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Candida Die Off

In Autism Research Unit, Department of Nutrition, Food diary, Unforgiving Minutes on May 26, 2010 at 10:00 pm

A few lost days recently, and mainly to Candida Die Off. Probably I have mentioned this before, and certainly I will mention it again. It may be that the mechanism for it is not yet quite fully understood and that it will not in future be described as Candida Die Off, but since the self-styled hard-nosed scientists who ridicule such ideas provide no better hypothesis for how and why I come to feel so shite before I come to feel better following the imposition of a strict dietary regime after a lax spell or the ingestion of probiotics, and since they get many details wrong when they swagger into the fray, since indeed those who talk of Candida die off, off-puttingly flaky though they may be, describe perfectly how I feel and give the only plausible reason why I should feel it, Candida die off it remains.

So, the hypothesis goes something like this:

Because of the increasing prevalence of highly refined carbohydrates and sugars in our diet, because of the high-yeast fast bake process, because of the shift towards milling of flours which removes all nutritional value, because of the over prescription of anti biotics by doctors and the use of prophylactic anti biotics in animal feed, the gut flora (the balance of “good” bacteria to bad and other strains), there is increasingly a problem of Candidiasis in Western populations.

Candida albicans is a common yeast-like microorganism which, given the right environment, and in a dearth of more desireable “gut flora”, can flourish, literally threading itself through the gut lining of suffers.

In itself it can cause a problem, releasing toxins. But this threading through the gut too can cause “leaky gut syndrome”, where particles that ought not to pass through the selectively-permeable membranes of the gut, can pass thorugh. Once they have done so they can in some cases interfere with the function of the central nervous system. In others, they can trigger food allergies which then further inflame the gut lining, decreasing absorption and leading to yet further problems.

To defeat this an anti-Candida diet has to be employed. I have benefitted from this myself, though I have never found myself able to persist in its strictures which involve the exclusion of all refined carbs (I couldn’t give up exercise, for one thing, which makes me crave carbs, I often say that if I had the organisational capacity to carry out the diet, I wouldn’t need it, and I have poor/non-existent impulse control besides). In addition, pro-biotics are important, to build up the immune system against the invasive organism.

While these necessary measures are being taken, though, something called Candida Die off occurs in which, depending on which theory you go for (to me the results are the same and so it makes little odds) either A> dying Candida releases the toxins that would otherwise be left inside or B> the Candida, now that the environment is more challenging, becomes more aggressive in order to bed itself into body tissues. In the process, you experience something called Herxheimer reaction (which also may or may not be the correct nomenclature). Essentially, this is toxic overload. You feel like hell, have all the symptoms of flu, including tingling skin (check), lethargy (check), sleepiness (check), and feeling cold.

Mine came on first a few days ago when I began eating home-made probiotic sauerkraut and took a probiotic capsule or two. I wasn’t quite getting it right. These measures should be rolled in slowly after the strict following of an anti-Candida diet. I hadn’t quite done this. My priorities and obsessions shift so much that I tend to be all or nothing most of the time, and I had come on too strong with the probiotics after too loose an interpretation of the Candida diet. (Another reason I have for believing this hypothesis incidentally, is the severity of the symptoms and the way they corrolate with how lax I have been in applying the diet, how quickly I move from eating badly to eating well – with or without probiotics – and how aggressively I introduce probiotics.)

In addition, I woke up this morning after sleeping badly last night, feeling like I had a cold. Though I had been shaky all day yesterday and knew I was coming down with Herheimer/Die off, I went for a fell run race starting at 19:15 and ran 4 miles with an 1100 feet climb. I came down and felt better than I had all day, but by the time it came to go to bed, I felt alert. My head was spinning. I couldn’t sleep until late, another symptom, now I look back, of Herxheimer. Exercise too helps to kill the Candida and I had ran pretty hard.

And so I have been achy all day, had loose stool (sorry), and felt too crabby for company.

Still, good and bad news. The good: I’ve still got a long way to go. The bad: I’ve found something that works, Sauerkraut and the fermented foods Natasha Campbell McBride believes to be so effective against such problems and the mental difficulties they can cause.

The only lingering bad in all of it, perhaps, is that tomorrow I’m off to do some Dry Stone Walling again and had hoped to chat to the Chainsaw Girl I met last time and who I have been daydreaming about since, but then, since I’m still profoundly ambivalent about relationships and siding, most times, with Gibbon (as Anthony Storr described him in Solitude) who said he often dreamed of being coupled, but was invariably glad to wake up from the reverie and find himself untethered, maybe that itself is no bad thing. All I’ve got to ensure is that I manage to cook something tomorrow morning!

Night Gav-watchers

Gav Belcher

Toast – Flapjacks #1

In Creative Writing Department, first drafts, Food diary, Toast on March 3, 2010 at 10:48 pm

“You’ve got the constitution of an ox” said Dave, the manager of the Shell garage on the Hagley road when I came through from the office of the conveyor car wash to grab a few of my usual snacks. Dave was in his late thirties, or possibly in his mid thirties, looking older for his shitty attitude. He was stocky, not over-tall, blunt, drank gallons of black coffee from a little devil mug and thought I was an idiot. Little did he suspect I was in fact an idiot savant, or an ‘idiot savant manque’, as I had it in what were, presumably, the words of a critic projected into the not-so-distant future, in one strand of the brainstorms and reveries that were whirling around in my brain in a maelstrom that prevented anything much from the outside world making headway in. I wasn’t the sharpest tool on the box back then. In fact I didn’t much understand what he meant when he said I had the constitution of an ox. I did understand what he meant, though, when he told me I spent all the money I earned there in the shop itself.

The flapjacks at the Shell garage were some of the best I have ever tasted. Flapjacks are a difficult thing to get right. Some are moist, buttery rather than oily, whilst others are dense and hard. Some are overly saccarine, so that it is not flavour but a too intense-sweetness and texture alone. Most places you go you find them, but most disappoint. Holland & Barrett’s cappuccino flapjack is delicious, with a rare contrast of texture between the topping which has a lot of bite, and the getting-on-for-crumbly flapjack base. It has of course absolutely nothing about it that could be described as health food, though, like many other inhabitants of that shop, it has a certain allure for certain people in that line. Otherwise it is often the cheaper shops – genuine corner shops – that decent flapjacks turn up in with shoddily designed stickers on their wrappings, although it must be admitted that this is because there are two types of perfect flapjack, those that are in everything ersatz foods, from the ‘chocolate-flavour’ topping to the base of hydrogenated fats, but which have a vividness about them like a pub in a louche area of town, to the organic squares of macadamia nutted goji berry absurdity pitched at yoga mums. It’s a classily classless snack.

Of course, idiot savant manque that I was, I didn’t know that at the time. What I did know was that the two-fingers-long rectangles of moist flapjack with real chocolate chip and orange pieces was truly delicious, and that it could only be bettered by pairing it with an individually-wrapped chocolate-filled doughy croissant and maybe a Twirl, or a Twix, or a DoubleDecker.

It was Wiggy got me the job in Shell. He saw a sign in the window when we were riding around on our bikes one time. I went in. I had, I think, sprayed myself with Lynx or something like a 14 year old boy. That’s how I see it anyway, as the woman behind the counter, a sour-faced bitter woman who was, I thought at the time, carrying on with Dave, and who I have seen periodically around the town and ignored every time since I left, made a comment about me smelling nice anyway that James, the car wash maestro saw fit to make apologies for. I didn’t find going up to people easy. Later, when I asked for a job around the corner at another petrol station, I blasted my music for a while, The Wildhearts, a band I have managed not to see on my birthday on four or five separate occasions, before going around there to be chased off by some laughing girls. Read the rest of this entry »

Kyselina Citronová

In Department of Czech and Slavic Studies, Food diary on February 24, 2010 at 8:13 pm

Jsem kretén. Ale ne. Nejsem. Je to přílíš těžky abych to říkával potom co jsem něco nevšímal. Ty sušeny merunky co jsem měl dnes ráno obsazoval kyselinou citronovou. To je přísada vyrobená z kvasnice, a je nechvalně známé pro to že není dobré na kandidozu. A vidím ted ty specifické znaky problémy po té přísadce, tedy nadýmání, uzkost a poletování. Vidím taky že strašně se dožaduju takové jídla co obsahuje kyselinou citronovou. Dřív, třeba, že jsem párkrát denně jedl sojový jogurt co jsem potom uvědomil obsahuje kyselinou citronovou. Minule co jsem ho koupil, upekl jsem s tím řeckou moussaku a cítil jsem naštvané a nervzní celý večer z toho.

Merunky taky někdy se dožaduju. Mozek mi přemluví že jsou dobré, že třeba bych mohl je jíst místo abych (zlomit) dietu lepkem, sýrem anebo něco takového. To se ukazuje že ten problém je silné a, dá se říct, velmi chytrý. Často když, jako hned dneska, já se snažím co nejvíc jíst dobře a pak hned na první překažce, padám, rozlobím se a ztracím všechné motivace. Musím byt odhodlaný, postavit se a jít dál.

Diař v češtině 24 Únoru, 2010

In Department of Czech and Slavic Studies, Food diary, Uncategorized on February 24, 2010 at 6:23 pm

Jak začít? Mám dneska volno. Začnul jsem minulý tyden novou praci na Severu ve Walesu ve Narodní Parku Snowdonia. Pracuju v hostelu a žiju s lidmi tady vedle v baráku co patří hostelu. Tady jsem chtěl utíkat z toho všeho problému doma v průmyslové oblasti Black Country ve střední Anglie, tedy poruchy pozornosti, Aspergerův syndrom, deprese, úzkost, problémy s socialní funkci: prostě nekonečné nešteští. Už 4 roky tenkrát vidím lekarí všech druhu, kromě tedy toho vhodného, odborníka ADHD. Už 15 let bojím cely den proti sve hlavě. Neumím relaxovat. Neumím soustředit se. Neumím být s lidem. Neumím ani být sám. Snažím se psát povídky, romány, poezie, ale neumím nic dopsat, nic dokončit. Moje hlava vždycke najde něco nového a ten co bylo nejduležitější před par dni už nic není, a když se snažím to psát, tak to je mučení.

Jídlo je další peklo. Miluju jídlo. Miluju vaření. Ale všechno mě ovlivnuje.

Když jím sukr, tak hlave vybuchne. Jsem potom naštvané, to je v hlavě jak mám všechny kanaly televize puštěné najedno. To je hlasité a nepřijemné. A navíc, představy doplnuje hlavu aby nebylo zádné místo pro nic jíneho. Třeba že křičím na doktořy, na ředitele, na neotesané lidí. Když v té situace někdo mluví na mně, skoro neslyším, mračím ošklivě se snahou poslouchat.

Sýr, mléko, lepek je stejně. Kvasnice je ještě hůř. A pak je chemické přisady, vajča, na čím mám alergie, alkohol, caffeine atp.

To znamená že každý den musím jíst pořadně dobře. To znamená se vyhnout všemu což je levné, jednoduché připravovat, příjemné jíst anebo zajímavé. Když dělám chybu s jídlem, tak to znamená že den je už v prdele. To znamená že budu mít představy tak “hlasité” že nebudu moct se sousředit na ničem, že budu naštvané, že budu celý den poletavat od jedné zaměstnání do druhého aniž bych se bavil ani dokončil nic.

Ironie dneska je že jsem se nejvíc snažil dneska udělat něco s jídlem. Jel jsem 30 minut do obrovského Tesca, koupil jsem jídlo co nemůžu dovolit, a se vrátil vařit. Problém je že diet co bych musel držet abych se uzdravil je tak dost těžké pro kohokoliv, pro někdo s ADHD je to uplně nemožné protože pořad mozek změní přednosti (jako že ted je čeština cíl a proto píšu v ní, zítra nebude a bude to něco jíného) a protože impulzívost je obrovské problém. Ale dneska nebylo ani otázka impulzivosti. Chtěl jsem najít jídlo co bych moct jíst bez problému. Předtím, první tyden tady, že jsem začal jíst třeba oves, což obsahuje lepek, ale v menším množství než pšenici nebo žito a které je “low GI” což znamená že, odlišné od sukru, tělo se pomalu ho stráví, což je dobré. Problém je že nemůžu jíst málo těch věcech co neměl jsem jíst. To je nemožné. A problém taky je, že až si dovolím jednu věc, tak brzo mozek mě klame abych si dovolil další. Jako že třeba byl nechan  v hostelu slaninu a “pork pie” v tydnu a pak jsem si řekl abych je vzal protože je zadarmo a nemám peníze. Vždycky něco. To je zákěrné. Read the rest of this entry »

Get your oats, or your goat’s yoghurt, or your g/f bread…

In Department of Nutrition, Department of Psychology, Food diary on January 10, 2010 at 9:19 pm

One of the ways that my maxims and priorities shift is with food. Managing to eat no sugar, no yeast, no gluten or dairy products, no fruit, no starchy vegetables, no fermented products, etc. etc. even, on some accounts, no grains, is, as you can well imagine, phenomenally difficult. What makes it worse is that there are, as I have indicated, so many different conceptions of the diet.

One type of diet which certainly benefits me is the candida diet. There are many forms of this. Some recommend that no fruit whatever be consumed with the diet since even fruit sugars help the candida parasite to thrive. Others recommend fresh juices and smoothies. Some say there may be no gluten. Others recommend whole wheat flour. Some say that honey can be consistent with the diet, it being a shorter chain sugar.

Then there is the gluten free, casein free diet for those with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders. This also benefits me. But of course, because the gluten and casein are avoided due to the fact that they break down into neurotoxins/opiates it is, in most conceptions of this diet, unnecessary to avoid sugars etc. One consequence of this is that whenever my mind has shifted towards this diet and I have allowed myself these sugary mass-produced gluten and dairy-free products that exclusively fill the free-from shelves, I have become very angry very quickly, my head full of intrusive daydreams and abstract anger.

Then there is the tricky problem of alcohol. There is a slight difference in the severity of the effects of beer and wine, which really knock me about for a couple of weeks, and spirits, which don’t affect me quite so badly, or in quite the same way. This small difference often becomes exaggerated in my mind, and also falls prey to the shift of priorities in my mind that keeping in touch with friends who may struggle with me when I’m not drinking, my social skills needing a little helping hand, is more important than excluding all substances which may aggravate a problem with candida, a maxim which most often alternates with the ‘weighty’ conception of life (on Milan Kundera’s polarity, discussed above) and of Candida in which it is necessary to be almost inhumanly disciplined for a period of a few months to wipe out the problem for good.

Most recently, a reading of a piece by Erica White on the Institute for Optimum Nutrition website sent her conception of the Candida diet racing up in the maxim stakes, replacing, to a degree, the one that has been foregrounded for a couple of months, that of the Gut & Psychology diet of Natasha Campbell-McBride. This led to my buying oatcakes on going out to buy water, and then, going further, to pop into Sainsbury’s, buying both gluten free porridge and rolled oats with soya milk.

On this conception, it would be better to eat a little gluten but be consistent with the diet by introducing a few ingredients that may be a little less bland than the usual fare, than to struggle so hard to exclude everything, but break every now and again and feed the candida by doing so, as I did, almost inevitably, over Christmas. Read the rest of this entry »

Cigars and Shooting Stars

In CBT, Creative Writing Department, Department of Psychology, Food diary, Progress Review, Unforgiving Minutes, Work Diary, Writing Diary on December 15, 2009 at 12:59 am

Hard to believe that Thursday gone I told my CBT therapist that I had been feeling so good that if I were to continue feeling as good as I had been that week I would struggle to differentiate my own experience from that of anyone else. I had perhaps felt that way for a couple of days. It was something I had said to B_____ as we went walking up in the hills with our headtorches one foggy night last week. I had eaten pretty well for a while, taken a lot of probiotics, and felt, after reading Gut and Psychology Syndrome, that I was taking care of things.

I don’t know how it was I came to feel that way, only that it was as bizarre a reflection of my own microclimate that feeling that way for a couple of days, with less going on cluttering up my head than usual, led me to think that I was cured.

Friday was a tough night. I Met up with everybody from my old place of work after a break of six months or so. And I didn’t drink. Didn’t drink because I’m trying hard to keep off it, trying to stick to a meaningful anti-candida diet so I can calm down my head for good and get to the top of that hill I’ve been aiming for for months. Didn’t drink because every time I have drank, anything, over the last few months, I have seen so clearly how it only makes me angry and distracted, and irritable and lacking in concentration for the next few days. That was difficult in itself. I chatted for a while, and people were welcoming. But the group grew and grew drunk, and I struggled. By the time we moved upstairs I didn’t want to deal anymore with the complications of women coming on to me I wasn’t interested in, with the people I ended up sat next to who I had literally nothing to say to, with feeling like the dullest man in the world. I left feeling foolish and lost. People around me were having the time of their lives, struggling with the emotions they felt to people they were now not supposed to be feeling emotions for. I was making people feel uncomfortable.

I smoked that day, as I smoked the week before, in a similar position in the first leaving do for a friend of mine, one of two or three friends I have had for years and see on a reasonably regular basis. From that Friday, when I came back at what may have been little later than 12 midnight and stayed up until three with the clenched head I get after being around people and processing it all for hours at a stretch to tread water, I have fallen into a kind of ennui that sits best with the nocturnal hours. All day I find myself rudderless and anxious, and then, at ten, eleven, twelve, I make it up to the summerhouse to the typewriter with a hot water bottle.

I have rediscovered poetry, and written something maybe most days since that Friday, when I had to get something out, however rough it may have been. But the stories have been slow moving. I did finish Quiz Night last Monday, and had the idea for Sham almost immediately afterwards, but it’s moving slowly with this routine I’ve found for myself and almost wilfully exaggerated by being too self conscious about it all.

And as for my head being quiet! The last few days I have been a blacksmith – the result of opportunities that have been discussed and which provide me with a dilemma. I have made damascus steel knives, bracelets, forks and I don’t know what else. I have shown my work to various people and expressed all of the facets of a truly bellicose manner that befits my mood and the role of a blacksmith.

It struck me on Saturday that smoking does for me in much the same way as drinking and bad food. I know this. And yet I forget this, and so here we go round again.

But I’m tired. I came in an hour ago tired to the point of near collapse and have been wasting my time with this barely-coherent piece since.

Once again, I have got to get back to basics. It’s not easy.

Millet, quinoa and steak

In Department of Nutrition, Food diary, Recipe on October 24, 2009 at 10:11 pm

More and more I’m coming to understand that even the small slips in my food have a large impact. I’m going longer and longer between slips, and, I think, the slips are becoming less and less pronounced, but all I still really do want to work towards enjoying the food I can eat more and more, increasing my repertoire, so the slips are less tempting. I managed another little step towards that today with another twist on millet and quinoa.

I have been using a lot of butter again in recent months. There’s a lot of confusion over butter. Some, like Bee, whose Yahoo Candida diet group I subscribe to but rarely read, consider butter to be anti-candida, others aren’t so sure or outlaw it the same as any other dairy produce. My own experiences are mixed. It is though the one thing I find it impossible to cut out completely. There are just so few edible alternatives. Today though I made a step forward. I printed out a candida chopping list from Bee’s website yesterday and bought a couple of things from it today that I haven’t used before, that is, lard, and macadamia nut oil.

Also today I bought something I haven’t been using much, fennel, and used something I bought a while back and haven’t used in over a week, probably more like two or three, that is, celeriac.

It was one of those meals that I wasn’t sure what I was going to do until I did it and so it had an extemporised quality to it. (All the more reason to write it down now of course, before I forget.) I started off by heating some chicken stock I took out of the freezer last night and putting the millet in to cook in the stock. I then chopped some celeriac into fine cubes and threw that in with it.

Next I chopped some organic leek into very fine rounds and set that to saute in lard and butter. To this I added ginger, chili, finely chopped fennel, and some celery. I cut crosses into a few cherry tomatoes and threw these in on top (I have been finding this a good way of cooking sauces with a little tomato, squashing them into quarters once they have been heated through and the onions etc around them have sauteed down).

Meanwhile, I warmed a baking tray in the over with a slice of lard, and then added red onion, courgette and aubergine to roast.

Once the millet had been simmering for ten to fifteen minutes, I added quinoa to the stock mix so the two would cook at around the same time.

I wasn’t yet sure what was going to be what, so I chopped a lot of cucumber out of habit (I often make a salad with the quinoa, a kind of tabbouleh) and threw this into a bowl. I decided against this. A seperate salad was too fiddly and I had many different parts to the meal already, so once the millet and quinoa was cooked, I added this, with the sauteed leek, fennel and tomato, to the quinoa, tossed it around, and threw it into the oven to warm through so the cucumber wouldn’t be too incongruous.

I then took the sirloin steak I had bought this morning on a trip out to not one but two supermarkets while listening to celebrity chef Nigel Slater’s wonderful autobiography “Toast” on the car stereo, and tossed that into the warmed pan with a little more lard and butter. I crushed some peppercorns and threw this on top, turned the steak, finished it off and then, setting it aside to rest, chopped some garlic not too finely, and threw this first into the hot fat, and then, having tossed it around a few times, over the steak.

The result was lovely. One of those few meals I could never tired of, and one that may help me just that little bit longer to the next slip. Not such a bad day!

Gav Belcher

Gluten free rolls

In Autism Research Unit, Department of Nutrition, Every Good Boy Deserves Football, Food diary, Progress Review, Work Diary, Writing Diary on September 29, 2009 at 10:43 am
Thawed roll

Thawed roll

Bread doesn’t always much agree with me, whether it’s gluten and yeast free or not. It’s nothing but carbs, I tend to eat it with butter, and I’m not sure about the bicarbonate of soda and the xantham gum in particular. I have found over and over that I have the problems of flatulance and a congested head with bread. But then, sometimes, it tastes good, and it’s not too difficult. Sometimes too you do need to treat yourself. And so I tried to get around this a little when I made my last batch, putting together an Irish soda bread from Special Diet Solutions by Carol Fenster, a book my dad bought from E-bay having read about it on doing some research for me, the kind of book that seems to have nothing but baking recipes, and then by freezing a number of roll-sized pieces of dough. Read the rest of this entry »

Insomnia

In Autism Research Unit, Department of Nutrition, Food diary on September 29, 2009 at 12:31 am

Something that’s happened too many times now for it to be coincidence is that I have felt spiked, uncomfortably alert and yet utterly tired, when I go to bed after drinking camomile and/or valerian tea.  I dismissed this link for a while, just as I dismissed the whole idea of candida for perhaps years. It was only when I started to build up a picture of how I felt following the ingestion of powerful known anti-fungals like pau d’arco, capryllic acid and garlic, that I began to take it all seriously, and only then by association that I began to ask questions about camomile which gave me a similar kind of insomnia to these others. (There are many kinds of insomnia, as I was describing to my doctor last night in great detail in the imagined conversations that went round and around in my overactive mind.) Read the rest of this entry »

Mid Candida Diet – food diary 19/09/09

In Autism Research Unit, Department of Nutrition, Food diary on September 19, 2009 at 8:12 pm

My head is really ticking over today. I am noticing reveries intruding more than they have been recently, over the last month, perhaps. And it is interesting that I am noticing them, because they are not at a level that I would much have noticed as being significant only a couple of months ago, I would say. I will try to remember a couple of them to give a picture:

  • Being invited in to talk about my ideas and my ‘platform’ for what it’s worth, for my candidacy for a position as MP, and discussing my background, experiences at university ie. that I found it difficult, suffering from problems of concentration, depression and the like, but that I worked hard, and have researched my own condition finding it to be influenced by environmental pollution. etc. [I have spent perhaps 15 minutes, twenty minutes, involuntarily elaborating this scenario in my mind with detailed campaigns, conversations on TV, debates, discussions with constituents, having my Asperger’s used against me (and throwing it back) until the whole reverie has become a rich scene such as would now furnish a novella at the very least. This is something I really have not experienced for some time now.]
  • My vacilations over going to Thrumbledown Woods to volunteer tomorrow have also been elaborated to a considerable degree, with me meeting women, setting up a system of log books for chainsaw maintenance, introducing myself in various ways, meeting interesting people, meeting (rather more awkwardly) the parents of my most vituperative ex whilst they walk their dog (who loved me beyond all measure) etc.
  • Living in a house with a summerhouse that looks out over the canal, kitting it out with solar panels, wind power, and buying an electric car (after the mega-sales of my novel, of course).
  • etc etc. Over and over and over. Too many to remember or recount when it is taking me minutes to write a couple of sentences.

The diet has been going well this time. I spurred myself on a while back, to take it all seriously, by making a better effort of recalling the various ill-effects of caffeine and the other foods and substances I had made allowances for at times, and because of J’s all-too-familiar scepticism of my reasons – impulsivity, shifting priorities and shifts of logic in a kind of convection current in my mind etc. – for not being able to consistently follow my diet. ‘Hm’ she said the one time when I explained my latest binge, after the collapse in morale that follows the inability to concentrate after even minor lapses. I didn’t talk to her for minutes, sat there on Skype, and swore at the screen. But it did spur me on. And now I have been without alcohol probably for the longest time since my 18th. (It’s not that I’ve ever drank much. I haven’t. And I have had long periods of more or less abstinence, but there have always been birthdays and social occasions which seemed to call for it, and I don’t know whether I’ve ever gone a month entirely without before, which is silly, because I know certainly how much beer affects me, and can no longer deny what I have always read, that spirits too are almost equally iniquitous.) I have been without flapjacks, which were always one of my opt in, opt out failures of willpower. I have been without gluten and dairy, barring butter (which does come in and out), yoghurt (which didn’t, but has these last couple of months) and one damaging instance of cheese eating surrender. But for a long time, eating well, and taking anti-fungals moderately, and probiotics, immoderately, I have been feeling better than I have for years, clattering away at the old typewriter for longer, focusing better, with a clearer, quieter, fresher head. Read the rest of this entry »