Last week, I wrote about how quitting smoking gave me an enormous boost of confidence, and led to me discovering a passion for walking. However, as the saying goes, “you can’t outrun a bad diet”, and you certainly can’t out-walk one.
Mrs L was a type two diabetic. She reversed the condition, using the Blood Sugar diet. I joined in.
I have learned much.
Portions. Over the last thirty years, I have become accustomed to eating way too much food. It’s only when I saw measured-out portions, that I realised quite how many calories I was consuming in a sitting.
Speed. I eat like someone scared the food is going to be taken off me. Always have done. I’m pretty sure my parents didn’t take food off me, but I can finish a meal in the time it takes normal people to pick up their cutlery.
Hunger is made-up. Well, the hunger that I experience is. I’m acutely aware that many people have experienced real hunger. I haven’t. Yet, regularly, I will crave food. This is where quitting smoking has inspired me. Permit me a tangent.
I was addicted to nicotine. I stopped taking it. There were withdrawal symptoms, the strongest being that I craved a cigarette. I knew, that if I could resist those cravings for 72 hours, then the physical addiction was gone. My body would stop demanding nicotine. So why did I still crave a cigarette? Turns out, I’m crap at interpreting cravings. Whenever I wanted comfort, I reached for a cigarette. I could go the whole day without food - as long as I had cigarettes. When I was quitting smoking, I could go the whole day without cigarettes, as long as I had food. Ultimately, I worked out that a craving was simply an internal cry for attention. I rationalise cravings now:
Gut: I’m starving! Feed me!
Head: Starving? We had breakfast two hours ago.
Gut: I know. It wasn’t enough. Get me a biscuit.
Head: Not enough? There were oats, fruit, seeds and yoghurt. There was plenty.
Gut: Oats! Pah! Let’s have a coffee with a biscuit.”
Head: Maybe you’re thirsty, not hungry. Let’s have a glass of water.
Head: You OK, Gut?
Gut: Sure. I’ve been asleep. What did I miss?
Head: But we were just talking..
Gut: Not me, Mister. Has Emotion been impersonating me again?
I’m 112 kg (It’s been a good week) in my socks. I have extensive reserves of calories. I’d wager that if we all stopped eating, I might outlast you all. To characterise myself as starving is nonsense. I’ve conditioned myself to believe that I need far more nutrition than necessary. I’ve done it so well, that my emotions join in.
I’m a simple creature. Excess comes naturally to me. Smoking makes me feel grown-up and cool. The more I smoke, the cooler I’ll be. Drinking. What’s better than beer with friends? Well, logically, ten beers will be ten times as good. Oh! Look at all these lovely foods. Which shall we eat? All of them! Why deny myself something so obviously good? Learning moderation is an ongoing challenge for me.
Mrs L is in full blood-sugar mode. A seemingly endless procession of shopping, preparing and serving. We are following a plan that removes discretion, and therefore temptation. It’s an enormous amount of work, entirely done by her. I’m very fortunate. I observe that my meals are much brighter colours, varied, and often not as “mucked about with” as before.
We cheat at weekends, which slows the weight loss, but I’m more interested in getting to grips with the emotional side of my consumption. Taming that is key, I believe.
Consequently, I am having long conversations with my cravings, and working hard to eat “intentionally”.
Either I’m losing weight, or going quietly mad.