I recently went to Norway on holiday, brilliantly arranged by the lovely people at Cockermouth Travel. As well as the breathtaking beauty of the place, I was struck by the slim, healthy build of the population and the fabulous food! Game stew was a highlight plus lots of fresh fish (they love their herrings) and vegetables. (OK there were fast food places for tourists in the town centre; you’ll find that everywhere in the world nowadays.)
Breakfasts were a feast of cold meats, cheeses, fish, eggs, fruits, vegetables and yoghurt. That’s a high nutrient breakfast to fuel the national pastime of walking up mountains, come rain or shine. Over here continental breakfast has been diminished to coffee and a croissant – not satisfying, not healthy and not continental.
And more breakfast!
Going on holiday is a great opportunity to reconnect with real food. You might go to more exotic places that I do. Perhaps you’ve sampled the delights of young coconuts or fresh bananas which I’m told are divine.
It’s a shame we emulate the Americans more than Europeans. We eat more processed food than any other European country. We also have the fattest population plus the resultant deteriorating health. The French and Italians love their food and you can enjoy locally grown produce, artisan breads, grass-fed meat and amazing cheeses. Food is a high priority for them. They spend money on good ingredients and take time cooking and eating. Meals are not rushed or gulped down alone in front of a TV or computer. There’s a strong social element with lots of talk and laughter round the table. Enjoy it while you’re away and keep it up when you come back.
Top tip – make good food culture a holiday souvenir to bring back home.
What good fortune for men in power that people do not think.
The ‘men in power’ these days include those who profit from the processed food industry. Joanna Blythman has been undercover in the food industry to find out how true this is. If we really knew what was in all the artificial food we’re eating and the damage it is doing to our health, we’d stop and go back to cooking from scratch.
I’ll be doing an interactive workshop on Integrated Performance Coaching.
You’ve focussed on your goal, you’ve worked at it, and you’ve yet to achieve it. In this practical session you will explore a broader way to create a personal plan for success. Integrated performance coaching is the approach I used as an international sportswomen to prepare for big competitions. Starting with an area of your life you want to change, I’ll help you to prioritise and achieve your goal with confidence.
It’s always worth keeping an eye on fresh produce that’s being sold off. The other day I spotted big lettuces on sale for 25p. I immediately thought of my Mum’s lettuce soup recipe – here it is:
12oz roughly chopped lettuce
1/4 pint milk
4oz spring onions, chopped
1 tblsp flour
1pt chicken stock
salt and pepper
Put the butter in the pan with the lettuce and spring onions. Cook until soft. Add the flour, then the stock. Bring to the boil. Simmer for 20 minutes. Cool a bit. Blend. Add milk.
I bought one of the lettuces which weighed nearly 2lb, plus a bunch of spring onions, and made a big pan of lovely soup which I froze in portions. I often eat soup and cheese for my lunch (no bread). There was still lots of lettuce left for us to have in salads that week so nothing was wasted.
Getting so many meals for so little reminded me of a student I know in Leeds. He goes to the market, buys whatever they’re selling off and makes soup. His mates spend a fortune on processed rubbish but he’s getting good, fresh, real food at a monthly price of <£30!
There’s a management maxim that states, ‘what gets measured, gets done.’ Our brains love to measure and compare. It works for business and it works in our personal lives too.
It’s human nature to want to improve. Knowledge is power. If you know how much you do, you’ll want to do more.
For exercise there are tools like pedometers and fitness aps that measure your activity levels. Ask anyone with a pedometer how much they walk and they’ll tell you it’s more since they got one!
I’ve been keeping training records for many years using a chart I developed when I was first selected to represent Great Britain in archery – see my book Succeed in Sport to develop your own chart. Colouring in the chart lets me see immediately the training I’ve been doing.
Use a measurement method that appeals to you. Gold starsare great for kids – and for adults too; a client of mine has been successfully using stars. Some people like tables of numbers. I coached a man once who drew a graph when he decided to stop smoking. His motivator was the cumulative money he saved and it went up and up!
For eating well, how about giving yourself credit each time you snack on nuts, have a drink of water, eat some vegetables or cook unprocessed meat / fish. Be observant, catch yourself doing something right and measure only what’s good. Let your natural motivation increase it. By building up the amount of nutrient-rich natural foods you eat, bad foods will automatically get squeezed out.
Celebrate and reward yourself for your progress, perhaps with a relaxing day somewhere beautiful.
Super foods are ‘in’. People are going mad for all sorts of things from gogi berries to maca powder and cacao nibs. However, I was really taken aback when someone said their diet club had told them that pasta is a super food; it is not.
So what makes something a super food? 2 things. Firstly, it will have an unusually high nutrient content; things like vitamins, minerals, enzymes or good fats. Secondly, the nutrients will be in a form that the body can easily absorb and use. This is called bio-availability. I have some videos on different superfoods here (scroll down through top tips and testimonials to get to the superfood series).
Take the avocado, a true super food. This pear-shaped fruit is packed with amino acids, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and good fats. I base my breakfast smoothie on avocado. They’re also great as part of a salad. Contrast this with pasta which is just wheat starch. Like bread or Yorkshire pudding, it’s ‘padding’ with only a bit of protein, a few minerals, hardly any vitamins and no good fat. It will cause weight gain without boosting your health.
I’m quarter Italian and enjoy pasta as much as the next person but I eat no more than a handful in a meal. After all, in Italy pasta is not a main dish, it’s a starter. And what is this bizarre Cumbrian custom of serving lasagne with chips? That’s adding padding to more padding. Instead, have it with a large, mixed salad, dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
The goodness has diminished drastically in our modern diet. Super foods can help to fill the gap and give you a boost but a few gogi berries won’t make up for a poor diet. Build a solid foundation and always aim to eat well.
If you’re at one of our many country shows this year, you’ll find all sorts of treats for sale. Look out for freshly made frozen yoghurt by Sheila of Sheila’s Fruity Cumbrian Fro-yo.
Here are some dates:
Cockermouth Georgian Fair 2nd May
Langwathby May Day – 16th May
Ulverston Food Festival – 23rd and 24th May
Holker Hall Garden Festival – 29th -31st May
Cumberland Show – 6th June
Whitehaven Air Show – 19th and 20th June
Skelton Show 4th July
Penrith on a Plate 18th July
Penrith Show – 25th July
Ulverston Show – 29th July
Ambleside Sports – 30th July
Cockermouth Show – 1st Aug
Hawkshead Show – 18th Aug
Grasmere Sports – 30th Aug
Hesket-New-Market Show – 5th Sept
Westmorland Show – 10th Sept
Holker Chilli Fest – 12th and 13th Sept
Acorn Bank, Apple Day – 11th Oct
Sheila has been working on some new flavours over winter and along with all the
old favourites: plum and damson, raspberry, blackcurrant, strawberry,
blackberry and apple etc she now has gooseberry with elderflower and rhubarb
and ginger. Sounds delicious – I’ll be having one!
Jamie Oliver has started a petition for food education to be complusory, not just here in the UK – but world-wide.
The current trend of increasing weight and declining health is largely down to people eating processed food instead of cooking from scratch. People aren’t going to want to prepare real, fresh food if they don’t know how. We have a whole generation now that doesn’t know how to cook so they can’t teach their kids even if they want to. Schools can help – by teaching every child how to grow and cook real food.