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There are certain topics that even I won’t discuss on this blog, and one of them is ‘poo’. An article was doing the rounds on Facebook the other day that contained images of different poo textures and what they symbolise in terms of your health and I found it absolutely no problem at all to ignore it.

Secrets Of The Trading Off Diet

Vintage Balance Scale by Joie de Cleve, found on Flickr.com

When it comes to ‘poo’, I’m a great believer in the adage that if it floats, everything is probably okay.

The only time I might take more than a glance at my poo is if it changes in any way, which happened last night, when I was struck down by a rare bout of diarrhoea in Byron. Inevitably, I was away from home, sleeping in the crisp-white, freshly laundered sheets of my guest house, but hell, it made a change from the usual holiday period to worry about!

Any change in my bowel habits is a pretty unusual occurrence so normally I might have felt some concern, but on this occasion I have to admit to experiencing an inordinate surge of pleasure as I rid most of the contents of my intestines.

You see, only hours beforehand I had consumed a whole bag of Pods on my own.

This was an extreme example of my approach to weight maintenance, which I like to call Trade Off dieting.

Now I realize that example probably sounds slightly radical to you, but when it comes to the balance between what goes in your mouth, and how much weight you gain, I know there’s no rocket science involved, and that if you like your food like me, balance has to be about careful trade offs – particularly once you reach middle age.

So the moral of last night is, that if you pig out on a whole bag of Pods and then are lucky enough for your gluttony to induce a bout of diarrhoea, the gods are obviously smiling down on you.

After thirty years of a roller-coaster when it comes to weight gain and loss, I GET calories now; I know how the psychology of those pesky little critters work and I know what I can and can’t eat. I know that if I want to knock back two glasses of wine in an evening, I need to eliminate carbs from dinner and forego any morning or afternoon tea snacks, no matter how healthy they are. It’s simple mathematics. I know now that I can NEVER eat dessert or cake because I have to counterbalance my other, preferred dietary transgressions.

My personal vice is chips. Some people think you’re lucky if you prefer ‘savoury’ food to ‘sweet’, but that’s a fallacy put out there by the cookie monsters who are always looking for excuses for their own bad habits. Whereas they might take their comfort from a packet of biscuits (or five), put a vat of humus or a plate of cheese in front of me and watch it disappear quicker than a bat out of hell.

And the bigger issue is that I don’t feel anywhere near the same level of shame as when I eat an entire bag of Pods, so it takes the brakes a lot longer to engage.

I’ve always felt an innate shame linked to sugar, probably because I was raised in the Medieval times when lollies were a Sunday treat. ‘Guilt’ means I don’t experience that ‘high’ or ‘rush’ you’re supposed to feel after sugar, although that may also be because, in general, my diet has had to become boringly healthy these days.

There is no doubt in my mind that last night’s diarrhoea was a Pod-induced drive by my body to purge my system.

However, I resort to much more comfort-eating these days, which I could blame on menopause, because I realize that my body is kindly layering a thicker foundation of fat around my bones to protect them – (thanks Meno)– but is more likely due to the stress of trying to cross the psychological bridge of ageing. Apparently, that journey is called the u-bend of middle age, and is responsible for all those male midlife crises, too.

It’s a strange phenomenon, because although I have always loved food, I have never used food as a comforting mechanism or particularly enjoyed over-indulgence in the past. I had far worst vices like cigarettes and wine to get me through the angsty periods of my younger years, so biscuits never really stood a chance.

And up until recently, the self-imposed regulations of my Trade Off dieting have worked quite successfully. Sure, I’ve slowly gained what appear to be a requisite number of middle-aged extra kilos each year over the past decade, but an increase in exercise and brutal self-denial have kept some of that potential weight-gain at bay.

But recently I have noticed that something has begun to tamper with my will power and the trade-offs are getting harder to balance. As the big 50 approaches, a revolutionary ‘fuck it’ attitude has begun to compromise my judgement when it comes to food, causing internal confusion. The confusion of happiness versus weight gain. Eating is much more fun now we have more income at our disposal to go to nice restaurants and can get out more easily. Eating out has become a hobby that both the old man and I enjoy and we can even enjoy it together. With the wisdom of middle age, I realise that it’s important to enjoy the excesses that my body will still allow me to enjoy because happiness is one of the main factors to contribute to long life and so I want to make the most of every day; and sometimes that might include new food experiences and over-indulgence.

That first glass of wine of the day just isn’t the same anymore without a bag of Veggie Chips and some beetroot dip; and I’ve grown equally partial to an intravenous-drip of homemade hummus while I work.

How do you control your weight?

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