Tuesday, 22 January 2008


I usually only eat out at places I have chosen, but last Wednesday I was one of a party of 20 meeting up at a London pub to celebrate a friend’s birthday. And it was a lovely pub – historical, very well preserved, with an interior like an atmospheric film set (except it was all real) and a great view. Unfortunately the food was horrible. I had tried but been unable to get a menu in advance, and when I saw it, what was my astonishment when I found there wasn’t even a salad. Everything was pretty much deep fried, slathered in mayonnaise (they must have got though buckets of the stuff) or topped with full fat cheese. Not so much food to die for as food to die from. Not wanting to be a party-pooper I thought I had better order something so chose the chicken curry which I thought was the most innocuous thing on the menu. We will gloss over the way it managed to not even have any culinary aspirations let alone fail to meet the most basic. The food that I saw being served to others was similarly uninspiring. Ordering the curry was my first innocent error. My second (woe is me) was to eat it. The best thing I can say about it is that there wasn’t a great deal of it. The worst is that I was very very ill the following day. I have little leeway in the weight loss stakes, and managed over the next few days to plunge down to under 87lb. I am now a great deal better but wondering what is so very wrong with what the public demands of pub food. Still, if anyone would like me to recommend a place to relax in a historical atmosphere, with a lovely view, let me know. Just eat before you go.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Me, me, me

Being a bloody-minded little b**** I have now returned to my pre-Xmas weight of 89.5lb (no, don’t throw things, please!). Fascinating how right now the media is full of stuff about how people must feel ghastly not to mention guilty after the excesses of the holiday period. This means that the magazines are crammed full of healthy recipes, which is good, but a healthy lifestyle is not just for January. I managed to be quite restrained over the holidays - didn’t eat junk or high fat and sugar foods, which in no way prevented me from having a pleasurable time - and have never felt better in a January. Last year I was just starting CRON and feeling my way, making lots of mistakes. This year I think I am enjoying the results of the effort I have put into it. Also I have not had my usual bout of winter colds, in fact I have not had a full-blown cold since I started CRON.

In line with my New Year resolution, I am working harder at using Cron-O-Meter, and in particular have been trying to use it as a tool to sculpt what I am eating to my own personal requirements. No point in looking at the books, as they all seem to assume I am an average sized man living in California, and the guys who guzzle their 1800-1900 calories a day find the specific problems of mini-me a little bewildering. No-one is going to tailor my nutrition to me except me. So this sister has to do it for herself.

Getting RDAs on 1200 calories a day is bloody hard, so I have to skew what I eat to foods which provide nutrients out of all proportion to the amount of calories. With CoM calibrated to my calories, I have been entering in quantities of foodstuffs which give 10% of my daily calories, (figure chosen for ease of computation) and then looking at what percentage of vital nutrients that amount provides. I am focusing especially on those nutrients which I am finding it most of a struggle to get from food alone. Not a lot of point for example in bothering to chase vitamin C or A of which I get stacks from the amount of greenstuff I munch my way through. I am making up a spreadsheet for easy reference. Very much a work in progress right now.

There are three main categories of foods on my sheet. One is what I call the star foods, things like mushrooms and spinach, packed with nutrients and very low cal. Then there are ‘good but not starry’ providing more than 10% of nutrients per 10% of calories but not spectacularly so. Oats, for example, and many fruits. Then there are foods I would say were OK – still good fresh foods such as apples and pears, but they underperform compared with the others. I include those to add variety, but don’t emphasise them. Some of the results have been real eye-openers. So the idea is that when I am considering what to have for dinner I can look at my results for the day, see where there are low scores and quickly look up what I need to bump up the values.

All this is a counsel of perfection and of course I fall way short of that. I eat out once a week, and have to be careful what I choose and do my best to estimate what I have eaten. One thing in which I am very fortunate – I have no cravings whatsoever for junk food, so the chances of going on a Mars Bar bender are pretty much nil.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Choc shock

Now we all know that small amounts of ultra dark chocolate can find a place in a CRON regime. If you go to the right shops you can find 100% cocoa solids bars. Recently – and I don’t know how prevalent this is in the US – there has been a fashion in the UK for the chocolate fountain to appear at parties. It began with the big commercial ones, but soon smaller cheaper ones appeared in the shops and now everyone can have a chocolate fountain whirring away on the buffet table. I was at a party which featured one recently, and this did give me an opportunity to look at the instructions and find out exactly what is in the tempting looking dark gloop. I found that ordinary chocolate is too thick to run through the fountain, and it is recommended either that a special high fat variety of chocolate is used or – and this is what the home user is more likely to go for – ordinary chocolate can be melted in a pan with extra oil. Funny how the chocolate didn’t look so tempting any more. Good news, however - the chocolate fountain is always accompanied with things to dip in it, which should include fresh fruit. Ignore the exhortations of fellow diners to dip the fruit in the chocolate, and wear your most figure-hugging outfit. You can always nibble a square of the 100% when you get home.