Food as Fuel

All posts tagged Food as Fuel

#juneathon Day 4, Hit and Run drivers, and a lucky escape.

Published June 4, 2015 by Crystal

Today’s exercise was a 3.7 mile round trip to A & E with my eldest.  He was hit by a speeding driver yesterday afternoon, but thankfully, and I can only assume someone was looking over him, he was just hit in the arm.  If he had been a little quicker, or if the car had been a little slower the outcome could have been very very different.  The trip to A & E was just to check that the damage was nothing more than the graze and swelling, which it fortunately is.  The driver didn’t even stop to make sure my son was ok.  But then if he was going as fast as it looks, then he clearly wasn’t the type to be concerned and caring about hitting anyone.

We have reported it, but unfortunately it happened so quickly, the details are sketchy.

Sadly last night I heard about an online friend who has passed away quite suddenly.  I have known her for as long as I have had my eldest, and she was such a warm supportive person.  While my family is so grateful that our boy is ok, her family will be mourning the loss of a lovely woman who has been there for so many over the years.  Her absence will be tangible.

So today is a quiet day. Full of gratitude for nothing worse having happened to our gorgeous boy, and for the friendship of a lovely woman.

Foodwise, well, last night I ended up having wine.  So that’s dry June out the window.  But I am sticking with the delicious vegan foods, and have tried Freekeh which is a rather lovely alternative to rice.  Lots of texture, and works both hot and cold.  I have also treated myself to some exotic mushrooms.  Yes, I know that might sound like the lamest thing you could read today, but good ingredients make good meals!

Oh, and I also gave in to the scales.  But then the result was favourable, so let’s talk no more about it, and I will attempt to resist the nagging voices to keep jumping on once more.

My son is enjoying trying vegan more, though he did need some comfort in the form of fried chicken, and after yesterday’s event, who am I to argue?

The sun is shining.  The garden is calling for some attention.  I am off.


Dry #Juneathon? Who am I kidding? (Day 3)

Published June 3, 2015 by Crystal

Today’s exercise is complete.  It wasn’t running in the end.  For several reasons.  One. I felt particularly self conscious on putting my running gear on today.  My tummy, while no difference in size to 6 weeks ago, felt big.  My tights felt revealing, and I felt conspicuous to every passer by.  So naturally, I donned my bright yellow rain coat, which covers my bum.  It also has helpful pockets for things like wallet and phone, which I needed as my exercise involved walking to Tesco 2.5 miles away to get my prescription (apparently Duloxetine is something they need to order in, albeit super fast, they just don’t stock it.  Now I know for next time).  Anyway, I started out, and I felt a bit meh about it anyway, but also particularly self conscious, so I tried a little running, but decided that walking would be fine.

2 miles in and the blister started.  3 miles in and there was the feeling when the blister has popped.  Home and I have a lovely large empty blister.  I was miffed as yet again my twin skin socks had let me down.  Whilst the likes of lidl trainer socks never have.  I won’t bore you with the photo.  I already did that on twitter.  At least now I have my Duloxetine, and I have 5 miles under my belt.

3 days of exercise, it’s a roll!

Food wise I am loosely following Joel Fuhrman’s GBOMBS plan.  I like the idea of all the nutrient dense foods, and am feeling pretty good.  The smell of the KFC I passed did absolutely nothing for me, and my craving for lunch was avocado on rye bread (which I have just had).

What I am really fancying though, is a nice glass (bottle) of wine.  So I had a think to myself What would Geneen ask me re the wine?  How am I feeling?  Am I anxious or agitated?  Is there something I am trying to avoid?  And I’m thinking Well I am starting a new supply job on Friday, and it’s my first shift, but it’s cleaning, and it’s only 2 hours.  Logically there isn’t really any reason to be anxious.  And when it comes down to it, I think the reason I want wine is because I told myself I can’t have it!

What is it about us humans that want the one thing we’ve told ourselves we shouldn’t?  There’s a rebellious streak in me that really does not want to grow up.  I want to smoke, drink, and spend long lazy days at the pub as I did in my teens, which is nearly 20 bloody years ago!  So it’s that, that feeling of sensibility and responsibility that I seem to be fighting against today and I want wine to prove that I’m not yet a fully responsible 30 something, and that I can still play and have fun.  I don’t know where I am going with this awareness, but I guess awareness is the first step towards something positive!

Grr, #vlm2015 training session cut short. But still, 6 miles..! @slimmables @beyondchoc @londonmarathon

Published February 8, 2015 by Crystal

A year ago I wouldn’t have been saying, oh well, I only managed 6 miles.  So I am claiming that as a mini victory and evidence of the progress I have made in terms of health and fitness.

Unfortunately my old pal IBS has flared up today, and to put it rather delicately, I found running was causing me to feel a need to be close to a toilet with every mile!  I was actually running with the location of the next available rest stop in mind, and as the miles went on things became less comfortable and more painful.  At 5.3 miles I decided to call it a day, and arranged to meet my beloved to get a lift home.  I ran walked the last mile to meet up, and was grateful to be on my way home.

It’s interesting after the morning I have had and the feelings I have had on diets/eatingplans/antidiets this morning.

To me this situation reinforced my decisions to follow the slimmables plan.  I may never do it 100%, but the food I have eaten has nourished and supported me as I have continued to train.  IBS symptoms were non existent, and a headache only happened when I didn’t drink enough before a run.  Today I am suffering IBS and the visual disturbances that come before a migraine.  It could be entirely coincidental, or it could be that I am far more aware these days of how foods do affect me physically.

I will always be thankful to the intuitive eating movement, and that includes beyond chocolate.  But as with every thing I have to take what works for me, and leave the rest.

I’ll admit I felt I was being dug out this morning when I read tweets on my time line. Because I know it is me who has mentioned slimmables several times over the last fortnight.  And yes, it is a diet, and yes, there will no doubt be those who throw themselves in 100%, and 6 months on are onto something else because the honeymoon period has passed.  I am not that person.  I am the one who stumbles and tries to find my way from day one, and probably looks like a failure in the eyes of many weight loss experts.  I did WW and lost some weight, I then did SW and lost some more, all the while picking the bits that helped me.  I’m now on Slimmables and taking what helps me now.  I’m not a conformist, and I doubt I will ever be in some magazine with a Wowzer life changing story.

But I’m still 3 stone lighter than 18 months ago, and I can run walk 6 miles in less than 80 minutes.  Last year I couldn’t run for more than 30 seconds at a time, so progress is happening.

I will probably always feel a little bit unsupported, and a little bit misunderstood, because depression likes to play that game, often.  I will probably always be a little bit paranoid and a little bit anxious.  But I will always be honest about where I am in my journey and in the moment.  I don’t expect anyone to follow my path, it’s messy and chaotic.  But just because I want to run a marathon and lose some weight to make that easier, doesn’t make me a sell out to the Size Acceptance movement.  Because I’m not expecting anyone else to join me in my journey, and because I want every single person in this world to feel comfortable and happy and accepted in their skin and their choices. Don’t dig me out because my choices aren’t in line with yours.  Maybe instead, ask what it is that I am getting out of a choice at this point in time. And cheer on the positives!  Like raising money for a charity that is relevant to everyone in this country, and like noticing the little improvements in health and fitness that enable me to feel better mentally.

Anyway, so 6 miles today, but Thursday is looking free, so I shall aim for 12 then, and I still have my runs with my buddy on Monday and Friday.  I’m not giving up just yet!  Oh, and I managed to collect lots and avoid the zombies in that 6 miles! 😉

#janathon, Body Pump, #depression and @slimmables

Published January 28, 2015 by Crystal

I love being physically exhausted.  The sort from a good hard work out, where I have given at least 95% and ache with satisfaction.  And I love it when it takes only 45 minutes to achieve that state.


Last week was tough.  The Christmas break, the change in routine, my depression kicking my arse that morning.

Today though, time raced.  45 minutes flew by and I managed to keep up, mostly.

I will be interested to see how recovery time is affected by my slight change in diet.  I came home and had a plate of heavenly smoked salmon and avocado, and am supping on a mug of herbal tea.  I feel peaceful and accomplished.

I was thinking as I drove to the gym (other side of town, time limited, don’t judge me, I’ll run tomorrow and Friday, or walk t least!) about how anti I was when I heard people discussing the merits of low carb.  I love my pasta and rice way too much, I would think to myself.  No way I’m giving up those things for some poxy diet to lose weight.  And of course me and diets don’t get on well, especially since discovering mindful eating, and reading material around that idea.  I’m willing to try diets, but I’m more realistic about what I want and need in my life, and taking what will work, and discarding what won’t.  I’m never going to be a WW or SW success story.  My weight loss has been slow and erratic on those plans in the recent years.

But then I started to follow Josie Gibson on twitter, and she is certainly a driven woman.  She is fit, and focussed, and I felt the desire to channel a little of her focus into my life.  I have a marathon to train for, and every pound of fat lost is a pound less that I need to carry around with me on my 26.2 mile stretch, and every ounce of muscle gained is a little bit more in building my power house to keep me going!  Josie advocates as natural and unprocessed as possible, and having been cooking from scratch on SW it seemed entirely doable.  When she launched her plan on Saturday I had a read, not only on her website, but on various articles about Josie over the years since she has lost and maintained that lost.  And I decided to give it a go.  I’m on to day 4, and actually feel really good.  I’m not craving chocolate, don’t miss pasta or rice like I thought I would, and I can’t help but think this protein helped today’s class pass in a whizz rather than last week’s counting the seconds pass!  The only thing I am missing is my evening wine, but then that’s a coping habit I’ve been using since my depression hit again, and not a particularly healthy one, so I’m happy to keep fighting that urge, and allow my body a break.  Since Sunday I have lost 3.5lbs and several inches from waist, hips and biceps.  I accept there will be loss of fluid in such a drastic change in eating, but considering I have been doing SW for a few weeks, and losing fairly low numbers, even in the first weeks of the plan, I feel optimistic that this plan is suiting me.  I feel driven to exercise, and I need that at the moment.  I find it easy to make great food choices, and it doesn’t feel a hassle at all.

Of course it might all change.  The first few weeks of any new plan are always exciting and motivation is in spades. But the fact that I am not craving big bowls of pasta and cheese, and not feeling energy slumps like I do when on lots of pasta and rice, is all good for me!

I hope in terms of depression it will benefit also, but there’s some time before I will see results on this.  Rome wasn’t built in a day!

For information on Josie’s new website click Slimmables

Honour Your Health

Published August 14, 2014 by Crystal

Last week I was stressed, and out of sorts, and stroppier than usual.  It was a combination of things, but the result was 3 bottles of wine  and a fair bit of vodka over the week.  I’m not ashamed.  I didn’t reach for a bloody mary the minute I woke up.  I wasn’t sneaking glugs out of a bottle hidden in the ironing pile. But it was a lot.  And it was more than I need.  And it was more than I drink normally.  It was a conscious decision.  I chose wine over weight loss this week. And the result was a gain on the scales at my Slimming World class.

I felt a bit disgruntled.  I’d kind of hoped for a miracle, a maintain, maybe even a half lost.  But wine hinders my weight loss, not least because my choices around food can become questionable the day after the night before.  But disgruntle dissipated quickly enough as I accepted the result, and looked at the week previous and mused over the week ahead.  I have a fridge full of lovely fruit and veg, meat, fish, cheese and so on.  I have everything I need to make all manner of meals, and this week I have enthusiasm and determination. This week I am choosing to eat more healthsome foods and drink less wine!

I’ve been thinking and looking back on the principles of intuitive eating today.  The final one, which stands out for me at this time is this

10 Honor Your Health–Gentle Nutrition Make food choices that honor your health and tastebuds while making you feel well. Remember that you don’t have to eat a perfect diet to be healthy. You will not suddenly get a nutrient deficiency or gain weight from one snack, one meal, or one day of eating. It’s what you eat consistently over time that matters, progress not perfection is what counts.




I started to muse on how sometimes so much emphasis is placed on legalising all food and saying “NO” to dieting that the whole “Honour Your Health” principle is left as something we’ll do later when we’ve got ourselves sorted with the legalising.  The problem for me is that I embraced the legalisation, and forgot the health bit.  I forgot to notice when foods left me feeling sluggish, or with indigestion.  I wanted to eat and eat all those foods that I had deprived myself of during years of dieting.  To make up for those rotten evenings staring at a salad when what I wanted was sweet and sour chicken.  The fact that I could have had something better than a salad and probably tastier than a chinese take away if I’d made the effort didn’t really enter into my thoughts.  In fact, looking back, a lot of my perceived deprivation was my choice.  A form of martyrdom.  A “look how good I am and how much weight I’m losing by not letting myself have all the things I love!”.  I think it’s a pattern many dieters fall into.  Somehow there’s more merit in being a miserable dieter.

The fact is that with every diet we choose to partake in, we have a choice.  We choose how much we do or don’t commit.  We choose how much effort we will put in to cooking and following recipes.  We choose to deviate from the diet plan, or we choose to stick.  Last week, I chose to deviate.  I did it with awareness and accepted there would be consequences.  But I chose to deviate.

The same could be said for Intuitive Eating principles, I feel.  I can choose to observe them all, and follow them to the letter. I could choose to not eat my feelings away, or I could ignore that principle for the evening and follow my own choices.  I already know that eating too mindfully bores me to tears.  But I am aware that I don’t need as much food as I used to and so will plate up less and go back for seconds if I want it.  And as time goes on, I realise more and more that a really important Principle is the one of Honouring Health.  There’s no getting around it.  All the mindful eating, legalisation, exercising, will only do so much if I’m still filling my body with less nutritious foods more often than not.  And here is where a slimming club supports me in the healthier choices.  This is where having syns, or points, and making the more filling and nutritious food decisions is made a little bit easier because a great big diet club has done all the hard work for me.  OK, Weight Watchers may be obsessed with touting their foods and calculators and scales.  And Slimming World may promote their sweetener laden HiFi bars.  But I make the choice of whether I want to buy them or not.  I make the choice of how much money I put into buying the slimming club merchandise.

Of course The first Principle is to ditch the diet mentality, and I would urge every woman and man in the world to learn to love themselves, to accept they are great people as they are, and to know the scales merely tell them their weight, not their self worth.  But for many folk, there is support and friendship at clubs, and for many, their lives are improved through learning about better food choices, and being able to move more freely as weight is lost.

Diet clubs are not the devil.  The lies spread by the media are what is evil.  The perverse messages that physical beauty is everything, and physical beauty includes thinness.  The arrogant messages that obesity is the root of every illness, and that fat people are lazy and just need to eat less and move more and their lives will improve.   These are what hit us in the heart, and lead us to feel inadequate and failing.   And there are times when we are vulnerable, and those messages will puncture deeper than usual.  They will rob our self esteem and devalue our life if we let ourselves believe them.  But it isn’t the diet clubs.

So, Honour Your Health.  My current mantra.


I overate on the weekend. I should just give up now.

Published May 27, 2014 by Crystal

If I was dieting old style, right now I would be planning my meals for the rest of the week.  Damage limitation.  Juicing vegetables, or lots of soup.  Hunger would be a main feature of the week.  And it would be a daunting depressing look into my immediate future.  The thoughts running through my mind would be (and they still are a little until I silence them) negative. Criticisms.  Why can’t I eat normally?  Why am I such a fat heffer?  Why can’t I put the chips down when I’m not hungry?  I won’t ever be slim because I’m lazy and greedy.  Oh yes, Mr Weight loss expert, I’m perfectly capable of slagging myself off.  Your services are not required.

If I was dieting old style, the weekend would have been a pleasure/pain filled experience.  Loving the family time, the food, the drink.  Loathing the lack of control I feel around food and drink.  Monday (or in this case Tuesday) would be the inevitable “I’m starting the diet again, tomorrow”.  The thought of the future tingeing the enjoyment of the present.

So what is different when I’m not dieting old style?  What happens when I make the conscious effort to tune in to my body emotionally and physically?  And when “the diet restarts tomorrow” isn’t a phrase in my little language book?


Firstly there’s the living in the moment of the overeating.  We all have reasons for behaving differently at certain times.  For example, on holiday, when food choice is different, when maybe you’ve tried a meal at a restaurant and loved it so much that you didn’t mind how full you would feel, you just wanted to finish it all.  Or a birthday party, where the host has made the most delicious cake, and you wanted to enjoy a little extra.  Sometimes we associate overeating with celebration, for others it might be comforting after a hard day at work.

And it’s not wrong.   Even my naturally slim friend will finish off the chocolate brownie during a coffee stop at the cafe as a reward for a hard days shopping!

By living in the moment, becoming aware of why I’m doing it, and tuning in to all the physical and emotional feelings as I overeat I am learning something about myself and the way I respond to food and to my life.

But as dieters we’re taught that overeating is always wrong.  We learn to associate guilt with eating those extra mouthfuls we didn’t need.  For taking one too many sausage rolls from the buffet table.  So for a dieter, overeating will always be tarnished, and the promise of punishment in the following weeks is almost a certainty.


For me?  Well, last night I went to bed and thought back on the weekend.  Saturday I had been at college.  Sunday we had gone for a long, wonderful cycle ride as a family.  10 miles all in.  I felt ecstatic after 2 weeks inactive.  Sunday evening we enjoyed wine and chips and dips and easy cook food.  Yesterday, a bank holiday, was slightly groggy from a little too much wine on the Sunday, and overeating was in part due to the tiredness and grogginess from the wine.  Feelings….tired, a little emotional after such a lovely weekend, glad to have bought a patio set to put my plans of al fresco eating into plan.  The odd horrid message ran through my brain “You always let yourself go, you’re never going to be healthy”.  I let it run through my brain, and let it leave.  I know they’re not true.  I know it’s my horrid inner voice.  I know that mental health is as important as physical health, and dieting is not beneficial to my mental health right now.

And today?  I woke up.  I felt a pang of hunger.  Mused over what to eat for breakfast.  And I wanted a scrambled egg on a slice of pain de campagne.  No super thin nimble.  No wholemeal.  I made my breakfast, plated it up and went and sat outside at my new table, without computer, or phone, or tv to distract my mealtime.  I lay down my knife and fork between each mouthful.  I paid attention to the flavours.  I stopped when I was satisfied.  I gave the leftovers to the dog.  There was no guilt associated with the previous days events.  No pay off now for what had happened then.  I ate what satisfied my hunger and tasted every mouthful.  I enjoyed the garden (granted, slightly wet this morning) and I enjoyed my egg on toast.

Because for me, not dieting means taking things one meal, one bite even, at a time.  And the amazing thing is, that my body knows how much I need.  If I’ve overeaten, my body is capable of compensating for it. Today I might just need a fraction of what I might have on a normal day.  But I don’t need to worry.  I just need to tune in, and let it be.


Dear Jamie, on Food Revolution Day, it’s not just about food.

Published May 16, 2014 by Crystal

Oh Jamie, Jamie, Jamie.

I do love you.  I love your passion.  I love your drive and enthusiasm to educate the world on food.  (Read about his goals here;

The thing is Jamie, much as I do love your enthusiasm, and believe schools can do more in inspiring children to cook wonderful things from scratch, I’m in a quandary about the language you are using and the way schools are already dealing with the need for healthy eating.  My youngest son returned home from a day during a Healthy Eating Week telling me he could eat pasta “because it’s healthy”.  The quantity was irrelevant.  The message was that pasta was healthy and that’s all that stuck.  Oh, and “I’ll get fat if I eat other stuff”.  My youngest is a little bean.  Nay an ounce of extra fat upon him, but I’m a large lady.  With food and body issues as far back as I can remember.  I have worked hard to give my children a healthy attitude to food, and importantly alongside that, a healthy body image and balanced self esteem.  Their diet is fairly balanced, admittedly sometimes more heavy with chocolate and sweets than other times, but they see an apple and a chocolate bar equally, and will choose a piece of fruit over a chocolate biscuit when they want to.  They are active children.  Yes the XBOX sometimes takes up too much of the day, but it’s balanced with days out scooting, cycling, walking and so on.  Importantly they are assured that they are fine as they are.  Their bodies are good and functional, they’re at a healthy weight.  Food is a fuel predominantly but also to be enjoyed.  I made a conscious effort when they were babies and toddlers to not hush them with food when we were out and about.  From their birth, I have been conscious of helping them create a healthy relationship with food.  I carried toys and crayons and paper, and as many distractions as I could so that they and I did not establish a pattern of comforting with food.  We have children of similar ages, you and I, and I know this because I remember following Jools throughout her pregnancies and post birth.  You know, one thing that sticks with me, and it was probably a throw away comment for lovely Jools, but she said that she was having to fold her post baby tummy into her jeans in the months after giving birth.  And she looked so confident.  I thought here’s a sensible woman, not rushing back on to the treadmill, not living on the maple syrup diet to achieve her pre-pregnancy size and weight.  A “normal” mum that we can relate to.  Someone with a healthy relationship with food, and importantly a healthy body image. So take it in all honesty when I say I really do admire you and yours.

Your idea is honourable. Many families do struggle to give their children balanced meals.  BUT where will you be when the taunting starts in those food education classes?  When Jack starts to comment on Rae’s family and eating style and general body image?  Because it will happen.  That competition between the kids that eat better than the others.  The kids that know a carrot from a cucumber and more crucially (to you) from a chocolate cookie.  Where will you be when the child goes home and relays to the parent that the parents are responsible for them being fat, and need to change their cooking habits?  Have you assumed every outcome to that will be a happy one?

I honestly do admire your drive.  But my worry is that you are sending a very top heavy message.  A message that kids are getting fatter and they need to learn to cook, because their parents can’t do it, because on their own they cannot be trusted, because they cannot rely on their parents to look after and nurture them, because it is important to be thinner.  Because you are driving this forward for health, and I appreciate that, but unfortunately the message is there that fat is unacceptable and thin is desirable and achievable.  And that children need to educate their parents, because their parents are ignorant of what their children need.  I accept that you alone can only do so much, and you’re a man with life experiences that are your own.  You can’t place yourself in every child’s frame of reference.  You can’t possibly visit every family you’re trying to help.  I know that.  But you surely know that the issue of obesity isn’t purely based on food and whether people can cook or not?  You do know that, don’t you?  You do understand that children develop complex relationships with food through their experiences with those close to them?  That those patterns are established early on?  You do understand that positive body image and self esteem can actually play a huge part in whether a child reaches for the chocolate bar or two?  And if you do understand this, then does it not worry you, even a little, that all your work will be in vain if the curriculum you’re helping to change doesn’t put forward a more balanced message to children?

In it’s simplest form;


I know your intentions are wonderful, but I worry this lopsided learning will do very little, and not even hit your 5% target of reduced obesity if you don’t address the healthy self esteem issues that need addressing

So I am thinking.  You want food health.  Didn’t Gok Wan wants self image health?  The two need to go together.  They’re two halves of a missing whole.  Can’t you start to work together?  Or at least start to meet with people that deal with food and body issues every single day, and come from a new place of understanding?

You’re so very nearly there.  You really are so close to impacting such a positive change.

Yours Sincerely

Little Miss Cackle.