J. Zachary Pike's

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A Diet of Ice and Fire

When the cyclical rhythm of my weight swings from “overweight” back up to “planetoid,”  I usually latch on to some ill-conceived diet or another, and today is no different. I thought I’d share my crazy scheme this time around, however, as it’s perfect to kick off a fantasy blog: I’m going to use George R.R. Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire to help me lose weight.

Let’s start off by establishing that I know how to lose weight. I’ve dropped a hundred of pounds, and I’ve gained almost all of it back. The only “secret” to weight loss is exercise and taking in less calories, a lifestyle that’s about as fun and exciting as the unsweetened oatmeal you’re supposed to be eating. I don’t need a plan to lose weight. I need a plan to make losing weight interesting.
Enter George R.R. Martin, the world’s nerdiest foodie (or foodiest nerd).
Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series is legendary for it’s epic descriptions of food. I’m certainly not the first to notice.  And while it all sounds decadently delicious, a lot of the food in Game of Thrones actually pretty darn healthy, or at least a lot healthier than what I eat.  What would I weigh if I regularly ate “salads of spinach and chickpeas and turnip greens, and afterwards bowls of iced blueberries and sweet cream” (A Game of Thrones) instead of pizza and donuts? I’m betting I’d look less like Robert Baratheon and more like Jaime Lannister.
I think the key is in those glorious descriptions, the savory language that makes my mouth water over, in essence, a salad.  Chicken and vegetables for dinner?  Boring. Honeyed-roasted chicken with roast onions dripping with brown gravy?  Count me in. There’s some evidence to suggest that visualizing food or taking time to think about what can help you eat better or less, and while it’s completely scientifically unsound, nay, irresponsible to design a diet based on random studies that you heard about on NPR, I’ma gonna do it.
So I present: A Diet of Ice and Fire
Please note: you should consult a doctor or nutritionist before starting any diet, and if you consult a doctor about this one, he or she will probably laugh at you.
Step 1: Get into character.  Ever see a character on Game of Thrones bust out a bag of Cheetos? No, because it’d get Ser Art Director sent to the headman’s block (or at least into yon unemployment line). Don’t eat any processed foods, and try to get stuff that doesn’t come in a box.
Step 2: Eat like a knight. The kings and queens of Westeros frequently enjoy massive feasts and decadent pastries, but they also tend to wind up fat and drunk and  gored to death by giant boar. You probably won’t suffer exactly the same fate if you go on the royal diet—most likely you’ll just wind up fat.  (And the frequent quests to your local Whole Foods will empty the coffers quickly.) Instead, eat like a knight—mostly meats, fruits, and vegetables, accented with cheeses, nuts, and breads.
Step 3: Get a trencher. A “trencher” can mean a flat piece of bread that essentially becomes an edible plate, or a wooden tray with a depression that you eat from. All foods sound better in a trencher. Roast chicken? Meh. A trencher of roast chicken? You have my attention. Since this is a diet, we’re not going to get very far by having all of our meals on giant discs of carbohydrates.  Get a wooden one.
Step 4: Describe your food like George R.R. Martin would.  It’s not a ham sandwich.  It’s slices of salted boar flank and aged cheese held in crumbly bread (in a trencher!). It’s not a salad. It’s mixed greens and crusty bread chunks tossed (in a trencher!) with spiced oils, nuts, and dried cranberries. Being aware of how amazing your food actually is helps you enjoy it more, instead of choking it down like a famished direwolf.
Follow these simple steps, and I guarantee you’ll be a bigger nerd.  Happily, in a different sense you may also be a smaller nerd as well. If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to tuck into a trencher of creamed peanuts with dried grapes and crisp celery.

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