Tuesday, 9 March 2010

An Army Marches On Its Stomach

And the 4th Canal Infantry Regiment (Birmingham Battalion) - 4-Canal for short - wouldn’t be anywhere near battle-ready by July 17th were it not for the support from our one-man Catering Corps, and Mission Nutritionist, Tommy.

It was the death earlier this year of Tommy’s brother, who had contracted early onset Alzheimer’s, that inspired Sparky and me to do this walk in aid of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust.

I mentioned in an earlier blog entry that one of the reasons for my doing this walk – and the training for it – was to lose weight. I had, late last year, seen my weight rise to 15st 12lbs and, while that didn’t last long, I was still 15st 6lbs by the start of this campaign. Tommy told me that if I followed his dietary plan, the weight would soon start dropping off.

He was right. I’m a touch under 15 stone now; I can see my toes without bending at the hips; and my navel now points forwards, rather than downwards as it had previously done. Not long ago I put some mild symptoms I was suffering into one of those online diagnosis website. And how helpful that was. Apparently I was suffering from insomnia, all sorts of mental illnesses, every heart disease imaginable, cancer of almost everything, problems associated with the menopause, erectile dysfunction, whiplash, post-concussive syndrome, Asperger’s syndrome, anorexia, dyslexia, smoker’s face, alcohol withdrawal, berberi, shock – not surprising after discovering all the other ailments – and plague. The last probably explains why I haven’t found anyone willing to accompany me on the walk yet.

Tommy’s advice has been to eat more green vegetables; cook them in a steamer; eat less red meat; eat more chicken or fish; avoid potatoes as much as possible and, should I really need to eat them, do so at a different meal from when I’d have green vegetables. This, apparently, is because carbohydrates stimulate different digestive juices from proteins, and a mixture of both would reduce the benefits from either. It’s an idea from The Hay Diet – one of those ambiguously-named diets, almost as much so as The Diet of Worms, which Tommy certainly hasn’t recommended.

So, over the past couple of weeks, I’ve discovered the joys of steamed broccoli, steamed green beans, even steamed okra – though that is a bit of an acquired taste. I may even try steamed cabbage – not something I ever expected to consider after the awful way cabbage was cooked when I was a child. It’ll take a while before I work out just how long various things should go into the steamer: things can come out either beautifully crisp or hopelessly soggy.

Mentioning The Diet Of Worms leads me to this most palatable music, by the 16th century English composer Thomas Tallis. It's a setting, in English, of a passage from the Gospel of St John, written during the reign of the fervently Protestant Edward VI.

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