Monday, 2 December 2013

So spa so good...

My name’s Karen and I am a spa junkie. There – I’ve come clean and fessed up. I love being pummeled by jet sprays and slow cooked in saunas and steam rooms. And I have no trouble submitting to the hands of a good masseuse. So when I was asked if I’d like to sample the spa at the Conrad Algarve last week, my answer was a resounding “Yeee-eees!” Try and stop me!
My husband Steve, smiling agreeably, seemed equally keen – but he’s a man who’s 100 per cent happier running through mud than having it rubbed into his body and it didn’t take him long to start having second thoughts. It was quite a feat persuading him that he really did want to lounge in the jet pool, and then have a complete stranger handle his body.
I thought he was going to back out – or even run out of the treatment room at the last minute. When that didn’t happen, my next worry was that he’d get the giggles (he came close) or fall asleep and start snoring… Instead of slowly relaxing during my own treatment, I felt my muscles begin to tense. 
But my therapist Laura had chosen an Aromatherapy Associates oil of petitgrain for stress relief, and despite the anxiety about Steve, I floated out of the spa on a cloud – and even Steve admitted he’d have a treatment again.
This spa is in the most amazing setting, in Quinta do Lago, near the natural reserve of the beautiful Rio Formosa, and its infinity pool – up and down which Steve manfully ploughed while I basked in the steam room – has breathtaking views.
As well as wellbeing breaks the Conrad spa offers medical screenings with English speaking medics through a local private hospital. These kind of screenings always carry the risk that they’ll throw up some hideous problem like heart disease that, once you know about it, you would be unwise to ignore.  On other hand I can’t think of a nicer place to find out that you have absolutely nothing wrong with you…

Sunday, 24 November 2013

The truth about painkillers

I’m scratching my head to remember the last time I had to take a painkiller…  Oh yes – it was on holiday in August in Roquebrune Cap-Martin. We’d been on our feet all day, trying to fit in about eight Nice museums from our special Matisse pass – and now, as we walked back to our little rental flat, Steve saying how he was looking forward to a beer, all I was craving was paracetamol, nurofen or both. I was also craving caffeine – in any form – just sensing it would help my thumping head. I don’t often get a headache but when I do I want to attack it from every front.
In the end I took nurofen, drank green tea, and went to bed for an hour before soaking in a lavender bath. Then I was ready for my pre-dinner glass of wine.
It worked for me… And it also got my brain cells working overtime thinking about the many unusual cures that can work for a headache. Back home I spoke to Dr Dougall McCorry, a consultant neurologist at BMI Priory Hospital, who explained how coffee, tea, cola, chocolate and even sex can help a headache.
But sometimes only a painkiller will hit the spot – and as a country we spend around £530 million on them every year. You can spend a few pence on paracetamol or several pounds on dihydrocodeine – but does price even matter?
Here’s what I found out when I spoke to Boots pharmacist Manny Johal for Yahoo! 

Monday, 18 November 2013

Put that loaf down, now!

Today’s MailOnline reports that ‘Carboyhydrates rot the brain’ – this is according to a US neurologist, David Perimutter, who says ‘The origin of brain disease is in many cases predominantly dietary,’
His book, Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar – Your Brain’s Silent Killers is not the only one to demonize some of our favourite foods. Last year I found myself bombarded with ads for Wheat Belly, written by another American doctor, William Davis. Its sell was ‘lose the wheat, lose the weight.’ And I recently interviewed a woman who did just that - losing three stone since Easter this year by giving up wheat and being careful about most other carbs. She now lives on the kind of food that is frowned upon in many circles – steak in cream sauce, egg and bacon, and loads of cheese – yet not only has her weight gone down but her cholesterol has also plummeted, from 7 to 5 in six months.
Is her brain also sharper as a result? Only concerned with her weight at the time, this wasn’t something I asked her – but a study published in Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that elderly people who ate a high-carb diet were more than three times as likely to develop mild cognitive impairment – which has been linked with a higher risk of dementia.
According to the Mail article:
People whose diets were highest in ‘good’ fats, such as those found in nuts and healthy oils were 42 per cent less likely to get cognitive impairment. Those with a high intake of protein (such as meat and fish) had a reduced risk of 21 per cent.
Lead author Rosebud Roberts, a professor in the department of epidemiology at the Mayo Clinic, said: ‘A high-carbohydrate intake could be bad for you because carbohydrates impact your glucose and insulin metabolism.
'Sugar fuels the brain, so moderate intake is good. However, high levels of sugar may actually prevent the brain from using the sugar - similar to what we see with type 2 diabetes.’
She added that high glucose levels might affect the brain's blood vessels and play a role in the development of beta amyloid plaques, proteins toxic to brain health that are found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's. It’s thought these plaques are a leading cause of the disease.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Weight to go with mmmmmmmm-maple syrup…

I’ve known about the Maple Syrup Diet for years. The product’s PR has tirelessly tried to sell me stories about how you can live on its key ingredient Madal Bal Natural Tree Syrup (a form of palm tree syrup) for five days while detoxing and losing weight. And I have equally tirelessly resisted her efforts.
But, two weeks ago, when I was desperate to find a case study who’d lost weight on the 5.2 diet (not as easy as you would imagine, considering half the population seem to be doing it), Kate came up with a lovely lady who has used her Maple Syrup cocktail on the fasting days – and lost two stone since July.
That simultaneously struck me as A) a great idea and B) an extremely scary idea. Scary because I couldn’t get my mind around going through a whole day without any solid food, which is what the case study has done.
But she promised me the drink satisfied her appetite and kept cravings under control. So I decided to give it a whirl. I had my first cup instead of breakfast this morning, with a second cup two hours later. Following my case study’s advice, I made it into a hot drink – 20ml of syrup + 300ml hot water + juice of ½ a lemon + pinch of ginger – and I have to say it is delicious!
There are 70 calories in a cup. And, if I was doing this properly, I would have had nothing solid to eat all day, and just seven cups of the drink.
But I had a nasty shock at lunch time – a traffic fine for straying into a yellow junction, and this on top of the news last night that the car in which I’d strayed was going to cost me £1300 to repair after its gearbox had broken the day after the offence.
I needed comfort food! There was leftover ratatouille in the fridge, and I’d just been sent a batch of reformulated Slim Pastas to try. So – olive oil aside – this seemed like a justifiable 5.2 meal.
The new pasta still has a texture that is hard to compare to anything I’ve ever eaten, but the penne that I had today were not totally inedible.
Did my comfort meal cure my blues? No. There is probably no substitute for genuine carbs when you want a pick-me-up. (Though I have just read that big eaters of pasta are more likely to develop depression further down the line – we will explore this another time).
Do I think Slim Pasta and Madal Bal Syrup are sensible weight loss products? Not entirely – but there’s a lot worse out there.
Will I try them again? Yes. In fact I can see the syrup becoming quite addictive…

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Oh I do like a little bit of butter on my bread…

I was raised on AA Milne’s The King’s Breakfast. I, like the King, preferred plain butter to marmalade on my bread. I still do… spreading it thickly on nasty old crusts to make them more palatable. Do I feel guilty about this “guilty pleasure”? Just occasionally – when friends and relatives flaunt their holier than thou healthy spreads: Flora, Benecol, etc. But these are not only disgusting to eat (I’d rather skip the toast or bread, to be honest – which probably would be healthier – than have them spread with one of these) I have spoken to many experts over the years who’ve strongly disputed their much marketed health claims. Last summer one of the PRs for Flora told me the company was planning a press event at which we journos would all get to make our own Flora from scratch – fascinating! – it sounded like something from Jimmy’s Food Factory and I couldn’t wait to roll up my sleeves and get stuck in, certain I’d be even less likely to want to eat it as a result. But when the invitation finally came through, it was for a demonstration with chef James Tanner and dietician Nigel Denby ‘cooking and serving scrummy recipes using Flora Buttery’… Not quite what I had in mind.
Next to the huge companies who make spreads like Flora, poor old butter hardly gets a look in PR-wise. The voices who shout loudest always tend to be believed. But last week a heart expert stepped up and spoke out about butter v spreads, and today Dr John Briffa has a great piece on this in the Times newspaper.
I was delighted, reading it, as I spread some lovely butter on my bread to eat with my tomato and mozzarella salad. As Dr Briffa says, butter should not be a guilty pleasure – just a pleasure. As AA Milne’s King knew only too well.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Good night, sleep tight...

Apparently the national average of zzzzs has fallen to just 6.5 hours a night - and sleep researchers say that could be damaging our health more than if we skip a session in the gym. Getting that extra hour in bed (we need 7.5 to 8 hours a night) boosts the immune system, and may even protect against memory loss. Which reminds me, I think I have already blogged about sleep on these pages. But what the heck, I am not above repeating myself in the name of a good cause... 
Let me first confess – I sleep extremely well most nights. Often when I think I’ve woken in the wee small hours, it is actually early morning, and my alarm clock’s due to go off in about 20 minutes.

You probably hate me by now. But what can I say? I realise I am quite unusual, as well as very lucky.
A lot of my friends are far less lucky, though – and poor sleep is a subject we chew over endlessly when I’m with them.
And when I ask them about their bedtime routines, I’m not surprised they have trouble dropping off at night.
They’re trying to relax by watching TV in bed, or they go straight from desk to duvet – their poor brains still buzzing with work or facebook.
It’s no good trying to tell them that these things are causing or exacerbating their sleep problem – because, for them, filling their heads with late night TV or online chatter is far easier than letting in the stressful or anxious thoughts that take over when their minds are left to wander.
So although we read a lot about good ‘sleep hygiene’ – creating the right environment for sleep by lowering the lights, having a relaxing bath, using sleep inducing oils (eg lavender, lemon balm, bergamot or sweet marjoram), and sticking to the same bedtime every night – these tips are only useful if you’ve already tackled any chronic stress in your life.
And – surprisingly – you may not even know that you’re stressed.
While it’s obvious to anyone whose short periods of sleeplessness always coincide with a busy or challenging time in their life, when stress is a long term it may not be quite so obvious. Long term, the turbulent feelings stress causes can become so familiar they’re almost comfortable. And, allowed to go on too long, sleeplessness can also seem familiar and normal to you.
But it is not normal to sleep badly. And taking longer than half an hour to get to sleep, or waking in the night and not being able to drop off again, are signs of a problem with insomnia if they happen three nights a week or more.
If this sounds like you, it could be a sign that you need some extra help – so ask your GP to refer you to a cognitive behavioural therapist who can help you unravel your worries.
Herbal remedies such as valerian can also help to calm a stressed mind – and the correct dose will work just as well as an over the counter sleeping pill, but without any side effects. Usually the only barrier to herbals working is psychological – because a lot of people (wrongly) expect them to fail, and then they do!
You could also try these great sleep tips I was given by Dr Jason Ellis, director of the Sleep Research Centre at Northumbria University:
  • Try counting backwards in 7s from 2000 – it’s so hard you won’t have any space in your head to worry about sleep, and may even fall asleep.
  • After a couple of weeks you’ll be retuned to this, and it may no longer work. Instead try focusing in minute detail on a strawberry in your mind. Once you have perfected it – colour, smell, tiny pips, shiny skin etc, try to turn it blue. This is another way of emptying your head of worries about not sleeping.
  • If you’re still awake after 15 minutes get up and do something – ideally leave the room, and only return when you’re sleepy.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

No texts please, we’re British

Last night I got a text from a complete stranger.
It read: ‘Hi, it’s Anna. Just looking through my sexy dresses and can’t decide. R we going straight to bedroom and I can wear something naughty? Or u prefer more normal going out dress? Of course I will have coat on top.’
Great! I will be dining out on this one for months.
I could have had a bit of fun with my reply, but I’m sure my honest little ‘Sorry you have the wrong number’ was enough to make her squirm. It would have made me squirm, if I’d misfired a text like that.
Seriously, though, misfiring texts must be a sign of brain overload. (Anna take note).
According to a story in the Times yesterday, we are all far too overstimulated these days – with symptoms such as memory loss, speaking too quickly, slurring our words, being distracted, and feeling really tired all the time. According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists one in five of us is unusually tired at any given time.
Texts, twitter and other social media are filling our heads with constant chatter, and our poor old brains just don’t know how to switch off.
The result is a near-permanent state of exhaustion that makes the brain feel like it is constantly misfiring. But we’re also producing a constant flow of stress hormones like adrenaline that make us feel so wired and hyper-alert that we do not even realise how tired we are.
The solution, if you’re one of the wired tired, is to wind down more. Give your brain a break.
It’s easier said than done, but I tried it this week – with a session of Mindfulness Meditation. One hour of silence, music, and gentle words of wisdom while we focused on our breath or a mantra in our heads.
My friend came out of it looking like she’d been on holiday for a week. She’d completely emptied her head – that’s the aim of meditation, but it’s hard to achieve.
For me thoughts had come. But mostly they were creative, like little sparks of light – often food related sparks of light (there was a leek gratin somewhere along the way) - and none had lasted longer than a couple of seconds.
The American Heart Association recommends meditation for the treatment of high blood pressure. Specifically they recommend Transcendental Meditation. But as our meditation leader, Yoga Bowers, says: ‘the many forms of meditation are like different paths leading up the same hill. They all get to the top in the end.’ 
It seems crazy, though, that we have to book a session of Mindfulness Meditation in order to calm down a head that is overloaded by texts, emails, and tweets. If taking an hour out in a meditation centre sounds too much to squeeze in, why not start by taking an hour off from your phone. Not just when it's charging. Mindfully switch off your phone, laptop, TV, and radio. Unplug your ipod. Lie on your bed and see how long you can focus on your breath going in and out. Then see how refreshed you feel when you get up.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Versatile Blogger - my nominations

Confession: I only read a very small number of blogs. And, after Healthehelen, who is my favourite, there are just 5 that I really enjoy reading. Here they are, my nominations for the Versatile Blogger Award...

. Dr John Briffa - because he's a medic who hasn't had the wool pulled over his eyes. You can always rely on John for a good, well-researched, anti-statin story.
. Zoe Harcombe - for her relentless campaign against obesity and the food companies that shamelessly promote it, including Netmums who have recently got into bed with Kellogg's.
. Rock'n'Roller Baby - whose blog about life with young children makes me wish I could go back in time and do it all differently.
. Recipe Rifle - who brings me back down to earth when Rock'n'Roller Baby is making me go mushy in the middle.
. The Frugal Cook - for coming up with a 5.2 recipe (hot smoked salmon with avocado) that makes my tummy rumble every time I think about it. 

I hope you'll enjoy these as much as I do...

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Thank you Healthehelen!

The lovely Healthehelen has nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award. I am very touched - thank you Helen!  One of the conditions of a nomination seems to be that the recipient should in turn nominate 15 favourite bloggers. I will come back to you all with my choices soon, but it goes without saying that Healthehelen will be at the top of the list as I always look forward to finding out what she's been up to - she never fails to surprise me!

My week on a plate

As regulars to this blog know, I love the fact that the 5.2 diet allows me to eat what I like five days a week and not gain weight – even if I may not lose it either. That’s important when you have a life that would make any regular diet a nightmare. But finding even two days to diet has been a challenge this week. Here’s how it panned out:
Sunday: 100th birthday party for my mum’s wonderful auntie Toysie at the lovely Grim’s Dyke Hotel in Harrow. Anticipating a buffet, we gorged on toast at breakfast – then discovered lunch was in fact a three course a la carte meal. I had goat’s cheese mousse with pear and walnut salad, seabass, and then panacotta. Later, back home, we squeezed in a roast chicken with peanut sauce, rice and salad. 
Monday: Fasting. I’d now read the directions on the Konjac capsules and they worked much more efficiently when taken correctly, half an hour before eating. Two before breakfast (a rice cake), three before lunch (soup and another rice cake), and five before supper (our usual miso broth with stir-fried vegetables and prawns). Went to bed un-hungry.
Tuesday: Greek yogurt with banana and honey, then sourdough toast for breakfast; home made smoked salmon pate with toast and green salad for lunch; and then in the evening party food – think sandwiches, koftas, chicken kebabs, cheese puffs, and wine – at a Guild of Health Writers event at the Medical Society of London. We were there to hear how our colleagues are coping with the digital revolution. Healthehelen talked us through the process of writing and publishing an E-book – her own, Gym-spiration: 52 Ways to Wake Up Your Workout, having been such a success that it is in the top 20% E-books, and deservedly so. Lack of motivation must be the number one reason we fail to stick to exercise regimes, and I could have done with Helen calling out motivational mantras behind me a couple of hours before this event, when, as a guest of Speedflex, I’d found myself unexpectedly doing a few rounds of circuit training. The first shock was when the trainer questioned whether I was really safe to take part, given the borderline hypertension I’d mentioned on the disclaimer form. That’s when I realised I really was going to be exercising, not just admiring the machines. The rather nicer shock, at the end of my session, was when I learned I’d burned 270 calories in 20 minutes – amazing! – my incentive to then eat at least 720 calories at the Guild buffet.  
Wednesday: Back on the fast – food much the same as Monday, really, although I managed to sneak in a Whey Hey ice cream at lunchtime. I diligently passed on a load of leftover pink macaroons Steve had from a recent event, and distributed them to friends at Book Group that night – Kate commenting that dieters always like to feed up those around them…
Thursday: Out again – this time at Meson Don Felipe for tapas and rose wine with other health writers. Tapas a little spartan – the odd bean and prawn passing up and down the table (much preferred the tapas at Rosita and the Sherry Bar) – so we all filled up with bread rolls and almond tart for pudding.
Friday: Lunch out at Coco Momo with my good friend Jean – grilled chicken with a superfood salad and about four chips. But Jean had brought me a selection of nutty gluten free pastries, which Steve and I later tucked into with gusto. Then supper: pasta with Steve’s homemade pesto, lots of parmesan, plenty of wine, and more of Jean’s pastries.
Saturday: Lunch out with my lovely eldest daughter, Coco Minnie – Greek salad and focaccia at the Royal Festival Hall, then half a muffin each with coffee at the Tate Modern. Another of Jean’s pastries with a cup of tea when I got home, and now I am planning supper: a red slaw salad with walnuts, orange and feta, and some cold chicken and taboulleh. 
Tomorrow I will weigh myself.

Monday, 16 September 2013

The truth about exercise

Nobody working up a sweat in the gym or doing a HealtheHelen around Disneyland or London Zoo wants to read that exercise is of little use when we want to lose weight. And I have written on this blog before that I get quite annoyed when friends use this as an excuse remain inactive. But, with John Briffa recently blogging on the subject, and Jacques Peretti devoting one of his documentaries to it, I am planning to research and write a feature on the matter soon – and, when I do, I will share my experts’ comments here.
Meantime, here are a few of my personal thoughts about exercise and weight loss…
1.   It is true that the Aquarobics class I attend is not full of sylphs.
2.   It is equally true that the Aquarobics teacher is totally sylph-like – but she does a hell of a lot of exercise, teaching a packed week of classes in which she is constantly on the go.
3.   It is surely also true that the ladies in my Aqua class would be even less sylph-like if they were doing no exercise at all…
4.   Both John Briffa and Jacques Peretti point out that two reasons exercise makes little difference is that a) calorie consumption is low unless you work extremely hard, and b) exercisers tend to feel as if they deserve a reward (in the form of food) – and many gyms foolishly offer muffins, burgers and fizzy drinks: exactly the foods that pile on the pounds, and will usually pile on more weight than your exercise class just took off.
5.   Heavy duty exercisers DO lose weight and nobody can dispute that – have you ever seen an overweight runner complete a marathon in sub 3 hours 30?
6.   Let’s not forget that exercise builds muscle, and muscle is metabolically active hence the more of it you have on your body, the more calories your body will burn. Muscle also weighs more than fat – so you may not see the difference on the scales, but you should see it in your waistband.
7.   Exercise releases feel good chemicals called endorphins and when we feel good we are more likely to want to look after our body – ie not stuff it with muffins, burgers and fizzy drinks (unless we are totally desperate and already addicted to that food). Rewards do not have to be edible – I treat myself to five minutes in the steam room (heaven) after my 20 lengths of the pool.
8.   Exercise does not always increase appetite – get it right and you will feel less hungry as a result.
9.   Exercise will never shift pounds if you consume more calories than you burn.
10.                 I find that exercising on a Monday or Thursday – when my mind is focused on the fast – means there is no risk I will raid the fridge when I get back home.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Sally Clarke, Ha Ha Ha…

pic from

What’s not to love about a diet where you can eat out and still lose weight – or at least not appear to gain any…  Still the same weight I was before and after our holiday, last night we dined at Sally Clarke’s, Kensington Church Street. The restaurant had been closed for five weeks over summer for a major refurb – new kitchen, new dining rooms, Lucien Freud art... the lot. We didn’t know this when we booked, and our table last night – three nights after the restaurant reopened its doors – came with a new “soft opening” fixed price menu, £29.50 for three courses. 
Sally Clarke’s reputation is built on her love of delicious fresh, well sourced seasonal ingredients, and, with our aperitifs, we both nibbled on divine “pizzette”  - actually triangle slices of flaky pizza with squash and taleggio -- before launching into a wonderful salad of mozzarella with slivered runner beans (not a string or tough bit to it) and toasted cob nuts. Then I had plump Cornish plaice with tomatoes, coco beans and spinach, followed by a deconstructed strawberry and blackberry trifle. My only regret – I wish I’d chosen the dark chocolate tartlet that lost the toss-up to the trifle! I didn’t know it was going to be deconstructed and what this meant, on the plate, was a strange arrangement of crème anglaise, cream, berries, and chunks of dry cake. The whole point of a trifle – I think – is that the cake becomes drenched in sherry and fruit… Some things are too good to mess with!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

The cheat's 5:2?

Now one of my husband’s friends is doing the 5:2 – but his way of doing it is to eschew all food on his diet days. Not a morsel passes his lips. I have money on him giving up before he sees any weight loss.
I am still full of admiration for another friend of ours who ate no breakfast, had just miso (40 cals) for lunch, and then a “light” supper – whatever that is… But did she stick with the regime? No! She lasted two or three weeks max.
My version is dull – I now eat more or less the same things every fast day. But I am sticking with it.  It goes something like this:
. Breakfast: coffee plus rice cake.
. Lunch: rice cake or apple plus Whey Hey protein ice cream, from Holland & Barrett. Or, a large bowl of gazpacho.
. Supper: prawn and veg stir-fry (we use 1tsp of coconut fat – it doesn't burn and a little goes a long way) with Itsu miso soup, from Sainsbury. Use any stir-fryable veg that you have - I like peppers, courgettes, leeks, onions and carrots - with large raw prawns and a lot of garlic, fresh ginger and chilli. 
This is a hugely satisfying and healthy supper - albeit increasingly boring.
The idea of the 5:2 - which is still getting a lot of press two years on from its first appearance in the UK media -- is that you are more likely to stick to the diet because you don't have to think about calorie intake or 'good foods' v 'bad foods' every day of the week. Five days out of seven you are free to eat "normally". 
But what "normally" is must vary enormously between different individuals, and, as regular visitors to this blog will know, I am concerned that what we eat on the non diet days could still cause me to gain weight rather than lose it. 
With my husband being a chef, there are all sorts of interesting cuts of meat and fish - the bits he couldn't use for clients - in our freezers, and it would be a crime not to enjoy them.
When friends came for a mid-week lunch this week, we had canapés (crostinis with A. smoked salmon and white chocolate horseradish from the Hotel du Chocolat, and B. tomato concasse with homemade pesto) followed by chicken liver pate with home made onion marmalade and toasted walnut bread. Then short-ribs – a Galvin recipe – with roasted parsnips and shallot puree followed by a cheeseboard.
Yesterday I tried to compensate for our rich eating with a light supper of chicken and salad with no potatoes. 
The result was that I woke up this morning feeling absolutely ravenous, and wondering how I would get through the day - exercise class, two interviews - on my 500 calories.
And then - hallelujah! - the postman arrived with a put of Health Plus Konjac Root supplements, from Nutricentre.
I have already tried Konjac in the form of Slim Pasta, and Zero Noodles. Both times I felt like I was eating an alien - but the alien did fill me up, and, as promised, I was sated for hours. 
At £8.45 for 70 capsules the Health Plus product is not cheap: the advice is to take two before breakfast, three before lunch, and five before dinner... 
But the arrival of this product, mid-morning when I was famished, put a spring in my step and I bounced my way through my mid-day Aqua class - now not feeling hungry at all, knowing my panacea was waiting at home.
I took three capsules and then had a large bowl of gazpacho (300ml / 130 cals)... And looked forward to a long, well-sated, afternoon.
Two hours later and I have already been back to the kitchen for an apple.
I will take my Konjac again before supper - but, compared with my experience of the pasta versions, I am so far disappointed that I may not have found a way to cheat my way through the 5:2 after all...