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

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

If lockdown has left you overweight, tired and fed up, I’ll help you learn to eat well so you can be confident with your food choices, feel fabulous and enjoy your life. Drop me an email  jackie@learntoeatwell.co.uk and lets find a time to talk.

Here’s my latest blog post:

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.

 

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

Following my 10 ten tips series, here’s the first of my a-z of nutrition and health snippets. All on LinkedIn.

 

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!

.

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.

Pexels

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.

.

.

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.