You Are What You Eat: 
Me, I’m a kebab...

My body is a temple. I’m not sure to which God, but he seems to like the sacrifice of large numbers of animals. And while I enjoy food, the current obsession with it seems to me misplaced, so I’d like to remind readers of the essential rules for successful eating.

  1. The time between concept and consumption should be as short as possible: hunger does not allow for marination. This interval includes all shopping time. Recipes which involve scurrying round the supermarket looking for specific ingredients should be avoided: "2 oz. cheese" is fine, anything stating the specific kind of cheese is clearly aimed at restaurants.

  2. The amount of effort involved in preparation and clearing up must be negligible. The perfect meal can be dumped, in its container, onto a baking tray, and slammed into the oven for the requisite period while the consumer does something enjoyable and entertaining. Ideally it can also be eaten from said container, and with the fingers, but the usage of one (1) piece of cutlery is permitted.

  3. It shall be edible from a relaxed and laid-back position i.e. in front of the TV, and require minimal concentration and co-ordination. Spaghetti is quick and easy, but you’ll spend more time staring at your plate than the screen. Real food comes in large lumps, into which you can stab a fork, and then attack in a manner midway between candy floss and a lion dismembering a gazelle.

  4. Never under-estimate potential food. "Meal replacement" drinks such as Slim-Fast may seem laughable, but respect is due when preparation is ripping the ring-pull, clearing up is dropping the empty in the bin, and you can drink it anywhere you like – take the label off and you have something easily mistaken for Japanese designer lager. The only problem is there’s little chance of "kebab" or "pepperoni" flavour in the near future.

  5. Don’t cook anything you can have delivered. There is no point in making curry, Chinese, or a pizza, simply because there are other people whose job it is to do these things, and they will inevitably do it better than you. They are specialists, paid for their skills – you wouldn’t like it if some amateur tried to muscle in on your employment, so treating them the same is mere professional courtesy.

  6. Remember the importance of well-balanced meals. If not well-balanced, lasagne has a nasty habit of slopping over you as it’s transported from kitchen to living-room, and the results are akin to napalm, thanks to the sticky cheese – I have the scars to prove it. And you do not want to know what lasagne does to the carpet, though any sensible person chooses a suitably splodgy colour scheme anyway, so that Guinness, chilli sauce and curry will blend right in.

  7. If you must lose weight, remember the devil doesn’t just find work for idle hands: she also finds packets of biscuits, chocolate bars and crisps. You can’t eat if your hands are otherwise engaged – computer games, building scale models of ancient monuments out of match-sticks, and frenzied masturbation are all viable alternatives, though none of them are really likely to go down too well in the average office.

  8. The key to planning is sell-by dates, for tomorrow you may be down the pub. However, sometimes the fridge will hold incompatible items - say, vindaloo and gateau - both expiring today. Obviously, if one can’t be frozen, eat it, but otherwise the key is defrost time. In our example, vindaloo = 45 mins at 200 degrees, gateau = two hours at room temperature. Eat the gateau now. But be aware that sell-by dates are often just legal flim-flam: why else would mineral water (already several millenia old!) have one? And not even anything general like "end 2001", or "February 2001", it’s "February 12 2001". I’m tempted to keep a bottle for two years just to see what happens on February 13th. Otherwise, avoid anything which boasts "no preservatives": it’ll go off before you get home.

  9. Useful information can be gleaned by reading labels. Look out for phrases like "half the fat", which simply allows you to eat twice as much of it, or "95% fat-free", which is clearly a very good measurement because, on this scale, beer is even better, being 100% fat-free.

  10. Indeed, the health-giving powers of beer are sadly under-reported, largely because traditional diet charts never include the important things. However, a less frequently mentioned feature of Microsoft Encarta is a program which contains data on...well, let’s just say if you’ve ever wondered about the nutrition to be found in armadillo (4oz, boneless) or goat (baked, boiled or fried) this is the thing for you. Here are the relevant extracts for foods which form a large part of the TC diet.

 

 

Bitter (pint)

Bacon double cheese burger

Chicken curry
(1 cup)

Choc donut (with icing)

Doner kebab 
(+ salad)

Mars bar

Deep pan pizza (slice)

Butter popcorn (1 cup)

Cholesterol (mg)

0.0

166.7

83.8

10.9

34.5

4.5

14.4

8.7

Carbohydrates (gm)

17.0

37.2

10.3

28.6

20.5

31.4

28.5

7.0

Dietary Fibre (gm)

2.3

1.7

2.1

1.2

1.1

1.0

1.5

1.4

Energy (Cal)

189

815

293

208

169

234

244

63

Fat (gm)

0.0

50.0

16.1

9.9

3.9

11.5

10.1

3.6

Potassium (mg)

115.1

658.2

621.8

72.7

208.6

162.5

158.2

28.0

Saturated Fat (gm)

0.0

20.7

3.3

3.2

1.5

5.2

3.8

2.1

Sodium (mg)

23.0

1296.6

629.3

207.0

212.0

85.0

420.2

33.4

Unsaturated Fat (gm)

0.0

24.3

11.3

6.2

1.8

4.9

5.7

1.3

Nutrient (% daily)

               

Calcium

3%

32%

6%

3%

5%

11%

15%

0%

Folate

6%

13%

5%

1%

8%

2%

7%

1%

Iron

1%

59%

21%

10%

22%

6%

20%

2%

Magnesium

8%

16%

15%

6%

6%

10%

5%

3%

Niacin

12%

65%

57%

4%

19%

3%

15%

1%

Phosphorus

6%

70%

31%

12%

15%

14%

17%

3%

Protein

3%

91%

49%

4%

22%

7%

17%

2%

Riboflavin

8%

37%

14%

6%

16%

10%

16%

2%

Thiamine

3%

32%

9%

6%

15%

1%

19%

1%

Vitamin A

0%

9%

24%

1%

1%

2%

4%

3%

Vitamin B12

3%

154%

10%

0%

30%

5%

7%

0%

Vitamin B6

10%

23%

23%

1%

7%

1%

4%

1%

Vitamin C

0%

12%

30%

0%

6%

1%

9%

0%

Vitamin E

0%

6%

32%

15%

3%

3%

9%

1%

Zinc

0%

61%

14%

2%

15%

4%

6%

2%

Bet you never realised bitter was a health drink, did you? But with a decent amount of fibre, no cholesterol or fat and plenty of vitamins + minerals (well, if you drink enough – eight pints should do it, and any shortfall can easily be rectified by scarfing down a bacon double-cheeseburger), there’s much worse out there. The truth is that, in industrialised Western countries, it’s pretty hard to avoid getting enough vitamins to keep you healthy.

In many cases, too much is as bad, if not worse, than too little. For example, overdosing on Vitamin A damages the liver, while too much zinc can cause your immune system to fail. [Luckily, beer is free of both.] Potassium is even more enigmatic: deficiency causes "weakness, nausea and mental confusion", while an overdose can induce "weakness, nausea and - in extreme cases - heart failure". In other words, the symptoms of too much and too little are pretty much the same, until your heart stops. At that point, ease back on the quarter-pounders. This should come as no surprise to anyone who remember school chemistry, and the nifty explosion produced by adding potassium to water. And given that the human body is mostly water, one senses another reason to avoid McDonald’s...

The 8 Worst Convenience Foods
(Nicked off the Internet, but worthy of permanent record, I’d say...)


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