Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Gamer Diet

I think we have missed a trick here.

This weekend, my family decided that we were going to begin to address our main health issue - weight. We sat down and we discussed what we all thought about it and why we eat as we do. With the exception of my wife we are all overweight and it is effecting the way we live and operate. The first thing I realised was that the kids know a whole helluva lot of dietary issues from school! The second thing I realised was that whilst exercise and portion size are things to be addressed, the main issue was grazing - what we used to call 'eating between meals'. So, as a first step to some sort of dietary regime, we put a housewide moratorium on eating between meals. And it has worked. Not one of us has had a bite between meal times and it has made those meals all the sweeter when they come.

The second step was to hammer home to the grandparents that this was a family wide initiative and it had to be adhered to when the kids were at their houses too. And that seems to have worked really well.

Which got me thinking...

A number of our gaming family have, for one reason or another, given up or radically reduced the amount that they drink. We were, previously, quite an alcohol-friendly group of gamers with bottles of wine and multiple pints of cider being the order of the day at most gatherings. Not once have any of us felt the need to put pressure on another of us to start drinking again. Indeed, there has been a palpable level of support and understanding for that and some other dietary-related issues that have occured.

A lot of us suffer from the traditional gamer problem of being overweight too, and some of our number have made concerted but fatally flawed efforts to lose weight. Some have considered going to slimming clubs like Weight Watchers. Personally, I have a number of issues with these establishments but I considered recently the thing which people get from them. If you are a pessimistic person, they get the threat of humiliation. If you are a optimistic person, they get support from their peers.

Gamers exist in communities. Between us, we have identified on a number of occassions a shared goal - lose some bloody weight. The way that we do it might vary, but the goal remains the same. What we lack is support. We lack that peer group support that says its OK to have a baked potato on a Wednesday night instead of a Mixed Grill. We lack the encouragement to celebrate the successes and to provide a shoulder to chew on for the setbacks.

I'm not talking about a gamer diet club or some sort of competitive dieting regime (because knowing some of our personalities, it would turn into a fact fest on exactly what is the best way to lose weight and where we are all going wrong!). Rather I'm talking about making 'losing weight' (for those that choose to) the new 'not drinking'.



Anonymous said...

I'm a little unclear as to what you mean by providing support. Do you mean that we abandon the snacks and takeaways all together on a gaming get together? Or just that if someone wants to opt out of them then we support them?


Vodkashok said...

Yes and no

Obviously I'm not going to suggest some sort of pogrom against deviant foodtypes. Maybe I'm just a little aware that I, myself, haven't been as supportive as I could be when other people have tried.

Although the snacks and takeaways thing could be one such avenue if it was a popular choice.

Metaresearchboi said...

Certainly you make a number of very good points.

I've always considered the concept of "fit for purpose" when considering both health, fitness and lifestyle.

Currently my "fit for purpose" is to eat large meals, spend a lot of time in a large comfy chair playing computer games, and generally live as unhealthy a lifestyle as possible. In other words, my body shape is "fit for purpose" for the lifestyle I lead.

If I want to change my "fit for purpose" concept, the biggest change needs to come from lifestyle then, with probably the biggest change being at least *some* form of regular excerise.

I just wish I had a decent gym near my house, unfortunately South Shields has a dearth of high quality establishments.

Anonymous said...

Does Northumbria uni have a gym?

I think the big difference between giving up drinking and losing weight for us is I don't think anyone of us has an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. It was a social thing that was fairly easy to give up.

I'm speaking only for myself here but I do have an unhealthy relationship with food. I eat too much and I eat too much of the 'wrong thing'. The nibbles and takeaways we have at our gaming sessions don't help but nor are they the cause.

If there was concerted will among the group to lead healthier lifestyles all round then I'd certainly be up for that. If we provided fruit instead of crisps and cooked a meal instead of ordering out then I'd be more than happy with that.


Fandomlife said...

As someone who is possibly on the thinner side of the quation have to say I still feel the need to get fitter.

Not so much because I need to as Dave's 'fit for purpose isn't a bad tool', but because I know I need to be more active now to enjoy a better 'latter half of life'.

At the same time, I'm aware the problem for me is less not 'over eating', though it is a factor, and more 'doing more physical shit'.

Which is a slightly different problem.

I did gardening work over the weekend it killed me for 2 days.

Anonymous said...

The trick with exercise is finding something you enjoy doing. There's nowt worse than grinding in the gym when you don't enjoy it.


Vodkashok said...

I considered myself to have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol when I stopped drinking. Not alcoholic, by any means, but the constant drip-drip-drip that was associated with the job didn't help. Moreover, it was the level and ferocity of my hangovers, their associated physical effects and the larger and larger amounts it was taking to get me pissed that hit home. And the cost. Jesus, the cost!

However, the one thing it did prove to me was that I can change my behaviour. What started as a routine detox became a challenge and now has become a sort of forbidden subject. I have considered having a quick can of Strongbow, but the sheer thought of disappointment in myself in breaking my 'run' has me quaking in my boots! Its not worth it.

And thats what has always been my problem when it came to losing weight - I would get to a point where I was doing OK and then I would say "Oh, just that little bit won't do any harm" and then "OK, just a little more" and then it was all "Fuck it, Gorge Con Three has been initiated!"

Apart of the ease of making that change was the support that you guys gave. It allowed me to change a habitual thing that I have been doing since I was 15. Theres nothing to say that together, we cannot deal with something that effects us all in that way too.

As for 'fit for purpose' - thats spot on. I'm looking at achievable and sustainable goals. Starting a sudden exercise regime is not, for me, sustainable or realistic. Cutting out grazing and snacking is. Maybe thats the key - different goals for different people, building towards a common aim.

Anonymous said...

Like I say, if we wanna cook up a vat of chilli or curry and have some fruit to snack on then I'm fine with that. I'm no cook but I'll happily chip for ingredients.


Metaresearchboi said...

"I don't think anyone of us has an unhealthy relationship with alcohol."

Talking about relationships with alcohol can be rather emotive things, but certainly I think I've suffered from the costly middle class (I've ideas above my station again) disease of which Neil alludes to of the highly regular drinker.

It's the Bridget Jones disease if you will of having a dislikeable day at work, and upon returning home at night, nicely taking the edge off in an evening and relaxing with a glass or two of wine, yet never actually drinking enough to get drunk (as indeed, because of the regularity you drink, your tolerance is now sky high)

And then wondering at the end of the week why you have 6 or 7 bottles parked at bin when you actually haven't been drunk at all that week...

With, of course, the drink not quite helping with the dieting situation as well.

Indeed, I hate to contemplate what the "fit for purpose" concept might resemble in relation to my liver if I kept up that particular lifestyle...

On the subject of gaming nights, I'd be up for putting some money into a kitty for every games night towards a proper healthy cooked meal rather than take out snacks or other unhealthy horrors.

If it becomes like "Come dine with me" though, I'll shoot you all.... or indeed, just poison you all when it's my turn to cook!

Anonymous said...

I envisaged more of a communal effort than someone hosting a dinner party.


Anonymous said...

It's not that hard to do, and I've cooked for my gaming group, Neil has, Andrew has, we all did at Cottagecon - But it is an extra commitment and time on a day when we could do to focus the time we have together on gaming.