You'd think, what with foraging and growing vegetables, that my diet would be pretty healthy, wouldn't you? Well, I kind of assumed that. The thing is, foraging takes a lot of time and the garden isn't at its most productive in the spring.
Over the last six months or so, I've had the nagging awareness that my health is not at its best. That period started in the middle of winter, when I usually have SAD, so I expected to get better with spring, but it didn't really happen. I'm not ill as such, but my energy and motivation are low. The clearest sign that's something's not quite right is in my skin: It's in generally poor condition and it's not healing quickly after cuts and, currently, insect bites.
The other day, I looked up what counts as a
portion of vegetables and was shocked to realise that I'm not even getting the government recommended five portions of fruit and veg a day. That's really not very good. There are several reasons for this. One is that Ian does not have a good relationship with food.
Ian's a supertaster, which means that many flavours that are unremarkable or pleasant to me, are seriously unpleasant to him. I persuaded him to try a slice of cucumber the other day - surely a food so bland that it couldn't be offensive. It was a distressing experience for him...
How can you eat this? In spite of his attempts to wash it away with a cup of tea, the nasty taste stayed with him for a good fifteen minutes. A lifetime of this, combined with lack of understanding from others (imagine being branded a fussy eater for rejecting something so bitter that you can't imagine anyone wanting to eat it), has left him with a very restricted diet and a reluctance to try new foods. Basically, he doesn't like vegetables.
hungry gap - that period in late spring when there's not much in the garden - I would usually treat myself to expensive, shop-bought vegetables, particularly asparagus. One day... one day... I shall harvest asparagus from my garden, and this will fill the gap between the end of the purple sprouting broccoli and the start of the broad beans and peas. In the meantime, asparagus costs money, and money has been in short supply lately. It is the lot of a freelancer to have periods of feast and famine, and the last six months have been a famine, almost literally. The likes of asparagus have been classified as
expensive luxury and hence off the menu.
I can cook cheaply, I really can. I can even cook cheaply for someone who can't contemplate a main meal that doesn't include meat, and whose acceptable side vegetables are peas, carrots, and baked beans. What I struggle to do is cook cheap, healthy food, with those restrictions, during the hungry gap. As I discovered when I looked into the £1 a day challenge, refined carbohydrates are cheap. When I examine our recent diet, I find that it does contain a lot of wheat.
At the same time as I was having these thoughts about diet, we watched a documentary about the effects of fasting on health. I've never been a fan of dieting, but we were both very impressed by the health benefits reported, so alongside looking for alternatives to bread and pasta, we've decided to give the 5/2 diet a go. This is five days a week of eating what you like, and two days of eating no more than 600 calories. If nothing else, the simple observation that we did not evolve in an environment that offered a steady supply of food makes it plausible that the human body would be well adapted to a feast and fast pattern of eating.
For me, the main appeal is the health benefit, not weight loss. As a bonus, this saves the cost of two main meals a week. With the money we save, perhaps we can afford healthier food the rest of the time.