Not long to go now, then, even though it seems no more than a few days since I took down the decorations and threw out the Christmas tree last January.
This year for the first time in a long time, I'm not cooking Christmas lunch. We're going out to a local restaurant with a group of friends for what I am sure will be a riotous few hours with plenty of good food (not much wine for me as I'll be driving; no such thing as Christmas Day taxis in the Welsh marches).
We are, however, having one son, his wife and two young daughters to stay the weekend before Christmas, and vegetarian son, partner and toddler coming a day or two after Christmas with his family, so I can't get away with not decorating the house and most certainly will be providing what I can in the way of decent fare to cater to the varying tastes.
At this time of year I rely on endless lists, rigorous planning in my diary and not being too busy with work. But I still find myself exhausted and panicking before and during any visit.
And by the end of the holiday, like most people, a few pounds fatter. That's not happening this year. So far I've managed to make frangipane-topped mince pies, one of my ultimate favourites, and puddings and cakes for the freezer without having even a nibble. My anti-inflammatory diet proceeds and my eyes, so often red, swollen and dry, are definitely better; I haven't used any drops for a couple of weeks now, which is brilliant. I'm having less success with beating the eczema, asthma and digestive problems but I will persist.
The reason I'm resisting sweet stuff is not all to do with my healthy diet having altered the out-of-character sweet tooth that's plagued me for the past year or so. A couple of weeks back, I remembered something I'd forgotten, if you see what I mean. Chromium tablets.
The last time, a few years ago, I began craving sweet things, I researched and found that many people recommended trying chromium, so I bought some from the best online supplement store, Healthspan, and within a week of taking one a day, the cravings had gone.
So, when I finally remembered, I bought some last month and again, I can look at anything sweet or carby and feel nothing – even if I'm hungry. It has really worked! I'm not a huge supplement fan but my goodness if your problem is a sweet tooth, I recommend you give them a try; they aren't even expensive, and in the recommended dose of one tiny tablet a day they will do you no harm. Chromium works by helping to balance your blood sugar level.
So I'm not liking the advice I've just read in the papers, which is that if we want to slim, we should start our meals with a dessert! Researchers at Imperial College London have found, astonishingly, that if you feast on sugar-rich food at the start of a meal it helps keep your appetite in check. Well fancy that. Even I could have worked that one out. But it seems like irresponsible advice in the face of murmured plans to tax sugar as it's so bad for our health, and even more irresponsible as it means we'll have less inclination for the healthy things that a main meal provide. Madness.
Ate last night:
I do like sea bass but the fillets I bought were quite small for a hungry husband, and we're trying to cut back on the carbs, so we do need our protein fix to see us through the night.
I dug out some frozen small prawns, chopped up a few stoned kalamata black olives and mushrooms and sauted them all for a minute in a tad of butter, adding the juice of half a lemon and some black pepper at the end. I spooned this over the bass fillets which I'd panfried in a little bit of rapeseed oil beforehand, then scattered over some coriander leaf. It was simple but very good.
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