Monday, 27 July 2015

Feeding order into disorder

A Sunday evening that brings the week slowly to a close. The final errand in organisation before an early bed is a task once undertaken as a chore, once not undertaken at all.
Chopping boards; sizzling pans; knifes and scallops. There's a calmness in the procedure, an underlying excitement towards the outcome. A half an hour investment to the pleasure of Mondays meals.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner soon to be ready and waiting.
The joy in food prep wasn't always cradled with such affection. My adolescent views being plainly ignorant; gauging classism and snobbery at anything above peas and potatoes.
Brought up on a plate of the basics, convenience with a slice of convenience beside it. The fundamentals of every Irish diet bound by the essentialities of processed meat and frozen veg. Not forgetting the customary 'if it was a plate of sweets, you'd eat it'.
Unfortunately, the plate of sweets was too easily available before and thereafter dinner. Cereals, minerals, crisps, chocolate all within reach of an out-swinging cupboard.
My early teens were difficult. I spoken before on this blog about issues with bullying as a result of being a 'chubby' kid. I put this childish rotundness down to the way I was made, oblivious to the over indulgence and constant want for snacking on all things sweet.
The eventual realisation following in school and on street torment and abuse swung the pendulum in another direction however.
Hurt and paranoid over apparent bodily imperfections, by age 15 there was a dramatic behaviour change with my approach to food. I needed to lose weight and fast in order to fit in and end the torture. if I could change my look, then I'd be liked.
Being involved in football and athletics disguised the changes with regular comments being passed about 'taking a stretch' and 'being active'.
The workouts took care of themselves but eating had been cut down. Rather than ditch the empty snacks, it was dinners that were neglected. Breakfasts were replaced with an extra ten minutes in bed every morning.
Plates left with tinfoil on the table eventually found the bin; daily excuses of unavailability and general business a regular answer to queries over non eaten meals.
The inevitable concern from family was secondary to the goal of breaking free from years of onslaught, the ceaseless taunts and harmful labels: 'ya fat prick' 'jelly belly'. The end game of escape made it worthwhile.
The plate of sweets was still very much available however. A reward for the goal and a stream of self-reassurance that chocolate isn't bad for you and minerals are refreshing.
Progressing to the real world with long working days combined with training and exercise determined the eventuality of ill health as 5AM starts began to burden energy levels and concentration.
Such was my ignorance to healthy living, I considered taking a cod liver oil tablet every morning as sufficient nutrition to launch me into 12/13/14 hour days. The subsequent feed coming near midday in the form of sausage rolls and red sauce. 
The reputation of being 'flying fit' and 'fast' carried me only so far and the consequence of ill choices caught up and pulled me to the floor.
Open commentary on endless yawning and my pale complexion were passed. There were two statements that hit home during this period, supposed banter that I looked like I had AIDS and that I looked like a cocaine addict.
December 2006 saw me gaunt and grey with heavy black eyes and high cheekbones. The limited diet, sugar binging and ignorance to what was good health left me empty by age 22. 
On the back of several respiratory infections as a result of a non-existent immune system, the lack of energy and inability to function saw me collapse and bound for hospital.
I'd never ever touched alcohol, never smoked or did drugs. I rarely ate fast food  or takeaway. I liked apples, but had a sweet tooth. I was healthy, flying fit and was fast. How did this happen?
The flying fit and fast status was clipped quickly as I discovered asthma, a condition I hadn't suffered from since aged 7, developed as a result of pneumonia. The stay in hospital failed to end the problem as there were visits to the GP thereafter; flu, colds and reoccurring chest infections. I was tested for TB at one stage and regularly tested for diabetes. All self-inflicted; continuous and utterly soul destroying.
All of this occurred at a time of unemployment and mislead ambition, a time when the feelings of doubt continued to grow inside me regarding the future and what at all could be achieved. These feelings failed subside and over the following four years spread like a cancer, disabling my self worth and desire to live with any purpose.

There is always hope in discovery and over the past few years simple lifestyle and environment changes have enabled me to engage fully with the positivity and goodness surrounding healthy food and eating.
Nutrition is a popular topic and I have found good influence and inspiration, here are a couple that have helped;

The Happy Pear
Two brothers with a simple message 'eat more veg'! Their passion for healthy eating is quite contagious. The recipe book is full of healthy options for breakfast, lunch and dinner and a visit to the cafe/restaurant in Greystones, Co.Wicklow is well worth the trip.

Scott Jurek
Scott is a long distance runner, a very long distance runner! He has completed and won some of the toughest 100+ miles footraces across the world and recently completed his masterpiece, breaking the record for running the Appalachian Trial from Georgia to Maine in the US. He ran it in 46 days, 8 hours and 7 minutes. The trail is 2,189 miles long.
What makes his feat more impressive is that Jurek is dedicated solely to a Paleo diet (plant based) which shows the rewards in taking care of your body when putting yourself through such rigorous tasks.
His book 'Eat and Run' is an inspiring story from an ordinary guy, also including some simple mixes and recipes for healthy living.

Spontaneous Healing by Andrew Weil
A concise and articulate book embracing the power of being in control of our bodies through healthy eating and healthy living. Simple and motivating.