Health Diary Week 62: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

The Christmas Week Edition

Me in My Sparkly Santa Hat

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

This week’s post (and Week 63) will be a little different than usual, because it’s been the Christmas holidays and I decided to have a break from keeping a food diary. So, here’s my Christmas Edition…

A Relaxed Week – Perhaps a Little too Relaxed

As well as taking a break from my diary, I didn’t worry too much about my histamine intake. I’ve had to ensure I’m well dosed-up on antihistamine (Cetirizine) and corticosteroid spray (Beclometasone) to keep symptoms at bay. I experienced some fatigue and nausea, which I assume were histamine related, but nothing like how it has been.

I indulged in vodka on Monday and… threw up! I had five units, which was possibly a bit too much when I hadn’t drunk booze for so long (silly me) – lesson learnt (I think). On Wednesday I had two units and was fine – phew! And no problems when I had one unit on Christmas Eve. I received a Polish potato-based vodka for Christmas and I’m looking forward to trying it at some point soon – New Year’s Eve perhaps.

The vodkas I bought for myself: Left: Haku Japanese white rice vodka. Right: FAIR quinoa vodka

Just Us

It was just my parents and I over Christmas, since we’re currently in the same household; unfortunately we didn’t see my sister. We collectively decided mixing with others just wasn’t worth the risk, despite the relaxed Christmas day rules – Covid-19 cases are rapidly rising (again) and we’d been pre-warned we’d be Tier 4 (localised lockdown) from Boxing Day. So, we chose to keep it an insular one.

Christmas Eve Buffet

Usually on Christmas Eve night, I’d be at the pub with my friends until midnight and then come home (rather tipsy) to a late-night buffet. Instead, we enjoyed our buffet much earlier and I only drank one vodka with cranberry and apple juice. I prepared a separate vegan and gluten free mini buffet for myself (details here). It included a side salad, blue cheese, homemade macadamia nut spreadable ‘cheeses’ (smoked paprika and garlic and herb – ingredients here) and homemade veg puffs (ingredients here) – delicious!:

Christmas Eve Buffet Dinner. Clockwise: My Mini Buffet. Side Salad. Macadamia Nut ‘Cheeses’: Sweet Paprika and Garlic, Onion and Herb. Vegetable Puff Pastries. I didn’t eat it all, but I did eat a lot!

Still a Kid at Heart

Am I too grown-up for a Christmas stocking? Nah! I awoke Christmas morning to find a stocking filled with lots of beautifully wrapped wonderful goodies – yay! Santa also decided that my Mum wasn’t too mature to receive a stocking either:

My Christmas Stocking Goodies. And so Beautifully Wrapped – Thanks Santa

Chilled Christmas

We got up fairly late on Christmas Day. It was a beautifully sunny day, so we all went out for a stroll. Afterwards we had coffee (well, I had my Chicory Cup) on the driveway, watching the busy birds – who would have thought we’d be sat out on a Winter’s morning?!

Christmas Morning Coffee on the Driveway – actually it might have been the afternoon

Christmas Dinner Feast

It took us a while to get around to cooking Christmas dinner. I had a delightful assortment of veg – roasted carrot, parsnip, sweet potato and Jerusalem artichokes, Brussel sprouts with chestnuts, red cabbage with apple and Winter mash (swede, carrot and celeriac). My favourite was the crispy on the outside and soft on the inside roast potatoes (just heavenly!). There were also ‘chipolata’ sausages wrapped in ‘ham’ slices, sage and onion stuffing, cranberry sauce and gravy. I was completely stuffed by the end of the meal, but still looking forward to the same again on Boxing Day:

My Christmas Dinner: Clockwise: My plant-based Christmas dinner plate. Roast potatoes (my fav part), Brussel sprouts and chestnuts. Winter mash. Red cabbage with apple

Spa Evening

And what did I do in the evening? Well, I treated myself to a mini spa. I donned a face mask, loaded the bath with lovely smellies, grabbed a book and just chilled – lovely:

Me Trying to Smile with a Rapidly Solidifying Face Mask

Gifts Galore

Wow, I was totally spoilt, receiving loads of wonderful and thoughtful gifts, mostly from ethical and independent businesses. I particularly loved how my sister and Carl bought us all a gift from a charity shop – I got boxing gloves and my Mum received the sparring pads – I’ll try not to be too hard on you Mum. Emma also supported a local artist through some of her gift purchases – great idea.

The Amazing Present Haul

Bamboo Bliss:

Have I ever told you how much I love bamboo products? – it’s beautifully soft, antimicrobial (antiallergenic) and importantly, a sustainable material. So, imagine my delight when I received a bamboo duvet, pillow, pillowcases and weighted blanket (I’d wanted one of these blankets for ages – very comforting).

Chocolate Feast:

I was excited at the prospect of indulging in some chocolate over the festive season. I haven’t had any since 19 October, when I started my low histamine diet – that’s over 10 weeks ago! I didn’t venture into the chocolate stash until Boxing Day – I was a little nervous it would cause rhinitis histamine issues. It tasted rather wonderful – Booja Booja is the best chocolate ever (in my humble opinion). But once I’d started, I wanted more (and more and more) – uh oh…

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

So, after all my indulgences, am I surprised that my weight and body fat increased? Nope. Am I concerned? Not at all – I mean it’s Christmas! Do I expect to gain more weight next week? Probably. But that’s okay, because I’ll get back on it in the new year. As it stands, I’m around a stone lighter than this time last year:

Week 62 Results: Weight, BMI and Body Fat

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

So, what else made me smile this week? I’ll show you…

My Present Wrapping Skills:

I can wrap presents nicely – let’s not discuss the wonky paper cutting or tape issues though. In a bid to be more environmentally friendly, I used plain brown paper, as well as reusing bags, ribbons and other bits:

My Ace Present Wrapping (oops, I just spotted wonkiness in the top left pic)

Quinoa Protein Balls:

I’m not a massive fan of quinoa, but I’d been trying to think of an enjoyable way to include it in my diet, as it’s a good quality plant protein source and currently I can’t consume legumes, my former go-to, partnered with grains. And so, I created a rather tasty quinoa balls option (recipe here), served with brown rice spaghetti and previously batch cooked not tomato sauce (with fresh parsley). I have to say it was really tasty and there’s a nice batch of leftovers that have been frozen for another day:

Quinoa Protein Balls, Not Tomato Sauce and Brown Rice Spaghetti – Delicious!

I Got Cheesy:

I used to make a soft ‘cheese’ alternative with cashew nuts, but cashews are currently off the menu. However, I can eat Brazil, pistachio and macadamia nuts. I wasn’t that impressed by the macadamia nuts, so I thought I’d try making them into flavoured cheeses. The onion, garlic and herb version was so tasty, that I made it again (more successfully) on Boxing Day to accompany my salad lunch (ingredients here) – delicious!:

My Macadamia Nut ‘Cheese’ (onion, garlic and herb) with Boxing Day Nibbles

Daytime Moon:

I noticed a gorgeous daytime moon in the blue sky, peeping out above the treeline and had to take a photo:

Daytime Moon

Random WordPress Notification:

On Christmas morning I received a message from WordPress informing I’d reached 1,337 Likes – great to know, albeit a little random to choose this figure as a landmark:

Random WordPress Notification: My Likes

My New Avatar:

One of my besties created an Avatar Me for Christmas – very thoughtful and something on my long list of ‘to-dos’. The original was a much slimmer and less curvy version of the real me. The thing is, I strongly feel it’s important not to promote an unrealistic slim version of myself and I actually quite like my curves, so we agreed my avatar should be amended to reflect my figure more realistically. Absolutely love it – Thank you!:

My Christmas Present Avatar: Left: Final Version of Me. Right: Skinnier Version

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 59: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Christmas Vibes Arrived

One of Mum’ s Christmas Coconuts

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

What’s New

It’s been another quiet week for me. I only left the house twice!

Covid-19 Vaccine:

The most exciting news was that the MHRA (UK medicine regulator), approved the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. It’s due to start being rolled out to the most vulnerable next week. I think it will be a while before my turn arrives, but at least it’s on the horizon. More on UK vaccine regulation here.

The Plan:

I didn’t really explain my histamine plan last week. I’m hoping to calm my mast cells (histamine releasers) for at least six months to give time for a better-behaved generation of mast cells to take over. To do this I need to accept that I’ll be taking antihistamines at least once a day and follow a low histamine diet (mostly). I’ll be doing this more seriously from January, because I’ll be indulging in some higher histamine foods over Christmas week. When I’m happy my cells are behaving better, I’ll try the histamine elimination diet again before starting some food re-introduction challenges. Of course, with further research, the plan might change – we’ll see.

Oh, Christmas Tree:

We usually put up our Christmas decorations mid-December. But not this year. On the 1st of December we got the decorations out and made a start. Then on the 2nd, Dad put up the tree and lights and found us some festive tunes – that’s his part done. Mum and I then decorated the tree together.

The Naughty List:

Now, traditionally (in our household at least) tree decorating is accompanied with a glass of Port and mince pie. The thing is both these treats are on the naughty list where histamine is concerned. But not only did I risk it anyway, I bought some particularly indulgent Lottie Shaw’s iced gin mince pies that were not gluten free – I have a rebellious streak. I ate one with a glass of Port and it was all delicious. That first couple of sips of Port were divine. Was this sensible? No. Do I regret it? Not so much. Did it affect me adversely? Well, yea. On Friday (alcohol always seems to affect me two days later) I had a full-on rhinitis day, controlled to an extent by antihistamines. Interestingly, my gut seemed okay gluten-wise.

Food and Nutrition

Okay, let’s have a look at what food was on my plate, the healthy and not so healthy choices and identify any tweaks I could make to improve my nutrition…

Breakfast:

I skipped breakfast on Monday. The following morning, I ate a bowl of melon – I’m loving melon. Another light meal was Brazil and pistachio nuts. I had porridge oats with apple, seeds, maple syrup and sweet cinnamon a couple of times. My favourite breakfast was colcannon mashed potato from the freezer – it felt comforting:

Week 59 Breakfasts. Left: porridge oats with apple. Rigth: Colcannon (cabbage with mashed potato)

Lunch:

I opted for the easy to prepare lunch option of pasta with sweetcorn, onion and turmeric three times. My other lunches were salad-based, my favourite being a tasty watercress salad (ingredients):

Week 59 Lunches. Left: watercress salad. Right: Courgette and yellow pepper cornmeal frittata with salad

Dinner:

My batch cooked freezer meals came in handy three times – pumpkin, potato and coconut curry(ish) (ingredients), vegetable spaghetti and butternut squash risotto (ingredients). I made another batch of risotto earlier in the week – it seems to be becoming a staple. My highlight was delicious fennel steaks and chips that Mum made (more details). And my second attempt at spring rolls (vegetables and rice) was an improvement on last time, except for the first one sliding off my spatula and bursting on the floor:

Week 59 Dinners Log Table
Week 59 Dinners: Clockwise: Butternut squash risotto. Fennel steak and chips. Vegetable and rice spring rolls. Vegetable spaghetti

Snacks:

Popcorn, especially the sweet and salty kind, featured heavily on my snacking menu again. I also enjoyed nuts (Brazil and pistachio) and plain crackers a few times. I snacked on rice cakes and jam and white rice once. And then there was the indulgent mince pie – I still can’t bring myself to regret it:

Week 59 Snacks. Left: Mince pie and Port. Right: Brazil and pistachio nuts

Drinks

Chicory coffee replacement is my new love (I might have already told you this) – I drink it a lot. Now and then I slipped in a rooibos or peppermint tea. Cold drinks were water with apple or cranberry concentrate:

Week 59 Drinks Log Table

Exercise

My motivation to go outside was pretty minimal this week – I’m not proud of myself. I dragged myself out for a walk twice, totalling just 94 minutes, a massive decrease compared to last week. Clearly I need to up my game:

Week 59 Exercise. Blue sky and treetops

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

It was no surprise to me that I gained a little weight this week – 0.6 lb (0.3 kg), so I’m now weighing in at 160.2 lb (72.7 kg) – boo, I want to be under that 160 lb mark again. On the positive side, my body fat percentage decreased a little, by 0.3%:

Week 59 Results: Weight, BMI and Body Fat

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

It’s smile time!…

Christmas Tree Decorating:

Well, of course I had to include the Christmas tree decorating in my smiles section. Our tree decorations are mostly memories – holiday souvenirs, gifts from loved ones, or handmade treasures from craft fayres. So, when we’re sorting through them, Mum and I take some time to reminisce:

Decorated Christmas Tree. Cheeky Mince Pie and Port

Upcycling – Mum’s Christmas Coconuts:

How cute are my Mum’s upcycled Christmas coconut shells? I think the answer is “very cute indeed”. She hung them in a couple of strings in the window (centre pic). Mum experimented with modelling clay to make a couple of the snowmen and a tree. There’s a robin and snowman theme going on here:

Upcycling: Mums Christmas Coconuts

Spooky Moon:

I’ve always loved looking up at the sky. When I was a kid, I wanted a telescope. I got binoculars and a bird watching book instead – I loved them (but still wanted a telescope). Anyway, Mum pointed out the spooky moon, so I’m sharing it with you:

Spooky Moon

Two Guys and a Gal:

Our duck buddies are still here – two guys and a gal. It’s always a joy to see them in the pond. They seem to disappear off for the day and come back in the evening. I never see them leave or arrive, so I presume its some kind of magic:

Lining Up My Ducks – well, they’re not actually my ducks and they chose this arrangement themselves

Expanding Follows:

It’s been a milestone week in terms of follows on my Instagram and WordPress accounts. I reached over 200 follows on WordPress and over 1,000 on Instagram. I’d like to say the hugest thank you to anyone who has supported me throughout my health diary. And I continue to enjoy reading everyone else’s posts:

Follows: Over 1,000 Instagram and 200 WordPress Follows: Thank You!

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 Wednesday for another catch up.

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Health Diary Week 10: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Christmas Week Indulgences

Image: Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

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Hi and welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate, health and nutrition updates and some positive smile-provoking experiences…

What’s New

…It’s Christmas time – so I didn’t concern myself with how much and what I ate this week. Therefore, this post will be a little different – I guess you could call it my Christmas Edition:

Mum & I commence the Christmas food prep!

Food and Nutrition

So, let’s have a look at what food was on my plate, the healthy and not so healthy choices and identify any tweaks I could make to improve my nutrition…

Christmas Midnight Buffet Feast:

My Mum and I began food prepping for the ‘post-Christmas Eve pub night midnight buffet feast’ a couple of days before Christmas (in my tipsy state I forgot to take a photo of this, but it was impressive!).

For the buffet we made my Nana’s curry puffs (chickpeas, spinach, potato and tomatoes), sausage rolls (with ready-made pastry), cashew ‘cheeses’ (chilli and paprika, lemon and black pepper) and coleslaw – all high fat![1].

Being constantly curious, I decided to compare the nutritional information of the pastry I used (Jus-rol gluten free [and vegan]) and its all-butter version. The gluten free had 62 calories and 7.4 grams saturated fat less and 2.9 grams more fibre[2] than its butter counterpart per 100 grams. Also, my cashew soft cheese contained only trace trans-fat and no cholesterol compared to spreadable cheese’s 0.9 grams trans-fat and 72 mg cholesterol[3]. This made me feel a bit better about my ‘fat binge’:

Our buffet feast prep. Top left: Nana’s curry puff filling (chickpeas, potatoes, spinach & tomato). Right: finished curry puffs. Bottom left: sausage rolls using Linda McCartney sausages. Bottom middle: cashew cheeses: chilli & paprika, lemon & black pepper. Bottom right: coleslaw.

Breakfast:

Christmas morning, we started with fruit: papaya, mango, strawberries and lime – tasty and healthy. Boxing Day’s breakfast was smashed avocado with red onion, tomato and olives on seeded wholegrain toast. Most excitingly, I was treated again by @baldveganchef with a meal very much like smashed avocado, smoked salmon and runny egg on a bagel, but actually completely plant-based – genius and delicious!:

Breakfasts: Top: Christmas day fruit salad. Bottom left: Smashed avocado with tomato, red onion & olives. Bottom right: @baldveganchef’s vegan smashed avocado, ‘smoked salmon’ and ‘runny egg yolk’ on a bagel.

Christmas Dinner (Gluten-Free and Vegan):

Christmas dinner was awesome! We’d made Richard Church’s butternut squash wellington also containing spinach, walnuts, apricots & bechamel sauce. We used Waitrose vegan, gluten free cocktail sausages (seasonal edition) that we rolled in Quorn ‘ham’ slices. We made stuffing with a ready mix and added Linda McCartney sausages and various herbs. There were loads of different roasted veg (potatoes, carrots, parsnips, sweet potato and turnip), Winter mash (swede, carrot and turnip), spiced red cabbage and steamed Brussel sprouts with chestnuts. We easily hit our 5-a-day![4]. The rest of the week I ate various versions of Christmas dinner – I’ve had enough roasts now until next Winter!:

The Christmas dinner feast! Top left: Richard Church’s butternut squash wellington & ‘pigs-in-blankets’ (Waitrose cocktail sausages & Quorn ham slices). Right: Roasted veg – potatoes, carrots, parsnips, sweet potato & turnip. Bottom left: stuffing & Winter mash (swede, carrot & turnip). Bottom middle: steamed Brussel sprouts & chestnuts.  

Lunch, Pastry and Cheese:

Lunches were pretty much buffet-type foods, including variations of cheese and crackers, Applewood cheese & coleslaw sandwiches, curry puffs, sausage rolls, crisps, hummus, antipasti, tomatoes, pickled onions and chutneys. By the end of the week I felt like I had eaten my weight in pastry and cheese! I managed a mince pie early on Christmas day, but couldn’t face the Christmas pudding with Elmlea plant double cream until much later in the week. We still have a chocolate cheesecake in the freezer!:

Right: Buffet-type lunches (not enough salad!). Top right: Mince pie. Bottom right: Christmas pudding with Elmlea plant double cream.

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

So, I was pleasantly surprised by how little weight (only 0.8 lb) and fat (0.4%) I gained over the Christmas week. However, the challenge now is to avoid gaining anymore and start losing again. This could be difficult given the amount of self-control I’m going to need to resist eating too much of my Christmas chocolate haul!:

The Christmas chocolate & booze haul – uh oh!

Feeling Motivated:

But, I’m definitely feeling motivated to eat more healthily and exercise after this week’s indulgences – so bring on a healthy 2020!…

Image: 3D Animation Production Company, 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 Wednesday for another catch up.

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References

1. British Heart Foundation, Ca. 2019. Fats explained [online]. Available from:  www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/support/healthy-living/healthy-eating/fats-explained.
2. Watson, K., 2019. Carbs: The good, the bad and the sometimes ‘farty’! [online]. Available from: https://whatsonwatsonsplate.wordpress.com/carbs-the-good-the-bad-and-the-sometimes-farty/.
3. Finglas, P. M., Roe, M. A., Pinchen, H. M., Berry, R., Church, S. M., Dodhia, S. K., Farron-Wilson, m. and Swan, G., 2015. McCance and Widowson’s the composition of foods, 7th summary edition. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry.
4. National Health Service (NHS), 2018. Eat Well: Why 5 A Day? [online]. Available from: www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/why-5-a-day/.

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Health Diary Week 9: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

The Lead-Up to Christmas

Image: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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Hi and welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate, health and nutrition updates and some positive smile-provoking experiences…

What’s New

…I know it seems soon to be posting again, but I’m writing this as quickly as possible after Monday’s weigh-in to get ready for the Christmas write-up.

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

I was a little bit worried that the lead-up to Christmas and New Year would hijack my weight loss. So, it was a relief that everything moved in the right direction this week, because I’m definitely not expecting the same next week! I lost 1 lb in weight and my fat reduced by 0.2%:

My Week 9 results

Food and Nutrition

So, let’s have a look at what food was on my plate, the healthy and not so healthy choices and identify any tweaks I could make to improve my nutrition…

Snacks:

Well, my snacks were generally more sensible. I stuck to raw chocolate coated goji berries for my chocolate hit and unsalted mixed nuts and hummus with rice crackers as savoury options. And at a friend’s party, I opted for the oven cooked potato wedges instead of the likely higher saturated fat choice of crisps.

Breakfast:

Breakfasts included fruit salads or toast with yeast extract.

Lunch:

Lunches included three of My Typical Salads, Shawarma Salad Kebab, Christmas roast veg sandwich and chips (when I met a friend for lunch out) and dhal and rice:

Week 9 lunches. Left: Typical salad (falafel with chilli jam, steamed potatoes with mayo, steamed beetroot, antipasti, mixed salad leaves, red onion, cucumber, tomato & avocado with balsamic vinegar. Right: Shawarma salad kebab.

Dinner:

For dinner I had sausages twice – once with mash potato, veg and gravy, the other with oven-chips. I had spaghetti (from brown rice) with veg three times, consisting of a slightly odd, but satisfying combination of mushrooms, broccoli, tomatoes and olives, because that’s what needed using up. Another unusual combination due to circumstances was Brussel sprouts, mash potato and gravy. For the mash, we added minimal fat – just some almond milk. And, I had my trusty lazy ‘go-to’ red lentil pasta with antipasti and sundried tomato sauce:

Week 9 cooked meals. Top left: red lentil pasta with sundried tomato, olives & artichokes in reduced fat sundried tomato sauce. Top right: Sausages, mashed potato, steamed broccoli & Brussel sprouts. Bottom right: tarka dhal & Bombay potato with white rice. Bottom left: Brown rice spaghetti with mixed vegetables & tomato.

Exercise

I didn’t use my exercise bike at all this week. My physical activity was two hours of circuits and around six hours walking around Christmas shopping – given the fat and weight reduction, it shows that increasing activity generally, including walking around can make a positive difference to health[1, 2].

Image: Dana Tentis from Pixabay

A Positive Week:

It’s been a good week. I’m going to relax next week and not concern myself with the calories or physical activity, so I’m expecting a weight and fat gain. I’m not concerned though, as I know I’ll get back on track with everything in the new year.

Wishing you all a happy Winter break…

Image: Biljana Jovanovic from 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 Wednesday for another catch up.

Week 10>>>
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References

1. NHS, 2019. Walking for health – Exercise [online]. Available from: www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/walking-for-health/.
2. Flynn, S., Jellum, L., Moser, A., Howard, J., Henderson, S., Collins, C., West, A. and Mathis, D., 2019. Walking and jogging for fitness. GALILEO, University System of Georgia: Nursing and health sciences open textbooks. Available from: https://journals.lww.com/ajnonline/Fulltext/2009/08000/From_the_National_Institute_of_Nursing_Research__.30.aspx.

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