Saturday, 27 June 2009

Celebration Turns into 6-Day Junk Food Rampage, Part 2

In part 1, I described my escalating culinary indulgences over the course of a 3-day celebration. That post ended as I apparently reached the zenith of my rampage. As Monday morning dawned, the feelings of abandon began to be replaced by thoughts of recovery.

But wait! What's that? There's still food in the kitchen? The small group of us who had remained at the venue on day 3 now had a couple of hours to vacate the place, taking with us anything not belonging to the owners. Including food and drink.
Aladdin's Cave and Cheese on Toast
Once again, we entered Aladdin's cave. Now there was a more complex set of factors influencing my food choices. I was still, technically, celebrating. We had three further days off work. Yet I was feeling the accumulated jadedness of
three days of self-poisoning, and knew it had to end sometime.

So a bowl of 'specially special' fruit salad was not on cards, even though plenty of fruit salad, clotted cream and chocolate bars remained; but there was also fresh, sliced bread and a variety of cheeses. Mmmmm... grilled cheese on toast.
Dividing the Spoils
Day 4
3 slices of cheese on toast with hummus, ketchup, mayo

Ice cream snickers bar

roast chicken with parsnips and broccoli

chocolate bar
10 x chocolates
cake with cream
While others assembled and divided the remaining spoils, I made cheese on toast for Mrs M and me. My three slices were heavy on the cheese and various relishes, including the divine hummus one of the guests had made. Naturally ketchup was the predominant ingredient. By the time these were constructed, the bread was little more than a convenient platform.

We left with our boxes of food and drink, including a large chunk of the celebration cake and two snickers ice cream bars for the journey.

Once the ice cream was gone, I had a moment of reflection.
This is the End.... or Maybe Not
Okay. That was it. From now on, Paleo, Primal food. We would give the cake away. Thoughts of recovery dominated those of celebration. The time was now.

We stopped at the supermarket and bought a large organic chicken, broccoli and parsnips. Our favourite meal and the ideal gateway back to healthy eating.

Later, when we had unpacked, the chicken and parsnips went in to the oven. Since we were still on holiday, opening some wine couldn't hurt - our box of spoils included several bottles. But those chickens take a while to cook don't they? Since Mrs M and I drink white and red respectively, we each had our own bottle from which to refill each time we checked on the cooking bird.
The Wine does it Again
By the time it was ready, we were sozzled, ravenous and largely oblivious to any earlier pledges about healthy eating. My carving efforts degenerated into manual savaging - probably not the kind of dignity the chicken would have opted for.

the little fat guy with horns on our right shoulders delivered a knockout blow to the pious, slender guy on the left...
Having feasted on the chicken and its trimmings, we walked to the local shop to buy cream, then ate cake until the cream was gone and we felt vaguely nauseous. We also found some chocolates that had been hanging around the house for a few months and at them 'to get them out of the way.'

I can hear the collective slap as readers strike their forehead and cry 'well, duh!'

if you get drunk, you're probably going to eat the cake

But another way to look at it is

if you get drunk, it's probably because secretly you want to eat the cake

I am pretty sure I knew what I was doing when I opened that wine - examining one's behaviour and thinking before an after a binge can deliver a master class in rationalisation and self-trickery.
The Last Hurrah
The next morning I was hungry. Normally the sheer volume of calories from the day before would have at least propelled me to lunchtime without pangs of hunger, but by 11 I was getting the itch. Reminded me of the high carb days.

We hit the supermarket.

Breakfast: a half litre mango smoothie a bag of nuts.

Lunch not long afterwards: a large slab of salmon from the spoils box with salad and much hummus and balsamic vinegar. To finish, blueberries, kiwi and more cream.

It seemed that by drinking through our best intentions the night before, we had allowed the little fat guy with horns on our right shoulders to deliver a knockout blow to the pious, slender guy on the left.

So we decided to make this evening our final 'hurrah'. The following day was our final day off work. A last chance to recover.
Cocktails, Champagne and Seafood Banquet
Thus, at 5pm we changed and hit a local bar, where wine and cocktails delivered by the waiter were given little time to acclimatise to their new surroundings. Onward at 9 to a nearby Thai restaurant, where champagne was ordered, along with the seafood banquet.

Day 5
mango and apple smoothie
100g nuts

salmon, hummus, salad
blueberries, kiwi, cream
dried fruit + nuts

glass of white wine, two cocktails, half a bottle of champagne
seafood banquet
cheesecake & cream
Irish coffee
Where the hell do you get your money from?

...I hear you cry. Let's put it this way: many more meals like that one and we'll be eating out at the local kebab shop for the next 20 weekends.

The platter of starters was a vast spread of grilled and battered seafood. That alone would have sufficed for any reasonable person. Naturally Mrs M was saving herself for the main course, so it was up to me to ensure completion. I simply won't see food taken away by waiters.

Then, after a barely adequate pause, the three main dishes arrived, one of which was a whole sea bass. The obligatory bowl of sticky rice was brought, but remained untouched by our sides, confirming what I've always suspected: we just don't like rice.

It was perhaps the avoidance of the rice that gave us the capacity to finish all three dishes. I'd had a couple of memos from the stomach department entitled

Re: excessive food

...which I naturally ignored; those guys were always bitching - I knew there was more capacity if needed.
Cheesecake and Irish Coffee
When the dessert trolley arrived, quick decisions were made. I had been eyeing it from the beginning. Cheesecake.

"And a jug of cream," I demanded.

I always ask for a jug of cream in the UK (on the rare occasions I am eating it) because the amount they put on dessert is usually derisory. So I had to chuckle when this time they brought a jug - but containing the same paltry amount! I was going to complain, but when the first mouthful of cheesecake hit my palette there wasn't time. Despite being a pretty sizable slab, it was gone in 2 minutes.

The stomach department were calling emergency meetings and compiling strongly worded complaints, but too much booze and the knowledge that...

this was the end, no I really mean this time tomorrow it's strict Paleo, FOR DEFINITE

...meant I was determined to wring every last drop out of the evening.

"Two Irish coffees" I blurted without proper consultation with Mrs M, who shrugged. The waitress duly obliged.

When the coffees arrived, I was amused to discover each contained way more cream than the jug for dessert. Not only that, but it was thick, clotted cream. Great chunks of it floating in the coffee like ice bergs, dominating the capacious glasses.
Unholy Trinity
Suffice it to say that during the short walk home I felt unusual. The unholy trinity of alcohol, sugar and caffeine were duly slugging it out in my blood. Meanwhile the guys on my shoulders were now kicking back with a beer and watching TV together, knowing that for at least 12 hours there was nothing to argue about - it had all been done. I can imagine the conversation:

Devil, sympathetically: He's gonna feel terrible in the morning.
Angel, indignantly: I f***ing told him.

The following day I didn't feel anywhere near as terrible as I would have done if I had done the same thing in the middle of a strict Paleo run. Amazing how the body adjusts. I almost felt normal.
The Final Day
Day 6
mango smoothie
coffee with cream

salmon, smoked salmon, sour cream, hummus, salad, cheese puffs Primal/Paleo chocolates
nuts + dried fruit

Paleo/primal curry (but with real cream) & steamed veg
Primal/Paleo chocolates
real chocolates
cake x 3
bottle of red wine
I won't bore you with the details of the final day, save to say that it was a peculiar mish-mash of attempted Paleo/Primal eating (I came up with the chocolates recipe on this day) and continued indulgence. It culminated in a bottle of red wine and a determination to finish the cake, which
in composition was by now toe-curlingly skewed towards icing.

The next day was work; the natural backstop of any binge. If I ever start eating badly there, I know the wheels have come off. They didn't.
Epilogue and Weigh-In
A week after being truly Paleo/Primal again, I weigh 11 stone 12. That's 7 pounds heavier than the night before the first day of the celebration. To me that means a clear 7lbs of weight gain not attributable to the factors I discuss here.

This is all junk maths, but I figure that if all that weight was fat (certainly looks like it!) then 7lbs is 3,175 grams (says Google) which (x9) is 2,8575 calories. Divide by 6 to get excess calories per day and you get about 4,700.

4,700 extra calories per day? Really? Someone please tell me my maths is wrong.

One thing I have learned from this is that momentum goes in both directions. I talked about its importance in beating a binge here. I certainly gained some momentum this time - and it was not the right kind.

You may have been wondering about Mrs M... did she gain a lot of weight too?

Some, but not as much. The thing about Mrs M is she just doesn't do volume. Although she gleefully matched me on most indulgences, she simply hasn't the stomach for gluttony. Her thing is endurance.

Whilst on Thursday I stoically battled the caffeine withdrawal headache and snootily waved my hand at the stockpile of wine in the kitchen, Mrs M was unable to resist the allure of both.

Her diet was better, but this was thanks in large part to my being in charge of the cooking. I know she was making covert trips to obtain non-Paleo/Primal food for days after the binge had officially ended.

Did she do her health more or less damage? Who knows.


Note: only the photo for Wednesday is of the real food.

See Also:
Celebration Turns into 6-Day Junk Food Rampage, Part 1
Articles about Fasting, Bingeing and Appetite
... Read more

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Celebration Turns into 6-Day Junk Food Rampage, Part 1

Last Thursday I weighed 11-5. On Wednesday I came in at 12-4. This phenomenal weight accumulation was the result of an epic food and alcohol binge that spanned a full 6 days and saw me insanely rampage through the A-Z of junk food like a lunatic on a shooting spree.

Before I go into the details, let me make a few things clear:

It's not big and it's not clever. I may now appear to take pleasure in recounting the events and entertaining you (I hope) with the sheer lunacy of it - but don't let this give you the impression I am happy about it.

I am lucky, in that I have the capacity to adopt a profoundly strit Paleo/Primal lifestyle on the turn of a pin and maintain it for as long as necessary to get back to where I started. By binging like this, I abuse that good fortune and undo the good work that cannot be seen - i.e. the health of my organs.

This was a one-off event - a big, 3-day celebration I was closely involved with. I take solace from the fact that this will never be repeated, so at least one excuse to binge has been removed forever.
6 glasses champagne
10 canapes
2 coffees

Fish, meat, cheese, quiche, salad
table chocolates x 10
fruit salad and cream
chocolate cake and cream
crème brûlée x 2
large wine x 3
The Family Party - Champagne and Buffet
The event kicked off on Friday with champagne at 2pm. Until then I had fasted, anticipating the evening feast.

The thing about champagne is that it appears to keep arriving. It's the only drink I know of that finds its way into your hand by magic.

6 glasses and two hours later I was rifling through the canapés and slurring my speech. Time for some coffee. This is something I don't normally drink, but was strategically imperative (I'd decided,) given I had to remain lucid for the imminent dinner. Of course being drunk, I went for two of the strongest coffees I could find.

The buffet format was a bad start for a latent glutton like me. The caffeine propelled me around the feast-laden table, where I garnered copious amounts of meats, fish, mozzarella, quiche and soft cheese pastries. Back at the table, I nailed this lot in fairly short order, during which 3 large glasses of red wine somehow also negotiated entry to my gullet.
Enraged Sweet Tooth
I had fostered deeply unrealistic hopes that I could hold out until the following day before caving in to sugar, but by the time dessert was wheeled out I had already pillaged the table of various chocolates and mints, no doubt intended to be eaten later with the coffee.

3 cheeseburgers & 3 lamb burgers with mayo, ketchup & cashew nut butter (80g)
various salad and cheese
2 slices of chocolate cake with clotted cream
fruit salad with clotted cream

50g hummus
a burger
2 bottles of red wine
unknown quantity of champagne
Rather like injuring a lion with a sharp stick only makes him more dangerous, my sweet tooth was now enraged. A time-lapse photograph of the dining area would have revealed a blur between my seat and the dessert area as I systematically demolished one or more bowl of each type.

Then, finally, boom: I hit my limit; and while the rest of the party danced the night away I wandered around sweating lightly and willing myself to feel better.
Burger Spectacular
Saturday, day 2 of the celebration, began with the return of the catering staff, whose job it now was to execute a lunchtime barbecue for 50 people.

While burgers, meat and seafood sizzled on grills, a spread of salads, cheeses and relishes was prepared.

I was initially pleased with my restraint. Not drinking alcohol helped maintain some semblance of control. I took the decision to allow myself dairy but avoid the bread. Thus was I able to comfortably consume 6 burgers - an unlikely feat had the buns been included.

With the burgers I had copious helpings of mayo, ketchup and cashew nut butter - the nut butter coming from a private stash of Paleo/Primal food which I had naively thought would help me avoid eating bad food.

With the sugar genie now out of the bottle from the previous night (and no doubt further kindled by the ketchup), I had little chance against the dessert. I once again launched a valiant assault on the chocolate cake and fruit salad while the caterer-in-chief nervously monitored my clotted cream consumption.
The Friends Party - another Barbecue
When the lunchtime barbecue was over, the caterers and the family guests left. Meanwhile, a new set of revellers continued to arrive, armed to the teeth with booze and food for a further 24 hours of celebration. From now on, it was DIY.

The venue had 4 large refrigerators, which were now being tested to their limits as food and drink for the evening barbecue was crammed into every shelf and drawer.

Fortunately, booze was being drunk at a sufficient rate to allow an equilibrium to prevail; and one or two guests selflessly acted as self-appointed fridge guardians, consuming as many cans as possible themselves whilst offering ever-more erratic assistance to those arriving with supplies.
2 bowls of 'special' fruit salad

3 'chip butties' with mayo, ketchup butter and cheesechicken curry

90g cashew nut butter
2 chocolate puddings with clotted cream
'special' fruit salad with clotted cream and chocolate bar chunks

red wine

The evening barbecue, executed with great aplomb by the guests themselves, was a superb spread - better, arguably than the first; yet I managed only a single burger with hummus, thanks to the sheer calorie count from earlier.

The alcohol toll was a different story, and may also have contributed to my eating less food. My best guess is two bottles of red and at least half of champagne. As I say, not clever.
The Hangover and Aladdin's Cave
And so to the hangover. Possibly the most powerful inducer of bad food binging. Sugar and salt balances all over the place, a weakened psychological state and the profound need for comfort of any kind. Clearly, after what I had drunk, I had one.

Also, picture, if you will, the place in which I awoke. It was like Soddom and Gommorah and Aladdin's Cave rolled into one. Work surfaces festooned with part-eaten burgers and precariously stacked bowls of congealing cream and cake. Empty food packets and part-empty food packets. Bottles of booze, glasses of booze, cans of booze. Overflowing bins and part-filled, abandoned black bin bags.

Yet amongst the devastation, a wealth of uneaten food remained. One fridge was still full to the gills with unopened containers of cream, relishes, fresh meat, fresh bread, cheeses of all kinds, strawberries, chocolates, beers, wines and desserts. Tubs of homemade hummus and potato salad had only partly been consumed.

Meanwhile, the guests were departing, seemingly oblivious to the riches they were leaving behind.
'Special' Fruit Salad
I discovered the huge tub of 'special' fruit salad one of the guests had brought. This was something I had been eyeing the day before but never got to. It was like normal fruit salad, but made with yogurt and chocolate chunks. I had a bowl. This definitely hit the spot. I had another one.

By early afternoon, most of the guests had left, leaving a small group of us who intended to stay a further night at the venue (since it was a 3-night hire.) The trusty barbecue was cleaned up and Mrs M and I stood before an open fridge, basking in the golden glow of possibilities. Emissaries were dispatched to the supermarket to acquire more coals and curry sauces.

By this point, I was well beyond any reasonable care about what or how much I was eating. This had become an exercise in covering all the bases. Satisfying every possible craving. A kind of while-I'm-at-it mentality.
Chip Butties and Absurd Relish Slathering
'Chip butties' have always been one of my weaknesses. I think this a UK term. Essentially, fries in a sandwich with butter and whatever relish you choose. In my case, mayo, ketchup and melted cheese. Can you think of anything worse? I constructed and ate three of these, each more absurdly slathered in relish than the last, and each progressively more difficult to control, as the combined volume of sauces inevitably found its way through my fingers to the plate or the ground.

Between butties I paid due homage to real food by working on the chicken curries (nice when the chicken has been barbecued, by the way) and some cooked salmon steaks. Oh, and red wine. At least a few large glasses.

Unfortunately I ate more than I should have, and the combination of hangover and the sudden rush of blood to my stomach sent me drowsily to bed, after being up for only 7 hours. I was heckled by Mrs M and our companions, and felt personally cheated that I had not had any dessert; but the call was too strong.

Some hours later I woke up. It was dark but I could hear talking. Others were still awake. Now the refrigerator was calling. There were more riches in the cave.
Heroic Intenstines
My heroic intestines had clearly been working hard as I slept, so my appetite was back. Oddly, my first instinct was to finish the jar of cashew nut butter in my room.

Then, to the kitchen, where I found evidence of recent dessert consumption. Chocolate puddings, chocolate bars, cream. In the fridge, plenty more. I assembled the first of 2 bowls of chocolate pudding and cream. Later, more 'special' fruit salad, augmented by me to be 'specially special' with
clotted cream and chunks of chocolate from a chocolate bar.

Having clearly not learned the lesson of earlier, I was once again driven to bed, having managed a further hour.

This is where part 1 ends. It's making me feel faintly nauseous recounting the events, so I think I need a break before posting part 2.

Note: none of these photos are of the real food: I was far too focused on eating to take pictures.

See Also:
Celebration Turns into 6-Day Junk Food Rampage, Part 2
Articles about Fasting, Bingeing and Appetite

... Read more

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Paleo/Primal Chocolates - A Quick, Simple & Tasty Recipe

Having just emerged from the throes of a 5-day food and alcohol binge that made Christmas look like a minor lapse, I require a few days in which to gather my thoughts and prepare a written account that does justice to the truly Herculean display of gluttony to which I must confess.

In the meantime, I feel able to share two pearls of wisdom.

1. It is possible to get sick of cashew nut butter if you eat enough. Really - it's true.
2. A recipe for Paleo/Primal chocolate that's genuinely easy and tasty.
Paleo/Primal Chocolates - The Ingredients
50g Creamed Coconut (update 18/06/09: Creamed Coconut is actually the compressed, concentrated form of coconut meat. See here and here.)
50g Coconut Oil
50g Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
Small chunks of dried or fresh fruit
Paleo/Primal Chocolates - The Equipment
A pan
A cooker
A spoon
A flexible ice cube tray
Paleo/Primal Chocolates - The Steps
Put the creamed coconut and oil into the pan and heat gently until it's a liquid
Add the cocoa powder and stir until it's fully blended
Allow it to cool until it's a little less runny - this will make adding the fruit easier
Pour into the ice cube tray - remember to leave some room for adding the fruit
Add a piece of fruit into each - it should slowly sink out of view
Place in the refrigerator - or the freezer for faster readiness

After 30 - 60 minutes, pop out the chocolates...

Paleo/Primal Chocolates - Final Thoughts
Okay, so this is not exactly strictly Paleo/Primal. I am guessing dried fruit, cocoa powder and creamed coconut are not things cavemen kept in stone jars at the back of the cave. However, I think most of us are pragmatists and look for recipes like this as a way to avoid straying into the realms of processed garbage - and I do believe these will do that job just fine.

Also - thanks to Twitterers treelizard, Threnos, Paleo_princess and comaboy for their advice on this a couple of weeks ago.

Other Recipes:
My Mum's and my apple crumble
Our Paleo/Primal Curry - More of a Guide Than a Recipe
... Read more

Thursday, 11 June 2009

See What the Rest of the Paleo/Primal Community is Eating!

In April Mark Sisson encouraged all the Primal/Paleo people on Twitter to start tagging their Tweets with the #primal tag - see this post.

Since then plenty of us have been doing just that....but we have also been using TwitPic to post photos of our meals.

Thanks to the wonders of technology, we now have a page on this blog where you can see all the latest photos of meals posted to Twitter by the Primal/Paleo community. You can get to the page by clicking the 'What YOU are Tw-Eating' button in the sidebar, or by clicking here.... Read more

Saturday, 6 June 2009

How Paleo/Primal are You? Answer these 8 Questions to Find Out...

You scored: out of a possible 24.Oh dear - you are not very Paleo / Primal at all. You should consider taking a look at Paleo/Primal in a Nutshell Part 1 and Part 2 and reading the material on this site!

Congratulations - you have a healthy mix of pragmatism and Paleo / Primal instinct.

Yikes! Have you considered you may be taking things a little too far?

Here are 8 questions to test just how Primal/Paleo you are.

Please note, this is just for fun! All possible answers are intended light-heartedly and certainly not in any way a recommendation for how you should behave!
At a Restaurant.You are at a restaurant. You like the look of the chicken but it comes with fries. Do you:
Eat the fries, order a side of garlic bread, then chow down on a slab of cheesecake to follow.
Ask the waiter to substitute extra vegetables or salad for the fries.
You are not at the restaurant. Cavemen did not have them so you would never eat in one. Besides, your loin cloth does not meet their dress code.
Feeling Hungry.You are out walking in your neighbourhood and realise you are hungry. Do you:
Buy a bag of potato chips and a chocolate bar at the nearest shop.
See whether the shop has something Paleo, like unsalted nuts - otherwise wait until lunch.
Lure the neighbour’s cat with the promise of affection, kill it with your bare hands, then use your pocket knife to skin and eat it.
Seeing the Doctor.Your doctor says your total cholesterol reading came back high and wants to put you on statins and a low fat diet. Do you:
Agree without question.
Thank him/her for the advice, but instead go on a broadly Paleo/Primal diet, based on what you’ve read about cholesterol and the best diet for a healthy heart.
Bludgeon him to death with his rolodex and scrawl the words ‘bad medicine’ in blood on his office wall.
Shopping. You are at the supermarket. You want to buy some chicken for dinner. Do you:
Buy the cheapest chicken you can find.
Look for an organic, free-range bird, but if you can’t find one, decide to shop elsewhere.
You are not in the supermarket. You are chasing birds in the park while worried parents gather their children.
Working Out. You are thinking about your workouts for the coming week...
What’s to think about? You’ve been doing the same 5-days-a-week, 60-minute cardio workout for years.
You have a rough idea what you’ll do but it depends how you feel. Maybe 2 or 3 short, intense, interval-based intense sessions - sprinting, bodyweight, dumbbell work – or maybe swimming or another sport.
You have no idea. It just happens. You may show your boss you can throw a full water cooler bottle across the office. Or fight a neighbour with whose partner you declared a wish to ‘mate’.
Surprise Meal. Your new partner has prepared a surprise meal for you – nachos slathered in melted cheese to start, risotto main course and apple pie with custard for dessert. Do you:
Devour every available morsel, leaving your plate cleaner than it started.
Do your best not to hurt his/her feelings, but try not to eat too much - perhaps say you ate a lot earlier because you didn’t expect the surprise.
Overturn the dinner table in righteous anger, deliver a 15-minute tirade accusing him/her of attempted poisoning, then leave, never to return.
Talking to Vegans. You are chatting with some vegan friends. Do you:
Tell them you wish you could be vegan, but you enjoy junk food too much.
Explain the philosophy behind Paleo/Primal, but also say you appreciate their moral courage.
You don’t have any vegan friends. Last time you met vegans you harangued them until they cried and left a kilo of giblets on their windscreen in the morning.
Dinner with Friends.You and your partner are invited to dinner at the house of friends. Do you:
Take along a bottle of Baileys and a cheesecake like a Humvee’s wheel to guarantee a gargantuan sugar binge.
Politely warn them about your preferences ahead of the meal so they can cook you extra meat and vegetables and perhaps make a fruit salad.
You were not invited in the first place. All your friends got sick of your interminable rants about modern food and stopped asking you round.
... Read more