Mission: Reset My Body

I’m going on a scary diet!

Now, before you start going all “What do you need to diet for?” and “Just eat what you want and be happy”, let me explain.

I’ve been suffering from bad acid reflux for many years now. In fact, I’ve had digestion problems all my adult life but it was only in the last few weeks that it got bad enough for me to take serious action.

I’ve seen my doctor a lot over the years because I have a laundry list of ailments. She would keep sending me for blood tests and the results would show normal levels of everything and she would be, like, you’re fine and healthy. Then she’d give me medication to treat symptoms. But the problems always come back.

 

Angry cat

 

Recently, I came across this article and thought it made a lot of sense (all six parts of the article).

The author, Chris Kresser, a prominent practitioner of alternative medicine, suggests that acid reflux and heartburn are caused by insufficient acid and bacterial overgrowth in the stomach. And this, in turn, is caused by consuming food that is unfriendly to human digestion.

I really relate to that because I know what foods trigger acid reflux in me and what foods give me indigestion and bloating.

 

Screenshot of website

 

In his book, The Paleo Cure, the author talks about all the different types of food and why they are (or aren’t) meant to be eaten.

(If you’re in the UK, you want to look at Your Personal Paleo Diet, which is the same book but using UK terms and measurements.)

 

The Paleo Cure

 

Reading the book, I realised that I do get digestion problems whenever I eat foods in the “unfriendly” food group, such as wheat products (bread, pasta, pastries), dairy (cheese, milk, cream), deep-fried food using industrial oil, and legumes (soy products and things like edamame beans).

I also realised that I had only started getting my laundry list of ailments after moving to the UK and adopting a more British diet.

If you’re familiar with the paleo diet, then you know what I’m talking about. If not, here’s a cartoon to explain it.

 

Click it to read the whole thing:

Paleo cartoon

 

So, I’m going to do a 30-day paleo reset diet as set out in Chris Kresser’s book.

For 30 days, I will not eat anything that has been proven to cause an inflammatory response in the body because, to put it very simply, the human body is not equipped to digest these items properly:

 

    Dairy products.
    Grain products and all gluten-free substitutes.
    Pulses/legumes (beans and peas and their products).
    Sweeteners, natural and artificial. (Only fruits are allowed.)
    Chocolate.
    Processed/refined food.
    Industrial seed oil.
    Fizzy drinks, fruit juice and alcohol.
    Processed sauces and seasonings.

 

These foods cause inflammatory responses in the body to varying degrees in everyone. We’re all different because our bodies have evolved different degrees of tolerances to different foods, but even if we’ve evolved a tolerance, it still means the body prefers not to have it.

If you keep overloading your body with food it prefers not to have, it will break down eventually.

This is important to know because inflammatory responses in the body lead to a whole host of ailments from small ones (eczema, acne, indigestion, depression, weight gain, etc) to the big scary ones (diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc).

So, the idea of the diet is that you reset your health by eating only body-friendly food for 30 days. After that, you slowly reintroduce the “body-unfriendly” food groups one by one to see how your body reacts to each. In this way, you can find out your tolerance levels for everything.

Going forward, if you want to live with optimal health and not succumb to scary diseases, you tweak your diet so that you try to eat wholesome food at least 80% of the time (if not 100%), but you can eat the other foods you can tolerate, 20% of the time, otherwise it’s too impractical and you could never eat out!

 

Salmon, sweet potato and kale
Baked wild Alaskan salmon (with ginger and garlic); baked sweet potato; crispy Pentland Brig kale

 

I started easing into a paleo diet two weeks ago and found that acid reflux doesn’t happen when I eat right. When I eat the wrong food, it comes right back.

Like, one day, I had hummus and crispy flatbread for lunch, thinking it was kind of healthy, but got a really severe case of reflux that lasted 12 hours (until I finally managed to fall asleep.) Then I read the book and realised chick peas and wheat are inflammatory agents.

I will finish my easing-in period by the end of the week and start the proper 30-day reset diet on June 19!

A couple more paleo meals I’ve made:

 

chicken, sweet potato and courgettes
Baked chicken thighs with mushroom and onion; Baked sweet potato; Baked courgettes

 

Eggs, mushroom and kale
Scrambled eggs; Stir-fry chestnut mushrooms and Pentland Brig kale

 

It’s really not too bad, and there are a lot of tasty meals to eat in paleo. But there is an adjustment period where I start craving bread and pasta, and even chocolates and cakes (which I had already stopped eating and craving for two months.)

The main deterrent is the time it takes to cook meals every day since you cannot eat food that comes packaged nicely in the supermarket, and you cannot eat out because restaurants might use “unfriendly” seasonings and oils.

But it has got to a “do or die” point, so I’m going to have to stick with it. If you’re also suffering health problems that won’t go away, perhaps you want to join me? :P

Also, please like and follow my Facebook page if you’d like to see regular updates on my diet because I won’t be blogging about it too much.

Wish me luck! :)

 

 

The exploding egg

I tried to microwave a hard-boiled egg yesterday.

Ah. I can see half of you widening your eyes in anticipation, perhaps even starting to chuckle.

Yes! Okay! I know! I actually did kind of know about exploding eggs in microwaves. I just didn’t know enough. I had peeled and broken my egg in two unequal parts, with the yolk showing, and I thought that would make it okay.

I thought wrong. The smaller part of my egg exploded all over the microwave with a loud, scary bang after about 40 seconds. I don’t know how the average person usually reacts to such an event, but my first thought was, “OMG how much cleaning is that going to be?!”

About 10 minutes’ worth, is how much. There was egg white everywhere. Top, bottom, left, right, front and back. Tiny little itty bits of egg white splattered all over the walls of the surfaces, each bit claiming its own square inch. Luckily the yolk was still intact because it’s my favourite part!

 

Comic: Microwaving an egg

 

This morning, I googled how to reheat hard boiled eggs (because I still had more cooked eggs in the fridge). The advice is: Pour boiling water over your eggs and cover for 10 minutes.

Then what is the point of making extra eggs to eat for breakfast!

Sorry, I’m having a rant. I thought I was being clever cooking up three days’ worth of eggs in advance so I could save time cooking them the next two breakfasts!

In the end, reheating eggs takes as long as cooking them from scratch, whether you take the microwave route or the sensible boiling route!!

I could cover my eggs with a microwave lid so it wouldn’t make a mess, but the bang scares me, plus I read about eggs exploding into people’s face while they’re trying to eat them.

Oh, HAHA. I just suddenly remembered I wrote a piece of poetry about omelettes 13 years ago. It’s my Ode to a Leftover Omelette. Read it here.

(If you don’t want to read the story explaining why I wrote it, just scroll all the way down to the bottom.)

 

Ode to a Leftover Omelette

 

Do you think I have a future as a poet, if not a cook?

 

 

Online shopping fail

The other day, I decided to get some supplies from an online Japanese supermarket.

I was wanting to buy some purple sweet potato Kit Kats. You see, I’d been craving purple yam desserts for years because England doesn’t believe in yam, and I thought this Kit Kat could be close enough to do the job.

 

Purple Sweet Potato Kit Kat

 

So, I ordered two of those, alongside £75 worth of Japanese groceries to qualify for free shipping.

I also found my favourite peanuts in the world (Kasugai cuttlefish peanuts) in the same shop so I was over the moon.

But never mind that. Here are my Kit Kats:

 

Very tiny mini Kit Kats!

 

WOAH. Could they get any bigger??

I guess I should have known better. The product does say “Mini”. And I had actually bought green tea Kit Kat Minis about five years ago.

Still, that was five years ago. I have a bad memory and all the Kit Kats I’ve eaten since have been normal people-sized ones.

Also, the price of the mini Kit Kat is more than 10 times the price of a normal Kit Kat. So you could perhaps excuse my mind for thinking I would get something a tad bigger.

Anyway, caveat emptor and all that. I’m not really complaining, just terrified that Piers will scold me now that he knows what those Kit Kats cost. :O

They were very tasty but did not satisfy my yam craving because they are kind of different.

Then, there was the matcha.

 

Marukyu Koyamaen Wako Premium Stone Ground Matcha Green Tea Powder

 

I’d never bought matcha before so I chose this one based on the fact that the packaging is very pretty and it’s the most expensive one in the shop.

(I was worried the cheaper ones would taste gross.)

(And I really do like the packaging.)

Well, here’s my pretty matcha.

 

Very expensive, almost invisible, matcha

 

:O :O :O

I had expected it to be maybe three or four times bigger??

Yes, the weight is listed on the product page but who can tell off the top of their heads how much physical space 20 grams of powder takes up?

More importantly, I tend to ignore measurements when online shopping. Who has time to scrutinise everything?

Okay, I just did a Google search and my matcha doesn’t seem very expensive anymore. From what I can tell, matcha prices range from £1 to £20 per 10 grams.

But it was still rather shocking.

Anyway, one more item.

The great Daikon radish, otherwise known as mooli in England. It’s so very tasty in stews and soups because it soaks up all the wonderful flavour and explodes-melts in your mouth (but you have to cook it long enough).

 

Daikon radish aka mooli

 

Now, I’ve never bought one in Singapore (I didn’t cook back then) and UK supermarkets generally don’t stock it. So my only experience with it has been eating the final product all diced up and cooked.

I had accidentally found it for sale in Ocado last year, but only managed to buy two before it was gone from the virtual shelves. I’m not sure if it’s because no one buys it or because it went out of season.

After it disappeared, I would check every so often while doing my weekly grocery shop, but it never came back.

(Hey, I just now did a quick check and it’s back! Ocado has mooli again! They actually just stocked it because the last time I checked was a week ago.)

So, anyway, I bought this Japanese mooli even though it cost £4.99. I thought it was really expensive, expecting it to be the size of the one from Ocado (about twice the size of an average carrot), which had cost £0.70.

I bought it anyway, visions of exquisite braised beef with Daikon radish soaking in savoury sauce filling my head.

And, of course, the Daikon radish turned out to be gigantic.

 

Daikon radish vs regular carrot

 

I photographed it with an average-sized carrot to offer some scale.

You might think the size of it is a good thing but at the very moment I was fishing it out of the delivery box, I was thinking, “Oh, my God, what have I done?”

What in the world was I going to do with a giant vegetable? Much as I love it, I didn’t really want to be eating it every day for a week.

Yes, I should probably have been clued in by the weight listed on the product page. But again, who goes around knowing what a carrot weighs?

Anyway, we managed to finish it in three weeks. It kept surprisingly well in the fridge even with bits chopped off it, so that was a good ending.

Well, as you can tell from reading this post, I haven’t got time for anything most of the time, so gotta go, no time to waste! Until next time!

 

 

Beaches, bikinis and food, is all

So, I’m home from Mallorca, in front of my computer now, trying to claw my way back to the surface of reality.

Holidays always throw me into a dreamlike, soupy funk from which my ego refuses to emerge until I have unrelentingly walloped it in the face with a wooden spoon so that it has no choice but to come to its senses.

As you can tell by the way I am speaking in abstracts, I have not quite found surface. But I am sober enough to update my blog by now, even if I haven’t gained sufficient lucidity to write in a non-trippy way.

Therefore, I think it would be wise for me to write less and show more.

That means photos!

 

Sheylara in Mallorca

 

All photos were taken in Cala d’Or, Mallorca, a little beach town from which Piers and I didn’t venture an inch because we are lazy bums.

But there is really no need to go anywhere when you have sand, sea and sun (and, in my case, iPad) within reach.

 

 

Not so hot dog legs

My version of hot dog legs.

 

 

Cala d'Or beach

Cala d’Or beach is tiny at 40 metres wide, perfect for families with little ones because it will be really hard for you to lose your little ones here (unless you’re an iPad addict, then I can’t say for sure).

 

 

Sheylara in Black and White

The town centre has a great selection of cafés, restaurants and bars (and shops) for your hedonic pleasure.

 

 

Seafood Paella

Seafood Paella is a one such pleasure.

 

 

Sangria

Sangria is another.

 

 

Padron Peppers

And Padrón peppers, which are so very, very tasty and full of wholesome goodness, containing vitamins A, B1, B2, C and P, proteins, calcium and iron.

 

 

Garlic mushrooms

I love Spanish food because it is so generous with seasonings, herbs and flavours. This garlic mushroom dish had nearly as much garlic as mushrooms.

I ate up all the garlic.

Piers didn’t mind.

 

 

Bread and olives with ali oli sauce

Bread and olives with alioli (or aioli) sauce are a common starter in Spanish meals. I love the sauce. It’s a blend of garlic, olive oil, salt and egg yolk.

 

 

Dress-down weekend

The best thing about going on holiday is being able to buy new holiday clothes (without telling Piers).

 

 

Bikini

This is one of the bikinis that I bought two years ago and forgot to pack for my first Mallorca holiday. I never wore it until now.

 

 

White bikini

And another one.

I bought four in all. Which is quite stupid considering that I never go to the beach (or even swimming pool) if I can help it.

 

 

Just another

Cala d’Or beach is a couple minutes’ walk from the Marina de Cala d’Or, where you can find a good selection of restaurants and a few shops. And lots of boats, of course.

 

 

More peppers

More Padrón peppers, because I can.

 

 

Sirloin steak with Roquefort Sauce

We ate lunch at this restaurant called Zocalo, which offers a 3-course meal (with choices for each course) for only €15. Piers and I had the peppers for starters and sirloin steak with Roquefort Sauce for mains.

I didn’t know what Roquefort Sauce was so I asked the waiter, who said in halting English, “Uh… is… ahh… creme.”

It turned out to be a cheesy cream sauce which is really nice for vegetables but I don’t like it on my steak.

Also the steak looked a bit sad and pathetic, which made me a bit sad. But it explained the €15 price tag.

 

 

Right. That’s too much said, and two too many bikini photos shown.

Don’t you think?

Next time, I will talk about jellyfish.

Random stuff I feel like talking about

#1

I have decided to get on Instagram, finally. It’s one of those things I didn’t want to do when everyone else was. Now that I’ve dallied enough, I find that someone has already taken the username sheylara (why???), thus forcing me to coin the very creative alternative of sheylara_uk.

So, there’s a lesson for you. Don’t be stubborn. Nothing wrong with being an excitable pup and rushing to join everything on the first day of launch.

I have just posted enough photos (7) for Instagram to create a montage cover for me. I like it. It feeds my vanity to have a portfolio of my pretentious artsy photographs displayed like that.

 

Instagram profile page

 

So, I’ve done that. Your job is to follow me and like all my photos from now on! :D

Pretty please with a cashew nut on top? Honey roasted!!

 

#2

I’ve started a fitness regime to prepare for Mallorca and I hope I’m not too late. I have four bikinis to look decent in by September. (They’re the ones I bought in 2011 and never got to wear because I forgot to pack them for my 2011 Mallorca trip).

If you recall, I’m not a beach and sun person, so going to a resort island would be the only time I’d need to wear any swimsuit at all, so those bikinis have sat untouched in my cupboard for two years!

 

My fitness regime consists of fitness boot camp three times a week and a sugarless, carbless, junkfoodless diet.

It’s brutal, I tell you. Totally brutal, considering that up to this point my diet has been 80% sugar, carbs and junk food.

Now I have to spend too much time cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner, putting in more effort to make boring food edible. giving me less time to do stuff I enjoy.

:(

 

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with red onion and grilled tomatoes.

Breakfast for a champion.

 

 

Lunch: Prawn and avocado salad.

Lunch for a champion.

 

And I haven’t even started on the craziness that goes on in bootcamp. My muscles want to tell you but I’m asking them to shut up and stop bothering me.

Vanity is a powerful motivator, therefore it’s gotta be a good thing, right?

 

Healthy Sheylara

 

 

#3

I bought tickets to watch STOMP!

I saw them once a long time ago in Australia and loved the show. They’re coming to Bournemouth next month, playing at the Pavillion, which is about 15 minutes’ walk from home, whoopee.

When I first saw the poster in the town centre, I said to Piers, “OMG STOMP we have to go watch it!”

He said, “Okay.”

Then, when I was booking the tickets at home, I asked him which day he preferred, Tuesday to Saturday, and he said, “None of them.”

Stupid Piers!

 

STOMP

 

#4

Right, that’s all the random stuff I feel like talking about today. Tomorrow, we talk about sheep. I know you can’t wait!