The Harcombe Diet Again

I have had a few responses to my previous article from people who say that the Harcombe Diet is not working for them.

My own view is that the fewer carbohydrates you eat, the more weight you will lose. I think the element of the Harcombe diet that says you can eat a meal of carbs as long as you keep off the fat for 3 hours is wrong.

Eating carbohydrates, even unrefined ones like brown rice and wholemeal bread, causes the pancreas to produce insulin. Insulin is the hormone that enables the body to store fat, so the more carbs you eat the more fat you will store and the less of the goodness from your food will go to the places you need it i.e. your muscles and organs; you may also become hungry again because you haven’t got the goodness you need from your food. The book says don’t eat fat with the carbs because otherwise the fat will be stored as body fat by the insulin you produce by eating the carbohydrates. I say, don’t bother with the carbs (have a few but keep off the fruit and eat only low carb vegies).

I think the reason that the Harcombe diet encourages the consumption of fruit and vegetables is because these contain vitamin C. There is a book called Good Calories Bad Calories by Gary Taubes in which he points to, and provides references to, scientific evidence that all the vitamins we need can be obtained from meat, even vitamin C. The Inuits eat nothing but meat and they are very healthy, never suffering from modern diseases such as diabetes, gout, high blood pressure and certainly not older diseases like rickets (lack of vitamin D and calcium – allegedly), beri beri (lack of vitamin B1 – allegedly), or scurvy (lack of vitamin C – allegedly).

I think if you are struggling on the diet, you should try having ‘Fat’ meals only. If you still have trouble try cutting out cheese, and reducing cream.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If you want to understand your body’s response to food, read Good Calories, Bad Calories. It will amaze and outrage you. If you wish to read any other advice, make sure you get scientific references for the facts stated in the book, and think about the conclusions drawn from the evidence. There was once a guy called Keyes who convinced the world that fat, and eventually cholesterol, is bad. The official advice we are now given about what constitutes a balanced diet, what is good and bad for our hearts and our blood pressure and how to treat diabetes is affected by this guy’s opinion but was he right?

Duet for One

I have just been to see this play. I found it very moving and Juliet Stephenson gave an outstanding and marathon performance.

It is about a violinist undergoing counselling because she is suffering from MS and can no longer play her music. It was all the more moving because I have a friend, Sloggo, who is in the late stages of the disease.

Sloggo and I have known each other since our teens. He was always an incorrigible womaniser and I think I remain one of the few women in our circle who did not succumb to his charms, despite a multitude of attempts, whether I was married or single.

Sloggo now lies immobile, in bed. He watches the television from morning until night interrupted only by visits from his carers and occasional friends from afar such as myself. His body is crippled, not only with his disease but also by the spasticity of his muscles. His legs are folded like those of a frozen chicken, with his ankles at his crutch. One of his arms still functions in a cramped manner while the other is in the same state as his legs.

With his one arm he manages to eat a little, smoke a pipe or two that have been pre-filled by his carers, and down a nightcap of single malt whisky.

If asked whether he wants to carry on with life, his whispered answer is ‘Of course!’ Sloggo’s zest for life, even life such as his, is unquenchable and inspiring. His eye for the ladies has not dimmed either. On my recent visit I arrived at the same time as a very attractive young carer, who chatted to us for a while and reassured me that Sloggo had been read all the letters I sent.

When she had left with a cheerful farewell, I remarked to Sloggo that she was a nice girl. ‘Yes,’ he gasped, ‘But she’s got a boy friend.’

Diet progress and more facts

Well, I thought I should report that I have now lost 15.7lb. It has taken me a while to work out what I can and can’t eat but I now believe that as well as giving up all forms of starch (potatoes, rice, pasta, flour) I have a slight intolerance to dairy and must cut back seriously on, in particular, cheese. I believe this because for weeks I stuck to Atkins low carb diet like glue without any weight loss. I friend suggested that I try giving up dairy and like magic the weight began to go. Thank you Melissa!

Is life worth living? You may well ask yourself. Well, as a matter of fact, life is very good and I feel excellent. After an initial period of craving for sugar, heart palpitations and energy ups and downs, I have now gained complete control of my appetite – although I have to admit that after dinner with old friends yesterday, the Thorntons chocolates gave me a bit of a hard time. I didn’t have one though because I know that it will only take one truffle to put me back where I started – addicted and binging.

In the book The Harcombe Diet Zoe states that you can eat starchy and carbohydrate fruit, vegetables and wholefoods (with no fat) for a meal – I suppose breakfast would be good, you could have brown rice cereal or oatmeal with skimmed milk and fruit. Afterwards you must only eat a meaty/fatty meal after waiting a period of time, I forget how many hours but three or four I think. This former doesn’t work for me at all. I get bloated after any starch, have terrible stomach pain and WIND! I suppose I am intolerant to something there as well, so I am a meat/fish and vegetable queen. I have salmon mousse, pate, fish in cream and mushroom sauce ( a bit of cream seems OK for me), Avocado with prawns/shrimp and Marie Rose sauce, curry ( no rice), lots of salads, mayonnaise and butter and it’s all delicious. Breakfasts consist largely of eggs, bacon, sausages and tomatoes. If I need something crunchy I have a few pecans (salted and roasted) and I also eat 2 Scandinavian Bran Crispbread per day. Instead of potatoes I have become addicted to Brussels sprout puree. Cook the sprouts until softish then whiz them with a blender until smooth. Stir in black pepper and a tablespoon of home made mayonnaise or a knob of butter.

Drinking dry wine seems fine and an occasional whisky is also acceptable. I tend to try and keep drinking to the weekend.

This will be my life from now on. Sorry friends and family I am now a pain to entertain!