Friday, 19 May 2017

How Food Trials for my Windermere Swim Becomes a Poolside Picnic...


The money I have spent on different foods to try at the poolside this week for my Windermere swim was actually enough to secure me The Great Star of Africa! I have bought so much that my house is now overflowing with it. I have labelled it all with a large "Hands off!" This is proving very difficult for my kids who has no idea what this concept is. They view a cupboard full of anything edible as a challenge and often when I return home, could be forgiven for thinking that a plague of locusts has swept through the kitchen; they're that thorough! At this stage I'm not convinced that any of the foods will even make it to the poolside...

The following day and after moving the foods to a safer place (the boot of my car), I gather a selection to take with me for my swim, including extra water - just in case, and literally haul it to the pool. I may have overdone it, but I get the food poolside unchallenged and begin to unpack. As Shark arrived it was clear that we had the same mindset as she also turns up with a large bagful and I suspect we may be leaving the pool a little more portly than when we got in! In honesty it wouldn't have surprised me if she were to also rock up with a blanket, camping chairs and picnic basket, but she explained that she had considered it but wasn't sure whether that was pool etiquette or not, and as we were already pushing our luck by having our supplies poolside in the first place, best not to upset the applecart and draw even more attention to ourselves. Good point well made, and whilst would have been funny, not worth risking being kicked out for.

After much discussion the plan was to try each one individually with half an hour between foods. Hopefully any nasty reactions would have revealed themselves by then and we could then either add to the "yes" list, or bin it. We would feed back how we felt etc at the end of each half hour.

I lined my food like soldiers up in the order I would try them, and then looked at Sharks, what can only be described as a precariously balanced, disheveled heap of food, and whilst normally I would be fussing round tidying up, on this occasions I was more than pleased that she is a little less tidy than me. Her food was spilling over the side of the pool that happened to create a barrier between our lanes and the rest of the pool making it difficult for fellow swimmers to navigate round in safety, meaning that we would be able to swim with a lane each to ourselves. Great minds think alike and with a little tweaking we were satisfied that only a seasoned long jumper would be able to make the leap, we began our uninterrupted swim.

The first food of choice was a new and untried before gel. I was unsure about trying new ones, as I wasn't unhappy with the ones I usually use, however for the sake of our food trials I was willing to try. I'm not one usually for surprises but was a little excited to see what the "potential benefits" that it promised would be. Only we never got to find out that. Bring on the side of caution I carefully tried the smallest of amounts. The gel was so sour that I needed to remove my goggles as I had developed an involuntary twitch and leaky eyes. Straight on the reject pile and back to my original gel choice.

Not the best of starts, however I was very enthused by the second food as it included chocolate, and what a treat it turned out to be. A Powerbar - chocolate and caramel no less. I didn't drop any, much to my relief and I didn't throw up either, probably much to the relief of the lifeguard! That's a definite yes from me! Sadly Shark can't eat chocolate and that's a great pity for her, but means more for me... always a silver lining!

Not wanting to trial too many in one sitting, we decided that two per swim was enough, and so the following day we were back with our stash for round two. Today the food of choice was a gel with caffeine and some home-made flapjack. The gel was fine, and I'd actually had a coffee before I'd swum, probably defeating the object, but tasted okay and no nasty reactions. The flapjack, although delicious if I do say so myself, is a no. I spent the majority of the the next 20 lengths concentrating on removing seeds from my middle aged gums rather than on my stroke and/or performance. I shall consider adding tooth pick to my new swim bag, It might be useful. Shark said she might add this to her "yes" list as she hadn't had the same problem as I had. She must be lying as she is older than me, and so will make her a huge batch and insist she has some every swim from now till the end of time if necessary, until she caves and confesses that she has been struggling with them too. Which ever comes first!

Day three and for food choice number one I thought I'd try the Mars Bar (for old times sake). Tasted delicious but unfortunately took a long time to chew. I don't actually have this amount of time to spare and there's the added worry of breaking a tooth chewing. I hadn't thought about the hidden dangers of eating during a swim till just now, and so make a mental note to pack Paracetamol into my swim bag- just in case... Food choice number two is a jam sandwich. Note to self - only take food to try that you actually like on a normal day. We'll say no more!

I have prepared day four the night before (when I say prepared I mean I've cut it into bite size portions - who knew this size existed?)  and so I'm looking forward to today above all others, and not for the swimming. Today we are trying cake. Shark looks at my portion sizes miserably, and so in a bid to cheer her up I suggested that we think of it as a starter and have a real slice of cake in the cafe afterwards. This worked to elevate her mood, but I'm not sure it'll work in the lake. Delicious but messy...The other food was a white chocolate rocky road (thanks to Shark) Delicious but too moreish (is that even a word?) Never thought I'd find myself saying no for that reason!

Day five. Today I'm trying a protein bar. It's one a couple of people recommended and so I've high hopes. I love it! It's delicious. Sadly my love for it is very short lived as after twenty lengths it becomes obvious that the bar and I are not compatible. Feeling decidedly queasy I got out sooner than I wanted to, and decided against trying food choice number two for today, but feeling grateful that I'm doing this now. It must have been bad, I couldn't even face the usual post swim coffee. Unheard of!

Day six and so being the belt and braces kind of person that I am wanted to double check that I was still okay with Jaffa Cakes after all it's been a whole year since Jaffa Cakes and I were in a lake together and a year is a long time... Lots can change. Along with this I tried a sports drink. Citrus flavoured (to go with the theme of the day). I am beyond delighted to say that both were fine (especially the Jaffa Cakes) and both shall be on the "yes" list.

Day seven and my final day of the trial, and I'm grateful. I've have enough really and want to settle into some normal swimming with food I know I'm good with. So off to Betty's to buy my final food choice, a Fat Rascal. Coincidentally I received an e-mail from Betty's Cafe informing me that "Little Fat Rascals are back!" and if this wasn't tempting enough it was chocolate orange! Not wanting to spend any time mulling over which one to choose (and there was a huge queue), I bought one of each. I thought I'd share with Shark, but then thought again, I'm not great at sharing - She can get her own!
*Note to self - buy them just before you swim, not hours before, because you cannot be trusted not to eat it before it even gets to the pool, resulting in a second trip, with equally long queue, to get more! Replacement Fat Rascals and I make it to poolside, but once I'm there I decide against using them during my swim for one reason - we have limited time to feed whilst swimming, and Fat Rascals deserve to be savoured, and so a unanimous decision was made that we would take one (each), but have it once we finished (along with a bottle of celebratory bubbles) when it can be enjoyed properly.

Fat Rascas from Betty's

Food trials completed, and I think I'm all sorted, which I'm grateful for as it's cost me a fortune, not just for the foods for the trial, but for all the treats I've bought my kids as the guilt was tormenting me. They have constantly reminded me all week how tortured they have been and I remember the word martyr being mentioned more than once. I felt terrible until I discovered a handful of "hands off" wrappers in each of their rooms...Seems they aren't as badly done to as they made out, but I did notice one of the wrappers was that of the 'unsuccessful' protein bar, so maybe they have been "tortured" after all, just in a different way!! They've never confessed, and I'll never ask!😂







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