You can eat what you like between Christmas and New Year, it’s what you eat between New Year and Christmas that matters!
On 12th April (10am to 4pm), I’m bringing Eat for Better Business to the Mintworks, Kendal for a Cumbria Chamber of Commerce event.
It’s an interactive day focused on busting many currently fashionable food myths to help you feel great and work at the top of your game.
For quality 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.
By the end of the workshop, delegates will:
- recognise the importance of diet
- have identified the impact on work
- discover better breakfasts and lunches
- understand why we eat and what we need
- explore what’s hidden in food
- know what to eat for brain power
- appreciate the importance of meal breaks
- have defined a personal goal.
The delegate rate for this full day workshop is £65 +VAT Chamber and Made in Cumbria members / £120 +VAT non-members – to book your place(s) please – BOOK HERE
Should you have any questions regarding the above training event, please do not hesitate to contact me or Catherynn Dunstan from Cumbria Chamber firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
Advertisers have dispensed with the idea of promoting a product’s attributes in favour of marketing the product’s image. This image is conceived by marketing psychologists quite independently of the product itself, and usually has more to do with a target market than the item being sold.
The result of this is that sweets and fizzy drinks are sold as fun for kids and adults. Even though we know they’ll rot our teeth, make us fat and wreck our health, we still keep buying them, eating them – and even giving them to those we love. Tragic but admittedly clever.
As one of my Eat Well Gang said,
“I suppose the Victorians had opium dens
– we have McDonalds and CocaCola.”
I’d like to add Haribo, Maoam, Rowntree’s etc to that.
While talking about breakfast cereals aimed at children, Dr Christiane Northrup said,
“Think of these massive doses of sugar as no different to drugs and alcohol. Premature death is coming from alcohol and sugar.”
Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) results in hunger, shakiness, weakness, dizziness, irritability and depression. I should know; for years I suffered on a daily basis. The cause – too much sugar. High blood sugar stimulated my body to produce insulin, which took the sugar back out of my blood (and made me fat). I didn’t understand the problem so I tried to control my symptoms with regular biscuits, bananas and chocolate. It was a disaster. At archery competitions, I ate sugar even more frequently. I just got headaches and felt awful.
My first inkling of the cause
was at work. Biscuits were provided in meetings; if I ate one I got hungry but if I abstained I was OK. My second clue came when dieting to lose the weight I’d gained eating so many biscuits; I was less hungry eating a little cereal for breakfast than a lot. Also I noticed the low-fat yoghurts I bought weren’t satisfying, they just increased my appetite. Now I know it’s because of the sugar they put in low-fat products to make them palateable.
Sugar has a toxic effect on the body and causes myriad health problems besides hypoglycemia. For centuries doctors have cured their patients of many ailments by replacing sugar with quality vegetable and whole grain carbohydrates and for centuries consumption has increased sweeping aside all resistance. In the 11th Century, brewers caught adding sugar to beer were dragged through the City of Chester in a cart with the overnight refuse of the privies. In the early 1900s, America had laws against “substances injurious to health” (like sugar) being added to food. Manufacturers (including Coca-Cola) opposed this, got the government on side and the health of the whole nation deteriorated as a result of the adulterated products that are now their main food. In the 1950s, Dr Gyland wrote papers to warn and help others but couldn’t get them published. In Britain, Professor John Yudkin tried to fight Ancel Keys and his lipid hypothesis having found a stronger corrolation between sugar and heart disease than there is with fat – he was sqashed. Even Keys himself couldn’t get published a paper he wrote late in his life against the direction nutritional advice has taken. Little has changed. Those reaping the profits still don’t want you to know the truth – sugar wrecks your health.
Top Tip – Stop eating sugar
NB Diabetics will need to balance their medication with their sugar intake.
To learn more about the sorry history of sugar in our food, read Sugar Blues by William Dufty and Pure, White and Deadly by John Yudkin. Here’s a Daily Telegraph artcle on the latter; we still have the same sugar-industry-led problem today.
The school holidays are almost upon us and there’ll be lots of time to do fun things – hopefully in the sunshine. Here are some words from the wise about the types of foods we commonly regards as treats.
Treat treats as treats
Don’t treat your mouth like an amusement park
Every time someone calls junk a treat, please correct them. We will never make progress until people see eating cr@p as anything but a treat
The Olympics are coming! Athletes know that their performance can be affected by food and drink and we expect them to be careful with nutrition. Few of us watching make our living playing sport. So when you choose what to eat for breakfast, I wonder if you think about how well you’ll do your job that morning. What about lunch? It can make or wreck your afternoon.
When you consider your performance at work, you might not credit much influence to food and drink. Actually, good concentration, stable mood, sustained energy and robust health are all linked to what goes into our mouths. It’s the same for us as for the athletes.
Most people I speak to think they have a good diet but it can usually be improved. You might stick to the current fashion of low fat with lots of fruit and veg. but still suffer weight, health, energy and concentration problems. How frustrating. I used to eat that way and I was overweight, moody, constantly tired, always hungry and often had dizzy spells.
As an international archer, I was given the conventional advice – but it didn’t work. Years of misery later, my life was dramatically changed by learning to eat well – that’s why I now devote my time to helping others.
As well as the Eat for a Better Life courses that I run for groups and individuals, I go into businesses. With a focus of breakfast and lunch, I blow some preconceptions and talk about food that will give lasting concentration and energy to help people work well. I estimate the return on investment at 10 man-days per year per person who improves what they eat, just from eliminating the afternoon slump.
Last year I did a 10-presentation tour of the country for Nuvia Ltd. They have a strong, proactive safety, health and environment culture. Eat for Better Business was part of their BeeSafe campaign series and was included in their submission to RoSPA this year. Not only have Nuvia been awarded 18 consecutive RoSPA Gold Awards, but this year they were selected for the prestigious Engineering Services Sector award and were put forward to compete for the highly respected Sir George Earle Trophy – they didn’t win but did achieve the top 3 out of 2000 companies! They also won their first Silver Award for Fleet Safety. Nuvia goes went to the RoSPA Awards in Birmingham on 13th and 14th July. Penny Oliver and Mike Lewis gave presentations on their BeeSafe campaigns, including the Eat for Better Business work that I did with them.
If you think your business would benefit from employees who feel great, get in touch.
If you want to weigh less, you’ll notice that encouragement to go on a diet can be found everywhere – TV, magazines, banners, endless adverts for food products. Here’s a reminder of why dieting is only a good idea if you’re intent on eventually weighing more after a short-term loss.
The people who say, “Eat less, exercise more” will tell you diets must work because of the law of thermodynamics. Energy in equals energy out. As a scientist I know the law is true and very useful for engines in a stable state. As a nutrition coach I know that it’s not useful as an approach to weight loss. Your body is not an engine in a stable state, it’s wonderfully responsive and designed to keep you alive in times of food shortage. It will hang onto all the fat it can, but break down lean tissue and shut down your metabolism to eke out the little food it’s getting. Have you ever heard that a pound of fat contains about 3500kCal, so you can lose a pound of fat a week by reducing your calorie intake by 500 kCal a day? No. When you restrict your energy intake you end up with less energy. That doesn’t feel good.
Way back in 1917, an experiment showed that calorie controlled diets have this weight loss / weight gain effect. It isn’t your fault – the diet does it. Later experiments confirmed the result and the diet industry has been cashing in on the cycle ever since. Deprivation will almost always (98%) lead to you weighing more in the long term. Jon Gabriel was on the dieting roller coaster gaining more each time until he reached almost 30st and realised he had try something different. He decided to concentrate on nourishing his body and lost nearly 16st without dieting. You can read his story here. Now he’s one of the world’s nutrition heros. Check out this delicious ‘pizza’.
My next Eat for a Better Life course will start on 22nd June in Cockermouth. If you’ve done with yo-yo dieting, come and join us.
Top tip: Don’t deprive your body, nourish it.
If you want to read more about the way diets affect your metabolism, here’s a piece by Dr Jason Fung.
I was delighted to see the sugar tax announced in the budget. Official acknowledgement of the problem is a welcome step in the right direction. Manufacturers love sugar; every one of the 10 thousand taste buds in your tongue and palate, has special receptors for sweetness so it’s very ‘moreish’ (addictive). They won‘t want to lose their huge profits so they’ll do everything they can to convince us to keep buying. Hopefully a higher price will push people towards water instead.
What happens when we consume sugar? Sucrose is a 2 part molecule made of glucose and fructose. 80% of the glucose part will be distributed round your body to be used for energy. If your body isn’t using energy, insulin mops up the glucose to store it as fat. The other 20% goes to your liver to be safely stored as glycogen. 100% of the fructose goes to your liver, the only organ that can process it, where it will mostly be turned into fat. When you eat whole fruit, the fibre changes the way the fructose is metabolised. So glucose without exercise is a problem but fructose without fibre is worse.
That’s why I’m disappointed that fruit juice drinks are exempt from the tax. Bought juice doesn’t contain as much goodness as you’d hope but has loads of fructose (one glass might = four fruits).
Eating a couple of pieces of whole fruit a day is fine.
Might we see increased use of artificial sweeteners? People mistakenly believe that low-cal drinks help weight loss but they don’t. When we eat sugar, our brain recognises the sweet taste and our body gets ready to store fat. When we eat artificial sweeteners, our body expects sugar and gets ready to store fat. When the sugar doesn’t arrive, our brain is confused and we get cravings to eat something. So we take in more food and we mess up the delicate signalling system our body uses to tell us when to stop eating.
For more on the science and the history of how we ended up consuming so much sweet stuff, watch Robert Lustig’s ‘Sugar, The Bitter Truth‘ on YouTube.
Top tip: Drink water instead of sweet drinks.