Tuesday, 26 June 2012

When Cheating is OK

I am ruled by my stomach. I could say it correctly – my stomach rules me – but I want to be emphatic. I am completely ruled by my stomach. The first thing I say to myself in the morning is ‘coffee’. The first words I say to another human being are ‘what’s for breakfast?’.

My family have always been big foodies – rare is the week where a joint of meat is not sizzling in the oven, a new recipe has not been tried, and I am not covered in flour and sugar attempting to bake. Cheese, chocolate, pizza, spare ribs, lamb chops, sirloin, T-bone, filet, chateaubriand, rump steak, prawns, lobster, and crab. These were all very much part of my childhood and have been my constant companions since. No wonder I tend to lose my head completely when I have to diet. Headaches, irritation, extreme mood swings! All because I cant eat the meringues in the fridge.

Don't get me wrong- I see the necessity of a diet. If anyone loves food the way I do, you NEED to exercise and you need to practice some restraint. Restraint. I hate that word. I first learnt it when I was 15 and its been dogging my footsteps ever since.

Oops I did it again...
I came to the point 6 months ago where I was repeating the same bunch of shirts over and over again and even my favorite sari didn't fit. How you ask? The material draped around me fine, the choli i.e. bodice felt like it was slowly crushing my rib cage. That's when I decided I was being too lazy and completely irresponsible and I needed to start exercising and stop eating.

I have been successfully managing my food for four months now and have to say that between exercise and keeping my mouth shut I’ve managed to lose the weight I needed to. YAY! It hasn't been smooth sailing and I have said ‘No thank you aunty’ to more mothers than I can count. I’m resigned to the fact that all my friends’ mums think I am insufferably rude and assume I don't like their cooking. But - there are days when it gets too much. There are days when I don't care how good I have been; I need a handful of Maltesers. The waffle cones in Baskin Robbins call to me, Indigo Deli pizza has never looked better, dhokla, muthiya, khandvi and panki become manna and butter garlic crab dances in front of my eyes. And on those days, it’s ok to cheat.

It’s ok to eat the food you are so desperately craving as long as you do it the one time. There is no sense watching what you eat when you’re cheating every alternate day. You might as well not bother. My self-control gives up once every ten days and I don't try to stop it. I know enough to not give in every single day and I can stretch my willpower to ten days. Beyond that it gets difficult. So I eat on day 10, sometimes I eat on day 7 and day 10 and then kick myself for it.

Try and cheat when you’re around friends, someone who can stop you after a point. What happens with me is I start eating everything in sight that I shouldn't eat and I cant stop myself. I become like a tiny lab puppy that gobbles and gobbles till there’s no space for anything else to go in and then tries to gobble some more. You need to be able to stop yourself after a while or at least have someone who can reach out and say ‘Enough’. Hopefully you’ll listen!

What I force myself to do the day after I cheat is DOUBLE the amount of exercise I do. Which doesn't mean that if I do zero exercise it doubles to zero. It means that I get off my butt and do some yoga at the foot of my bed (this way I’m still in close proximity to my bed) or I go downstairs and run for 30 minutes or I take my highly excitable dog for a long long walk. It’s absolutely essential that you work off those cheating calories. They will naturally work themselves off but it’ll take ages and you won’t be happy about it. Get up and force the calories out of your system. Skip for 20 minutes, do some quick yoga (15 Surya Namaskars should do it – that is 15 on each side therefore 30 in total), squats-lunges-push ups-crunches, choose any of these stay at home options if you’re lazy but make sure you do it.

I’ve cut my exercising down by quite a bit since I started working and I know that I’m eating way too much for what I’m doing. Now I have to consciously change that and kick box my way into the next month. Boom.

Monday, 25 June 2012

The Morning After

"Oh god, what have I done?"
- Me, too many times to count

Lets face it – we’ve all had our regrets. 

You crawl out of bed and think ‘Oh god what have I done?’ You can’t look at yourself in the mirror, and you can’t face the rest of the world because they’ll KNOW.  

Hmm... Been there, eaten that. A few months ago we went on a fast food binge. Went to KFC, ordered chicken popcorn, chicken strips, 2 zinger burgers and fries for 2. Passed McDonalds on the way home, went inside and added 9 nuggets, a McChicken with cheese, a spicy McChicken and more fries. It took us 2 hours to eat through all of it (always remember that greasy fried chicken turns to cardboard the second it starts cooling down) and I COULDN'T MOVE after that. The next day brought about the self-recrimination, the moping and the general feeling of absolute gluttony and self-disgust.

As I sat on my sofa feeling like the worlds biggest garbage disposal system (I even ate the tiny burnt bits of potato that you find at the bottom of the bag of chips) I wondered if anyone had ever felt like this before? Oh wait, that was me last week!

The worst part was, that even though I was feeling absolutely disgusted with myself, I could feel the beginnings of hunger stirring. Oh no! What do you do when you feel like a turkey that's been stuffed and ready for the over? ZIP IT!

Trying to be good - fruit for breakfast
Now, I’m hungriest when I first wake up and then at dinner. The rest of the day makes no difference to me; eat, don't eat – its irrelevant. However the morning after I have binged, I need to make sure I don't eat too much breakfast. In fact if I can get away with it I have a piece of toast and coffee, which takes me an hour to finish because I’m still so full. Optionally you can have tea and toast or just plain fruit. I love eating sliced pineapple that's been chilled in the fridge the day before.
If what you're recovering from is an overdose of patron (yes, that happens to me all the time too) - I would avoid the coffee. It makes you jittery and you dont need that when you're trying to synthesize alcohol. Peach tang and toast. Or juice. Or ice cream. 

For lunch I’d advise maybe soup and salad or a teeny tiny amount of bhaji (vegetable) and chapatti, or plain yellow dal and rice (it’s my intensely parsi comfort food). You could do some scrambled eggs with toast too. (Always remember to eat more egg white than yolk - allow yourself one egg yolk to make the eggs hold their shape. I’ve been on diets where I’ve had to eat scrambled egg whites and it feels like you’re eating bad air. Wait, rephrase – bad tasting HAIR.)
If you're having trouble eating anything, go with peach tang. Or maybe some cold coffee with icecream. its cool enough and ice cream-y enough to fill you up and will help you feel better. 

Second Lunch
My very non diet hangover option
If you’re like me, you’re ravenous by 4pm and even the guilt from last nights over indulgence (dare I say food orgy?) isn’t enough to hold you back. I suggest you be prepared. Don't give into the urge to order out (though if you do, I have some pretty useful tips for that too). Have something at home you can munch through – I love microwave popcorn. I also love cream cracker biscuits. The thing I eat when im starving and need energy or just something in my tummy is something not many people agree with or even like. Say hello to: MARMITE. You either love it or hate it. I have never met someone who’s in between. That's my own preference. For you non-lovers, maybe just some more fruit, or cream cracker/ graham cracker biscuits. You could even have a big big mug full of tea, which should fill you up till dinner.

It’s been 24 hours since you last gorged yourself (give or take) and you’ve completely forgotten about the amount of food you ate the night before until the moment you actually put that first bite of food into your mouth. It all comes screaming back to you and you start feeling full again. My suggestion: eat half the quantity you normally would at dinner and really truly give your poor stomach a break. If you must, have some yogurt or curd after dinner to fill your stomach up.


So there you have it – my morning after plan. I love how I can preach this and then totally disregard my own advice and fill up on peach tang. Oh yum – peach tang. But that's a story for another time.

Stay smart! 

Friday, 22 June 2012

Eating Out (While Eating In)

Guest wrote on a friends blog about a month ago... 

"A cucumber should be well sliced, and dressed with pepper and vinegar, and then thrown out, as good for nothing.”
- Dr. Samuel Johnson

One of the golden rules to watching your weight is: ‘eat home cooked food’. Another one, which is pretty much the same thing, is: ‘don't eat out too often’

Ok. Awesome that's easy enough to do right? WRONG!! 8 times out of 10, we order in.

You want to sit back, can’t be bothered to eat what’s in the fridge, so you reach out and pick up the phone. Chinese food, Indian, pizzas, burgers and sandwiches are my staple. Wait – that's everyone’s staple.
So how do you manage to eat right when everything on the menu is wrong?

a. Go online and LOOK at menus
Never rely on your friends saying ‘oh there’s nothing else to eat there’ – go online and see for yourself. There usually is. It’s easy enough to do now, all you have to do is take out your (my) trusty blackberry and do a Google search. Zomato, burrp and a few other sites usually have the menus accessible.

b. Be smart
Order from places you know you can get food. Unless you’re allowed to eat cheese and bread, or it's a cheat day, or you just cant help it, or you’re horribly hung over and need the cheese, don't order from Dominoes, Smokin’ Joes or Pizza Hut. With all respect to the drool the thought of a margarita pizza with sausage is creating, there is nothing you can order there that is good for you, or part of any diet whatsoever.
If everyone around you is set on a place you cant eat from, order from somewhere else. The minimum orders at most places are 250 bucks. I’m sure you’ll manage to order enough to cover that.

 c. Order soup (if you must)
Stick to clear soups or broths. If you must have a thick soup ask for the soup without corn flour. Yes, I know its depressing but it's a lot less depressing than not being able to button your jeans six months down the line. Most places are very accommodating and will happily do this for you (I love you, Lings Pavilion).
Easy options: Tum Yum soup, clear soup with veggies and chicken if you’re eating protein.

 d. Try and stay away from salad
I have ordered salad from so many places with the best intentions. My resolve lasts only as long as I take to open the container. Salads are supposed to be fresh and light, they are not supposed to look like two-day-old produce that has been put out to pasture. 

Salad wilts when put into containers (big green leaves become small soggy mush), especially when placed in a bag with other food that's hot.I don't know about you, but I need to eat food that LOOKS good – I can’t do that with light green to moldy brown leaves that have been sparingly scattered with tomatoes and olive oil.
If you must have a salad (you were warned!) ask for the dressing separately, so you don't get a depressing soggy mess in a foil container. Subway is the best place to order salad from, if you really really have to.

If you’ve ordered Indian food, don't order something that's swimming in oil. I know, you’re thinking ‘what’s not?’ Order tikkas, order PLAIN TANDOORI ROTI – not naan – and avoid most of the veggie options they give you.

I like to pick bits of chicken out of the gravy and then eat them. Or straight out of the biryani- this way I get the flavor of the food and I don't care about all the rice that's left in the boxes. A few grains stuck to chicken don’t matter, and it’s infinitely satisfying. Just because you’re ordering out doesn't mean you have to go crazy. Don't order butter naan, avoid chelo kebabs and ease up on the kaali dal (A part of my soul has just fainted at my own suggestion). You can eat good Indian food without burping the rest of the night. The answer is TANDOORI!

Its not really difficult to watch what you eat if you’re ordering in. You have to stay strong and not give in J That being said, I ordered pizza last night and will spend the rest of the weekend wishing I hadn’t! 

Waist vs. Waste

‘Never order food in excess of your body weight.’ - Erma Bombeck

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been on one diet or the other for as long as you can remember. Your friends’ mothers are tired of attempting to feed you when you go over, and going out for dinner is a painful combination of scraping the insides of fried food (the bits the oil didn't touch – ahem) and ordering stuff that's ‘boiled’, ‘chargrilled’ and ‘pan seared’.  “No thanks aunty, I’ve just eaten” “Is this fried?” “I can’t eat anything with oil”- sound familiar? You’ve come to the right place.

I’m a foodie who can’t stop eating. I’m well intentioned and always MEAN to watch what I eat, but then it just doesn't happen. The bread will smell too fantastic, the pizza will look too appealing, the risotto will dance around in its bowl across me, and the next thing I know I’ve reached out and had a bite. And then another and another and everything just spirals from there. While it tastes fantastic, and I have no regrets while I’m eating it, I kick myself the next day. And I complain, bitch and moan about how I’m getting fat and I don't know what to do about it.

As far as diets go, I’ve tried them all. There has been days on General Motors, only tea and toast, only fruit, Atkins, The Montignac Method, Ron Rosedale, low GI. Everything worked for a little while and then came the fainting, collapsing, and shaking… I made it to day 4 on the General Motors and couldn't stomach milk. The tea and toast diet and the only fruit diet didn't make it past day 2. I lasted the longest on Atkins and the Montignac Method but couldn't control the quantities after a while so they became redundant. A lot of the foods these diets tell you are ok for you when you’re on the diet are not so great for you overall. An example of that is the unlimited peanuts you can eat on Montignac. Tres dangerous!

Just a regular dinner at home
My favorite foods, in no order of preference are:
Cheese, chocolate, cheesy pizza, French fries, garlic bread, cheese naan, garlic butter sea food (toss anything from the sea in with garlic and butter and you have me hooked), egg fried rice, pan fried noodles, chocolate milkshakes, waffles with melted butter and honey, any kinds of beef, sausage, lamb.

See anything healthy in there? 

I eat out 3 times a week, and manage to eat within my diet regulations at least twice. Which means that this is somewhere you can go when you’re trying to figure out where to go for dinner and what you can eat. Welcome to the (Almost) Diet Diaries.