Alf is looking good, feeling good, and seems to be sticking to the Banting Diet like a champion. We wanted to find out exactly what is on his plate, literally and figuratively.
(First off, before we had even started our “interview”, Alf dropped this wisdom bomb: “You can’t say, ‘I can’t do it.’ You can only say, ‘I don’t want to do it.’ Because if you really want to, you can do anything. There’s no such thing as ‘can’t’.” No wonder our star athlete is looking so sleek and confident at this halfway checkpoint!)
Every change requires sacrifice of some kind, and so we were curious as to what Alfred has given up in his shift to a high fat/low carb lifestyle.
He has dropped several staple foods from his former diet: breakfast oats, all that bread and margarine, peanut butter, pap, rice… and his snack of choice, peanuts.
But because the nature of Banting is to help you realise when you’re full, Alf says he doesn’t miss much at all… except milktart! “I LOVE milktart. I could sit with a whole tart and finish it in one go.” Couldn’t we all, Alf…
One unexpected sacrifice he has had to make is partaking of the muffins his son enjoys baking. “When my son buys or cooks something, he wants to share it with me. That’s just the way we work.” He says it’s hard for his son to understand when he refuses these lovingly baked goodies because of Dad’s weird new eating plan.
But on the whole, our Comrades Champ is not feeling like he’s missing out on anything. He still gets to eat most of things he loves – avocados, eggs (fried or boiled), boerewors, and his favourite, fried chicken. He prepares this in palm oil, and eats it with a side of vegetables, mainly lettuce or cabbage. He doesn’t feel hungry after these meals, and if he does feel the need to snack, it’s sufficient for him to choose an apple or banana from the Banting Orange List.
And he’s started getting a little more experimental with his choices: when he feels like he needs a shot of something to keep him going, he opts for coffee with a teaspoon of palm oil and a pinch of salt. This leaves him satisfied and able to cruise through the day with ease until his next meal.
One of his new discoveries is green pumpkin seeds – he has discovered that he can get these for next to nothing at Fruit & Veg – and his family are quite enjoying these too! Another family favourite is macadamia nuts, but these are more of a treat, being one of the pricier things on the Green List.
When shopping for the upcoming month, Alf simply bought a little more of some things, which he paid for by buying a little less of others: chicken, spinach, and eggs made up a large part of his shopping list… and of course, his beloved green pumpkin seeds.
One of Kim’s initiatives for Alf during this process was that he keep a daily food log. This was no doubt inspired by Kim’s concern that Alf would waste away into a vapour… but the runner says he is actually finding this practice really helpful. “I’m a lot more attentive and disciplined about what I am eating, and what my body needs.” It seems the food log is encouraging him to listen to his body, and he is really in tune with giving it what it is asking for.
The log sheet helps him plan all his meals, and he records what he actually ate every day. A quick look reveals a varied and delicious diet of things like pork and beef, chicken livers, nuts, fruit, and veggies, which he prepares in a myriad of scrumptious ways.
It also helps him keep track of his training: the distances he runs, the level of exertion, and the time it took him. He rates his general feeling of well-being from 1-5, weak to strong. He is also recording his weight and waistline measurement on a weekly basis (so that Kim doesn’t have a heart attack).
A big change doesn’t only affect the person changing – it affects their loved ones too. We asked Alf how his family is also getting used to the new eating plan.
They’re still a bit sceptical, he says: his wife is dubious. But this weekend, when visiting some friends for a birthday, she helped him avoid the temptation of birthday cake by explaining to the hosts that he is not eating that right now because of his training. Alfred was really pleased with her support, and sees this as a sign that she is coming around to his way of thinking!
Alfred has also taken to modifying the family meals for himself, to suit his requirements. When his wife is cooking meat, he will take some of the broth to prepare his supper. This doubtless cuts down on the family food expenditure as well.
His son (the muffin baker) is not so convinced, however – Alf says he is worried that his father is starving himself when he sees the small portions and refusal of carbohydrates, and even fears he is jeopardising his Comrades chances. Alfred doesn’t enjoy worrying his son, but he is confident that when it all pays off, he will see the benefits, and his mind will be at ease.
Regarding Alfred’s wider community, he says the reaction is similarly suspicious: in his culture, for a man to be robust and thick-set is considered a sign of good health, while being lean is looked upon with concern, regardless of the strength of the man. He says because of this, many people he knows reach levels of obesity, when they start struggling to run or even walk. Only then do they start paying attention to their health.
Even Alfred knows how this feels: “Before Banting, I remember trying to tie my shoelace and I couldn’t bend down,” he chuckles. Looking at his progress at this halfway point, though, it’s hard to believe that was ever the case.
As usual, we thank Alfred for sharing his experience and time with us so willingly, and wish him all the strength and speed for this last month of preparation!
* We’d like to say a MASSIVE, OVERJOYED THANK-YOU to Opal Giger from Switzerland for donating so generously to Alfred’s mission!!! Opal, Alfred has decided to use the money you so kindly offered to buy a new pair of running shoes, which will surely help him to overcome the niggling knee injury he picked up with his old pair. THANK YOU!!! Words cannot express how grateful and humbled we are by your kindness.
** On a less ecstatic note, I (Tam) have decided that I can’t be the only blogger not to be following the Banting diet, and so, inspired by Alfred, I am pleased to report that the 3 of us will be Banting all the way to the race (and hopefully beyond). If you are also a noob and would like to join us, feel free to get in touch!