Category Archives: Health

Not eating out. Or in.

Last night was a bit interrupted, so I wasn’t able to prepare today’s “welcome” text – I’ll update this through the day instead and see how we do.

09:00 Oh no. I’ve forgotten my medication; that could add a new dimension to things! Apart from that, still feeling ok this morning, was maybe just a little more dehydrated than I’d expect.

10:00 Medication has arrived. It’ll take a bit before I feel less twitchy though.

11:00 My stomach is actually grumbling for the first time. I think I expected it rather earlier than this, and it isn’t half loud!

12:00 Halfway there… and I’ve booked a table at Franky & Bennies for my first meal after the fast. I’ll drop the fry up idea in exchange for a Southern Fried Philly Cheese Goo-fest. Oh yes.

13:00 Early afternoons are my weak point – there’s no doubt now. Yesterday I had a slump from about 14:00 to 15:00, and today I can feel the same feelings creeping upon me. Focusing on the task at hand is now a bit more tricky, and I can feel the text of my lunchtime reading “getting away from me a bit”.

Maybe reading Knuth while low on blood sugar is a doubtful decision, but it does raise the question of if human intellectual development and the rise of agriculture are linked. Maybe one to think about when I have more spare capacity.

14:00 I’ll have to call it there I’m afraid. As I expected, the post 13:00 crash came on, but this time it was so severe as to affect my work concentration, and that’s not allowable.

Off to the shop to buy some food now – I shall pop some thoughts down this evening (hopefully when I feel a bit better!)

The Fast and the Fat

First things first, I’ve noticed that there were a lot of people who couldn’t get to the site any more – I’m sorry, but my site’s firewall was making some very strange decisions because of a 3rd party cookie banner I was using. This is fixed (by the simple method of throwing out the old banner), and now you should enjoy unfettered access. I am a professional in this field. Really.

Here we are then, sat at the start of day 2 of the fast. Having resisted the urge to eat the leftover pizza last night, I’m feeling OK. I’m have had occasional waves of woosiness, but these are incredibly short; and anyway shouldn’t be unexpected. Like most people with free access to calories I have trained myself never to be short of blood sugar, and these brief interludes are nothing more than my body adjusting to the sudden crash in levels of available energy.

Joy Evening
A bowl of spaghetti and meatballs. Joy unbounded for Spugs.

And of course, all this is an experience. I’ve long held that every now and then you should shake up your thinking and find ways to change your perspectives – all part of the healthy practice of examining your opinions every now and then; why you hold them and whether you still actually cleave to that belief. There’s a certain part of me which is taking pleasure in just feeling something different. I’m not going to go as far as saying that all experiences are good, but nevertheless I think that your outlook does shape the nature of your experience; to put it another way – “I don’t care that I’m cold and wet – I’m camping”.

Here’s the blow-by-blow for the day:

7:00-9:00 Woke up anti-hungry. Not sick feeling, just with no interest in food. Not entirely unusual for someone who normally skips breakfast, and quite useful given that I was having to exercise some willpower last night.

10:00 Still not hungry, but I do feel a little more light-headed. Water also tastes absolutely disgusting right now – although that could be the way our supply water always tastes and I’ve just not noticed before. Experiment pending.

10:34 The water here tastes disgusting; like you’d expect runoff from a heavy agriculture field to taste. May get a testing kit.

11:00 I’m turning over ideas for my first meal in my head.

12:00 I think I’ve got it, it’s going to be a fry up.

  • Double Egg (maybe one fried and one scrambled)
  • Three rashers bacon
  • Home-made hash brown
  • Potato Cakes
  • Double Sausage
  • Beans
  • Mushrooms

13:00 Oh noes – now I have to watch my wife eat lunch. That may be a little more challenging than I thought.

14:00 A nice little walk took my mind off things, although I have to admit I’m now thinking about what 5 days without food means for the electrolyte balance of my blood. Maybe do some research later.

15:00 Urgh, I’m now pretty certain this is the bad patch. It makes sense, my body is used to a fairly large lump of calories well before this – pretty sure the walk won’t have helped.

Still, this is the kind of thing that I think my body should be trained out of. I don’t think that your performance should degrade after only 40 hours without food, and I wonder the body can be taught to deal with calorie availability more sensibly.

16:00 This is challenging, but it is getting easier now.

17:00 – 23:00 Actually the evening was really easy; energy levels about normal, and no more woozy spells. Good way to finish the day.

Fasting for fun and profit

007 Burger
A 007 burger from the Piz Gloria

In a minor departure from what we’ve looked at over the last few days, I’m going to be documenting here my attempt to go through a five day fast. There’s a couple of reasons for this.

Firstly, as we all know public announcement of intent imbues such things with a far greater chance of success than would otherwise be the case – we don’t like to lose face, and that is a powerful motivator. The second is so that if you’re considering doing something similar then you can at least use my experience to help with that decision.

I’d like to get some basic stuff out of the way, let me state the case that “de-detoxifying” is a myth. If you are building up toxins as part of your day to day life, that probably means that your liver has failed. There’s a depressing amount of money made by convincing people that the food they ingest is bad somehow; and the miracle cure is this fairly low value cash crop… which just trebled in value due to some clever marketing. This link to the naturalistic fallacy, and this list of ingredients of a banana are offered as just how broken a model this is for how to treat your body.

With that in mind then, there are three reasons I want to fast this week. First, I want to lose some weight and kick-start a calorie-reduced diet (I’ve put on a lot of weight while taking Mertazapine, more on that next time). Secondly, I want to see if I experience any of the health benefits suggested by recent studies and articles (a sample here and here). Finally, I had a rather wonderful experience with an out of date cheese and tomato sandwich that I’d like to recreate.

A little back-story first. I’m a keen motorcyclist, and as happens to all keen motorcyclists at some point I spilled my bike onto the deck. All relatively low speed – around 40mph, and not usually the sort of thing one complains about. The only problem was the cuff on my jacket burst and I got a bundle of grass and gravel pressed into an four inch long and one inch deep wound on my elbow.

My Motorbike
A 1250 Bandit – bless ‘er

I was seen in hospital the same day, and discharged with a light dressing and some anti-biotics. Three days later I was back with a life-threatening sepsis – it turned out that a significant amount of material had been missed and not removed (indeed, at one point I was left alone with some steri-pods and tweezers to “carry on” – busy hospital!), and the sutures on the wound were far too tight to allow it to discharge. In all, a bit of a downer and I came within a day of losing the arm.

Back to the point, as a result of all this I was denied food for about five days – not that I cared at the time, I was far too busy being ill to give a damn. However, when my parents visited at the end of my nil-by-mouth regime they asked if there was anything I wanted. I wanted food.

After a brief foray to the cafeteria, it turned out that a single curled up and out of date cheese and tomato sandwich was all that was left. It radiated the kind of despair associated with late night petrol stations and the worst of railway food. It was the kind of sandwich that would normally make you think “No, actually I’ll wait until tea-time”. As I opened the packet, I realised that I could smell the juice of the tomato – and suddenly I was salivating and clutching at the thing as though it was a miracle made real.

I devoured that sandwich with as much pleasure as any meal as I can remember; all the flavours vivid and sharp, the feeling in my mouth and stomach so satisfying, and I can’t help feeling that all the times I pack my face with rather too much, I’m trying somehow to recapture that lost sensation of that single sandwich. There’s a allegory for consumerism in there somewhere, but I’m not going to signpost it or anything.

Recreating the wonderful experience of an out of date cheese and tomato sandwich.

So, that’s the reasoning then; here’s the log of day one of my fast – updated throughout the day:

07:00-09:00 All is well; actually woke in a great state this morning (more on that next week). No hunger pangs or similar, but then again I don’t usually eat breakfast, so it’s not unusual territory for my body yet.

10:00 First substitution of the day has taken place – water instead of tea. Water tastes ok, but it’s not got the oomph behind it that I associate with a nice cuppa. Other than that, business as normal.

11:00 Colleague is eating a sandwich across from me. First signs of jealousy – at first I thought I couldn’t smell it, then a couple of receptors fired and I realised I could smell the wonderful chicken, mayo and cucumber combination. Water still tastes ‘ok’. This is usually the time I have my first snack of the day.

11:17 Strawberries? Really?

11:29 I don’t like strawberries anyway.

12:00 First urge for cup of tea.

13:00 Now I’m actively skipping a meal. I don’t feel too bad for it; usually by this point I would have had five cups of tea, and I’ve not got a caffeine withdrawal headache yet. Probably not the time to think about that.

I have noticed that my sense of smell is slightly heightened, but so far I’m not making grabs for stranger’s food. So that’s positive.

14:00 Ah. Is that a tinge of hunger?

15:00 Yes, yes it is. I would normally stop whatever I was doing at this point to nip to the shop. Feel good that I haven’t, but am aware this is just the start…

16:00 Lightheaded? Really? I am this soft that I get lightheaded 17 hours after eating?

17:00 Urgh. Water.

20:00 There is pizza. I’m not having any of the pizza, and I am not quite at peace with this. I hope that the others eat all the pizza, so I don’t have the temptation later. What am I saying, of course I can leave it for Amber in the morning – I shall be strong!