I’m hungry. But what on earth should I eat??

I’m hungry, and its little wonder. Having recently become hooked on daily gym classes, it turns out I’m not eating enough to fuel my workouts. So, with apologies to all of you who are struggling to lose weight, I am having to eat more. But here’s the thing; it’s not as easy as you might think.

Having been quite thin and active all my life I have never dieted, and I’ve (pretty well) eaten whatever I fancied. I’ve been lucky, I guess, in that I don’t seem to have a huge appetite. I really enjoy lots of the things that are supposedly good for us – fruit, vegetables, eggs and fish. But I also really, really like cheese. And I like baking and eating the results. And I love drinking. One of my greatest pleasures in life is a few glasses of wine – or gin, or whisky, or the odd cocktail – with Mr Marr and/or friends.

Poached egg and avocado on toast for breakfast. Delish!

But not much of that seems to fit with the new rules. And, let’s face it, the new rules seem to change every day. Eating more sadly doesn’t mean eating more of the things I crave – saturated fat and sugar won’t give me the energy I need to reach my new fitness goals. Apparently, I need to eat more eggs and turkey and… and to up my intake of protein. But how? Without resorting to taking it in powder form, which goes against everything I have always believed about food, I’m not very sure.

Today started well. I was at the gym at 7am and came home to a breakfast of a poached egg (free range, organic) on toast (wholemeal) with butter (unsalted) and all washed down with a glass of orange juice (not from concentrate) and a cup of tea. But by the time I had done the dishes and opened my laptop, my tummy was rumbling again.

I looked at my watch – it was only 9.13; far too early for a mid-morning snack. I contemplated the fruit bowl and help myself to a banana and a handful of almonds.  I settled back to work, smug in the knowledge that there was a turkey and salad wholemeal bagel for lunch, and steak with a pile of greens on the menu for my tea.

So far so good, but by 10.45 I was hungry again. If I ate my bagel now I’ll be onto my dinner before lunch time, and that’s no way to live a life, so I opened the cupboard door. And while I was searching in vain for something rich in protein and complex carbohydrates, yet low in sugar and saturated fats, I realised I had inadvertently eaten four sultana cookies.

Changing eating habits is always hard, and for every piece of advice out there are another six that contradict it. Cheese is a great source of calcium, and great for bones and teeth. So I can dig in then? Wrong. It’s full of saturated fats, will clog up my arteries and raise my cholesterol levels. And that’s before we start on the ethics of eating animal products…

Steak, broccoli and a squeeze of lime. Red wine (sneakily) out of shot ;)

I have fish and chicken in the fridge, and eggs, avocados and bagels earmarked for later in the week. But what I want, alongside cheese, is sugar. And what I will want this evening, alongside my lean steak and greens, is a wee glass of red wine.

If cheese doesn’t get me, then sugar will. It will poison me slowly from the inside out. But it’s marginally better for my brain that artificial sweeteners, says one report…oh, wait, here’s another that says the opposite. I am reaching the end of my tether, and ready for that glass of red already, although I’ve still not finished my (early) lunchtime turkey bagel. And wait – research last week showed that every glass of wine I drink over my allocated units for the week will take another half hour off my life.

To be honest, by this stage I am past caring. If the option is to spend another half an hour of my life researching what I should and shouldn’t eat to stay healthy, or to lose that half hour from my life because I’ve enjoyed a glass of wine, I’ll choose the latter option, any day.

I love my food, and I love cooking. And I am a healthy weight – I just need a few tweaks to help my muscles recover more quickly post-workout. Here’s an idea…why don’t I have two poached eggs for breakfast? And maybe it’s time to cut down on the gym classes and play more ukulele instead. Cheers!

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This column first appeared in Seven Days, published by SPP and issued with The Inverness Courier, The Northern Scot and four other titles across the north of Scotland, week ended 20th April 2018.