

1301 calories total divided by 4 servings: Approximately 325 calories per serving

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, adding enough milk to create a soft consistency (I use home-made almond milk, but whole milk or shop bought almond milk would work just as well). You can use any fruit you like, but I prefer raspberries, which break up through the mix and give it a bit of a raspberry ripple effect. Apples make it more tart and I like this, but grapes are a bit more convenient, and add little pops of natural sweetness, so that’s why they get my vote.  I’ve used blueberries and blackberries too.

You can vary to your taste of course. Add more fruit without overburdening the calorie content, or reduce the nut or yoghurt content to slim down. It’s up to you. Then seal the bowl and store in the fridge overnight, giving time for the oats and nuts to soften and the flavours to blend.

When serving, the mixture will have become more ‘sticky’, so add a little more milk or almond milk to loosen, then garnish with a couple of raspberries, just because it looks nice – and we eat with our eyes.

Bircher purists would probably baulk at the thought of grapes – grapes! – in their muesli, but this is my recipe, so there. They would also want to drizzle honey or agave syrup over everything, which is currently against my dietary religion. The grapes add the minuscule amount of sweetening this recipe needs anyway.

I find this breakfast will see me at least until lunchtime and often well beyond into the afternoon if I happen to be too busy to stop for lunch, or out-and-about and unable to find something healthy. The Fage Greek yoghurt is full-fat but natural/unflavoured. It’s thick and creamy, packed with good bacteria and NO sugar, which is simultaneously satisfying for those of us who like our food to be unctuous, and exciting for the sugar avoiders like me.

If you try it, I’d love to know what you think.