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

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.

Just cook – what’s available!

Who hasn’t been to the shops, list in hand, only to find that some of the things they wanted had sold out?

It’s not a problem really; there’s still plenty of food in the shops. All we need is a bit of imagination and the willingness to experiment.

CAULIFLOWER GREENS

I’ve been using cauliflower greens in soup for years – I usually cut the lot straight away and put it in the freezer to use in batches.

But when I wanted to do a stir-try the other day and couldn’t get any bamboo shoots or water chestnuts, I thought, “I wonder…”

Here’s the result and it was delicious. I threw in some sliced cauli florets too which gave a nice crunch.

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Next I tried some cauli greens cooked with tomatoes, cream cheese and cream to go with a cooked chicken drumstick for lunch.

And of course, I made some soup. (Well the weather has cooled off lately.)

So whatever you can buy, you can cook and who knows what great ideas you’ll come up with. Why not share them here?

Coronavirus and Food

Evidence is mounting for the usefulness of Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, Magnesium, Zinc and Selenium all of which boost your immune system. You can make sure you get great nutrients from fresh food by ditching the health-damaging junk food and instead support your body with a bit of time in the kitchen, cooking from fresh ingredients. Supplements can be useful too. And a have a care with alcohol which blocks absorption.

Metabolic Health

Another important thing is your metabolic health (defined as normal blood pressure, low triglycerides, high HDL cholesterol, low waist circumference, HbA1c showing not pre-diabetic).

Poor metabolic health or metabolic syndrome increases your risk of death from coronavirus by 10 times – that’s 1000%.

It’s being driven by our current high carbohydrate, low fat eating style. Baddies include: breakfast cereal, ready meals, snack bars, anything made of flour or containing vegetable oil and other ultra-processed foods with more than 5 ingredients.

Poor metabolic health doesn’t always link to obesity (although the same foods also cause weight gain). And it affects people of all ages. In America 7 out of 8 people are metabolically unhealthy including 6 out of 8 people aged 20-40. I don’t know the number in Britain but looking at diet, many of our young people may well be metabolically unhealthy. The prevalence of diabetes is 3-5 times higher in the black/Asian population and we’ve seen how they are suffering higher death rates from this virus. They may also need vitamin D supplements as there is too little sunlight in Britain for their darker skin to make enough.

You can improve your metabolic health in a few weeks by cooking your own meals from fresh meat, fish, vegetables.

My simple guide for every meal –

Plants, Proteins, Fats

Quote of the month – time and health

Saving time to harm your health isn’t a good deal for me

Dr Rangan Chatterjee

Every cloud has a silver lining. The current crisis has allowed us to consider the importance of our own health.

At the moment we’re all doing our best to stay safe and well in ways we may not have considered previously.

I’ve been without my health before – for 1 ½ years – so for me it’s been a priority ever since.

While we have time, this is the perfect time to decide to put a bit of effort into being well.

  • Your daily allowed exercise.
  • Sunshine and fresh air.
  • Connecting with family and friends online.

Underpinning it all is what you put in your body – FOOD is a crucial factor. You can choose to ditch the health-damaging junk food and instead support your body with a bit of time in the kitchen, cooking from fresh ingredients. 🙂

Immune System Boost

I hope all of you are OK and managing to stay safe and sane at home in this weird world. Here are some tips to help your immune system:

Most of your immune system is in your gut so it matters what you eat and drink. Eat more:

  • Oily fish and eggs for vitamin Dwhich 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 C (it’s quickly flushed out of your body so take some every day)
  • Magnesium (most people are deficient)
  • Selenium (2 or 3 Brazils nuts a day is plenty)
  • Zinc (good food sources are seafood, lamb, turkey and pumpkin seeds)
  • Vitamin D (most of us are short of this unless we supplement – especially at this time of year when our skin hasn’t seen sunshine for so long)

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 bad food.
  • Alcohol.

Other tips:

  • Eat right for your metabolic type (I’m now offering testing by Skype/telephone).
  • Get lots of sleep to make the powerful anti-oxidant melatonin.

  • Exercise, especially out in the fresh air (only with members of your household of course!). 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 so 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 relax you and give you joy.