A few months back, the Doctor told me that I had to cut my cholesterol.
Amongst drinking less and avoiding eating cheese or fatty foods – the chief directive I was given was to stop eating meat.
This was a big deal for me, a guy who lives for fried chicken, steak and bacon sandwiches. I know that many people live fine without incorporating meat into every single meal of the day – for me it’s simply a force of habit. This week, I’ve got to approach my life in a whole new way. I need to take my weekly dietary plans and turn them completely on their head.
This week, I’m not eating meat.
Up in the morning for work. The prospect of starting the day with no bacon sandwich kept me up all night. I’m tired, hungry and I’m pretty sure a bowl of oats and fruit compote isn’t going to get me through the rest of the day.
Lunch time and all I have to look forward to is a rocket salad with some Parmesan cheese. Still no bacon, although I do feel oddly energetic.
Come dinner, I’m starving and all I can think about is demolishing a giant fillet steak. But I can’t. I look through my options and settle for spaghetti arrabiata. It’s OK, I guess. I go to bed feeling oddly light.
I wake up early, swinging my feet out of bed somehow feels easier than usual. Maybe it’s because I’m starving for breakfast and the sooner I wake up, the sooner I can eat my measly muesli.
For lunch, I go out to meet my missus, Kelly. She eats a sirloin steak, just to taunt me. The lovely bloody juices mingle with the mayonnaise on her plate and I feel a sinking feeling in my chest – it feels like heartbreak. I have another salad – totally demoralised, I don’t even finish it.
Dinner is less challenging, I’ve barely eaten all day, so I wolf down the goat’s cheese lasagna in a heartbeat, not even clocking that it had no mince in.
Maybe it’s my imagination, but it feels as if my jeans are getting looser. I just eat fruit for breakfast – forgot how filling bananas were…
When we break for lunch in the office, our boss surprises us with pizza. He was even thoughtful enough to by a Vegetarian one. The guys in the office swerve it in favour for the Pepperoni and I end up eating 4 slices, leaving the rest for the girls in reception – I fall asleep at my desk 1 hour later.
I’m strangely eager to get stuck into my salad this evening, maybe it was all the greasy food I had at lunch.
The aftermath of the pizza hits home and I gladly munch down a large bowl of bran flakes with bananas – hoping the fibre will do it’s work.
Just a basic soup for lunch today, Tomato & Basil. People are starting to peer curiously at my ‘healthy’ lunches now, some of them even look a little jealous.
As I tuck into a vegetarian chilli, I watch Man Vs Food and imagine tackling the 16lb Burger on screen. My mouth salivates over what I can’t have. I go to sleep and dream of swimming in a thick, creamy pink ocean. I almost drown but just manage to cling on to a floating barrel in the nick of time. As my grip slips, the barrel rolls round to reveal wriggling legs and a soft, gore soaked belly. The pig squeals and I wake up sweating.
I usually buy a fry up on Fridays from my local greasy spoon. I slide in there and subtly order a fried egg on toast. I get sideways glances from the chef and the waitress smirks at my bashful appearance. When my tea arrives, it’s in a pink mug. I leave red faced, their laughter ringing in my ears.
At lunch, I’m halfway through my noodle bean salad when Sandra, from reception, leans over and picks a edamame bean out of my Tupperware pot. She looks me dead in the eyes as she drops it on her tongue. As she slowly chews, her eyes roll to the back of her head. Sandra sits back down and we both continue eating in silence.
During my dinner of pea soup, I think about what could possibly be attractive about vegetables, let alone erotic. I fall asleep in front of the television watching MasterChef.
I wake up at 6am on my sofa. The TV has turned itself off. The sun is just rising, casting a pale blue light through the curtains of the bay window. I’m overcome by a hunger for oats.
Walking up to the pub, to meet the boys, I feel distinctively lighter on my feet. Unbidden, I think of edamame beans and a smile creeps onto my face, as I breath in the fresh cool air of Winter.
I never thought roast squash couscous would make for good drunk food. Swaying slightly as I scoff down my food, I’m interrupted thinking about my evening plans when I receive a message from Sandra.
There are long narrow banners with hand-painted images of rice-plantations and delicately formed geisha on the walls. A strange, fragrant smell hangs in the air, mingling with the mustier smells from the night before. I don’t eat any food for breakfast.
As I ride the bus back home, I think about my last week. How could so much have changed in just a few days. It seems strange, changing your diet shouldn’t change your life this much. Somehow, I feel more alive than ever before.