Sunday, 19 December 2010

Diet #7, The Blood Type Diet

I'm a bit of a perfectionist, so I was delighted to get an A+ in my blood test results. In all honesty, I thought that there was only blood type 'O', and that all the other types were made up for dramatic effect by writers of soap operas (you know the one, when the child needs a kidney, and it turns out they're an 'O' and their parents are A, and they must have been switched at birth...)

Here's a brief description of the groups (with thanks to Wikipedia...)

"Blood group O is believed by D'Adamo to be the hunter, the earliest human blood group. The diet recommends that this blood group eat a higher protein diet. D'Adamo bases this on the belief that O blood type was the first blood type, originating 30,000 years ago. Blood group A is called the cultivator by D'Adamo, who believes it to be a more recently evolved blood type, dating back from the dawn of agriculture, 20,000 years ago. The diet recommends that individuals of blood group A eat a diet emphasizing vegetables and free of red meat, a more vegetarian food intake. Blood group B is, according to D'Adamo, the nomad, associated with a strong immune system and a flexible digestive system. The blood type diet claims that people of blood type B are the only ones who can thrive on dairy products and estimates blood type B arrived 10,000 years ago. Blood group AB, according to D'Adamo, the enigma, the most recently evolved type, arriving less than 1,000 years ago. In terms of dietary needs, his blood type diet treats this group as an intermediate between blood types A and B"
Reading up on the different types, Type A's are described as "sensitive to the needs of others, good listeners, detail oriented, analytical, creative and inventive". As none of these words describe me, I think that there's a good chance that the lady at the hospital might have just chosen the lazy option, and picked the first choice on the list. She obviously wasn't a "detail-oriented" 'A' either. Type 'A's are supposed to limit their exposure to:
  • Crowds of people, and loud noise
  • Negative emotions
  • Smoking
  • Strong smells or perfumes
  • Too much sugar and starch
  • Overwork
  • Violent TV and movies
  • Lack of sleep
  • Extreme weather conditions 
I am also supposed to choose calming exercise, like Tai  Chi and Hatha Yoga.

The thing that really makes me laugh about these diets are that their proponents are all 'Doctors'. Dr D'Adamo is the main advocate of this diet, and Dr Lam's website lists the foods that I should choose and avoid. Closer inspection reveals that Dr D'Adamo is a 'Naturopathic' Doctor, and Dr Lam is a trademark. You can even call 1-800-DRLAM-88. All of their websites refer to "scientific studies", but none are ever credited or detailed.

As an 'A', I need to avoid all meats, and many fish, including anchovy, beluga (as if), eel, frog, haddock, herring, lobster, lox (I've got a shedload in the freezer, which is where it will stay for another week), octopus, shrimp, tilefish and turtle (a real delicacy in east London). Most dairy products are not digestible for type A's, and I can eat peanuts and pumpkin seeds, but not cashews and pistachios (which would be fine for every single week except this one - christmas week!). Beans are out, but lentils and black-eyed peas are in (I have no idea what these are, but I think I can download them from itunes), wheat is out, as are peppers, olives, potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, mushrooms. Garlic, onions, broccoli, artichoke, romaine, carrots and spinach are in. Berries good, melons bad, orange bad, grapefruits and pineapples good.

I still think that I'm more of an 'O' – leadership, extroversion, energy and focus are among the best traits. Type O’s can be powerful and productive, however, when stressed Type O’s response can be one of anger, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, but I'll try this dairy & wheat-free week, and see what happens...

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Cyndy Crawford: A New Dimension & Shape Your Body

A New Dimension is designed for new mums, and as I've had a baby this year, this should be right up my street. Cyndy says that having a baby changes you. I think that she means in a more spiritual sense, but all I am is fatter and poorer.

Cyndy says that you can use this tape however you want, but "here's what she did"... The first week after the birth, she didn't exercise at all - "she wasn't thinking about working out" apparently (she was probably still wondering how that possibly came out of that, and when all the swelling was going to go down). Starting one week after her son was born, she was ready to start. I think that this might be why she's a supermodel, and I'm still writing a diet blog.

All through the video, there are split screen images of her working out, and her rolling around on the floor with her baby. This would all be well and good if it wasn't juxtaposed with my reality: my baby was also rolling around on the floor under my feet, screaming to be fed and have her nose wiped.

Moving on to the next Cyndy, Shape Your Body. This was the first fitness (and only) fitness video I have ever owned, and so downloading this one hardly feels like theft! This is a much younger Cyndy, who before the birth of her children was prepared to work much harder to look good. It's a good workout, and my thighs are KILLING me, but I suspect that they'll be more toned before the week is out.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Diet #6, 'The Power of Three'

Annoyingly, I appear to have regained three of the five lost pounds from last weeks' Atkins - but I'm still two pounds lighter than before my carb-fast - and half a stone lighter than when I started five weeks ago - so new start weight for this week, 10st 1lb.

This week is all about the exercise, and so I'm going to see if I can get thin without leaving my front room. Before I start, I should say that exercise and me are not good friends. We've flirted on occasion, but I've never been fully committed. Over the years, I have been with at least seven gyms. I'm reminded of Joan Rivers, who said "I don't exercise. If G-d had wanted me to bend over, he'd have put diamonds on the floor".

This morning, after a few glasses of wine last night, and a little lie-in, I started with Davina's Power of Three workout. On the whole, I don't like celebrity fitness video's. They mostly look like they're made on a limited budget, and the sleb is usually just a spokesmodel for the non-celebrity personal trainer. I once did Geri-yoga, and couldn't move my neck for a month, which put me off forever.

This DVD starts off ominously with a series of warnings - do not exercise if you're feeling unwell, have recently eaten a heavy meal, been drinking, are injured, on painkillers, pregant... That's it - I'm put off. Put down the remote control and go back to the pies. Actually, I think they've missed a few. Do not do this if you have a low tolerance for chirpy celebrities, if your neighbours can see in, if you're not wearing an exercise bra.

This starts off with some 'useful' hints from Davina - remember to breath (damn, keep forgetting), drink lots (wine?), go at your own pace, "enjoy it, I had a great time making it". Really? I'm sure you got paid a fortune. Of course you did! And why does Davina keep shouting "choon" to the 90's techno soundtrack??

At times, this feels more like Debra Stephenson 'doing' Davina than Davina herself, but to be fair, she looks great, and annoying as she is, she's really doing this. The workout itself feels relatively tough (if you haven't exercised for six months - not sure how hard you'd find it if you were already fit), and I was really feeling it. My three year old provided some amusing moments trying to show me her 'dances' to copy, she obviously thought they were better than the ones I was watching.

I'm looking forward to not fad dieting this week, although it's going to be a struggle to find time to exercise every day... Not sure I'm going to lose weight, but if I feel better, I don't think I'll mind.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

A new diet trend?

I managed nearly four days of Atkins, and this morning's weight: 9st12lb. I lost 5lbs in four days!!!

Atkins describes what they call "the metabolic advantage" - the more protein you eat, the less hungry you become, so you eat less and lose more. Sounds like bullshit, right? Terrifyingly, I think it's true. After scrambled eggs and smoked salmon for breakfast yesterday, I realised at 2pm that I still hadn't eaten, and wasn't even hungry.

Against all my best intentions, I was beginning to like Atkins - I have this weird thing about "beige" food - and Atkins is all about colours. Red meat, yellow eggs, green veg... I'm not sure how much of this weighloss is about lack of carbs, per se, or just the fact that I had four days of no crisps, no chocolate, no bread, no pasta - but whatever it is, it works, and I can see why people who do it rave about it.

By a strange coincidence, Poppy was nine months yesterday - and this morning I'm pretty much back to my pre-pregancy weight - so I guess it's true what they say about nine months on nine months off. On the theme of coincidences, I've found someone online doing the same thing as me (what are the chances, right?). You can check out his blog at, we even started at pretty much the same time. He's very detailed, very funny, and I wish him the best of luck

On a separate note, I seem to have started a trend. One of the lovely mummies from baby group wants to do the Dukan diet together, and another friend wants to do another week with me. I've managed to re-gift the rest of the to a third friend.

It is with a huge sigh of relief that I'll be taking Atkins back to the library. I feel like slipping little notes into the pages with things like 'don't do it' and 'are you mad??' for the benefit of the next borrower. The next diet on the list is the Best Bet diet - but as this is for the treatment of MS, thankfully, I'll be giving this one a miss. I quite fancy the Blood Type Diet, where you eat depending on your blood type, but I'm going to skip over a few, and try something different - exercise! On the list I've called it 'Davina, Power of Three', but I've begged, borrowed and stolen (well, kind of, if you consider illegal downloading to be theft), seven different dvd's, and I'll do one a day - to see if exercise can make a difference, to my weight, and also my shape. There's another reason for this too - I've got a couple of xmas parties next week, and I want to eat and drink what I like.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Day 4 of Atkins

Fell off the wagon. It's too cold for salad, and I'm craving 'easy' food. That's my excuse for why I had (six) chips with my salmon for supper. No excuse for the three biscuits, two chocolates and pack of toffee poppets. I'll weigh in tomorrow, and see if four days of Atkins can make any difference.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Day 3 of Atkins

My breath smells and I feel sick and dizzy. I'm not sure that this is what they call the "Atkins Edge". The recipes I made yesterday ranged from mediocre (courgette loaf) to terrible (rye bread) to inedible (peanut cookies - straight in the bin). And I'm still not loving cheese as a snack. C'mon Dr Atkins. This is not food!

On the plus side, I am beginning to learn that you need to stick with something for at least three days before it becomes bearable - as with, I'm definitely getting the hang of it, and with Atkins, I'm beginning to think more about what I eat with every meal. Plus, I think that I've created a new diet - which I'm calling "diet-combining" - I'm using the last of the 100-mile diet butter and onions to cook with, and the small cheeses from the six-meals-a-day diet as a snack.

One of the things that I'm finding most difficult is breakfast -toast and cereal are quick and easy, making eggs every day isn't. In the chapter "what's for breakfast", in New Atkins, New You, they suggest some other 'tasty' ideas to try. This must be some other definition of the word tasty I haven't previously come across. Ideas include On the Run roll-ups: wrapping slices of cheese and ham around cucumber and a dab of mustard and mayo; Chocolate coconut shake (almond milk, whey protein, cocoa powder, sucralose, ice cubes); Stuffed peppers "stuff with pork sausage and microwave"; Corned beef hash (using turnips rather than potato); and hash browns made with cauliflower and turnip rather than the 'evil' potato. It's at this point that it really hits home with what's wrong with this diet. Surely a bowl of wholewheat cereal, or a couple of slices of good quality bread is much better than all of this crap??

The diet book says that by day two or three your body goes into ketosis, where you switch from burning glycogen to fat. I am reliably informed by the recipe book that "ketosis is the happiest condition that a dieter can be in". My body does not feel very happy. But I'm going to stick with it for another couple of days at least, to see what happens.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Diet #5, New Atkins, New You

I'm sorry to say that I didn't really stick to the Alkaline diet. It didn't inspire me, probably because there were no obvious and immediate advantages - which is probably why you don't hear of many people doing it. I've been eating pretty much normally this week: on the plus side, one of the things that people kept telling me about was that "as soon as you start eating normally you'll put it all back on again". I'm happy to say that I only put on a pound in the last week, so the start weight for Atkins is 10st3lb.

Atkins is the diet that I have been dreading most so far. Although it sounds so easy to say "no carbs", when I think about what I eat every day - breakfast cereal, bread, pasta, crackers and crisps, I'm overwhelmed by an impending sense of doom. What am I going to eat?? Eating cheese as a snack is so counter-intuitive it makes me want to cry.

Friends who've done this diet rave about it. Someone tells me they lost a stone in two weeks before a big holiday, someone else told me that her husband did it and it worked brilliantly, another friends parents are doing it, apparently. Anyone who hasn't done it thinks that I'm mad. They're probably closer to the mark.

I've borrowed "New Atkins, New You" from the library, and a friend has loaned me the Dr Atkins New Diet Cookbook, and I'm all set. For those of you who don't work in offices where every diet has been tried and tested, discussed and disected around the watercooler in minute detail, the principle of Atkins sounds straightforward. When you eat, your body produces blood sugar (glucose). When you eat carbs, your glucose level goes up rapidly. Insulin is released to lower it - the insulin enables some of the glucose to be used for energy, and the rest is stored as fat. When you restrict your carb intake, less glucose is produced, and your body turns to the next source of energy, fat - which is where the weightloss comes in. You literally consume yourself!

Although the book makes it clear that this diet sets no limit on the amount of food you can eat, the lists of food that you can eat is hugely restrictive. The induction diet is the strictest of all. The list of "free" food includes meat, fish, chicken, eggs and cheese. Fortunately, the "new" Atkins also includes lots of vegetables, and caffeine, neither of which were available on the old diet. However, there are many more foods that are strictly forbidden - fruit, foods made with flour and/or sugar (including bread, pasta, biscuits, crisps, cakes and sweets), alcohol, nuts and seeds, grains, pulses, vegetables not on the acceptable list (parsnips, potatoes, carrots, squash), dairy products (other than cheese, cream and butter), diet products, junk food and chewing gum. Atkins recommends starting with the induction diet for a two-week period, followed by an ongoing weight loss stage (called OWL - reminds me of Harry Potter), then premaintenance, and finally maintenance.

I should point out that the book is clearly written for an American audience. Although it's been "translated" into English, replacing ounces with grams and dollars with pounds, the chapters are peppered with phrases like "are you ready to be happy?", which makes me cringe, and want to leap, Tom Cruise-style, onto my sofa in equal parts. Throughout the book, they're keen to point out their scientific credentials: studies have shown that eating one or more eggs each day does no harm, although I wonder what they mean by one 'or more' and how many you would have to eat before you did do yourself some harm? I also read that this is based on an old-fashioned diet, when refined flour and sugar wasn't available. Which sounds good until you realise that lots of the restricted things on the list were available before, like rice, potatoes and fruit. Atkins also advocates adding salt to your diet - like half a teaspoon a day. And it recognises that the lack of fruit means that you miss out on vital nutrients, so they recommend you supplement with vitamins.

My trip to the supermarket today included a load of ingredients that I've never bought before - rye flour, ricotta and marscapone, cream of tartare, as well as a shedload of eggs and three different types of fish. I'm going to make the courgette loaf and the rye bread from the Atkins cookbook, as well as the peanut butter cookies, so that I have some food for breakfast and snacks. Luckily, we stayed in a hotel last night, so I had a huge plate of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for breakfast, plus a home-made chicken salad for lunch, and chicken sausages for supper. Two cheese snacks and a plate of asparagus later, and my pee'll stink as badly as my breath!