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.

.

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.

.

.

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

 

.

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.

Quote of the Month – ruled by our stomachs

It is very strange, this domination of our intellect by our digestive organs. We cannot work, we cannot think unless our stomach wills it so. …..

After eggs and bacon it says, “Work!”

After a cup of tea ….. , it says to the brain, “Now, rise, and show your strength. Be eloquent and deep, and tender ..…”

After hot muffins it says, “Be dull and soulless, like a beast of the field – a brainless animal with listless eye ..…”

And after brandy it says, “Now, come, fool, grin and tumble, that your fellow-men may laugh – drivel in folly, and splutter in senseless sounds, and show what a helpless ninny is poor man whose wit and will are drowned, like kittens, side by side, in half and inch of alcohol.”

We are but the veriest, sorriest slaves of our stomach.

Jerome K. Jerome

From Three Men in a Boat

Get Cooking For Christmas

Have fun with home-made this Christmas.

Yes, creating decorations and cards is fun – but I mean food! Are you like me, rather free and easy in the kitchen? I rarely weigh or measure anything and often play fast and loose with recipe ingredients and methods. Or you might be like my friend who puts a recipe book on a stand to follow everything to the letter using measuring jugs and scales for each ingredient. I suspect she has few disasters!

I love Emma Porter’s recipes and she has an ebook just for Christmas.

So leaf through your recipe books or browse the internet.   Here are a few from my own recipe book:  

Apple sauce

Peel, core and chop a cooking apple.

Put in a pan with a drop of water, some lemon juice, a pinch of salt and a pinch of nutmeg or mixed spice.

Cook until the apple is soft.

Beat in a teaspoon of butter.

Put in a hot clean jar, lid and allow to cool.

After the jar is opened, keep in the fridge and use within a week.

Mince pies

For a rich pastry:

8oz flour, ½ tsp salt, 4oz butter – rub together until resembling breadcrumbs.

Lightly beat together an egg and 20ml water. Sprinkle on and mix using a knife. Draw together and knead briefly into a smooth dough then put in the fridge for ½ h (covered).

Roll out the pastry on a floured surface and cut your tops and bottoms.

Grease a bun tin (not muffin tin) with butter and assemble your pies, putting a teaspoon of mincemeat in each. You’ll use a small (410g) jar of mincemeat for this much pastry and it makes about 20 pies.

Put two knife cuts in the top of each one and brush with milk.

Bake in a preheated oven at 220 degrees C for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

These will last a couple of weeks in a tin. They freeze well too and are great warmed up with some cream on.

For Gluten free, low-carb, use a mix of 4oz ground almonds, 2oz coconut flour and 2oz tapioca to give some elasticity. 4oz butter, ½ tsp salt and one egg as above.

 

Sardine pate

The world’s 2nd most nutritious food (after liver) but not everyone is keen on them on their own. This very simple recipe gives a fresh, clean taste and with a bit of salad would make a tasty starter for Christmas dinner. It will keep for a few days in the fridge.

4oz butter

4oz cream cheese

2 tins sardines

Juice and zest of a lemon

1 teaspoon mustard

1 desert spoon fresh chopped parsley

Salt, pepper

If you have a food processor, you can whizz it in that. Other wise, use soft butter, put the all ingredients in a bowl and beat with a wooden spoon.

 

Rum truffles

220g dark chocolate

100ml single cream

12g butter

Drop of vanilla essence

15ml rum

A saucer of dry coating of your choice – eg cocoa powder, desiccated coconut, sesame seeds, chopped nuts.

Heat the cream and butter to a rolling boil, then allow to cool and add the vanilla essence.

Break the chocolate into small pieces and melt gently in the microwave.

Mix the chocolate and cream and add the rum.

Pour into a shallow tray or dish lined with greaseproof paper and put it somewhere cool, uncovered for 24 hours.

Take about a teaspoon at a time and form into balls.

Roll the truffles around your saucer until they are coated and not sticky to touch any more. You can pop them into individual sweet papers.

Keep in the fridge. (no pic – I haven’t made any yet for this year!!!)   Top tip – Enjoying cooking up some goodies for Christmas.

V – Virus Resilience

It’s almost winter. The virus is still with us. No nutrition can stop you catching it – so we comply with whatever rules and restrictions are in place at the time.

 

What you can influence is what happens if you do catch it. Young healthy people will mostly be fine. If you’re older, your risk of serious illness increases. You can’t change your age but you can reduce your risk when you improve:

  • your health
  • your weight
  • your blood sugar stability
  • your Vitamin D level

Looking after yourself is always worth it.

That’s why for November I’m offering reduced price consultations (£65 → £49) to people who want to take positive action.

Book now jackie@learntoeatwell.co.uk

What you eat and drink really matters so here are some tips to help you.

Eat more:

  • Oily fish and eggs for vitamin D which has many health benefits, including priming our T cells

  • Vegetables which give you lots of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and antioxidants plus fibre to feed the good bacteria in your gut

  • Live natural yoghurt, kefir, lassi and fermented vegetables to repopulate your good bacteria

  • Coconut oil which has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties

Supplement with:

  • Vitamin D (most of us are short of this unless we supplement – especially at this time of year when the sun is low).  The risk of needing intensive care is greatly reduced by having enough vitamin D.

  • Magnesium (most people are deficient)

  • Selenium (2 or 3 Brazil nuts a day is plenty)

  • Zinc (good food sources are seafood, lamb, turkey and pumpkin seeds)

  • Vitamin C

Avoid:

  • Sugar – it feeds bad bacteria, unbalancing your system

  • Processed food – you want your body to cope with the virus, not use all its energy fighting fake food

  • Alcohol

Other tips:

  • Eat right for your metabolic type (ask me about a test)

  • Get lots of sleep to make the powerful anti-oxidant melatonin

  • Exercise, especially out in the fresh air when it’s not pouring down and blowing a gale. It will help you sleep better too.

  • If you smoke, give it up now

  • Wash with actual bar soap whenever you possibly can. Coronaviruses are in a fatty ‘envelope’ which can be destroyed by soap. Also soap won’t damage your own protective bacterial like antibacterials do. Joanna Blythman retweeted this Tweet thread on why soap is so good.

  • Solutions of ethyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohol at between 60% and 80%, plus 3% hydrogen peroxide are effective for cleaning surfaces

  • Manage stress and prioritise self-care; your mental health, physical health and immune system are connected. We’ve really been through the wringer this year and very few folk are on top form. It helps to keep a sense of purpose and optimism. We won’t get back to normal for some time yet so look after yourself and do things that give you joy.

Top tips: Eat well and support your health.