I’d been dreading week 3 for a few days previous, as I knew I had ‘going out things’ to do. No longer could I remain safely wrapped up in my cocoon, venturing out only for more fruit and veggies, or to try walking my daily 10,000 steps through gale force winds and hailstorms. No. Because week 3 was to present even sterner challenges – namely, mixing with people in pub-type environments.
Those who know me will tell you that I like a drink. Actually, I like lots of drinks, preferably one after the other with not much hanging about in between. I’d probably be classed as a binge drinker, because even without being on an elimination diet, I don’t drink every day. In fact, I rarely drink at home and I don’t even think about it if it’s not there to tempt me. But when I go out, I go out. I simply find it impossible to walk into a bar and ask for a soft drink. It feels unnatural to me, as unnatural as decaff coffee, or supporting Everton. So knowing I had a writers’ meeting on Wednesday, in the pub we always meet in, was a massive red flag of anxiety. I wasn’t sure how I’d cope, even if the meeting was at 11am. The point was, there would be a bar, with lovely lager and wine and vodka and stuff, just metres away, teasing and tempting me for two hours solid.
Thankfully, I passed this first Herculean task with flying colours. It helped that neither of my companions were on the ale, either, so it wasn’t like temptation was literally in front of me, although I did go for a 5 mile march afterwards to cleanse my soul of all alcoholic desires before I got back home. So far, so good.
Back to the kitchen, then, and the same afternoon I was happily planning my weekend menu, when a call came in from a dear friend I had not seen in ages. Mick is a West Ham Utd fan (no-one’s figured out why, yet) and, with his lot playing our lot that weekend, he had decided it was time to “catch up”. There was talk of
hostility hospitality tickets, which frightened the life out of me for two main reasons: firstly, it would mean eating and drinking, neither of which I could do in ‘the outside world’. Secondly, I’d probably have to wear proper lady clothes which, ask anyone, is not how I like to hang, and certainly not on match day. Worse, the weather had been bloody freezing all week and, if I was going anywhere, it would be wrapped up in twenty layers with more wool than a New Zealand sheep farm.
Sadly, I had to endure both. That is, I met Mick at the Hilton in town and watched him stuff his face on delicious-looking chicken breast wrapped in bacon, followed by a pile of profiteroles, washed down with a bottle of Becks. Me? One glass of mineral water, and a banana I’d smuggled inside my handbag. Then, the tickets fell through and there were no spares about, so I was faced with hanging around L4, in a skirt, while Mick chanced his arm at the ticket office. Needless to say, Mick being Mick, he blagged his way into the Main Stand, while I went to meet my Dad (who was off the leash for the weekend) in the Old Barn, which was freezing, by the way. It was one of those days where I just couldn’t get warm, my bones felt like they’d shatter if someone bumped into me, and I lost feeling in my feet around 3.20pm.
Thankfully, our lot battered their lot, which so upset Mick, he got straight into his Smart car and buggered off back to Nottingham without even saying goodbye (no, I haven’t forgiven you yet). You’d think, being a West Ham fan, he’d be used to losing, but it appears there’s still some work to do on the arl’ ‘magnanimous in defeat’ thing. No matter, because I’d survived five hours – and two pubs – on nothing more than ten litres of soda water and three bananas. This elimination diet is the easiest thing in the world!
But then I met up with ‘the gang’ in the King Charles, and that’s when I could feel my resolve weakening. It’s always a good craic post-match, made better by the fact that, win or lose, we’re on the ale regardless. Only I wasn’t on the ale, and I desperately wanted to be. Another banana down, and we walked over to the Cabbage, which I’d not been in since it burned down a million years ago. It’s bright, in the Cabbage, very bright. And they have sofa-type seats which are two foot lower than the tables and the other seats. Someone needs to tell them that. By the time we’d all piled in there and sat down, it looked like a Hobbits & Giants convention. Still, it distracted me from the fact that everyone was enjoying lovely beer while I sipped at yet more soda water. Why always soda water? Because on an HS-specific elimination diet, you can’t even have orange juice, J2O, obviously no Coke or Diet Coke, and not even lime/orange/blackcurrant cordial, because chances are the bottles have artificial sweetener/colourings/flavourings in them which just aren’t worth the risk to gamble with. For myself, I have reason to believe that my trigger is artificial sweetener, so something as benign as a Britvic 55 or a Fruit Shoot, could do me more damage than a pint of Smirnoff.
I think I lasted about two, three hours, post-match. But what made me leave wasn’t the fact that everyone else was drinking, it was that I was bloody starving. I’d had a cold salmon salad for breakfast, knowing it might be a while before I could eat again, and I’d long polished off the four bananas I’d taken out with me. Anything else was off limits. No packets of crisps, no sausage cob from the cafe, not even a bag of peanuts to keep the hunger at bay. On an elimination diet, anything and everything is off the table, if you haven’t made it yourself, and that makes you extremely hungry, especially when all you can see outside the pub window are neon takeaway signs and fellas at the bus stop chomping on chips and gravy.
I made it home in one piece, my stomach feeling like my throat had been cut, and practically threw my defrosted, grass-fed pork & beef meatballs into the oven, then sliced up about a kilo of sweet potato chips before enduring the 40-minute agony of having to wait for things to cook. Demolishing my meal in precisely three minutes and twenty five seconds, I ran a hot bath and spent the next hour just dozing in the steaming water, dreaming about toasted cheese sandwiches and gin.
It was a tough week, but a good one, and one that needed to be done. Cooking-wise, I am getting more adventurous, too. I even bought a butternut squash the other day, all 1.5kg of it. I’ll be doing ‘something’ with it later, although I haven’t a clue what. Yesterday I also made up a huge batch of tomato-free marinara sauce, which is proving an absolute saviour when it comes to ‘wetting’ my meals. I think the reason I’ve only lost half a pound this week is down to the mountains of sweet potato chips I’m eating. They’re definitely my carb substitute and so easy to make, it’s just a shame I can’t make a huge batch of those to heat up as and when I want them.
I do need to branch out a bit, though, culinary-wise. I’m quickly becoming bored with carrots, parsnips and cauliflower, and there’s way too much earthiness going on in my kitchen. I crave spice, something hot, anything to awaken my tastebuds, really. I seem to be throwing black pepper over everything, just to inject some fire into my food. I’ll confess I am not finding this easy, and alcohol is actually the last thing on my mind for much of the time. I never realised how much I took convenience food for granted and, even though I’m used to not eating bread, the thought of being able to rustle up a simple sandwich is a luxurious notion that does actually keep me awake some nights.
So it’s 5.15pm on a Monday, and I need to start thinking about dinner. Actually, I’ve been thinking about dinner since I got up this morning. Perhaps that butternut squash can keep me amused until I figure out what to do with it. On a more serious note, I did discover a new lesion last week, which was a blow, but I always have to keep reminding myself that this is going to take time. Perhaps the drastic change in my diet is affecting my body (how can it not?) and this lesion is merely a by-product of that. I must be flushing out a shed load of toxins right now – my skin, in general, is going through a teenage phase anyway, as mentioned last week – so I know that, in many cases of HS, it gets worse before it gets better. On the up side, though, the other lesions have definitely receded, so things are finally starting to progress.
Still dreaming of toasties, though.
Average daily calorie intake: 996
Energy level: 7/10
HS severity: 6/10
Weight loss: 0.5lb
Total weight loss (21 days): 6lbs