Quote of the Month – Hugs

What the coronavirus pandemic has really served to highlight is just how important connection is for us – emotionally and physically.

Many have been denied the opportunity of holding someone’s hand. Or giving a simple hug and that is hard as it comes so naturally.

We’re working in an alien environment.

The pandemic has cast a shadow over us all this year.

Reverend Rob Pestell

He also pointed out that “as sure as day follows night, so also spring will follow winter, and the signs of new life will again be all around us.”

The thing the government most succeeded in was depriving us of our sources of support.

What a joy to regain our right to hug our loved ones today.



Photo by Helena Lopes from Pexels

Eating ‘Out’

Hope you had a good Bank Holiday weekend – bit chilly wasn’t it?

Eating out has gained another meaning under the ever-present restrictions on our lives. We literally have to eat ‘out’. Not great in our UK weather.

For the first time I can remember, I’ve been more concerned with the crockery than the food. I’m very much a no-frills person and even as a student, a friend would criticise my presentation when I made him special meals. For me, health and flavour take priority over appearance. My food, like me, is functional, not decorative.

But meeting up for lunch the other day at a farm-shop cafe on a windy hill, suddenly the bowl in front of me gained centre stage.

image by zoer

I call it a bowl. It was really a plate with a bit of a depression. I had a surface area to volume ratio problem. My cream of vegetable soup was cold in about 20 seconds.

Getting back into cafes and restaurants will be heaven. Meanwhile, I’ll think twice about what I order and if I want hot soup, I’ll ask about the shape of the bowl 😉

Public Health Collaboration

Who?

The Public Health Collaboration is a registered charity dedicated to informing and implementing healthy decisions for better public health.

Their aim is to improve patient health while saving the NHS money.

The PHC has an advisory board of doctors and many ambassadors across the country, spreading the word.

You might have heard of Dr David Unwin, from Norwood Surgery in Southport. He’s a PHC real food GP and the National Champion of Obesity & Diabetes for the Royal College of General Practitioners. His practice saves £50,000 a year on drugs for diabetes alone.

His wife, Dr Jen Unwin had the inspiration for the wonderful Real Food Rocks event at Ambleside in 2019 – a full day of top speakers on food and health.

What can we offer?

The PHC promotes a scientifically based Real Food Lifestyle (guide here – free) for people maintaining good health.

Importantly, there’s also a The Real Food Lifestyle For Weight Loss (guide here – free) for people suffering obesity and type 2 diabetes.

We offer healthy eating patient groups to teach this.

Why?

The PHC wants to help because:

  • adult obesity is at 27%,
  • childhood obesity ranges from 12-25% (depending on age)
  • type 2 diabetes is at 6% (3.5 million people)
  • pre-diabetes is at 35%
  • all of this costs the NHS approximately £16 billion per year or 16% of the NHS’s total budget.

The PHC believes we can turn the tide on public health.

Now that’s worth getting excited about. I got so excited, I’ve just become a PHC ambassador.

Calling West Cumbria Health Care Professionals

If you are a Health Care Professional in West Cumbria (GPs, Opticians, Podiatrists) I’d love to come and talk to you about what we can offer your patients – at no charge to your practice. I can come and give a short (¼h) presentation to describe what we do so you can decide whether to avail yourself of support for your patients.

If you’re keen to get started and don’t want to wait for me to contact your practice, please get in touch. jackie@learntoeatwell.co.uk

Quote of the Month

I believe we have eaten our way into the triple pandemics of obesity, diabetes and fatty liver disease.  I also believe we can eat our way out by eating tasty, real food.

Dr David Unwin

(from Fork in the Road by Dr Jen Unwin)

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If we could actually see the damage that each double cheeseburger does to us, the cheeseburger business would collapse overnight.

Dr Rangan Chatterjee

Why does Boris support the growth of the junk-food industry by locking down almost everything except takeaways? Britain’s bad health is one of the main reasons for our high death rates from the virus.

Eat Well, Feel Good

Has lockdown left you overweight, tired and fed up?

Enjoy a more vibrantly healthy life. Learn to Eat Well.

Here’s my latest blog post –

I’m invariably late cottoning on to what everyone else has been doing for ages, so it was only recently I started doing some Joe Wick’s workouts.

I love them!

I started with the ‘Wake Up With Joe’ series and the other day I did the 1 Jan 2021 workout. Joe started the year by reading a letter he’d written.

Like most of us (including me) he has found Lockdown has affected his mental health, motivation, energy and mood.

He says you never regret a workout and he always feels better after some exercise.

He encouraged people to exercise in lots of different ways, not just focused on losing weight, but to get stronger, fitter and feel better.

As I listened, I thought about the parallels with food.

My work is all about people feeling great and having confidence choosing food that will boost their energy and health.

The main thing people enjoy when they learn to eat well is more energy. It’s almost instant. My old habits of cereal for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch gave me a feeling of fatigue that dragged me down. I’ll never go back to them because now I eat differently I enjoy feeling bright and ready for action.

Feeling good is the best motivator to carry on eating well.

Weight loss is a happy side-effect.

Joe also spoke about goals – not what you want in the end (outcome goals) but things you commit to do (process goals).

eg. resistance exercise each week is a doing goal to increase your strength.

Applying the same idea to food, a goal could be to eat one good meal each day.

I suggest starting with a real-food breakfast. If the first thing you eat (at whatever time) is good, it’s easier to keep eating good things later on.

Like increasing your resistance training as you find it easier, you could then progress to eating a real food lunch as well as breakfast.

Give it a go and feel good.

Top tip: To enjoy a more vibrantly healthy life, Learn to Eat Well!

 

For a Good Day, Eat a Good Breakfast

Some say breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

I say it’s the most important meal to get right.

Sadly, years of mis-information, marketing and confusion mean it’s often the worst meal of the day consisting of little more than processed carbohydrate (here’s why that’s bad).

The trick is to find things you know will last you through to lunchtime. That’s very unlikely to be breakfast cereal or jam on toast which can set you up for rapid hunger, unhealthy snacking later on, and weight gain. Eating no breakfast can be preferable to bad breakfast.

Some of my clients have improved their weight and health simply by changing their breakfast habits.

  Here are some ideas that might suit you better.  They use the principle that every meals should contain plants, proteins and fats.

Some people do well on porridge made from natural oats. (Beware the type in sachets as some contain loads of sugar.) To add some protein and fat, top with nuts and seeds and a dollop of cream. For plants sprinkle on a spoonful of berries.

Boost your weight loss with low-carb porridge. It doesn’t have any oats! Mix ground flax seed, chia seed, desiccated coconut and protein powder with some coconut milk and warm until thick. Top with a bit of fruit, some full-fat plain yoghurt and a few flaked almonds.

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Muesli can be goodchoose one with plenty of nuts and not much dried fruit. Again, top with full-fat plain yoghurt.

Granola is less good as it’s generally sweetened and cooked in vegetable oil. If you enjoy it, it’s definitely worth making your own using coconut oil.

Smoothies are quick to make and easy to consume and with the right ingredients can keep you satisfied for 5 or 6 hours.

Base them on coconut milk, avocado, ground almonds, flax, spinach, protein powder, peanut butter, cream, eggs, yoghurt etc.

Add just a little fruit for sweetness eg ¼ apple, 1” banana or a spoonful of berries. (Fruit is sugar so an all-fruit smoothie (bought or home-made) is not a healthy option.)

To save time, you can batch up any dry ingredients in advance so that in the morning you just tip them into the glass with your veg, fruit and milk choice, whizz with a stick blender and drink straight from the glass.

Dry ingredients ready to tip in

Fry-ups can sustain you for ages. For traditional Full English, choose from bacon, egg, black pudding, sausage, mushroom, tomato. Another favourite of mine is the Aussie classic – steak and egg – fab with wilted spinach.

Fancy something a little lighter? Go continental with boiled eggs, ham and cheese (you can save time by hard boiling an egg the night before).

Dip avocado or buttered, wholemeal toast ‘soldiers’ in soft-boiled eggs.

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In the summer, Jon Gabriel’s light but satisfying plain yoghurt mixed with nuts, seeds, protein powder and fruit is hard to beat.

 

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For a change, go fishy with a tin of mackerel plus half a pear and some seeds or indulge in smoked salmon, delicious teamed with scrambled eggs and courgette.

Top tip: To have a good day, eat a good breakfast.

Quotes of the Month – Health

Three quotes today

1.

The real pandemic is poor metabolic health, or metabolic inflexibility.

Aseem Malhotra

Poor metabolic health makes us vulnerable to obesity, diabetes and a severe outcome when we catch the coronavirus. If you want to lose weight, it’s best to do it in a way that protects your metabolic health, by eating well.

Here’s an article co-authored by Dr Malhotra on the change of food environment that’s needed, starting with the NHS itself.

2.

I wouldn’t start from here

Lewis Carol

(with thanks to @Beth Pipe for reminding me of this one!)

3.

How random and fragile life can be.

Megan Divine

We can’t control the things in life that hit us. We’re going through pain with no rhyme, reason or cure. But we can control how we care for and nurture ourselves and each other.

 

 

Keep Calm and Soothe Your Immune System

Christmas is only days away but due to the restrictions it won’t be the merry one we know and love. I’d be grateful for any ideas on how to hold a large family party on Zoom!

We’re coming to the end of the worst year most of us have ever experienced. A world-wide annus horribilis. And it’s taken its toll.

In the summer I spoke to someone who does thermography scans. She has noticed that all the scans this year shown people’s immune systems were over-stimulated. She thinks it’s a result of all the anxiety.

What can we do?

Your nervous system has two parts.

  • One part responds to threats using fight, flight or freeze.

  • The other part deals with rest, repair and digestion.

We need both in balance.

The threat response part is only supposed to work in short bursts -followed by recovery. This hasn’t changed from ancient days when we had to run from danger.

This year our threat response has been in action big-time, for months. We feel that we’ve been under threat this whole year.

Fear of the virus; fear of lockdown consequences like job losses, business closures, home losses, inability to pay bills, uncertainty over the future; stress from being physically cut off from those we love and who support us emotionally; stress from being shut in with those who abuse us; stress from children being out of school and all the exam chaos; stress from losing trust in the government and its actions; grief for the loss of friends, family and the things that enrich our lives like sports clubs, choirs, restaurants and theatres; misery for not having anything to look forward to and no end in sight.

The list is endless and the fall-out is only just beginning to emerge.

It’s no good pretending that everything is fine.

It isn’t.

All is not well.

And it’s right to acknowledge how you feel at each moment in time.

It’s also good to do things, even little things, that help in any way.

Here are some ideas:

When we get stressed, our breathing changes. Fortunately this works both ways so deliberately changing our breathing can make us become calmer. By using the link between your breathing and your nervous system you allow your body to do some resting, digesting, healing.

Here’s a nice breathing exercise (it’s part of a talk on the body-mind connection from the Public Health Collaboration Virtual Conference).  Start at 28minutes 30 seconds to hear the explanation then do it for a few minutes a few times a day, perhaps even more slowly than Joe’s description.  Try it just before you eat so you get maximum nutrition from your food.

Chronic stress increases the hormone cortisol. That makes us hungry so some of us have put on weight. When my Father was dying in the spring, I wanted to eat all the time. I called it my ‘grief gut’. You can get back to proper appetite balance by calming down (as well as ditching junk and eating real food of course).

You will have some personal favourite activities that get you into a relaxed state. You’ll know when you’ve found what’s right for you – time will cease to exist, you’ll feel in the zone, you’ll be so absorbed you won’t notice anything going on around you.

I’m a fan of mindfulness, which is all about noticing how things are, moment by moment, without trying to change them (see this little mindfulness video).

Most people feel good doing yoga or T’ai Chi. It’s necessary to be fully engaged in balance and movement when you stand on one leg – or you fall over!

TV can veg us out but often doesn’t calm us; it’s too passive and lots of programmes feature people being unkind or shouting which will trigger your subconscious defences even more. Try Slow TV, listen to the birds in your garden or mellow out with a nature video – here’s one of a woodland stream (with no birdsong – videos with birds are available!).

The right music works magic too. If you’re up-tight, your brain might reject gentle music, so start with something quite fast, easing it down gradually.

Visually relaxing activities include jigsaws, art and needlework. Stick a bird feeder on your window for delightfully entertaining action to watch.

Getting physical with exercise, gardening, walking the dog or even cleaning the house might work for you. (Take care not to do too much; extreme exercise is like another threat and depresses your immune system.) Gentle stretching helps release muscle tension. Mindful walking in nature gives you physical, mental and visual calming in one.

Waft away and be relaxed by scent – in the bath, as an aromatherapy massage or in a diffuser (always use essential oils, not factory-made perfumes).

Losing yourself in a good book can take you to another place entirely.

Being creative in the kitchen engages all the senses and you get to eat something wonderful at the end!

Top tip: Ramp up whatever calms you.

I wish you a peaceful, if far from normal, Christmas.