Health Diary Week 93: Catching Up

Image: Catching up (mohamed Hassan, Pixabay)

Home
<<<Week 92

Hi, welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate: health updates, meal creations and smile-provoking experiences. You might have noticed, this is my second post of the week, as I’ve needed to catch up after falling behind on my weekly posting…

Histamine Issues: Inflamed Eyelids

At my Optician appointment, I was surprised to discover I have inflamed eyelids, likely due to excessive histamine. The thing is, my eyes hadn’t particularly bothered me, at least not compared to everything else, but as soon as I knew there was an issue with them, they started feeling uncomfortable – go figure. Having said that, I’m glad the issue was picked up before it became severe – attend your health check-ups folks.

So, I have instructions to use a cold compress for ten minutes twice daily for two months, plus lubricating eye drops four times a day, and mast cell stabiliser eye drops four times daily for 28 days (sodium cromoglicate – same as the tablets I was prescribed by my GP but couldn’t get hold of due to supply shortages).

Histamine Food Challenge: Broad Beans

I wanted to try broad beans again (because I love them so) to check if I’m as okay with them as I think. So, I decided to add them to a simple vegetable pasta – nothing bad happened – yippee!:

Vegetable pasta, including some tasty broad beans, orange pepper, courgette, sweetcorn and sweet white onion

My Hot Chocolate Replacement

I used to love a comforting mug of hot chocolate or a matcha latte, back in the day before my histamine issues, so I was searching for an alternative. ‘My dear friend’ Bevy, and I decided my chicory drink would work well as a latte with gluten free oat milk, so I whizzed one up in my trusty Vitamix – I was not disappointed by this frothy, filling delight:

Image: Chicory latte – frothy, delicious and ridiculously filling

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

And let me share some of my week’s smile-provokers with you all…

Birdies:

I can’t believe it took us years to discover the joys of a bird feeder. While I was sat out having a mug of chicory I was treated to a visit from loads of little birdies (some kind of tit I think). It was a nice change from the squabbling starlings who currently dominate the feeder:

Image: Our busy bird feeder (I think there’s eleven tits on the feeder in this pic)

Molly and Not Molly captured together:

Neighbourhood cats Molly and Not Molly have featured in my blog for some time, but I’d never seen them together until now (Not Molly is incredibly elusive). For a while, I’d mistaken Molly for Not Molly (I don’t know Not Molly’s name), but now that I’ve seen them together, I’m confident I can tell them apart:

Image: Molly and Not Molly (finally). Top: Molly bottom left and Not Molly top right. Bottom right: Molly (Week 71). Bottom left: Not Molly (it is really hard to capture a photo of this one)

Mini work reunion:

In my University Disability Adviser days, I worked within a team of kind, caring and encouraging people. So, my highlight of this week was a catch up at a cafe (outside) with two of my former colleagues, Rachel and Marjory, who I hadn’t seen for far too long:

Image: Mum and I at work (2007) – yep, we worked together – at the university and our previous organisation. (I didn’t have a photo of Marjory and Rach together to share)

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 94
<<<Week 92
Home

More from What’s on Watson’s Plate

Health Diary Week 87: Lots Happening

Image: Owl at Hawk Conservancy Trust, 2012 (I was quite proud of this action shot)

Home
Week 86

Hi, welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate: health updates, meal creations and smile-provoking experiences. There’s so much to tell, but so little available time – I’ll do my best to be informative, yet succinct…

New Job?

The feedback from my Staff Wellbeing Hub Admin interview was that I was a strong candidate… But I was their second choice. They were concerned about my work-life balance, because of my interests outside of work – Ironically, I’d started adding my outside interests into admin job interviews to demonstrate that my mind would still be challenged outside of work. This was to counteract the other concern that always comes up when I apply for admin – “Would the job satisfy me when I appear to be better suited to an advisory role?” I honestly enjoy admin; I also enjoy advisory work too. I’d like to do both.

Excitingly, I was offered two days a week, because their first choice wanted to work three days, so I gratefully accepted. The bonus is that this still leaves the possibility of doing some advisory work too… Or perhaps a Health and Wellbeing Coach? – there’s currently adverts for this role within the NHS.

Image: Me listening to a student (well, posing for a promotional photo) at our work enquiry desk. Ca. 2003 (I look so young!)

The Histamine Saga

Here are the latest updates on my challenge to find out more about my histamine issues…

Allergy Clinic:

Last week the Allergy Clinic changed my appointment to a phone one – I reasoned maybe it was because the first appointment is just a consultation. But this week, the clinic rejected my referral – Nooo!  I phoned to check if this was an error… it wasn’t. They’ve recommended I’m referred to an ENT Clinic – I’m confused – I don’t think I need my ears, nose or throat checked out?

Food Risks:

We had family visiting for my Dad’s birthday, so I took some small food risks, with the support of my DAO enzyme tablet. Mum had prepared a curry for dinner – I had the dhal (lentils), potato and peas from the curry (tomato based), poppadom (chickpea) and Nita’s Mum’s coriander chutney (chilli, cashews). Thankfully, there were no ill effects from rhinitis, but I had a slightly sore (burned feeling) tongue for about a week – probably from the chilli, maybe also the tomato:

Image: My histamine food risk dinner: Lentils (dhal), potato and peas from the curry (tomato base), popadom (chickpea). Nita’s Mum’s green chutney not pictured

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

I love identifying things that make me smile. Here’s a few things from this past week…

I had pudding:

Mum made rhubarb crumble for Dad’s birthday treat, instead of a cake. I rarely get to have a proper pudding, because of my histamine issues. I decided since I’d already had my DAO enzyme tablet, this was my opportunity. And of course I drowned my crumble in the vanilla custard freebie gifted by the Vegan Kind Supermarket (Week 81) – delicious:

Image: Left: Coconut Collaborative vanilla custard freebie from the Vegan Kind supermarket. Right: Pudding: Rhubarb crumble drowning in vanilla custard

A gift from work:

I was just leaving work when one of the Admin Shift Leads asked, “Would you like a brown bag?”. I assumed this could only be a good thing, so I said, “That would be lovely, thank you”. And within my brown bag were two rhubarb and pineneedle drinks and a box of chocolate (my Dad’s favourite). What a lovely gesture. I passed on the chocolate to my parents and saved the drinks for myself:

Image: My brown bag contents: Monty Bojangles chocolate and Double Dutch drinks

Another friend reunion:

When I was studying for my Nutrition degree, my two main buddies were Magda and Emelie. Emelie has since moved back to Sweden, although we’re still in regular contact. Magda doesn’t live too far away, so we arranged to meet up in person for the first time since the pandemic started. We decided to have a walk in a country park and wow, we had so much to tell each other – it was so lovely to see Magda in person rather than online. The walk was picturesque – a change from my usual roadside walks. And my Active10 app reported I’d completed 168 minutes total walking, of which 88 minutes was brisk – go me:

Image: Countrypark walk – river view (it was a pity about the fallen tree, but a beautiful view nonetheless)
Image: Countrypark walk – field view

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 88
<<<Week 86
Home

More from What’s on Watson’s Plate

Health Diary Week 75: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

My Medical Week

I got a Covid vaccine sticker – like when I went to the dentist as a kid

Home
<<<Week 74

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

Covid vaccine and my side effects

Excitingly, I had my first Covid vaccine, at the centre I should be working in soon (no updates yet about when I’m starting). And I must say, it was well organised – efficient, yet friendly. I was given the AstraZeneca vaccine[1] – the one where concerns were raised about strokes as a possible rare side effect. Personally, I’d rather take the much smaller risk of a stroke than the much larger likelihood of contracting covid and its nasty complications. I mean, have you seen the potential side effects from taking paracetamol?![2]. Interestingly, all I found about this stroke complication (that wasn’t just a media news report) was a science article[3] linking to a research paper based on only nine patients (not yet peer reviewed)[4] with an Editorial note advising that the researchers work for Pfizer – massive potential for bias!: “The authors disclose conflicts of interest, including personal fees from Pfizer and other pharmaceutical companies”[4]. They also state “At the time of this posting, the World Health Organization maintains that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh its risks and recommends that vaccinations continue”[4].

So, what happened to me? I had my vaccine at 9.30 am (it just felt like someone touched my arm – easy peasy). At 6.30 pm I started getting shivery – I checked my temperature and it was 36.6o Celsius (C), within the normal range (35.7 – 37.3 o C, 96.3 – 99.1o Fahrenheit (F)). After dinner, I had gut ache and felt a bit nauseous for a couple of hours. I became increasingly shivery and by 8.30 pm I had a low-grade fever of 38.5o C (101.3o F). I took some paracetamol and gradually my temperature and shivering decreased. I became incredibly hot for a while and had a headache. By the morning my temperature had returned to normal, although I needed to take more paracetamol for my headache, but this soon eased up. My most surprising symptom started about the same time as the shivers; I developed pins and needles, and numbness in my right-hand fingers (the arm I chose to have vaccinated as it was already injured) – the information leaflet stated this occurred where there was already nerve inflammation – I guess that makes sense. The next day and onwards, I’ve just had a sore, achy arm. Overall, a small price to pay to hopefully avoid catching Covid-19 (again).

Covid vaccine card (1st dose completed) and new staff ID card (“Covid Administrator” sounds like I’m actually dishing out Covid!)

Clicking jaw

I had dentist check-up and hygienist appointments this week. It feels so weird going inside a building, removing my mask and having someone poke around inside my mouth, when the rest of time I’m being so cautious. I’m pleased to report no fillings were required and my gums were okay. But I have a clicking jaw on my left side (probably a hypermobility thing) – the dentist checks it each visit, but this time, she noted an issue with a “heavy bite” on my right side that could be making it worse, so she wanted to do some research and get back to me. Later that afternoon she phoned and advised the “heavy bite” could be impacting the bone healing from where I’d had an extra tooth removed (right side), so they want to shave it down to reduce the pressure and it may also relieve the clicking – so that’s happening next month.

Antihistamines continued

I had another phone Doctor’s appointment to reassess the histamine intolerance. We agreed the Fexofenadine wasn’t going to work if all formulas contained Allura Red (E129), so I offered to contact the pharmacist and ask about this. We briefly discussed first generation antihistamines as an option, but I’m not keen on these, because they cause drowsiness and I’m unsure about potential long-term neurological health effects[5]. We discussed trying the other second generation options, Loratadine and Acrivastine, although weaker than Fexofenadin. There didn’t seem much difference between them, so I was told I could investigate and choose which I wanted – I’ll let you know what I decide and the outcome.

Food challenges: Excessive risks were taken

I took some excessive risks this week. I went overboard on the Quorn vegan ham and Sainsbury’s free from grated ‘cheddar cheese’. I hadn’t realised until looking back while writing this post that I’d eaten these foods three times in one week (that’s too much). Also, I’d avoided looking too closely at the ingredients, until now – they both contain several ingredients incompatible with histamine intolerance. I’ll probably still eat them occasionally, but I need to keep track of how often and how I react. Then of course there was the yeast from the two pittas I ate, also filling up my histamine cup/bucket.

And on Mum’s birthday, I indulged in some chocolate mint ice cream and mango sorbet (both containing risky ingredients) – what was I thinking? Sometimes its so hard to stay on track on this low histamine diet. To be fair, I resisted some of the temptations on offer, but I admit, I’m a little worried about the looming consequences from the foods I caved into.

Food challenges. Clockwise: Quorn vegan ‘ham’ slices in salad pitta. Jacket potato with Quorn ‘ham’ and Sainsbury’s free from ‘cheddar cheese’. Northern Bloc ice cream and Hackney Gelato mango sorbet. Quorn vegan ‘ham’ and Sainsbury’s free from ‘cheddar cheese’ pitta

Food creation: Quinoa and brown rice vegetable burgers

For months now, I’ve been meaning to attempt making burgers with a quinoa base, to get more of this great plant protein in my diet, despite not being keen on the stuff. My first attempt went well (details here), but I need to make a few tweaks for next time. I definitely need to add more chia and flax seed binder and maybe chop the veg smaller to hold the burger together better. The flavour was decent, but next time I’ll rinse the quinoa more before cooking to remove any bitterness (thanks for the tip Deb):

Food creation: Quinoa and brown rice vegetable burgers. Clockwise: Making the patties. Pre-cooked burger. My messy hands! Cooked burgers ready for freezing
My dinner: Quinoa and brown rice vegetable burger with roast potatoes, celeriac, fennel, bell peppers and courgette/zucchini

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

What made me smile this week? Quite a few things. Here’s a few…

A walk in the park:

I went out for two walks this week before I succumbed to post-vaccine tiredness and took it easy for the rest of the week. I walked through a park and noticed a tree full of white blossom – such a contrast compared to its surrounding bare trees. I actually saw this last week too, but I couldn’t get a picture (without looking dodgy) as there was a cute couple sat under the tree kissing:

Walk in the park. Clockwise: Blossomy tree from afar. Closer. My shadow. Blossom close-up

From sunrise to sunset:

I just love a sunrise or sunset (although its rare I’m awake for sunrises). This week I was treated to both. Such beautiful colours. My favourites are those over the ocean (whilst sipping on a cocktail) – maybe I’ll get to see one again (and have a cocktail) in the not-too-distant future:

Left: Sunrise. Right: Sunset. Both beautiful in their own ways

Low histamine wine:

Instagram can be a useful resource (and a source of procrastination). I was excited and delighted to find that low histamine wines exist – I think the one below only supplies to Austria and Germany. But when I shared the post in the Long haul Covid food Facebook group, someone else found a company in the UK – yippee! And, then I stumbled across wine wands, which apparently filter the histamine out of your drink. I’ll be looking into these further – they’re not a complete solution as the actual alcohol itself encourages your mast cells to release histamine, but I’ll take it as hope for an occasional tipple further down the line:

Low histamine wine options – woo hoo hoo! Left: Low histamine wine (source: bioweingut.weiss, Instagram). Right: Wine wands (source: Lowhistamineeats, Instagram)

An abundance of Italian herb seasoning:

I like to have a mix of dried herbs to easily flavour my meals. I had asked Mum (who places the online grocery orders) to order some more Italian herb seasoning. It turns out she got a little carried away and ordered six lots! Apparently my usual one (M&S) said out of stock, so Mum ordered alternatives and both came, but that still leaves the random one in the middle. Unfortunately, I can only use the M&S ones as the others contain black pepper. We did laugh at Mum’s surprise excessiveness:

Over-ordering Italian herb seasoning

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 76
<<<Week 74
Home

References

1. GOV.UK, 2021. Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency: Information for UK recipients on COVID 19 Vaccine AstraZeneca.
2. Drugs.com, 2021. Paracetamol Side Effects.
3. American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2021. A rare clotting disorder may cloud the world’s hopes for AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine.
4. Greinacher, A., Thiele, T., Warkentin, T. E., Weisser, K., Kyrle, P. and Eichinger, S. 2021. A Prothrombotic Thrombocytopenic Disorder Resembling Heparin-Induced Thrombocytopenia Following Coronavirus-19 Vaccination. Research Square.
5. Coupland, C. A. C, Hill, T., Dening, T., Morriss, R., Moore, M. and Hippisley-Cox, J., 2019. Anticholinergic Drug Exposure and the Risk of Dementia – A Nested Case-Control Study. JAMA Internal Medicine, 179 (8), 1084-1093.

More from What’s on Watson’s Plate

Health Diary Week 74: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Blossom

Tree blossom

Home
<<<Week 73

Hi, welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate: health updates, meal creations and smile-provoking experiences. Okay, I’ll start with the job stuff…

Psychometric assessment

I received an email on Monday to undergo online assessments for the NHS Graduate Management Trainee job I applied for. I’m not a fan of being assessed, especially in timed circumstances, because I have a slower reading and processing speed due to my Dyspraxia[1]. At university, I received extra time for exams to provide a more level playing field, but I felt uncomfortable asking for this under these circumstances, despite declaring a disability on my application.

There were two parts to the assessment; the first was to check if your personality fit with the NHS and management, consisting of statements on a Likert scale from “Strongly Agree” to “Strongly Disagree” – this was okay. But then there were the timed, four minutes per section assessments: Verbal reasoning (24 questions), numerical skills (16 questions) and abstract thinking (10 questions). I ran out of time on each part and completely messed up the numerical questions, despite being capable of answering them. I decided I had to just congratulate myself for trying and draw a line under that experience.

Covid Vaccine Centre

I completed the mandatory training and online DBS (criminal record check) for my temporary, bank admin job in a Covid vaccine centre. I received an email back from the lovely admin person, advising I should be able to start work next week – Yay! – I can’t wait to work again.

The Administrator also advised that once I receive the welcome letter, I can book my COVID vaccination – fabulous news – such a relief, especially with the expected slow-down of UK vaccine availability during April (supply issues) and potential restriction of exports to the UK by the EU to enable them to catch up on their programmes. The government reported that despite this slow-down, they still aim to offer the vaccine to all UK adults by the end of July – I really hope this happens.

Typical meals

I didn’t experiment with making anything new this week and just stuck to my easy go-tos: Oats and/or fruit for breakfast, salads for lunch, and mostly pasta or rice (rice details here) for dinner:

Week 74 meal examples. Clockwise: Porridge oats with blueberries, seeds, sweet cinnamon and maple syrup. Salad with potatoes, cornmeal bites, beetroot and celery

Food challenge: Tofu

My weekly challenge was scrambled tofu (again) because Mum wanted me to make her some and I love it so much and didn’t want to miss out. Previously, I experienced mild rhinitis reactions after having tofu in seeded wraps in Week 68 and Week 70. But the seed wraps contained sunflower seeds, listed as “Incompatible, significant symptoms at usual intake” by the Swiss Interest Group on Histamine Intolerance[2]. So, this time I opted to serve my tofu in a pitta bread with notomato sauce (details here)  – I didn’t have a reaction – excellent! Next time, I think I’ll try it Nana’s spaghetti-style (Week 46) with adaptations of Quorn ‘ham’ slices and notomato sauce – I’m excited:

Food re-introduction challenge. Clockwise: Scrambled tofu in pitta bread. Nana’s spaghetti-style scrambled tofu (Week 46). Scrambled tofu seeded wrap with potato roasties (Week 68). Scrambled tofu, salad leaves and notomato sauce seeded wrap (Week 70).

Freezer food finds

Where would I be without my freezer food saviours? Hungry! I found portions of cauliflower and broccoli ‘cheese’, roast potato, sweet potato and stuffing – I felt like a winner. Sadly, I forgot about them cooking away in the oven and ended up with an overly done dinner, although mostly recoverable – phew!:

Freezer food: Cauliflower and broccoli ‘cheese’, roast potato, sweet potato and stuffing. Clockwise: Frozen. Charred! Plated pre-gravy. Plated with gravy

Exercise

I’m supposed to be doing my twice daily physiotherapy interim exercises while I’m waiting for my actual physio appointment for my shoulder hypermobility injury. I’m ashamed to say I’ve been a bit lax. I’ve done them once most days, but it just hurts so much – I will do better.

I went out for three strolls this week, totalling 162 minutes, of which 89 minutes were brisk walking. It was lovely to have a stroll and chat with my neighbour who I hadn’t seen for ages due to lockdown rules.

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

And let’s finish off with sharing some of my smile-provokers…

Mandatory training completed:

I was pleased to complete the additional mandatory training courses for my NHS temp admin job, a) because I enjoy learning, and b) so that I can start my role soon – I really want to get back to work now:

NHS mandatory training. Left: Recognising and managing anaphylaxis. Right: Resuscitation – Level 1

Food horrors:

So there I was sat in the cosy warm kitchen, at the little table, happily munching away at my dinner, when suddenly I realised I was literally facing my own food horrors – foods I used to love (tomatoes, satsumas, bananas and avocados) but I can’t eat now because of their high histamine content. I realised I was surprisingly okay with that:

My food horrors – some of my former favourite foods: Tomatoes, satsumas, bananas and avocados

Driveway sun and Spring flowers:

It’s wonderful there’s increasing opportunity to sit out by the driveway pond without being wrapped up in coats, hats, scarves and gloves. And I’m enjoying watching Dad’s potted flowers gradually appear:

My favourite driveway flower photo, so far (it’s actually really small, but so beautiful close up)

Spring is here (again):

We’ve already had the start of Spring from a meteorological perspective (1st March). And on the 20th March, Spring began astronomically[3] – yay! I’m loving noticing more signs of Spring when I’m out walking. So, of course I have to share some of my favourite picture snaps:

Spring is here (again)

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 75
<<<Week 73
Home

References

1. Dyspraxia UK, Ca 2017. What is Dyspraxia?
2.  Swiss Interest Group Histamine Intolerance (SIGHI), 2016. Food Compatibility List.
3. Met Office, 2020. When does spring start?

More from What’s on Watson’s Plate

Health Diary Week 65: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Risky Business

Tandem Skydiving: Just me hurtling towards the earth with an Army guy strapped to my back (2006)

Home
<<<Week 64

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

What’s New

There’s just a couple of updates for you this week’s …

Diary Re- Start:

Well, I’m finally back on the diary – I had to force myself to do it, but I’m glad I have, because it makes me more mindful about what I’m consuming (I think) – so yay, go me!

Water Leak:

Annoyingly, we had a water leak – water was seeping through the ceiling, so we had to let an ‘outsider’ into our house. We were all wearing masks, kept out of each other’s way where possible and ventilated the house by opening the windows. Although it raised the anxiety levels a bit, especially since it’s been a bad week Covid-19 wise, with the UK’s highest number of deaths so far in one day (1,564 on Wednesday), it was also good to see one of my friends briefly, as he also happens to be our plumber.

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.

Food Risks:

I took a few ingredients risks this week where my low histamine diet is concerned, more than I’d realised when I looked back through my food diary whilst preparing this blog – I definitely need to keep an eye on this. The least risky were continuing eating mango and yeast (not together), as they’re usually okay in small quantities. Also, I’ve continued with a little dark chocolate most days, despite it potentially causing significant symptoms at usual intake – I seem to be okay with it though, which is fortunate since I love the stuff. But most importantly, I’m trying to slowly re-introduce legumes (seed-producing plants). Previously I’d tried green beans, a legume vegetable, but I experienced severe rhinitis. So, this time I attempted pulses (the dry seeds). More on this later.

Breakfast:

I’m happy to report I breakfasted on fruit three times – mango and melon. When I got up late (more often than I’d like to admit), I skipped breakfast (once) or took a light option of Brazil nuts (twice). Another morning I ate a salad pitta – who says you can’t have salad for breakfast? – Certainly not me. I should add that the pitta contained a little soya, as I used a teaspoon of vegan mayo:

Week 65 Breakfasts: Left-to-right: Melon. Salad filled pitta. Mango

Lunch:

It’s been a grey weather kind of week, which tends to veer me towards comfort food, so I opted for fusilli pasta four times. It’s so easy to prepare: Cook the frozen sweetcorn with the pasta, drain and mix with onion, chia seeds, dried herbs, turmeric, sweet paprika and rapeseed oil. On a side note, Mel from Lighter Brighter Me wrote a great post about comfort food recently. The remaining three days I had salad with a grain-based frittata or omelette:

Week 65 Lunches. Left-to-right: Simple pasta. Cornmeal based frittata and watercress salad. Pasta and salad pitta

Dinner:

Dinners were often comfort foods too. I had an always satisfying baked potato with courgette, cabbage and onion.  More potatoes – Mum’s homemade chips/fries, accompanied by cauliflower ‘cheese’ from the freezer. Also, excitingly, I had Christmas roast dinner leftovers from the freezer (details here). Of course, there had to be some rice dishes too – dhal (lentils) with brown rice and vegetable rice with a cheesy garlic roll (details here) – both delicious meals. And let’s not forget the pasta – I had spaghetti with vegetables and seeds in a not tomato sauce (details here) – tasty. After a big lunch, I just had a salad filled pitta with a few crisps/chips – I shouldn’t have eaten the crisps as they contained tomato powder (a big histamine no-no) – thankfully there were no noticeable consequences:

Week 65 Dinners. Left-to-right: Vegetable turmeric rice and cheesy garlic roll. Christmas roast leftovers: potatoes, stuffing, Winter mash and red cabbage. Vegetable and seed spaghetti in not tomato sauce

Snacks:

I’ve been incredibly hungry this week! Snacks included Brazil nuts, plain crackers, chocolates, crisps/chips, popcorn, poppadom and chocolates. Twice I had a pitta, once with salad, the other time with yeast extract:

Week 65 Snacks

Drinks:

As usual, I drank several chicory coffee replacements. I also had a rooibos tea once – this was my ‘go-to’ before I discovered chicory. I had fruit juice a few times, once with a double vodka:

Week 65 Drinks

Exercise

I’m pleased with myself that I ventured out for a walk five times this week – probably because Mum and I motivated each other more – Mum walks with me more at the moment because she’s unable to play tennis during lockdown. We achieved a respectable 197 minutes (over three hours), a massive improvement on last week’s 46 minutes:

Week 65 Exercise

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

I really wasn’t sure what results to expect, so I was relieved to have lost some weight – 0.8 lb (0.4 kg), although my body fat remained the same:

Week 65 Results: Weight, BMI and Body Fat

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

I was happily contented this week, so let me share with you what made me smile…

Legume Love:

I finally ate some legumes – lentil dhal, a wonderfully comforting food. And, what’s more, I didn’t react adversely – yay! I’m a big fan of legumes, not just because of their taste and versatility, but also for their health-promoting properties:

  • Increased satiety (fullness after eating), reducing risk of over-eating[1, 2].
  • Low fat and lowers fat absorption[3, 4].
  • Nutrient dense – many contain fibre, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals[3, 4].
  • Protection against heart, gastrointestinal and cancerous diseases[5, 6].
  • Cholesterol-free and reduces total cholesterol[7].
  • Particularly low glycaemic index – less glucose spikes[8], increases satiety and reduces appetite[9].
  • Feeds your health-promoting gut microbes (prebiotic) – these friendly guys produce vitamins and reduce inflammation[10, 11].
Dhal lentils and brown rice. This is a photo from Week 38 (pre low histamine), as the photo I took this week was a bit rubbish, so ignore the tomato mix

Quinoa Experiment:

I was really excited to receive some quinoa flour, as it’s a source of quality plant protein and fibre. So, I used the flour as a base for a kind of ‘omelette’ and served it with a side salad (details here). It tasted so good, but I had an issue with stability – it got stuck in the pan, so much so that the first slice came out as a blob – it was kind of funny. Obviously, some tweaks are required, although my frozen and reheated portion the next day stayed together better:

Quinoa Flour Experiment. Clockwise: Amisa quinoa flour. My quinoa base omelette after freezing and reheating, with salad. My first slices (blobs) of quinoa base omelette, with salad. Quinoa omelette sticking in the pan

Mum Portrait Artist – Take 2:

I was excited that Mum started on a painted version of my photo. I cheekily asked if I could also have a painted version as Mum previously created a pastel and painted version for my sister – so it’s only fair right?:

Mum the Portrait Artist. Clockwise: My painted portrait started. My watercolour pencil portrait. Emma’s pastel crayons portrait (Mum’s first portrait attempt). Emma’s painted portrait

Minnie Mouse?:

I did have a chuckle when I noticed that the way Mum had pinned my photo to the board made it look like I had Minnie Mouse ears. It reminded me of when I was a kid (back in the 80’s) and asked Mum to do my hair Princess Leah style and someone in my class complimented me on my Minnie Mouse look:

Me and My Unintended Minnie Mouse Ears

My Girls:

I had a lovely girly online catch up with my besties Bevy and Charlotte (and Harry in the background). We don’t get to meet up with Charlotte that regularly, so it was extra lovely to chat to her. We first met at work in the early 2000’s and have been close friends ever since:

Me, Bevy and Charlotte at work (2004). Haha, I actually look kind of tall in this photo!

>>>Week 66
<<<Week 64
Home

References

1. Reverri et al., 2017. Assessing beans as a source of intrinsic fiber on satiety in men and women with metabolic syndrome.
2. Boers et al. 2017. Efficacy of fibre additions to flatbread flour mixes for reducing post-meal glucose and insulin responses in healthy Indian subjects.
3. Thompson et al. 2012. Bean and rice meals reduce postprandial glycemic response in adults with type 2 diabetes: a cross-over study.
4. Li et al. 2014. Dietary pulses, satiety and food intake: a systematic review and meta-analysis of acute feeding trials.
5. Kouris-Blazos and Belski 2016. Health benefits of legumes and pulses with a focus on Australian sweet lupins.
6. Bahado-Singh et al. 2015. High fiber Caribbean diets with low-intermediate GI improve glycemic control, cardiovascular and inflammatory indicators in overweight persons with type 2 diabetes: a randomized control study.
7. Zhang et al. 2010. Benefits of a rice mix on glycaemic control in Asian people with type 2 diabetes: a randomised trial.
8. Jenkins et al., 1981. Glycaemic index of foods: a physiological basis for carbohydrate exchange.
9. Mollard et al. 2011. The acute effects of a pulse-containing meal on glycaemic responses and measures of satiety and satiation within and at a later meal.
10. Fernandez et al. 2015. Healthy effects of prebiotics and their metabolites against intestinal diseases and colorectal cancer.
11. Bukyen et al. 2010. Carbohydrate nutrition and inflammatory disease mortality in older adults.

More from What’s on Watson’s Plate

Health Diary Week 55: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Embracing Creativity: Week 3 Histamine Elimination

Home
<<<Week 54

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

What’s New

The biggest news was England going into another lockdown from Thursday until 2nd December (they say). I’m aware that when restrictions ease again, it doesn’t mean the virus is retracting, it just means there’s available space in hospitals, so I’ll continue to be cautious. Anyway, moving on…

This was Week 3 of my histamine elimination diet – as of Sunday, I haven’t taken any antihistamines or steroid spray for 16 days. But I nearly caved on Sunday, as I had a terrible case of rhinitis – I’ll have to look back through my diary and try to figure out the trigger. I’ve noticed I wake every morning with mild rhinitis, leading me to hypothesise there’s another environmental factor in addition to diet. I spend a lot of time in the same room, so I’m wondering whether something in there is triggering my reactions – do I need to remove the carpet? Or maybe it’s a toiletry product? – I’ve had to make a few changes based on what’s available online.

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 finished off the blueberry muffins for breakfast at the beginning of the week – I’m wondering if this caused an issue, because they were a few days old. I had my trusty porridge oats on three days, with apple or nectarine and seeds, sweet cinnamon and maple syrup – so good! Also, I had easy brown rice cakes with jam a couple of times:

Week 55 Breakfasts: I’m a porridge oats convert

Lunch:

I’m enjoying My New Typical Salad, which I had four times this week, twice with brown rice pasta. I also had a delicious watercress salad from our veg box delivery – I replaced the usual citrus and balsamic dressing with my go-to sweet paprika and rapeseed oil, which worked well. The Institute for Functional Medicine reported that watercress may reduce histamine release from mast cells[1], so it could be a good choice. On Friday, I defrosted Mum’s new version of my favourite cauliflower soup – she’d replaced almonds with ground Brazil nuts and used flaxseeds as a thickener – yum:

Week 55 Lunches: Left: My New Typical Salad. Right: Watercress salad. Delicious!

Dinner:

I started the week with an Autumnal dinner of pumpkin with spaghetti – I loved this. Another day, I had Mum’s homemade cauliflower soup. I was pleased with my rice experiment of courgette and grated purple carrot with basmati – I’d be happy to have that again (and I did). I attempted to make fiddly spring rolls – they tasted great but didn’t look pretty (see What Made Watson Smile). Mum and I made mashed potato with green cabbage and onion (colcannon-style), accompanied by roasted purple carrot, courgette, cauliflower and broccoli – a very comforting meal. When I felt rough on Sunday, I wasn’t going to bother with dinner, but Mum insisted on making me a baked potato with courgette and spring onion – I suggested adding turmeric to the rapeseed oil, as turmeric could inhibit histamine release from mast cells[1] – it was a joy to eat:

Week 55 Dinners Table
Week 55 Dinners. Clockwise: Pumpkin spaghetti. Carrot and courgette rice, Courgette and onion baked potato, mashed potato with cabbage, accompanied by roasted veg

Snacks:

My go-to snacks are now popcorn, rice cakes with jam and Brazil and pistachio nuts. Interestingly, the selenium in Brazil nuts may reduce histamine release[1] – I know, I’m all about the histamine – it’s just a big deal at the moment:

Week 55 Snacks. Left to right: Rice cake with jam. Sweet popcorn. Brazil and pistachio nuts

Drinks

I didn’t resist adding oat milk to my rooibos tea and I’m thinking I should have to see if it could be an issue for me – I’ll try to next week. Other teas were apple with cinnamon and peppermint. I’ve ordered chamomile tea, as it may inhibit histamine release, although fresh was found to be more effective[1]:

Week 55 Drinks: Teas

Exercise

There was no exercise, as I’ve felt exhausted all week and lacked the motivation. I’m aiming to get some walks in next week – now I’ve said it, I’ll feel I should do it.

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

Another week of weight loss – a reasonable 0.8 lb (0.4 kg), a total of 13.6 lb (6.2 kg), bringing me close to losing a stone (14 lb/ 6.4 kg) in total. I’ll celebrate that milestone with a big bowl of ice cream – ha, just kidding! Maybe I’ll buy myself something nice, probably not food related. I was pleased my body fat reduced a bit this week (1.4%), as I feel like I’m consuming loads of fat through rapeseed oil:

Week 55 Results: Weight, BMI and Body Fat

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

Despite feeling really tired all week, suffering with rhinitis episodes and a continuing sore shoulder/arm, there was still plenty to smile about:

Munchkin Pumpkin:

I thought Mum was kidding when she said she’d bought me a Munchkin Pumpkin – I didn’t know little pumpkins were actually called that. What a cute name and I must say, it was rather tasty too:

My Munchkin Pumpkin

Pesky, Sticky, Flimsy Spring Roll Wrappers:

My attempt at making spring rolls was hilarious. Soaking the first wrapper and trying to keep it from sticking together in a blob was initially disastrous. I called Mum for assistance and she helped rectify the situation, whilst laughing at my mess. Soon I got the hang of it (well, kind of) – the wrappers really were so sticky! And when I was trying to cook my spring rolls without using too much oil, I ripped them open when turning – I need to rethink my method, because, despite this, I’ll definitely try making them again – they were really tasty:

My Vegetable Spring Rolls Attempt

Driveway Creatures:

We’ve had a few sunny days enabling us to enjoy some outside time by the driveway pond. I spotted a busy bee during Bevy’s visit and was pleased with the shot I captured. And we (my parents and I) were excited to see three ducks feeding in the pond on two days (video here) – we haven’t had any ducks since a brief lone visit in May. And there was more joy when we saw an elusive woodpecker fly up into the trees:

Driveway Creature Visitors. Clockwise: Busy bee. Ducks in the pond. Elusive woodpecker

Doorstep Fireworks:

I have mixed feelings about fireworks – I would never buy them myself as I wouldn’t want to be responsible for scaring animals or polluting the air, but I loved them as a child and have to admit these ones we viewed from our doorstep were pretty impressive and did bring a smile to my face:

Doorstep Fireworks

Last Minute Socials:

I was so pleased to meet up with a few friends in person before England entered its second lockdown. It was a gorgeously sunny day when I met Bevy – we watched the birds at the feeder while chatting. And then in the evening I met up with Karen, Chris and Julie – we sat around a firepit in Karen and Chris’s garden, keeping extra toasty wrapped up in blankets:

Outdoors Socialising: The toasty firepit

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 56
<<<Week 54
Home

References

1. The Institute for Functional Medicine, 2020. Mast Cell Stabilizing Foods.

More from What’s on Watson’s Plate