Wednesday 29 October 2014


I am grazing.

You will think it is the dream life. I am struggling with my rebellious bowels in a kind of crocodile-esque death-thrash. I have to be ingenious with my induction of calories to the point of a masters degree in nutrition.

I have to ingest thousands of calories a day to have a chance that enough will cling to the edges and think fat. Maybe 3 or 4 thousand calories a day gives me some chance of simply maintaining this precarious 38 kilos I'm dicing with.

The TPN (total parenteral nutrition or IV feed, I'll stop explaining it soon honest) looks very likely as clearly this kind of lifestyle isn't sustainable or desirable. However much you much you might think it would be.

So, I have to have a steady and extremely appealing list of delicious high cal treats to convince me to keep munching, cow-like, stuffing my little foie-gras liver. At the same time, these endless banquets of tapas and sugar need to leave so little residue as to pretend they were almost never there at all. I need to sneak the calories in, hidden behind loops and valves and whatnots, trick my guts into not noticing.

But even more ingeniously, I can't just munch on additives and chemicals and false cheese. Nope. Whatever I get has to be the "made-in-someone's-kitchen" variety, ergo the most expensive in almost all cases. If I don't follow this crucial rule or try to fudge it, the whole exercise is pointless anyway as it just makes me more ill. So basically I need a healthy, unhealthy diet with thousands of calories and no residue. I challenge the best dietitians to better mine. When I can bring myself to do it properly.

On the odd quiet month where there might be a little more about for good food I might make sure I get a grazing selection twice in the month. This is nowhere near enough, I need about 2 or 3 a week every week.

So favorite examples would be a rocking cheese plate. Nibbles on high cal cheese and barely-there water biscuits with the odd grape as a treat if I'm feeling rebellious. Homemade fudge, ice creams of enormous cream and sugar content, honeycomb, fruit jellies drenched in sugar, fresh squeezed lemon and honey with hot water (and a pinch of salt for the electrolytes. Add ginger and garlic & chicken stock for a super-food broth.

Marshmallows, jelly babies, jelly beans, bruschetta type crackers, antipasti under oil in jars. mop up the oil too. I have found these tiny hot red chillies stuffed with anchovy paste so salty it makes your eyes water. They're suspended in a chili oil  (I need lots of salt too.) Cured hams like parma or prosciutto. Toast on a light bread like a bloomer. Piled with as much butter and jam/marmalade/honey/chocolate spread as I can balance on. Dipping tea biscuits like Rich Tea in golden syrup because it's yummy. Having tea-dunking biscuits by you at all times so you can dunk a biscuit to dissolvey mush pretty much hourly.

For food, mashed potato or the middle of jacket potatoes with butter and cheese sauce, bacon sandwiches with crappy white bread. In this instance, the crappier the better. Stuffed pasta parcels with butter and fresh sage, tinned fish of all kinds, (quick pause there as 10 year old came into bedroom to give me an olive. We all play this game.) When they go to the fun fair, they wouldn't dream of coming home without a candy floss for Mummy.

Croissants with lots of french butter and as much jam/marmalade/honey/chocolate spread as I can balance on (yep, that's a theme. Balancing). French butter is an even-higher-level treat but if I have some I pretty much put it on everything I eat until it's gone. Smoked salmon, avocado, bananas, yoghurt, custard, rice pudding (you guessed it, with as much extra sugar or cream, preferably both, I can tolerate.)

If energy allows, and this isn't really one of those periods, stuck as I am in bed in a sort of in-hospital-from-home limbo until I can be made a little more stable, I make soup. Pretty much from anything I have combined with chicken stock, onions and some spices or herbs. Whizzed up, most delicious veg are fair game and this is where I get the most nutrients. I can't even eat much in the way of fruit or veg, so this way ensures I get all the nutrients I can from what I can have. Ditto casseroles. I can steer clear of most of the meat in a casserole, eat the very soft veg like parsnips or carrots and get all the goodness from the meat and the vegetables in the gravy.

But now we're in the functioning-relatively-normally-if-able-to-eat-hot meals-stage.

At the moment, if I can't keep it by my bed, or get it in the fewest movements possible from a fridge, cupboard or freezer, it's not really much use to me.

Nothing I need to eat is on most people's necessity list. Every last item is deemed a "treat" or a "luxury". No-one needs to buy peanut butter ice-ream and salted caramel, the idea is so far from what we learn about absolutely everything that resembles a "normal" diet. We're programmed to think of these foods as "bad" or "fattening" or "unhealthy". The stigma is huge.

So imagine if you will you're a work colleague of Dave's or a friend from the school gates and you come round for an evening. You know the wife/new acquaintance is extremely unwell, but not much more than that. You know it's her bowels and she has lots of operations. You go round to visit and she spends most of the night sucking sweets, eating ice ream, nibbling cheese and parbaking croissants. You'd almost certainly conclude any problems she might have were of her own making! That is so far from the idea of "healthy", I usually end up giving dietitians recipes.

You have to eat often! As soon as symptoms allow, you're right back at it. So you can't really ever be far from your grazing stash without planning. It's not just me. I've found a whole world on social media who have to eat like this every day and know exactly what I'm talking about. People who effectively stuck in bed, people with poor mobility, people who are very isolated and have little help at home, all of whom are a little too old or frail or unwell to keep weight on easily.

I always think to myself that if I was rich, it would be fine. I'd potter through farmer's markets and gorgeous little deli's in cobbled high streets buying various beautifully wrapped little mouthfuls of gorgeousness. I'd hover from Rosette to Michelin star eating delicate mouthfuls of perfection that even I can eat 5 courses of and still fancy a kebab. I'd sip high-calorie cocktails and eat Belgian chocolates for breakfast.

But as it is, I generally feel too guilty to do it, even though I need to. It's hard to spend lots of money on rubbish you won't let your kids eat. It's hard for 50% of the budget to go on your capricious whims or fancies of the day. On food you might not even get around to managing or that reappears rather sooner than it needed to.

As a final word to all high end, high cal food manufacturers : Lots of people who literally can't punch their way out of a paper bag for one reason or another buy your products. We can just about manage  folded paper packets and rippable foil, but frankly, anything more complicated or durable than that will effectively bar us from actually eating it at all. If it needs a knife, pair of scissors or brute strength, lots of us won't even be buying it.

So I manage to have a condition where the thing I have to do is sit in bed all day every day, preferably waited on hand and foot with people literally peeling my grapes and braving great quests to get exactly the brand or type of something I desire. Talk about a princess. It's a worry really.


  1. Wow sue 6 st that is very low I'm just over 8 at 6-2 and that looks pretty bad
    As for putting on weight i only wish i knew as I've never put on a once only ever lost wait through the stress of this government

    i have a stomach related illness so i can only eat if i feel calm and that is not very often

    Thank god you have Dave around with all you have been through' to me you have been the most inspirational person i have ever known a one off

    As always take care and god bless :)

  2. Sounds to me like you need food parcels of ready-cooked, home-made meals. There ought to be a way and I'm sure some of us could help.

  3. Your diet sounds like mine, but I don't have your medical issue, which is why I'm very overweight :-/

    I'm not trying to make light of your situation. It must be tough to afford the food you need when you're on a tight budget. I can't even suggest a cheap way to do it, beyond shopping at Lidl and Aldi, which I imagine you already do. I like Lurpak butter because it's lower in salt, but there are other brands out there that are cheaper, but still of good quality. Lidl sells brie and Emmental at very reasonable prices and they have decent chocolate and sweets for less than your average supermarket (but take a translation app for the ingredients label).

    Iceland frozen mash is every bit as nice as Aunt Bessie's, and they do frozen salmon fillets in garlic butter that are really tasty.

    I'm glad you're feeling better, I'm just sorry it's costing you so much financially.

    (And who told you peanut butter or salted caramel ice creams weren't a necessity?!)

  4. That was a touching and entertaining read, thank you Sue. While I'm in nowhere near as sensitive a position as you regarding the consequences of deviating from it, and am lucky enough to not need much food full stop, I also have to have an "unhealthy" diet for my condition. It's a strange experience when there is such obsession in the media with what a healthy diet looks like, knowing that the conversation just has nothing to do with people like me. And a worrying one whenever the idea of more Government control over how I can spend my benefits is mooted. Best wishes to you as ever.

  5. (((Hugs))) Sue. If you would like to try Arbroath Smokies then I would willingly send you them whenever you needed. They would make a really filling meal and are full of calories and lots of salt.
    Let me know if you would like to try them?
    Keep chomping :)

  6. You can get good quality chocolate from from time to time. Don't expect to get a lot though because you'll be competing for it with me. And when you say salt... you whizz straight past it so I don't know if you're referring to ordinary crap table salt or pink/grey sea salt, which is different stuff altogether and is packed with the micro-nutrients you're having trouble absorbing. Just sayin! :-)

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