How to slowly kill yourself and your children

[Appended 27 July 2008: On my stats I’ve noticed that people are arriving at this blogpost through search engines, using phrases like “how to kill yourself.” I have no idea how to give a complete stranger a reason to live in a single paragraph, but if you are thinking of committing suicide, what I can do is offer you an understanding, listening ear. So please, contact me. Nothing would make me happier than having opportunity to help someone.]

I have had a problem with being overweight my whole life. It was pretty bad when I was at school, until I finally had a moment of clarity at age sixteen (i.e. I had the hots for a particular girl and wanted to be in with a chance). I cut out lunches, bedtime suppers, and went cycling every day after school. It worked. Within a couple of months I was looking great, and I kept most of the weight off for several years. But I gradually started putting it on again, and although I never ended up with the same obesity as in my boyhood, I did end up with this annoying layer of flab around my middle. I’ve even made an effort to eat reasonably well in recent years, but I never managed to shift the blubber … until something came to a head in December 2007.

I started experiencing some bowel problems. That’s a lie. I’ve been having bowel problems for a few years. You know, soreness, minor bleeding, occasional constipation. Okay, if you need to, have a big horselaugh and get it over with, because I’ve actually got some important things to say here. It got to the point where I would hate the thought of going to the toilet. In December 2007 I decided: This can’t go on. What’s the first thought that comes into your head? “Go see the the doctor.” That might well be a big mistake (I’ll get back to that in a minute). What I did was a little internet research and I came across an interesting site called Wai Says. Some of the stuff on the site is radical, but I came across an interesting piece on how “Eat more fibre” is not the answer to constipation. This piqued my interest, because I had a very fibrous diet already and it wasn’t helping.

To cut a long story short, I learned that the old “Five portions of fruit or veg per day” is a misnomer. I was getting my five portions a day, but I was making it all veg, no fruit. When you think about it, fruit is completely different than vegetables, in terms of sugars, so how can the health profession make this blanket statement, lumping the two types of food together as if you can ignore the quantities in each? I’m convinced that lack of fruit sugars was a major factor in my constipation, and my overindulgence in vegetables (too much fibre) meant that my bowels were often trying to evaculate food too quickly, causing soreness and bleeding.

That’s not the whole story. I still liked my weekly (or twice a week) Chinese takeaways, full of who knows what in terms of artificial additives. I decided the only thing to do was to cut everything out and start off with “safe” foods – those proven to benefit the human body. Six months later, here’s how I eat …

Breakfast: Every morning I have toasted brown bread with butter and honey, a big tall glass of pure orange juice, and a slice of melon. I find this perks me up to the degree that I don’t even feel the need for a caffeine drink. In the beginning I was pining for a cup of tea and a big bowl of cereal, but these cravings vanished after a few days. I actually have a big problem with cereal. I think it was instrumental in me gaining weight in the past, and the processed nature of it responsible for some of my bowel issues. In any case, I find cereal completely unnecessary. Pure orange is great, and I go the extra mile to buy the “not from concentrate” variety.

Lunch: Sometimes I don’t bother. If I do, it’ll be a banana, crisps or nuts, or all of those. You might find it weird I mention crisps. Well, the only crisps I’ll eat are those hand-cooked Kettle Chips containing nothing artificial. Also, I don’t want you to get the idea that I’ve got this completely regimented eating schedule. I don’t. I just know what I can and can’t eat.

Dinner: Every evening I will have some kind of meat with my meal. I regularly buy fish (proper fish, like a Salmon steak straight from the meat counter at your supermarket, not some processed Fish Fingers), steak, and bacon. I never make chips, nor do I buy those oven chips (which are coated in fatty batter). Instead, I cut potatoes up into wedges, roll them in olive oil and cook them in the oven (a little herb is nice on ’em, too). I make three particular meals regularly: (1) salmon, pasta & salad; (2) steak, wedges, peas, mushrooms & onions; (3) bacon, egg, rice, mushrooms, onions. After dinner, I will often indulge in a cup of tea and some chocolate (the expensive organic 70% cocoa variety); I find it doesn’t do me any harm at all.

I’ll be the first to admit this is not the only way to eat, but it represents a pattern of eating that is the only way to eat, if you want to maintain your health. The pattern is this: Eat real food. Avoid all processed meats and as many artificial food additives as you reasonably can. When you’re at the butchers browsing the meats, did you ever look at the label under the sausages that says something like, “Actual meat content 75%”? What the hell is it that the rest of the sausage is made of! Do yourself a favour and buy an actual pork chop or something. You want to know a really delicious alternative to a humburger? Buy a tenderised minute steak (instead of a processed pattie; the meat will be tougher, but still brittle enough to bite), some tomato (as an alternative to ketchup), add lettuce, onion, cheese, and put in a bun. Delicious.

For a savoury snack, if you buy a packet of Kettle Chips crisps, you know you’re eating actual slices of potato cooked in sunflower oil. Look at the ingedients label on a packet of Pringles and you’ll see an unintelligible list of chemical substances that is frighteningly long. I noticed a Smarties television advert a while ago that said “No artificial colours.” This is the perfect example of the way companies will try to deceive the public into believing their product has a healthy side. Here’s how you tell. When a product says, “No artificial colours,” it means there are artificial flavours, otherwise they would proudly display “No artificial flavours or colours.” I see this all the time, and I steer clear of food like that. When you purchase candy for your child, do you realise you’re giving him nothing more than a lump of chemically enhanced refined sugar? Do you honestly believe that is beneficial? Do you suspect, as I do, that it might be harmful? Why not introduce him to a variety dried fruit snacks instead?

Here’s how common modern eating habits work. The crap is there being sold, so we buy it and eat it. And we find that it tastes nice. So we keep on doing it. And the detrimental effects don’t show themselves for years, until we suddenly realise we’ve turned into Ten-Tonne-Tessie, or we’re diabetic, or we’ve got bowel cancer, or who knows what else. A friend once said to me, “All things in moderation.” But to me, processed foods and artificial additives are more akin to slow-working poisons, and it would be crazy to subscribe to the idea of arsenic in moderation. One microgram won’t kill me, but don’t ask me to eat it anyway. I was at someone’s house a while ago (quite a rich family) and they asked me if I would like a glass of orange. I said, “Yes, please.” Then I watched them lift a big bottle of diluted “orange” from the cupboard, fill the bottom of my glass with this chemical substance, then top it up with water. And they handed this poison to me like it was normal. These are people with their heads in the sand, who (despite being rich) will save a few pennies by buying artificial orange juice that doesn’t even taste like orange, and think they’ve make a sensible choice. I let my guard down recently at a barbeque, where there was processed meats on offer. So I indulged, just this once. I paid the price the following day; my body, now re-sensitised to eating real food, almost felt like it was trying to tear me a new arsehole.

Am I an alarmist? I think I need to be. I’m no dietition, and I’ll be the first to admit there may be some innacuracies in this article, but if you still think there’s no link between cancer and food, you clearly haven’t been watching the news in recent years.

I no longer have bowel problems. And I’m glad I was able to sort my problem out without resorting to a doctor. Although I didn’t realise until recently how lucky an escape I may have had. I know of someone else who has bowel problems who did go to see a doctor. And the doctor prescribed a remedy. In other words, the doctor gives you something that allows you to keep on harming your body without noticeable ill effects (until it’s too late), and also helps keep the laxative industry running smoothly, as well as helping you grow dependent on an artificial means of keeping your body functioning normally. The last thing the health profession needs is to run out of sick people. It’s called treating the symptoms instead of the causes. Far be it from me to strike off all the good doctors in the world, but this is something to watch out for.

I could very easily have ended up sitting here today as overweight as I was in December, thanks to doctors. “Ah, you must have Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Here’s a prescription.” Instead, I’m 2.5 inches slimmer at the waist and feeling a darn sight better than I’ve felt for most of my life. And I did it without dieting. Dieting is fruitless because it’s temporary. I lost weight even though I’m eating chocolate regularly, for goodness sake! What I did was make a permanent lifestyle change – one that I’ve adjusted to completely and love, and one that will stand to me for the rest of my life. I have not only woken up to the dangers of unhealthy eating; I have lost any kind of craving for it. When you detoxify your body from all that crap, you learn that the foods God placed on this earth for our enjoyment are actually delicious.

The only downside to this healthier way of living is that it costs more. And to that, I reply with a simple, “So what.” Putting your health and your bank balance side by side on the scales strikes me as foolhardy in the extreme.

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16 thoughts on “How to slowly kill yourself and your children

  1. Lee says:

    Hi Darryl,

    diet is a great place to start, but it is not the only solution. Part of your issues could also have been lifestyle related. Although cycling is a great form of exercise it is high on the list of concerns for people suffering from prostatitis and prostate cancer etc, and it is not a well rounded form of exercise – one that works the whole body equally. It does exercise the whole body, but places specific emphasis on certain areas like the calves and places undue stress on others. Therefore more variety in exercise will also help – especially introducing good core exercises, which strengthen the abs and also improve ones bowel movements. Even deep breathing, tai chi or Yoga style can be a workout which helps the core and massages the intestines etc.

  2. Darryl Sloan says:

    Hi, Lee.

    I may have gotten my wires crossed, but I thought I heard somewhere that cycling was good for preventing prostate problems.

    You’re right about varied exercise. I can still do the lotus position because I’ve always been in the habit of sitting cross-legged, but these days I’m unfortunately too stiff to bend over and touch my toes.

  3. Lee says:

    Well I had to film an entire symposium on prostatitis and they continually mentioned bicycle seats as one of the – ‘avoid if possible’ – things that can be a problem… just going by what they were saying.

    Flexibility is easy to regain – maybe not 100% as you were when young, but with practice, at least 10 minutes a night 3 times a week, you could make great gains.

  4. Darryl Sloan says:

    I Googled the phrase “bicycle seat prostate” and there certainly does seem to be something to this.

    I imagine the degree of cycling you do and the comfort of your saddle are big factors in whether you end up with a prostate problem, in the same way that overdoing any exercise can lead to health problems, e.g. like excessive jogging giving rise to knee problems.

    I have a pretty comfortable saddle and usually only do journeys of a couple of miles at a time. I should be safe … I hope. 🙂

    It would kill me to give up cycling, but I appreciate the awareness of this danger, so thanks.

  5. PRAEst76 says:

    You´re probably fine with the cycling you do… well, as fine as the rest of us. I think, like anything else, moderation is your friend here. I think if everyone cycled those local journeys everyone would be much fitter generally. I dare say excessive time in the saddle would lead to those cell changes that in turn lead to cancers, though I pulled my oncology diploma out of my own arse so don´t take my word for it if you are concerned.

    I´m a great believer in eating ¨proper¨ food. I have always enjoyed cooking and haven´t bought pre-packaged, preservative-filled crap for years. the girlfriend loves pizzas and I regularly make her a pizza from scratch. I can control the amount of fat and salt and tend to try to keep both to a minimum.

    Personally I´d disagree with your snack suggestion. I find Kettle Chips to be rather greasy and leave me feeling somewhat iffy after a full bag (such hedonism is rife with weekend table-top roleplayers like myself). Last year I had a kinda of epiphany when it comes to fruit, something I´ve had the habit of avoiding all my life. I developed a taste for fruit while suffering a suspected stomach ulcer, and have delighted in exploring the world of fruit in all their shapes and sizes since. I would take a couple of apples with me to work for snacks and regularly recommend such to people I meet who would otherwise go for chocolate bars or crisps.

    I could happily go through a full bag of Tesco Pink Lady apples in a day if I let myself.

  6. Darryl Sloan says:

    I’m actually coming round to your way of thinking with the crisps, too. I have the same feelings when I overindulge in a packet of Kettle Chips, and I suspect they may be contributing to constipation. I’m not even sure those dried fruits are such a good idea. They are, after all, loaded with artificial preservative.

    My past aversion to fruit was largely down to having some bad dental treatment and developing the mindset where I wanted to adjust my life to point where I didn’t need to visit a dentist ever again. Regardless of that, I’ve now found fruit (and plenty of it) to be essential to keeping my body functioning properly.

    The only danger I find with fruit (apples in particular) is pesticides. I absolutely won’t eat an apple without peeling it first.

    I know, to some ears, I sound totally paranoid, but I honestly believe most of the world is sound asleep to the harm that’s being done to them by the food industry (and other insdustries). It’s the old sheep mentality: “It must be all right because everyone else is doing it.”

    By the way, I’ve just noticed from seeing our avatars side by side – we kind of look like brothers. 🙂

  7. Michael Reed says:

    I try to spend as much time in the saddle as possible — which hasn’t been all the much this year. I think that most people have a saddle that is too narrow. A comfortable saddle allows you to place your weight on your sit bones rather than your perineum.

    I’m sure that I have slightly increased my chances of developing prostate cancer with all the cycling I do. Fortunately, I have another activity which I’m rather expert at and which reduces the danger somewhat.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3072021.stm

  8. heidi says:

    Love your ideas about food. I am also a great Allen Carr follower (whose food/health remedies are as simple as yours.. i.e. no processed foods).

    I was talking to a friend the other day and we eventually started discussing ‘healthy foods’ I did not really think about pesticides or any other added growths added to the soil in which our ‘healthy food’ has originated from until she mentioned it! Home grown has got to be the only way to go.. of course that’s in between working, looking after the children, housework, home studies.. ohh and cooking the food! 🙂 Convenience food is so bad for us, yet so good! I think if someone introduces totally free from – preservative, pesticides, additives etc – takeaways they would make an absolute mint!

    Just a quick note… I have just ordered Chion from eBay after reading a few chapters online (which, being a Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Richard Laymon fan, did in fact get me hooked), and am now eagerly awaiting the full book!

    Hey, I could be ‘Your Number 1 Fan’! Thanks for the website, I have a feeling I am going to be viewing all night!

    Heidi

  9. Darryl Sloan says:

    Hi, Heidi.

    “Convenience food is so bad for us, yet so good!”

    Actually, I’ve lost my taste completely for chips and burgers and stuff. Once you detox your body from it permanently, a nice salad is a whole different experience.

    “I think if someone introduces totally free from – preservative, pesticides, additives etc – takeaways they would make an absolute mint!”

    It sounds good in theory, but I’ve a feeling it would fail as a business. People who frequent fast food establishments are generally people who don’t care a great deal about what they eat. So they wouldn’t feel any need to pay the extra shilling for the healthy stuff.

    I would personally love there to be healthy fast food places, and I would shop there. But I suspect there aren’t enough people like me to go round.

    “Hey, I could be ‘Your Number 1 Fan’!

    That’s fine, as long as you don’t get any ideas about tying me to a bed and taking a hammer to my foot. 😉 (I’m assuming you’ve seen/read Misery?)

  10. Peter Adams says:

    I can vouch for the fact that once you give up pre-processed foods for a while you do lose the taste for them. I can really taste the massive amounts of salt and sugar in some pre-packaged foods when I eat them, having got used to home-cooked meals with only minimal salt and sugar.

  11. Heidi says:

    (Don’t worry I really was referencing Misery!) I may also have to tie you on a bed and hammer your feet if you continue to give away your books!

    On the serious side, I understand the way we taste food changes as we ‘give-up’ eating pre-packed foods. I do vaguely remember having the same thoughts myself a little while ago before I slipped back into fast food addiction! Let’s face it; you really are what you eat! And I’m certainly feeling pretty pre-packed at the moment!

  12. Darryl Sloan says:

    Heidi,

    I would encourage you to make the leap to eating only healthy food. The leap was perhaps easier for me, because there are two strong motivating factors in my life: (1) My mother died from bowel cancer; (2) I had ongoing bowel problem related to diet.

    The whole world is being hoodwinked by destructive industries that are filling our lives with poisons that make us fatigued, ill, and are slowly killing us. That’s the frightening reality.

  13. Heidi says:

    I hear what you’re saying and it makes perfect sense. I myself will be striving to replace they way I buy, prepare and cook our food at home, which will hopefully encourage my children to do the same! I think the hardest step in all of this is to convince my (or any) children that the new KFC, just opened in our town, really isn’t the greatest place to go in the world! unHoodwinking (don’t think that’s an actual word ha) will commence!

  14. Darryl Sloan says:

    Heidi,

    Take a look a this video. It’s one of my favourite moments from the Supersize Me documentary. It’s actually not on the documentary itself, but included as a DVD extra, so not everyone will have seen this.

    You will never look at McDonald’s fries the same way again. I would suspect KFC fries are no better …

  15. Paulie says:

    Not sure if you’re still suffering Darryl, but as a long time sufferer of IBS (which i believe means ‘we don’t have a clue what’s wrong, just lose some weight and eat healthier, according to the doctors), i’d highly recommend you try some Peppermint Capsules and Charcoal Tablets, both of which can be bought at Holland & Barrett.

    My own struggle has greatly improved, after finally sorting out my eating habits and deciding to exercise every single day, for at least 30 mins, without fail. The benefits have been amazing, but i still suffer the odd time, especially after certain foods, even some healthy ones. And the above remedies have proved invaluable!

    I must do a post about this subject, as i’m sure it would help someone, somewhere, considering how bad my IBS was, and how much better off i am now, just through a few lifestyle changes. Not to mention the weight i’ve lost, which was a must!

  16. Darryl Sloan says:

    Hi, Paul.

    Yeah, I remember you were quite a big guy. Very glad to hear you’ve improved your health. You should definitely write up your experience on your blog.

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