Did you know that Pythagoras (yep – the triangle guy) invented vegetarianism, and that before the word was coined in the 1840s, non meat-eaters were known as ‘Pythagoreans’? Nope – me neither – because he didn’t – he was just the first important person to advocate that diet. But still – that bit about ‘Pythagoreans’ is true.
Some diets make you perform better than others, and others make you think better than some. So if you want to get creative with your thinking and doing, you might find that it’s all a bit of a trade-off.
Here are some foods and the effects they could have on your thinking and doing (if you are anything like me):
- Cheese Sandwich. This is my rescue remedy. If you ever see me looking down-in-the-mouth, just feed me one of these. My favourite cheeses are the crumbly ones like Cheshire, Lancashire or Wensleydale although anything will do really, unless they are really strong, in which case they raise bumps on the roof of my mouth (I’ve no idea why!). I’m not adverse to a bit of (egg free) mayo in there, but leave off the piccalilli – it tends to give me smelly wind, and no-one wants any part of that. If I’m down, I don’t really want to write, although I can – it just tends to be filled with deep sarcasm and self depreciating humour (I know – what’s the difference – right?). But after chewing on a sandwich, I tend to write in a lighter, more bubbly fashion – with fewer put-downs and less anger lurking in my ‘voice’.
- Chocolate. Proper chocolate is infinitely better than stuff pumped full of sugar, which just tends to make me itchy in the short term and depressed in the long. My favourite at the moment is Marks & Spencer Swiss Chocolate – Extra Fine Milk (it’s my birthday on the 30th of July – just saying) – a smooth blend that is silky in the mouth and mind. After eating the best chocolate, I feel as if I am floating. I go into a kind of ecstatic trance. My writing tends towards flights of fancy, alliteration and wild metaphors with flowery tendencies. Light-headed makes for lightness, and trips into the subconscious that pop sunshine memories into my mind. But be quick – it doesn’t tend to last long. I get sleepy afterwards.
- Yoghurt. This is something that I definitely need to avoid if I want to write. It sends me to sleep instantly. Dreams are a lovely source of creative inspiration, but I tend to need to be awake to hook into them. Once I wake up from a yoghurt induced coma, I can write about the last dream I had and I can embellish it, adding in the sensory dimensions that may have been missing – the colours and sensations – the silky slide of flesh on flesh – the symphonic sibilance – the creamy textures and tastes. Nice.
- Potatoes, pasta and rice. Heavy, heavy food for comfort and slow burn energy. I love to eat these things before a long writing-session because they give me the stamina I need for a long haul into the back-reaches of my mind. Memories pop from the clutches of the dark with help of this kind of energy and they are slow-moving and long-lasting enough for me to examine them carefully in order to extract the best and finest aspects. I love to go into a heavy trance and just revel in the depths of my back-catalogue with this delicious diet of comfortable carbs.
- Decaffeinated tea. Cleansing of the palette is what this is all about for me. By palette, I mean the tongue and teeth of the mind. If I am feeling dark – this lightens me right up; dull becomes sharp, below becomes above, fluctuating flows into level and sour becomes sweet. If I want to change the mood of my writing then this is my go to drug. Moving from one scene to another, in a longer piece of work, sometimes necessitates a change of pace and if I don’t have time to sleep in-between, I sip on a piping hot cup of weak, milky decaf. Heaven!
- Oranges. I used to work for a mail-order catalogue, taking calls from people wanting lingerie and settees, just waiting for my break to come around – a sarnie, bag of crisps and an orange. Then I would go for a pee and wash my hands before getting back to the phone-lines. After a while, I noticed that I had an itch … down there and so I would subtly scratch and ponder on the cause of this mysterious (and rather intimate) rash. After more than enough scratching, it came (behave!) to me – it was the oil from the orange peel! And the take-away message? Always wash your hands before you … ahem, touch your sensitive parts. Okay, you’re shocked and outraged now, and probably wonder what this has to do with writing – right? Well, nothing really – I just thought I’d throw that story in for free. You’re welcome.
If it’s not already patently obvious, let me say that I’m not giving medical advise here, and if you do want to make substantial changes to your diet then you should have a word with someone with different letters after their name than me (BSc, PGDip if you’re interested).
At the end of the day – this is all about the effects of food on my writing. It’s just about me. Well it is!
Having said that – I’d love to know what your diet does to your mind.