The problem with pre-eating

Posted on May 30th, 2014

I’m not sure where I heard this term. It was in passing, a cursory phrase to describe something so familiar to us that no one – to my knowledge – has paused to discuss it in depth.

Image via

Image via

So many of us pre-eat, especially at dinner. Peanuts, crackers and cheese before dinner. The desserty treat when we can’t quite make it to lunchtime. We think we can’t last, we’re that hungry. Or that’s what we tell ourselves.

This is the thing I wonder:

Are we so uncomfortable with the feeling of hunger, that we have to get rid of it before we eat?

I also wonder – actually I strongly suspect – it could have a lot to do with being scared of restraint and lack. Many of us fear that feeling of missing out and the feeling of “emptiness”, for a whole quagmire of really messy reasons.

We shove food down on top of hunger, hoping it will silence all other emptiness or flutteriness we might be feeling.

There’s also this: As I’ve written before, our willpower muscle has limited strength. After being worked all day, it becomes exhausted and by 6pm it falls into lactic collapse. Which is why we tend to pre-eat at this time.

But pre-eating is also a chapter in the big book Why We’re Getting Fat. Which is the companion title to The Story of How We Lost Our Real Appetite.

* We tend to pre-eat food that’s carby. We do this to stoke our flagging blood-sugar levels. It gives us a quick kick and is a Read more

Why I drink “natural” wines…

Posted on May 29th, 2014

This is a post that is probably going to introduce many of you to a trend that is very new, and yet as old as the hills. It’s become a pet subject of mine lately. My efforts to take eating and drinking back to no-brainer basics has seen me head here. Ditto my efforts to get back to a more basic, robust, real way of life.

Image via Pinterest

Image via Pinterest

I’m hoping by the time you get to the bottom you’ll be equally intrigued. So do natural wine enthusiasts Mike Bennie, a wine journo and organiser of natural wine events, including the Sydney Rootstock festival, and Richard Harkham, Hunter Valley natural winemaker and the producer of this natural wine documentary, who I’ve co-opted to pipe in with their pithy insights along the way. OK, let’s pop a cork…

What is natural wine?

Good question, no straight-forward answer. I’d describe it as “minimally fiddled with”. Or the equivalent of using pure rosehip oil as a moisturiser (one ingredient, no fuss, no added bits), or of using a glug of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice as your salad dressing…get the drift?
It’s keeping things as simple as possible and as close to the ancient practice of squashing some hand-picked grapes in a vat.

Mike adds that it’s a bit of an umbrella term that can describe completely unadorned wines (quite literally hand-picked and squashed grapes) from biodynamic vineyards made with minimal intervention and put to bottle without sulphur. But it can also include wines a bit further up the fiddled-with spectrum – wines from sustainably farmed vineyards with some sulphur addition used to get wine to bottle. As a rule natural wines include most or all of the following tenets: sustainable and organic and/or biodynamic viticulture, hand-picking of grapes, no heavy machinery, low new oak usage (if at all), natural fermentation, no chemical or winemaking product additions, minimal (or no) sulphur use.

Richard sees natural wine as being like a naked body (“You can see all the blemishes”) and points out two interesting factoids:

  • 1. This vagueness as to what constitutes a natural wine causes lots of arguments within the “movement”. [Indeed, note some of the conjecture in the emerging comments below – Sarah.]
  • 2. The modern natural wine “movement” began as a backlash to the science and technology that’s led to a loss of identity and personality in wine.

Why natural wine?

There are a few things that appeal to me. Read more

Wow! Dr Lustig, Dr Noakes and Action on Sugar all in the one room!

Posted on May 27th, 2014

This is a brazen community announcement, as I figured you might be interested in this little update. The third round of my I Quit Sugar 8-Week Program is about to start and it’s bigger and better than, um, the last round (not so keen on too much hyperbole, as you all know!).

Dr Robert Lustig and I share a wine after chatting why the red stuff is good for you

Dr Robert Lustig and I share a wine at a recent conference where we were both speaking (PS a glass of red wine is ALLOWED most nights of the Program).

I won’t take up too much marketing oxygen here; you can read more about it over at I Quit Sugar. I just wanted to highlight something that I think adds to the value and bigger picture of what I’m doing.

One of the biggest reasons I developed the 8-Week Program was to be able to provide emotional and informed support for people during their sugar quittage. I just couldn’t do it via books, or via random encounters in the street. By having an online Program, and taking on extra staff (eek!!) I could set up forums where questions can be answered in an intimate yet bulk manner. The Program has gradually attracted support and endorsement from some high-profile players in the anti-sugar debate, many of whom are wanting to support what I do and help many folk in their quest to quit. They’re doing so by joining our panel of experts who answer all the niggling, nagging and emergency questions that come up as we go.

I’ll introduce them below, along with a few things I’ve learnt from each of them.

Dr Robert Lustig

Pediatric endocrinologist Dr Robert Lustig is the author of Fat Chance and, most recently, The Fat Chance Cookbook. But it was Lustig’s lecture “Sugar: The Bitter Truth”, with over four million views on YouTube, that placed him at the forefront of the sugar debate.

Lustig and I were both keynote speakers at the recent FIZZ symposium in New Zealand.

* Rob often shares that obesity isn’t the problem. Metabolic disease is and obesity is just one “symptom” of metabolic disease. This has stuck with me… and has alarmed me (obesity is only the tip of the health disaster iceberg!). Read more