By Kristen Birch
The Banting/Tim Noakes diet, or ‘lifestyle’, as many call it, has been rashing us all since Noakes brought that bloody book out. We have all been calling it a ‘fad’, a ‘craze’, or even an outright lie. There is almost a 99% possibility that this topic will enter the conversation at any dinner party, restaurant, or supermarket, often out of pure fascination or concern, but more often for the bitter dieters to bitch about Noakes and to throw in a few facts about how supposed “scientists are totally against it”.
I have my apprehensions. How can eating lard-rimmed biltong as a snack and oily, streaky bacon for breakfast, be good for you? This is what we have been told for years, right? Remove all visible inches of fat from any meat before cooking and use the tiniest droplet of oil to grill the goods.
My mom has brought us kids up on olive oil and oven-baked foods. She would recoil at the sight of Canola oil and be repulsed by a deep-fryer. It is because of her selective cooking ideas that my entire family is sensitive to Chinese takeout, anything coming from a fast-food branch like McDonalds or KFC, ‘slap’ chips, Spur onion rings, and most things cooked in a restaurant. We ask for it to be “grilled please” and if we could, we would beg for it to be cooked in anything, but a processed vegetable oil.
If you knew my family, you would understand that this is a major problem for us. We are the greatest foodies that our little home of East London has ever seen. We are constantly mocked by people that we know when we see them at restaurants. Their most popular comment is “eating out again?” to which we chuckle politely, in between mouthfuls of beef and potato for our Sunday roasts, or soy sauce drenched sushi; one of our favourites. We even named our dog after the addictive delicacy.
So, we like to eat. But what do we like to put in our mouths after every meal? The cherry on top of the pork belly roast? Chocolate. We are all addicts. But not just chocolate. Cakes, toffees, Lindt balls (our favourite), ice creams, meringues, anything filled with caramel, brownies, apple tarts…you name a dessert and we have eaten it.
Tell any of us to make a three course meal and we will fill our starter and main meal with healthy spices and all-natural oils and ingredients. You will feel satisfied, but not bloated…until we come to the dessert. It will be a decadent, chocolate-oozing, cream-infused dish. And as you guzzle it down with flair, tempted to lick the spoon and plate, you will love us for it…until the tummy aches and pains, the gassiness, and even the inability to go to the loo…to put it frankly, begins. Well, that’s my reaction, at least.
I have a spastic, or what the gastroenterologist calls a “floppy” colon, irritable bowel syndrome, and an intolerance to both processed wheat and dairy. In the past, I would never let that stop me. I would eat that entire slab of Cadbury’s caramel chocolate or dare myself to finish that enormous piece of Mugg & Bean cake. I ignored the horrendous pain that would fill my stomach and race down my back. Ignore the lectures from my parents, telling me it was not worth it. But I did not realise what I was ignoring, was the major and detrimental health effects. The Tim Noakes diet reminded me of that. All that bloating and pain was not just punishment for binging, but was a warning sign that my body was extremely inflamed internally, and inflammation is the perfect state for diseases to begin.
Inflammation occurs when the body is attempting to self-protect. By eating these foods I was naturally going against my own body.
The diet may be a fad, but the science behind it has been out there for years, telling us we are getting it all wrong. That perhaps even the food pyramid is a complete lie, and I just needed Noakes to remind me of how reckless I had been over the years by consuming these foods and ignoring the painful consequences, instead of trying to rid them from my diet altogether.
Unfortunately supermarkets have used the “diet” to bring in the profit. Placing signs on certain shelves that read “Banting” or “Noakes approved”, and frantically increasing prices. That is the saddest part about it, and is what we should be discussing at our dinner parties. But the lifestyle itself, it may be worth considering, and I personally have Tim to thank since he has thrown a huge spanner in the sugar-coated works for me.
I NEED to quit sugar now! And so my sugar-free baking begins.
Next week, I will start telling you about my successes and my appalling fails.