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.

 

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

Eat Yourself Well

I’m about to deliver an Eat Yourself Well day for The Create Escape in Milnthorpe, Cumbria.

They run lovely days, each on a special topic like pottery, creative writing, photography, chemical-free cosmetics – plus a cookery demonstration followed by a 2-course lunch, in a delightful farmhouse with an entertaining double act from hosts Angela and Debs.

Some questions I’ll be asking are:

  • how well are you now?
  • how well do you want to be?
  • how high is food in your priorities?

Helen Gerson said there are only two root causes of chronic disease: Deficiency and toxicity.

She was talking about non-infectious things like T2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, aches, pains, digestive woes, skin problems, lack of energy.

Food can boost your health or damage your health.

You can do yourself good by stuffing in lots of untainted goodness.  Think back to the 70s – meat and two veg, cooked at home.  It simplifies your shopping, it’s quick, it’s cheap, it’s satisfying, you can make it tasty and you’ll feel so much better.I fear that marketing is now the number 1 factor governing what we buy rather than the effect on our bodies.

Manufactured food is much more profitable than home-cooked food so it’s thrust under your nose all day long. Sadly it has lower or damaged nutrients and often contains health damaging chemicals. It’s addictive by design, leading to over-eating and leaving many people over-fed and undernourished. If you buy anything with an ingredients list, read it. Avoid sugar, sweeteners, vegetable oil and anything with more than 5 ingredients.

The good news is that you can easily choose to take care of yourself with a quick trip to the butchers and the green grocers.

Your body will say, “Thank You” when you eat yourself well.

TOP TIPS

  • Food is not just fuel. Think about goodness rather than calories.
  • Eat natural, local and seasonal: fresh vegetables and fruit, grass-fed, free-range meat, non-farmed fish, natural fats.
  • Minimise sugar, vegetable oil and processed food.
  • Drink water to quench your thirst.
  • Buy real food, cook with love, eat with gratitude and enjoy!

What would I recommend off these promotional flyers?

Just the eggs on the first one and the beef, chicken and cheese on the second.

Quote of the Month – a Calorie is not a Calorie

 

It’s extremely naive of the public and the medical profession to imagine that a calorie of bread, a calorie of meat and a calorie of alcohol are all dealt with in the same way by the amazingly complex systems of the body.

Professor David Haslam

Chairman of the National Obesity Forum

He’s absolutely right –

           – which makes it puzzling that the National Obesity Forum is completely hung up on calories. The main detriment of drinking sweet drinks (sugary or zero Cal artificial) is not the calories they contain but the fact that they make you hungry – and particularly hungry for junk foods.