Monday, May 26, 2008

The Psychotropic Peach

America is Carbohydrate Central. Every meal comes loaded with bread, fries, chips, pasta and more bread. On landing after the seven-week jaunt, therefore, I felt bloated and decided to go on a personalised version of the Atkins Diet - basically no carbs whatsoever. ((Curiously I discovered yesterday that Michael Portillo has been on a personalised Atkins, but this was in the Observer so the feature failed to give me the one necessary fact - how much weight he'd lost.) You may discover the very intellectually respectable reason for my sudden low-carb enthusiasm in The Sunday Times Magazine this week.)) For the next three days I felt increasingly dreadful, a condition I assumed was due to jet lag and re-entry issues. This morning I woke up feeling as though I had flu and, stricken with depression, I was convinced that the world thing was not worth the effort, which was a problem as I had to go out and work. I stared in revulsion at the mounds of protein in the fridge. Finally, I cheated and ate a peach - verboten at this stage of the diet. The effect was almost instanteous. I was suddenly alert, alive, happy and bustling about full of ideas. I subsequently discovered this effect may have something to do with insulin, tryptophan and  serotonin. The change in my mental and physical condition was staggering. This was welcome of course, but also vaguely troubling. I was a different person post-peach; a few molecules of fructose had changed my personality. Like all right thinking people, I despise the sneery, triumphalist drive of the scientists to prove we are 'only' brain chemistry, but sometimes one can't help feeling they may have a point. Or perhaps God is in peaches and absent from protein.

15 comments:

  1. Ah but it wasn't the fructose, it was the peach - and clearly you're not cut out for Atkins, in which case (seriously) you'd best abandon it. I know for sure (as sure as I can without trying it) that it would not only depress me but make me seriously ill.

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  2. I prefer to think Atkins is not cut out for me.

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  3. For some months the malty's were press ganged (by frau malty, of course) onto India Knights diet, I put on 6 lbs, who the hell ever heard of a diet starting every morning with a full English, shame on you IK. I find that if food is ingested with copious amounts of alcohol then this negates any nasty foodie side effects (through dilution perhaps.)

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  4. Yes, it's amazing how, for example, a sneaky bacon sarnie on a shopping trip with the wife can transform one from a snarling, sarcastic miseryguts to a serene picture of tolerable equanimity in a matter of seconds.

    "So much for Free Will," I often remark ruefully, as I wipe the tommy sauce from my chops.

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  5. Nige is right, Bryan. It was the peach. Fruit is good for you. Any diet that deprives you of fruit is not good for you. On the other hand, good idea to go easy on the bread. And never eat the fries or the chips.

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  6. From your description, this sounds like a bit of sugar withdrawal, then a hit of sugar (fructose) from that lovely peach. Lots of food and lots of carbs in the USA means lots of sugar (in the carbs).

    You could consider some simple eating for a week or two, until your system is more balanced. Lots of simply prepared fruit and veg, white meat and fish, a little rice, soya milk instead of dairy. Fresh fruit will give you all the sugar you need.

    No need for Atkins, anyway. The digestive implications sound horrendous! Some people are plainly much more sensitive to sugar than others. I'd wager this lies behind a lot of things, not only feeling a bit down and sluggish but many more serious disorders at present lumped together as "psychiatric".

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  7. Hi Bryan,

    You wrote:

    I was a different person post-peach; a few molecules of fructose had changed my personality. Like all right thinking people, I despise the sneery, triumphalist drive of the scientists to prove we are 'only' brain chemistry, but sometimes one can't help feeling they may have a point. Or perhaps God is in peaches and absent from protein.

    But it's the devil who is in peaches, if eating peaches make you feel good and question God. We need a scientific study done now, to find which fruits contains God, and which Satan. Then we'll all know precisely which diet we ought to be on.

    Eliot wrote:

    I grow old … I grow old …
    I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

    Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
    I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
    I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

    I do not think that they will sing to me.


    Oh yes, psychotropics amuck.

    Yours,
    Rus

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  8. Back to the oats then, it is a bloody wonder food.
    I've discovered that if you steep the stuff overnight it gets rid of the gritty chalky feel from them. While the frozen food section of the local super' will have raspberries &co. Nuke them before passing them through a riddle. This method has the added plus of not needing to boil into submission, as it cooks in jig time. While the berries can be changed each morning. Oh, and use bottled rather than tap, whatever is in the tap stunts the overnight process somehow.
    I have the oddest feeling that this is how brewing was discovered.

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  9. Quite, Vince, I've been missing my McCann's steel cut.

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  10. i can attest to the divine provenance of a good peachy ass, anyway.

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  11. where does a man get his peach this time of year? You must eat with the seasons, Mr. A, I don't want you wrecking our planet unnecessarily.

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  12. Yum: My daughter and I just discovered a most delicious way to enjoy our peaches: Grilled, then served with honey. We are not only Carbohydrate Central here in the U.S., we are also Barbecue Grill Central in the summer.

    By the way, carbs enhance serotonin. My favored diet (and I'm not getting fat on it) is loads of sourdough pretzels and a pound or two of fresh fruit every day. Two types of simple sugars, basically, and I'm happy most of the time.

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  13. The tired effect only lasts about 3 to 5 days after you start Atkins, then you get back to your normal self. In fact, I think you're more mentally alert once the initial effects wear off, as you are no longer up and down w/ the sugar and it's incumbent crashes. I always go through Atkins after the holidays to get back in shape and I always dread those first few days, but man it really works. I'm doing a bodybuilding diet now in which you are essentially on Atkins all week long but on the weekends you carb up w/ low fat high carb foods. So all weekend long its sugary breakfast cereals(w/ skim milk) and angel food cake....awesome.

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  14. Ditto Max Thrax. The initial tiredness is just your body coming down from its glucose addiction. I lost 35 lbs on Atkins last year.

    Americans are transfixed on carbs. I blame big ag, and their cronys in the FDA with their food pyramid. As I pointed out in your other post, we are naturally carnivores, not grazers.

    But battles about food are never logical or rational. There is something mystical and religious about people's attachment to grains. Americans still worship their agricultural past, even though a tiny minority of people still make their living on farms. Turning your back on bread is almost sacriligious.

    The good thing, contrary to conventional wisdom, is that beer has very few carbs. The yeast eats the carbs when it produces the alcohol.

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  15. Hi Bryan,

    I just read this poem, and thought of this topic:

    Fried Beauty

    Yours,
    Rus

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