Category Archives: Health

Mindfulness

So, the buzzword around seems to be Mindfulness.  Over the years I have consciously tried to slow life down, take time to sniff the air and the like but with a busy family and work life it never really lasted very long.

I recently bought myself a Mindfulness Journal, I usually dash things down on a pad or random piece of paper and then promptly forget about it.  A journal was the answer, with guided exercises to follow and something to carry around in my handbag to whip out when the urge to write takes me.

Mindfulness Journal

One particular thing I have made a point of doing is to try to eat mindfully, rather than mindlessly.   It is of course, what you eat that matters but also how you eat it.  My dad used to tell me as a child to chew my food slowly and mix it with my saliva before swallowing.  Of course as a child I thought urgh, that sounds gross as I wolfed down my food which usually got in the way of play, but he was right.  Saliva is made mostly from water with electrolytes, antibacterial compounds and various enzymes that break down starches.  It moistens your mouth, prepares food for swallowing and starts the process of digestion when we chew.

Most of us find ourselves multi-tasking when eating these days, on the phone, watching television, etc. eating on the run at least once a day or grabbing something quick to save time,  but not only is this not good for your digestion (sorry about the double negative there) but I’m guessing like me you barely remember eating it!  

Eating mindfully can change our brain and nervous system chemistry too, calming everything down and countering the effects of stress.  Our body’s response to stress is to slow down our digestive activity which should improve so that digestion can become much more efficient and effective.

 Mindful eating, easier said than done especially with small children around but well worth trying to put into practice for at least one meal a day.  I know I can feel the difference when I get the opportunity to slow down, ignore distractions and relish the food and the moment.  Food is fuel but it is also there to be tasted and savoured.  I will endeavour to take my own advice and the wise words of my father from long ago.

 

 

 

 

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Flavour Packed Vegetable Stock

I’ve been making my own vegetable stock forever especially in the colder months and this year being colder for longer I’ve made a small batch this weekend. It’s so simple to do and it’s a great way to use up excess vegetables.  Carrots, celery and onion make up the base of my stock and from there I add different vegetables depending on what’s usually in the fridge, parsnips, leeks and sometimes cabbage, swede and mushrooms have made their way into the pot.

I use parsley, bay and black peppercorns but also have used thyme, garlic and other herbs, there really is no set menu for making your own recipe vegetable stock.  The stock I’m making here is perfect for tiny tastebuds too, mine doesn’t like garlic very much yet so will leave it out of this batch.

Today’s pot of goodness includes:

2 organic carrots, chopped – I don’t peel, just give a good scrub
2 celery sticks, chopped
1 medium onion, cut into quarters
1 parsnip, peel and cut lengthways
1 small swede, chopped
1 leek including the green part, trim the end off and cut lengthways
3 cabbage leaves, the very outer greener ones
small handful of parsley including stalks
a few black peppercorns
1 bay leaf

Put all the vegetables into a pan, I’m using my trusty old (and it is very old but still so good) Le Creuset pan and add 2 litres of water.   Depending on the size of your pan you can add more or less water, more will, of course, produce a more lighter flavoured stock and with less the stock will have a more concentrated infusion.  2 litres fills my pot nicely and produces a delicious, well-flavoured stock.


Simmer for 1-2 hours, I know this seems a bit vague but an hour is fine but if I have the time I do like to give it a bit more simmering time.  Stir occasionally to further blend the flavours.

For extra depth of flavour you can also fry the vegetables gently first in a little oil before adding the water.  For soups though I prefer a simple, fresh and light stock.

Take off the heat and strain through a sieve and leave to cool.  The stock liquid can now be used as the base for soups or to make rissoto, quinoa, etc. 

Once cooled the stock can be frozen, mine is used up pretty quickly as I make a lot of soups which are fabulous for the 5:2 diet which I am still doing every week, it has become a habit now, part of my week and having low-calorie, highly nutritious soups to keep my appetite satiated has been amazingly helpful. 

The cooked vegetables can also be blended down and included in many recipes.  The vegetables will still contain plenty of fibre and a huge shame to waste.  I use them in soups for the tiddler, blended down or added to casseroles.  We also make veggie burgers, mixing the mashed vegetables with breadcrumbs and egg, seasonings and sometimes cheese.  So many uses for extra veg!

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5:2, Low GL – Breakfasts

Still on the 5:2/Alternate Day Low GL Diet.  Another lbs down, my BMI is now 23.  I am combining the two for a few weeks until I get to my target, total loss so far is 8lbs since the beginning of the year but the most important part is the health benefits of both diet plans.

I am currently doing 2 x fast days at 500 calories maximum and 1 day at 700 calories using Patrick Holford’s Low GL Plan. I find it much easier if I meal plan, below are a few of my breakfast choices. 

The rest of the week I try to keep to the Low GL plan foods following Patrick’s weightloss plan that I signed up for last week and try to count GL’s instead of calories.  All I can say is it’s working and I can carry on long term as a healthy weight control way of eating. 

All my breakfasts start with a mug of tea and 50ml of skimmed milk – 25 calories.

*Patrick Holfords Get Up and Go is a Low GL Breakfast Shake that has a wide range of vitamins and minerals with a blend of whole foods and is an ideal start to any day.  I have a shake about 3-4 times a week, sometimes for breakfast and sometimes for a light lunch.  On a fast day I make up a 20g serving which is 66 calories, made with 500ml of water, I can sip this slowly throughout the morning.

*A 30g serving is 99 calories and on non-fast days I will add a tablespoon of chia seeds and one of golden or brown flax seeds with 250ml of skimmed milk  for breakfast.

*A simple boiled medium egg on half a slice (22g) of toasted oatmeal bread = 139 calories. A lower calorie option would be to swap the bread for a slice of Ryvita crispbread (35 -44 calories).

*Total 0% yoghurt – 100g = 57 calories with 50g strawberries –14 calories or blueberries 28 calories or both would still only equal 99 calories!

*1 egg Omelette with 50g grated courgette = 99 calories, serve with a pile of watercress for an extra 5 calories.  And yes this is just one egg, the white is whipped up separately for a lovely fluffy filling breakfast omelette.



Alternate Day GL Diet

So my main aim this week was to keep the calories under 700 on alternate days and to follow the GL way of eating on the Patrick Holford GL weightloss programme.  I signed up earlier in the week and have been glued to all the information, videos, etc.  

The strange thing was that on the first day I managed 689 calories and on day 2 I clocked up a meagre 489!  For some reason I did not feel all that hungry so ate accordingly.  As I have another low-cal fast day tomorrow I weighed myself this morning and another 1lb loss a day early, so quite pleased with progress.

The GL way of looking at food is something I knew about but found a little confusing due to the GI ratings of food too, so I’ve put them out of my head and concentrated on the GL version. The low-GL (glycemic load) diet, coupled with alternate day fasting is a good way to keep your blood sugar levels even, which equates to losing weight, gaining energy and not craving carbs.

Keeping to 40 GL a day will help you lose weight, then 60 GL as a maintenance programme once you are happy with your weight level.

The meal plan is very easy to follow with a huge choice of food, all you have to do is get used to keeping breakfast, lunch and dinner at around 10GL which the meal plans give examples against each meal and as an extra you can have 5GL for puddings, snacks and drinks.  The meal plans are full of very easy to prepare, tasty foods.

During my last pregnancy I had Gestational Diabetes, you won’t be surprised to hear that I managed the condition with diet and did not inject insulin (the thought of injecting myself was enough to make me get my diet on track!). They manage you very closely from 28 weeks so it was a long 10 weeks but I got through.  Because of the GD I am now possibly more prone to becoming diabetic in the next few years so want to manage my blood sugar as much as possible without it being a chore – in other words I still want to enjoy my food!

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5:2 Alternate Day Fast "Diet"

I’ve been very interested to try the 5:2 Fasting “Diet” (also known as the Intermittent or Alternate Day diet) after watching the BBC2 Horizon documentary with Dr Michael Mosley some time ago.  The premise is that you can anything you like for five days a week and still lose weight as long as you also fast for two days a week.  By fasting I mean calorie restriction for those two days.  There are also the health benefits that may go along with it too, reduced risk of some diseases and even positive effects on the brain. 

 



So with his new book “The Fast Diet” just arrived I’m busy reading it to get some more inspiration of what to eat on my fast days and to give me more structure, I started yesterday with a mini fast where I counted calories loosely keeping them around 900 (the recommendation is 500 for women and 600 for men) to see how I felt and I am delighted to say it went very well.  I carried my day on as usual and did not feel faint or tired.  I did, however, feel the rumble of my tummy a fair bit but then I usually take in more than double the calories!  I drank my usual 1½ litres of water and my tea with skimmed milk which helped to stave off the hunger too.

I’m not a calorie counter but with a view to starting the 5:2 diet I’ve been seeing what the calorific value of my everyday and treat foods are, some of it is quite startling!  I’ve also signed up to myfitnesspal which is a free calorie counter app to track my daily intake and it gives you a countdown of calories, very useful!  After putting in my personal particulars with how much I wanted to lose each week it gave me my personal daily calorie intake of 1210 plus factor in 2 days of the 5:2 Fast Diet of 600-750 calories (I may have to work my way down to 500!) could mean greater weight loss each week.

I read recently that safe weightloss, shedding fat not lean tissue, is around 1% of body weight so if you are 10 stone that equates to 1lb per week ongoing.  To do this you need to reduce calorie intake by 500 calories a day which over 7 days = 3500 calories which is what is needed to lose 1lb in weight!

Monday this week is my official first 5:2 Fast Day, very much looking forward to it, my days are busy so I’m hoping I won’t notice the lack of calories, it’s the evenings when I find the urge to nibble and even though it’s healthy nibbles like almonds, they are still highly calorific!

For the first couple of weeks I will have to formulate menus as I’m not used to the calorie counting.  I’ll post every Tuesday and Friday about what I ate on the fasting days and the health benefits and weight loss that hopefully come along with it. 

Let the fasting commence!

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Nutritious Delicious Lunch

The glorious weather continues hooray! but it does make my appetite wane a little.  All I wanted today was something light, fresh & filling enough to see me through the afternoon.  A light lunch of Cherry Tomatoes, Radishes, Cucumber, Avocado, lightly sprinkled with golden linseeds and drizzled with extra virgin Olive oil.
Nutritious Deliciousness

Health Notes:

AvocadoVitamin A, Folic Acid, B2, B3, B5, B6, C, E, Potassium
Cucumber – Vitamin B5, C, K, Potassium, Molybdenum, Manganese, Magnesium, Tryptophan
Golden Linseeds – rich in Omega 3, Vitamin B Complex, E
Radish – Vitamin B2, B6, C, Calcium, Magnesium, Copper, Manganese, Folic Acid, Potassium
Tomato Vitamin A, C, E, K, B1, B2, B6, Folic Acid, Calcium, Magnesium, Manganese, Potassium, Iron (little), Lycopene, Lutein, Phosphorus, Zinc
Watercress Vitamin A, C, E, B1, B2, B3, Iron, Calcium