Tag Archives: dieting

Food Intolerance discovery: Part 2

I’d carried out a food intolerance test (see part 1) and I was determined to try and avoid the foods flagged as me being intolerant to for the next 3 to 6 months. How hard could it be?

The biggest kick for me was the cow’s milk. It’s in everything!!

However, I’d already reduced my cows milk intake, after realising how horrific the cow milking industry is and my fiance had found a great substitute coconut based milk called Koko. Oddly, this consists mainly of water and grape juice, but has enough coconut in it to taste like a skimmed cows milk with a hint of coconut!

I’d initially found it a bit thin on it’s own, but mixing half half with cow’s milk had been a great compromise, and I’d been drinking my homemade lattes like this for months already. But could I go 100% Koko? Some people would already argue I was already 100% Koko… but that’s another story ūüôā

The short answer is yes – I didn’t like it so much at first but quickly got used to it. I did look at other options; I wanted to avoid soya milk as soya bean had been flagged up as a borderline intolerant food and my fiance’s test had flagged it a definite no no for her – plus I hated the taste! Rice milk was an option for me but not her; but I didn’t like the flavour either.

But what about cheese?

We visited a local health store and checked out their vegan cheeses. Most are made with soya, so no good – but we found a coconut milk based one that’s pretty damn good! It doesn’t melt so well, but we can live with it for a few months. We also found some gorgeous coconut milk based yogurts; the downside with those is that there were bloody expensive!

Eggs though – how the hell to replace those?

Well, in baking, you can – by creating ‘chia eggs’. You take a tablespoon of chia seeds, grind them a little to crack the shells, add 3 tablespoons of water, and put in the fridge for 15 minutes.

What comes out is a gloopy gel – which seems to work as a perfect egg replacement in baking! Well, in everything I’ve made so far anyway, including a gorgeous buckwheat flour (more on buckwheat later) based ginger cake.

But you can’t exactly serve ‘chia egg’ ‘sunny side up’ or as an¬†omelette.

So I’m missing eggs from that side… but I will survive for a few months.

Next to address was wheat.

Not a problem really. I don’t eat bread; see my other posts (life changing bread and keeping fit: the early days). I don’t eat breakfast cereals these days. Gluten isn’t an issue, and nor are oats, the main ingredient of our life changing bread, which isn’t really a bread in the old fashioned sense and contains no wheat.

Except… flour. Most flour is wheat based. That means no croissants or pastries. Now that¬†i sa little distressing! However, these types of ‘naughty’ foods are only an occasional treat anyway, and I figured I could avoid them for three months or so.

Peas and beans I could cope without, and I’ve never been so bothered about raspberries. The three nuts flagged though were a disappointment – the ‘red’ entries, cashews and almonds, were major ingredients in my daily ‘life changing bread’. However, peanuts – the nut that most people have an issue with – was in my ‘green’ list. So, I’ve substituted cashews and almonds in my recipe for red skinned peanuts – and fortunately it works well.

The most serious blow to my happiness though was the indicated intolerance to brewer’s yeast.

Beer and cider contain a lot of this. Definite no nos.

However, to my horror, I discovered that it’s also used in red wine (as well as white and rose).

At this stage I seriously thought ‘sod this‘ and just stick to my usual diet. How could I live without red wine?

Actually, it being late spring at this point, I was drinking less red wine and more refreshing, cooling drinks. Surely I could replace red wine through the summer with some refreshing cocktails?

A new cocktail shaker and a re-stocked liquor cupboard has indeed confirmed that.

Cocktails!
Cocktails!

Actually, it’s debatable whether drinking wine would be an issue with a ‘mild’ brewers yeast intolerance. If I had an actual allergy, even the smallest amount could be an issue, but that’s not the case. The amount of yeast left in a commercial bottle wine will be minute; home brewed wine might be a different matter though.

And some lager is potentially okay due to the filtering process – some lagers are triple filtered.

However, my new found cocktail making skills were keeping me and the fiance happily satiated for the time being.

She decided not to start her diet yet, due to the sheer volume of foods flagged as high intolerance – it will be much harder for her; as a vegetarian she’s¬†also limited. Without being able to eat soya, beans and eggs either and¬†ensuring she gets sufficient protein could be an issue. Chickpeas are a good source, but although they weren’t flagged as an intolerance on either of our tests, we do often feel bloated after having them – and we can’t live on just chickpeas!

However, I was able to cope reasonably well, and was keen to try the experiment. I’d got by the milk issue, but I was missing eggs – especially my staple omelette when I worked from home two days a week and at weekends. What could I eat to fill me up?

I’d mistakenly confused wheat and durum wheat at this stage – so I thought I couldn’t eat pasta or noodles (it turns out I can, as long as they’re not egg noodles). However, a visit to the local health shop found both buckwheat pasta and buckwheat noodles! The former are ok; a tad bland and almost chewy for my liking. The noodles however, I found excellent – buckwheat has a slightly nutty flavour; with some green pesto mixed in they were gorgeous! Unfortunately, they are significantly more expensive than normal noodles though.

I figured I could make a few things myself, using buckwheat flour (also from the health shop) as a substitute for wheat flour. It’s naturally gluten free, so my fiance could also enjoy it. Buckwheat isn’t a wheat anyway – it’s from the beetroot family!

My first experiment was to make ginger biscuits. I replaced eggs for

Buckwheat flour gingerbread biscuits
Buckwheat flour & stevia gingerbread biscuits

the ‘chia eggs’, and made it a little healthier by replacing half the sugar with stevia, agave syrup and honey for golden syrup, and coconut oil in place of butter. My first batch wasn’t bad – a little dry and crumbly. My second was much better; and I will attempt to make a third soon now I’ve discovered a few things about the way the ingredients work together.

As my fiance could no longer enjoy our ‘life changing bread’ – not just because of the gluten in the oat (you can get gluten free oats) but also because of the linseeds and sunflower seeds which were also flagged on her intolerance test – I decided to try and make some ‘normal’ bread but replacing flour with buckwheat.

Most of the recipes I found combined buckwheat flour with rice flour (no good for the fiance) or other gluten containing flours, or flours I’d never heard of, yet alone knew where to source. But then I found a good one that looked adaptable that used buckwheat groats. I didn’t have these, just the flour, so I had to make some estimates on ingredients proportions.

It didn’t work out so well – I ended up with a very heavy and dense loaf.

The next time I actually sourced some buckwheat groats and made it

buckwheat bread
Buckwheat bread

as per the recipe; it came out much better but to be honest I didn’t enjoy it. The buckwheat groats tasted ‘greasy’ somehow to me. I then recalled eating buckwheat in ‘groat’ form previously and not being a huge fan. Yet as a flour it had worked well in the ginger biscuits – where else could I try it?

I experimented further.

My most successful creation was buckwheat tortilla wraps. These are beautiful! They’re thicker than normal tortillas as the chia egg doesn’t ‘flatten’ so much like eggs do, but they taste great.

We also made some pizzas (with coconut milk based cheese). We went for thin, crispy bases. My fiance loved the crispiness but I found it a little too crispy and prefer a chewier dough – still, my daughter enjoyed the mess of making the dough and it was quite a satisfying meal!

My work colleagues had noticed me eating ‘life changing bread’ as well as my fibre drink (see A dieting aid that works) and we spoke about my experiments. He was eating¬†some Jamaican ginger cake. My urge to eat some was overwhelming… I resisted, and instead the infamous words of Barney Stinson (of How I Met Your Mother) echoed though my head: “Challenge accepted“!

The next day I made buckwheat flour based gingerbread cake!

I found three normal gingerbread cake recipes and combined them. Working out the ‘wet’ ingredients and how much sweetness I needed was the tricky bit. I was replacing eggs with the chai eggs; that was fine. One of the recipes was a little healthier and used applesauce in place of so much sugar or molasses (black treacle). Another used golden syrup. I had no treacle or golden syrup, so I opted for a little brown sugar, half the white sugar of those recipes and a dash of stevia to sweeten, apple sauce, honey and agave syrup.

It worked beautifully!

Buckwheat flour gingerbread cake
Buckwheat flour gingerbread cake

Actually it was almost too sweet and too sticky – if such a thing could be said of gingerbread cake!

My fiance absolutely loved it (and has requested I make some this weekend for her to take to friends in Poland she’s visiting) and my work colleague decided it was better than the store bought one – success!

But it still wasn’t exactly healthy; I think I could half the sugar (and up the stevia a little) and agave syrup content and it would still be moist and sweet enough, and be a bit more healthy.

Even with lots of sugar though it’s still far healthier than a traditional gingerbread cake – one of the nice things about buckwheat flour is that it’s a low GI food – that is, it has a low glycemic index. According to some theories (see my blog, Montignac diet: I don’t do diets!), consuming foods with a high GI (such as normal wheat flour) with sugar/fat is far worse for weight gain then combining sugar/fat with low GI carbohydrates. Buckwheat flour also benefits from having a relatively high protein content too. Win win!

Buckwheat flour isn’t the answer to everything though – despite it being incredibly useful. It doesn’t work so well on it’s own in bread, as I’d found. I did some research and found that you need to combine different gluten free flours when baking, as they all have different properties, and you need to somehow replace the effects that gluten would normally create. Buckwheat is quite heavy and nutty too – Sorghum flour is apparently closer to wheat flour, and produces much lighter and fluffier results.

It doesn’t have quite as much protein as buckwheat though, and is apparently harder to digest.

Neither have any starch – something that is required to bond ingredients and help with raising of breads. The usual solutions are to mix in some corn flour or potato starch – but both of these are on our ‘to avoid’ lists. It looks like Tapioca flour (Tapioca starch is the same thing) might be a good solution.

Buckwheat flour also isn’t great as a thickening agent – I made a buckwheat flour bechamel sauce (with Koko coconut based milk of course) last week for a cauliflower and broccoli bake. It tasted great but took ages to thicken. Apparently arrowroot flour is a good thickener.

Another trip to our local health store is in order!

Before I’ve had chance to visit though, I fancied making a moussaka, and this time I combined buckwheat flour with some ground chickpeas – basically gram flour! That worked much better and thickened up nicely.

Seven or eight¬†weeks into the diet now… I will continue to experiment and will post a new blog with any interesting recipes (I want to try and make a gluten free baklava!) I find and will also post after the 3-6 months is up with the results.

A dieting aid that works? Part 3

By using a fibre drink supplement that my girfriend had found in Poland, a slimming aid made from natural ingredients (see part 1 of the story here), I had managed to get back to my ‘best’ weight of 74kg – and I’d been able to half my gym visits.

I was no longer struggling with hunger.

I then also tried the Daniel Fast (see my Daniel Fast blog here) for four days and I lost a couple of kilograms. I’d actually crept back up to around 75/76kg at that stage after a holiday and over indulging somewhat on the local food.

Still, I’d dropped below the unbeatable 74kg and managed 73.5kg!

I’m 36 now. I don’t think I’ve been that weight since I was 18.

And the side effect the fibre drink has had on me is that my stomach seems to have shrank.

Meaning I’m just not as hungry as I was before. Even without taking the drink!

Previously, I’d wake up, and my stomach would growl at me even whilst I was taking my morning toilet visit. I’d be in a rush to get dressed and downstairs to make my breakfast.

Even a reasonable sized breakfast would only fill me for a couple of hours, three at the most. I’d have to eat every two to three hours throughout the whole day. If I didn’t, and I ignored the stomach rumbles for longer than half an hour, I’d get stomach ache that could last for days.

I now wake up in the morning and I’m not hungry for 45 mins to an hour, sometimes longer.

I can have a cup of tea or coffee and last another hour before I want any food.

Before this, I was hungry immediately upon waking, and had to eat. Tea or coffee wouldn’t help.

Now I can go for 2 hours without food and just having one drink.

And food fills me for longer now. When experimenting with food combinations with the Montignac diet (see my post on the Montignac method), I found a 3 egg omelette with a small amount of cheese (one babybell) would last me 3 hours.

Now my stomach has shrank, it keeps me going for 4 hours.

One day I realised it had been 5 hours since I’d ate!

Ok, some days I just have ‘hungry days’ and seem to need more. But in general, I’m just not as hungry, and the food fills me for much longer.

When hunger does strike, it’s less aggressive. I can ignore it for longer and it doesn’t hurt so much.

I’m not having a fibre drink¬†every day. And often I’ll only have one or two to help pad out a long day. Now I’m back at the office with a long commute and don’t have the same kitchen facilities as home, I’m having two or three of them to help me out.

I’m not having a breakfast cereal at all now. I’ll get up, get ready, drink a coffee on the way to work (I pre make a shot in my espresso machine the night before, then add cold milk in the morning), have a fibre drink¬†when I get there (approx 2 hours after waking) and a banana or other snack an hour or so later, and that’s my breakfast done – another fibre drink¬†around midday¬†sees me through to a lunch at 1:30pm. One day I was exceptionally busy and didn’t notice the time nor feel hungry so was able to skip that dose¬†and just have my lunchtime egg salad.

So I could slip a breakfast cereal back into my diet and maybe only have 1 fibre drink¬†a day, or none – but it’s convenient this way as I can set off on my commute ASAP and beat the rush hour traffic.

Also having less carbs helps with the weight loss.

Within a couple of weeks of the new job and eating in this pattern, with another fibre drink¬†or small snack (a slice of life changing bread – will have to write a post about that; it’s a healthy bread equivalent my girlfriend makes made purely from oats, seeds, nuts, and a little oil & honey to hold it all together – beautiful) when I get home from work followed by an evening meal such as salmon with a side salad, I was down to 71.6kg¬†(158lb; 11 stones 4 pounds).

That’s 2.5kg (5lbs) less than when I was hitting the gym 6-8 times a week.

The last time I went to the gym?

12 days before.

The week before that I’d been twice. The week before may have been 3 times… but I’d been away to Ibiza for 4 days before that and only a week later had a long weekend in Poland for a wedding. So I’d not been eating so well and the gym was required to burn some excess calories off.

Now though it seems I don’t even need to go to the gym, and I’ve hit my lowest weight ever.

And I feel great!!

BTW I don’t advocate not¬†going to the gym – we all need exercise. I just haven’t had the time recently. I’m still making sure I walk as much as I can and on holiday did plenty of swimming.

6 weeks into the job & new routine and exercising mildly twice a week, I’ve hit the all time low of 70.3kg (155lb; 11 stones 2 pounds).

So… where can I buy this wonderful fibre drink¬†I hear you ask?

Well – I’m afraid it’s not on sale yet, at least not here in the UK. And it’s only on limited sale in Poland too, as a new product its only online at this stage and not in the pharmacies, although hopefully it will be in the near future; most people in Poland buy their supplements from pharmacies – look down any road in a Polish city and you’ll see two or three of them!

Due to this, they only have limited sales at the moment, which means that they’ve not been able to bring down the price yet, so it’s a not cheap at around ¬£80 a month – although personally I think it’s certainly been worth it.

UPDATE: I now have an update (1st July 2015; original post written October 2014)! An equivalent product called GGA Fibre Pro Supplement, which I have been using for at least the last 6 months with the same results, will be on the market this week! And it will be almost half the price of the Polish equivalent. Please watch this space for more info, or like my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/myastoquiz to keep updated, or drop an email to skrylsolutions@gmail.com for more info.

UPDATED JULY 2015:
GGA Fibre Pro is now available here!

I just want to point out again that I am not a nutritionist, a dietician or a doctor. I’m a computer scientist! So this is just my take on things and it’s worked well for me. When dieting you should always seek professional help if in doubt.

A dieting aid that actually works?? Part 1

I like to think of myself as an “optimistic realist”.

I try to never be pessimistic, but I am skeptical, especially when it comes to ‘dieting aids’. You can do all the research you like online about a diet but you’ll never know if it really works for you unless you try it yourself. And unfortunately, many online diets are just marketing scams. Many dieting products are unnatural and full of chemicals.

The product I tried though is a little different.

This is a natural product that is currently only marketed in Poland (my girlfriend’s home and somewhere we regularly visit), however, an equivalent should be coming to the UK soon.

In the UK, our small talk is about the weather.

In Poland, the small talk is about your health.

Supplements are big business in Poland.

The¬†new supplement we found is a little unique –¬†it’s based on natural ingredients and intends to fill you up longer whilst aiding weight loss.

The product consists of a powder that you add to water and drink. It’s fibre based, mainly consisting of apples and glucomannan (Wiki article on Glucomannan). The idea is that this helps fill you up, yet contains no fat, minimal carbohydrates (fibres – which are not absorbed by the body) and only four calories per drink.

 

The idea is that you take 3 servings each day, between meals. The drink fills you up so you eat less.

Having struggled all my life to keep myself full, yet limit the amount I ate to prevent my weight increasing, and wanting to avoid all the unnatural, chemical based ‘meal supplement’ shakes out there, this sounded like a great idea.

I gave it a go.

Previously, I’d wake up, and be instantly hungry.

And as I’ve mentioned in some of my other posts, if I’m hungry, I have¬†to eat.

And soon.

If I don’t, I get a nasty stomach ache that can last for days.

So, on the first day of using the new product I woke up, went to the toilet, and my stomach rumbled his usual morning greeting.

FEED ME FEED ME FEED ME

Ok, Mr Stomach. Let’s get some breakfast.

I had my usual portion of 3 weetabixes (or is that weetabixi?) with a small topping of blueberries, sunflower and chia seeds (which are supposedly filling but they haven’t worked particularly well for me) and semi skinned milk, and a cup of tea with a dash of milk.

This normally fills me up for 2.5 to 3 hours – i.e. I’m hungry way¬†before lunch and I have to find something suitable to keep me going.

Sure enough, two and a half hours later, the air around me is disturbed by a deep low grumble.

I managed to ignore it for 10 minutes but then the grumbling returned in force.

Let’s give this fibre drink¬†a go.

I mixed the powder with some hot water and shook away.

It didn’t mix very well. But it’s not supposed to. The makers wanted to keep it as natural as possible, so there’s no fancy dissolving agents in there. Using hot water helps it to dissolve better.

If you give it a good shake and drink it immediately, it’s dissolves reasonably well, with only a small amount of powder left at the bottom.

It tastes quite pleasant – it has a vanilla and apple flavour.

I headed back to the PC to check my emails.

Just under 30 minutes later my stomach growled at me.

Ok, it hadn’t lasted long, but it had given me a 30 minute respite. I grabbed a banana.

These normally fill me for 30-45 minutes, an hour at the most.

1.5 hours later I suddenly realised I wasn’t hungry.

Well, I hadn’t been until I thought about it, then boom: RUMBLE RUMBLE RUMBLE.

Ok ok Mr Stomach, I’ll feed you. It’s lunchtime anyway now.

So I get ready to have my ‘lunch’ – a chicken salad.

I say lunch because I normally have two.

A chicken salad will only fill me up for two hours. About the same as wrap, which is what I used to eat in place of a less healthy sandwich – modern bread is terrible for you (another post coming up on that!). Then I realised how much fat and unnecessary carbs there were in a wrap and as I’m merely eating at my computer desk at work or home, the convenience factor of a hand held wrap verses a knife and fork requiring salad isn’t significant. The salad is healthier and keeps me going for the same amount of time, as the tortilla wrap is replaced by more chicken (filling protein) and tomatoes and greens.

Note that a sandwich would also only fill me for two hours anyway, so it’s not like the healthier option filled me up for any less amount of time.

So usually I’d be hungry around 11, 11:30 and have a salad. Before I got hungry again I’d hit the gym at about 1, and the work out would distract me from the hunger until I got back around 2 and then I could eat a second lunch – another chicken salad, a wrap, or perhaps a ‘prawn cocktail’ – my healthier version, made with low fat yoghurt, lemon juice, chilli powder and chopped cucumbers. Very tasty.

Yet it’s more like 12:30, 1ish now – I’ve lasted about 90 minutes longer. That might not sound like a massive difference, but I’ve only had one dose of the product¬†so far, and I can have two more today.

So instead of having my salad, I take another fibre drink.

This time it takes about an hour until I’m hungry. I have my chicken salad, expecting it to fill me for the usual 2 hours.

It fills me for 3.

Awesome!

So it’s almost 5pm now, and I’ve eaten significantly less than I normally do. I’ve only had one chicken salad.

I decide to have some scrambled eggs, thinking that will last me nicely until around 7pm when I can have my evening meal.

It lasts me until about 7:30pm, and then I realise I can have my third dose.

Down the hatch it goes and I don’t need my evening meal until 8:30pm.

I have a salmon fillet with fried asparagus and a handful of fresh cherry tomatoes. Lovely.

Oh, and a glass of red wine, of course. It would be rude not to!

I normally struggle 2 or 3 hours after my evening meal and get peckish before bed. I end up nibbling on some nuts, or worse, cheese, washed down with – you guessed it – more wine.

But I’ve eaten later, and I’m remaining full for longer.

I eat nothing more before going to bed.

So let’s recap.

Normally I would have eaten:

7:45 Breakfast cereal
10:45 Banana
11:30 Chicken salad
14:00 Chicken salad
16:00 Scrambled eggs
18:00 Evening meal
21:30 Nuts/cheese/snack

Today I’d eaten:

7:45 Breakfast cereal
11:15 Banana
13:45 Chicken salad
16:45 Scrambled eggs
20:30 Evening meal

With the 3 fibre drinks in the day, but remember they have no fat or carbs – just fibre.

I’d managed to cut out a chicken salad – i.e. one small meal normally lasting 2 hours – and the naughty evening nibbles.

In the course of one day, that’s not a huge difference.

But over several weeks… there’s quite an impact.

And things got even better; see my next post coming up soon!!

Now available: A Dieting Aid That Works: Part 2

I just want to point out again that I am not a nutritionist, a dietician or a doctor. I’m a computer scientist! So this is just my take on things and it’s worked well for me. When dieting you should always seek professional help if in doubt.