Sunday, 22 June 2014

Figuring a lot of stuff out.

I haven't written for ages. I hadn't realised it was quite that long. I haven't defected, I have just been busy trying to figure some stuff out.

In a way it would be easier to explain all this in a sort of spider diagram than as a written account, because it all links together really, but hey ho, I'll do my best.

I'm still sugar free, for over 4 months now. I am now eating 2 or 3 portions of fresh fruit a day, usually berries or grapefruit. My body seems to have got over its readjustment problems though and now I have no sugar headaches but neither am I struggling to manage how much sweet stuff I need or want.

I am still struggling with lunch. I teach at a vegetarian school, and for someone like me who predominantly fuels on protein, I find I have to rely very heavily on cheese. Now, don't get me wrong - I love cheese. Perhaps a little too much - but it is annoying to have to have it when you don't want it and then stop yourself from having it when you do. But not for much longer. 4 weeks and counting.

The problem with the cheese is that it naturally increases the fat intake. Now, I appreciate that the IQS programme does purport swapping sugars for fats so that you can get off the sugar without feeling denied or not satiated, but it doesn't fit right with me to be eating cheese more than say once every day or two. A bit of cheese as a mainstay, and occasional full on cheese treat seems more realistic, although I have to confess that this logic does stem from 10 years dabbling with "normal" diets where low fat is the way forwards.

I am hoping that once I leave the vege school, and can have a tuna salad, chicken, or a boiled egg, and therefore don't have to reach for the cheese quite so frequently, it can slip back into the role it used to play, much like chocolate, wine and chippy chips - a nice treat every now and then, to be enjoyed for its flavours but not for its nutrition.

See, that spider diagram thing is happening again. I am now trying to write about wine and chocolate at the same time. I'll come back to both.

Then there is the issue of bread... eating bread doesn't seem to make sense in the context of sugar free, but I do like bread, and my husband certainly does (Mr Baker - must be genetic!), plus I don't want this to be about denial and restriction. Instead it must be a diet of abundant nutrition. To which end I generally buy multigrain wholemeal, although I was slightly unhinged when I realised a forgotten loaf left in the cupboard had not developed any mould in 2 weeks. That can't be right!

Sarah Wilson suggests sourdough, as it is better for the digestive system than the shop bought ones with the fast acting yeasts. I set about trying to start my own sourdough starter, but 3 weeks in, I have a jar of flour and water goop which whilst emitting a few yeasty belches, is not the frothing doubling-in-a-day wonder yeast that Hugh Fernley Whittingstall manages to produce. I had a go at baking a loaf, in spite of the seeming lack of action, and whilst it certainly looked the part, it was so solid it could be marketed as a green alternative to concrete. I am still nurturing the yeasty beastie, so will keep you posted.

I am surprised to say that I don't really miss chocolate. I thought I would, but actually it hasn't featured much on my radar. I haven't eaten any chocolate, and I have been around it. it seems that the reprogramming has had the effect I hoped for, that being that it has dropped out of my conscious. On the couple of occasions that I have fancied chocolate, I have either had a spoonful of cocoa in some Greek yogurt, or have mixed a teaspoon of cocoa with a teaspoon of coconut oil. The coconut oil works really well - the darkness of the cocoa is preserved, and the oil makes for quite a convincing smooth chocolate. Any more than a teaspoon and you would be scunnered, because it is so very rich, and the coconut oil quashes your hunger completely so there's no woofing down a whole bar, like frequently happened in the past if I was left unsupervised with a big bar of Dairy Milk.

And now to wine. This a source of concern. I don't want to sound like one of those women who I encountered at that fateful slimming club, who were desperately trying to negotiate a diet that would make them lose weight whilst still being full all the time, and drinking a bottle of wine a day, but I confess I was relieved when Sarah's book said that a bit of red wine a few days a week is ok on the plan. The issue arises though when a combination of factors all combine in that glass.

There is the "I deserve a treat" factor - and in a world without Tobelerones and ice-creams, the treat of wine is somewhat amplified, as it is a treat that is allowed. Then there is the "crap day at work" factor, which would perhaps lead most of us to have more days on than less. The "sunny summer evenings" factor fits very snugly with the "social yes-man" factor - I love a good drink and laugh with friends, but it is easy with wine to rack up quite a few glasses over a long evening. In the past I would have opted for a fruity cider over ice, about 1/3 as strong, and just simply lasts longer. And finally the "empty calories" factor - sugar aside, even a few glasses a week does contain a lot of calories, and calories that don't bring anything useful with them.

Weirdly, and loosely related, I now longer get hangovers.

I'm not sure how to play it. stress wise, I do think that leaving my crazy job will help, although then I will have more sunny summer evenings through the school holiday, so mustn't get complacent. Ultimately, there is a balance to be struck between enjoyed a few glasses but finding treats elsewhere, and remembering the mantra to eat dense, and a bit like the fruit, and the cheese, only have it at levels that mean you identify the novelty and the special occasion. Sarah manages to have a couple of glasses most days with dinner, but I think I am going to try a couple of weeks off, then maybe a glass or two once or twice a week.

In the first IQS book, there wasn't much instruction on exercise, aside from "do some you like". The new book has a whole section on Ayurveda. I am so clearly a Vata - flighty, stressy, enthusiastic and lively, and prefer calm sports such as yoga and swimming. In fact the only Vata characteristics I don't have are being tall and thin! I drive myself mad with pressure to go to the gym and use the machines for a hour. Often when I go, I do actually enjoy it and find the hour whizzes by, but more often than not, I talk myself out of going. I feel quite rejuvenated figuring this out, and have taken myself back to the swimming pool. The funny thing is, my husband is a perfect Kapha, basically the opposite from me. He is grounded and solid, enjoys stamina activities like long walks and could sleep for England. Sarah writes that a Vata and a Kapha can balance each other out, with Kapha bringing Vata back down to earth, and Vata giving Kapha a boost of energy. Opposites do attract!

This leads me to the crunch really, the weight issue. I had hoped for weight loss, but apart from a couple of kilos in the first week or two I haven't lost much at all. I have lost centimetres, but not enough to drop a dress size and get back in my pile of maƱana clothes.

I keep thinking it has to happen sooner or later, because I do not snack, I do not eat sugar or sweets, I have never really been a crisp person, and I don't drink pop, so the magic must therefore be in the balance of increasing exercise and decreasing unneeded calories. I hope so.

Its strange because I don't feel like I am on a diet, so perhaps it isn't wrong not actually to be losing weight. I had envisaged a slow recalibrating rather than a dramatic 3 lb a week drop, but it would be reassuring to see it going in the right direction. I am hoping that the combination of reducing empty calories, continuing to enjoy exercise, swapping salty fatty proteins for leaner choices when I don't have to be vege at school, and hopefully getting this long awaited sourdough off the ground will all help.

So that's it - that's what I have been thinking about for the last 6 weeks. I promise I wont leave it so long next time.

* I should just clarify that you can go sugar free and be veggie / vegan, and that I'm sure it's a perfectly healthy option for many, but it just doesn't work for me. It's a bit like diesel vs unleaded - merits to both but make use you use the right one for your engine!

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