Nutrition is king, exercise is queen. Put them together and you’ve got a kingdom.
Nutrition is king, exercise is queen. Put them together and you’ve got a kingdom.
What do Brits do in a crisis? – put the kettle on! There is no calamity so great that it cannot be eased by a ‘nice cup of tea’. We’ve even given it a special day of its own.
21st April is National Tea Day.
We started drinking tea in Britain way back in the mid 1600s when it was referred to as ‘China drink. We quickly took it to our hearts even though it was fantastically expensive due to import tax and was often kept in locked chests to prevent pilfering. It’s cheap as chips now and we consume 165 million cups a day!! That’s 60.2 billion cups a year and around double the coffee we drink (UK coffee week was 16-22th April).
You can read about the history of tea and all the different types on the Tea Association website. (One point for caution: they talk about what’s in tea and consider fluoride to be a nutrient which it is not; it’s a neurotoxin.)
There are so many types to sample and enjoy. There’s black tea, green tea, white tea, tea flavoured with flowers and herbs – even without including the herbal teas (called tisanes). When I was a student, there was a tea stall on Bath indoor market. From the array of exotic leaves, I would make my choice, then watch in wonder as the half pound was weighed and poured onto a single sheet of paper that magically became a parcel tied with string. (I don’t know whether they still do this wondrous packaging but you can still buy tea in Bath market and I’m thrilled to see that my other favourite stalls are still there – selling cheese and second-hand books.)
Our favourite brew supports our health with anti-oxidant polyphenols and flavonoids. There are detriments too from caffeine and fluoride so it’s best have water sometimes rather than drinking tea (and coffee) all day long. It’s also diuretic and can play havoc with your bladder. If you take sugar, work on giving it up. I had one client who was surprised to discover she was consuming 24 teaspoons of sugar a day just from drinking tea!
We don’t treat tea drinking with the elaborate rituals of China or Japan, usually using tea bags and brewing in a mug at home and work but we certainly do all like our tea a certain way – and in our favourite cup/mug. Some like a pint pot brewed so strong the spoon very nearly stands up it in. Others dip the bag in for a microsecond and barely colour the water. And I don’t dare comment on the milk first or tea first debate!
Afternoon tea, however, has become a special event with delicate china cups and saucers, one pot for the tea, one for hot water, a little jug of milk and a tiered cake stand bearing dainty sandwiches, scones and cake.
Not healthy of course with all that flour and sugar but an inbuilt memory of a more genteel age. At least that’s how it should be; I was horrified on a cream tea spa day at a posh hotel with a friend to have a chunky Starbucks mug plonked down in front of me which completely jarred against the rest of our classy treat.
Do you always snack with your cuppa? It’s another of those marketing-induced habits. Think of Rich Tea – “a drink’s too wet without one” or “Have a break have a ….” you know the rest; that’s how successful they are at fixing their messages in our psyche.
They’ve normalised snacking at every point through the day so now we graze constantly like we never did before. Tea rooms and coffee shops offer enormous portions of cakes and slices as I wrote about muffins vs buns.
So drink tea in moderation, for the pleasure of it and the good things it contains, rather than as your principle hydrator. Realise that you can have it on its own. If you really want a snack, have a small bun or biscuit you’ve made yourself, or better still a handful of nuts or some fresh coconut. At the bottom of my recipes page are links to lots of websites with great recipes. Let me know of other healthy snacks you like.
Top tip: Enjoy your cuppa and be cheered.
He who takes medicine and neglects diet wastes the skill of his doctors.
You can’t drug people into being healthy!
Dr Aseem Mahotra
Together with Sir Richard Thompson (the Queen’s doctor from 1984-2005), Aseem spoke in the European Parliament on over medication of the British people and how ineffective much of it is. The bulk of ill health is lifestyle caused and therefore diet can have a strong beneficial effect especially with diseases of insulin resistance like diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
How do you decide what to eat?
Since the introduction of calories as a measure of food energy content, we’ve become obsessed with them. The government’s official messages at the moment mention nothing else. However in spite of its popularity, calorific content is a poor basis for making food choices.
A huge and powerful industry makes and aggressively markets low-calorie food products. The BBC showed some years ago in ‘The Big Fat Truth about Low Fat Food’, that these products are not good for your health.
Instead of thinking primarily about calories, I ask the people on my Nutrition Coaching courses to focus on the goodness in foods. Some foods provide nutrients and improve your health. These include fresh meat, fish, eggs, cheese, fruit, veg and natural fats. Good food gives you essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and enzymes.
Other foods are bad for you and your body has to work really hard to deal with them by using up lots of your vitamins, minerals and enzymes and most of your energy too. They leave you with compromised health and feeling exhausted. These include processed foods, biscuits, crisps, donuts, snack bars, fizzy pop, flavoured water and ready meals.
Bad food contains refined sugar, salt, damaged fats, artificial sweeteners and additives. Often processed foods are chemically altered to increase the appeal to your taste buds. They override your body’s ways of knowing when you’ve had enough and you can just carry on eating more and more.
So stop worrying about calories and think about goodness. Ignore the marketing hype which results in low-fat and low-calorie foods being labelled as healthy even if they’re not. Think instead how food can build your health or harm you.
Top tip – eat real food!
There are lots of tempting Easter themed products in the shops now – well some appeared not long after Christmas! Most of them are designed to give a fun, spring-like mood with lots of flowers, chicks and bunnies. Easter eggs come in every size from teeny-tiny to humongous. I notice that the egg-sized ones now come by the half dozen in egg boxes – what a clever way to make you buy more. Most are hollow, some with other chocolates inside, some have creamy, sugary fillings and some of the smallest ones are solid with a sugar shell.
Whilst I find it sad that a joyous Christian festival has become an excuse to sell us heaps of sugary stuff, you can enjoy a healthier Easter without saying no to all Easter eggs or chocolate. Instead, aim for quality.
It’s certainly true that cheap, high-sugar, chemical-laden chocolate, consumed in large quantities, is going to damage your health. White chocolate isn’t actually chocolate at all. Dark chocolate (>70%) is best. It’s got a lower sugar content than milk chocolate and is good for you in moderation (check out my December article).
What about buying some chocolate egg moulds so you can have a go at making your own Easter eggs? Here are my efforts; I’m sure you could do better!
Another fun activity with the kids is dying boiled, hens’ eggs. Use onion skins or dandelion flowers, put them round an egg, wrap in a piece of cloth, tie with string and boil for 10 minutes. You‘ll get beautiful effects and you can eat the highly nutritious egg.
Top tip: Go easy on the chocolate eggs. Happy Easter.
Let’s eat what God gave us.
(Clarissa Dickson Wright’s partner on the BBC cookery series Two Fat Ladies)
A spotlight is shining on today’s ubiquitous plastic food packaging. The main motivator is plastic waste in the oceans (think harrowing images from Blue Planet II). A very good reason for change. Another, you might not have thought about, is the effect the packaging has on your health.
Obviously, fast food isn’t good for you – but neither are its wrappers and packages. They contain chemicals to repel oil, grease and water (perfluoroalkyls) which may be linked to infertility, thyroid disease, immune system depression and cancer.
Other plastics (eg BPA, bisphenol A), often used in drinks bottles and as tin can linings, contain synthetic oestrogens which may affect fertility and hormone sensitive cancers.
It was thought that the chemicals would not migrate into the food – but they do (especially if heated). It was assumed that the chemicals would not be processed by your body – but they are. In addition to the toxins in the foods themselves, packaging contributes to your overall burden and these chemicals can be detected in almost everyone.
What about disposable coffee cups? So new, so trendy, so unnecessary! A firm in Kendal has pioneered a recycling process to separate the plastic from the paper. The reality is that only a tiny percentage of the 2.5 billion cups a year
thrown away in Britain get recycled. Why leave the office to buy drinks from shops when you can have a jar of coffee or box of tea bags in the cupboard and make your own in a nice mug? You’ll save ~£600 a year per weekday cup.
Real food tends to have less packaging and is usually cooked in pans, not microwaved in plastic. So for superior nutrition and plastic avoidance, real food’s a winner.
Top tip – Join the crusade against plastic-wrapped food
The truth is that if you have to exercise to control your weight, then your diet is wrong.
Prof Tim Noakes
The solution? Learn to Eat Well!
However 2017 turned out for you, we’re all hoping 2018 will be a good year. And you can make that more likely!
Did you know that the more you think about, talk about and write about something, the more likely it is to happen.
Jim Rohn said, “You are the sum of the five people with whom you spend the most time”
Who are those five people for you? Do they inspire you or drag you down? Since you’re going to end up like the people you spend time with it makes sense to keep company with the sort of people you’d like to be.
Jim Rohn also said you’re the average of “the five things around you, the ideas of the five books you read, the feelings from the five films or TV programmes you watch.” So it really matters what you choose to surround yourself with habitually.
I’ll continue with the theme:
the five people you follow on social media
Thinking of food, I’ve spent January consoling people who over-indulged at Christmas and New Year by reminding them that our regular habits matter more than what we eat or drink occasionally. So what is it that we eat most of in Britain? Chicken perhaps, or potatoes? No, apparently, it’s white flour – hardly a health food. Why so much? Think bread, wraps, pasta, pizza base, pies and pastry, Yorkshire pudding, cakes, biscuits, pancakes…need I go on? No wonder much of the population is over-fed but undernourished. What can you do? (spoiler alert – top 5 at the end!)
Think of less processed alternatives to the floury things you eat.
As you improve your habits, you’ll feel the benefits. Fill your diet with good nutrition by resolving to regularly include more good things in your diet.
Try these 5:
Top tip: Make your main 5 foods/drinks good ones.
What with all the confusing messages in the press and TV programmes about diets most nights throughout January it isn’t easy to know what’s good. If you’re not sure, get in touch and Learn to Eat Well.
The very inconvenient truth that nobody wants to talk about is that to resolve the obesity crisis, we need to eat less food. And we need to particularly eat less unhealthy food which generally comes in a packet and has a logo on it and is generally owned by a very large multinational corporation.
In a dramatic change of direction, ex-advertising executive (promoting the likes of Coca Cola and McDonalds), Dan is a founder and Chief Executive of Living Loud which aims to help people live longer, healthier and happier lives by overcoming, preventing and managing lifestyle illness. Here’s a piece he wrote comparing the food industry to tobacco and a great article about snacking.