Tag Archives: weight loss

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 🙂

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 🙂

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 – i.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.

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 “civilization” 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 – as 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.

Daniel fasting diet part 1: Fast? No chance. Me hungry!

As soon as I heard the word ‘fasting’ my thoughts were: no.

I need to eat!!

But the Daniel fast – or at least, the version my girlfriend was trying – actually allows you to eat as much as you want – but restricts you to a limited subset of allowed food.

(NB: we have since learned that to have the maximum benefit, you should also restrict the calorie intake).

The Daniel fast goes way back to bible. Now, I’m not religious, and have no interest in the diet from that side of things; but the original concept of man not being excessive and eating reasonably sits well with me.

There’s lots of evidence to prove that eating less, rather than overeating, leads to better healthy and a longer life span. Experiments were carried out on monkeys for twenty years. One group were able to eat as much food as they liked, whilst another was restricted to eating 30 percent less. The monkeys that ate more were three times more likely to suffer from diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Half of those monkeys died in the twenty year period, whereas only 20 percent of the restricted diet monkeys died. Research also showed shrinkage in certain brain areas of the over eating group.

(NB: Other research has disputed this outcome… but that always seems to be the case with research, they often contradict… the question is which to trust?)

Healthier fasting money on the left, over eating monkey on the right
Healthier fasting money on the left, over eating monkey on the right

My girlfriend wasn’t intending to do this diet long term. She’d read something very interesting about short term fasting, in that it enables the human body and immune system to do a kind of ‘reset’ and repair itself.

Ever again the skeptic, I ummed and ahhed and wanted more evidence.

Yes, my Windows Operating System gets its knickers in a twist and a reboot will sort it out, but does the human body work in the same way?

Quite possibly.

Research has apparently shown that performing a Daniel fast – or similar style fast – has helped to cure or improve numerous skin
and health conditions in a number of people eating excessively. The reasons are due to the way our diets have changed in the last 100 years – we’re just not eating naturally anymore. I quote:

“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 “civilization” 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 – as 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.”

(from Ewa Dabrowskalong-time employee of the Medical Academy in Gdansk)

My girlfriend suffers from some skin problems and also has a problem with the membrane in her nose breaking, and she was interested to give the fast a go.

The original diet has been around for more than 2000 years so it couldn’t be all that bad!

There are more extreme versions of the Daniel Fast, but she decided it was worth trying a particular method for 6 days, which I will describe.

She could eat only fruit and vegetables, but only low sugar fruit such as grapefruits, lemon, and apples, and only low Glycemic Indexes (GI) vegetables (see my posts on the “Montignac diet” for more information on GI levels: Montignac Diet: Part 1 and Montignac Diet: Part 2) – so potatoes were out.

No legumes – i.e. lentils or beans.

No rice or bread – GI levels too high.

No meat or fish.

No eggs.

No oil.

No tea.

No coffee.

No milk – no dairy at all, so no yoghurt, butter.

No alcohol!!!!

Crikey, that’s stricter than a fully vegan diet.

How could she cope eating and drinking with such restrictions for 6 days??

I couldn’t do that!

But I did… well, for 4 days. But more on that later…

So what the hell can you eat?

A great substitute for a morning cuppa was half a lemon freshly squeezed into hot water.

An hour or so later, for breakfast, a bowl of chopped tomatoes and onions. A dash of salt and pepper is allowed.

For lunch, steamed broccoli and cauliflower.

For dinner, she made a variation of the Polish dish ‘lecho‘, that was basically a ratatouille – i.e. a stew of onions, courgettes, tomatoes, peppers and aubergines with a bit of chilli powder and other herbs.

Drinks of water, or lemon hot/cold water, or herbal tea (not black tea with fruit flavours but actual herb tea – we had a lovely apple flavoured one with also happened to be a natural dieting aid, handy) were allowed.

At the end of the first day, she felt exhausted. On this diet you are taking in significantly less calories than the body normally needs and a side effect can be lack of energy.

But she hadn’t been hungry. She’d made a huge batch of lecho which she could ‘snack’ on, and the cherry tomatoes we’ve discovered at a local fruit and veg shop are just amazing; they taste so fresh and juicy, almost as good as the ones I’ve eaten fresh in Mediterranean climates, so she was quite happy to keep eating those.

She was also able to snack on apples, carrots (raw) and fermented cabbage (think German sauerkraut). We’d also bought a juicer recently (see the posts Juicing: Part 1 and Juicing: Part 2) and we were making delicious tomato and carrot, or apple, carrot and basil juices.

The second day she got the first headache.

These can be side effects of the diet, and another reason I didn’t fancy trying it.

But they only last an hour or so (bear in mind you’re not allowed to take any pills or supplements!) and then pass. At the end of the second day she was even more shattered, and to be honest, looked pretty bad.

My skepticism grew.

However, by the third day, apart from a small headache in the evening, she was fine. She also reported that the skin in her nostril had practically healed – it normally took weeks before it healed after cracking. Was the ‘reboot repair’ working already?

It wasn’t even supposed to work that quickly, so she was even skeptical herself – but nonetheless happy!

Her skin on her back though wasn’t looking good, but she wasn’t worried. One of the side effects is that the condition can get
worse before getting better.

The last 3 days of the fast proceeded smoothly. Her stomach had become accustomed to the diet and she was needing to eat less,
wasn’t feeling hungry, having any more headaches or feeling tired. She lost some weight and felt good.

Her nose had healed!

And her skin on her back was much better.

One thing to note at this stage: this is not a practical diet.

Depending on your work/love/family/social life, this can be very inconvenient.

There’s practically nothing you can eat if you’re eating out.

If you’re at work all day and have limited kitchen facilities you’re in a mess. If you’re tired and have headaches in the afternoon it’s not ideal when you’re at work, and potentially dangerous if you have a long commute.

If you have children and they’re eating a typical diet it’s hard not to finish off their leftovers or have a lick of their ice cream. Again, if you have a headache and no energy in the afternoon and have a young child demanding attention, forget it!

If you are single and out every few nights with friends or on dates, it can be hard not eating out and not drinking alcohol.

My girlfriend was in the early stages of her new business and although she had taken plenty of future bookings, was pretty much
free for at least a week, so it was a good time for her to do the diet.

After her good results and the fact that I was currently not working either (I had some work lined up but not for a few weeks) I figured that I would give it a go for 3 days. Her lecho had been damn tasty and I was quite happy to eat that, and I’d been drinking too much wine recently and a detox would do me no harm.

I will shortly post how I got on.

For further reading, try The Daniel Fast: Feed your soul, strengthen your spirit, and renew your body.

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.