What happened and where did I go?

I’ll be writing about something slightly different now on this blog, and I confess straight up I’m writing this for me rather than you, so forgive my selfishness but I need it because I have a long journey ahead of me to go back to the start;  and all I ever really knew was writing so I guess it is by writing that I will get there.

I now weight 233lbs – so I’ve stopped gaining weight, which is because I’ve come off the Gabapentin but I now have 89lbs to lose.  But it’s more than that.  Since I damaged my jaw joint and nerve and had to go on the heavy medication and off sick from work, I’ve lived in this netherland for the last 18 months.  Unable to hold at first pretty much any conversation, and now 18 months later unable to hold more than one conversation before my face hurts for the rest of the day, I’ve withdrawn from socialising.  Added to that not being able to recognise myself under all this weight, just not feeling like myself, has made me withdraw further.  And now, from being someone who had a full and functioning life, I’ve become someone who hardly sees anyone, hardly goes anywhere and hardly does anything.  I’ve learned to just survive with as little discomfort as possible, and I wouldn’t even say I’m particularly unhappy.

But this is not a life, and I realise to get my life back I need to let myself be unhappy and unsettled and admit that this is just not enough.  I’ve led such an interesting, varied and sometimes difficult, sometimes magnificent life – but now, I’m just this fat, solitary middle aged woman who gets by.  Many circumstances have contributed, but the truth is I am the only person who can dig myself out – and I know it starts with my body.

I need to be the lithe, slender, restless, ambitious person I always was.  The person who was always trying, who never stayed on the mat but always got back up;  that was always dreaming and striving.

The drugs I’m on for my condition keep me medicated, they rob me of most of my creativity and I want my creativity back because I still have to do the one thing I wanted since I was a child – to be a writer.  I have written, I have had short fiction published, I even finished a novel – but these drugs numb me.

So I have to get my body sorted back out and off these drugs, and I think accomplishing this will be the biggest fight of my life.

But I’m game.  And I’m not someone who does things in moderation – I function in extremes.

So from tomorrow, I’m going on the Blood Sugar/Xand van Tulleken diet and cutting back to 800 calories a day until I am the me I and everyone who knew me recognises again.  And then I want to get off these f***ing drugs and write the novel I know is inside me.

Wish me luck.

Hello, hello, good to be …

My fellow Mancunians saying it for me

although this one is always wake-you-up fun

but what could be more fun and yet more meltingly romantic than this?

I’m really not joking. I developed quite the passion for SNF when I was away. So much better than I thought it’d be. A proper, surprisingly dark, film but with dancing in it.

So while I’ve been away I’ve :

had a (hopefully) benign tumour removed from my shoulder;

reached an astonishing 222lbs;

discovered Jon Gabriel, more of which very soon.

And it was magnificent aka how to kick sugar effortlessly and without tears

(As soon as I typed that title,  the Bon Iver song ‘Holocene’ filled my head, and now will for days.  Again.  But it’s such a gorgeous song, it’s worth it – and if you get the chance to watch the video, please do.  Let yourself be taken to Iceland for a little while. )

So I’ve been quiet lately, but that’s because I took a step back to unravel my head to figure out why I was developing a full-blown eating disorder, and how to prevent it.  I realised I needed to fix my relationship with food.  If you have a good relationship with food, you will be neither overweight nor underweight.  Fact.  Inescapable fact.  I’ve known that for a long time and I reminded myself of it.

So how to fix my relationship with food while still shedding the excess weight that is undeniably not good for my body?

Step 1:  be patient 

Blake Lively recently did something I admire – she put out there that she’d lost 61lbs in 14 months.  I liked her for that.  I have previously seen her berate the Yummy Mummy movement that pressured women into getting their bodies back within 6 weeks of birth.  I like her for holding out against it.  I like her for sticking to her guns and losing the weight over a reasonable timescale.  Weirdly 61lbs is what I’d like to lose (it was less when I began this blog, but then I kept on bingeing …).  So I’m doing a Blake Lively.  I’m planning to give myself 14 months to get back to myself.  That’s hard, because I so hate carrying this extra weight that I want it gone NOW, so I want to restrict, and ferociously!  But I recognise all that will do is keep me stuck at this weight, or indeed increasing.  After all in the last 8 months of restrictive dieting, I’ve lost precisely 0lbs.  In fact, I’ve gained.  So:

Step 2:  make peace with myself

I’m forgiving myself for getting fat.  And now I’m going to treat myself with tenderness and care.  No more berating myself for being fat, greedy, worthless.  No more war on myself.   The best thing about this is I now have mental energy to expend on more worthwhile projects than loathing myself.

Step 3:  eat for health, not weight

What does that mean in practise?  As I found, everything.

In the first place it meant that instead of punishing myself by dieting, I was embracing myself, saying I was worth caring for.

Secondly, It changed the foods I chose to eat.

It works like this – if I’m dieting, it’s quite possible to fit a bar of chocolate into my macroes/carb count/calorie count and still be on track.  Hell, I could have a cheat day and fill it with pizza, ice cream and Coke.  In fact, lots of diet gurus encourage me to.

But if I’m eating for health rather than weight, suddenly the perspective shifts, massively and profoundly.  If I’m eating for health, the only possible response to a bar of chocolate is ‘Why would I put that shit in my body?’

Job done.

I realised it would also be helpful to

Step 4:  Stop weighing myself and instead be guided by how well a food makes me feel

Not weighing myself can be tough – I worry that without the scales to chastise me, I won’t stay on the nutritional straight and narrow.  And without the scales to tell me how good I’ve been, how will I know when to celebrate?  But I also know that if the scales have bad news for me, that can lead to ‘F**k it!  I’ve tried really hard and got nothing back for it, so I’m gonna have that block of Dairy Milk!”;  and if they have good news for me, that can lead to ‘I’ve been really good and done really well, and everything’s under control so I’m gonna treat myself to that block of Dairy Milk!’

Aside from that of course, fat loss and weight loss are not the same thing and my scales are not sophisticated enough to tell them apart.

Step 5:  Stop binge eating

And then, suddenly at that moment, as so often happens, I stumbled across exactly what I needed – the website Eat Like A Normal Person, written by a former binge-eater, and specifically this page How anti-smoking guru Allen Carr saved me from obesity.  I didn’t read the whole site, I just fortuitously stumbled on this, about being in the midst of a binge:

We don’t stop eating, because our body never receives the signal that it has got what it needs, because it has not.

Often, nearing the end of a binge, when I’m already feeling bloated and sick and the sugar high has kicked in and my heart is pounding and the adrenaline’s flashing through my veins and I’m starting to genuinely worry for my heart, I’ve found myself thinking ‘I give up.  I’ve eaten everything bingeworthy in the house and I’m still not satisfied’.  And that makes me desperately upset, because I know I am going to pay a very high price for what I just did – and yet it never actually hit the target.

Reading that quote made me realise – my body is not recognising all that crap as food, because it is not food;  and therefore it is not sending me that ‘stop eating now, it’s all good and thanks for that dose of essential vitamins and minerals. I’m happy, go play now’.  I realised that if I can binge it, it’s a non-food.  Your body simply won’t let you binge proper food.  How much cheese could you actually eat in a sitting?

The only exception to that is nuts – I can eat my way through a 500g bag of nuts and at the end feel bloated, heavy and somehow still not satisfied.

I guess nuts do not have everything in that my body wants.  In fact, when I thought about it, very very few foods alone are capable of providing absolutely everything your body would require from a meal.  This led me to realise  –

Step 6:  no mono-meals

If I’m eating nuts, I must eat, say, raisins with them.  I mustn’t eat anything alone – every food must have at least one companion.  And it works.  I automatically reach satiation at a reasonable point of consumption.

Step 7:  Kick sugar to the kerb

And between realising that I wasn’t binge-eating sugar because of anything that was in sugar, but precisely because of what was not in sugar;  and that if I wanted to treat my body well and eat for my health, there was no way I would put sugar into it :  I just stopped eating sugar.  Just like that.

So here’s a thing I’ve learnt.  Sugar addiction is all in the head and you can give up all kinds of sugar effortlessly and without cravings.

I was reading an interview with Russell Brand – an ex-drug addict – and he said that occasionally, even though his life is immeasurably better now he’s off drugs, occasionally he’ll still envy himself when he was a junkie:  because then he had drugs.

I understand that regret, and that is all you will feel when you stop eating sugar.  That vague ‘But what will I do now when I want to comfort myself or celebrate?”  As I’m learning myself, you will find the ways – but every day that you wake up and don’t have to crawl out of that pit of food hangover+self loathing+despair is consolation enough.

I do very occasionally still eat a few squares of 85% dark chocolate with some almonds – but as there is distinctly no sugar rush to be had from that and that very dark chocolate has nutritional benefit, I’m fine with that.  I do now also always keep big, juicy oranges in the house – although I only feel a desire for one every few days.

Step 8:  welcome fruit back into my life

Over a decade of low carbing led me to a terror of fruit.  And yes, I realise now, how weird it was I’d made a decision I could allow some chocolate into my life but not fruit.

That was partly because if I ate fruit alone, after about 15 minutes I’d get so faint and unable to focus I felt ready to fall over.  I don’t know why, I only know it’s so – I know my eldest son responds to fruit the same, and I know we’re not alone.

However, we can both eat a bar of chocolate alone and instead get a sugar rush which gave us energy for a while.

Somehow rather than taking the decision I should therefore eat fruit but only with meals, my rather tortured thinking led me to exclude fruit.

Contributing to that decision was the argument against modern fruit – that it has been bred to be bigger, juicier, sweeter than anything our ancestors ate.  It is indeed nature’s candy and far sweeter than nature intended.  So I accept that I shouldn’t over eat it, after all sugar is sugar – but fruit undeniably has nutritional benefits, so it stays. And anyway, it is a part of

Step 9:  eat as wide a variety of foods as possible

And so I’ve kicked sugar and stopped bingeing.  Just like that.  It wasn’t difficult, it wasn’t protracted.  It didn’t require counselling, it didn’t require a programme and I’m no different from you.  I believed I was powerless against it, I believed I was trapped in it.  Turns out it wasn’t.  I had the keys all along.

I’m still a bit greedy sometimes – but as anyone who has binge-eaten knows, there is a world of difference between going back for seconds and binge eating.  I don’t always go back for seconds anyway;  partly it’s that I’m having such a fabulous time experimenting with new recipes as part of my intention to eat as wide a variety of foods as possible, that sometimes when a new recipe is freshly out of the oven and turns out to be lipsmackingly, groaningly fabulous I scoff the lot.  That’s human.

So I think I have some work to do on the greedy – but as a woman who now no longer smokes, drinks, takes drugs or eats sugar I think I’m gonna be a bit kind to myself about that, and …

Step 10:  Never punish myself by restricting if I’ve been greedy

And I trust myself that as I acclimatise to this new world of mine, even the greediness will subside and even though I still have bouts of greediness, my cupboard currently holds every kind of nut – because I love nuts – and raisins, dried apricots and dessicated coconut for cooking; and of course, some very fine 85% dark chocolate.  And I am allowed to dip into them for snacks.  Occasionally I still over-eat them – and when I do, the very next day I go out and stock back up on them.  I absolutely refuse to keep anything out of the house that is pleasurable and nutritionally valuable as if I’m a naughty, greedy child who can’t be trusted around food.  It’s important that I learn to have these foods in my life as a matter of course, as a part of my normal daily world.  Only then will I stop investing them – as I have, and still to an extent do – with a power and danger they do not inherently possess.  I love these foods and they are good for me and so they are now a part of my life and will remain so.

For the record, I am losing weight – but I know that because of the way, and which of, my clothes now fit; and because I move more easily.  Occasionally I look at my scales and think ‘weigh yourself’ – but I don’t, because I know that way madness lies.

And I have to tell you this, because I will never forget this moment –

Having realised all the above, I went nervously out and bought myself a bag of extra special, huge, juicy oranges.  I brought them wonderingly home.  I selected the most beautiful and I peeled it, sliced it into bite-sized pieces and lay them into my loveliest white porcelain dish, as if they were jewels.  And they were.  They glistened vibrant, bright and delectable.  I took them into the sitting room and then, alone and without distraction, I took a fork and one by one ate all of the pieces, my first guilt-free fruit in a decade.  And I have to tell you.

It was fucking magnificent.

Binge eating and Clicking

So I haven’t been saying much because I’ve been busy unravelling the dynamics of my binge eating.  It’s become less, but it’s still there and every binge still leaves me feeling despairing and disgusted.

So I’ve been reading, thinking, unravelling and today, finally, there was that click.  The click that I needed.  The click that says ‘It’s different now.  I’m different now.’

I realised that while I’m focussing on my weight I will never get out of this restrict-binge-restrict cycle.  There is always going to be the sense of shame and self-disgust at my changed body that compels me to desperately want to lose weight;  and the corresponding anger that I have to deny myself what is all around me and is constantly being offered to me, on top of my other current medical issues.

I feel ashamed when I see myself. I feel ashamed when I go out.  I feel ashamed when people see me.  I feel ashamed when my children look at me, because I know they were always so proud that I remained lithe and agile while other women my age were becoming … well, me.  I hate the idea of anyone who knew me slim seeing me now, and later revealing to other people, ‘I saw A in town today and my God she’s put weight on!’

In gaining weight, I have lost the right to be a private citizen.  My body is no longer my body – my body is up for public debate.  It is now an object on which others are allowed to pass comment and judgement.  I have stepped into the spotlight, and the audience have the right to throw as many rotten tomatoes at me as they wish.

All of that makes me angry.  All of that is completely unhelpful.  And nobody could dislike my body as it is right now more than I do.

But today, suddenly, that anger pushed me, like water out of a geyser, out of the place where my concern is for my weight.  I suddenly felt, F**k the lot of you!  This is my body!  What you think of it is completely unimportant!  All that really matters is, am I healthy?’

And in taking the focus off what other people thought of my body, I suddenly realised that love for myself should be focussing me not on what the scales say, but simply ‘Am I doing the best I can for my body?’

That should be the only decider about what and how much I put in my body;  about how much exercise I take;  how much flexibility work I do.

And the wonderful thing is, when I think I have to lose weight and set the target of becoming me again – well, that’s in 50lbs time and it could take a year;  so for that year I’m going to constantly want to be other than I am.  It will be a pretty bloody miserable year.

Whereas if I make my focus ‘Am I doing the best I can for my body?’, well, I don’t have to wait a second.  I can accomplish that right now.  It’s already here.

And a healthy, well functioning body will sort itself out. I have great faith in the power of the human body to heal itself:  I’ve seen it, many times.  If I treat my body beautifully, it will gradually shed all the waste weight it doesn’t want to be carrying anyway.



‘Caffee’ recipe – coffee alternative, kick ‘n’ all

If you’ve just come for the recipe then scroll down, and you’ll find it at the end of the post.

For everyone else – of all the things I’ve had to give up, due to the injury to my jaw joint and nerves, the thing I still struggle with having given up most is coffee.

I’ve always adored coffee – and I take it black, no sugar and very strong.  I love everything about black coffee – the silky black-brown liquid, so deep it could be leading directly to hell;  the smell – ah the smell!  How even to describe the smell of coffee? Perhaps it’s the smell of mysterious sensuousness in Eden. And the taste – woodsmoke laced with dark chocolate and the sultriness of an oncoming storm.


And that’s before we’ve even begun to consider the caffeine kick, the legal stimulant that it turns out is actually good for you.

I still find it difficult to walk by the coffee section in supermarkets.  Tea branding either opts for cheery and jumping-up-and-down-for-your-attention, with talking monkeys or hearty, flat-capped cartoon Northeners;  or trying to impress by being imperial (do they still call Ceylon tea “Ceylon” tea or have they figured that one out yet?) – and neither do much for me. But coffee branding … coffee knows it can afford to play it cool and so the branding is seductive, sophisticated, enigmatic.  The golds, the bitter chocolates, the jewel colours of the packaging …


… all the places the coffee beans come from, speaking of lush, exotic heat – Colombia, Java, Ethiopia (which no longer exists, but strangely Ethiopian coffee still does) …


… and the intriguing flavours they’re laced with, inviting you to taste, just a sip, come on, just one sip – maple walnut, black cherry, French vanilla or …



Damn, but I miss coffee.

So I had to do something.  I had to try to find some acceptable alternative, something that would give me at least some of the pleasure of coffee.  And then I formulated Caffee, which really hits the coffee spot.



The chicory root is a powerful prebiotic and gives the beautiful colour of black coffee, and some of the taste – but immediately after the pleasant taste there’s an insipid wateriness to it;  and that is what the peanut butter powder is for:  somehow it shores up the chicory root and gives body.  And then the maca powder is to give the kick I so miss from caffeine.

In a mug, add 2 heaped tsps Whole Earth ‘Organic No Caf Coffee Alternative (made with barley & chicory)’, 1 heaped tsp peanut butter powder and 1/2 tsp maca powder.  Pour over boiling water, stir – then do the sensible thing, because caffee mouth burn is no nicer than coffee mouth burn, and wait a few moments until it’s reached drinking temperature.

Then relax, drink and prepare to be really active in about 15 minutes.

Dairy Free ‘Butter’ Recipe

If you don’t want to read this post and have just come for the recipe – which is fair enough – just scroll down to the bottom.  If you like reading me, then stick around, friend, it’s lovely to have you.

So I’ve pondered whether to be dairy free over the last few years.

I’ve read dairy will make you fat.  I’ve read dairy will boost your weight loss.  I’ve read dairy will protect your bones;  I’ve read dairy will filch calcium from your bones.  I’ve read that dairy is full of hormones that will mess up your system;  I’ve heard dairy will help balance your hormones.

Personally, I love dairy.  I’ve always adored creamy sauces;  melted cheese;  cheese in quiches, sandwiches or even just a block to be nibbled on.  Mozzarella?  Oh my.  Roquefort?  I’m all your’s.  Shall I move on from cheeses?  Okay.  Yoghurt.  Oh Greek yoghurt with honey and nuts;  black cherry yoghurt;  hazelnut yoghurt.  Full fat, low fat, no fat.  Who cares?  Just feed me yoghurt.  And butter.  Oh, butter.  My mother, due to wartime rationing, which had excluded butter and made her childhood a thing of margerine misery, had vowed that from the moment she was able, she would never, ever have margerine in her house again;  and no matter how poor we ever were, she never did.  Butter was queen of our fridge.

Dairy.  I love dairy.

And what, after all, is a baked potato that is not slathered in butter and cheese but a poor imitation of a baked potato?

But somehow over the last few years, I’ve fallen a little out of love with dairy, sufficient to be able to view it more dispassionately.  And actually, for me it’s the ethical problem I have with dairy farming – to me, worse than meat farming – that’s been the decider.  I’ve walked out on dairy, and I’m afraid – although she might not have accepted it yet – it really is over.

So, having experimented with a few recipes, this is my new dairy free butter;  or Bootang, as I affectionately call it, because rather like Wu Tang Clan, it’s a lovely word to say.

As a little aside, it has very few ingredients.  This isn’t because I don’t know my way around a kitchen;  I really do.  However, over the last few years I’ve become so sick of recipe lists that are so long that even I find myself overwhelmed and give up.  I’ve come to think it’s really just showing off;  and although I’m not a Jamie Oliver fan, I do think he’s caught the zeitgeist by bringing out a cookbook where no recipe has more than 5 ingredients.

So here, finally, at last is my unashamedly simple recipe for Bootang.



Bootang isn’t pretending to be butter;  there can be no real Pretender to the butter crown.  What it’s supposed to do is all the things butter does on, its own merits – bring depth of flavour when frying, add a little creamy saltiness when spreading, bring a little lipsmacking when melted over something.

It is a savoury recipe, although if you wanted, I’m sure you can adapt it for baking.

The nutritional yeast can mean it sticks a little if you fry at too high a heat, but for me it contributes enough to the flavour that it stays in.  Leave out the saffron if you don’t have any, and are feeling a little stoney-broke.  Strangely, TK Maxx has a section of gourmet foods going cheap, and they often have saffron strands.  Just saying.


In a microwaveable bowl, combine 1 cup coconut oil and 1/2 cup rapeseed oil.  Microwave on full power for one minute, and then in 30 second bursts until the coconut oil is fully melted.  Combine the oils with a fork, and then add 1/2 tsp salt2 tbsps nutritional yeast1/4 tsp turmeric and a pinch of saffron strands.

Beat lightly with a fork and leave to cool.  When fully cooled, place in the fridge for an hour, then beat again with a fork to ensure elements combined.  Repeat this every half an hour until you have a fully combined mixture with a buttery texture.  You may still be able to see individual nutritional yeast flakes, but I think they’re rather pretty.

If you forget to check and then race to the fridge to find it’s a solid block – don’t worry.  You may still be able to warm it enough by beating it to combine the elements.  If not, leave it out for a little while until just slightly softened and then beat.

If you can be bothered – sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t – whisk the mixture just before it reaches solid.  This adds a delicious lightness.

Store in a lovely glass jar in the fridge and use wherever you would have used salted butter.

Dr Michael Mosley & the death of CICO

in his latest book ‘The Clever Guts Diet’ (2017), Dr Michael Mosley says this:

Why weight loss is not simply a matter of eating less and exercising more

What studies like this [the one quoted above] have done is undermined the idea that has dominated weight control thinking for the last half-century:  ‘CICO’ (‘calories in, calories out’).  According to CICO the reason we’re fat is because we eat more calories than we burn off.  The answer to obesity is to eat less and exercise more.

Except, of course, it’s not as simple as that.

For those of you who don’t know of him, Dr Michael Mosley (see above) has a loping, slightly lisping, eye-twinkling charm that make him an ideal TV presenter, and he wears his erudition lightly enough to communicate easily what the results of scientific study actually mean for us.  He’s the anchor of a TV programme ‘Trust me, I’m a Doctor’ which examines health myths, fads and science and is a regular contributor to the BBC’s Horizon programme, which explores scientific issues.  He’s made a name for himself as a have-a-go experimenter who, in the name of science,  will try out things on himself – such as tapeworms, leeches and malaria – so that we don’t have to.

During his research for a TV programme, he created the 5:2 Diet, also called the Fast Diet, and in so doing brought the idea of intermittent fasting to the British public;  and then followed on by bringing HIT workouts to us too.  I’m not sure I forgive him for the latter.

Now, as he created the Blood Sugar Diet, which demands its followers eat no more than 800 calories a day, I’m surprised to hear he no longer believes in CICO.  I can only assume that Michael is demonstrating the hallmarks of a good scientist, by being prepared to rethink his own conclusions when new evidence comes to light.

So there it is.  Finally.  The death of CICO.



I want my body back

As I suspect so often happens, this blog began as one thing and became another.

It began as “The Adventures of a Binge Eater Taking Her Body Back After Menopause” but in writing it, I’ve realised that as with all human beings, my body is far more than my weight: like all of us, my body has become a battleground, fought over by scientists, governments, cultures, factions and the diet industry. It is something by which I am judged and by which I judge myself. As with all women, and increasingly men, the beauty of my body is currency and can earn or lose me respect, opportunities and admiration.

I’ve always been fortunate enough to be on the right side of that equation, to have the kind of body which earns me the approval of my culture; however, my body has disfunctioned. I was injured and as a result I gained weight – and so the beauty bank called in my overdraft and closed my account. I became invisible.

I’m not resentful about that. I’ve had my time in the sun and I have to be willing to spend my share of time in the shade.  However, I want to drag my body back to full health and fitness; to feel strong and enjoy the freedom of a body that moves easily and gracefully again;  to love my body again and, who knows, perhaps to share it with a lover again.

So there’s a long road ahead of me, with mountains to climb and twists and turns to navigate;  and along the way I’ll be doing battle with diet, diagnoses and demons.

And seeing as both you and I are human, my demons are probably the same as your demons – so why don’t you come with me?


The death of bingeing?

I don’t know what happened precisely, but something did.  Something went off in my head, and I was suddenly able to step outside of that uncontrolleably bingeing version of myself – like a snake shedding  its skin – back into my own body and breathe the fresh air of relative sanity.

It was good to be back.

I think what did the trick was realising that I needed to focus not on the bingeing but on the why I was bingeing.

A few days ago I was watching Queen Victoria’s Children on iplayer (it’s surprisingly interesting) and the observation was made that Bertie, King Edward to be – who had a hopelessly bad relationship with his mother, who blamed him for the death of his father – had rapacious appetites for all things physical including food, and that

“he looked for emotional satisfaction from physical appetites”.

I so recognised myself in that description.

Since last May I’ve been off work, because of my problems with my jaw joint and the trigeminal nerve.  These prevent me doing a great deal of talking and as I talk for a living (I work in the English Department of a high school, working with students with Special Educational Needs either leading interventions, taking groups or working one-to-one) it became impossible to do my job.

I’m single and aside from my very wonderful 18 year old live alone;  and wonderful though he is, and very close though we are, he does of course not spend a great deal of time with me, which is as it should be.  I have no family (aside from my children) within a hundred miles and I couldn’t be social with friends as initially I couldn’t even hold a conversation, and still now have to restrict the amount of talking I do.

What’s more, the heavy medication I was put on (and have significantly reduced on my own initiative, in collaboration with my GP) meant I was off my head for hours a day.

Just when I was suddenly so much alone and so isolated, so frightened about what my medical condition might mean, off my head half the time and in considerable discomfort, I had also to give up nicotine and caffeine.  What else was I going to do but comfort eat?

I already, of course, knew all that.

What I didn’t know, what hadn’t occurred to me, was that due to my extreme isolation (imagine being unable to talk or use sign language;  it’s made me realise how fundamental the ability to express oneself is to being a human being) I wasn’t just confort eating, I had turned to food so passionately as it was now the only thing I could  connect to.  What alerted me to this was recently watching the TED Talk,  Everything You Think You Know About Addiction Is Wrong as a follow on from a recommendation made by Julie Ramage.  In it Johann Hari puts forward the theory that people develop addictions when they feel disconnected from the world around them, and their drug of choice (recreational, nicotine, caffeine, food) is the only thing they feel able to connect to.  I instantly recognised that in the behaviour of people around me whose addictions had got the better of them, and I recognised it in myself.

A few days later I noticed Russell Brand discussing the premise of his latest book, Recovery, which is pretty similar;  and while Russell Brand isn’t someone I’d choose to spend more than 5 minutes watching I do think he’s a phenomenally intelligent man who has a great capacity for analysis and self-analysis;  and I think he’s right. People form addictions when they cannot connect – for whatever reason – with the world around them;  meaning the only real connection, the only real relationship, they can have is with their drug of choice;  which makes it the most important thing in their lives, even when it’s destroying their lives.

Incidentally, I am not the only one who has been in that kind of romantic relationship either, I’m sure.

And when I understood, the spell broke.  I realised I need to find new, positive, healthy things to connect to (How interesting I said ‘things’ and not ‘people’ to connect to – but I’m not going to censor that comment because I think it’s very telling and I want to remember it) to and to strengthen existing connections.

Incidentally, one thing the last nine months of isolation have taught me is how very good I am with my own company, although even I can have a little too much of it.  That’s one good thing that has come out of this episode in my life – I cannot imagine having the level of contact with other people I used to, I don’t think I could tolerate that much interaction with other people anymore, confusing and unsettling as even the best of people can be;  I’ve learned peace in my own company,  which I guess makes me more self-sufficient than I was.

But deprived so brutally of work, routine, other people, my health and plans for the future, and my usual drugs of choice – well, there wasn’t anything left to connect to other than food, was there?

PS.  my most recent scans have revealed that I have a lipoma, a benign tumour,  in my shoulder mere inches away from my jaw joint, and it is that which has been causing my medical problems.  Hopefully it will soon be surgically removed and my jaw and nerve can heal.

On the dangers of lemon water

I lifted this directly from the BBC News website this morning –

The researchers found people who had drinks such as water with a slice of lemon or hot fruit-flavoured teas twice a day between meals were more than 11 times more likely to have moderate or severe tooth erosion.

So we try to be good people, follow the expert advice and do that lemon water trick first thing in the morning to flush out our livers – I do anyway – and we drink our fruit-flavoured teas rather than anything caffeinated or sugary because they’re so very bad for us, and now we discover our good habits are uwittingly rotting our teeth.  No fair.  And while on the face of it, tooth erosion may seem unpleasant but not serious, your dental health can impact negatively and seriously on the health of the rest of your body.

I have to laugh, that something so apparently innocuous as lemon water is now not innocuous at all.

Reminds me of one of my very first posts –

You have to be your own pet scientist

We do indeed.