We all know one of THOSE people, you know the type, can eat anything and everything and not put on any weight. I used to live with a chap who rowed for New Zealand at the Commonwealth games. He would buy a 2 litre bottle of Coca Cola, a 2 litre chocolate ice cream, get a massive bowl, mix them up and consume until the bowl was emptier than a Hilton heiress yet his waist would show no ill effects.
My own wife can down a big bag of chips, a big bar of chocolate, some drink and lollies while not blinking an eye. She weighs about 55kgs. My kids don’t eat a lot of junk food but when they do, their body burns it up with rabid enthusiasm. As for me, I skipped the queue when God was handing out magnificent metabolisms and got seconds when he was handing out appetites for destruction.
I’m ok if junk food isn’t in the house but if it is and my family have hidden it, I develop a sense of smell that would put a drug finding bloodhound to shame. I pulled a talking teddy bear apart once thinking that someone had hidden lollies in the battery compartment. They hadn’t.
In the absence of the lifesaving nectar that is marshmallows or orange jet airplanes (yes, I’ll rummage through a packet to get the best ones), my vice is toast. Specifically, hot light golden toast with lots of butter and lots of Apricot jam. It has to be hot enough to melt both the butter and Jam. If I’m feeling particularly like living on the edge of anarchy, I’ll swap the Jam for Marmite. So it’s fair to say, I can eat. Which isn’t really a problem until you combine a healthy appetite with full-time study.
Now I knew this would be an issue, so for 3 months I put extra focus on getting fit. I mean extra fit. When I was young I was in pretty good shape but then once I turned 30, just like a cruel ex-girlfriend, my metabolism up and left me. I developed a ‘fat guts’ and my jaw line was kidnapped by my neck. I was still fit and could run 10 kilometres but my body had all the chiselled qualities of a feather down pillow.
So I went all Rocky Balboa on it, personal trainers flogging me to pieces. I’d crawl out of the gym, breathing through my eye lids and my lungs sagging out the back of my bum. Slowly but surely, I became Thor minus the 6 pack, long flowing hair and the big hammer. But then study started….
Nothing prepares you for the fact that your food cravings will come at the time of the day when you absolutely shouldn’t touch anything with added sugar, carbs, fats, protein, basically anything that tastes good. Your cravings come at 11.34 pm, 2.37am and all the minutes in between. I can hear you asking, what is easy to cook at 2.37am?
Yup, golden toast with loads of butter and jam that is going to move in somewhere between ‘fat gut street’ and downtown ‘loaded arse boulevard’
So now, in mid-April, I look less like Thor and more like Thor’s unemployed donut eating cousin. I write this as I look at the latest piece of netball fundraising my daughter has brought home. A Cadbury box with 30, yes 30, bars of chocolate for us to ‘sell’ for $2 apiece. I have been trustee of this box of goodness for 2 hours and already I owe $4.
Last week I was at Massey for 3 days study and library time. Opposite the library is a shop that sells junk food, rolls, steaming hot pies. As an aside, the Sun is due to run out of energy in 5 million years. Someone needs to secure the warmer and microwave they use at that shop to heat pies. With the heat energy they both produce you could power the earth for another 5 million years. I’m still drinking milk to soothe my blisters.
Even more tempting, was the stall set up selling miniature cheesecakes. I’m not kidding, sitting inactive in the library for 9 hours and the closest piece of food available to buy are yummy, mouth-watering, gift from the gods cheesecakes. As an aside, surely, it is in the university’s interest for their shop to offer some healthy options alongside the pies and confectionary?
So what is the answer?
Well, it turns out there are foods that through research are proven to aid brain power and as it turns out, they will help me return to my former state of fitness and health
Wholegrains consistently release glucose into the bloodstream. Oats really kick some arse. Tomatoes contain lycopene, a very important antioxidant that helps protect cells from the damage that causes dementia. Blackcurrants and blueberries are damn near superfood status and because their sugar is natural, you won’t have the same crash after eating junk food full of refined sugar
Pumpkin seeds contain zinc which helps with your memory and thinking. Nuts are full of vitamin E which helps with neurological function. For meals the two kick ass foods are broccoli, full of vitamin K which is essential for the brain and fish. Fish is full of essential fatty acids that our body can’t make. You’ll have heard of omega 3? Well fish is a magnificent source.
So the upshot of all this is that I need to have better food choices in the pantry. Over a long day, I should target 5-6 small meals a day and base them around ingredients like I’ve mentioned above so I can sustain long hours of study. Also, I really need to sell this box of Cadbury chocolates because I now owe $6.