Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Back To The Stone Age

My eating habits have always been pretty standard. They are not to everyone's tastes (see what I did there) but I've had a similar eating pattern for a few years now and it works for me. I've hovered around the same weight since my early twenties (8,10 lbs) and every single week without fail I promise to lose that 3 lbs and make 8,7 my new NORMAL weight. I never do. I touch on it when I  have been really good, then I celebrate by eating as much pastry as I can until normal 8,10 lbs service has been resumed.

I don't eat breakfast. Apart from the odd weekend brunch or when I was pregnant, I never really have and despite it being hammered into us constantly that it's 'the most important meal of the day', I don't feel I am any unhealthier for it. Two or three days a week I only eat one meal per day (dinner). I used to keep this fact pretty quiet until good old Michael Mosley started heralding the credits of the fast diet and then suddenly everyone started jumping on my bandwagon.

Still bitter.

If I do eat lunch during the week it's usually something light like soup or rice cakes with hoummous. This allows for an evening tipple or some chocolate after dinner without too much guilt. I usually have a glass (sometimes two) of red a night but I tend to keep a few week nights booze free if I know I am going to be out on the lash that week. Dinner is always home cooked and usually pretty healthy but I don't shy away from carbs and eat lots of brown rice & noodles. This way of eating & drinking works for me. I've managed to maintain my weight for many years now and as long as I don't overdo the burgers or pasta dishes (which I usually reserve for the weekends) then I feel pretty good both physically and mentally. Plus I find it easy to deprive myself during the day if it means I can enjoy that glass of wine or a slightly larger portion at dinner time.

However this summer saw a few stressful life events like a break-up and a house move and my healthy diet went right out the window. For about two months dinner was usually a large bag of Walkers Extra Crunchy and half a bottle of wine. I was stressed out, low, tired as hell and my usual cooking mojo had taken an abrupt absence. As a result I felt terrible. I was lethargic, my skin was rubbish and I was constantly bloated. I'm a big believer that what we eat and drink has a massive effect on our mental state and I know that my diet was making me feel even worse about an already bad situation. So I went on holiday for 2 weeks. Ate and drank like a fish and then I came home and decided to start the Paleo diet.

There were two reasons for this. The first was that it promoted putting all natural things into your body and this could only ever have a fantastic effect on one's health, right? The second was that I had a good friend who absolutely swore blind by the diet and you could see yourself how much it worked for her. 

Unfortunately the results were not great and after a week I came off it.

I thought cutting out dairy would be the hardest bit but I actually found that ok (although I did miss cheese). I took to drinking soya milk like a duck to water and drink it regularly myself now. The cutting out carbs was probably the hardest bit for me. You are allowed sweet potato and given that I eat so lightly during the day, I always opted to include it in my evening meal. As you can imagine I would quite happily never lay eyes on a another sweet potato in my life. As a result of cutting out all the main carbs I started having to eat during the day much more than I was used to. I was eating breakfast, lunch and dinner and filling up on good proteins like avocado, eggs and nuts. All things that are very good for you and all things that I eat a lot of anyway. But this diet just made me SO HUNGRY. I know that is the opposite effect for most people when they eat so much protein. But I was suffering from hunger pang induced insomnia so bad that I was getting up at 3am to cook myself eggs. 

Every single night.

I found myself nearly passing out in Sainsbury's one afternoon and this was only day 4. I also went on a night out on the Friday night and got so drunk I am surprised I managed to get myself home. Even my friend commented to me that she couldn't believe how drunk I seemed despite the fact we had matched each other drink for drink. The next morning was one of the worst hangovers I have ever experienced in my life. I spent most of the morning with my head down the toilet and when I did manage to move from one room to the other, I did so hunched over and swinging my arms. Ironically very much like a caveman might walk.

Don't get me wrong. Given that when I started the diet this cave woman could usually be spotted around 6pm in a Tesco metro in her work shirt and heels foraging amongst the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Kettle Chips, anything was going to be an improvement. But Paleo for me was a non-starter. I did take some things away from it though. Before starting the diet I had gradually started sneaking more bread and pasta into my diet. Two things that while I love, and often indulge in from time to time, don't do me any favours when it comes to getting into my skinny jeans. Cutting them out completely when I started Paleo means that I have remembered just how rubbish they make me feel and they are back being to being reserved to occasional weekend treats. I have discovered a love of soya milk and as one twitter user put it I am now that Starbucks 'Soya Wanker'. Drinking cow's breast milk always did freak me out a little anyway if I am honest.

I am not dissing this diet. It seems to work wonders for many people and all the ideas behind it make sense. It just didn't work for me.

Things have settled down so much for me anyway that I am back to my usual eating habits regardless. I'm my usual weight and I'm learning more and more that stupid diets just aren't for me. 

My own 'diet' works for me because I have been studying it and adjusting it for my whole adult life. And it's not really a diet, it's just how I live my life.

So I am off to make a spag bol for dinner. 

With extra parmesan.

And I will get those 3 lbs off before Christmas ;)

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