Yoga Challenge

imag0770From the 3rd to the 23rd of Octoer I’m doing yoga every day to raise money for the wonderful debt counselling charity Christians Against Poverty who rescue people from the crushing misery of debt.  CAP is 20 years old and to celebrate, they and their supporters are doing 20fortwenty challenges for 20 days.  I signed up for yoga even though I’m fairly new to it and usually only do it once a week.  I’ve been stretched in every direction and ached in muscles I didn’t even know I had.

Here is a selection of pics from my twitter feed @eatwellcoach.


Why would I put myself through this?

Because of people like D who came to my local centre. Health problems and hospital visits meant she was down graded at work and lost income. Her son wouldn’t look for work and her youngest had irregular school attendance; thankfully her eldest daughter helped and supported her. D pared expenditure down to the bone and worked diligently with CAP on her finances.  In August she became debt free and now has a house and a new start in another town.  She found faith at a discovery break and is off the anti-depressants she took for nearly 8 years.
You can see some more stories here – check out ‘Break the Silence’.

You know my passion for eating well – people in debt often miss meals.  My book Survival Guide for the Skint talks about priorities including food and CAP’s budgets always allow people to feed their families.

I’d be thrilled if you’d sponsor me to help clients like D.  Here’s my Just Giving page.  If you see me in town, I’ll have a paper sponsor form with me.

Thanks already to Christine, Tim, Heather, Brenda, Cathy, Tom, Jean, Julie, Garry, Brenda, Maurice, Joyce, Janet, Barbara, Jackie, Tony, Sarah, Hilary, Robert, Alec, Caroline, Clear North.


Quote of the month


As sad as it is for me to say, the current food and farming system is creating catastrophic change as it contributes to climate change, global famine and malnourishment, damaging our planet to the brink of disrepair. Parts of our conventional food system harm nature, people, communities and civilisations in the wild and urban world.

Tom Hunt


We hear the word gluten, see adverts for alternative bread, notice increasing supermarket shelf space given over to ‘free from’ items, so what’s it all about?

Gluten (from the Latin for glue) is a protein white-bread-bunsand it is sticky stuff! Most commonly you’ll find it in products made from wheat, barley and rye: bread, pastry, cereals, cakes and biscuits, where its elasticity is useful. It’s also used in many processed foods and imitation meat products and even lipstick.

Does it matter if there’s gluten in your food? Like most nutrition questions the answer is, “it depends”. If you have coeliac disease it matters a lot. This auto-immune condition can be triggered by tiny amounts. Some non-coeliacs are sensitive to gluten and can suffer intestinal distress for days. Certainly gluten is difficult to digest; some doctors think that mankind cannot digest it at all. However, many people don’t seem to react and eat it daily.

The number of people with gluten sensitivity has risen sharply in the last few decades – for good reasons.

  • 1) Our modern diet is very ‘grain based’ so we eat more.
  • 2) Since wheat was re-engineered in the 70s it contains more gluten.
  • 3) Industrial processing has changed. It used to take hours to make a loaf of bread, kneading it and letting it rise and prove twice. Now a steam-injection process turns ingredients into the finished product in 20 minutes so the gluten doesn’t get time to relax.

The solution is avoidance, which used to be a blessing in disguise; there was no choice but to eat real food. But manufacturers don’t like to miss segments of the market so now you can buy a tempting array of gluten-free products. But beware – just being gluten free doesn’t necessarily make a product healthy.

Also check out this article on the mechanism of non-coeliac wheat sensitivity.

Top tip – Know your own body when it comes to gluten.

Quote of the Month

Advertisers have dispensed with the idea of promoting a product’s attributes in favour of marketing the product’s image. This image is conceived by marketing psychologists quite independently of the product itself, and usually has more to do with a target market than the item being sold.



The result of this is that sweets and fizzy drinks are sold as fun for kids and adults.  Even though we know they’ll rot our teeth, make us fat and wreck our health, we still keep buying them, eating them – and even giving them to those we love. Tragic but admittedly clever.

As one of my Eat Well Gang said,

“I suppose the Victorians had opium dens

                           – we have McDonalds and CocaCola.”

 I’d like to add Haribo, Maoam, Rowntree’s etc to that.

While talking about breakfast cereals aimed at children, Dr Christiane Northrup said,

“Think of these massive doses of sugar as no different to drugs and alcohol.  Premature death is coming from alcohol and sugar.”

Sugar Blues

Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) results in hunger, shakiness, weakness, dizziness, irritability and depression. I should know; for years I suffered on a daily basis. The cause – too much sugar. High blood sugar stimulated my body to produce insulin, which took the sugar back out of my blood (and made me fat). I didn’t understand the problem so I tried to control my symptoms with regular biscuits, bananas and chocolate. It was a disaster. At archery competitions, I ate sugar even more frequently. I just got headaches and felt awful.

My first inkling of the cause

Cereal - a poor choice for breakfast

Cereal – a poor choice for breakfast

was at work. Biscuits were provided in meetings; if I ate one I got hungry but if I abstained I was OK. My second clue came when dieting to lose the weight I’d gained eating so many biscuits; I was less hungry eating a little cereal for breakfast than a lot.  Also I noticed the low-fat yoghurts I bought weren’t satisfying, they just increased my appetite.  Now I know it’s because of the sugar they put in low-fat products to make them palateable.


Sugar has a toxic effect on the body and causes myriad health problems besides hypoglycemia. For centuries doctors have cured their patients of many ailments by replacing sugar with quality vegetable and whole grain carbohydrates and for centuries consumption has increased sweeping aside all resistance. In the 11th Century, brewers caught adding sugar to beer were dragged through the City of Chester in a cart with the overnight refuse of the privies. In the early 1900s, America had laws against “substances injurious to health” (like sugar) being added to food. Manufacturers (including Coca-Cola) opposed this, got the government on side and the health of the whole nation deteriorated as a result of the adulterated products that are now their main food. In the 1950s, Dr Gyland wrote papers to warn and help others but couldn’t get them published.  In Britain, Professor John Yudkin tried to fight Ancel Keys and his lipid hypothesis having found a stronger corrolation between sugar and heart disease than there is with fat – he was sqashed.  Even Keys himself couldn’t get published a paper he wrote late in his life against the direction nutritional advice has taken.  Little has changed.  Those reaping the profits still don’t want you to know the truth – sugar wrecks your health.

Top Tip – Stop eating sugar

NB Diabetics will need to balance their medication with their sugar intake.

To learn more about the sorry history of sugar in our food, read Sugar Blues by William Dufty and Pure, White and Deadly by John Yudkin.  Here’s a Daily Telegraph artcle on the latter; we still have the same sugar-industry-led problem today.


Quote of the month

The school holidays are almost upon us and there’ll be lots of time to do fun things – hopefully in the sunshine.  Here are some words from the wise about the types of foods we commonly regards as treats.

Treat treats as treatsIce lolly

Michael Pollan





Don’t treat your mouth like an amusement park

Joe Cross



Every time someone calls junk a treat, please correct them. We will never make progress until people see eating cr@p as anything but a treat

Zoe Harcombe


Eat for Better Business

The Olympics are coming! Athletes know that their performance can be affected by food and drink and we expect them to be careful with nutrition. Few of us watching make our living playing sport. So when you choose what to eat for breakfast, I wonder if you think about how well you’ll do your job that morning. What about lunch? It can make or wreck your afternoon.

When you consider your performance at work, you might not credit much influence to food and drink. Actually, good concentration, stable mood, sustained energy and robust health are all linked to what goes into our mouths. It’s the same for us as for the athletes.

Most people I speak to think they have a good diet but it can usually be improved. You might stick to the current fashion of low fat with lots of fruit and veg. but still suffer weight, health, energy and concentration problems. How frustrating. I used to eat that way and I was overweight, moody, constantly tired, always hungry and often had dizzy spells.

As an international archer, I was given the conventional advice – but it didn’t work. Years of misery later, my life was dramatically changed by learning to eat well – that’s why I now devote my time to helping others.

As well as the Eat for a Better Life courses that I run for groups and individuals, I go into businesses. With a focus of breakfast and lunch, I blow some preconceptions and talk about food that will give lasting concentration and energy to help people work well. I estimate the return on investment at 10 man-days per year per person who improves what they eat, just from eliminating the afternoon slump.

Last year I did a 10-presentation tour of the country for Nuvia Ltd. They have a strong, proactive safety, health and environment culture. Eat for Better Business was part of their BeeSafe campaign series and was included in their submission to RoSPA this year. Not only have Nuvia been awarded 18 consecutive RoSPA Gold Awards, but this year they were selected for the prestigious Engineering Services Sector award and were put forward to compete for the highly respected Sir George Earle Trophy – they didn’t win but did achieve the top 3 out of 2000 companies! They also won their first Silver Award for Fleet Safety. Nuvia goes went to the RoSPA Awards in Birmingham on 13th and 14th July.  Penny Oliver and Mike Lewis gave presentations on their BeeSafe campaigns, including the Eat for Better Business work that I did with them.

If you think your business would benefit from employees who feel great, get in touch.



Self Care


Have you ever stopped while walking down a street to look at blossom or listen to birds singing? I wonder if you’ve sat and closed your eyes, just to relax. How long did you enjoy your moment before something inside you said, ‘That’s enough now – get going again.’ Our culture of work, speed and relentless busyness doesn’t seem to value self care and leaves us feeling guilty if we dare to pause. In my travels I speak to a lot of people who are putting their own needs last, attempting to keep up at the expense of their own health.  This sort of martyrish mentality might impress your boss/family/friends in the short term but it isn’t good – for you or them. Think of the safety announcement when you go on a plane, ‘fit your own mask first’. You’re of no help to anyone if you’ve collapsed.

Stress affects your weight too. In spite of our modern veneer, biologically we’re still the same as in the stone-age.  We’re programmed to survive tigers and famines. In a famine, you’ll automatically store fat, heighten your ability to recognise and desire for fattening foods and you won’t feel inclined to use up valuable energy on exercise. Faced with threats to life like tigers, you’ll automatically burn fat to become lean and quick. We haven’t evolved a specific response to email overload or financial worries. Your brain may well interpret low level, long term stress as famine. You can’t control this, the hormones made in response or the fat those hormones will make you store. Nutrition is fundamentally important to weight loss but for it not to be an uphill struggle, you need to address stress.

S/W Ver: 85.83.E7P

S/W Ver: 85.83.E7P

If you can eliminate the source, that’s best even if it’s difficult to do.  If not, make stress reduction a priority; a lunchtime walk in the woods, music, gardening, counselling, sport, art, mindfulness – to help you feel calm and safe.

Top tip – Prioritise stress reduction.