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


Arlo said...

Alcohol is really my only problem with eating paleo, but it starts a cascade of weakness that is incredibly difficult to break from.

Funny you posted this right now as I am having trouble falling asleep due to cutting out the alcohol.

Asclepius said...

Just finished two bottles of lager, a large glass of red wine, 500g bag of dried figs, a chocolate brownie and some crisps....this was purely to establish that alcohol is a 'carb gateway' drug.

I concur!

Methuselah said...

Your commitment to the pursuit of scientific truth is laudable, Asclepius. 'Gateway drug' - made me laugh!

thania said...

Had a terrible incident with a bag of crisp potatoes, no drink, I just couldnt sleep , so....

Feel awuful, pahh, I wasnt even hungry, just tired and couldnt sleep, oh well see, you are not the only one.

I am doing a ifast to start clean, hopefuly do a 24 hr one.

thania said...

Had a terrible incident with a bag of crisp potatoes, no drink, I just couldnt sleep , so....

Feel awuful, pahh, I wasnt even hungry, just tired and couldnt sleep, oh well see, you are not the only one.

I am doing a ifast to start clean, hopefuly do a 24 hr one.

Marisa said...

I have enjoyed your musings for some time now - especially your Nutshell videos (have forwarded those one countless times). Consider what's already been said about alcohol being a 'carb gateway.' Found this link to be most enlightening - Marisa

Methuselah said...

Thania - not to worry, one bag of crisps is not too bad. I know the feeling though - I have been known to gorge on nuts when not able to sleep, having convinced myself hunger what the problem. I find that a good fast is an excellent way to feel cleansed after eating bad food.

Marisa - thanks. I listened to an interview with Nora Gedgaudas on one of Jimmy Moore's podcasts recently and she definitely knows her stuff. And I have read about this connection between carb and alcohol addiction before. It seems like for each individual there is an emotional component and a physical component at work with alcohol. No doubt some alcoholics genuinely have emotional issues that drive them to drink - but no doubt equally there are others for whom it's more about physiology. I am convinced that Mrs M's alcohol consumption is sometimes a sugar proxy - for example the glass of cider she polished off tonight! Perhaps when I drink some booze I re-awakens my latent carb-addiction and it's as much about that as it is about the erosion of willpower...

Shelley said...

I dont drink very often anymore, not for any particular reason, there was a time when I could drink men twice my size under the table, not something I am proud of. However on the rare occasion when I do drink a couple of glasses of red it definitely makes me weak willed and if we have been out, I notice we will both have a little carb binge prior to bed.

Its kind of like sex and alcohol, I think there is something to the whole pleasure binging thing.....

Anyway wanted to comment very interesting about not being able to sleep Thania and Methuselah. Both of those foods ie nuts and potatoes have either magnesium or potassium in them. Magnesium helps to boost potassium and magnesium is great as a muscle relaxant and for helping us to sleep in fact most adults are deficient especially those who exercise and therefore lose minerals via sweat.

Maybe supplementing with said would help the sleep I know it helps mine.

Methuselah said...

Thanks Shelley - I'll look into that. I have never paid much attention to magnesium levels, so perhaps it's time to re-read the chapter on that in the Protein Power Life Plan...

leslie said...

i think i love you! my kinda chick! lol just found your blog... to the bookmarks you go! annnd yayyy snickers ice cream bar! i hope u enjoyed it!

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