Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Healthy eating.

I'm hungry.  Really quite hungry.  And yet, in spite of that fact, I'm writing this instead of preparing myself some food.

Recently I was diagnosed as having high blood pressure.  Shortly thereafter, I began hearing of the benefits of intermittent fasting.  I was sceptical, because I'd been trying to eat little and often (well, often.  I don't enjoy hunger.  I do quite like feeling stuffed) for the past few years.  I did some reading around it, and decided it was worth a try.  And I've been trying it, roughly two days a week, for a couple of months now. 

There are various different forms of intermittent fasting.  As with most guiding principles in my life, I'm not the strictest.  I try to go sixteen hours between eating on my fast days, but generally if I've gone more than 12 hours I'm happy.  I hit 16 hours more often than not.  By nature, I'm a lazy man, and the fact that I don't have to get up and find food, and consider that proactive, appeals to me.

I try to break my fast with something healthy.  Ish.  I include more fruit and vegetables into the first meal after fasting, but that doesn't mean I skip on the pasta, or the cheese, or whatever.  And dark chocolate is good for reducing blood pressure, thank you.

Initially, I worried about this.  I do eat a lot of cheese.  So I did some more reading.  Turns out fat isn't the health hazard it was made out to be, as all those Atkins diet adherents repeatedly told me while giving me unsolicited advice on weight loss.  They were right.  Though carbs probably are bad.

But are they always?  New research suggests that letting your pasta cool and reheating it could dramatically reduce the negative effects of eating that particular carbohydrate heavy meal.  It's unlikely I'll ever bother to do this, but it's good to know.

Some things I have incorporated into my diet as a way of improving health include coconut water, as a good source of potassium to aid my fight against hypertension, avocado, for various reasons but mostly because it's really fucking tasty, turmeric, as I'd like at least for my mind to remain relatively whole while my body crumbles, and cinnamon as a sweetener in my morning coffee, for variety as much as anything else.

The issue I have is that the health benefits of positive thinking have become well documented, with negative thoughts correspondingly being hazardous to well-being.  For almost any activity, produce, or practice (with the possible exception of smoking, which I still do) it is possible to find information supporting it and promoting it as healthy, as well as information decrying it for being, at best, a waste of time, and at worst, detrimental to our mind/body/spirit.  Thanks to the availability of these publications, I feel the little death (no sniggering, French speakers) in me with each cigarette.  I worry about the effects of each alcoholic drink (at least for the first couple).  Each sip of coffee troubles me.  I wrestle with my conscience over every bite of a delicious but potentially harmful foodstuff.  And then I'm racked with concern over the fact that I'm worried by it.  If negative thoughts promote harmful consequences, and the negative thoughts are caused by harmful pleasures, am I doing myself damage squared?

The people who have carried on eating what they will, untroubled by sensational news about what is safe/deleterious to consume may have lived healthier lives than I have, occasionally troubled by the urge to eat more healthily.  If I've been protected by anything, rather than any particular fruit, vegetable, spice or extract, it may have been my unwillingness to fully commit to any one specific dietary regimen (besides vegetarianism).  I'd probably follow an ayurvedic diet, if I could be bothered, and looking at adherents of that style, they seem to be either glowing with health or so malnourished as to warrant genuine concern.

My point is, and it's a well worn point, that food is to be enjoyed.  It is a sensual, satisfying, thing, to eat, particularly decadent foods.  It's all very well extending your life, if that is what you are accomplishing, by restricting your diet, but is it a life worth living?  There has to be some balance, and that's where I find the rub, my inclination to hideous excess being as it is.  And with the regular turnover of accepted wisdom with regards what is healthy, surely we should take each fresh revelation with a pinch of low sodium seasoning?

Writing this has allowed me to ride out the hunger pangs.  I'm now at hour 17, a first, and am considering doing a 24 hour water detox next week, building to a 3 or perhaps 7 day fast eventually, to reap some of these reported benefits.  So perhaps this is one practice I'll stick with.  I've no idea yet as to whether it's been of benefit to my blood pressure, but I've lost some weight (according to the scales.  I still look... let's say... stocky), and gained some time for inactivity, having to prepare fewer meals. 

If you were looking for a more amusing health-related post, can I recommend my submission on the topic of exercise from a couple of years ago?  It's far funnier than this one, perhaps because I wasn't half-starved when I wrote it...

Love to all.xx