Tag Archives: healthy eating

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 works? Part 2

I used the fibre drink dieting aid over the next few months (see part 1 of the story here).

I’ve never been a fan of dieting products. I’d rather eat everything in moderation and aim to eat healthily, and following a variant of the Montignac method seemed to be helping (see my post on the Montignac method), but I was still struggling to keep myself filled up between meals and shed those extra few pounds of fat.

My problem was that I kept getting hungry and needed to eat, else my stomach hurt!

This fibre drink sounded like a possible solution.

The idea behind¬†it¬†is that you drink a ‘natural’ (powder made from natural ingredients, primarily apple fibre) beverage that fills you up between meals.

And it seems to work!

By drinking a dose¬†between breakfast and lunch, another early afternoon and another before my evening meal, I’d managed to skip one small meal, plus was eating my evening meal later so wasn’t becoming peckish later and snacking before bed time.

Over the course of several weeks, this had a great impact.

The best weight I’d managed to achieve previously, over several years, was 74kg (163lb or 11 stones 9lbs). This was pretty good on the body mass index scale; a good weight for my height of 178cm (5 foot 10 inches).

To achieve this though, I was having to exercise hard.

Mondays I worked from home, and would do a 40 minute work out, consisting of 20 minutes of mat work (stretches, press up, push ups, crunches etc) and 20 minutes of mixed weights and bag work (I used to do Taekwondo, so kept up the practice with a large punch/kick bag in the garage).

Tuesdays would be the same.

Wednesday I would get up at 6am and drive the 2 hour journey to North Wales from the East Midlands. I would have a 45 minute work out at the gym, consisting of 15 mins mat work, 10 mins weights and 20 minutes cardio – treadmill, bike, cross trainer etc.

If I wasn’t feeling too knackered from the drive/days work, I’d go to the gym in the evening for another 45 mins – although the last 10 mins tended to be a dip in the jacuzzi or a steam in the sauna ūüôā

Thursday I would get up reasonably early as I would have gone to bed just after 10pm on the Weds, so I would have a 25 minute swim before work, the same 45 minute work out at the gym at lunchtime AND I’d also go to the gym in the evening again for a similar work out.

Friday I wanted to leave early for the 2 hour drive back to the East Midlands, so I’d only have 30 mins at the gym, concentrating on cardio usually.

If I had time on a Saturday I’d also slip in another home/garage work out.

That’s a pretty intense routine.

Admittedly, I didn’t stick to it 100% – some days working from home I’d need to use the lunchtime break to pop to the bank or perform some other job. Occasionally, Thursday nights I’d end up at the pub with my Welsh housemate (he wasn’t Welsh, but the house was, he was from New Zealand – I shared a house with him and another when working up there) instead of the gym.

But in general, I worked hard at it. And I was eating reasonably healthily; I wouldn’t eat burgers or pizzas (ok, the odd pizza – once a month?) and my beer intake was very low – although I did enjoy a few bottles of wine ūüôā

Gradually, over a couple of years, I got my weight from around 78/79kg to a steady 75 with the absolute peak being 74kg.

And my stomach wasn’t flat – I wasn’t fat as such, but I couldn’t shake off the wobbly layers of fat sitting on my stomach and sides.

I just couldn’t get any better than this… eating less, I was starving and unhappy. And I was pushing myself to the limits at the gym, and often strained a muscle – which then left me unable to exercise for a while, and my weight would climb again.

It was a constant battle, and I normally remained in the 76 to 78kg range. If I was ill or did a more serious injury, and couldn’t exercise for a few weeks, I’d climb up to 80kg. When I missed some exercise, went on holiday, over ate, then couldn’t exercise again due to other reasons, I hit 82kg (180lbs, 12 stone 12 pounds – more than a stone heavier than my best), and felt awful.

I felt heavy, and sweated more. It made me feel tired.

I ate as healthily as I could for a month and hit the gym hard and managed to get back to the ‘happy ground’ of 76-78kg.

Again, this wasn’t so bad. But I didn’t like that flab on my stomach, and I just felt much better and fitter when I was a few kilos lighter.

Just for the record – I’m not obsessed with weight. It can flicker 1 or 2kgs anyway from day to day; especially if your scales are as fickle as ours! But it gives you an overall idea and measurement, and I have rounded these to averages.

I just knew that I felt ‘good’ around 76kg but even better at 74kg.

It just wasn’t achievable on a permanent basis without exhausting myself.

Then I met my girlfriend. I was spending more and more time with her and not exercising enough… I worried my weight would start to climb again.

I exercised at every opportunity and kept a closer eye on my weight. Fortunately she is very into healthy eating and has provided my salvation!

This was through a combination of the Montignac diet (Montignac method) and later on, a Polish fibre drink we found.

Before I started using the fibre drink, I was hovering around the middleweight 76-78kg range; I was using the gym less but the Montignac method was enabling me to keep it from increasing.

So what happened to my weight after a few weeks of using the fibre drink product?

Down to 74kg with no effort.

Well, not no effort at all… but significantly less than before.

I’d been doing 6-8 workouts a week before to get to 74kg. Now I was doing 3 or 4.

And I was still being careful with what I ate – but I wasn’t making any additional effort.

I had simply reduced my intake, without being hungry.

I bust the 76kg barrier and hovered at 74kg and could even treat myself to the odd pizza!

Hooray!!

And things over the next few months got even better…

Part 3 available now: A Dieting Aid That Works: Part 3

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.

Daniel fasting diet part 2: Trying it for myself

I’d been very skeptical about the fasting diet my girlfriend had been trying.

She was trying a variation on the 2000 year old ‘Daniel fast’ and only allowed a limited amount of fruit and vegetables; no tea,¬†coffee, dairy, eggs, fish/meat, or alcohol.

Side effects were exhaustion and headaches.

Why bother?

Because it was an excellent way to detox, loose weight, and potentially ‘reboot’ or ‘reset’ the human bodies immune system.

And it had seemed to work well for her, improving her skin condition.

It’s not a convenient diet to do, depending on your work, life and social situation.

But I wasn’t working that week and after seeing her positive results figured that it was worth a shot.

One axiom in life I follow is that you should try anything once. You never know unless you try.

But…

How would I survive without my morning cuppa cha? (translation: cup of tea)

How would I cope with being hungry?

One problem I’ve suffered with pretty much all my life, or at least from my teenage years – I can’t remember much further back¬†than that – is that I’m very regularly hungry.

I’ve never been fat as such as it just makes me feel terrible; I’ve veered towards the overweight border a few times and felt so¬†bad I’ve quickly cut back on my eating or exercised more to get my weight under control. But I’ve struggled to keep ‘the perfect¬†weight’ without having to be very careful with what I eat and ensure I exercise regularly – mainly because I seem to have a¬†problem in filling myself up.

Up until recently, I’ve had to eat pretty much every 2 hours. Occasionally something would fill me up for 3; and yes, I could¬†stuff myself to last longer but then I would feel bloated and sleepy.

It’s not that I could ignore the hunger – a deep rumbling noise that could be heard by anyone in the near vicinity would vibrate¬†through my bowels.

And it would hurt.

If I did ignore it, it would go away. For 10-15 mins, a maximum of 30 mins.

But then it would return.

And this time it meant business.

It would really start to hurt, and I’d have to eat.

On the few occasions I’ve been caught short and was unable to eat, I’d be in pain for a while, and it would finally pass, but¬†then my stomach would be very displeased with me. When I’d finally come to eat something, it would feel like lead in my stomach.¬†I could then have stomach pains for the next few days.

Was something wrong with me?

My work colleague Dave would joke that I had worms and I was feeding them to keep them happy.

I knew he was joking, but I decided to do some research and even asked the doctor once.

It wasn’t that – it was just the way my stomach worked. I needed to eat regularly.

I’ve been assured that this is a healthy way of eating by my once nutritionist and fitness instructor brother.

But trying to get the balance right and eat healthily, in a work environment, or out and about, is tricky, and you end up having
unhealthy snacks.

I won’t go further into this now as I will cover it in my other posts. But recently I’d manage to ‘train my stomach’ to not have¬†to eat so often, via a combination of the Montignac method (see¬†Montignac Diet: Part 1 and Montignac Diet: Part 2) and using Slim XL (post/link coming soon).

Back to the Daniel Fast. I figured I’d give it a go.

Due to my recently improved diet and ability to last a bit longer between eating, I was no longer waking up starving. I was able to get up, refresh myself and dress and check my emails, before making myself a cup of hot lemon water.

Half an hour or so after this, i.e. about an hour after waking, I was starting to get hungry.

So I ate a bowl of tomatoes and onions with a dash of salt and black pepper.

Tasty, but I overdid the onions.

My stomach hurt.

It hurt for quite a while and I wasn’t too happy. I drank some more lemon juice.

Eventually my stomach started to settle. I couldn’t work out if I was hungry or it still hurt. But I concentrated on doing some¬†work on the computer and stopped thinking about it. I had an apple herbal tea that helped settle my stomach further.

I had an apple. It went down ok.

Then some of my girlfriends delicious lecho; basically a ratatouille Рi.e. a stew of onions, courgettes, tomatoes, peppers and aubergines with a bit of chilli powder and other herbs.

We’d also bought a juicer recently (see the posts Juicing: Part 1 and Juicing: Part 2) and I was drinking refreshing juicers such as¬†apple and cucumber, or tomato, carrot and basil.

I survived the day.

I didn’t even get a headache – just a dull ache early in the evening that lasted about half an hour.

I hadn’t struggled with being hungry.

I did feel absolutely bloody knackered.

I collapsed into bed and slept for about 12 hours.

I woke up feeling very refreshed the next day and got up and cracked on with a few jobs around the house.

For the first hour, I’d even forgot about drinking or eating, aside from a glass of water when I’d first woke up.

Then my stomach reminded me of his presence.

I had a lemon drink, and that kept me happy for an hour.

Then I had a bowl of tomatoes – with significantly less onion than last time. It was good.

I snacked on some carrots grated with apple.

I had a apple herbal tea.

I ate another bowl of lecho.

I snacked on some Polish fermented cabbage, a bit like sauerkraut.

I had more freshly juiced low sugar fruit and vegetables.

I didn’t worry about being too hungry; I was managing to fill myself up.

Apparently, when you are only eating food with low glycemic indexes (GI), you body thinks it’s fasting and goes into a different¬†mode. Allegedly it stops sending the “I’m hungry” message to your brain. If I’d added oil or anything with high calories or a¬†high GI value then my body would have stopped it’s process of burning away the bad cells – i.e. fat, damaged body cells, spots¬†and even moles.

You can get rid of moles with this diet?

Again, I become skeptical.

However there does seem to be research that suggests this works, and that you can cure all sorts of¬†body ailments. There’s even talk of restoring eyesight, healing scars, curing infertility, and dare I say it, healing cancer.

I quote again Dr Ewa Dabrowska from the Medical Academy in Gdansk (as in my first post):

“Contemporary civilization is associated with enormous changes in almost all areas of life, including in the field of human¬†nutrition. Natural Foods lost their biological value being replaced by processed food; refining deprived food of precious fiber,¬†several vitamins and micronutrients, while subjecting foods to high temperatures led to the destruction of enzymes and changes in¬†the spatial structure of proteins. The consequence of food processing was the emergence, on the unprecedented scale, of a number¬†of chronic ‚Äúcivilization” diseases of a degenerative character, such as -inflammation of atherosclerosis, and cancer. And yet 100¬†years ago, when food was natural, the main cause of death was infectious diseases such as influenza and tuberculosis, and not ‚Ästas it is today – heart attacks and cancer.

It is known that a man as a biological creature has remained unchanged over the centuries; the cells still have the same needs in
terms of nutrients, as thousands of years ago. If a departure from nature was the cause of civilization diseases, then natural¬†foods based on vegetables and fruits could be an example of causal treatment of these diseases.”

To do all of this though, you need to fast much longer.

I lasted 4 days – which wasn’t bad, considering I’d only meant to do 3 days.

The second day I’d been fine in terms of hunger, but had a swine of a headache for an hour in the evening.

The third day I’d been a lot hungrier, but just ate vast quantities of the delicious lecho stew. I’d been a bit tired later but¬†had no headache.

On the final day I felt absolutely fine and celebrated with a glass of wine in the evening that went absolutely straight to my head!

I’d have been tempted to try a fifth day but we were going away for a few days and it’s just not practical when you’re not at¬†home.

So would I do it again?

Did it cure any of my problems?

My girlfriend is going to do it on an ad-hoc basis. If she has a day where she has no customers or isn’t too busy, is at home and¬†it’s convenient, she will do the diet for 1 day. Maybe even 2 or 3, depending on how she feels.

There’s no harm in doing it, it seems to help her, she feels absolutely fine with it and it also helps with weight loss.

As I do an office job now, with a long commute, it’s not so practical for me to do. On Saturday afternoons I pick up my daughter¬†and look after her until Monday or Tuesday, and we’re are often out and about, and again, it’s simply not practical to do.

But on the occasional Saturday I’ll do it. Or on the occasional day when I can work from home.

Why not? I lost 2 or 3kg – that’s about 6lbs – in 3 or 4 days. And if I’m only doing the odd day here and there I won’t suffer¬†from any headaches or tiredness.

It didn’t cure my red nose and cheeks (possibly¬†Rosacea?) or my damaged tailbone. Nor my -8.5 eye prescription. But I didn’t
expect it to!

It seems to be helping my girlfriend with her skin condition though, so perhaps it could help you.

At the end of the day, people have been doing it for 2000 years, so why not give it a try?

More information can be found in the book Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast.

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 us. When dieting you should always seek professional help if in doubt.

Montignac Diet Part 2: What Can I Eat?

There’s a few variations on the Montignac method that have developed over the years.

This is our interpretation – and it seems to have worked, and allows us to eat tasty, healthy food, and loose weight. With this way of eating and a combination of Slim XL (a natural dietary aid which I will write a post on in the near future) I’ve easily lost 10kg (22lbs – about 1.5 stone) with much less exercise that I previously did.

Our understanding of the concept is this.

Don’t eat high GI carbs with fats, particularly saturated ones like butter and fried meat.
You can eat fats, but try and stick to things like olive oil and fish oil, and not at the same time as eating carbs.

I.e. wait approximately 2 hours between eating high GI carbs and eating fats, don’t eat them together.

Simple!

It throws the typical British meat and two veg meal system out of the window though. And even our favourite Indian adopted meal, the curry!

A typical dish eaten by the average European, or American, and in fact, many nationalities, would consist of something like meat, potatoes/rice/pasta/bread, and some other vegetable or fruit.

The problem with that is you’re combining the high GI ‘bad’ carbs (potatoes/rice/pasta/bread) with fat; especially if your ‘meat’ portion is a battered fish, a chicken kiev or BBQ chicken (with skin), a beef burger, a creamy lamb curry etc.

And often people will follow immediately with a sugary dessert.

Eating a lean portion of oven baked chicken breast with the ‘bad’ carbs and skipping any sauces or sides of butter will be fine – high GI carbs + no fats is not an issue – at least in terms of this diet; high GI carbs may still increase your blood sugar level so diabetics be careful! However, most people will opt to eat a baked chicken with it’s skin still on, or a greasy burger, or breadcrumb – or even worse – battered fish; all of which have a high fat content. High GI carbs + fats is bad, or so the Montignac theory goes.

Similarly, a fatty chicken or fatty creamy lamb curry isn’t so bad if you skip the potatoes or rice – fat + no GI carbs is fine.

Chips are the worst – potatoes have a very high GI and you’re absolutely soaking them in fat, and a saturated one at that!

But don’t panic – you can still eat tasty food, and still fill yourself up.

Instead of having steak, potatoes and tomatoes, why not have steak, a poached egg and tomatoes?

You’ve replaced the high GI offender with an egg, which is just fat and proteins.

And the egg should fill you up just as much as a few potatoes. Tomatoes have some carbs, but they have a low GI value.

Throughout this, I’ve neglected to mention proteins.

Let’s bring these fellas into the discussion.

For the sake of our argument and this method, let’s say that food basically consists of carbs, fats and/or proteins.

Protein performs many roles in the human body, including muscle repair and growth. Human hair is essentially used up protein.

The important factor here though is that protein fills you up.

That’s a very important factor when choosing any diet. If you feel hungry, you’re likely to snack, usually on whatever food you can get your hands on at the time – which tends not to be healthy food. Montignac was aware of this and is happy for you to eat between meals, as long as you’re still following the rules.

Getting plenty of protein in your day will fill you up for longer. If you’re full up for longer, you’re going to eat less in the day, which ultimately is going to help with weight loss.

Foods with high protein content include nuts, legumes (beans, lentils etc), fish, or one of my favourites, eggs.

But aren’t eggs bad for you??

There’s been many debates about eggs and cholesterol levels, but the evidence seems to show that eggs do not cause high cholesterol levels. The old rule of 3 eggs a week is out the window. 3 eggs a day is perfectly fine. There are plenty of athletes and body builders who eat several eggs every day and do not have any cholesterol issues.

Ok, fried eggs aren’t so good, as eggs contain a fair bit of fat anyway, and frying them in something like vegetable oil is a big no no. Poach your egg. Too fiddly? Ok, boil it. Scrambled eggs are great, especially with a dash of salt (not too much mind!) and black pepper.

If you eat 3 (non-fried) eggs a day and you’re not taking in significant fat elsewhere in the day then you’re eating a reasonable amount of fat (more on this later – don’t eat JUST fat!!).

What about calories?

Ok, this diet doesn’t really consider calories. It’s more concerned about your carb, fat and protein intake, and more importantly, the combinations in which they are eaten. But bear this in mind: the same amount of fat has more than twice as much calories as protein and carbs:

1 gram of protein or carbs – 4kcal
1 gram of fat – 9 kcal

I.e. if you’re trying to keep your calories down, keep the fats down!

Back to the allowed combinations. To summarise, possible options are:

High GI carbs + fat = bad
Low GI carbs + fat = ok
High GI carbs on their own = ok
Fats on their own = ok

(assuming you are eating the High GI carbs and fats separately with a gap of approximately 2 hours)

You can add proteins in to any of these, it doesn’t change the results:

High GI carbs + fat + protein = bad
Low GI carbs + fat + protein = ok
High GI carbs + protein = ok
Fat + protein = ok

The proteins will fill you up longer though – so try and get these in there to keep you full and happy, and ultimately you will eat less. In this case, less is definitely more!

Don’t forgot my rule: Everything in moderation. You can still treat yourself from time to time. Still fancy that sugary dessert? It’s not bad every now and then… but try and wait an hour or two after the main course. You may even find you not hungry later anyway.

You should also consider how much of each food group you are eating in a day. This will not only affect your weight loss, but other factors, such as heart health – you don’t want to be eating too much fat. Just because fat on it’s own without the high GI carbs is classed as ‘ok’ in the sense of this diet, it’s not ok to just eat fat all day long!

For someone of my age and height (36, 5ft 10in/178cm), you should eat around 50g of fat, 100-150g of carbs (the less the better to loose weight) and aim for around 100-150g of protein – if you only managed 50g of proteins thats fine but try and eat more to fill you up longer (note that these are just guidelines and not ‘hard and fast’ rules).

Hang on.

This sounds like a lot of effort!

How do I work all this out?

How do I know if a food has a high or low GI value? How do I add up how much fat, protein, and carbs I’m eating in a day?

Don’t worry (‘be happy… dunka dunka’ to loosely quote Bob Marley).

It’s up to you how much effort you put in.

You can browse the web to find GI values and create a spreadsheet to work out what the best replacement low GI carbs or proteins are for you, and colour code it to work out ideal combinations. That’s what I did. Yes, it was a lot of effort at first, but it was worth it, and now I just ‘know’ what are good and bad combos.

Once you start doing something regularly, it becauses automatic, a habit. There’s a great book on this, The Power of Habit (will add a link in a bit) , which also covers willpower – I will probably write another post about this later.

Or you can just reduce the high carb GIs in your meals. Get rid of the spuds. Swap the egg fried rice for a low GI long grain basmati or brown rice; replace with more meat/fish or a protein replacement if you’re not being filled up enough.

Or reduce the fat you’re eating with those carbs – you can still have a jacket potato, but replace the butter for baked beans (watch out for the high sugar or salt content though in most tinned baked beans, you can buy reduced salt/sugar versions). Don’t put butter (or even marge – see my post Fats: Butter vs Marge) on your sandwich; do you really need it? A few slices of cucumber or tomato is usually enough to moisten the bread. Skip the mayonnaise: yoghurt is a healthier alternative.

Or you can look at a few of the meals I will suggest in future posts.

Or you could buy Montignac’s excellent book (well, 15 million people bought it so it can’t be bad!) Eat Yourself Slim: The World’s BEST Method full of delicious but healthy French and Mediterranean recipes.

I’m also planning (possibly, in the future) to create an online calculator which will allow you to enter a days worth of the food you ate, which will then highlight the bad points and suggest an alternative. It’s just an idea at the moment and I would need to look into the technical difficulties and costs, I may need to charge a small fee to cover this… who would be interested?

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… but it’s worked well for me and my girlfriend. When dieting you should always seek professional help if in doubt.