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Phillosoph

Less Plate, Less Pot, Eat Less

One of the interesting things I have learnt during lock-down was that I could be happy with much smaller portions of food than I was accustomed to.
Before lock-down, I had already stopped including pasta, potatoes or rice in my meals. Meals at home would be just meat and vegetables. During lock-down many meals became just a portion of meat or fish (battered fish bakes very nicely in a halogen oven!). Other nights dinner might just be a bowl of sweetcorn with a dash of Tabasco. The roast potatoes I had left after Christmas dinner formed a couple of nights' dinners on their own.
While individually, many of these meals were not balanced, things seemed to even out nutritionally over a week or more. Generally, these relatively modest portions satisfied me. If I felt peckish later on, I would eat some fruit. If a fancied some desert, this would often be fruit. Some nights, when I did not feel hungry, dinner might just be fruit. Typically I only ate twice a day. Breakfast/ brunch was usually a serving of porridge with a few sultanas.

Less Plate, More Satisfaction?

I am reminded of this since recently I heard someone comment “People eat too much because plates are too big! Use smaller plates and they will eat less.” Often when eating my modestly sized meals I have used the small 21cm diameter side plates rather than the full-sized dinner plates. When food does not need cutting up I usually use a 16cm/ 500ml bowl. My small meals had satisfied me both physically and psychologically. Enough really is as good as a feast!
I did a little research, and the idea of using smaller plates has some support. I also came across the suggestion that plate colour may also have an effect on satisfaction. My small plates and bowls are black, which is a good colour for contrast. Red is apparently even better.
There seems to be something to all this. The “first bite is always with the eye”, so there seems to be some logic that the presentation of a meal has some effect on psychological satisfaction with portion size. If you want to drop a little weight, a few red bowls and small plates may be a useful investment. I would advise getting those that can be used within a microwave oven.
After you eat, it is a good idea to drink a glass of tap-water and clean your teeth.

Smaller Pots

To the above, I have an additional suggestion. If you cook your own meals, try using smaller cooking vessels. It is all too easy to increase the quantity you are cooking if you use large capacity pots. And once the food is cooked, it would be sinful to let it go to waste! Instead it goes to waist.
I have put my large pans back in the cupboard and dug out a couple of small saucepans, each about one-litre capacity and around 17cm diameter. For meals for a single person these should be quite adequate for anything you need a saucepan for. I have an even smaller “milk pan”, but this is in daily use cooking my porridge. Also milk pans generally do not come with lids, and a lid is often needed for more efficient cooking.
A smaller pan may mean you have to cook on a smaller hob than you usually used. I have also noticed I need a slightly lower flame setting to prevent flames wastefully lapping up the sides of the pot. Thus using a smaller pot is saving me some fuel and money. Smaller capacity saves both time and water.
And if further incentive were needed, mastering cooking with small pots is good training for when you may have to cook in just a canteen cup.
Categories
Phillosoph

Night Demons, Sleeping and Yoga.

Regular readers will know that this blog is mainly concerned with survival and self-defence. The blog does allow me to occasionally address more diverse topics that I like to think of as ways of surviving the rat race or defence against the perils of modern life.
The night before last was unpleasant. I awoke in the early hours and experienced an episode of sleep paralysis. (Somewhat misnamed I have to observe). As I awoke, I was disorientated and struggled to recognise where I was. I had a feeling that I might not be alone. I tried to make a noise but no sound came out and I was unable to move. The feeling passed and I regained movement. I tried to sleep again. As I lay there a wave of “immobility” affected my feet and began to move up my body. I felt myself dropping off into sleep but also had the feeling this was something being imposed upon me so fought against it. The rest of the night I had difficulty remaining sleeping.
The next day I read up a little on sleep paralysis. Very interesting stuff. Most people will experience a couple of episodes of sleep paralysis during their lives. It appears that as the body’s physical motion is inhibited one’s paranoia goes into overdrive and familiar surroundings and sounds will be interpreted as potential threats. Hence the feelings of fear and that there is another presence in the room. Nature of the threat varies with the experiencer's cultural icons. A friend told me he had an episode of sleep paralysis where he heard a demon whispering unintelligible words into his ear. The same friend is a long time sufferer of tinnitus so it seems likely this was his paranoia perceiving the usual background noise differently. 
One of the things I learnt from the British NHS website was that if you are experiencing sleep paralysis you should attempt to wiggle your fingers or toes. I was also reading about related folklore Stories of supernatural creatures that sit on your chest during the night and stop you moving or make breathing hard are common to many cultures. Interestingly at least one tradition suggests you can drive the creature away by attempting to bite your thumb or wiggle your fingers! Or you should attempt to steal the creature's hat!
The NHS site yielded some useful information on improving sleep patterns. A useful tip was to tidy my bedroom to create a less chaotic and more relaxing environment. If nothing else I no longer trip over stuff as much when going to bed! Most of us are aware that drinking coffee close to bedtime is not a good idea but many of us will overlook the ingestion of other stimulants such as smoking or caffeinated soft drinks. Unusually for me I had drank a can of coke after dinner that night, so wonder if this might have contributed to my unpleasant night?

Strenuous exercise close to bedtime is to be avoided, the exception being sex, the one form of exercise that can be both vigorous and sleep-inducing. Not a particularly practical option for me currently so I looked at the second best option, relaxing using yoga. The yoga that I am most familiar with is the “Salute the Sun” sequence but it occurred to me a set of exercises intended to be performed in the morning might not be the best choice to relax me before bedtime. I came across this set of exercises which you can even do in bed! I didn’t do the full eight minutes for my first attempts but did find them quite effective. I had not expected to fall to sleep very quickly last night given how stressful the previous night had been but I did notice I did feel more relaxed and less restless while I was lying in bed. I will persist with the yoga and see how it goes.
Update: Since I first wrote this, I have had a couple of minor events. My half-awake mind tries to counter-attack, and making a palm-strike has much the same effect as wiggling fingers or making signs against evil. A similar reflex seems to wake me up if I dream of something particularly disturbing.
I hope that this information has been of some interest or help to some of you. Pleasant dreams!