About learntoeatwell

I'm an ex-international competitor in archery with a scientific background and a passion for food and health. I used to eat a diet considered very healthy; low in fat with lots of fruit and veg. Sadly, I put on weight and was tired and hungry all the time. A Metabolic Type Test put me on the right track and is the foundation of my Nutrition Coaching programme which combines information about foods with coaching support for behavioural change. Eating differently, my own excess weight melted away, my energy came back and I've felt great ever since. My passion now is to help other people learn to eat well and enjoy the benefits of managed weight, more energy and better health. Wishing you well Jackie

Grow Your Own

I’ve loved getting emails from people saying they’ve started to grow veg during lockdown. Time spent with living plants is good for you and your efforts are rewarded with the amazing taste and superior nutrition of home-grown.

My favourite gardening programme, The Beechgrove Garden, had this handy idea.

When you have nearly finished a head of celery, cut the last few stems, leaving about 3” (10cm). Pop in a glass of water on the windowsill for 2 or 3 weeks until you can see roots growing, then plant in the garden. Here’s what you get!!!

On a smaller scale, herbs have health benefits and add wonderful flavours to your cooking. You can grow them in the garden, in pots outside or even on the windowsill in your kitchen. If you don’t want to start from seed, you can buy herbs in pots at the supermarket, harvest some to freeze then plant out the rest to keep on growing.

Sprouted seeds and beans are salad as fresh as fresh can be and eaten raw they pack a powerful enzyme punch. Grow them on your worktop in sprouting trays – they don’t even need soil. This video shows you how.

Quote of the Month – A is for Artificial

Here’s the first of my a-z of nutrition and health snippets

A is for artificial

The thing about the way most food is produced these days is, if you knew the story behind it, you wouldn’t want to eat it

Eric Schlosser, food journalist

 

In Britain we eat less real food than healthy European countries like France.

Check out Joanna Blythman’s Swallow This for a read that will make your hair curl.

Good news – the only way is up!

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For lasting change, convert your habits to real food tackling one meal at a time – until the artificial food is squeezed out.

Choose what you’ll improve first – your mid-morning snack perhaps. Could you by-pass the vending machine and instead have nuts or a piece of cheese with an apple?

A real food breakfast instead of cereal from a packet could transform your day. Here are some breakfast ideas.

Added bonus – you won’t need a mid-morning snack at all.😉

Making your own lunch instead of buying a sandwich could save you lots of money too.

Take your pick and make one of your meals the health-boosting highlight of the day.

If you want to learn to eat well but find all the messages confusing, I can show you how. My next Eat for a Better Life course starts at the end of the month. Contact me now to book your place jackie@learntoeatwell.co.uk

Obesity Strategy

Have news reports about obesity and coronavirus alarmed you? Do they make you determined to lose the weight that’s putting your life in greater danger?

Boris has certainly been spurred into action by his time in hospital. He realised that carrying extra weight is one of the highest risk factors for becoming seriously ill with COVID19.

Obesity also makes you more likely to suffer from heart disease, diabetes, several types of cancer, fatty liver, respiratory disease, and mental health problems.

To tackle all of this the Government has launched a strategy to slim down the nation.

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So what is their focus?

Calories.

Sorry, that’s how we got into this mess in the first place. Calories don’t help you make good food choices; they drive you towards processed foods.

Surely cutting calories helps. Will you not burn more energy than you eat?

Only for a while.

Our bodies are survival machines. Cut the food you eat and your body shuts down your metabolism and hangs on in there until it can put all the weight back on again. That’s why 100 people on a diet will all lose weight but later 95 of them will find themselves back where they started or even heavier than before. And the cycle will repeat.

Let’s go back to the beginning. What are people eating now that causes obesity and poor health? Food-like products. And that includes the low-calorie ones.

  • They’re addictive – so you over-eat.
  • Chemicals make them taste great – so you over-eat.

  • They’re low in the nutrients your body needs – so you over-eat.

  • They interfere with your body’s control mechanisms and stimulate appetite – so you over-eat.

  • The label says they’re healthy – so you’re fooled into thinking it’s OK to over-eat.

    A Colin Shelbourne cartoon from Survival Guide for the Skint.

Since calories became popular and the food industry got into gear 50 years ago, the weight of the average Briton has gone through the roof whilst health is in an ever steepening decline.

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The Government rightly blames advertising and the food environment we live in. We’ve been brainwashed into buying this junk and thinking it’s an acceptable way to feed our bodies. Offers are always for extra junk, not BOGOF on cabbages or steak. They’ve recognised this and I’m glad they’re introducing some controls.

What can you do?

Britain’s health was best between 1950 and 1970. Almost everyone was slim. Almost everyone ate real food.

Real food works with your natural appetite controls. When food satisfies you, there’s no need for will-power and no desire to over-eat.

I so hope you’ve all got used to doing your own cooking during lockdown and that you’ve been soothed by the rhythm of spending time in the kitchen, enjoyed what you ate and noticed how much money you saved.

It’s a missed opportunity but in reality the Government is unlikely ever to tell people to eat real food; they don’t want to damage the processed food industry.

So it’s down to you.

  • You can take control. 🙂

  • You can choose better food. 🙂

  • You can care for your body and nourish it. 🙂

Top tip: To be slim and healthy, forget the calories and learn to eat well.

Musings on Lockdown and coffee

Funny what lockdown reveals you really miss isn’t it?

Turns out coffee in cafes is my number 1. Not that I went all that often; perhaps once or twice a month. I’d enjoy it chatting with a friend and I’m happy on my own too.

I learned (as I supposed JK Rowling did) that I can work really well in a cafe, surrounded by the gentle hubub, while sipping cappuccino and eating a handful of nuts. I don’t need to know anyone. I might smile, say hello or connect over a few shared pleasantries – or not.

People need people and there’s something comforting about their very presence.

So, missing the coffee, in the end I got out my (30 year old) espresso machine. It takes ground coffee not the environmentally unfriendly pods. So far, so good. But as I’m reminded every time I use it, when it comes to mountains of frothed milk, sadly, I lack the knack.

Then this month, my excitement was huge when I noticed a cafe open in town. I went in, had a coffee and thanked them for being there and being open. I sat reading and watching the world go by outside.

Why is it so insanely relaxing??? The tricky part came afterwards when I wanted to pay – they were doing cash only! Now I love to use cash most of the time but with almost everywhere asking for contactless these last weeks, I’ve stopped carrying my purse and I didn’t have a single penny with me! I was mortified as I walked down the street to the cashpoint to bring back some cash.

The following week I met a friend in department store rooftop cafe – a lovely spacious, airy place. It was the highlight of my week and top news point when I spoke to family. A huge, exciting happening in a restricted shadow-life.

Anyway I still haven’t had a really great coffee because the place I most like to go for that still isn’t open. I could go somewhere with a push-button machine but, to misquote Douglas Adams, they invariably produce something almost, but not quite, entirely unlike coffee. I won’t use disposable cups – they’re not sustainable and it’s impossible to get a decent cappuccino in one because of the size and shape. Back at home my attempts to foam milk continue to be dismal. But in any case, the coffee isn’t really the point. It’s the whole experience – it’s having coffee with people around. And that’s what life is all about.

Top tip: Hurray for Cafes – support your local

Quote of the month

There is no happiness like that of being loved by your fellow creatures and feeling that your presence is an addition to their comfort.

Mary Wood

First Chair of Betty’s

Much of what has lifted us these last weeks has been the love and care shown to us as we were contacted by the wonderful people in our lives.

Quench Your Thirst

It might be cold now (10 degrees and raining as I wrote this), but last Thursday was a scorcher!!! It was a day to avoid the sun and drink plenty.

The drink your body enjoys most of all is water – and it’s the cheapest!

To encourage you to get a water habit, here is a chapter (one week) from my Health Habits Year Book I’m currently writing. The book builds your health through eating, moving and relaxing habits.

It’s important to feel good about what you’re doing as you build your health habits, so take notice of what you do and give yourself credit. The book uses ticks and stars (which work well for adults as well as kids!), but you could reward yourself in another way that you know works for you.

  • Mental pat on the back, ‘well done me’

  • Having a list you tick off

  • Using a spreadsheet

  • Giving yourself 5 minutes off what you’re doing to rest your eyes, stretch or get some fresh air.

Health Habits Year Book Week 4

This week have a drink of water first thing each morning. We’ll add a few different twists to find out how you most like it.

It’s good to drink 20 minutes before you eat rather than with food or straight afterwards eg have your water before you shower then have breakfast later.

And if you’re desperate for coffee or tea, when you boil the kettle have some water first.

If you think drinking water isn’t a very challenging goal, you’re right, it isn’t. Good health is built of small, easy things that you build into your routine until you don’t think about them at all.

Monday

Give yourself a tick if you had a drink of cool water first thing this morning.

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Give yourself a star if you had another drink of water later on too.

Tuesday

Give yourself a tick if you had a drink of water with herbs this morning.

I like rosemary and thyme; just a few leaves of each. Good for memory and concentration. Mint is also popular.

Give yourself a star if you had another drink of water later today.

Wednesday

Give yourself a tick if you had a drink of warm water this morning.

Tip – you can boil the kettle and mix half boiled and half cold.

 Give yourself a star if you had another drink of water later today.

Thursday

Give yourself a tick if you had a drink of water from a glass.

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 Give yourself a star if you had another drink of water later today.

Friday

Give yourself a tick if you had a drink of water from a favourite cup or mug.

My husband teases me for having favourite mugs for tea, others for water. He can’t see why it makes any difference. For me there’s a change to the overall experience between a chunky earthenware mug and a fine china cup.

Experiment with cups and mugs and notice how you find them.

 Do you have a favourite?

Saturday

Give yourself a tick if you had a drink of water with lemon this morning.

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How did you most enjoy your water?

  • cool

  • warm

  • plain

  • with herbs

  • with lemon

  • in a glass

  • in a mug – which one?

Give yourself a star today if you had some water each day this week.

The good things I did this week were:

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Improvements I notice in my body are:

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What I need to do is:

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Sunday

Relax and Enjoy Your Day

There is nothing I’ll ask you to do today except to enjoy whatever you drink.

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Engage You Cumbria

This week I appeared as a guest on the weekly show

Engage You Cumbria

a community support YouTube channel which Kathryn Jackson and Claire Bull started to keep us all positive, healthy and entertained during lockdown.

In this week’s episode, Claire talked about kindness (but check out her exercise tips in earlier episodes too) and Kathryn led us through how we can reflect on the last 10 weeks and where we are in different areas of our lives.

My message was #EatRealFood with some ideas for breakfasts to keep your blood-sugar stable so you improve your health and reduce your risk of a serious outcome should you catch the dreaded virus.

Here’s the video. Enjoy!

Eat Real Food, Protect the NHS, Save Lives

This month was the Public Health Collaboration Conference.

They had to cancel the real one of course and instead did the whole thing on YouTube with the speakers doing their talks from home. What a great idea because now any of us can watch at any time we choose.

Check it out on the PHC’s YouTube channel here. They covered all sorts of things including: coronavirus and diet, cooking demos, diabetes, stress.

Of great relevance in these trouble times was Dr Aseem Malhotra’s message:

Eat Real Food, Protect the NHS, Save Lives

The Government’s original “Stay home, Protect the NHS, Save lives” message was to prevent overwhelm of an already overstretched NHS.

Why overstretched? Britain already has a huge burden of lifestyle-related, chronic diseasesPeople with those diseases suffer much more severely if they do catch the virus.

People with poor blood-sugar control are 10 times (that’s 1000%) more likely to die if they get coronavirus (11% cf 1.1%). Many MPs were diagnosed with the virus but only Boris ended up needing critical care. He cycles every day but he clearly doesn’t eat right and that’s the most important thing for blood sugar stability.

Good things coming out of this experience – Boris had been thinking of removing the sugar tax on drinks – now he won’t. Instead, he’s to launch a war on fat (bodily not dietary). I hope he promotes what works rather than bowing to pressure from food and diet companies.

I and some of the speakers have been angered by TV and newspaper coverage of junk-food companies giving away junk like doughnuts, pizzas and custard creams as a brand promoting opportunity. It’s these very foods that have made Britain more vulnerable than the rest of Europe where they still mostly buy fresh ingredients and cook their own meals at home.

There’s a powerful message of hope in the talks.

Conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, metabolic syndrome – can be improved in days or weeks by eating better so here’s the message the nation needs to hear:

Eat Real Food

All the talks will stay freely available on YouTube so do have a look. The ones I enjoyed most were those by Dr Aseem Malhotra, Dr Joanne McCormack (Custard Creams) and a spoof one by Dr Campbell Murdoch which showed (using bombs and bullets) how you can ruin your metabolic health.

Spread the message

Eat Real Food, Protect the NHS, Save Lives

NB – if you watch the talks and switch to low-carb make sure you speak to your doctor about balancing dietary change with any medication.