Friday, 18 September 2009

Cautious Pudding

You've heard of Hasty Pudding? This is like it but subtly different: It is Cautious Pudding.

My doctor told me, my scales told me, the medical charts told me, the mirror told me: I have to lose some weight. Then eventually my joints and varicose veins began to tell me the same thing, but louder and a little more shrill – and I gave in.

After the menopause, weight is easy to accumulate and hard to shift: I was prepared for that, so I felt encouraged to discover it’s not as hard as I’d been dreading.

Acid reflux and fluid retention (sorry, this isn’t too much information for you, is it?), and relentless inflammation pain in my legs mean that fats, sugar, and citrus fruit (and any other very sour food) cause me quite intense pain. There’s something else too – either wheat or yeast, I can’t figure out which, that makes me very bloated and stiff.

So I’ve upped the exercise, and been eating food very, very low in fat and sugar. I eat almost no wheat (rice/corn/oatcakes R us) making my own muesli with oats as the only grain. I don’t go near acidic fruits, especially citrus, except for the smidge of citrus in my Earl Grey tea. I can’t imagine life without a cup of tea, and Earl Grey is about the only one that doesn’t set off the acid stomach problems.

It’s been very effective. Where I was having to take analgesics every night because of the intense pain in my legs, and experiencing a lot of fluid retention and deep, dragging weariness, I now have no pain, enough (though not loads of) energy, and the fluid has all gone away.

The thing I have missed is comfort food. I love steamed vegetables and fish and salads and fruit. But sometimes, especially if I feel lonely or cold, I long for a bit of stodge.

Today I made a pudding I hope might be OK. It might not. If I eat bread – any, even a slice or two – I can reckon to gain 3lbs weight: if it’s the wheat doing it, then this pudding must remain a distant dream. Time will tell.

I put an ounce of semolina (which is wheat, but I tried making this with brown rice flakes and the result was disgusterous), with just a scant teaspoon of sugar and a dash of vanilla, in a glass bowl. I added a cup of skimmed milk, and microwaved it for about 3 minutes, whisking it up with a fork every so often to stop it clumping. When I had made it, I put a very small amount (about half a teaspoon) of jam on it. And it was delicious.

I don’t think it can be very fattening, because the amounts of the wheat and sugar are so small. It has to be better than a slice of toast with butter and jam.

You may be wondering why we have jam and semolina and sugar in our house at all! Well, the jam is Badger’s because he loves it and eats quite a lot. The semolina is left over from before I started this reformation. The sugar is for Badger’s porridge in the winter, and for when people come who like sugar in their tea.

I suspect that it would be more intelligent to just cross wheat and sugar right off my list. I have a bad relationship with sugar, because it sends me a bit bi-polar and creates anxiety. I am also suspicious of the voice inside me that says, ‘Just once in a while – just now and again for a treat’: because past experience tells me that today’s treat is tomorrow’s habit.

But I’m hoping it will be all right. We’ll see.