Mmm – Chocolate

As we approach Christmas, sweet treats are everywhere. The UK chocolate market is worth £4.1 billion and we eat a staggering 437 million kg every year. Most of it is bad for you so you might be glad that a bit of quality, dark chocolate does you good.

The health benefits of dark chocolate are all the rage right now, with some calling it a super food. I‘m not sure I’d go that far but its low sugar content and rich concentrations of beneficial antioxidants and poly-phenols make it a superior snack. It needs to be >70%; the milk and white varieties, although undeniably tasty, don’t cut it and have far too much sugar. And you’ll still need to apply some moderation – a few squares a day, not a few bars. So what’s in it?

  • resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant, good for blood pressure, heart health and your brain.
  • flavanols which are anti-inflammatory.

  • cocoa butter, containing approximately 33% oleic acid, the same healthy monounsaturate as olive oil.
  • minerals including potassium, phosphorus, copper, iron, zinc, and magnesium.

Companies are springing up making organic, raw chocolate in all sorts of amazing flavours from chilli to gin and tonic. If, like me, you were saddened that the government allowed the Americans to buy Cadbury’s and ruin a great British product, you may be interested to know that James Cadbury (great, great, great grandson of the original John Cadbury) has started a business under the brand Love Cocoa, making high quality, ethical chocolate. I’ve tested it for you (a hard job but someone had to do it).

It’s delicious on its own or use it in my favourite Chocolatey Nut Seed Snack, recipe in my resources section here – keep scrolling down past the soup which you might also enjoy during the current wintry weather!

Top tip: A little dark chocolate does you good

Merry Christmas!

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Enjoy Eggs

Eggs were back in the news recently – now the Food Standards Agency says they’re good for everyone, even raw. Call me reckless but I never stopped eating runny eggs in the 80s (sorry Edwina). Salmonella levels in UK eggs are low and when British Lion-marked the hens have been vaccinated.

Does anyone remember ‘Go to Work on a Egg’ in the 1950s? OK it was an advertising slogan (Tony Hancock originals on YouTube). That’s much sounder advice than breakfast cereal ads today, so it’s galling they were not permitted a rerun in 2007 on the grounds that they promoted a non-varied diet.

An egg is a superb food in its own little package. They’re a great source of protein, used as the reference standard against which all other foods are assessed. They provide a full set of essential amino acids, in the right proportions and contain several vitamins including B2, B12, D, A and E, plus minerals like selenium, iodine and phosphorus. The fats are mainly mono-unsaturated with some brain healthy, long-chain, omega 3 fatty acids (DHA). (The fat profile depends on the hens’ diet, with free-range hens beating corn-fed, caged hens hands down.)

Don’t fear the cholesterol; it won’t affect your blood levels.  The advice to restrict the number of eggs you eat has been dropped.  I almost always include an egg in my breakfast so I don’t need to snack before lunch. Two favourites are fried steak, egg and mushrooms or a green smoothie, both of which last me about 6 hours.

Protein is very good for satisfying appetite. When I’m travelling, I take Jon Gabrielle’s omelette pizza (recipe on YouTube). It’s delicious cold as well as hot.  He uses 3 eggs but for me one is enough for a lunch.

There are lots of other great recipes at http://www.eggrecipes.co.uk/recipes. I tried the egg and chorizo one-pot. A bit of a starch-fest but a tasty and filling winter warmer.

Top tip – Go to work on an egg!

Quote of the month

 

For World Diabetes Day – not a day to celebrate

 

Western medicine will one day admit what has been known in the Orient for years. Sugar is the greatest evil that modern industrial civilization has visited upon the countries of the Far East and Africa.

Nyoiti Sakurazawa

The taste of sweetness, whereof a little more than a little is by much too much.

Shakespeare

Henry IV, Part I

Don’t be S.A.D.

With National Chocolate Week in October, you might have been expecting a piece on the health benefits of chocolate. Fear not, I am writing one for you for Christmas but I noticed autumn arrive with shorted days and persistent rain so the immediate need is Vitamin D.

The sun is lower in the sky and the slanty light makes the views stunning across the hills early in the morning and the sea at sunset. The depth of the atmosphere are these angles means more absorption of shorter wavelengths including the beneficial UVB we need. Even leaving aside the fact that hardy Cumbrians can be seen out in shorts, T-shirts and sandals at any time of year, there simply isn’t enough UVB from October to March for our skin to make Vitamin D. The UV index has to be a minimum of 3. It’s only 1 as I write this with a forecast of 3 briefly over Wednesday lunchtime.

I’m keen where possible, on getting nutrients the way nature intended, from food. The best sources are fish liver oil, full fat dairy and eggs but you’re unlikely to get enough this way. This is where supplements can be helpful. Look for Vitamin D3; D2 is only half as effective. The strength might be labelled by weight in micrograms µg or by international units IU which relate to biological activity. For Vitamin D3, 1 µg is equivalent to 40 IU. So 25 µg capsules are equivalent to 1000 IU.

Vitamin D is fat soluble so it can build up and we each absorb it differently. The PHE recommend a dose of 10 µg / 400 IU which is modest. Some studies show that this is not enough and I take more. Your doctor can do a blood test to make sure you’re not overdosing. I asked for one in February and my level was fine so I’ll be supplement again each winter.

What about SAD (seasonal affective disorder)? A special lamp will compensate for the lack of light and has a beneficial effect but the wonderful Vitamin D even helps with SAD.

Top tip: Take Vitamin D supplements this winter.

The Power of Imprinting

Here’s something special for you with my thanks to Mental Management Systems.

I used one of Lanny Bassham’s books, With Winning in Mind, when I was representing Great Britain in archery.

It was also the inspiration to write my book, Succeed in Sport.  Lanny especially liked my use of symbols to record performance levels.

I was lucky enough to have a day’s mental management training with Lanny and his son Troy when they came to Britain.

Troy, Jackie, Lanny at Bisley

 Here’s a piece by Brian Bassham we can all use.

Have you ever seen a book titled, “The Power of Negative Thinking?” I haven’t and I believe the reason is because it works and is easy to do. We live in a negative environment where it’s easy to beat yourself up, vent to others why things are bad, and focus on the things not going well. It’s easy to be negative and takes no effort. With that said, if one practices having positive thoughts, it becomes easier for them to be positive instead of negative.

The power of imprinting is real, both negative and positive. I’ve known people who seem to only have bad luck. They are the same people who focus on the negative. The Eeyores of the world that can’t catch a break to save their life. What if, those same people changed their thought process? What if you only focused on the positive and left the negative at the door? How much better would life be? How much more could you accomplish?

The Self-Image needs two ingredients to grow, 1) Confirmation from others and 2) Confirmation from self. Let’s take a look at the first ingredient, confirmation from others. You must have a strong circle of people who lift you up. Think about the 5 people you spend most of your time around and ask yourself this question, “Do I feel better about myself when I’m around them?” If the answer is yes, keep them in your circle. If the answer is no, protect yourself. I’m not saying you should remove them out of your life. What I am saying is that if you want to reach your true potential you must interact with people who build you up.

The second ingredient can be difficult for some but it is necessary if you want to have a strong Self-Image. There are 3 types of imprints: Actual Imprints, Environmental Imprints, and Imagined Imprints. Both actual imprints and environmental imprints are out of your control. However, Imagined Imprints are in your control. What you choose to think about, write about, and talk about is up to you. Choose to think Helpful thoughts, write down Positive Affirmations, and talk about what you want to have happen helps build your Self-Image.

In the book, “With Winning in Mind” there is a section titled, “Building a Better You.” In my opinion, it’s the most important portion of the book. You have the POWER to change the Self-Image that you currently have to the Self-Image you desire by using the power of imprinting. First, make the decision that you are willing to change. Only you can make that choice. Second, identify specifically the habits and/or attitudes that you need to change. You must be specific. Third, identify the new Self-Image that is in direct conflict with your old one. Finally, only IMPRINT the new habits and/or attitudes of the desired new Self-Image.

Imprinting positive thoughts and focusing on the new habits and/or attitudes will also create conflict within your current Self-Image. Only two things can happen; you become the person you desire by continuing to change your thoughts or you stay being who you are by stopping those imprints. The Self-Image hates conflict so this process is not easy but knowing that if you stick with your positive imprints long enough the Self-Image will change can be the motivation you need to keep going. Imprinting is in your control, control your thoughts and you can accomplish anything you put your mind to.

Written by: Brian Bassham

Mental Coach – Mental Management Systems

brian@mentalmanagement.com

Quote of the Month – World Obesity Day

It’s World Obesity Day today.

If diets worked there would be really one diet, everybody would go on it, lose weight and that would be the end of it.

Jon Gabriel

But 95% of diets don’t work (other than short-term).  So what’s the answer? Don’t diet, learn to eat well.

Real, fresh food is the solution.

World Obesity Day

Action on Sugar

Shapes and Colours

As I walk through town looking at the gardens, the flowers may be fading but the leaves are turning copper and gold and the apples hang red on the trees. Whatever the season, there are wonderful shapes and colours in nature. This is how our food should be too.

There are many types of fish and they’re fish-shaped, not oblong, battered or crumbed. It’s easy to add your own toppings if you like. Fresh meat will have been cut up into large joints with individual shapes or small pieces. There can be a world of difference between a bought burger and some mince to make your own and between chicken nuggets and a free-range drumstick.

Take a look at your shopping as it goes along the supermarket conveyor belt. Is it all beige? Is it all square? I wrote a little rhyme:

 

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

When you go to the shops

If it comes in a box

Let it stay on the shelf

For the sake of your health

 

Each type of food brings its own special nutrients. Eating the same things every day can leave you with deficiencies and makes intolerance more likely. Most people have loads of recipe books and eat the same dozen meals all the time. Mix them up: white meat one day, fish another, then red meat, perhaps an omelette, or have a boost with liver or oily fish. Have rice or quinoa sometimes rather than always potatoes. Challenge yourself to buy a wider variety of vegetables. Eat two types with each meal, different colours. If you have something starchy, pair it with something non-starchy eg carrots with green beans, peas with red cabbage, sweet corn with pak choi. It’ll be a feast for your eyes on the conveyor belt and your plate.

Top tip – buy some foods with shapes and colours.

Quote of the month

Cooking is without doubt one of the most important skills a person can learn.

Jamie Oliver

There are loads of recipes on his website and YouTube channel.  I love his chicken and mushroom pie.  He does it in no time.  It takes me ages (I make my own gluten-free shortcrust pastry) but it’s so delicious it’s worth it.

I’ve also just bought a copy of his new book ‘5 Ingredients’ – brilliant if you’re new to cooking and want to keep things simple.

Retire Healthy

If work’s been quiet that’s all about to change as schools start back and holidays finish. But for some of you work might be nearing its end with retirement weeks, months or only a year away. Are you ready for it?

When you’re young, you’re invincible (well that’s how it seems). You can take on the world and withstand any assault. Ambitions run high. You sacrifice your time, relationships and health to your career as you climb up the management ladder. One day you wake up and realise there’s more to life and start counting the cost. All around you middle-aged friends and celebrities are suffering diverse ailments or dying too young.

Reclaiming your health suddenly takes priority as you think of all the things you still want to do with the time you’ll have. Whilst life expectancy has gone up as drugs stop us from dying, I doubt you aspire to eking out your later years battling some chronic condition in a care home. If, however, you’re up to it, the world will soon be your oyster.

.

Eating well to avoid cancer, heart disease, diabetes or Alzheimer’s is like wearing a seat belt when you drive. It’s about risk reduction. Chronic health problems have increased as the national diet has deteriorated.

Add exercise, good sleep, happy relationships and time outside in the air and sunshine to lower your risk further. It’s never too late to start. Much of the damage of a miss-spent youth is reversible with some TLC.

The best time for positive action is always today.

Learn to eat well now, live well for longer.

Top tip – eat well and enjoy a healthy retirement.

My next course is at Lorton St Methodists, Cockermouth Wednesdays, 7:30pm, 20th September – 25th October.  Why not join us?  Book your place now and invest in your future.