Statistics say that by now 59% of you will have failed to keep your New Year Resolutions. Well done to the 41% who are succeeding!
Common resolutions were to eat more healthily (22%), drink less alcohol (17%) and learn new things (12%). Losing weight came in at only 9%. Curious then that 48% of the population went on a diet.
The media were overflowing with diet ideas during January. Weight loss related TV programmes filled the evenings; everything from paleo, to 5/2 intermittent fasting to sleeping longer. Leaving aside their quirkier features (like drinking lots of champagne), diets that cut out nutrition left the volunteers feeling terrible. The plans that worked best cut out processed food and drink. I loved an idea one of the participants had – when she saw cakes or sweet things, she pretended they were just cardboard displays so she couldn’t eat them!
Most standard diets work by counting calories (or equivalent points). The deprivation usually gives some quick weight loss but also causes an increase in the production of hunger hormones. So what’s the chance of long-term success? 5%. 95% failure is not a good return on your misery. Don’t blame yourself; regaining weight is a natural famine-recovery response, caused by the diet.
My favourite show was ITV’s Sugar Free Farm. There, away from the temptations of the modern world, a group of celebrities ate fresh-cooked, organic, free-range food (plenty of it) but no sugar. They worked each day in the fresh air. Most of them lost weight, 3 of them around a stone in 15 days. Best of all, they felt fabulous. So for healthy weight loss, ditch sugar, cook your own meals from fresh ingredients and let your excess weight melt away.
Top tip – Don’t be a failure statistic, learn to eat well.
‘Be hopeful, cheerful and look after each other. I think it’s time for everybody to look after each other.’
(in an interview with The Big Issue)
As a child I loved those ‘Dot to Dot’ puzzles and recently noticed books for grown-ups too.
It’s a bit like that interpreting the messages your body sends you about food and drink. The most blatant, like indigestion, demand your attention. You can easily join the dots and avoid trigger foods. When I twigged that white wine = headache, I stopped drinking it. Other messages are more subtle, like aches in your joints or bad skin if you eat too little fat or the wrong type of fat. You might miss them when you’re busy getting on with your life.
Sometimes it’s easy to see that diet and lifestyle go together with other people’s health and well-being but not to make any connection between what you eat and how you feel yourself. I suffered unnecessarily for years feeling tired and miserable and carrying excess weight without any inkling that the diet I thought healthy was actually doing me harm.
Breakfast and lunch have a big impact on your day so it’s useful to learn what your body thinks of them. Experiment a bit – porridge, protein smoothies, full English. What time of the morning do you start thinking about having a snack? Ideally it’s better not to be snacking. Is your breakfast so good you don’t need to eat again for 4 or 5 hours? My favourite green smoothie lasts me for 6h.
Try different lunches to find out how alert you are in the afternoon. Do you feel better after a salad than a sandwich? If you have a hot lunch, are you sharper when you leave out potatoes and pastry? Once you join the dots you can adapt your routine, feel better and enjoy life more.
Top tip – Start noticing how food affects you.
Doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.
When you discover that you’re riding a dead horse, the sensible strategy is to dismount.
Attempting another post-Christmas diet? Failure statistics next time (spoiler alert, they’re huge). Give it up as a bad job and learn to eat well.
For great work you need to be at your best without suffering any afternoon slump or fuzzy concentration. That means putting the right things in your body. You wouldn’t try to run your computer on gas or your car on jet fuel, but with confusing messages everywhere it’s hard to know what to eat for the best.
I’m delighted to be presenting an Eat for Better Business workshop for Cumbria Chamber of Commerce on 19th January.
Running at Energus, Workington 10am to 4pm, this interactive day focused on busting many currently fashionable food myths will help you feel great and work at the top of your game.
The delegate rate for this full day workshop is £65 +VAT Chamber and Made in Cumbria members / £120 +VAT non-members.
Contact Catherynn Dunstan if you have any questions about the workshop or Cumbria Chamber.
You can BOOK HERE
I love Christmas, but not the way it’s been turned into an excuse for weeks of over consumption. How did that happen? Money of course. Promotions start earlier each year – was it September this time? Each of us chooses the degree to which we throw ourselves in. Perhaps you don’t want seasonal excess to wreck your body (and bank balance) completely and decide to partake in moderation. Even if you favour the ‘bring it on’ approach, leaving damage repair for January, you might be supporting a friend who’d rather be more restrained.
So here are some tips for resisting temptation:
1. Develop an automatic response. Immediately say, “No, thank you”, before you can engage your brain. That feels easy. The moment passes quickly. Gazing at cake/chocolate/crisps and pondering whether or not you fancy some, means you’ll almost certainly have some. If you gaze and ponder and then say, “No” it will take will power and feel like a big sacrifice.
2. Have a mindset that bad foods/drinks are nothing to do with you – they’re other people’s problems. Let your eyes slide over them as irrelevant. Then seek out some real food.
3. Focus on other things. Have a conversation, look at your surroundings, dance, take your attention onto anything you can’t put in your mouth.
4. Be prepared. Find out what might be on offer at any ‘Do’ you attend. Drink some water and eat something good before going out. Have emergency supplies with you (eg nuts or some cheese) in case everything is processed or sugary. Keep supplies at work too, ready for the inevitable appearance of mince pies and chocolates.
Have a look at this hilarious video of children resisting temptation in the famous marshmallow test.
Top tip – Temptation’s coming, so be ready but most of all have a very Merry Christmas.
Do the best you can, with what you have, where you are.
Some foods build your health, others cause you harm. We’re entering a season when bad eating has become de rigueur. I doubt anyone will eat and drink only good things between now and the New Year – and we don’t have to. If your basic habits are sound, a little bit of Christmas cake won’t kill you. Pick the best of what’s on offer and enjoy good company. Merry Christmas.
Small Business Saturday
I’ve been noticing adverts for perfume on the telly, have seen Christmas cards in the shops and realise that there are only a few weeks left to buy suitably pleasing presents for my loved ones (deep breath and don’t panic). A shopper I am not. Whist I really enjoy giving presents, it’s having the inspiration to choose gifts that are suitably pleasing that gets me in a tiz.
Last month I had reason to spend most of a day in the Metro Centre. I had no success at all. The chain stores are doing their usual thing which is fine but I’ve decided it’s small businesses that will save the day. Cockermouth of course is full of them. The sheer diversity is a delight. They’re personal and friendly. The owners are knowledgeable and passionate about what they sell whether that’s delicious, locally produced edible items, books, jewellery or toys. If you have family from other parts of the country, they regard with wonder things we take for granted. One year I bought all my aunts and uncles hand made chocolate. My cousin lives in France and was bowled over by venison pie and Cumbrian pickle. (No, I didn’t post them – he was over here!)
3rd December is Small Business Saturday so do go shopping and support them. I’m taking part along with 5 million other small business. I’m offering 25% off a 1 hour skype or telephone appointment from the 3rd to the 8th December on a first-come-first-serve basis until I run out of appointments. If you’d like a better body – more energy – better health – and freedom from diets, let’s talk about how you can learn to eat well. Drop me an email to book.
Top Tip – support small businesses.
We dig our graves with our teeth
Pic by Steven Depolo
What’s the hardest thing about a healthy lifestyle? The exercise? Juicing wheatgrass? Growing sprouts? Actually the hardest thing is constantly resisting temptation in our hostile food environment.
We live in a sugar and oil saturated food world. Last month I found myself in a typical town, past lunchtime, without having brought anything to eat. The mass of non-food for sale was depressing. I felt like a reformed drug addict in an opium den. It’s very, very easy to eat badly but difficult to eat well. Amid the throngs of willing consumers, I stood out from the flock like one of the decorated (model) sheep we had around Cumbria this summer.
To improve our food environment we can support the taxation of sugar in drinks and foods; we can oppose the advertising of sugary products to children; we can stop supporting sellers of junk by refusing to buy what they sell; we can just say, “No”.
As an antidote to mass-produced fodder, we were treated to a wonderful weekend when Taste Cumbria came to Cockermouth. What a great event!
There were artisan producers you could talk to, samples to taste and all sorts of delicious foods to buy. We bought smoked mackerel for tea that evening. The next day I enjoyed scrambled eggs with smoked salmon for breakfast. Monday evening it was smoked sausages for dinner (many thanks to all you lads at Haverigg).
On the Sunday I put the slow cooker on – well it’s not summer any more – and made a casserole with venison from Deer and Dexter which we ate with the last of our home-grown potatoes and lots of veg. Delicious.
Finally we popped into the United Reformed Church to restock my favourite Rhubarb and Ginger from Jill’s Jams. Jam isn’t health food but a teaspoon on a cracker topped with the creamy unpasturised Lancashire from a cheese stall was yummy.
The Rotary Club’s Human Fruit Machine was an absolute delight and brought smiles all round.
Top tip – Buy real, local food.