Food, inglorious food

It was in 1826 that French physician, Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, wrote: Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es. “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.”

But that’s generic claptrap or is it? Savarin also said that all animals that live on farinaceous food grow fat willy-nilly; and man is no exception. That was nearly 200 years ago and we’ve ignored his diagnosis. “Farinaceous” simply means starch and starch is carbohydrates which the human body and, as has been proved, the animal body, translate, when digested, into sugar. What kind of sugar? Sugar is sugar whether under the guise of dextrose, fructose, lactose, maltose, beet sugar, blackstrap molasses, brown sugar, buttered syrup, cane sugar, caramel, carob syrup, castor sugar, coconut sugar, confectioner’s sugar, date sugar, Demerara sugar, fruit juice concentrate, golden sugar, golden syrup, honey, icing sugar, maple syrup, fruit juice concentrate, molasses, sorghum syrup, barley malt, brown rice syrup, corn syrup or glucose.

So, let’s be honest with ourselves. We know that sugar makes us fat and anything which metamorphoses into sugar when it hits digestion mode has the same effect. Our liver becomes over worked, our blood sugar levels rise and we pile on the pounds — a lose, lose situation as far as our health is concerned but a win, win situation for Big Food and anyone or anything which has a spin-off from the enormous profits Big Food is raking in at the cost of our bent backs, bloated bellies and squishy thighs. It’s been proved that sugar and highly processed junk foods can be addictive, just like drugs and, in case you’re wondering, salt and vegetable fat have the same effect. That much we’ve been told and that’s all documented. I know from experience just how habit forming sugar is. Been there, done that and suffered all the negative consequences. I have been through the nursery, the primary and high schools of fad diets, yo yo weight loss, starvation, protein shakes and, horrors of horrors, diet pills. I have lost weight, gained weight, vomited, developed fibrillations, anxiety attacks and almost an addiction to thyroid pills and appetite suppressants, believe it or not prescribed by a medical doctor — OK a quack but he did have his certificate hanging on the wall. The result: another day another diet. I was searching for a modus vivendi, a regime which would enable me to escape from my constant struggle with my relationship with food.

Eureka, I found IT. It only took me over 50 years, longer than the Jews wandered around the desert. But, hey, who’s counting! Results are results and the rest is history.

It all started with a Christmas present a work colleague gave me in 2001 — a book called Slim 4 Life by Jason Vale. He announced in his preface that he was nothing more than an “experiencer” and that he isn’t a doctor, scientist, biologist or dietician. His language in the book is clear and unfettered by jargon with simple sentences and words toddlers can understand and, by the look of too many of them, it is not unimportant that they do. Jason peels off the bloated skins of the highfalutin generic buzz words and replaces them with unadulterated facts. I read every word of the preface which describes his motivation for the book and couldn’t wait for the first chapter which, to my horror reads, “The Poison: Sugar”. I was hypnotised by the words and continued reading hungrily chewing on every word while nodding my head with astonished acknowledgement. He was talking to me; he was talking about me. Why hadn’t any of the professionals had the guts to tell us these truths before. I slowly divorced myself from all the obvious sweet treats like cake, biscuits, sweets and chocolates but then I started reading the labels on canned foodstuffs and on readymade food items until I didn’t buy a single item of food without scanning the contents for sugar. The result shook me to the core. Standard sauces on food outlet tables all contain oodles of sugar. All the processed readymade foods contain sugar. It couldn’t be that cooked roast chicken and sometimes raw chicken contained sugar? Yes, it could. Even packaged salmon and biltong are preserved with sugar.

Apart from a small daily portion of fruit, I removed sugar from my life which meant painstakingly checking with staff in coffee shops and restaurants the ingredients of any food I considered ordering.

My food investigation was not quite over. I then discovered the food bible of Dr Tim Noakes, “The Real Meal Revolution”. Apart from describing a food revolution, it was a revelation. His prescription for weight loss, a healthy gut, increased energy and an end to dieting was a high fat low carb regime. According to his theory, carbs were dispensable to the human body. Guess what we were being sold by the powers that be? Just the reverse!

It was around that time that I developed painful inflamed hip joints which I reluctantly referred to various doctors who suggested I curtail exercise and prescribed the usual anti inflammatory pills, physio and vitamins particularly for joints. I had always been sceptical about vitamin pills and this advice did nothing to induce my faith in them. None of it worked. I referred back to Dr Noakes’ theories and realised that, although I had cut out much of the carbs from my diet, I had not eliminated wheat entirely nor various grains which he also considers to be taboo. I withdrew totally from all wheat and all grains like chick peas, rice, barley and oats. After about six months I suddenly realised my joint pains had vanished. I had removed the causes of inflammation from my system. Eureka! I had found the perfect eating plan for me and perhaps even for you!