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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Health Diary Week 63: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

A Brief Update…

Me Outside CommuniKate, Wales Trip (2005)

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Hi, welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate. Unlike my usual posts, this will be a briefer one, as I’m taking a bit of a break, which means I’m not keeping a diary for a few weeks. I still want to continue communicating with you all though, so I’ll report my weekly results and share some positivity.

What’s New

All-in-all it’s been a very quiet week.

Hello 2021:

Happy New Year everyone! Wishing you all much happiness and success in 2021. Unsurprisingly, given the circumstances, I had an incredibly tame New Year’s Eve – just my parents and I at home watching TV. Very different to last year’s rowdy night at the pub. It was pleasant enough though. I opted for one cheeky alcoholic beverage – Polish potato-based vodka with cranberry juice:

My vodka and cranberry juice indulgence

UK Covid-19 Cases Rising:

As expected, Covid-19 cases (especially the new variant) are rapidly increasing. So, there’s been more movement into the top Tier 4 restrictions (I was already in this), which is very close to a localised lockdown. Thankfully, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was approved for use in the UK, which is great as it is more easily distributed than the current Pfizer one. Frustratingly, it sounds like it may take quite some time to trickle down to me, but I’ll be happier when my parents have been vaccinated.

Food and Nutrition

So, I didn’t keep a food diary this week – it was nice to have a break from tracking everything so closely. I was a bit lax on managing my histamine levels – although I mostly opted for low histamine foods, I did indulge in chocolate, ‘cheese’ and bread. So, I kept dosed up on medication to control most symptoms (I experienced some fatigue and nausea) – not the best method, but it’s only temporary.

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

I was completely surprised that I didn’t gain weight and body fat this week! Instead, I lost 1.8 lb (0.8 kg) and 0.3% body fat – amazing! I didn’t feel like I ate less or more healthily, so was I more active? I checked my Active 10 results for the past couple of weeks – I walked 66 minutes more compared to Week 62 and an extra 52 minutes were brisk walking. Maybe that swung it?:

Week 63 Results: Weight, BMI and Body Fat

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

Despite this being a shorter version of my usual post, I still wanted to share some of my week’s positive experiences with you all …

Storytime:

I absolutely love Pretty Pretty Good Short Fiction’s short stories, so I was really pleased to see a new release “Once upon a time… long, long ago…”. I look forward to the daily chapter publications, although sometimes I save them up for a good binge read. This tale was a little different to the previous love stories; instead, it was written from a child’s perspective, focused on homemade cookies made with mum. I could totally relate to this, as I fondly remember my sister and I baking cookies with our Mum and wanting to eat the lot immediately!:

My sister and I baking with Mum at Christmas time (actually, I just seem to be running around!), Tortola, BVI, late 1980’s (One of my favourite photos ever, because of the memories)

Delightful Nuts:

Macadamia nuts are one of the three types of nuts I know I can consume on a low histamine diet. Sadly, I wasn’t that keen on them despite their creaminess. As shared in Week 62, I was delighted to discover they work really well as a flavoured ‘cheese’, my favourite being onion, garlic and herb (ingredients here). I’d had some leftover in the freezer, so I decided to try it as a pasta sauce with added spring onion and sweet paprika (details here) – so delicious – I’m actually craving cheesy pasta now just thinking about it!:

Macadamia nut ‘cheese’. Clockwise: Cheesy pasta. Macadamia nuts. Crackers and bits with macadamia cheese. Macadamia ‘cheese’ spread

Snow – Well, a Little:

What a wonderful surprise to awake to snowfall on Tuesday morning, especially since we rarely get snow in these parts of the UK (video here). I threw on my dressing gown and hurried outside to enjoy the large clumps falling from the sky. I’m glad I went outside to appreciate it, as the snow didn’t settle and soon disappeared:

Snowy Morning. Left: Snowy sky. Right: Me in the snow soon after rolling out of bed

Princess Ariel:

I updated my Facebook profile picture and had a surprising load of likes and lovely comments. My favourite comment was my friend who said her young daughter was watching her scroll through the feed and asked if I was Princess Ariel from The Little Mermaid – how adorable and incredibly flattering. To be fair, this isn’t how I look day-to-day – I’m usually somewhere in between ‘just-rolled-out-of-bed’ (above) and ‘made a proper effort’ (below):

Princess Ariel? Left: My latest profile picture. Right: Princess Ariel from The Little Mermaid (Image: peridotmaize, 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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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 61: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Unexpected Delights

Rainbow Spotted during my Walk

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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

Okay, I’m starting with a heads-up – I’m unsure exactly when I’ll post week 62 results, what with Christmas happening. It might just be that I post a slimmer version than usual (I might not be slimmer though!).

I’m happy (and relieved) to report I had a minimal rhinitis week – Yippee! 

My most exciting news (for me anyway) is that I have an NHS job interview for the position of Occupational Health and Wellbeing Practitioner. Honestly, I was surprised to be shortlisted, but having said that, this job sounds very me and the more I think about it, the more I want it. So, fingers crossed I perform well and impress the interview panel.

The big national news (not good news sadly) came on Saturday – the Prime Minister announced there’s a new SARS-COV-2 variant in the UK and it’s around 70% more transmissible than previous strains. Sooo, the plan for easing restrictions for five days over Christmas were changed to just Christmas Day. And they’ve introduced a Tier 4[1], which is pretty much a localised lockdown – anyone in this Tier misses out on Christmas mixing. I’m fortunate to be in Tier 2[1] (for now) and we didn’t have much in the way of Christmas plans, but it must be horrible for those finding themselves in these last-minute circumstances.

Tier System. Image: Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms via BBC News

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 opted for a light breakfast of just three Brazil nuts twice, just because I didn’t fancy much. I had corn cakes with apricot and/or blackcurrant jams three times – I prefer the taste of corn cakes to rice cakes. I ate porridge oats just once with apple, chia seeds, maple syrup and sweet cinnamon. My favourite breakfast was mango – it’s low histamine and I tolerated it well (phew!):

Week 61 Breakfasts. Left to right: Mango. Corn cakes with jam. Porridge oats with apple

Lunch:

Lunches were either my pasta (three times) or salad (four times) accompanied by some form of cornmeal (no surprise there). Once, I made a tasty cornmeal-based frittata with red potatoes, Winter cabbage and sweet white onion – delicious. The salad typically contains leaves, radishes, cucumber, celery and spring onion with a sweet paprika and rapeseed oil dressing. My simple pasta (twice) just contains sweetcorn, onion, turmeric, sweet paprika and rapeseed oil. But on Sunday I got a bit snazzier and added courgette and grated carrot – tasty:

Week 61 Lunches. My New Typical Salad with Polenta (left to right: bites, balls, frittata)

Dinner:

All but two of my meals were utilised from previous batch-cooking – whenever I cook something, I try to have at least one extra portion left to freeze for days when I don’t have time to or feel like cooking. This week I used up my vegetable spring rolls, sweet potato chips and wedges, cauliflower bites, cauliflower ‘cheese’ and my unusual paella. I’d fancied vegetable paella, but didn’t have the typical ingredients, so I just used what I had – yellow pepper, purple sprouting broccoli, Winter cabbage, sweetcorn, celery and sweet white onion… and it tasted great. One evening Mum treated me to some homemade chips, which I had with a spring roll and not tomato sauce:

Week 61 Dinners: Left to right: Spring Roll with Sweet Potato Chips and Cauliflower Bites. Unusual Paella. Mum’s Chips with Spring Roll

Snacks:

Popcorn continues to be my go-to snack, especially the sweet and salty variety. Other snacks included corn cakes with jam, nuts and crackers. I took a risk on Monday and helped myself to a handful of ‘cheese’ and onion crisps I’d found that were open (may contain histamine) – there didn’t seem to be any adverse effects:

Week 61 Snacks Log Table

Drinks

I drank loads of Chicory Cup – up to four cups a day. I had a rooibos tea and apple concentrate once. I took a risk on Friday and had a tiny sip of Mum’s glass of red wine (high histamine content) – it tasted so good. My vodka order arrived (moderate histamine, so I need to be careful) – I really wanted a potato-based vodka, but I couldn’t find any in the UK – they’re mostly wheat. Instead, I settled for quinoa and white rice. I’d ordered the vodka for Christmas and my Birthday but decided to try it and poured myself a double topped with ice – it was so strong and took me two hours to drink!:

Week 61 Drinks Log Table

Exercise

Go me! – I got myself out for a walk every day this week, despite there being quite a lot of rainy days – somehow, I managed to dodge the worst of it. Once I went for a walk with my neighbour, Elise – it was good to have a catch up. So, unsurprisingly, I improved on last week’s total exercise – nearly four and a half hours this week compared to just over two hours the week before:

Week 61 Exercise: Left to right: Squirrel. My Week’s Active 10 Walks. Red Leaves

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

Wow! 2.6 lb (1.2 kg) weight loss and 0.9% body fat reduction – I’m very happy with that. This brings me down to 158.6 lb (71.9 kg), so back under the 160 lb mark – yay! It seems that just little tweaks of getting out for a walk each day and being more mindful about how much rapeseed oil I add to my meals made a positive impact. Talking about positive…:

Week 61 Results: Weight, BMI and Body Fat

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

It’s been a positive week (apart from the latest virus stuff), so of course there’s been lots to smile about. Here’s a few things that brightened up my life…

Journal Club:

MyNutriWeb hosted its third Journal Club with Dr Gemma Walton leading the discussion. The research paper[2] we critiqued reported on a randomised control trial that found a specific probiotic mix (Lactobacillus gasseri PA 16/8, Bifidobacterium longum SP 07/3 and Bifidobacterium bifidum MF 20/5) reduced cold virus symptoms by two days. We discussed how specific bacterial species and strain (as opposed to just genus) were important for health outcomes. In hindsight, I’d also be interested to know which cold virus(es) the participants had, because there’s loads of different ones and I wonder whether this would make a difference in how patients responded to the probiotics mix:  

MyNutriWeb Journal Club. Images: Right: MyNutriWeb Instagram Post. Left: My Certificate of Attendance

Garage Social:

Excitingly, the garage door has been fixed – we haven’t been able to use it for a couple of months. This is fantastic news, because I could meet-up with Bevy, even though it was pouring with rain – we were nicely sheltered in the garage doorway:

A Working Garage Door – Yay!

My Little Elf Friend:

Mum and I went for a drive to hand deliver some Christmas cards. One such recipient was Tina. When Tina opened the door, it brought a smile to my face, as I was impressed by Tina’s cute elf attire. And, it was lovely to have a quick doorstep chat:

Tina the Christmas Elf

Rainbow Delight:

I was out walking with my friend, Elise, when we spotted this delightful rainbow in the park. There was a hint of a second rainbow above it:

Beautiful Rainbow on a Grey Rainy Day

Random Happiness:

I had a message from a new Instagram contact, @majellarohan, informing me that I’d been randomly chosen for a positivity quote. How lovely:

Random happiness message from @majellarohan

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. Wishing you all a happy holiday season.

Happy Holidays!

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References

1. GOV.UK, 2020. Guidance: Local restriction tiers: what you need to know.
2. de Vresea et al., 2006. Probiotic bacteria reduced duration and severity but not the incidence of common cold episodes in a double blind, randomized, controlled trial.

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Health Diary Week 60: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Mindfulness in the Woods

Woodland Trees

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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

This week felt quite productive on the whole – I completed some job applications and arranged a new shower installation for my tenants. But Tuesday was the exception – I achieved very little, owing to a case of bad rhinitis, which continued into the following afternoon. My poor nose was ever so sore. I’m unsure what triggered my histamine reaction. I’m wondering whether it was something in my multivitamin and mineral supplement, which I’ve not taken as often as I’d intended over fear it could set me off – I’ll have to keep track of this.

And, I’ve been more social, albeit mostly online, despite being ‘allowed’ to socialise with up to six people outside (England Tier 2 ). On Wednesday I had a lovely mindfulness catch-up with Karen, Julie and Chrissy, although sadly not in person as previously planned, because it was very cold. Thursday was my most social day, starting with a visit from my uncle who we probably haven’t seen for over a year. He was working in the area, so joined us on the driveway for a cuppa. I then caught up with some friends 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 and health…

Breakfast:

No porridge oats for me this week – I just didn’t fancy it. But I know I should eat more oats, as they’re a good fibre source and I definitely need more fibre in my life now that legumes (beans, peas and pulses) are out on the low histamine diet – I really hope I can re-introduce them in the not so distant future. Instead, I ate nuts, apples and rice cakes with jam:

Week 60 Breakfasts: Left: Rice cake with black cherry jam and an aple. Right: Brazil and pistachio nuts

Lunch:

I ate salad for lunch five times this week, usually accompanied by either polenta or cornmeal frittata. I’m in a Facebook group, which includes people with histamine intolerance and was surprised to hear that corn is a trigger for some – fingers crossed this doesn’t present as an issue for me, as it’s become a staple on my low histamine diet. In fact, on Thursday, my lunch was just cornmeal mash with courgette (zucchini). And on Friday I made my best cornmeal frittata yet. We were lacking fresh salad on Wednesday, so I made a simple rice with turmeric and courgette – I should have used brown rice for added fibre, but I was hungry and craving white rice, which is quicker to cook:

Week 60 Lunches: Left to right: Salad with polenta balls. Turmeric rice. Salad with my best cornmeal frittata yet

Dinner:

I had a couple of meals from the freezer during the week: frittata with roastie potatoes and butternut squash risotto. Unfortunately, the risotto is less risotto-like texturally after it’s been frozen, but it still tasted good. On Monday I had a very satisfying plate of veg: roasted potato, sweet potato and carrot with pan-fried cabbage and courgette. As I was feeling rough on Tuesday, I opted for my simple pasta of sweetcorn, spring onion and turmeric. Thursday was my favourite baked potato combo of courgette and sweetcorn (I know – lots of courgettes this week). I made a tasty vegetable spaghetti on Friday with… courgettes (of course), baby sweet peppers and sweetcorn (my other easy go-to veg). My highlight was the cauliflower ‘cheese’ Mum made at my request with sweet potato instead of cheese – more on that in What Made Watson Smile:

Week 60 Dinners Log Table
Week 60 Dinners: Clockwise: Cauliflower ‘cheese’. Vegetable spaghetti. Plate of vegetables. Courgette and sweetcorn jacket potato

Snacks:

I didn’t snack much this week, but when I did it was usually sweet and salty popcorn. I ate chia and flax crackers a couple of times and once I chose rice cakes with jam. I should try to include some fruit into my snacking to mix it up a bit and reduce my free sugars and salt content:

Week 60 Snacks Log Table

Drinks

I’m consuming a lot of Chicory Cup (alternative coffee), which is completely okay (especially as it’s a source of fibre), except that I add a little sugar (1/4 teaspoon) to each drink, so I need to be mindful about this. Other hot drinks were rooibos and peppermint teas. I also drank some juices – I don’t want to be having too many of these due to the high sugar content:

Week 60 Drinks Log Table

Exercise

It’s been another gentle week exercise-wise, focusing solely on walking (when the weather was decent). I only went out three times and I can’t always blame the weather for the days I didn’t walk. But it was an improvement on last week (that wasn’t hard), totalling just over two hours strolling. My motivation for walking was renewed at the end of the week after watching a video shared by fellow blogger, Effective Diet Plan, reviewing the scientific evidence on how 30 minute daily walks can aid weight loss – so now I’m going to have to prove that in next week’s blog:

Week 60 Exercise – Walks: Left and right: Interesting tree trunks. Middle: My week’s Active 10 walks

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

Oh no, my weight is gradually increasing again – I gained 1 lb (0.5 kg) and 0.2% body fat. I will get this under control again, although I’m not exactly eating loads. I guess I need to get out on those walks I just talked about. But also, I might have gotten a bit overly generous with the rapeseed oil in cooking and as dressings – I’ll still use the oil, but be more conscious about how much I’m using each time:

Week 60 Results: Weight, BMI and Body Fat

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

Okay, let’s get some smiles on our faces…

Saucy Goodness:

I love cauliflower cheese – so much! But most cheeses, including hard dairy varieties, soya and some nut-based ones are an issue on a low histamine diet. So, this presented the perfect opportunity to try making a sweet potato cheese sauce alternative. Well Mum actually made it, because I was engrossed in completing a job application. The great thing about this was that it reduced total and saturated fat content, as cheeses tend to contain a lot. The ingredients are here if you’d like to give it a try. I reckon it would also be great in a mac and cheese:   

Cauliflower ‘cheese’ – Just look at all that non-cheesy (sweet potato) saucy goodness – yum!

Woodland Secrets:

Mum and I wandered through a little woodland area, looking for interesting trees and bark to photograph for Mum’s latest weekly art project. We stumbled upon a pathway we hadn’t noticed before and spotted this rather beautiful scene. The path ended in a clearing within the woods:

Woodland Walk

Mum’s Mindfulness-Provoking Art Projects:

There’s been a beneficial knock-on effect of Mum’s weekly art projects. Mum tells me the theme and if relevant, I’ll spend time more mindfully, looking carefully at what’s around me during my walks in case there’s photo opportunities for Mum. Last week’s mission was garden gates, which I tried to take photos of discretely. This week, as mentioned above, was trees and their bark, so I took photos of the ones below to provide Mum more options to choose from:

Interesting Trees and their bark. The one on the left looks like it has a face, don’t you think?

Hello Heron:

I was delighted to watch this heron gracefully alight on my neighbour’s rooftop while I was diligently working away at my computer. I wish I could have got a closer shot. In my excitement, I fumbled with my phone trying to take photos of the heron mid-flight as it flew away – as you can see by my unsuccessful efforts below:

Heron Visitor

Land Rover Parking Zone:

So, I was sat at the dinner table with my parents when I glanced towards the Christmas tree and noticed a little, rather battered, Land Rover parked underneath it. I asked what this was about (it’s not like we have any kids in the house) and Dad’s response was “Oh, so that’s where it went” – no further explanation – has Dad started playing with toy cars during lockdown boredom? Upon more questioning, he explained that he’d found it lurking under some furniture. I wonder if it’s still parked under the tree – I’ll have to check:

Parked Land Rover under the Christmas tree

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 61
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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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<<<Week 58

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.

>>>Week 60
<<<Week 58
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Health Diary Week 58: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

I Changed My Plan

Plan Change. Image: yogesh more, Pixabay

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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 was the last full week of lockdown 2.0, so it’s been relatively quiet here – again just leaving the house to go for a walk and an unplanned drive (more on that in my smile section).

My injured shoulder is improving, although movement is still quite restricted. I’m optimistic it will continue to improve over time.

 I was up to ten days without taking antihistamine (since I last caved), but I didn’t feel healthy – I was exhausted most of the time and struggled to function. So, I decided to undertake further research – I spent ages searching for information about adverse long-term effects from my antihistamine (cetirizine), but couldn’t find what had worried me before, so for now I’m discounting that concern (Week 47). I watched a really interesting YouTube video by RUN-DMC, interviewing Dr Tina Peers, a specialist in histamine intolerance (Factsheet[1]) and mast cells (a histamine releaser). Interestingly, the focus was on long-haul covid and a possible link to mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS)[2]. She advised that mast cells are renewed around every six months, so by calming down these cells (e.g. adopting a low histamine diet, taking specific supplements and antihistamines), the next generation of mast cells tend to behave better (video here[3]). All fascinating stuff, requiring further research. So, I’m back on the antihistamines for now.

Also, I’ve just finished completing an application for another job that sounded very me, which is why this post is a day later than usual. Fingers crossed!

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…

Breakfast:

My breakfasts were quite minimal, as I just wasn’t feeling it. I had hearty porridge oats with apple and blackcurrant jam once, but other than that, a handful of nuts or some fruit (melon, apple) sufficed:

Week 58 Breakfasts: Left to right: Canatloupe melon. Porridge oats with apple and blackcurrant jam. Apples

Lunch:

I hadn’t realised until looking back at my diary that I’d opted for pasta with sweetcorn and onion four times this week – I didn’t have much energy for food preparation – hence why I’m back on the antihistamines, as not taking them seemed counter-productive to my nutrition status. I managed to cobble together salad on three days, but supplies were limited before our next online delivery. I was pleased with my cornmeal-based frittatas, one with red pepper, the other with cabbage. But I risked using a red pepper past it’s best and I suspect that set off a nasty bout of rhinitis Monday evening:

Week 58 Lunches: Left to right: Red pepper cornmeal frittata with salad. Brown rice pasta with sweetcorn and spring onion. Cabbage cornmeal frittata with salad.

Dinner:

I utilised some of my batch prepared meals from the freezer for several dinners. I tweaked my brown rice with purple carrot and cabbage (ingredients) by stirring in some not tomato sauce (ingredients) – this worked very well. I loved the vegetable paella I’d made previously (ingredients) – I added some polenta bites (ingredients, plus onion) as the portion was a little small for my liking. I also had pumpkin and potato coconut curry from the freezer with some rice (ingredients). Mum cooked up some red cabbage, sweet potato wedges and Jerusalem artichokes, which was a surprisingly satisfying meal. And I assisted Mum with making a delicious squash soup (ingredients) earlier in the week. But my highlight has to be the amazingly tasty cauliflower bites and potato roasties I made, incorporating cornmeal for crunchiness and various flavours (ingredients) – this took some time to cook, but I’ll definitely be making it again – Oh, I should mention they were accompanied by steamed broccoli:

Week 58 Dinners Log Table
Week 58 Dinners: Clockwise: Brown rice with purple carrot and cabbage with not tomato sauce. Vegetable paella with polenta bites. Red cabbage, sweet potato and Jerusalem artichokes. Cauliflower bites, potato roasties and broccoli

Snacks:

There wasn’t much in the way of snacking really. Mostly I snacked on popcorn – I proportion it into a small bowl to avoid over-eating, because it’s just so more-ish. Other times I had an apple, rice cakes with jam, or a handful of nuts:

Week 58 Snacks Log Table

Drinks:

As I mentioned last week, I’m totally in love with my replacement coffee – the wonderful Chicory Cup – I drink two to three cups of this stuff each day. Thankfully, it’s naturally caffeine free, so I’m not bouncing off the walls. I was having half a teaspoon of sugar in each cup, but I’m now down to a quarter teaspoon instead. Surprisingly, I didn’t drink any rooibos tea this week. I’m also loving Rocks apple concentrate, which I sometimes have with my lunch. And Biona cranberry juice is another pleasant daytime cold drink. I should mention that I also drink plenty of water throughout the day and evening:

Week 58 Drinks Log Table

Exercise

I’m really pleased with myself for going walking nearly every day – I just missed Wednesday. Mostly I went out with Mum and once Dad joined me. My walking totalled 310 minutes (over 5 hours), which I’m happy with, even more so because it’s a decent increase compared to last week’s physical activity. I want to get myself back to some exercise biking soon. Although, I’m feeling a little wary at the moment, because Dr Peers advised exercise can trigger mast cells to release histamine[1] and I’m trying to calm down those guys:

Week 58 Exercise: Left: Autumnal view from atop a hill. Lone flower seen on a walk.

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

Well, there was no change in weight and my body fat percentage increased slightly, but I’m not particularly concerned at this stage. I’ll wait and see what next week brings before deciding whether I need to make any tweaks:

Week 58 Results: Weight, BMI and Body Fat

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

There were plenty of smiles this week. I especially like sharing the little occurrences, as I think it’s important to recognise and appreciate these more…

I Ate a Prince:

I’m loving the names given to squash. This week I had a ‘Crown Prince’ squash, which Mum and I made into a very simple but delicious soup (ingredients here):

Crown Prince Squash. Images: Top: Abel and Cole. Bottom right: Martin Ludlam, Pixabay. Bottom left: Mine

I’m in the Club:

I enjoy reading and critiquing scientific research papers, so I was really pleased when MyNutriWeb introduced a journal club. We critiqued a cross-sectional research paper investigating energy content of restaurant meals. I’m such a nerd, but a proud nerd!:

MyNuriWeb Journal Club. Images: MyNutriWeb

Natural Beauty:

Mum and I spotted these berries and flower whilst out walking one day. They looked extra beautiful, because everything else around them looked quite barren:

Pretty berries and flower spotted on a walk

Slow – Hedgehogs:

We saw this cute sign outside someone’s home during one of our walks. I love that they’d put up a sign. And a bowl of water for passing creature visitors. Also, the little red flowers by the sign were a lovely sight too at this time of year:

Slow down for the hedgehogs!

Potato Love:

My sister made me smile when she sent me a meme of a kitten cuddling up to some mashed potatoes. She’s right – I love potatoes, I think I always have. I seem to be developing a similar relationship to cornmeal, onions, turmeric and sweet paprika:

Top: Meme my sister sent me. Bottom: My potato roasties – yum!

The Failed Country Park Walk:

Mum suggested we jump in the car and visit a local country park for a walk. But us being us, this didn’t go quite to plan. First, we thought it would be a good idea to stop at a park to cut through on foot, but then realised the grounds were very muddy. So, we aborted that idea and drove to the back of the country park (diverting to check out the house I first remember living in), but we couldn’t find anywhere to park. So, we drove to the usual car park, but we got confused by the new not-ticket system and I needed to wee by this point, so we just drove home and went for a shorter than intended walk close to home, while giggling about our fail:

Driving around – this was a day (back in the Summer) when we knew what we were doing

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 59
<<<Week 57
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References

1. Dr Tina Peers, 2020. Histamine Intolerance factsheet.
2. Dr Tania Dempsey, 2020. Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS).
3. RUN-DMC, 2020. Here’s How You Treat Long Covid – Lessons From MCAS – Dr Tina Peers.

More from What’s on Watson’s Plate

Health Diary Week 57: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

I Totally Caved!

Me on Messenger – this isn’t how I usually look – honest! I hope this pic made you smile

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<<<Week 56

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

What’s New

Here in England, we’re still in lockdown – I know, it’s not actually new, but worth mentioning – the only time I left my home was to go for a walk.

Histamine Error:

At the end of Week 56, I took a risk and ate some bread containing sunflower seeds – this turned out to be a very, very bad idea! And I enjoyed the bread so much, that I ate another two slices for breakfast on Monday. The result – severe rhinitis on Tuesday and Wednesday rendering me incapable of functioning – so, I caved and took antihistamine and steroid nasal spray – I was a bit gutted, as I’d achieved 24 days without them. In hindsight, I should have checked the histamine food list[1], as it showed significant symptoms at usual quantity – whoops! Thankfully, I felt okay the remainder of the week. As of last Sunday, I’m back up to four days without use. Also, I’ve changed my environment slightly, by moving into the guest room and swapping my duvet for a different one – I’ve also got a hypoallergenic bamboo duvet and pillow coming my way for Christmas – so excited about this!

The Potential Culprit: Seedful gluten, dairy and yeast free (tasty) bread

Hypermobility Incident:

The other unfortunate occurrence was a repeat hypermobility[2] incident on my right shoulder – it part popped out of joint (subluxation) when I stretched my arms while still half asleep. Thankfully, it quickly realigned itself, but now it’s incredibly sore and achy again, disrupting my sleep.

Food Experiments:

It’s not all doom and gloom – on a happier note, I’ve enjoyed experimenting with food preparation for my low histamine diet – I enjoy challenging myself. And of course, you’ll see more examples of what made me smile later in this post.

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:

Monday started with that fateful seeded bread, so I won’t be doing that again. I only had porridge oats once, with apple and my other usual toppings. On Thursday I felt brave enough to try another food challenge – this time was a safer choice of mango, as occasional small quantities were found to be usually well tolerated[1] – and indeed it seemed to be. I had a honeydew melon over two days for a change – it tasted delightful. I skipped breakfast on Sunday, just because I didn’t fancy any:

Week 57 Breakfasts. Left-to-right: Mango Challenge. Porridge Oats with Apple. Honeydew Melon

Lunch:

I had my new typical salad over five days, with beetroot when available and either steamed potatoes, or my new love, polenta bites. When I felt rough on Tuesday I opted for some Mexican chia and flax crackers and salted popcorn. Likewise, on Wednesday I chose a simple pasta flavoured with turmeric and sweet paprika, accompanied by crackers:

Week 57 Lunches: My New Typical Salad with Steamed Potatoes or Polenta Bites

Dinner:

On Monday I ate half a sweet potato from the freezer with fresh asparagus and broccoli and my first trial of making polenta. Tuesday was a simple dish of rice with turmeric and sweet paprika, as I didn’t have the energy to do much. I was feeling a lot better by Wednesday evening, so I made a butternut squash risotto. I cooked a batch of brown rice with cabbage and purple carrot the following day. At the weekend I decided to experiment and finally prepare a ‘not tomato sauce’[3] and some cauliflower bites – both were soooo good. My Mum kindly made me a baked potato with courgette, turmeric and sweet paprika – love this! On Sunday I decided to attempt a red pepper frittata with cornmeal instead of chickpea flour (it worked well) and accompanied this with potato roasties and ‘not tomato sauce’:

Week 57 Dinners Log Table
Week 57 Dinners: Clockwise: Sweet Potato with Broccoli, Asparagus and Polenta. Butternut Squash Risotto. Cornmeal Pepper Frittata with Potato Roasties. Rice with Cabbage and Purple Carrot

Snacks:

Snacks were my usual popcorn and nuts (macadamia and Brazil, sadly I’d run out of pistachios). Also, I had a few butternut squash seeds from my risotto and I wanted to see how they tasted roasted – they were good.

Week 57 Snacks Log Table

Drinks:

My teas included rooibos, apple and cinnamon and chamomile. Juices were cranberry and apple and cranberry concentrate. My most exciting drink has to be the chicory coffee replacement – game changer! – I don’t feel quite so deprived. I’ve decided I’m probably okay with small amounts of  gluten free oat milk in my rooibos and chicory drinks:

Week 57 Drinks Log Table

Exercise

My exercise was solely walking – that will do me for now. I completed four walks, totalling 218 minutes (over three and a half hours), a little less than last week, but that’s okay:

Week 57 Exercise: Left-to-right: Blossom in November? My Active 10 walks. Tree tops

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

Excitingly, I lost 1.8 lb (0.8 kg), finally taking me under the 160 lb mark (yippee!), weighing in at 159.6 lb (72.4 kg). A lovely surprise – although it shouldn’t be, because I’m preparing meals from scratch, much like I did when I first went completely plant-based (now vegan) and lost loads of weight. The only difference here is my higher fat intake, albeit mostly unsaturated fats. Admittedly my body fat went up slightly, but my three measurements (to obtain mean average) ranged between 37.8% and 39.4% fat, so I’m not confident about the reading:

Week 57 Results: Weight, BMI and Body Fat

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

Okay, this week may be a bit top-heavy on food making me smile, but hey, that’s not so bad given my current diet restrictions…

Zoom Time:

I’ll start with something not food based – my lovely Zoom meet up on Tuesday with Magda and Emelie, friends from university. I felt bad that I was sniffling and sneezing throughout the meet – not nice for them, but it was so good to catch up and hear some exciting news that brightened my day:

Images: Alexandra_Koch and Annalise Batista, Pixabay

Corny Love:

I can’t believe I haven’t cooked with cornmeal before – I’m loving it! I started with pre-prepared polenta grains – too grainy, but I could see the potential. I’d recommend making polenta from the finer cornmeal and adding flavours. My go-to is spring onion, chia and flax seeds, rapeseed oil, turmeric, sweet paprika and salt. I bet it would taste great with garlic and chilli too. Also I successfully made a frittata with a cornmeal base. And my tasty cauliflower bites were coated in a cornmeal and spice mix – I’m totally having that again too:

Cornmeal: Clockwise: Polenta block. Polenta bites with salad. Cauliflower bites. Frittata

Not Tomato Sauce:

It took me a while to find the motivation to try the British Dietetics Association alternative tomato sauce[3], but it was so worth it. I now have a decent batch of sauce in the freezer. Admittedly it has quite an earthy taste with carrots and beetroot being the main ingredients, but I quite like that. I’ve used it as a hot stir-in or cold ketchup-like sauce:

Not tomato sauce: Clockwise: My beetroot hand. The sauce batch ready for the freezer. Cauliflower bites topped with sauce. Pasta topped generously with sauce

Pretend Coffee:

Wow, I’m so incredibly happy that I found this Chicory Cup replacement coffee, so I had to give it a spot here. It says to add two teaspoons, but I found that one was enough for me. As soon as I tried it, I ordered more. This has made me feel less jealous of Mum and Dad’s cafetiere when we have our late morning coffee break:

My Coffee Replacement: Chicory Cup

Nutrition e-Symposium:

On Wednesday I attended an afternoon e-Symposium presented by Alpro Foundation via MyNutriWeb discussing the benefits of a plant-based diet for cardiometabolic health (e.g. heart disease and type 2 diabetes). A healthy vegan (wholly plant-based) diet came out top for weight loss, health gains and lowest environmental impact, although just increasing plant foods had a beneficial effect:

Alpro Foundation e-Symposium (Images: MyNutriWeb)

Messenger Video Silliness:

Tina arranged for us to have a Messenger video chat – it was great to have a catch up. I’d never used the Messenger chat room before, so I was keen to give it a try. Little did I know about the hilarious features – after Tina’s demonstration I had to try them all out. As it was, we settled for chatting to each other wearing glasses (top row of the pictures):

Messenger Video Silliness

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 58
<<<Week 56
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References

1. Swiss Interest Group Histamine Intolerance (SIGHI), 2016. Food Compatibility List.
2. Hypermobility Syndromes Association, 2017. What are hypermobility syndromes?
3. British Dietetic Association Food Allergy Specialist Group, 2018. Sensitivity to Histamine and other Vasoactive Amines.

More from What’s on Watson’s Plate

Health Diary Week 56: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

The Investigations Continue: Week 4 Histamine Elimination

Image: GraphicMama-team, Pixabay

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Hi, welcome to my weekly instalment (albeit a day later than usual) of what’s on my plate, health and nutrition updates and smile-provoking experiences.

What’s New

Not much has happened here, as England is now in its second week of the latest lockdown. I’m pleased I got outside for a few walks, mostly with Mum. The fresh air seems to clear my morning sniffles, so I think there’s something(s) in the house I’m reacting to, as well as the food intolerances. As of Sunday, I’ve resisted taking antihistamines or steroid spray for 23 days, but I’ve been ridiculously tired, having to give in to sleeping for a couple of hours each afternoon because I can’t keep my eyes open – that’s not normal! When it’s safer to do so, I’m going to ask my GP (again) if I can have testing to figure out what’s wrong with me – last time they didn’t explore it at all and just told me I had to accept having to take a prescribed steroid spray indefinitely – I can’t accept that option without any real investigation, so in the meantime, it’s a mystery I’m continuing to work on.

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…

Breakfast:

Breakfasts were porridge oats with fruit, seeds, sweet cinnamon and maple syrup (three times), rice cakes with jam (twice), apples and nuts. This has pretty much become standard for me and I’m happy enough with these choices for now:

Week 56 Breakfasts: Left: Porridge with apple and blackberry jam. Middle Rice cakes with blueberry and apricot jams and a nectarine. Right: porridge with blueberries

Lunch:

I’m so pleased I’ve continued to eat mainly salad lunches, albeit minus my favourites: tomato and avocado, although surprisingly I haven’t missed them as much as I’d expected. But I had a dream Mum gave me a plate of sliced tomatoes and she wasn’t happy when I said I couldn’t eat them – so maybe subconsciously I’m missing them? I’ve compensated for not having falafel or hash browns with either extra steamed potatoes, brown rice pasta or quinoa. Also, Mum made a yummy carrot and coriander soup, which I ate on two days. I risked having some bread with my soup on Sunday – it contained sunflower seeds (potentially causing significant histamine symptoms), so this might have been a mistake – we’ll see:

Week 56 Lunches: My New Typical Salad: Left: with pasta, asparagus and beetroot. Middle: with quinoa. Right: with pasta

Dinner:

I struggled with motivation to prepare food from scratch, so the frozen meals from previous weeks’ batch cooking came in handy: butternut squash risotto, pumpkin, potato and coconut curry(ish) and pumpkin with spaghetti (Week 55). However, I did make a very tasty vegetable paella on Monday and ate more again on Saturday. Mum made me a delicious vegetable spaghetti too – unfortunately I didn’t have any leftover to freeze. I also had my new favourite baked potato combo with spring onion, courgette and turmeric:

Week 56 Dinners: Left: Vegetable spaghetti. Right: Paella with sweet potato wedges

Snacks:

I think I’m getting addicted to popcorn – I’m loving the stuff! I was so pleased to find Sainsbury’s popcorn had minimal ingredients and used rapeseed oil instead of sunflower, because sunflower oil may cause issue on a low histamine diet. My only concern is the popcorn is high fat, but at least saturated (unhealthy) fat content is considered okay. My other go-to continues to be Brazil and pistachio nuts:

Week 56 Snacks: Left: Sweet and salty popcorn. Middle: Brazil and pistachio nuts. Right: Salty popcorn

Drinks

I tried hemp milk in my rooibos tea as I’m unsure if oat milk is a problem, but I wasn’t keen on the hemp milk. I’m starting to get used to chamomile and peppermint teas, but definitely prefer apple and cinnamon tea. Surprisingly, I haven’t missed alcohol much. But I am missing fruit juice, so I was thankful to find a cranberry and apple juice that’s hopefully going to be okay:

Week 56 Drinks

Exercise

I’m still struggling with fatigue, so I was pleased with myself for getting out for a walk on five days, totalling 265 minutes (4.4 hours), of which 174 minutes (nearly three hours) was recorded as brisk by my free Active 10 app:

Week 56 Exercise: Left: Blooming roses in November? Right: Mum inspecting a silver tree

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

I was a little surprised that my weight and body fat pretty much stayed the same, as I was expecting it to drop a little, especially with the increased physical activity. I’m thankful though that it didn’t increase, although I’ll have to wait a bit longer for my 14 lb milestone reward:

Week 56 Results: Weight, BMI and Body Fat

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

It’s been a quiet week; despite this, there are always happenings that make me smile…

Gaining Knowledge:

I’ll start with the learning, because I do love learning ever so much. This week’s MyNutriWeb free continuing professional development was ‘Reversing Type 2 Diabetes’. This lecture focused on the DIRECT trial, which concentrated on weight loss. The plan included a three-month phase of complete diet replacement formula providing just 850 calories per day. They found a weight loss of at least 15 kg (33 lb) had the best rates for remission two years after the intervention. I was surprised to learn the study participants found the food reintroduction phase the most challenging part: 

Bath Time:

I was excited to see that the same ducks came back to our pond this week. We sat watching them for ages. They spent most of their time bathing (video here). There was tension for a few minutes when the two males had a bit of a barny, but thankfully they soon got over whatever the issue was:

Ducks’ Bath Day in our next-door pond

Suncatchers and Raindrops:

My Aunty made me these gorgeous purple, blue and green coloured suncatchers for my birthday earlier this year (Week 44). I was impressed by how beautiful they still looked despite the lack of sunlight and the grey rainy day. They make me smile regularly:

Suncatchers and Raindrops

Introducing Mr Blackbird:

Mummy Bird (a blackbird) was unimpressed when Mr Blackbird started visiting us at the bird feeder – we know she wasn’t happy because she was shouting at him as she chased him away. Mr Blackbird has been back since though and he seems keen to become friends. I hope Mummy Bird lets him:

Introducing Mr Blackbird: Potentially a New Bird Friend

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 57
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More from What’s on Watson’s Plate:

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

Embracing Creativity: Week 3 Histamine Elimination

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<<<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