Tuesday, 30 November 2010

My pH level

The pH testing strips arrived today, and I discovered that my pH level is already a very neutral 7.5. Job done!! I wonder if I can get it down any further this week?

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Goodbye slim.fast and hello diet #4, 'The Alkaline Diet'

*Drumroll* At the end of week 3, I have lost a fairly marvellous 7lbs. New weight: 10st 2lbs.

Although I started the week starving all the time, by the end of the week, the hunger doesn't seem to bother me as much (although I should apologise to anyone who's come near me this week - lack of sensible meals means my mouth tastes vile all the time, but full marks to my friends, who are clearly too polite to mention my minging breath). So, for the litmus test, would I do this again? Or recommend it to a friend? Damn right I would!! Will I be invited on another playdate with my minging breath? Probably not!!

Diet #4 is the Alkaline diet. Although this isn't technically a weight loss diet, the idea is to avoid acid-forming foods (grains, fish, meat, poultry, cheese, milk), and eat more alkalising foods (fruits and vegetables). It's so restrictive that I'm likely to lose weight anyway. According to the website the aim of this diet is to reduce the body's acidity and restore it's pH level to a 'more optimal' 7.35-7.45. Almost all foods that we eat release either an acid or an alkaline base into the blood, and a higher acidity can lead to stress and low energy, and make you prone to more illnesses. Being more alkaline will make me healthier and more relaxed. Excellent.

Alkalising foods include:
Asparagus, broccoli, courgette, dandelion (?), beans, spinach, tomatoes, kelp, sweet potato, cauliflower, aubergine, cucumber, lettuce, grapefruit, almonds, pumpkin seeds, gluten free bread, quinoa, spelt, soy and olive oil.

Acid forming foods include
Meat, dairy and eggs, fruits including apple, apricot, grapes, strawberries, pineapple, alcohol (which may be an issue for the two big parties I have this week), mushrooms, rice, noodles, pizza, biscuits, sweets, nuts and sauces. Ouch.

I need to aim for an 80:20 ratio - 80% alkalising foods to 20% acid-forming. I have ordered some pH testing strips, and my aim over the course of the week will be to increase my pH levels to a more alkaline level. As a control, I'll be using my husband, Simon. What is it with men? Ever since I got pregnant for the first time, he's been desperate to pee on a stick, and so he's willingly voluteered to act as a control.

Current pH level will be posted (and the diet will start) once ebay deliver my litmus paper.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Half way through diet #3, slimfast week

At lunchtime today, a friend's three year old daughter pointed at my slim.fast chocolate crunch bar (aka "lunch") and asked me what it was. I told her it was a "nutriotionally balanced meal replacement bar designed to help me lose weight", and she looked at me like I was mad. In essence, it took her seconds to assess what it's taken me days to realise.

So now I'm sitting on the couch watching Friends and munching my way through my third chocolate bar (slim.fast "snack") of the day, reflecting on this diet.

Slim.fast goes against everything I believe about dieting - making good choices, understanding healthy eating, portion control, willpower and exercise. I also hate the thought of Sadie watching me munch my way through this disfunctional diet, and believing that this is good or healthy. By evening, I feel like my teeth are ready to fall out, and I'm craving fresh fruit and water.

I'm sure that someone was paid a small fortune to come up with names for the flavours of shakes - things like rich chocolate, blissful banana, summer strawberry, rasberry crush and simply vanilla, and all of them are unbelievably sweet. The meal replacement bars are big and filling, but again, so sweet - raisin and cinammon flapjacks, chocolate peanut, summer berry and chocolate crunch. The chocolate snacks (nutty nougat, heavenly chocolate delight) are sweeter still. Even the main flavourings on the savory bbq tortilla snacks are sugar and then honey. Plus, the packaging is unappealing to me - it looks more clinical than edible - although I guess that's what they were going for. It's also relatively expensive - the shakes are £1.30 each, and the bars are £4.99 for four. Although, to be fair, I would have spent £5 on a sandwich and a packet of crisps at lunch today, so it's still saved me money. 

But (believe it or not), I can see that this also has plus sides:
  • It's really easy to stick to. If you were slimming for a specific occasion (let's say, to drop half a stone before a wedding at the weekend), it would be relatively straightforward to follow.
  • There's no need to avoid sweet foods - in fact, with slim.fast, that's almost all you can eat.
  • The snacks are actually really good .
  • It completely takes the pressure off of food. When you're dieting, it's easy to get obsessed with what you can eat - with the 3.2.1 plan, you don't have to think about food at all, no cooking, no preparation - just pop a bar in your bag and eat wherever you are.
  • I'm hungry all the time - but when you get used to being hungry, you understand when to eat, so you're not just eating out of habit.

It's fairly obvious that you could just eat two light meals for breakfast and lunch each day, and a couple of healthy snacks inbetween, and lose weight just as easily at a fraction of the cost. But, by providing you with a very specific menu, which is carefully calorie controlled, it's much easier to stay on the wagon for longer.

This is definitely not for the long-term, but in the short term, the proof is going to be in the pudding. Check back on Sunday to see how much weight I've lost...

Friday, 19 November 2010

The (slightly premature) end of diet #2

In many ways, I've loved the 100-mile diet, and so I'm sad to be ending it early, but it's proving tough to stick to for any length of time, at least in part because I've run out of food. This is really a lifestyle choice, and not one that I can completely embrace - it's hugely impractical to eat only things that come from with 100-mile radius of your house. However, there are some things that I'll take from this week and try and stick with.

For example, I really enjoyed shopping at the farmers market, and I'll definitely try and shop there on a more regular basis. It seems ridiculous to buy food from abroad when it's available virtually on your doorstep. Wouldn't Australians find it crazy to buy British honey which has been flown half way around the world when they have their own perfectly good honey on their doorstep. So why do I choose the eucalyptus honey over a local variety? And wouldn't it seem strange to go into a supermarket in Portugal and see British butternut squash when they're grown locally - but I'm happy to buy Portugese squash in Tesco, despite the fact that butternut squash is also grown less than 100 miles down the road - and the local one probably tastes fresher and better too.

Also, I have learned that the people who sell, cook, and serve you your food also don't seem to know (or care) where it came from. I'm not sure why they should, but I just feel like maybe it would be great if they did. If we all paid a little more attention to where things came from, we could make a big difference.

There are a few things that I've done this week that I've never done before:

1. Visited a farmers market, for a reason other than to stroll around and pretend I live in an area nicer than I do
2. Described everything as "locally sourced" (even if it wasn't) - for example, "would you like a square of my locally sourced dairy milk..."
3. Eaten a pie
4. Made cauliflower cheese

Unfortunately, the latter two points (combined with eating all the cheese and butter I bought) means that I've managed to gain all the weight that I lost last week.

So, start weight for next diet: 10st 8lb. Again.

Diet #3 is going to be a deviation from my alphabetical list, partly because my blog has come to the attention of the lovely folks at Slim.Fast, who have sent me a huge bag of "food", and partly because it's heading into christmas party season, and I do need to lose some weight, and quickly.

I'm a bit terrified of this one. It's called the 3.2.1 plan. Three snacks, two slimfast "meals", and one healthy meal each day, plus lots of water and a little bit of exercise. I've put the word "meals" in inverted commas because if you actually served them to someone as a meal, I think they would demand their money back.

It's called Slim.Fast - but I'm not sure whether they mean fast in the speedy sense, or in the absolutely starving sense. But I'm about to find out...

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Diet #2, the 100-mile diet

So, I wasn't going to blog every day (really, who has time?), but today's been such a good day that I wanted to add a quick update, before I forget. We went to Walthamstow Farmers Market this morning - it's only small, maybe 20 stalls at the most, and the weather was a bit grim, but still it was really quite busy. We managed to get fruit and vegetables from farms in Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire, cod from Dungeness, butter, buffalo mozarella and cheddar from Shepton Mallet in Somerset, eggs from Northamptonshire and marmalade from Eltham (London SE9), a pie from Buckinghamshire and bread from Staples Corner. There was also loads of meat, including lamb, pork, chicken, beef and game (someone was selling three pheasants for £10, which sounds like a bargain to me)!

We had fun chatting to the stallholders, and it was really nice for Sadie to see where her food actually comes from, rather than the homogeneous supermarket shelves, and it also made me think more about what we could eat - choosing things because they were fresh and available, not just out of habit. Everything piled into one bag, stall by stall, and wrapped in clear plastic or paper rather than the boring supermarket packaging.

For supper tonight, we had the Kent cod, cooked with the Somerset butter and Lincs onions, and a sauce made from the Somerset Cheddar, Lincs onions, with some mashed potatoes from Lincolnshire (via Tesco, but at least I'm trying!!). Yum!!

The Dungeness fish

Three pheasants for a tenner

Sadie on a tractor

Our week's food

Tonights supper

Saturday, 13 November 2010

The end of diet 1, and the start of diet 2, the 100-mile diet.

So, on the final day of my first diet, it's time to review. And my verdict: don't try this at home! Actually, you could try this at home - or at work - or anywhere where it's easy to have a clear structure and total control and planning! I've got a cupboard full of spare "meals", which I never found time to eat (although hopefully they'll come in useful at some point futher down the list). My initial 6-meals-a-day quickly moved to five, then four, and finally three-meals-a-day - or just 'regular eating' as it's also called. The theory behind this is ok, in theory. Eat a restricted calorie diet and you're bound to lose weight, no matter how and when you eat those calories. And whilst eating six times, or 'little and often', is great if you have the time to plan, in reality, it's quite difficult to find the time to prepare and eat something healthy and low cal, and I was often constantly hungry, and fixated on what I could eat, and when I'd be able to eat it next.

But, the good news is that there is a possibility that this actually works - I've lost 3lbs! Actually, on reflection, that's not such good news, some of them have to not work, because otherwise the theory behind this is slightly flawed! 

Anyway, onto diet #2, the 100-mile diet.

This diet is based on a book written by two Canadians, Alisa Smith and JB MacKinnon who decided to spend a year eating only food with ingredients that they knew were from within 100 miles of their residence. In reality, I'll be doing the 100-miles LITE diet - the writers of this went without staples such as oil, sugar and rice, and they preserved their own food for times when their local food wasn't available - which might be a step to far for me.

Luckily, as I live in East London, there's quite a lot within 100 miles, a circle which stretches to (roughly) Nottingham, Birmingham, Bristol, Southampton, Norfolk, and even a tiny bit of France. The supermarkets are good about labelling the provenence of the food, which will help. But I'm going to have to say a temporary goodbye to some of my staples - bananas and grapefruits, smoked salmon, Israeli pickles and dutch leerdammer are all out for the next week.

Yesterday (feeling like a bit of a twat), I called my local butcher to ask where the meat I buy comes from. Actually, although I feel like a fool, I do have the right to know (although, take note, lady in butcher, "The Khoom", which I believe roughly translates from Yiddish as "the middle of nowhere" is not sufficient information, thanks!). Anyway, it turns out that the lamb and beef is from a farm near Oldham, but that the chicken is from just outside Luton, which, luckily is less than 100 miles from my house. Tomorrow morning, weather-permitting, we'll go to Walthamstow farmers market, and I might also check out the farmers market at Queen Mary's University, on Thursday.

Although this one's not strictly a diet in the weight-loss sense of the word, there's a good chance I might lose weight anyway, due to lack of supplies.

Anyway, if you want to know more about where your meat comes from, you can ask Brian at Norman Goldberg in Clayhall. And here are the links to Walthamstow Farmers Market and QMW farmers market, which luckily both appear to sell wine. So I may spend this week in a food-less drunken fug. Oh well.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Diet 1, day 1

The start of diet 1, day 1. I suppose at this point I should confess my 'start' weight. 10st 8lb (or 67.1kg in new money). I've had one slice of toast with peanut butter for breakfast (206 cals, in case you're interested). 1 meal down, 41 to go...

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Diet #1: Six meals a day

Luckily, I'm starting with a relatively straightforward one. All I have to do is eat six meals a day. You choose the appropriate number of calories (1500), and then divide by six, so that you know how much to eat at each meal. The theory behind it is easy - with six meals a day, there's no time to snack. Apparently you can lose around 2 lbs a week.

The only thing about this which is complicated so far is coming up with six varied and interesting meals every day. A quick google search comes up with loads of ideas for meals - spicy roast potatoes, colcannon, muesli, rice pudding, soups, pastas and smoothies - but really, who has the time to cook three meals a day, let alone six? So, I've added some extras to the weekly shopping list (fish and cold meats), plus I'm going to make a massive bowl of coleslaw and a big tray of roast veg (which should hopefully last the week), and a variety of 'healthy' snacks (corn thins, extra light cream cheese and so on). But nothing dramatically different or expensive, which is good.

According my detailed research (ok, very quick google search) Charlize Theron follows this plan. So, keep following, because by next week I'll look like this...

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

The idea...

So, the idea is simple. Lose half a stone. It's not a lot. Probably all it requires is a little less chocolate and a little more self-control. But driven by the boredom of maternity leave and the desire to do something more interesting instead, I've decided to give this a go. So, over the next 52 weeks (at least), I'm going to sample some of the diets that are out there. I'll see how easy they are to follow, how much they allow you to continue with normal life, how expensive they are and most importantly, how much weight it's possible to lose (or gain, although hopefully not!!). I'm going to try to follow them in alphabetical order, although I reserve the right to skip up and down the list if I choose (it's my idea after all, and so I'll  make up the rules).

I'm not going to do anything too crazy or dangerous. Breatharianism (living on fresh air alone), for example, doesn't appeal. But some really do - the 100-mile diet, where you only eat food sourced within 100 miles of your residence for example. It fits in well with the current trends for reducing food miles and supporting local businesses, and forces me to concentrate on what I'm eating and where it's from. Now, how far is Cadbury World from here?.

Anyway, I hope you like the theory. Wish me luck...