Monday, 23 May 2016

Abstemious Living

I googled "abstemious living" yesterday and found very, very little. This is a shame. It would make a great title for a magazine. The magazine could feature such articles as "Arise at Five: a How-To" and "Only at Christmas: My 364 days Without Wine."

Yesterday I felt the need for a red cardigan and suddenly remembered my old red teaching suit jacket.  I bought the suit--and pricey it was--about twelve years ago, and it was my night school teaching uniform. It hasn't fit since I took refuge from my PhD program in a tub of Ben & Jerry's, but I thought I would try on the jacket.  To my satisfaction, it buttoned up.

It fit less well at the end of the day for we went to a 2:30 PM lunch party that ended (for us) at 8:30 PM. Heady stuff for a woman whose typical meal lately is half an avocado and an egg. It was a proper British Sunday Lunch with roast beef, roast potatoes, roast parsnips, Yorkshire puddings, carrots, peas, lemon pudding, bottles of wine and coffee. Guests were offered cold sliced meats and cheese straws while the roast roasted. Everything was delicious, but before pudding I felt extremely agitated: surely it was time to climb a mountain or two, or walk to North Berwick and back.

This goes to show how four weeks on the Eight Week Diet can change your attitude towards food. No longer is it a favourite recreation but a medicine to be taken in the proper doses. Of course, it can be hard to take  in the proper doses when it is the star of the afternoon.  However, I am consoling myself that one Sunday dinner hasn't destroyed all my careful work and sacrifice of the past four weeks. Meanwhile, feeling over-full has reminded me of how fantastic it feels not to be full.

Quite apart from the penny-pinching joy of being able to fit into old clothes, I have been feeling really well. Part of this is, of course, going for long walks in the fresh air in or near Edinburgh, which is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. And part of it is getting up at 6 or 7, which has meant falling asleep very soon after I go to bed at 10 or 11. However, I suspect most of it is eating so carefully: good old porridge, beloved homemade fruit-and-nut bars, avocados, eggs, spinach, salmon, broccoli, yogurt, nuts. Developing a label-reading habit has brought some unexpected discoveries: the Co-op "scotch egg" is really not all that bad a snack, especially if you are on the last leg of  what has turned out to be a 19 mile walk.

My social circle is full of people who have food allergies and phobias and, when planning dinner parties, I have to tailor menus to the most delicate. When your guests include one with celiac disease, one with a mushroom allergy, one sensitive to onions, one disgusted by eggs and a vegetarian, it gets complicated. Therefore, I have decided not to complicate matters further by announcing to hosts and hostesses that I "cannot eat" white bread, potatoes and refined sugar. It strikes me as a better idea just to eat a few potatoes (if I really cannot resist) and a small helping of the pudding. Everything in moderation, I suppose--but not including moderation.

Meanwhile I am delighted by the energy and joy of getting up early, going for long walks in the fresh air, eating simply and cutting out the carbs, especially sugar and white flour.


  1. If there were such a magazine, I would read it.

  2. Thanks for not making a hostesses life harder! I understand true allergies, but being picky is another story. 😊

    1. Yes!! And fad diets. If you're avoiding gluten because it has serious effects on you, then, by all means, tell the hostess. If you're avoiding gluten because it you feel more energetic when you don't eat it, then suck it up buttercup and take more of the salad. :)

    2. As the practitioner of the very latest fad diet, I completely agree with you.

      One way around it would be to tell your hostess that you would love to come but you are in the grip of a fad diet and are not receiving any invitations until you get off it.

      The super thing about my fad diet is that I have only four weeks to go, and then I will start to eat less eccentrically. This will not change the fact that sugars can be poisons, but one always has the option of saying "Just a small piece of me!" and then leaving half if my bounteous host or hostess insists on giving me a big piece.