Hunger games

Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - Regional Extra - BY CATHER­INE WARNOCK

WEEK six into my lat­est diet regime and I’m be­gin­ning to strug­gle.

On New Year’s Day, which was Day 1 of my 5:2 fast­ing diet, I was full of mo­ti­va­tion and bravado. This will be a dod­dle, I thought. How hard can it be? Eat­ing ‘nor­mally’ for five days a week and re­duc­ing my in­take to 500 calo­ries per day on two non-con­sec­u­tive days per week cer­tainly seemed doable at that point.

Of course, I was spurred on by the Christ­mas cheer that had spread around my waist-line (which might be more aptly named “waste-line” be­cause that’s where all the ex­cess calo­ries end up!). I can do this, I thought. And af­ter watch­ing a cou­ple of doc­u­men­taries on the po­ten­tial health ben­e­fits of this ‘diet’ I felt suit­ably ready to have a crack.

The first cou­ple of ‘fast days’ were very in­for­ma­tive. I learned a lot about my­self on those days. One, I am a com­plete guts. I love food and dis­like the feel­ing of hunger. That was in­struc­tive, be­cause I re­alised that I have not of­ten been hun­gry in the past how­ev­er­many years.

It’s not some­thing we ‘do’ (vol­un­tar­ily) in our mod­ern so­ci­ety, where food abounds and ad­ver­tis­ing of the same is re­lent­less.

We’ve also been told for many years that it’s not good to go hun­gry as it ‘slows the me­tab­o­lism’, so what do we good lit­tle di­eters do?

We eat ev­ery few hours (at the least) to keep that blasted me­tab­o­lism chug­ging along nicely.

Well, ac­cord­ing to the re­search ac­com­pa­ny­ing the 5:2 diet, this idea is ac­tu­ally a load of codswal­lop.

The new think­ing is that merely skip­ping a few meals will not cause any down­ward swing in the me­tab­o­lism and that, in fact, our Ne­an­derthal bod­ies are ac­tu­ally de­signed to with­stand quite long pe­ri­ods of fast­ing.

Af­ter all, in pre­his­toric days (and prob­a­bly many thou­sands of years af­ter­wards) mankind was of­ten in a culi­nary pickle when it came to food avail­abil­ity. Fil­let of woolly mam­moth for tea one night, wild grass and dirt for the next cou­ple of weeks would not, I guess, have been un­com­mon.

And so, it was with in­ter­est that I ob­served my re­ac­tions to go­ing hun­gry.

I re­alised af­ter the first day that hunger comes in waves and does not nec­es­sar­ily build and build un­til you have no choice but to eat your left arm.

I dis­cov­ered that I could ac­tu­ally go with­out food for many hours, and not feel too bad.

Most in­ter­est­ingly I found that the morn­ing af­ter a fast day, I was not rush­ing to the kitchen at Olympic speeds.

In fact, I was not any more in­ter­ested in Un­cle Toby than on any other day. So far, so good. How­ever I did find that, as the fast day wears on, it gets harder to re­sist food and thus I’m al­ways in bed ear­lier on those nights.

Which is prob­a­bly a good thing, any­way, from a health per­spec­tive.

But there are def­i­nitely a few tell­tale signs of my strug­gle.

For ex­am­ple, the other day I tried to ask a col­league to pass me a sticky Post It. In­stead I asked for a Sticky Date!

She roared with laugh­ter and said, “Oops! Some­one’s get­ting hun­gry!”

Not five min­utes later, I needed a paper clip but asked for a “Potato Clip”.

Hmm. Guess the worms re­ally were bit­ing that day!

Well any­way, Week 6 and hav­ing de­mol­ished my mea­gre din­ner tonight, I’m try­ing not to think about food.

In­stead, I’m think­ing about how fab the scales might look in the morn­ing and how my risk of di­a­betes, de­men­tia and some can­cers might be re­duc­ing as we speak.

Given that my kids have pre­dicted a rather ‘easy tran­si­tion into de­men­tia’ for my older years, per­haps all this star­va­tion is at least do­ing some­thing good for my brain.

Well, let’s hope so, any­way, be­cause Lord knows it ain’t do­ing much for my rav­en­ous Ne­an­derthal in­sides!

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