Saturday, 27 October 2007


We eat out pretty regularly, and of course this is quite a challenge, as it is impossible to know exactly how many calories you are getting. A fair basic knowledge of nutrition does enable me to make a good estimate, and I try to be realistic. Underestimating what I am eating does no-one any favours. I choose the healthiest options I can find on the menu, assume that I am eating more calories than usual for that day and then adjust the day after. After a meal last evening – two fairly modest courses – I felt pretty full and continued to do so right until the following morning. And I realised something interesting. I didn’t really like the sensation. In fact I was looking forward to regaining the feeling I get inside when I am CRd. Some may call it hunger but after almost a year of CRON it feels different to me. I adopt the ‘little and often’ eating pattern so rarely go many hours without food. A light breakfast, lunch and dinner with 50-calorie snacks (usually almonds or fruit, or cottage cheese or a drink of oat milk) in between and lots of green or white tea to sip. So my stomach is either in the state of feeling comfortable, though not especially full with what I have just consumed, or it is in an empty resting state. And resting is good, without any discomfort or stress on the system. For many years I suffered from IBS – painful spasms of the intestines, precipitated by a horrendous bout of gastro-enteritis. There were a lot of remedies for this, none of which helped me, and I got a lot of advice about things to take, but when the pains came on all I could do was take painkillers, lie down, and wait for them to go. And then it dawned upon me – I was constantly being told to put things in my stomach, when what my body was demanding was a rest. So I went on a fast, and two days later the cycle of painful attacks was broken. And they never came back. I have been free of IBS for ten years. I can see why people feel peaceful when fasting, the body is not labouring to digest volumes of food. Not that fasting is for me, except on that one occasion. But I welcome back that little rumbly tickly feeling in the stomach that tells me I am properly CRd. In a peculiar way I have grown to like it. Incidentally, I contacted an IBS research organisation to tell them of my experiences, as I thought it might help others, but my comments were not taken seriously. Ten years on, I see that fasting is now recommended as a strategy for helping sufferers!

Friday, 19 October 2007

On the hoof

What to eat when out and about is a perennial problem. You may not always know how long you will be out, how much or what kind of food will be available and whether you will have access to any kind of cool food storage. I have a few solutions. If it is just a matter of being out for a few hours, most food will keep cool if well wrapped, so I take my finger salad – stuff like celery cucumber etc cut in strips that I can eat with my fingers out of the box, plus cherry tomatoes and small salad leaves. I add some cubes of low fat cheese or a few almonds. Almonds are a great portable emergency snack and I have sometimes lunched off a small handful of almonds and an apple. I am also experimenting with a healthy flapjack recipe. Best kept in fridge or freezer they can be taken out just before you travel. On a longer trip your hotel may not be the health food emporium you would like it to be and will look askance if you bring your own food and ask to use their fridge, so last time I was on a weekend trip I took apples, plus a tin of butter beans, (a large white cooked bean - nothing to do with butter!) two tinlets of tuna in water, a small plastic box and a tin opener. Day one, I opened the beans, put half of them in the box for the next day (they will be fine for 24 hours unrefrigerated) and used the rest plus one tinlet of tuna for a salad. The next day I used the rest of the beans and the other tin of tuna. That was two lunches. Dinner and breakfast being buffet style in the restaurant I was able to choose something suitable.

Sometimes these situations will lead to serendipitous discoveries. Not long ago I was staying at a location where mass catering was the order of the day and breakfast was going to be bacon, sausage, fried eggs etc. I rooted around the kitchen and found a pack of rolled oats but there were no facilities for cooking a single portion. So I improvised by pouring some oats into a serving bowl and adding boiling water. In five minutes I had porridge. And it was the best porridge I had ever eaten! The grains had a little bite to them and the nutty taste of the oats was more evident than if I had simply boiled them. I made another discovery on a similar occasion. Again, staying away from home, I was in a cold house and wanted a hot breakfast. There was a big bowl of delicious fresh fruit salad in the fridge which was just what I fancied eating except that it was cold. So I filled a bowl with it and put it in the microwave just long enough to warm it through but not long enough to actually cook it. Yummy. Even if I was lowering the vitamin content by warming it I was still getting more vitamins than if I hadn’t eaten it at all. So warm fruit salad is now a winter staple.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Win some, lose some

The downside of CRON is that you have to go and buy an entire new wardrobe of clothes. The good thing about CRON is that you have to go and buy an entire new wardrobe of clothes. I have been trying on last year’s winter garments, and some of them, principally skirts and trousers, are hanging on me like old sacks – or at least like clothes made for a larger woman. Sadly, there are some real favourites where the structure of the garment means they can’t simply be taken in – I am the daughter of a tailor and believe me, I know. So they are destined for ebay or the charity shop. The worrying thing is the stuff that fits. What on earth did I look like in them when I was 20% heavier than I am now? I must have been deluding myself into thinking that the bulging tum wasn’t really all that big and no-one was really going to notice that extra roll of blubber on the midriff; whereas now the fabric sits nice and smoothly over my trim waist and hips. In fact, for those of you who feel an urge to binge, or have secret cravings for CRON-unfriendly foods, here is my tip to drive away those hunger pangs – put on a clingy top and look in the mirror. Works for me! I think it may be an age thing. When I was in my 20s I used to wonder what the year 2000 would be like. Picturing myself then at the age of 52 I imagined a dumpy little woman rather thick around the middle. Today, I am in low-rise size 8(UK) (that’s size 4 USA) cargo pants and a skinny sweater, and getting away with it. At the age of 59 this is not something I take for granted! Anyway – must dash – I’m off to buy myself a cinch belt. The fashion gurus dictate that the waist is back. Thanks to CRON I’ve got one.