Dot writes: I have this perpetual illusion that if I’ve made food myself it can’t possibly be bad for me. Pancakes, for example: I was making porridge pancakes on Sunday morning (what I grew up calling drop scones, only with oats in – I don’t know if my mum makes them with oats), and as I cheerfully added two-thirds of a cup of caster sugar I reflected on how it still felt all healthy and wholesome to be making breakfast for the family. For the last few months I’ve also been baking most of our bread (I don’t think we’ve bought a sliced pan since early February). That feels very healthy too. It certainly doesn’t have e-numbers in it.* However, I think I’ve been eating rather too much of it.
I am going on a diet.
I mentioned this to a couple of people at work today and they looked a bit shocked, as though I had suddenly revealed a body dysmorphic disorder. Certainly I am not at present especially fat. But I’ve put on five pounds since Christmas, and if I go on quietly adding padding at that rate I soon will be. Jeans are feeling tight. T-shirts contour around little bulges. My swimsuit (bought in a comparatively slim phase after Hugh’s birth and before I got pregnant with Frank) is splitting slightly at one seam. Moreover, I feel very tired and low in energy, which suggests my blood sugar is not behaving well. Something needs to be Done.
And this is why, this evening, I have made four loaves’ worth of lovely white dough and it is sitting rising tantalisingly in the kitchen even though I don’t plan to eat any of it. I’m going back on the Holford diet, which is a diet Ken and I found very successful some years ago when we moved to Scotland, bought a car and a Good Food Guide, and abruptly put on half a stone each in one term. Patrick Holford is a bit of a quack in some ways and has run foul of Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science column in the past, but the diet really is a good one: it’s a high-protein, low-carb diet but not fatty like Atkins, and while you cut out refined carbohydrates (white bread, biscuits etc) you still get a measure of the tougher ones that take longer to convert into energy (rye bread. I hate rye bread).
Unfortunately, however, I can’t think of two individuals less Holford-diet-friendly than my sons. If they could live on pasta, chocolate, white bread and biscuits, they would. They practically do, only they also eat fruit, which is actually also quite restricted in this diet as it is pretty sugary (strawberries are the best for slow-release carbs; bananas, that lunchbox standby, are no better than potatoes). I am hoping that we will be eating more fish and more lean chicken, both of which they are ok with, so that could be good for them. But it is going to take a bit of will-power to resist all that lovely home-made bread. I’ll just have to put on my too-tight jeans as a brutal reminder, and grit my teeth.
*Ken spent some time looking up e-numbers and all sorts of quite inoffensive things have them, like baking soda. But I don’t think any of the ingredients of my bread do.