Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Falafel Express

Something innocuous as an appetising falafel wrap, with a dollop of garlic mayonnaise and a scatter of fresh herbs, would normally makes anyone's mouth water. Eating it, even more so, freshly prepared from the Beirut Express, it was one of those pre-midnight snacks after an evening out. But disaster struck when three quarters of the way through eating this falafel wrap I violently threw up. For someone of my normally robust tummy disposition, this is quite a shock to the system. Throwing up is one thing. But I had suddenly developed swelling around my eyes and cheeks and a red rash which was more horrifying to look at than the jabbing headache that accompanied it. I didn't rush to A and E which I should have. But yesterday I was still feeling unwell so I did make a reluctant trip down there and got seen to in two hours. So lesson to learn here is, even if you're vegetarian, you're not safe.

Friday, 27 July 2007

The Friday Croissant

There's something special about Central London in the early hours. When I say early hours I mean for late risers, 8.30am might be the ultimate bearable definition. Sunlight bounces off the buildings and it's only at this time in the morning with the earlybird office workers I can look up and fully appreciate the mix of historical elegance and cosmopolitan beauty that London personifies. There are so many old buildings to marvel at. For instance, this morning for the first time in my entire 36 years of living in London, I discovered a medical university building dating back circa 1744.

This morning I also invented for myself the Friday Croissant. Now croissants can be eaten any day for any normal person. But for a detoxer like me they are a very rare treat. I walked into my favourite healthy eating joint today, Pret, and looked at the array of freshly baked croissants. I loved the look of the mozarella, tomato toasted with flavoursome oregano sprinkled on top. As I bit into my personal Friday treat, I savoured the mixture of warm cheese and tomato juices oozing out of the lightly crunchy croissant. Unlike my usual wolfing down routine of food, I took my time over the croissant, taking purposeful bites into it. I'm not going to beat myself up by saying now you have to run ten times round the block but now and again the odd treat, whatever it may be makes you appreciate the little culinary delights in life.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

The Wedding Thief

This weekend, I attended an Indian wedding reception. For a couple of weeks now, I had been dreading looking decent in a sari but was pleasantly suprised at myself at how the metres of silky material draped around my curves but didn't leave me feeling billowy. When my mum wore a sari, my dad would tease her on how she wore it like a world-class flag. So with that in mind I was determined not to look like an hot-air balloon. The wedding reception got into full swing. Starters were served at a decent hour and I started to panic at the thought of eating too many fried nibbles.

Mogo chips, samosas and fattening paneer were quickly snapped up by the other guests at the table and I modestly picked at a couple of mogo sticks, dried samosas, and tepid paneer fried in peppers. Luckily for me, the starters were so spicy that anything I put in my mouth left an unbearably snake-like spicy sting on my tongue. What followed was a long spate of dancing. I charged to the dance floor and danced like there was no tomorrow. The mains were served at an unearthly hour of 10.30pm which for detoxers like me is criminal. All I heard was a big gong in my head like Big Ben chiming the 9pm watershed. But I managed to calm myself down and eat the platter of food: two pieces of fried bread (puris), a small portion of pillau rice, dhal and a mixed veggie dish. I forced myself to slow down and taste the food but it all tasted rather dispriting like the meal had been flung together haplessly. Again what followed was a spate of mad dancing to eighties classics with a mix of bhangra and Bollywood moves thrown in for good measure. But a sour end to the evening: I learned my simple black clutch bag had been stolen. Bizzare, as it's not as if I was at a nightclub! The host in charge of waiting staff was darn adamant that her staff would never steal: she instructed them to empty all the bin bags. But the wedding thief went undetected.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Exercise and Diet

Whenever I hear the word diet, I react badly or rather my body does. I've been listening (and falling asleep to) the Paul McKenna Weight Loss CD. On it when you hear McKenna's deep, dulcet hypnotic tones he describes how those of us wanting to lose weight have basically been overeating and it's all about reducing portion size and more importantly, the aspect of emotional eating. Now for someone like me who has an anally retentive foodwatch mechanism that kicks in, this is refreshing to hear. Every nutritionist - and I've been to see a couple of the top ones in the country - talk about cutting out processed foods, eating more fruit, veg, fish, protein, etc but very rarely do they investigate whether your tendency to overeat is caused my stress or emotional imbalances. Tuning into what your body does or doesn't like when it's truly hungry rather than listening to our minds persauding us to reach out for that chocolate bar seems a much more manageable philosophy.

Monday, 16 July 2007

Feel the flab burn

If only I could feel the flab burn. I've been eating sensibly now for weeks. Detox this and that. And it has made some difference. This evening I went round to a friend's house for some advice on the current trends of evening wear at Indian wedding receptions. In her bathroom, I stealithly stepped on her Ikea bathroom scales and was horrified to see that my weight was a massive 9 stone 4. No wonder I felt horrendous weeks ago! I must have been a whopping 10 stone (for my height that's hefty) but vowing not to weigh myself until I could feel a difference in my clothes, I had avoided the dreaded scales until now! Well at least I know I have a target so to speak. I'm aiming to turn from chubby chops to lean muscle in a few weeks now. I'm determined. I also determined to outwit the leisure, fitness industry by doing my fun dance based workouts, yoga and pilates without having to physically go to a gym. Watch this space for more updates.

5 top detox tips

I’m eagerly awaiting the Detox book I ordered from Amazon called The Detox Cook: Over 100 Blissful Detoxing Recipes.

In it from what I’ve seen browsing through it in a bookshop is the promise of wholesome, fulfilling recipes, easy to prepare but without forfeiting the actual enjoyment of eating. I’ve always found dieting painful. Cut out this and that. For the most part, I feel I have cut out a lot.

When I see my friends or people generally tucking into a slice of rich chocolate cake laced with ice cream, or enjoying a plain Mr Whippy ice cream generally, I think to myself how! How can they eat like that and still have washboard stomachs??

I’ve decided to impart my tips on getting slimmer which I feel have contributed to my gradual weight loss. These, in my book are the top five:

Squeeze lemon into hot water and drink a cup every morning.

Take milk thistle or a kidney, liver detox complex for about a week or two. Good health food shops like Planet Organic or the Organic Pharmacy do a good one.

Cut out wheat for a week and see how less bloated and fat you feel. Good carb substitutes are brown rice, quinoa (similar to couscous), buckwheat (acquired taste) and millet (again very much an acquired taste). Treat each of these grains like a rice accompaniment. Try not to eat grains or wheat in the evening. Have a portion of vegetables instead – complex carbs are better to digest in the evening.

Eat fruits not loaded with sugar: apples, pears, strawberries, blueberries. Mangos and melons, delicious as they are, should be eaten sparingly.

Fifth most obvious tip is drink more water. Aim for 1.5 litres at least every day. If water is not your thing, break your intake down. Have a smaller bottle on your desk, so psychologically you don’t think, my don’t I have a lot of water to drink! Go to the water cooler and fill up three times at least.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Pret Detox Delights

I was pleasantly surprised to see today for the first time in the super healthy lunch eatery, Pret, a drink labelled 'Yoga Detox Bunny - Liquid Psychiatry'. Just how someone came up with a fangdangled name is beyond my comprehension. But as a sucker for any new detox consumables on the market, I bought this can partly out of curiosity, partly out of bemusement, a healthy substitute for Diet Coke which I hasten to add have never been partial to. Whenever I gulp such detox goodies, I anticipate the effect it will have on my bodily functions. Yoga Bunny Detox balanced with ginseng (will wake me up from a work-induced sleepiness) and echinacea (aimed at quashing colds) will stem my explosive sneezing fits.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Why cutting out sweets doesn't always work

July traditionally is the month for summer bloom. Bloom in every sense of the word, from the carefully manicured gardens in Regents Park to the propped and preened women strolling down Oxford Street, keen to show off flat washboard stomachs and a near size zero figure. My aspirations are not quite size zero. A comfortable size 10, and even better a figure 8, top and bottom would be perfect. Still, I'm feeling the stress and strain of it all. Oh it used to be so easy I lament. News is, I've been outstandingly good when it comes to food recently. I've taken to munching on almonds in between meals. Even when delicious, sumptious cakes from Carluccios are paraded around the office because it's someone's birthday, I can safely say I throw all cares about eating anything sweet out of the window. Don't crave it, don't want to eat it. In fact, I've returned to a former loathing, which I myself can only confess to. I hate eating anything sweet that will automatically, in my case, pile on the pounds. I know, it's all mind over matter. I feel that way about anything sweet so my self-perception is thwarted. Still, I am congratulating myself that I am safely on an even keel. Drinking hot lemon water, hardly any artifical sugar in my diet at all. I've never been one for fizzy drinks loaded with e-numbers so that's not an issue for me either. Pity that I can't see it on my waistline quite yet. Secretly, I'm glad that July is lousy. I can cover up for a little bit longer.