Health Diary Week 96: Quality Family Time

Image: Elephant family (JL G, 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. I’m still trying to catch up with posting, but I keep getting delayed by my new work life and socialising (I can’t complain)…

Staff Wellbeing Hub Admin: Week Three

This was my third week in my new admin role, but also my last week on-site at the hospital before being based at home for the foreseeable future. I will miss the camaraderie of working directly with my job share, Lorraine. And while I won’t miss the early morning public transport commute, I will miss the walking part – I need to factor a walk into my working days.

Exercise: Walking

Talking about walking, my current physical activity is mostly limited to walking. I completed 320 minutes (over five hours) and was pleased to scrape the UK’s government recommendation for 150 minutes moderate exercise per week, in the form of brisk walking:

Image: My Active 10 walks and rewards for Week 96

My Low(ish) Histamine Meals

It’s been a while since I’ve shared meals I’ve prepared, so I thought I’d show you some of this week’s meals I made to substitute those the rest of my family were eating. My food choices are quite limited on this low histamine diet, although thankfully my options are slowly increasing…

Pasta, salad and garlic pitta:

I enjoyed my dinner of gluten free vegetable pasta (yellow bell pepper, courgette, sweetcorn, sweet white onion, garlic, chia seeds, B12 yeast flakes, turmeric, dried herbs and cold pressed rapeseed oil), served with a side salad (mixed leaves, red onion and cucumber) and a garlic pitta pocket – tasty:

Image: Pasta served with a salad & garlic pitta pocket

Vegetable & pistachio rice mix:

This vegetable brown and white rice dinner actually contained most of the same ingredients as the above pasta, except the pasta was swapped out for rice, and I added some chopped pistachios:

Image: Vegetable and pistachio rice mix

My tasty salad:

I love a salad. My go-to low histamine salad contains mixed leaves, spring onion, cucumber, radishes, beetroot, chia seeds and cold-pressed rapeseed oil. Here I took a risk and added pre-prepared roasted bell pepper and artichoke hearts. Also, I always accompany the leaves mix with a potato salad of steamed potatoes, hemp seeds, dried Italian herbs, turmeric, sweet paprika, vegan mayo (a teaspoon) and cold-pressed flax oil. Always satisfying:

Image: My tasty salad

Cheesy Nachos:

My end of the working week meal was indulgent cheesy nachos. I topped mine with coconut-based cheese (an occasional indulgence, as it is so high in saturated fat), roasted bell pepper, artichoke hearts, red onion, dried herbs and sweet paprika:

Image: Cheesy nachos

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

And of course, I couldn’t leave without sharing a couple of smile-provokers…

Family guests:

Kerry, my cousin-in-law (well near enough) and three of the children (two I hadn’t met before) stayed with us for a few days. It was great getting to know Kerry better and having time with the kids, albeit I was shattered by Thursday afternoon. I did very much enjoy my time with them though:

Image: Baby Eric

Memory lane – The shell house:

On one of our walks, Mum and I found this minature stone town in someone’s front garden. One of the neighbours told us it was built over fifty years ago and was far more impressive back then. What I loved most about this little scene was that it brought back happy memories of my grandparents taking my sister and I to see the Shell House near Bournemouth when we stayed with them – I was always excited to go there:

Image: Minature stone town

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 97
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Health Diary Week 95: Bittersweet

Image: Beautiful but menacing sunset, Bolivia, 2008

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Hi, welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate: health updates and smile-provoking experiences. This is a late post I’m afraid – I’m a week behind (again) – I’ll will get caught up…

Staff Wellbeing Hub Admin: Week Two

My second week at work disappeared too quickly to learn everything I wanted to learn. I was only onsite one day, so I still need to complete my understanding of the different Counselling referral processes. On my other day, I completed loads of online training from home – I passed all the assessments (phew):

Image: Online training modules completed on Thursday

Histamine Reaction – Elbow Rash

I’ll be working from home for the admin job, so Dad kindly helped me increase my desk space. We’d purchased a wooden top from Ikea, which Dad secured neatly onto my current desk (there’s a photo in my What Made Watson Smile section). Within an hour of sitting at my desk, I noticed my elbow was itching – the skin reacted to whatever chemical was on the wood even after a good clean with soapy water. I’m annoyingly sensitive to what feels like everything at the moment. Thankfully, the rash cleared when I stopped leaning my elbow on the desk (a bad habit anyway):

Image: My itchy, sore, rash-covered elbow (it doesn’t usually look like that!)

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

And, of course, here’s a few smiles for you – the last one somewhat unexpected…

My new working from home desk:

I used to spend a lot of time studying from home – the lack of desk space was always a nuisance. Dad suggested securing a top to my current desk, making it longer and wider – a simple £15 fix. We had an amusing visit to Ikea: Dad drove around the car park for ages looking for a space, refusing to go up a level, I took us on an unnecessary walk around the shop trying to find the lifts and we got stuck in the car park, creating a queue of cars when we were trying to leave – we did chuckle afterwards though. Dad attached the desktop while I was at work and as a bonus, fixed my filing cabinet drawer so that I no longer need to use a doorstop to keep the drawer shut:  

Image: Top: My new desk set up (before I tidied it up nicely). Bottom right: The doorstop I used to keep the cabinet drawer from sliding open. Bottom left: The simple hinge solution now keeping the drawer closed – why didn’t we do this before?

A lovely leaving card:

I had my last day of work at the Covid vaccine centre – I will miss that buzzing atmosphere. The amazing Admin Shift Leads pulled together a lovely leaving card for me, despite only finding out that morning that it was my last day. I’m eternally grateful for my job at the vaccine centre – it was the doorway into my new dream job as an NHS Health and Wellbeing Coach:

Image: My leaving card from the Covid vaccine centre

The 100 club:

I received a WordPress notification informing me that I’d reached 100 posts – it took me a while (21 months of blogging), but I got there eventually – go me:

Image: 100 posts on WordPress notification

A family get together (under sad circumstances):

We went to my cousin’s funeral. Understandably, you might ask why a funeral made me smile. The situation and funeral itself didn’t make me happy at all, but it was nice to see family I hadn’t seen since before the pandemic started. The Wake was in the countryside, in my cousin’s garden. We were fortunate it was a gorgeous warm and sunny day, making outside socialising particularly pleasant. Also, this was the furthest I’d travelled since before the pandemic started – it was lovely to see all the pretty countryside whizzing by on our journey there and back again. A bittersweet day, one might say:  

Image: People in silhouette against a sunset (kholisrevenge, 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 86: Kitten Therapy

Image: Loki, the Maine Coon kitten

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

Some Job Updates

Currently I’m working for the NHS as a temporary employee in a Covid vaccine clinic. But, I’m looking for a more permanent job. I’d applied for Staff Wellbeing Hub Administrator, and I’ve been invited for an interview (yay!) – it sounds like something I could really get stuck into – I like the idea of supporting our NHS staff with their wellbeing. I’ll update you on how the interview went next week. Will they believe that I’m happy to be an administrator rather than an advisor? (I am). We’ll see…

Covid Vaccine: Second Dose

I had my second Astra Zeneca covid-19 vaccine – I’m so relieved. They fit me in at work, which was convenient. Due to my obvious nervousness, the Clinical Supervisor (who trains the vaccinators) kindly administered my injection. It didn’t hurt (this time or the first dose) and yet, I still get anxious – nowadays I comfortably watch everyone else having their vaccines and I’m often distracting nervous patients.

The after effects were minimal compared to my first dose (details here: Week 75). I had the obligatory achy arm for a few days, but less so than last time. On the second night after my vaccine, I felt like I was coming down with something (swollen glands, sore throat, tiredness), so I went to bed early – I was okay by the next morning. I’ll happily take these side effects over Covid-19.

My Covid vaccine sticker of bravery

Food Challenge: Houmous

I love houmous. This is definitely one of the foods I’ve missed since following a low histamine diet (since October 2020 – I can’t believe it’s been that long!). At the weekend, I had a serious craving for houmous – there was a pot of a red pepper one in the fridge about to be eaten with our family visitors – I just had to have some too. It was a risk, not only because of the chickpeas, but also it contained chilli and lemon (next time I’ll make my own). So, I decided to take one of my DAO enzymes (details in Week 85) to break down the histamine in my food – there were no ill effects, phew.

Image: My houmous dip platter. Red pepper houmous, baby orange and yellow pepper, gluten free pitta, salted crisps and beetroot crackers

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

Well, I have to say, I had a great weekend of family and kitten time – absolutely fabulous! But first…

I didn’t panic:

So, there I was working diligently in the Covid vaccine nervous bay distracting patients when I felt something crawling up my bare leg. I surreptitiously glanced down and saw it was a big spider (well, fairly big, in my opinion). Did I panic? I’m proud to say “No, I didn’t”. I discretely flicked it off my leg and carried on chatting to the patient – go brave me. You can read my last spider tale in Week 51:

Image: Friendly spider. Clker-Free-Vector-Images, Pixabay

Family reunion:

I hadn’t seen my Aunty and Uncle since before the pandemic (about two years), so how lovely it was when they came to visit my parents over the weekend. And, I saw my sister too, which was also fantastic. Admittedly, I wasn’t at home much – I was kitten sitting, but at least I got to spend some time with them all. The weather was so glorious that we could comfortably sit outside and enjoy a barbecue:

Image: My barbecue plate of food. Actually, I only ate the veg from the barbecue (fennel, corn on the cob, courgette, pepper and asparagus). I separately cooked up a homemade rice and quinoa burger from the freezer. I also had steamed potatoes and a salad topped with vegan feta cheese. So delicious

Massages on tap:

Massages on tap? Yes please! My friends’ massage chair is amazing! So, while kitten sitting, I took advantage of this wonderful device. It even squeezes you, so you feel like you’re getting a hug. Now, Loki kitten did interrupt my deep relaxation one night – he suddenly pounced onto my chest and then attacked my feet – as you can imagine, it was quite a shock and not at all relaxing:

Image: The amazing massage chair (and Loki kitten). I want one – the chair and the kitten

Cats sleeping funny:

I love how cats can sleep almost anywhere and look so comfortable in their odd positions. Loki kitten seemed very relaxed and spent a lot of time sleeping in my arms or on my lap – so sweet:

Image: Cats sleep funny. Loki kitten crashed out in odd positions

Kitten therapy:

Oh my, how very cute little Loki kitten is. It was a pleasure to look after him, even though he had his moments when he suddenly decided to hunt me down. I miss having a cat in my life, but it was wonderful to get some kitten therapy over the weekend:

Image: Loki kitten cuteness

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 64: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

We Are Family

My Grandmother (Nana)

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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

Here’s what’s new in my life this past week…

Lockdown:

I should probably start with the big news here in the UK – we are back into a national lockdown (3.0) due to a concerning (though unsurprising) rapid rise in Covid-19 cases, related hospital admissions and deaths. This hasn’t majorly changed my behaviour, as we were already being really cautious and following the science, rather than governmental updates.

Long Lost Family:

My biggest news personally is discovering about 90 new family members – how amazing is that?! My Mum had chatted to family in Australia, who told her about our extended family group on Facebook, so I joined too.

Job Interview Update

Last week, I forgot to update that unfortunately I missed out on the NHS Occupational Health and Wellbeing Practitioner position. I was told I was a close second choice and there was nothing I could do to improve my interview. The successful candidate already had experience working in the NHS and a specific mental health qualification. Upon reflection, I should have talked more about my mental health training from when I was a University Disability Adviser and the relevant mental health modules in my Health Sciences degree. I’m still really pleased with myself though, as I usually find job interviews incredibly challenging, whereas I enjoyed this one.

Food and Nutrition

It was another diary-free (and lax on the low histamine diet) week, although I did take some photos of what food was on my plate…

Salad Meals:

As you know, I often enjoy a salad for lunch. On my current low histamine diet, I skip the tomato, avocado and vinegar containing dressings. My salad is still tasty though and includes mixed salad leaves (not spinach or rocket), beetroot, radishes, cucumber, celery, spring onion, chia and/or pumpkin seeds in a sweet paprika and rapeseed oil dressing, with steamed potatoes and a cornmeal-based (no eggs) vegetable frittata (ingredients here):

My Typical Salad Lunch: Low histamine style with cornmeal-base frittata

Pasta Meals:

I never get bored of pasta – currently I’m having brown rice or corn-based fusilli or spaghetti accompanied by vegetables. My ‘go-to’ veg are courgette (zucchini), sweetcorn, green cabbage, grated carrot and sweet white or spring onion. I’ll often have a simple pasta lunch when I’ve run out of fresh salad items and load it with sweetcorn, onion, chia, flax and/or hemp seeds, mixed herbs, turmeric and rapeseed oil. Dinner pasta calls for more veg and sometimes quinoa or polenta balls (ingredients here):

Pasta and Veg Meals: Left: Fusilli. Right: Spaghetti with quinoa balls

Rice Meals:

Rice and vegetables have become a staple since adopting a low histamine diet – it’s an easy ‘go-to’ dinner:

Rice and Veg Meals

My Food Highlights:

One of my meal highlights this week has to be the comforting cauliflower ‘cheese’ with roasted sweet potatoes, pan-fried courgette and steamed purple carrot. The sauce didn’t actually contain any cheese and was instead sweet potato based – delicious:

A very saucy cauliflower ‘cheese’ (sauce made with sweet potato), roasted sweet potatoes, pan-fried courgette and steamed purple carrot

My other favourite were vegetable puff pastries (I made these) and Mum’s homemade chips (fries), although admittedly an incredibly high fat combination. And I scoffed my way through two batches of veg puff pastries this week, so that’s a lot of saturated fat! – but they were ever so tasty!:

Left: Veg puff pastries and Mum’s homemade chips. Right: Some of the vegetable puff pastry ingredients – see, it’s not all beige, at least not on the inside

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

Okay, so I gained 3.2 lb/1.5 kg. This sounds like a complete disaster right? – Fear not, it wasn’t. Initially, the gain was a bit of a shock, but then I remembered I was expecting to weigh around 162 lb anyway at this stage after holiday indulgences – it’s just last week I lost weight for some reason when I expected to gain, so the 3 lb jump this week seems a lot. The truth is, I haven’t been particularly careful about what I ate and only went out for a walk once, but I needed a break from behaving. I’m aiming to be back on track from next week:

Week 64 Results: Weight, BMI and Body Fat

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

So, let’s move on to some of the experiences that made me smile over the past week…

Family:

Earlier I told you about discovering loads of extended family I never knew I had. I’ve particularly loved looking through the old photos, noticing some family resemblances and connecting with new people. It’s made me reminisce about my amazing Nana who was dedicated to caring for her local community as a District Nurse:

Old Family Photos: Top: My beautiful Nana (grandmother). Bottom: My Nana as a girl (front row, sitting) with her family, Near Bhusawal, India

Online Socials:

Happily, it’s been a rather social week, albeit all online. I chatted to Bevy and Harry a couple of times, Tina and Becky and family (Emma, Carl, my Aunt and Uncle). And a monthly catch up with Karen, Julie and Chrissy – Chrissy led a bitesize mindful movement and breathing session, which was fabulous and much needed. There are still several friends I need to catch up with, so hopefully I’ll be doing that soon too:

Calming gardens in Luang Prabang, Laos (Eco Adventure Tour, 2006)

Portrait Artist Mum:

I might have told you previously that last year Mum completed portraits of my sister and the boy she used to look after. So, this week, it was finally my turn – yay! Mum decided to try out her new watercolour pencils to replicate my latest profile picture . My friend’s daughter might have influenced the inclusion of the sea-life additions (Week 63). I absolutely love it:

Portrait Artist Mum: Portrait of me at various stages

Cute Kittens:

I was searching through some photos for my extended family group and stumbled across some of the adorable kittens I looked after when house sitting for friends a couple of years ago. There were four kittens and two cats – what was I thinking?! It was a challenging, but heart-warming few days. The kittens learnt to climb over the child barrier from the room they were supposed to be residing in, during the short time between my friends leaving their home and me arriving. So, they weren’t where I expected to find them and I frantically searched for the little guys. On another occasion, I found one kitten hiding in a bag hanging on the back of the door – how on earth did the little tyke get in there? And how could I not share this?:

Cute Kittens: Kitten and cat sitting for friends (Lancing, 2018)

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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