Blog #7 Keep it Simple

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I’m going to be honest and tell you this photo is 50 yrs old! That’s me top right with 10 of my classmates. Can’t remember why it was such a select group, there were at least 30 in the class. However I can clearly remember all of the other children were the same size, slim with bony knees! There was one little girl who I remember had what was called ‘puppy fat’.

This reminds us of the dramatic difference in diet and lifestyle and size of children in 50 short years.

We are living in turbulent times, the NHS can’t keep up with the effects of obesity. Teachers can’t cope with behaviour problems in the classroom.
I know this sounds like ridiculous wishful thinking – but it isn’t really – could we reduce our children’s intake of sugar/artificial sweetener and processed food?

I’m not looking back with rose tinted specs but I can tell you that we all sat and behaved in class – at break time the boys always kicked a football and the girls would talk, skip or something. So there was quite a lot of physical activity, we walked to school as well. Also we all ate the same sort of food, sandwiches your mother had given you with a biscuit or bit of fruit.

Our physical and mental state must be related to the food we eat, and how much exercise we get. (Exercise releases feel good endorphins) childhood is the best time to start good habits.

There has been a lot of publicity this week about a psychiatrist condemning ‘clean eating’. He maintains there is a flood of people who are weak from lack of sugar, they are also bulimic from bingeing on junk food and vomiting.
I prefer to reframe this and say that eating unprocessed food with as few chemicals as is possible is how we are designed to eat.

Anorexia Nervosa is a highly distressing and life threatening disease. Patients need careful, specialist help. This is not a new condition though that can be conveniently blamed on anybody. I’ve lived through all sorts of fad diets that were definitely not healthy, but I don’t remember so much vitriol being heaped on the magazine authors that churned these diets out on a weekly basis.

I find it interesting that compulsive eating and obesity is not treated by psychiatrists in the same way. These patients are offered bariatric surgery. I’m sure surgery is effective but it seems like treating the symptoms and not the disease.

Being healthy doesn’t mean being hungry, don’t diet just be thoughtful about what you eat and also what you feed your children. Be independent, take your own nutritious snacks with you when you’re out for the day, a few unsalted nuts, or a home made sugar free treat.

Remember how important Vitamin D is for our health – here’s hoping we get plenty of sun this summer!

I’m going to finish with a lovely summer recipe from a friend, Inese Zute. Do check her blog and recipes.

Beetroot and Tahini dippen dappen

300g steamed/cooked beetroot 4 tbsp tahini
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar2 tbsp olive oil
Blend together. Serve as a sauce on a salad, a spread or a dip.

Blog #6 What is the best way to lose weight?

The best way to lose weight is ……

Today I read a report arguing that in fact it’s a myth that we can be fat and fit. Apparently a movement started a few years ago claiming that it’s OK to be 200lbs as long as you’re active…… I’m pleased to read this because I think it’s wrong to give false hope to people who are carrying so much extra fat. In my opinion it’s wrong to be politically correct about a serious health issue.

People are overweight for lots of complicated reasons which is why I don’t believe a ‘diet’ is very helpful. Wouldn’t it be better to try to examine and address the cause? Low self esteem, confidence, stress, multiple reasons why people reach for food as the answer to problems. They are all very personal, and the answers and solutions will be different.

As I say, honesty is always the best policy. Confront the fact that a person has a health problem, I/ you need to lose 10lbs or 30lbs to prevent and relieve serious issues like Type 2 Diabetes, joint pain, raised blood pressure etc etc.

Now you can make a plan on how to tackle it. The goal is to make healthy changes for life. Calorie restriction and diet plans will work if you stick to the instructions…..
Slimming clubs work for a lot of people, maybe it’s the idea of the weekly public weigh in?

I have a concern that if we become fixated on restricting calories for weight loss we can lose sight of the original mission – to be healthy and stay healthy. We all need variety and vitamins and minerals.

Preprepared calorie controlled meals are useful for one thing, you know exactly how many calories you have eaten, if you are counting calories. However for optimum health as well as slimness you should avoid all processed food. The diet industry is huge and offers us lots of options, too numerous to mention here. It is in their interest to keep us trying more systems…..

Let’s go back to our original mantra – keep it simple – no processed food – if it’s been anywhere near a machine or a factory floor don’t eat it. No refined sugar/sweetener. Easy! Of course I’m including bread products here, the chemicals used to extend the life of a loaf haven’t yet been proven to extend yours…..

Listen to your body and eat what suits you. We are all different, I prefer not to eat meat, but love fish and dairy. If you love a steak check the source, grass fed organic is best.
I’m very keen not to give instructions, I have no right to do that. Also when we think about a problem and make our own plan we stick to our decisions in a much more positive way. This is a project we can actually enjoy, the rewards quickly become obvious. A slimmer, fitter, healthier you!

The Language of Diet and Healthy Eating

I listen with interest when people talk about their diet. Overwhelmingly the words used are harsh. Such a shame when eating healthy, nutritious food is a pleasure.

Say as you do, and do as you say.

carrot cake

I listen with interest when people talk about their diet. Overwhelmingly the words used are harsh. Such a shame when eating healthy, nutritious food is a pleasure. How often do you say ‘I’ve been bad’, ‘I’ve sinned’ , ‘I’m weak, don’t have any willpower’? These thoughts are very negative and self critical, and certainly not helpful if you would like to make some positive changes in your diet.

How many times have we said ‘ I can’t change, it’s too hard’? That’s a statement I dispute. Let’s start by saying Change for Good is Easy. Say it as often as you like as loud as you like.
How many things are we actually in control of in our lives? Not many, not the economy, world peace, or our noisy neighbours. However we can decide what, when, how often and how much we eat. It is easy, we get to choose.

We all know that it is unwise to eat 3 jam doughnuts a day every day. However it is not a hanging offence to eat one on a Sunday if you feel like it – it’s not a sin, murder is a sin.

So back to language.’I’ve decided to stop eating refined sugar because I want to feel fit and healthy’. We can also add that our goal is to be sugar free, but if we achieve this 80% of the time that’s a huge success!
Another phrase I’d like you to consider when speaking to yourself and also children – I’ve been good so I deserve some chocolate. Let’s rethink that….
As time goes by and your new eating habits become established it just gets easier. You feel well, full of energy, you are eating less, but you are enjoying food.

Take a look in the mirror. The truth is we can all do our best with the material available. Your skin is improving in texture and colour, it’s calm and clear. Your hair will feel better. Your shape and posture is improving all because you have more energy and vim. Moving around is easier because your joints are benefitting too.

When you look at yourself give yourself some praise! You’re doing well! We may not all be going for a new career as a film star and be able to cope with the scrutiny of HD, but we can improve and look pretty good, whatever our age.

Which brings me to my next suggestion… I have always noticed that age and hormones are blamed for everything. I am just too stubborn to accept blanket statements like ‘Oh you’re 40 now, you’ll get middle age spread – everybody does’. No everybody doesn’t, I am in charge of myself and refuse to believe subliminal suggestions, however qualified the person is who puts them there.

So that’s enough from me today. Stay positive, remove processed food and refined sugar from your life and enjoy being healthy.

Today’s recipe is from Bear Grylls book – Fuel for Life. It’s one of my favourites. I cut it up into small pieces and freeze them, then I’ve always got a treat handy!

lemons

Drop the ‘Diet’ word

Here we go again, is it the time of year? Every magazine and newspaper I see is urging us to diet. They want us to lose 5lbs in 3 days with their magic plan, or do it the ‘easy way’ by intermittent fasting, or no carbs or no sugar or low fat.

Here we go again, is it the time of year? Every magazine and newspaper I see is urging us to diet. They want us to lose 5lbs in 3 days with their magic plan, or do it the ‘easy way’ by intermittent fasting, or no carbs or no sugar or low fat.

The diet industry is every bit as confusing as the food industry. And it all sounds such hard work following rules, I’ve lost interest half way through the article. The word ‘diet’ makes me shudder, a punishment word, a grim word. How often do we hear the phrase, ‘ I can’t do that, I’m dieting’? The message is there’s no fun in ‘dieting’ and once you’ve got through this and lost 10lbs you can go back to normal….

My message is enjoy eating healthy food and feeling healthy!

Listen to your own body and see what works best for you. ‘Clean Eating’ has had a lot of bad press recently. I think this is a shame. I interpreted the term to mean eat real food, so I agree with most of what they are promoting. I think these extreme ‘healthy’ recommendations are probably a logical reaction to the extreme unhealthy diet that so many people survive on.

I recommend you to look at the recipe books before judging. Ella Woodward, Clean Alice, Hemsley & Hemsley, Bear Grylls, have lovely, tasty, easy to make, meals and treats.

I am surprised by the vitriol in the press. We have an obesity epidemic in Great Britain, which we are apparently unable to tackle. This epidemic is crushing the NHS. People continue to die from the side effects. People who promote eating a healthy diet are surely to be praised and encouraged?

Just losing weight isn’t the full answer, we know that if you reduce your calorie intake for long enough and exercise you will lose weight. However what we are looking for is optimum health, well nourished, feeling full of energy, skin glowing and at our own ideal weight.

Crash diets and suffering will not achieve this.

If I say what I don’t eat, it makes normal people recoil in horror. So I prefer to say what I do eat, loads of fruit and vegetables, fish, dairy, nuts, sweet treats every day ( but no refined sugar), a very varied diet. I don’t have a weight problem and have loads of energy.

Who knows what will kill us off one day? Could be anything but my motto is ‘ feel as good as you can for as long as you can’. And that’s up to me….

More next time, bye for now.

Healthy food, naturally!

The Food Nut, Blog 3.

Today I thought I would tell you more about me and my interest in food. I am lucky, my mother was a huge influence on me. She worked full time but always cooked a family meal from scratch every evening. She was interested in food and an excellent cook. We had lots of home grown vegetables, local eggs, meat from the butcher in the village. I can remember home made soups, stews, roast beef and lamb, apple puddings and custard, fruit cake….We were certainly not wealthy but she was economical and efficient.

Of course I’m biased and think my mother was the best, but most of my friends ate the same style of food, seasonal, fresh, maybe something shop bought ‘for a treat’ once a week.

I’m 61 years old so my food memories and observations go back a long way. Recently I found some school photos, netball team, hockey team etc. The interesting thing that you notice is that everybody is so slim. We all ate three meals a day, I remember I liked the school lunches, particularly the puddings. The meals were cooked in the school kitchens.

I watch the decline in both children and adults state of health with sadness. As times change, and the pace of life becomes faster, and food becomes faster, we are becoming larger and slower.

We have forgotten what being in a state of wellness feels like. People accept headaches, stomachaches, joint pains, skin irritations as a normal part of life. Feeling tired all the time, poor sleep, all this is not normal. Our bodies are designed better, we are designed to perform efficiently.

Listen to your body, it’s trying to give you a message. We have wonderful powers of regeneration and healing, but give yourself a chance, be kind to your body.

Look back 50 years, study old films and books. Do you look slim, fit, with clear skin? What can you change today that will make you feel better? We haven’t changed, we have changed our diets and lifestyle dramatically.

Make one dramatic decision today – for example – no more refined sugar for a whole month. Then after 4 weeks honestly assess how you look and feel. Give yourself a treat! You will look and feel a new person!

I read a lot of articles by respected doctors and scientists, and cookery books are my favourite reading. There are lots of conflicting opinions out there but I have found that plotting my own path through this minefield works well for me. Listening to your body takes practice, but you will become tuned in quicker than you think.

I’m anticipating that you may have some unpleasant side effects for the first few days of going sugar free. This is probably because you are accidentally stopping a lot of chemicals and additives if you are stopping drinking coke, eating meals out of boxes and store bought cake. ( don’t swap for artificial sweetener). So at the moment you’re not very happy, stick it out.

My next prediction – after 4 weeks you won’t be attracted to the treats you previously loved. However if you are tempted to try one of your old favourites I bet you get a headache or feel sick. Good your body is talking to you, so listen!

Today I would like to add a casserole recipe that really shows you how fast home cooking can be. I shall call it Mediterranean Chickpea and Prawns.

2 leeks, chopped. ( I use leeks for 2 reasons. First onions make my mascara run, and secondly my kitchen is open plan and I think leeks smell better. But a large onion would be good).
3 celery sticks, chopped
I red pepper

Pack of mushrooms, cleaned and chopped Tin or jar of chickpeas, rinsed
2 packs of prawns, rinsed
Tin of chopped tomatoes

2 spoons of tomato purée
Generous mixed herbs,
Some fresh basil
Himalayan salt ( just because I like it) Black pepper

Soften the first 3 ingredients in coconut oil ( I use a wok )
Add mushrooms and then remaining ingredients, bring up to boil then simmer for 20-30 mins Add fresh basil.
Serve with lightly boiled or stir fried courgetti.

So quick and easy and the leftovers taste good the next day!
Just looked at my photo. It looks as if I might have thrown some spinach in too…

Wait Before You Watch The Scales

nut-bowl

Hello again. The purpose of this blog is not to tell anybody what to do, but rather to share my experiences and what works for me. I would like to give you some food for thought and hopefully nudge you towards a healthier diet that suits you.

How are you getting on with the no instant box food and no refined sugar?

I’m anticipating you are feeling the benefits already. You will of course have realised that the bonus is you have dramatically reduced your salt intake without trying….
This means that you will clean up your palate and food you previously would have described as bland becomes tasty.

How you are reacting to these changes really depends on how much processed food and drinks you have been accustomed to… that includes the artificial sweeteners that have been hiding too…. Please avoid all artificial sweeteners, check anything that says low sugar. I have been reading some articles that suggest that they actually increase the risk of obesity and diabetes. The reasons are a bit scientific, so probably best I don’t attempt an explanation, but they alter the composition and function of intestinal microbiota.

I deliberately suggested trying these changes for a month. Our bodies and systems need a while to receive this new information, give your liver and chance to work for you.
It’s a good idea to drink plenty of water, being hydrated will help any withdrawal symptoms, like headache.

On the subject of drinking – I stick with my personal philosophy – if possible all drinks should be as simple and uncomplicated as possible. Preferably buy coffee beans, good quality tea, wine with no additives, also beer. Good gin, vodka, whisky are fine I’m sure but think very carefully about the mixers.

So today I’m suggesting not getting on the scales until you have been eating like this for a full 4 weeks. You will be increasingly aware that you are moving faster and skin clearer, sleeping better. Your portions will be smaller because you are eating only nutrient dense food that hasn’t had any addictive chemicals added.

Your body is going to settle into a natural state of feeling increasingly well. More on that next time! Because I have a sweet tooth I’m going to include another cake recipe. Next time I’m going to share a savoury one for people who don’t like cake! Enjoy your food and feeling good….

Raspberry and Coconut Loaf. ( taken from Clean Alice) Oven 180, 1lb loaf tin, lined.

175g ground almonds 25g desiccated coconut 1 lemon, zested
2tsp baking powder

3 eggs
5 tbsp honey ( I didnt use so much but see what you think) 150g raspberries.

Mix all dry ingredients.
Whisk the eggs, add the honey, Add the 2 mixes together
Fold in the raspberries

Bake for 50-60 mins, covering with foil for the last 20 mins

Diet and Nutrition, one of my favourite subjects!

I am an ex nurse who is fascinated by health and maintaining our bodies in the best state possible.

New Year has inspired me to write my first ever blog!

I am an ex nurse who is fascinated by health and maintaining our bodies in the best state possible. I am not a scientist or nutritionist, but have been reading and thinking about the subject for as long as I can remember.

I have decided it may be helpful not to be scientific because it’s easier to keep things simple. The food industry is a huge money making concern. So is the diet industry – so it suits them for us to think it’s complicated. We’ve seen it all, 5/2, cabbage soup, meal replacement, calorie counting, low carb, high protein on and on and on…..

Let’s step back and remember how we are designed. The human body is a wonderful machine, working in synch automatically. We have evolved over the millennia to choose and digest the right food nutrients for optimum performance. I believe that our food/fuel has changed so rapidly over the last 60 years that our bodies simply cannot change quickly enough to cope. Evolution moves at a much slower pace.

Our poor systems don’t have a clue how to process flavour enhancers, colours…. However food scientists understand very well what to add that makes the pleasure centres in our brain very happy and want more! We literally become addicted.

My suggestion to you is going to sound very dramatic, and maybe it is but I recommend it to you because the results will be dramatic.

Don’t diet! However I would like you to eat nothing that comes in a packet ( that has more than one ingredient in it, i.e. Pasta, Rice.) no tomato ketchup etc. Also no refined sugar.

Sounds tough? Do this for 4 weeks and you will be amazed how easy it becomes and how well you feel.

I’m going to finish today’s blog with a treat for you, we all deserve treats. I was recommended this recipe by a friend on Facebook, it is from Dr Joseph Mercola.

Brownies,

1 large sweet potato, boiled and mashed
½ cup smooth nut butter
2tbsp maple syrup
¼ cup cacao powder

Melt butter and syrup
Mix all ingredients together

Bake in a square tin for 20 minutes at 180C

Enjoy one with your coffee break.

Very best wishes for your healthiest New Year ever,

The Food Nut.