Saturday, 31 May 2014

Another talk with Dr. Verburgh..

I don't get to talk back to Dr Verburgh, but who cares - he's so interesting and as soon as I think of a question he's already answering it!

When I was growing up I was encouraged to eat a lot of starchy food, such as bread and potatoes, fruit and veg, a bit of dairy, meat, fish and nuts and hardly any fats, oils or sweets. I have been loosely following this type of diet all my adult life. Or at least, I have thought this is probably the best way to eat even if I haven't always done it. Dr Verburgh's plan is different. It follows these basic rules:
  • Eat no or vey little, bread, pasta, potatoes and rice. (Instead eat oatmeal porridge with vegetable milk, legumes such as lentils, peas, beans, etc or mushrooms).
  • Cut out dairy milk and yoghurt and replace with soya or nut milk, normal dairy cheese and eggs are fine.
  • Eat fatty fish, poultry, tofu and quorn, rather than red meat.
  • Eat LOTS of fruit and vegetables.
  • Drink Ε΅ater, green tea, white tea, fresh vegetable and fruit juice, coffee (in moderation), alcohol (again in moderation).
  • Take the right sort of dietary supplement, eg, iodine, magnesium, vitamin D and the B vitamins.
Why eat like this? Because we will apparently age more slowly and feel really good while that happens. See a food hourglass diagram for foods to eat more and less of at:

Dr Verburgh's food hourglass website

My first thought is, how can I make this way of eating interesting enough for me to want to do it for the rest of my (long) life? I hope Dr Verburgh has some tips. I made some oatmeal porridge with soya milk this morning and had it without sugar accompanied by a few blueberries. It tasted remarkably palatable, quite sweet in a natural kind of way, and instead of Yorkshire tea with milk I had a pot of white tea. Delicate, clean flavour and preferable to the orangey brew I am used to. Feeling good about this.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Rob's birthday and getting started.

I didn't post yesterday because it was Rob's 60th birthday. I live next door to Rob, but really we live in both houses. It works well. Anyway, it was a day of considerable chill and the threat of rain. We had birthday cake with Robs daughter Sarah and her two boys, Benjamin (2) and Lewis (9months) then spent the rest of the day in Scarborough. Determined families played on a shrinking strip of beach and a white mist hung a few feet away at the waters edge. Moisture clung to eyelashes. My Achilles' tendons started to hurt after a bit of walking so we had a coffee at the Pomodoro (marvellous Italian) before eating at Cafe Fish. (Good but expensive and not much of it).

 Before bed, Dr Verburgh told me that medicines mostly suppress symptoms and don't cure illness. He doesn't want me to go on a diet -he wants me to adopt a whole new lifestyle. One where I eat lots of green vegetables in particular and give up on introducing sugar into my system too quickly. Too much sugar is apparently not just a bad thing but A REALLY BAD THING.

Why should I choose the Food Hourglass diet rather than say the Atkins or the Blood group diet? Because the others tend not to be firmly rooted in reputable research. These diets have grasped a germ of truth but ignored other significant facts. For example, the Atkins diet gets you to eat a lot of protein. However, a high protein diet puts your liver and kidneys under pressure and causes you to produce a super sticky type of sugar which contributes to organ damage. In fact, having too much sugar running around in your blood vessels raises your blood pressure,  helps you get cardio vascular disease, damages your eyes and makes you more at risk of getting cancer.  That's an impressive amount of nasties.

So what one thing can I change today because of Dr Verburgh's message? I decide that today I will cut out my teaspoon of sugar in my coffee and I will have broccoli with my left over chicken. We all have to start somewhere don't we?

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

So what is this Food Hourglass Book really about?

It turns out that Kris Verburgh would like me to have a long and healthy life. He's not so bothered about whether or not I lose weight. There are some women who would gladly trade a portion of their precious lives to be a size 8 but I'm not one of them. A long and healthy life sounds fine to me. The book's introduction suggests that excess sugar plays an important role in making sure we get wrinkly on the outside and that our arteries stiffen up and cause us problems in later, ( and sometimes not too later) life. It seems that high protein diets may be a no-no too, (goodbye Atkins). If I read and follow the book's advice I could significantly reduce my risk of this impressive list of  diseases: Heart disease, osteoporosis, dementia, type 2 diabetes, cancer, deterioration of eyesight and hearing, high blood pressure will help me lose weight as a side effect. It sounds too good to be true. The food I will have to eat will probably be so awful I will begging for a shorter life expectancy within a month.

Yesterday my breakfast was wholemeal toast with black currant jam and a multivitamin. At ten o'clock I had an apple and two plain digestive biscuits. Lunch was a cheese and pickle sandwich with some dressed leaves and a few crisps, ( but not a whole packet), tea was a roast chicken dinner with sage and onion stuffing lots of vegetables  and Yorkshire pudding.   I had a glass of red wine during the evening, and had several trips to the kitchen for the rest of the packet of crisps, two apricots and a mug of cocoa made with semi skimmed milk and a teaspoon of honey. Reasonably healthy? Perhaps Dr Verburgh will teach me otherwise.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

In which the book arrives and I plunge into a whole new foodie world..

A few months back I read an article in the Sunday Times about a new book by a very young man -Dr Kris Verburgh- called The Food Hourglass (HarperThorsons). He is apparently only 27 years old. This means he was born towards the end of the 1980s. I have a nephew older than that. Would I ever listen to any advice my nephew gave me about getting well and living longer? Probably not. But then I haven't known Dr Kris Verburgh since he was born and do not, for example, know that he would joyfully swap an expensive winter coat for a pair of sunglasses from Poundland. Which I do know about my nephew, regretfully. I already feel that Dr Kris Verburgh has never done this. He is, according to the back of his book, "A leading medical doctor and scientist of biogerontology (the science of the ageing process)."  Which makes him sound like a man who at the very least has common sense.

I am a fifty one year old woman and am 5 foot 7 inches tall. Since my well toned and svelter forties, I have gained two stones so that I now weigh 12 stones and 10 pounds. I exercise sporadically and without enthusiasm and often treat myself to red wine in the evening. I like a walk to include a tea shop and I enjoy scones with butter and jam, preferably black currant. I eat reasonably well some of the time but I am too aware that this isn't enough. I get hungry and crabby at 10 am, 3 pm and most of the evening.

If you administered a truth potion I would not say that I wanted a few tips on diet. I would say that what I really wanted was for Dr Kris Verburgh to transform my life.

Can you live up to my high hopes Dr Verburgh? I google a photo of you. You look like my nephew. You have clearly never felt the gentle give of fat as it accumulates just above your belly button or the luxurious sway of your softening buttocks in a loose summer dress. Yet somehow, in a burst of optimism, I believe you care. I will read your book and if it makes sense to me- I will give you a year to get me on track.