Health Diary Week 85: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Dramas

Me trying to act dramatic – reenacting being eaten by a sabre tooth tiger, Edinburgh (2007)

Hi, welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate: health updates, meal creations and smile-provoking experiences.

The Histamine Story

Here’s my histamine updates from the past week (more info about histamine intolerance here[1])…

No ill-effects:

I’m ecstatic (and massively relieved) to report there were no ill-effects from the Sunday socialising at Tina and Ben’s house where I ate food that I hadn’t sourced or prepared myself (absolutely delicious food) and indulged in a few vodkas and cokes (I thought these could be a huge mistake). Does this mean my condition is improving or that I was careful enough before the event by keeping my histamine cup relatively empty?… I just don’t know.

Medication shortages?:

There appears to be an issue obtaining the medications I use. Firstly, I had to go to another pharmacy (not my nominated one) to obtain my Loratadine solution antihistamine prescription. Secondly, there was the prescribed sodium cromoglycate (mast cell stabiliser) unavailability (Week 83), so I never got to try this medication. Then, it took me four different pharmacy tries to get my hands on the Cetirizine antihistamine liquid – I had to buy the branded version that costs twice as much as the generic one I would usually get. I hope this isn’t going to be an ongoing concern.

DAO enzymes:

I’ve read quite a lot on the long haul Covid and histamine intolerance social media sites about people using DAO enzyme supplements to counteract the effects of histamine containing foods. My concern about these supplements were that they’re all animal-based (taken from the kidneys of pigs) and there doesn’t appear to be much solid scientific research on them. But then, someone posted about a plant-based option, Naturdao, so I decided I would buy some to use cautiously – reserved for occasional use when I want to socialise more ‘normally’ with friends and family. I’ll let you know how I get on with them.

Vegan DAO enzyme supplement: Naturdao

Food

I haven’t got much to report food-wise this week. I’ve just opted for my easy go-to options of salad and pasta based meals. I hope to create some interesting dishes soon.

Exercise

I’m conscious that the title of this blog includes the word “Exercise”, and I haven’t done much of that in recent months. But I’m determined to try to slowly introduce physical activity again soon.

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

And here’s some of my favourite smile provokers from this week…

A personal touch:

I try to buy from independent stores rather than big chains, so I often browse Etsy for cards and gifts. I recently stumbled across JuanitaManzana who sells “Illustrated greeting cards – with a touch of cats!” I ordered a birthday card for my sister and was pleasantly surprised by the cute cat paw tape on the packaging, followed by a sweet thank you note card and a bonus extra birthday card – how lovely is that?:

Top: Thank you card from JuanitaManzana, Etsy. Bottom left: Bonus greeting card. Bottom right: Cat paws tape

More garden socials:

Thank goodness for the recent decent weather. This weekend I had the pleasure of meeting up with Bevy, Harry and Loki kitten again in their garden. And I caught up with Neil, an old Uni friend (from my HND and degree courses in the 90’s):

Neil and I at my pub birthday party, Isle of Wight (1996)

What a difference a week (or so) makes:

Summer is my favourite season. So, I love seeing signs of Summer approaching – new buds appearing on bare trees as early as January, the Spring blossom and finally that summery greenery. Our pond view is a great place to observe the seasonal changes:

Pond greenery. Top left: Grey, bare trees and snowy, December 2020 (Week 63). Top right: Greenery appearing, April 2021 (Week 78). Bottom left: Lots of greenery, May 2021 (Week 84). Bottom right: Pond barely visible amongst the foliage, June 2021 (Week 85)

Bird dramas:

I love birds, but I am not a fan of Magpies since I discovered they eat our Blackbirds’ babies – I know its nature, the circle of life and all that, but I can’t help but be biased. So, you can imagine my horror when a Magpie found our Mummy Bird’s nest. One of the youngsters flew out in a panic, straight into the side of our house, fell onto the porch roof and rolled down onto the front doorstep! Now, you’re probably exclaiming “How on earth could this make you smile?!?”. Fear not, there was a happy ending (as far as I know). Baby Bird was stunned – we didn’t touch her, but took turns standing guard, even eating our lunch out the front of the house. This gave Baby time to recover until eventually Daddy Bird located Baby and they flew away together. Baddie Magpie returned later but the Blackbirds and Sparrows joined forces rather impressively chasing it away. The Starlings just legged-it! – I’m not sure how I feel about those guys either:

Bird dramas: Top and Bottom left: Mummy and Daddy Blackbirds obtaining much needed energy post the Magpie attack on their babies – they’re still looking fairly alert. Bottom right: Magpie (photo from Week 32 last year, but a similar time of the year)

I hope you enjoyed this week’s ‘What’s on Watson’s Plate’. Please feel free to follow my bite-sized updates on Instagram or Facebook. See you next week for another catch up.

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Reference

Swiss Interest Group Histamine Intolerance (SIGHI), 2019. Outline.

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Health Diary Week 84: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

A Marvellous Weekend

Hello weekend. Image: messersrach, Pixabay

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Hi, welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate: health updates, meal creations and smile-provoking experiences.

My Back is Better

I had to cancel my week’s work shifts, because of the ongoing back pain and related sleep deprivation – I was forced into attempting to sleep in a somewhat seated position, rather than my usual on my side preference. Thankfully, by Thursday the pain was almost gone – I reckon the heat wrap and hot water bottle helped ease things up. When I spoke to the Physio, we decided I need to be more mindful of my posture at work and move about when possible.

Shoulder Physiotherapy (2nd appointment)

On Thursday, I had my second shoulder physio appointment. I was a bit worried, because I hadn’t done my exercises for a week. But my Physio confirmed I’d made good progress, with increased strength and range of movement. I was given a couple of new exercises and encouraged to think about re-introducing swimming when I feel more Covid-safe.

Me after my individual 5 km charity swim (Swimathon, 2012)

Histamine update

On Friday, I had a phone appointment with my doctor. I updated I’d received my Allergy Clinic referral and had booked the first available appointment, but it’s not until the end of August. I explained I’m often taking the Loratadine antihistamine twice a day (instead of once) to minimise symptoms. So, since my mast cell stabiliser prescription is unavailable, we decided to try a combo of two antihistamines with different active ingredients – Loratadine in the morning and Cetirizine before bed.

Ben Cooks Plants (incredibly well)

I decided there wasn’t any point in writing about my homemade meals this week, because there wasn’t anything new and they were completely overshadowed by the massive food treat I had on Sunday. I’d headed over to Tina and Ben’s garden for the afternoon and was invited to stay for dinner. Now there’s absolutely no way I could decline Ben’s cooking – it’s my favourite! How fortunate I am to have a friend who is not only a vegan chef (fence replacer too – Week 82), but also up for the challenge of producing a low histamine meal. I have to say it was as excellent as my memory remembered his meals to be – so yeah, superb! You can check Ben’s food out on Instagram at Ben Cooks Plants:

Ben’s food. Check out this spread! I could eat the four dishes to the left, because Ben made them low histamine for me – thank you!
Ben’s food, closer. Clockwise: The dishes I could eat. Pulpo a la Gallega (palm hearts replace octopus). Courgette and cucumber salad. Serrano ‘ham’ with cucumber and mint. (There were also fried peppers with garlic shown, in first photo). Sooo delicious!

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

The amazing food above definitely made me happy and here are a few more things that made me smile…

Al fresco dining with friends:

I really do love socialising and dining outside when the weather is good. I had a lovely Saturday in Tina’s and Ben’s garden. I was only planning on visiting for a couple of hours, but we were having such a good time and the weather was gorgeous and another friend (Mark) arrived in the evening, so I ended up staying until 10.30pm (I’d arrived at 2pm!):

Social in Tina and Ben’s garden (the evenings are still pretty cold!). Left: I was giggling away at how funny Tina and I looked while trying to take a photo of us. Right: A less blurry picture of us

Upcycling old stuff:

There’s something incredibly satisfying about livening up an old item to make it something better than it was originally. In this case, a couple of our outside seat pads had faded to a horrible grey colour in the sun (unfortunately, Mum didn’t take a photo of them before she started her magic). So, instead of just throwing them away, Mum found a design she liked and used her acrylic paints to liven them up. The look great, don’t they?:

Mum’s upcycled seat cushions. Top: The finished product. Bottom: In progress

More kitten cuteness:

On Sunday, I visited Bevy’s and Harry’s garden to get to know their kitten, Loki, better as I’m due to be cat sitting for them. Well, Loki is just adorable, I could watch him for ages – serious kitten cuteness overload! And of course it was wonderful to sit in the sunny garden with Bevy and catch up on each other’s news:

Gorgeous Maine Coon kitten, Loki

I hope you enjoyed this week’s ‘What’s on Watson’s Plate’. Please feel free to follow my bite-sized updates on Instagram or Facebook. See you next week for another catch up.

>>>Week 85
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Health Diary Week 83: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Broken

Image: Noupload, Pixabay

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<<<Week 82

Hi, welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate: health updates, meal creations and smile-provoking experiences.

I’ve come to accept that these posts may have to be briefer nowadays to fit with my work life. But honestly, I still love sharing my diary with you all. Also, I hope you benefit from my posts, whether you find them helpful or just interesting. So let me update you about this week’s occurrences…

The Histamine Struggles

The histamine saga is ongoing. Here’s the latest…

Stinky people:

During lockdown I’d almost forgotten how much of an issue I have with people’s perfume products. Over the past two weeks, this has been a particular struggle at work – I’ve had a constant burning and itchy sensation in my nose, despite coating my nostrils (inside and out – yea, yuck!) with loads of Vaseline (it helped) and wearing a mask. This suggests to me that my mast cells (histamine releasers) are being over-dramatic, reacting unnecessarily. To enable me to function, I took an extra dose of my antihistamine, Loratadine (once in the morning and again in the evening) – I will inform my Doctor in case she has any concerns about this.

Our Border Collie boy, Shep, making friends with a goat, or perhaps they’re just intrigued by each other’s whiff (1988)

No-go prescription:

You may remember, I was excited last week to report I’d been prescribed a mast cell stabiliser to help with my histamine issues. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to obtain this medication and I don’t know why exactly – the Pharmacy seemed kind of cagey. I went into the Pharmacy on three days to try to collect my prescription and was told it was on order and then when my Mum went while I was at work, they told her they could no longer obtain it from the supplier and that I had to go back to my Doctor. So, I completed another e-Consult form requesting an alternative. To be continued…

And… My Back

I swear I’m falling apart! I woke up on Friday morning in agony with my back – I haven’t had this happen before. It felt like a combination of a trapped nerve (radiating from my back through to my side and ribs), a muscle knot and a tender bruise-like feeling. Even breathing hurt, until the pain eventually eased a bit. I somehow made it out of bed, but I couldn’t bend down to carry my laundry to the washing machine. I thought I was over the worst, until on Saturday afternoon the pain started increasing again. It got unbearable when I was in the shower – I struggled to seat myself on the side of the bath and was stuck there for about half an hour before I could move again. I’ll let you know how it progressed…

More Easy Meals

Once again, I had no energy to spend time in the kitchen creating new dishes. Instead I opted for easy options like simple fusilli pasta (with sweetcorn and onion), filled pittas (e.g. burgers) and leftover freezer options (e.g. roast). Once, Mum cooked me up some fennel steaks and homemade chips/fries – always a treat:

Some of my easy meals. Clockwise: Quinoa & rice burger (from freezer) in salad pitta. Simple pasta (fusilli, sweetcorn, red onion, Italian herbs, turmeric, sweet paprika & cold-pressed rapeseed oil). Mum’s fennel steak and homemade chips. Leftover roast items from the freezer (roast & sweet potato, courgettes & stuffing)

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

Here’s a few things that made me smile this week…

Interesting people:

I know I’ve already said this, but I’m particularly enjoying the social aspect of being back at work. And the thing about where I’m working (Covid vaccine centre), means that you get to meet a wide range of different people, with one great thing in common – wanting to support the community and reduce the spread of Covid-19. This includes quite a few retired health professionals (including a skateboarding former WHO medic, and retired midwife vegan of 40 years), loads of people furloughed from airlines or cruise ships, a wedding photographer, lighting engineer (working for bands touring the World) and even a Baroness opera singer – amazing! Who knows who else I’ll get to meet…

Me ready for work (Week 81)

A good excuse:

I was feeling a bit sorry for myself over the weekend because of my painful back. But then I decided to appreciate having time to myself in the cosy house where I was cat sitting during this rainy weather, along with a decent excuse not to move much and just binge watch Netflix – it could be worse, right?:

Netflix binge. Image: Tumisu, Pixabay

Peculiar cats:

My friend Tina likes me to cat sit for her “fur baby”, Buddy, when she’s away – apparently, he likes me. It’s been a long time since I’ve spent time with this guy, so I wasn’t sure how he’d react when I looked after him over the weekend. On the first evening, I couldn’t understand why Buddy was sat outside on the window ledge glaring in at me and ignoring my offer for him to come back inside (via the door). I messaged Tina, who explained he wanted to come in via the window and would therefore refuse the door option. Cats are so peculiarly funny:

Buddy cat glaring at me through the window

I hope you enjoyed this week’s ‘What’s on Watson’s Plate’. Please feel free to follow my bite-sized updates on Instagram or Facebook. See you next week for another catch up.

>>>Week 84
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Health Diary Week 82: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Another Quickie

Image: Catherine Nikitenko, Pixabay

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<<<Week 81

Hi, welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate. This is just a quick check-in to say “hi”, provide a little update and share some of the things that made me smile this week…

NHS Covid Administrator – Week 3

I’m pleased (and relieved) to report that I’m still enjoying working in the Covid vaccine centre. Interacting with people again is great.

Histamine Issues (continued)

On Friday, I had another phone appointment with my Doctor to reassess my histamine issues (mostly chronic rhinitis). I was pleased that she agreed to prescribe mast cell stabilisers for two weeks, initially. Most excitingly, the Doctor agreed to refer me to Immunology for further investigation.

Convenient Dinner: Vegetable Pasta

I haven’t been creative in the kitchen since I started back at work. Instead, I’ve concentrated more on easy meals. One of these was batch cooking a load of vegetable fusilli pasta. I just added sweet white onion, garlic, sweetcorn, courgette, baby peppers, chia and hemp seeds, dried Italian herb seasoning, turmeric, and sweet paprika with a cold-pressed rapeseed and flaxseed oil dressing – simple yet satisfying:

Enjoying my batch cooked vegetable pasta from the freezer with a ‘cheesy’ garlic pitta

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

And here’s a few of this week’s smile provokers…

My new garden fence:

Last week I told you about how the storms had blown down my fence (it was already in a sorry state). How wonderful it was on Monday to get a message from my friend, Ben, with a photo to say the fence was up. Such a load off my mind:

My garden fence. Left: Before. Right: After

New Starling family arrivals:

One morning, we were sat on the driveway looking out at the pond when a load of Starling birds flew in. The new Starling youngsters were quite sweet, but I think we can expect some noisy squabbles in the near future:

Starling youngsters looking unsure about how to deal with the bird feeder
The Starlings enjoying the driveway buffet

Rainbow:

We’ve had a lot of rain and general rubbish weather recently. This time last year, I was out in the sunshine loads. But, at least at the end of the week, I looked out of the window and saw a rainbow, which brightened my day – I do love a rainbow:

I can see a rainbow

I hope you enjoyed this week’s ‘What’s on Watson’s Plate’. Please feel free to follow my bite-sized updates on Instagram or Facebook. See you next week for another catch up.

>>>Week 83
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Health Diary Week 81: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Stormy Spring

Stormy Spring clouds on my walk back from physio

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<<<Week 80

Hi, welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate: health updates, meal creations and smile-provoking experiences.

NHS Covid Administrator – Week 2

I successfully completed my second week as a Covid Administrator. I’m enjoying the social interaction and having a variety of tasks: Check-in, directing people into assessment or vaccine bays and working in the vaccine bays. The vaccine bays were particularly interesting – I checked and updated patient records and distracted nervous people. Also, I had the opportunity to observe syringes being prepared and vaccines being given – I can’t believe that I can handle this now – a few years ago there’s no way I could. And, during down-times I chatted to some inspiring vaccinators from a variety of backgrounds.

Physiotherapy

I received a phone call on Tuesday, offering me an in-person physiotherapy appointment the next day. I really liked my physiotherapist, Arienne, who asked lots of questions and made me feel listened to. Arienne tested me for nerve damage (all seems fine) and assessed my range of movement and strength – I can’t believe how much strength I’ve lost in my damaged shoulder/arm. I found out there’s no such thing as a locked rotator cuff – I’m sure that’s what A&E told me I had (I’d wondered why I couldn’t find anything about it online). It was decided the exercises I’d been trying to do were too advanced for my current situation, so some new ones were assigned. I’m back for another session in a couple of weeks. I now feel a lot more confident that my shoulder will eventually heal.

New physio exercises to improve the range of movement in my shoulder and arm

Easy, Convenient Dinners

I haven’t had much energy for cooking since I started work, so thank goodness for simple options and frozen batch-cooked food. My go-to post-work light dinner is a simple filled pitta of Violife ‘cheese’ slices, Quorn ‘ham’ slices and salad – simple yet tasty (but admittedly a histamine risk). One evening, I added frozen cooked veg and notomato sauce to noodles and topped them with spring onion. Noodles are really convenient; so, another time I accompanied them with a simple macadamia sauce (macadamia butter, oat milk, garlic granules, mixed herbs and sweet paprika) and served them with a side of coated cauliflower wings from the freezer. I also made a cheesy vegetable pasta using frozen cauliflower and broccoli cheese, carrots and sweetcorn – convenient and delicious:

My easy dinners: Clockwise: ‘Cheese’, ‘ham’ and salad pitta. Vegetable noodles in notomato sauce. Macadamia noodles with cauliflower wings. Cheesy vegetable fusilli pasta

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

As always, I’m happy to share a few things that made me smile this week…

Kind freebies:

I ordered some supplies from the Vegan Kind Supermarket. They added some free vanilla custard and chickpea fusilli to my delivery – how kind:

Vegan Kind Supermarket freebies: Vanilla custard and chickpea fusilli

Helpful friends:

I received a message from my tenants to say that my garden fence had fallen down in the storm. I must say this was not a smile provoker, but what did make me smile was that one of my friends replied to my Facebook shout-out and confirmed he could help rectify the problem:

Fence down: My poor garden fence finally came down in the most recent storm

Catch-ups:

The stormy weather meant that I couldn’t meet up with Bevy in person. This is another situation that could have been seen as a negative. But, meeting online meant that we got to chat with Charlotte too – and we had such a great much-needed catch up. And, at the end of the week, I had an online chat with Dawn, a like-minded new(ish) friend:

Great friends: Charlotte, me and Bevy (my Mexican-themed party, 2011)

I hope you enjoyed this week’s ‘What’s on Watson’s Plate’. Please feel free to follow my bite-sized updates on Instagram or Facebook. See you next week for another catch up.

>>>Week 82
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Health Diary Week 80: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Back to Work

Back to work: Me looking a little dazed by the prospect

“The best way to enjoy your job is to imagine yourself without one”

Oscar Wilde

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<<<Week 79

Hi, welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate: health updates, meal creations and smile-provoking experiences. Firstly, I must apologise for the delayed post – a couple of unexpected situations and general work tiredness slowed me down.

I started working for the NHS

I was nervous (but also massively excited) about starting work as a Covid Administrator in a vaccine centre. I’d been a University Disability Adviser until mid-2017 when I took voluntary redundancy to complete my studies full-time. After graduating at the end of 2019, I’d intended to have a few months break. And then Covid-19 emerged and I contracted it mid-March 2020 (read my story here), leaving me with some lingering symptoms delaying my return to work.

I had no idea how I would handle my fatigue, despite only working three days a week (just over six hours each shift). I worked Wednesday to Friday and was hugely relieved I was okay, but I spent much of my weekend sleeping before my next shift on Monday. My shift pattern will settle down soon, so I’ll be able to develop a routine.

I worked on check-in, where I welcomed and booked-in people for their vaccine, before directing them to the assessment queue. I’m hoping to work in the vaccine bays soon. What I’ve absolutely loved is being around people again.

Me dressed for work: NHS vaccine support staff

I lost weight

I was hoping that being back at work would increase my activity levels and halt my recent creeping weight gain. When I weighed myself on Monday, I’d lost 2.2 lb (1 kg) in weight after my first working week despite being sat down most of the time – yay! My shift timings mean I miss a meal at work, so that must have helped. And I probably burnt a few calories trying to keep warm, as the building was well ventilated (rightfully so).

Medical updates: Histamine and clicking jaw

I missed a phone call from my Doctor to review my histamine issues, whilst I was at work. So, this meant another e-Consult form to request a set time to speak to my Doctor. Hopefully I’ll hear back soon.

Also, I had a dentist appointment to shave down one of my teeth to reduce a heavy bite. Hopefully this will stop my jaw from clicking so much and improve bone repair from an extra tooth previously removed. Thankfully, it was a simple process – no anaesthetic required and over quickly. I’ll be interested to see if my jaw does stop clicking.

Pre-work breakfast: Baked oats and quinoa flakes

Now that I’m working, I either miss lunch or dinner, because of my shift timings. My employers provide sandwiches and snacks, but sadly I can’t eat these (except the apples) because of my low histamine, gluten free and vegan diet. I just take dry foods (popcorn, crackers, nuts) to snack on during a break and eat filling pre-work meals. My pre-work breakfast was baked oats and quinoa flakes with apple and blueberries, topped with macadamia butter (details here) – super filling, dessert-like breakfast – yum!:

Baked oats and quinoa flakes with apple and blueberries (and other goodies)

Pre-work lunch: Pasta salad in macadamia butter

My pre-work filling lunch also incorporated my trusty, newly discovered quinoa flakes and macadamia butter. This time I made a fusilli (brown rice) pasta salad – I have an idea on how to improve it next time, but I must say, I was impressed with this creation (details here):

Pasta salad with macadamia nut butter and quinoa flakes – so filling!

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

Here’s a few of this week’s smile provokers…

Real-life people:

What really made me smile this week was interacting with people in real-life – returning to work and seeing friends. It was wonderful to meet in Karen’s garden for the first time this year (and the bonus was it was daylight, initially) instead of on Zoom. We had a lovely catch-up (myself, Karen, Julie and Chrissy) and a calming mindfulness session led by Chrissy:

Garden meet-up and mindfulness (Week 47)

The talented Mr Blackbird:

Our blackbird friends have been incredibly busy with nest maintenance and feeding. Mummy Bird and a male were collecting mud and sticks from the pond, flying back-and-forth to a nest somewhere behind our house. Our blackbird friends have also been enjoying the abundance of worms in our garden and the buffet we provide on the driveway for the ground-feeding birds. But impressively, Mr Blackbird has also figured out how to hang from the bird feeder to obtain extra sustenance:

Mr Blackbird demonstrating his skills

Super Moon:

I awoke Tuesday morning (27 April) at 4.30am to a huge, clear moon lighting up my room. Unfortunately, my photo attempts didn’t do it justice, so you’ll have to take my word that it was gorgeous. I found out later this was a super pink moon. I didn’t notice it being pink, but then the one shown below isn’t obviously pink either:

Super pink moon. Image: TheOtherKev, Pixabay

I hope you enjoyed this week’s ‘What’s on Watson’s Plate’. Please feel free to follow my bite-sized updates on Instagram or Facebook. See you next week for another catch up.

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Health Diary Week 79: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Sunny Spring

Beautiful blossom and blue sky on one of my walks

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<<<Week 78

Hi, welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate: health updates, meal creations and smile-provoking experiences.

Covid Adminstrator shifts – yay!

I was concerned that I hadn’t heard back about starting my role as “Covid Administrator” despite chasing it up. So, I was talking to my parents about how I was going to consider other NHS temp bank positions, when I received a phone call to obtain my availability for shifts at the vaccine centre – how exciting! I’m going to work three days per week for now, starting next week (at time of writing, this week!). I’ll let you know how it goes in my next post.

Histamine update

It was a rough week with the histamine issues. I suspect the high tree pollen count contributed to the problem. The symptoms (cold-like) gradually worsened throughout the week and by Thursday (after my morning walk) I was completely floored for the rest of the day. I’m worried about how I will cope at work if I can’t control these symptoms. How can I possibly not appear scarily germy and manage to wear a mask all day?

So, I completed another e-Consult Doctor’s form requesting referral to an Immunology Clinic and asking if I could try mast cell stabilisers (to calm down the cells that release histamine) – I’ve started wondering whether my issue is more to do with over-active mast cells, rather than a histamine intolerance (a problem with the enzymes that break down histamine). I need professional medical help to figure this out. In the meantime, I’m being extra careful again about minimising histamine food risks:

Some of my low histamine meals this week. Clockwise: Pasta salad. Veg and seed rice. Veg and seed noodles. Fennel steaks with homemade chips and notomato sauce

Exercise: Walking rewards

I was really pleased with myself for going out walking every day this week, despite feeling unwell. “Active 10” recognised my efforts and gave me three rewards this week: “1,000 Club” for reaching over 1,000 minutes brisk walking since I first downloaded the app, “High Five” for five out of seven days brisk walking (I achieved seven days) and “Perfect Week” for hitting my brisk walking target everyday – go me! But, I still gained a pound (0.45 kg) in weight – it doesn’t seem fair:

My Active 10 rewards and week’s walking record. Clockwise: Perfect Week. High Five. My week’s walks. 1,000 Club

Food creation: Baked oats

I had to give the baked porridge oats another try (details here), of course with a few improvements. This time I added blueberries, as well as the fresh apple and black cherry jam (I’d also meant to add quinoa flakes, but completely forgot!). And, after baking I added a drizzle of macadamia nut butter – absolutely delicious!:

Food creation: Baked oats with blueberry, apple, black cherry jam and a macadamia nut butter drizzle

Food creation: Egg-free ‘omelette’

It’s been a while since I’ve made one of my ‘omelettes’ for lunch, so I decided it was about time I made one again. (Okay, so this wasn’t actually an omelette, but I don’t know what else to call it, so ‘omelette’ will have to suffice for now). The base was a mix of cornmeal and quinoa flakes, whilst the filling was yellow pepper, courgette/zucchini and seeds. I got a bit carried away with the seed topping! I had three portions leftover to freeze – bonus. The omelette accompanied my usual salad (I need to write a post sometime about my new typical salad since being on a low histamine diet):

My egg-free ‘omelette’ creation, accompanied by my new typical salad

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

It’s been a good week, if we ignore the histamine issues. We had glorious sunshine culminating in lots of outside time, including socialising with friends…

Socials and a kitten:

My social week included a lovely online catch up with Marjory, whilst I was sat outside bird watching and enjoying the sunshine. Also, I visited Tina and Ben and enjoyed a chat in their sunny garden spot – so nice to see friends in real life. And, I walked up to Bevy and Harry’s to meet Loki, their new, adorable Maine Coon kitten (and socialise with Bevy, and Harry of course):

Kitten cuteness. Top right: Loki, the Maine Coon, when he first arrived home. Other pics: Loki now. Awww – cute, cute, cute!

Dragonfly visitor:

A dragonfly landed on me while I was quietly sat reading in the garden. I love dragonflies:

Dragonfly. Image: Tanuj Handa, Pixabay

Cactus corner:

I was admiring the new cactus corner in the conservatory, when I noticed that my real-life cactus plant was flowering – I’ve had that cactus for years – it’s the only one that survived from a set of four. I was also impressed by Mum’s latest ‘repair shop’ work on my fake cacti – I wish there was a before-and-after photo, because Mum did such a good job of livening them back up with a bit of skilful painting and adding decorative flowers:

Cactus corner. My real-life flowering cactus and Mum’s cacti repair work

The case of mistaken identity:

I finally realised that my neighbour’s cat, “Not Molly” is in fact “Molly”. I was concerned that Molly was no longer coming to visit, and her elusive brother was visiting instead. But when I was discussing this with my parents, my Dad, said “Are you sure this isn’t Molly?”. I was convinced it wasn’t Molly, because this one had a moustache. But then I looked back through my photos and realised Molly did indeed have a moustache and was clearly the same cat – how could I not have noticed the moustache before? I felt so silly, but also relieved Molly is okay:

Cat confusion:“Not Molly” is “Molly”

I hope you enjoyed this week’s ‘What’s on Watson’s Plate’. Please feel free to follow my bite-sized updates on Instagram or Facebook. See you next week for another catch up.

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Health Diary Week 78: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Just a Quickie

Speedy snail. Image: Clker-Free-Vector-Images, Pixabay

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Hi, welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate: health updates, meal creations and smile-provoking experiences.

It’s been a fairly quiet week overall and I’ve been struggling with histamine issues (more on that in next week’s post), so this will be a bit of a quickie.

Antihistamine progress: Loratadine

I’ve started on 10 mg per day of Loratadine antihistamine solution[1]. I was previously taking 10 mg twice per day of Cetirizine solution[2] to keep my symptoms relatively under control (this was double the advised dose – not recommend without your Doctor’s approval). The new medication hasn’t been an easy adjustment, if you can even call it that. I’ve felt fatigued, itchy, snotty and sneezy all week – incredibly uncomfortable. I’m going to give it another week before I report back to my Doctor and explore other options. I’m starting to suspect my issue might be that my histamine-releasing cells (mast cells) are over-active, rather than my previous assumption that it’s my body having an issue breaking down histamine (an enzyme dysfunction). It would be great if I could be referred to an immunological clinic, so that they can figure it out for me.

Food Re-purpose: Pasta bakeCauliflower and broccoli ‘cheese’

Last week Mum made a delicious cauliflower and broccoli ‘cheese’, which she served up with roast potato and sweet potato. I froze the leftovers for another day – I love it when there’s leftovers! I decided to re-purpose the cauliflower and broccoli ‘cheese’ into a pasta bake for a simple, low effort, tasty meal:

Cauliflower and broccoli ‘cheese’. Top: My re-purposed cauliflower and broccoli ‘cheese’ pasta bake. Bottom: Mum’s cauliflower and broccoli ‘cheese’ with roast potato and sweet potato

Food: New buy – Quinoa flakes

Someone on Instagram recommended quinoa flakes as a “game changer” ingredient if you’re not keen on quinoa, so of course I had to get me some to try. Apparently, they can be used as a breakfast cereal, porridge oats replacement or in baking. I haven’t tried them yet, but I’ll let you know how it goes when I do:

BioFair quinoa flakes

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

Here’s a few positives from my week:

Every step counts no matter how small:

I hadn’t felt like I achieved much health-wise recently due to my histamine issues holding me back. But I’m happy to have made a little step forward: I realised that I don’t need to add sugar to my chicory (coffee replacement) drink – I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to realise this! Any improvement, as small as it may be, is better than giving up, or falling back into unhealthy habits. So, I’m giving myself a little pat on the back for reducing my ‘free sugar’ intake a little:

The ‘pat on the back’ image Pixabay offered me (Graphics@ HandiHow)

Friends in real life:

I was excited to meet up with Bevy in person, especially as we missed last week, for a good ole catch up on the driveway:

Dad’s pretty flowers along the driveway

Choir practice:

I joined a choir! For those of you who know me, this is a big deal. I don’t sing in front of people – it’s one of my fears. This started at Junior school (I must have been around 10 years old) after the music teacher stopped the whole class saying that someone was singing out of tune and everyone pointed at me. After that I just mimed. I used to love singing before this incident. Anyway, my friend, Dawn, encouraged me to attend the online long covid choir (and explained you can mute yourself). So, I thought why not give it a try? I’m so glad I did. Zoe (the teacher) had such a friendly smiley face and was really encouraging. I liked the breathing exercises and explanations of how to sing particular notes. It was fun, so I’ll be returning next week for more:

Heartfelt Choir. I joined a choir!

Happy Birthday to me, again:

My Mum found a Birthday present she’d put away ‘safely’ for me. My Birthday was back in February. I was given a bamboo comb, which I was on the verge of buying myself, so I’m glad I hadn’t got around to purchasing one yet. It was a lovely surprise receiving an unexpected late Birthday present:

Happy Birthday to me. My belated bamboo comb Birthday present from my Mum

I hope you enjoyed this week’s ‘What’s on Watson’s Plate’. Please feel free to follow my bite-sized updates on Instagram or Facebook. See you next week for another catch up.

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References

1. National Health Service, 2018. Loratadine (including Clarityn).

2. National Health Service, 2018. Cetirizine.

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Health Diary Week 77: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Katey in the Kitchen

My What’s on Watson’s Plate Avatar

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Hi, welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate: health updates, meal creations and smile-provoking experiences.

Antihistamines: Acrivastine versus Loratadine

In Week 75, I updated that my Doctor had said I could choose between the antihistamines Acrivastine (brand name Benadryl)[1] and Loratadine (brand name Clarityn)[2]. So, naturally I undertook a bit of research to decide between the two options. The main findings of interest to me were:

My Acrivastine versus Loratadine research summary table

I decided Loratadine was my best option. Acrivastine is another of those antihistamines containing a high histamine food colouring (I really don’t get the deal with this!) –  Quinoline yellow (E104): “Very poorly tolerated, severe symptoms” and a “histamine liberator”[5]. The pharmacist confirmed that tablets for both Loratadine and Acrivastine contain lactose (which I have issue with), but you can get Loratadine solution (doesn’t contain lactose) on prescription. I just hope the other ingredients are okay, as I couldn’t find details for this. I was concerned that a common side effect of Acrivastine was sleep difficulties[1] – when I caught Covid (March 2020, read my Covid story here) I had 180 days of insomnia (which also messed with my mental health), so the possibility of going through anything like that again was hugely off-putting. I’ll let you know how I get on with Loratadine.

Side note: I should also mention that I asked the pharmacist whether all Fexofenadine (a stronger antihistamine) contained Allura Red/E129 (a high histamine food colouring) – apparently it does, so that’s definitely off the cards.

Exercise

I’ve been feeling too fatigued these past few weeks to exercise much. So, I was pleased with myself for completing three short walks this week, totalling 98 minutes, of which 54 minutes were brisk. Here’s hoping I can be more active soon. If I can, it will help towards losing the extra weight I’ve gained this week – I’ll tell you how much another time:

Exercise: Walking. Right: Pretty scene spotted on one of my walks. Left: My Active10 record

Food creation: Baked oats

Instagram has been trending with baked oats recipes these past couple of weeks, so of course I thought I should try them (details here). What I loved about this meal is that you just throw it all in an oven proof dish and pop it in the oven, leaving you to get on and do other things while its baking. It was tasty, so I’ll be having it again for sure, maybe with blueberries next time instead of apple and I’ll add in some macadamia butter – yum!:

Baked oats: Apple, black cherry jam, chia seeds, flax seeds, maple syrup and sweet cinnamon

Food creation: Vegetable and seed noodles

I rediscovered my love of King Soba noodles. I made a delicious meal of pumpkin and ginger noodles, notomato sauce, vegetable and seed mix and vegan feta – my mouth is watering just thinking about it! – details here. Vegan feta is a histamine risk, but one I’m willing to take occasionally:

Vegetable noodles: King Soba pumpkin and ginger noodles topped with notomato sauce, vegetable and seed mix and Violife feta ‘cheese’

Food creation: Risotto burgers

I had another attempt at my butternut squash risotto burgers. This time I added more binder (chia seed ‘egg’) and made up the burgers pre-freezing the risotto. The risotto itself was great and getting eight burgers from the leftovers was brilliant (details here) – lots to freeze for a low energy day:

From this tasty butternut squash risotto:

Butternut squash risotto

To these butternut squash risotto burgers:

Butternut squash risotto burgers. Clockwise: Risotto burger in a pitta with salad. Cooked risotto burger. Chia seed ‘egg’ ready to be stirred into risotto. Pre-cooked risotto burger

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

I had a pretty good week. Here’s some of my smile-provoking experiences:

Messy cooking:

I’m a messy cook – I claim its due to the dyspraxia. I got into such a mess making my risotto burgers, including my hands becoming well coated in burger mix. And when I was tidying up, I misjudged returning the flaxseeds to their shelf and they fell off, spilling over the floor. My parents are so used to these occurrences; Dad didn’t take any notice and Mum walked in calmly to see what had happened this time. I love that we just accept these little incidents as part of everyday life. And the seeds didn’t go to waste – I deposited them on the bird feeder for our little friends:

Messy cook. Clockwise: My hands during burger making. Flaxseed spillage (I think the birds were happy with the edition to the bird table). Burgers batch cooked and packed for freezing. Burgers pre-cooked, ready for freezing

Popping corn:

Talking of mishaps. I was staying at the rental property which is lacking cooking facilities and was feeling a little peckish. So, I decided to try out my new popcorn maker for the first time. The instruction manual said I needed a big bowl, but I didn’t have one, so I thought two small bowls would suffice. How wrong I was! Firstly, I wasn’t prepared for the amount of popcorn such a small number of kernels produce. Secondly, they came flying out of the popcorn maker at speed, bouncing off me while I was trying to catch them in my too small bowl. I wish I’d filmed it. I was yelling “No, no no!” at the machine while trying to contain the situation. Hilarious!:

Popcorn making: My first attempt with my popcorn maker and subsequent mess (this was after I’d cleared up a bit)

Long Covid research:

I attended the Royal Society’sLong Covid: an unfolding story” Q&A session, which was both informative and supportive. It was encouraging that two of the speakers had the lived experience of Long Covid: Dr Nisreen Alwan (Associate Professor in Public Health, University of Southampton), and Dr Adam Rutherford (geneticist, author, and presenter of BBC’s Radio 4’s Inside Science). I was most pleased to hear that there’s loads of research being undertaken, so hopefully it won’t be too long before we get more answers. I particularly want to hear more about the link with histamine issues:  

The Royal Society – Long Covid: an unfolding story. Left: My Q&A session questions that never got past review stage (I really wanted to hear about their hypotheses around histamine issues and mitochondria dysfunction – maybe another time)

Cherish each moment:

Do you remember that beautiful white blossom tree I shared with you in Week 75? Well, we had a couple of nights frost and all that beautiful blossom was destroyed. You might ask why this might make me smile? Of course I was disappointed about the blossom disappearance, but I was pleased that I had taken the time previously to enjoy the beauty when I first saw it. It reminded me that we need to cherish each moment, as we don’t know how long they will last or what’s around the corner:

Cherish each moment. Left: Beautiful white blossom tree, Week 75. Right: The same tree after a frost, Week 77

“Look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time: Thus is your time on earth filled with glory.”

Betty Smith, American novelist and playwright

“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.”

Alice Morse Earle, American writer and antiquarian

I hope you enjoyed this week’s ‘What’s on Watson’s Plate’. Please feel free to follow my bite-sized updates on Instagram or Facebook. See you next week for another catch up.

>>>Week 78
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References

1. National Health Service, 2018. Acrivastine.
2. National Health Service, 2018. Loratadine (including Clarityn).
3. Drugs.com, 2021. Acrivastine and Pseudoephedrine.
4. Drugs.com, 2021. Loratadine.
5. Swiss Interest Group Histamine Intolerance, 2016. Food Compatibility List.

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Health Diary Week 76: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Let’s Concentrate on the Smiles

Smiling Sun. Image: Clker-Free-Vector-Images (Pixabay)

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Hi, welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate: health updates, meal creations and smile-provoking experiences. This post is briefer than usual, because I’m feeling kind of exhausted and not much happened really. Don’t worry, this isn’t a reflection on my state of mind – overall I’m feeling pretty happy and that’s going to be my main focus here, after the histamine update.

Histamine overload

I must confess I’ve been lax these past couple of weeks about managing my low histamine diet. I’ve taken little risk after little risk, gradually building up to toxic histamine levels in my system. I need to get motivated to get back on track somehow, because I’m experiencing the fatigue now, along with rhinitis – it doesn’t feel, look or sound good! Surely that’s motivation enough?!

Food creation: Potato bowl

Thankfully potatoes are okay on this low histamine diet, which is great, because I absolutely love potatoes – I can’t imagine not having them in my life. (Having said that, I used to say this about tomatoes and avocadoes, which I can’t eat these days, but I haven’t actually missed them that much). Anyway, one evening I decided I just fancied a bowl of potatoes for dinner. Of course, I wanted an interesting bowl of potatoes, so I concocted a vegetable, seed, spice and herb mix before baking them in the oven (details here). I have to say, the result was an incredibly deliciously satisfying dish:

My potato bowl creation – so tasty!

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

Despite this being a shorter than usual post, I still wanted to share some of my positive moments with you, because not only does the reminiscing make me smile, so does the thought it might make someone else smile too:

Street party?:

I decided to take the opportunity to spend some quiet time at my parents’ former rental property before the sale completes. Well, you can imagine my surprise when I was confronted with a street party directly in front of their house (especially after joking with my Mum that this would happen – I didn’t actually think it would). I declined the offer to join the gathering, after all, no more than six people from different households should be meeting outside. I’m quite proud of myself really, because I miss socialising with groups of people, but I also know there will be a safer time to do this:

My sister and I dressed for a street party, 70’s fancy dress style (I’m the little one)

Friends in real life:

So, instead of group gatherings, I took the opportunity to meet a couple of friends outside, now that we can. And how lovely it was to meet friends in person. Sadly, I missed seeing Bevy – hopefully next week. But it brought me great joy to visit Tina’s garden for a proper catch up, whilst enjoying the sunshine warming my face. Actually, upon my arrival, Tina noted I already had a suntan – this was from sitting outside during the glorious Summer-like days earlier in the week:

My somewhat dazed, slightly sunkissed (or pink) face

Pretty flowers:

Talking about sitting in the sunshine. I’ve been keeping an eye on this particular flowerpot when my parents and I sit out the front of the house for coffee (chicory for me). I’ve enjoyed observing the flowers develop over the weeks – aren’t they just so pretty?:

Dad’s pretty flowers. Clockwise: In full bloom, Week 76. Pretty flower that didn’t survive past Week 75 (something ate it!). Flowers not quite in bloom, Week 75. Close ups of flowers waiting to open, Week 75

“Not Molly’s” disapproval:

The boy cat from behind our house, who I call “Not Molly” (because his sister is called Molly and I have no idea what his name is) has become a regular visitor to our driveway. He’s very cautious of us, so when we arrived home from Tina’s house, he sat staring at us disapprovingly from behind our garden gate, almost as if he thought we shouldn’t be there:

“Not Molly” staring at us disapprovingly from behind out garden gate (hmmm, the windscreen needs a good clean)

 Boojagrams:

I love a good quote. One of my favourite things about opening a box of Booja-Booja chocolate truffles (other than the chocolate, of course) is reading the Boojagram. This lockdown has provided a lot of time for self-reflection, which led me to decide some time ago to just be me and not worry so much about what others think about me. So, I felt this message was quite apt:

“Maybe a good way of changing the world is being you”.

Mister Booja-Booja
Mister Booja-Booja Boojagram No. 62: “Maybe a good way of changing the world is being you”. (Excuse my poor attempt to neatly remove the quote from the box)

I hope you enjoyed this week’s ‘What’s on Watson’s Plate’. Please feel free to follow my bite-sized updates on Instagram or Facebook. See you next week for another catch up.

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