Friday, 8 November 2013

In which I get my groove back. Lightly grilled, with a side of steamed broccoli.

So I'm on the 5:2 diet.
I know. I KNOW! But why don't you try to:

a) stop smoking a pack a day and shortly after
b) marry an enthusiastic cook affected by portion size blindness, at a time in your life when
c) your metabolism has reached the menopause and next thing you know you've gone and
d)buggered your back so that for months all exercise is excruciatingly painful.

Why don't you go and do that before you roll your eyes at me and give me the 'fad diets' talk?  At least I'm not on on diet pills (they are bloody expensive and the side eff... anyway, they're bloody expensive).

Thoughts so far:

Not at hard as I thought. You are doing this literally one day at the time. Today you fast (that means 500 calories or less) but tomorrow you get to eat normally - you are not on a diet diet.

Increased energy (arguably a rather manic energy at times but that's my favourite type anyway). In my case that has lead to increased creativity - I write more, get some interesting ideas, make interesting connections on the fasting days. (I feel quite sluggish on normal days- so now there are only 5 sluggish days a week when it used to be...always).

As I have said before, I have always held onto the meringue-chomping feminist high ground that dieting or thinking about food is an obscene waste of time and energy, holding  women back from the serious business of running the world. 

I still hold that view but I'm a pragmatist - a pragmatist who was staring size 16 in the face. Mildly obsessing over food twice a week (you have to, like, weigh carrot sticks and everything) beats obsessing over food, then consuming it, then obsessing over the food you have just consumed seven days a week.

It's totally true what they say, that you weirdly do not overeat on normal days. If anything, sporadic famine reboots your appetite and re-calibrates your sense of how large a portion should be, including the whole important basic notion that two helpings are twice as calorific as one. Yes, you read that correctly. Even if you were not particularly enjoying it and were just spooning it in your face in a half-hearted way while watching TV.  Yep, turns out that's still calories going in- who knew, right? 

But if you spent yesterday in a state of acute watchfulness, aware that a small cup of coffee with a small spoon of Splenda is 2 cal and an avocado a whopping 90, today you'll find it harder to shovel stuff in quite as mindlessly even though it is a 'normal day'.

Ultimately I guess the trick is to realise how abnormal it is - on any given day- to gobble a whole bag of jelly babies in one sitting if one has not in fact just completed an ultra marathon. The body doesn't have a chance to cope with that amount of sugar - it's simply cruel and unfair to put it through it just to give your taste buds a 15 minute thrill.

Stuff to watch out for
As my new science crush, the gorgeous Prof Robert H.Lustig, Chair of Charm and Twinkling at the University of Loveliness would say, a calorie is not a calorie, or rather - a calorie from a sprout does not do the same things to your system as a calorie from refined sugar.

So all this feverish calorie counting (on two days a week, granted, not seven) ends up producing questionable lapses, or even mini-breaks, from reason. Like when, thrown by an unexpected social engagement on the evening a 'fasting' day you find yourself muttering "How many calories in a small glass of red? A hundred? Fine, I'll have four!" and misinterpreting the shock on your friend's face you explain : "Well, I have splurged the other 100 on 180 gr of broccoli at lunch, so shoot me!"

But on the whole, actually you drink less.

I suppose the only thing I can think of is sometimes, on a fasting day, when I lean in to kiss a friend goodbye I find myself thinking how totally appetising ear lobes look. Rosy, plump and yummy. Lightly grilled, with a side of steamed broccoli perhaps.

But as long as I don't bite that's not WEIRD weird, right?

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