Warning: this is about health and eating, not about travel! For travel, go here.
A year ago, when I retired from my job at the UN, I decided to take a month, go to Sri Lanka, and put my health back together.
I’d abused my body for a hectic lifetime of fun and constant travel. Raised a foodie, my favourite pastimes usually involved such outings as a visit to Les Halles Paul Bocuse in Lyon, a cooking class in Tuscany or Barcelona or a food tour in Istanbul.
My Sri Lankan month was a success but when I came home I drifted into bad habits. Everyday life took over and now I’m back to where I started: high blood pressure, nerve inflammation, sluggishness… Hell, I’ll be 63 next week and have no intention of spending the rest of my life in genteel deterioration.
So yet again, I’m challenging myself to do something about it. I’m a Taurus and nothing if not stubborn.
I recently read How Not To Die, by Michael Greger, the doctor behind NutritionFacts.org, a healthy eating site I’ve lurked around for a while. It’s one of many recent books about the benefits of plant-based eating but it’s simple, easy-to-read and less preachy than most. Although my brother has been a vegan most of his life… Tofu? Tempeh? When I could have tajine or tortilla? Non merci.
I also happen to live in rural France, where the cows are healthy and grass-fed, the cheese rich and tangy, and the cream, oh, the cream…
But I digress.
All those delectables have taken their toll. I need to get a grip on my weight (about 25kg/55lb over the healthy limit) and on those other ailments, along with possible future ones I don’t even want to think about.
Through my research I discovered a free plan called Kickstart 21, to zap you into a vegan in three weeks. Now let me be clear: I have no intention of becoming a vegan. BUT – I do want to get my health back. So somewhere between plant life only and my present eating habits must lie a point of compromise. The programme starts on the first of every month and I’ve signed up for May.
Getting ready for three weeks of veggies
Herein lies the major problem: I dislike vegetables.
I love mushrooms – slathered in cream; rocket is divine – drowned in parmesan cheese; I can even tolerate broccoli or sprouts – drenched in butter. So I’m only partially a lost cause.
I do love exotic fruit, so that’s a plus, although my local supermarket tends to stock apples, bananas or pears, fruits I only eat out of duty. And berries. Yes, berries. I love berries and they should keep me afloat. Maybe I’ll just eat berries for three weeks.
Back to reality.
I may not like vegetables but even the briefest scan online shows me they can be transformed into something significantly less offensive.
I’ve now collected a series of potentially acceptable recipes and shall try one each day. My other two meals will be snacks (no way am I cooking three times a day).
Yesterday I drove an hour to a specialty shop. My fridge is now full of such ‘delicacies’ as fennel, celery, Chinese cabbage, kale (it’s awfully – GREEN) and other green things whose names I’m not sure of. My poor fridge has no idea what to do with all this colour!
Last night I couldn’t get to sleep trying to figure out breakfast.
And then it came to me – oatmeal! Made with rice milk, cinnamon, nuts and berries sprinkled on top. That should be delicious.
So, kicking and screaming, I’ll be running this experiment for three weeks. To be utterly transparent about it, I now weigh a whopping 87.5kg (193lb). I’ve weighed more, and I’m not exactly small-boned but still, a lot of that excess has to go.
Then there’s the blood pressure, hovering around 130/88 – and that’s with medication. And the nerve inflammation, which doesn’t allow me to drive more than 40 minutes without excruciating pain in my leg. And the lack of focus and the tiredness.
So… It’s not Sri Lanka, and there are no beaches (although I can get a pretty mean sunset at home).
I’m not happy to have to do this, not happy at all. But I am determined.
Three weeks. Surely that’s not impossible.
To keep me honest I’ll document my efforts on my Women on the Road Facebook page beginning today with the hashtag #kk21 – please drop by and give me some encouragement!
And now if you’ll excuse me, I have some salt-free beans to boil.