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The Fast Diet

Photo from HealthGauge’s Flickr photostream. I’m a team player. I don’t mean that in a ‘hire me’ jargon sort of way, I genuinely mean it. I love working as part of a team. I enjoy the camaraderie you get from working in a group. So when I saw my friend Helen saying she trying a new diet, The Fast Diet, and encouraging others to take part I wanted to know more. Diets are always better when you are boosted by other people.

Why fasting?

For a very long time I tried different diets, until about five years ago when I gave up faddy dieting for good. They were hard work to maintain long term, both mentally and practically speaking, and after I stopped I just put the weight right back on. (Sound familiar?) So on Helen’s advice I watched ‘Eat, fast and live longer‘. In the programme, journalist Michael Mosley explores the idea of fasting and calorie restriction as beneficial to long-term health. There is also a book The Fast Diet, which I have now read. After much research, Michael discovered that intermittent fasting could lower your risk of cancer and diabetes, delay hereditary mental illness, help prevent heart disease and slow ageing. Oh and a byproduct is weight loss. I was intrigued and onboard. This is a diet for life, not just until you’ve lost the weight. Who wouldn’t want to improve their overall health?

How does it work?

Essentially you fast two days a week and eat normally the other five (this is why it has become known as the 5:2 diet). On your fasting days you only consume 500 calories, preferably in one or two meals in order to maximise the amount of time you fast for. On your non-fasting days you can eat what you want in whatever quantity you want. Converts of the diet say that over time you become less hungry on your non-fasting days and so you consume less on those days, too. Others have said it has made them more aware of how much they really were eating and therefore they have started to consume less on their non-fasting days. The action of fasting is supposed to kickstart your body into repair mode, so your body goes into detox clearing out all the bad stuff and doing essential maintenance on your cells so they all work more efficiently.

What is it like?

I’m just about to enter my fourth week of The Fast Diet. At the time I thought the first day of fasting was easy because of the novelty, but now I think it was almost my worst day for feeling hungry. Once I had done it on the first day, I knew it was possible to not eat for most of the day and still function absolutely fine. The big power of this diet is that you only need to make it to the next day to eat whatever it is you are craving – this makes it a million times easier than normal diets that require excluding the things you enjoy eating and drinking for long periods of time. For most of us, that is just setting us up for failure. It’s also flexible – my fasting days are Monday and Wednesday, but I could move them if a special occasion came up.

What are the downsides?

I’m normally quite a healthy eater or at least very careful about how much ‘junk food’ I consume. Since I started fasting, I have relapsed. Because I haven’t eaten the day before, I tend to binge on sugar and fat on my non-fasting days which I think will probably be reflected in my weight loss or lack thereof. I’m actually not sure if I have lost any because I haven’t weighed myself yet – I’m waiting until the one month mark – but we shall have to see… Fasting can also exacerbate previous conditions, although these are supposed to be short-lived and a response to your body repairing and cleansing of bad stuff. In my case, this means I have lots of teenage-style spots – lovely, I know.

For now, I am going to continue with The Fast Diet because the health benefits are too good to ignore. There are even early suggestions that fasting during chemotherapy could help its effectiveness. Any exciting developments along the way and I will let you know. If you are interested in diets and improving your overall health I recommend watching the TV show to start yourself off. Long term, I guess we just hope that the results speak for themselves!

Thoughts on salad (60)

salad, rocket

Image from catsper's flickr photostream

Woo… blog 60!

I eat a fair amount of salad, and today I was reading a some recipes for work. And so, bearing that in mind, here goes my dissection of some salad.

Rocket. Love it. Can’t actually get enough. Sometimes I eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s peppery and amazing and great. If you don’t eat rocket, why not?! Added bonus – it lasts a fair amount of time.

Watercress. Bleh. Tastes alright on the first day it is picked but nothing all that special. Like it in soup. Is always the first part of mixed salad to go all slimy and brown. Ick.

Spinach. Lasts FOREVER. That’s the best thing about it. I love that about Spinach. I call it the salad filler, because there is so much in a bag it bulks it out and doesn’t really taste like much. (Maybe I have bad taste buds, I don’t know.)

Tomato. Mmm… especially vine tomatoes. Yum, yum, yum, yum!

Sweetcorn. Goes with almost every meal. You should always have a tin. FACT.

Red onion. It tastes good, and it has a satisfying crunch. But there is no getting away from it, it will make your breath smell bad. Is it worth it? Only you can answer that question.

Olives. Yummy but I never have any. Who seriously will eat a whole jar before they go off, or is willing to pay stupid amounts for the special salad feta and olive mixes? Besides, maybe sometimes you don’t want feta as well… oh who am I kidding olives and feta go together like wine and, well, wine, or wine and crisps.

That completes my insightful and totally practical guide to salad, just in case you’ve never had it. (If you haven’t you must have very bad insides.)

Are you watching Masterchef Australia? (14 #oneaday)

I’m a bit of a sucker for reality tv style cooking shows. I love Great British Menu. I love Hell’s Kitchen (both the Gordon Ramsay version and Marco Pierre White’s). I thought the series where Jamie Oliver’s friend started a pig farm, that programme, that was GREAT. I have loved Jamie’s School Dinners, Top Chef, Kitchen Nightmares, Monty Halls Great Escape, Big Chef takes on Little Chef and even, on occasion, The F Word. And oh my gosh The Restaurant. I love that show.

There is however one exception. I have never been taken by Masterchef. It doesn’t do anything for me. I’m not saying this means it is a bad show. I’m sure plenty of people love it and I know my mum and sister do. It’s too safe for me, there is not enough extreme competition. I want to see people juggle knives. In Top Chef they have to BBQ high end food on the beach for surfers, they have to cater on yacht on a budget, they have quick fire challenges. Masterchef has ‘heats’. Yes, they have to work in a professional kitchen (i’m sure it’s hard) and yes they have to make the same ingredients look exciting and edible (also hard), but it does not make riveting viewing. I will watch it if nothing else is on.

On the other hand, Masterchef Australia is BRILLIANT. It is much more Top Chef and much less Masterchef UK. The first episode I watched gave a contestant the opportunity, early on in the competition, to win a free passage to the final. All they had to do is cook a plate of food better than a famous Australian chef. Easy right? Ok well maybe not, but it was great tv. (He lost and rejoined the rest of the gang).

Then they had to work in two teams in a high end sushi restaurant and arranged their teams in an Apprentice style with buyers, and chefs, and stuff. (I love The Apprentice but that’s another story). It was exciting and made you care about the individuals – the staple of a reality show.

And now i’m watching it; i’m learning. And, shock of shocks, I don’t mind i’m learning. It’s a miracle! The mentors are showing the team how to make a chocolate and olive oil mousse. I want to eat it. I want to taste raw egg (you would have to watch this episode to understand).

I love it. I’m Sky+ ing it. You should too.

Masterchef Australia is on Watch at 7pm everyday except Saturday.

Why saying you like people is like saying you like food (Blog 8 #oneaday)

I was driving home this evening and for some reason it occurred to me that saying you like people, is like saying you like food. Bear with me. This is a theory based mainly on the need of food and people in maintaining the happy, healthy individual.

Firstly, you need both to live. You might even crave both depending on the circumstances (maybe even at the same time). A person can not live without sustenance of the nutritional variety. I argue however that you also can not live without sustenance of the human variety. I’m not talking about cannibalism, i’m talking social interaction. Much as we like to moan and complain about people, and say we like animals more, and think we want to be alone, who are we without our loved ones around us? As the famous quote by John Donne says ‘no man is an island‘, just the same as ‘man can not live by bread alone’. They are totally the same thing. Sort of.

It is universally accepted that food can improve your health. Do you know what else can improve your health? Doctors, nurses and researchers. And those people who invented other health improvement things. You would miss those people if they weren’t there, just like you would miss tomatoes and their anti-oxidants.

Both food and people provide entertainment, sometimes at the same time! Going out for a meal WITH someone. That’s the two joined together. Entertainment maintains our mental health and without it we would all be very boring, indifferent people. We wouldn’t like anyone, let alone people or food. (Circular much?)

In conclusion, my point really, is that saying you like people is obvious. It is practically a non-sentence. They are central to our lives, just like food is. None of us could live here alone happily without people or food. Did ‘I Am Legend‘ teach us nothing?

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