Sunday, 24 April 2016

War on wheat

So this is what happens when you take your eye off the ball. Or, as I did, your feet off the scales. I stopped stepping on them (that should have been a cause for concern in the first place). And when I next did, I’d gained 1.5kg! And now it’s 1.8!
So where have I gone wrong?
I’ll start with the fact that my husband’s been making his own bread. Always easier to blame someone else. I’m not eating very much of it. But nor am I eating none of it. And it is delicious.
We’ve also had two holidays in the last three months – one in Paris, where we frequently found ourselves in the delicious Moulin de La Vierge at the end of the afternoon; and then in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, near the French Italian border on the Cote d’Azur, where more cakes and a lot of bread were consumed. Happy memories of a baguette and Brillat Savarin in the Hanbury Botanic Garden at Mortola Inferiore.
Steve’s latest endeavour is his own homemade starter yeast. I nod off before getting to the end of the detailed description of how this is made, but it essentially involves flour and water (and nothing else), which is cosseted in the airing cupboard and fed or not fed, with bits being thrown away – or not - according which aficionado you follow… Who cares? What matters is that it made a sour dough to rival any I’ve ever had from an artisan baker here or abroad. It is hard to resist and I’ve just had another slice, toasted, with salty butter and a banana.
All these carbs and excess pounds have ominously coincided with the news last week that we need to stick to a weight loss diet for a whole year if we want to maintain our new weight. That’s how long it takes for the hunger hormone ghrelin to adapt to your new way of eating so hunger and cravings do not sabotage all your hard work.  Or so says Signe Sorensen Torekov, a researcher at the University of Copenhagen. 
After this time ghrelin remains sufficiently suppressed but a coinciding rise in the appetite suppressant hormone GLP-1 is sustained. 
This is all well and good – providing you don’t succumb to your husband’s sourdough. For it seems – and there are various studies that support this – that ghrelin is putty in the hands of a good loaf of bread. A nice big slice of toast may keep it down for a bit – but then it springs back with a vengeance.  Basically, found one University of Washington study, carbs eventually make people hungrier than before they had eaten… That is very bad news for any dieter struggling to maintain their regime for a year, and hoping that a calorie is a calorie is a calorie – be it in a juicy steak or a big fat baguette.
I’m not aware that the odd slice of Steve’s sourdough at breakfast has made me eat more at lunch or dinner. But my weight is far easier to control when I give carbs a wide berth. I even seem to be able to get away with a couple of glasses of wine several times a week without the scales sounding a siren.
I have not yet tested the effects of different types of carb on my diet – and it may just be wheat that’s the problem.
It is quite likely. Dr John Mansfield, author of The Six Secrets of Successful Weight Loss, lists the 20 foods that people are most likely to be intolerant to, and wheat is right there at the very top. But how it causes weight gain is yet again ghrelin-related, the theory being that food intolerances cause a glitch with the lipostat – the feedback mechanism that tells your brain that you’ve already overeaten and now need to eat less and exercise more.
Yet another theory – held by the nutritionist Stephanie Lashford – is that the culprit food causes a reaction called angioedema, whereby every cell in the body swells up – piling on pounds in the process. 
Whatever the cause, if I am to go with the wheat theory I now have a choice to make. Either I go back to daily weighing – in which case Steve’s sourdough’s days are numbered, and breakfasts will be yogurt bound once more. Or I put the scales away, eat all the bread I like, and never look in the mirror or wear my favourite dresses again.

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