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

Let’s Concentrate on the Smiles

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

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

Histamine overload

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

Food creation: Potato bowl

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

My potato bowl creation – so tasty!

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

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

Street party?:

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

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

Friends in real life:

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

My somewhat dazed, slightly sunkissed (or pink) face

Pretty flowers:

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

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

“Not Molly’s” disapproval:

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

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

 Boojagrams:

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

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

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

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

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Health Diary Week 73: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

A New Style

Me 60’s style, NYE (2007)

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

Job updates

I was unsuccessful for last week’s job interview for admin support in training and education at a local hospice. The feedback was helpful – I was told it was a positive interview and I was very likeable (of course) and highly organised. Where I fell short was needing to give more specific examples of my admin experience – another lesson learnt and stored in my brain for next time. All these job applications and interviews feel a bit like Groundhog Day – I have to keep learning what I did wrong and try to correct it, so that I can move on.

In the meantime, I’m really looking forward to starting my temp admin job when all my checks and mandatory training are completed. I thought I’d completed all my initial training, but then I was emailed with more modules due to training changes for vaccination hub staff.

I felt pretty rough this week (more on this below), so I’d decided to rest up over the weekend. Sadly, this was not to be. One of my friends emailed me a Graduate Management Trainee job on Friday, and said I just had to apply – I agreed. Frustratingly, I realised the closing date was Sunday afternoon (noooo!) – And so there dissolved my planned weekend lazing in bed watching the Six Nations Rugby.

Antihistamine fail and swollen lip

I gave my prescribed antihistamine (Fexofenadine Hydrochloride) another try, despite identifying an ingredient, Allura Red (E129), as incompatible for people with histamine intolerance (Swiss Interest Group[1]). As before, on the third day, I experienced terrible rhinitis, brain fog and fatigue. As a result, I mostly spent Monday and Tuesday in bed feeling rough. I’ll report back to my Doctor and request other options.

I returned to my usual Cetirizine Hydrochloride antihistamine on Tuesday and took a corticosteroid nasal spray (Beclometasone Dipropionate) for a few days to help control my flare up. But then on Wednesday, my bottom lip became sore and swollen for about 24 hours. I don’t know why this swelling happened – it hasn’t happened before. Was it the Fexofenadine? Was it my grapefruit and orange bath gel? I’m unsure, but hopefully it won’t happen again.

Food challenge: Red lentils

My rhinitis was much improved by Thursday. So on Saturday, I decided to try red lentils again, as I was okay last time I ate them (Week 65). Conveniently, I had some dhal and brown rice in the freezer that Mum had previously made. I had a bit of gut discomfort afterwards, but that could just have been because I ate loads of rice – there didn’t appear to be any other adverse reaction – phew:

Red lentil dhal and brown rice – there is rice hidden under the dhal (picture from Week 65, the first time I’d re-introduced lentils)

Food creation: Risotto cakes

I love risotto, but it’s just not the same when reheated from frozen – the result – a stodgier consistency, although still tasty. And then I found a solution – inspired by cookingstefano who shared their risotto omelette creation on Instagram. I figured I could do something similar (without eggs) with my butternut squash risotto leftovers from Week 72. All I did was add some extra flax and chia seeds to my defrosted risotto and formed the risotto into cakes using a ramekin.  I pan fried them in a little rapeseed oil and finished them off baked in the oven – they had a lovely outside crispy crunch. Of course I’m already devising plans on how to improve them next time:

Risotto cakes. Clockwise: cookingstefano risotto omelettes. My risotto cakes from Week 72’s leftover risotto. Stodgy re-heated risotto from freezer (Week 53). My beautiful butternut squash risotto (Week 72)

Freezer food saviours

The freezer has been my saviour since following a low histamine diet. It can be hard cooking from scratch when you’re busy or just plain tired. So, I was relieved to be able to heat up the frozen leftovers from my birthday dinner and enjoy them one night. Another day, I had a half jacket potato filled with courgette, sweetcorn and seeds, which I re-heated and served with some salad – so satisfying. Then there’s batch cooking cornmeal and quinoa flour bites I have with salad lunches – yum. And I’m always grateful for those days I don’t mind chopping loads of veg and then freeze portions to keep it fresh and ready for when I’m cooking up a meal:

Freezer food saviours. Clockwise: Cauliflower ‘cheese’. Jacket potato with salad. Chopped veg. Cornmeal and quinoa flour bites

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

It was a quiet week, but of course there were some smile-provoking occasions…

It was warm enough to get my legs out:

It was a gorgeously sunny morning on Monday and thankfully the full effects of the rhinitis hadn’t quite set in yet. We had cuppas on the driveway, watching the birds come and go. I even went back inside to put on cropped yoga pants to let part of my legs and feet catch some rays. We saw Ratty, a rather cute looking water rat, swim across the pond. We’re hoping Ratty hasn’t got any family and friends close by:

Me sat in the sunshine, sunning my lower legs and feet

Being checked up on:

It was so lovely that a fellow Admin on one of the Facebook groups, contacted me a couple of times during the week to check how I was doing. Dawn gently suggested I should probably try to find some time to rest and recover from my flare up – she was right. This reminded me I should check in on a few people too, as it can make an important difference to someone:

A relaxing scene. Sunset from the Brecon Beacons, Wales (2012)

My Mum:

My Mum is the best, just saying. It was Mothers’ Day this Sunday, so of course I treated her to a couple of treats: jewellery – silver bee earrings, from Oranges and Lemons (Etsy), and Booja Booja fine de Champagne chocolate truffles. I also made Mum scrambled tofu, but on Monday, because we both forgot I was going to make it for her on Sunday – whoops. I’ll try to be a better daughter for next year’s Mothering Sunday:

Mum, Emma and I (I’m the baby that kind of looks like E.T.)

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

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Reference

Swiss Interest Group Histamine Intolerance (SIGHI), 2016. Food Compatibility List.

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Health Diary Week 67: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Love, Learn, Create

Mum’s painted portrait of me

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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

Monday through to Thursday was a particularly busy time, with deadlines to meet – it kind of reminded me of juggling university with work. The rest of the week was more relaxed, meaning I could carry out tasks at my leisure.

Job application:

I applied for another NHS job – Occupational Health Administrator. Although I can apply for some advice/practitioner roles, I actually enjoy admin work too. I try to get this across in my supporting statement as I don’t seem to get interviews for admin roles even though I’m well qualified to do them – Business Administration degree and years of experience. My friends reckon my problem is being over-qualified, so it’s assumed I’d move on quickly – in truth, I’m happy to stick around in a job I’m enjoying – I just want to help others and interact with people.

Facebook Admin:

Talking of enjoying admin… I’m loving being an admin on the Facebook long-haul covid food group – it was an honour to be asked. Dawn (who set up the page) and I are working on refreshing the site (banner, About, etc) and trying to come up with ways to encourage our members to be more proactive in sharing ideas and sources of information. 

Covid update:

Talking of Covid… According to my local newspaper, where I live is currently a Covid hotspot (I was surprised). UK deaths have continued to be high (1,725 on Wednesday – 2nd highest so far) and we’ve got some more easily spreading variants. But on the upside, UK cases are falling and vaccine roll-out appears to be going well.

Building my Knowledge:

I love a bit of personal development. This week I attended three online events to widen my knowledge – MyNutriWeb journal club and webinar and The Royal Society discussion led by Professor Brian Cox about the Covid vaccines (particularly excellent). More on this later. 

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:

Breakfast included cornflakes (three times), porridge oats with apple, chia and flax crackers, oat biscuits and Brazil nuts. I’m going to aim to eat porridge at least once a week, as it’s a good source of fibre. I also want to eat more morning fruit:

Week 67 Breakfasts: Left: Porridge oats with apple, chia seeds, sweet cinnamon and golden syrup. Right: Sainsbury’s gluten free cornflakes

Lunch:

I had some form of salad every day, accompanied by ‘omelette’ (cornmeal and quinoa flour based), ‘cheese’ and crackers, or in a pitta (pitta ingredients here). I think I indulged in the coconut based ‘cheese’ too much – it’s very high in saturated fat, so I need to keep an eye on this. Also, I need to address my portion sizes (difficult during Winter when I feel constantly hungry) – I keep going back for seconds of ‘omelette’ and potatoes:

Week 67 Lunches. Left: Coconut-based ‘cheese’ and crackers with salad. Right: Salad-filled pitta

Dinner:

I really didn’t feel like cooking from scratch this week, so I opted for easy options – jacket potatoes with veg and seeds (twice, example here), fusilli pasta with veg and seeds (twice) and vegetable paella from the freezer (details here). One evening I just had a salad filled pitta, followed by roasted Jerusalem artichokes. Another night, Mum cooked up roast potatoes, sweet potato, Jerusalem artichokes, steamed cauliflower and carrots:

Week 67 Dinners. Left: Filled baked potato (courgette, baby red pepper and sweetcorn). Right: Vegetable paella and beetroot

Snacks:

Snacks included my go-to Brazil and pistachio nuts, sweet and salty popcorn, and chia and flax crackers. Also, I had a pitta pocket with yeast extract (histamine risky), oat biscuits and a few oven fries. I only ate chocolate once – a few goji berries, coated in raw chocolate (also risky):   

Week 67 Snacks

Drinks:

On top of water, there were lots of my usual chicory drinks this week. I drank a carton of cranberry and apple juice over three days (high sugar). I also indulged in two vodkas (white rice-based) with ginger beer, which I think was the main cause of my rhinitis flareup a couple of days later:

Week 67 Drinks

Exercise

The truth is, I didn’t really exercise. At the beginning of the week I managed a 27-minute walk, but only 10 minutes were recorded as brisk. I was just really tired and completely lacked any motivation. At least it won’t be hard to improve on this next week – and I intend to.

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

Unsurprisingly, I gained some weight (1.4 lb/0.6 kg) and body fat (1%). I expected the gain, because of my lack of walking, which really does seem to make a difference to my results. But also, as I mentioned earlier, my portion sizes have grown recently to match my increased appetite:

Week 67 Results: Weight, BMI and Body Fat

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

Okay, let’s see what made me smile this week – the love, learn and create edition…

Lettuce Love:

As you’ve probably guessed, I love a salad, even during the Winter months. I was super impressed by this massive lettuce head received in our Abel and Cole salad box:

Lettuce Love: Clockwise: Big lettuce head. Salad with ‘omelette (cornmeal and quinoa based). Big Lettuce head (again). Salad with ‘omelette and asparagus

Heart to Heart:

This week’s MyNutriWeb webinar was “All Things Diet and Heart Health” by expert speaker Dr Wendy Hall from Kings College London. The takeaway message was the importance of making overall dietary changes, rather than focussing on specific nutrients. The evidence suggested heart health was improved through eating more fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and unsaturated fats, and by reducing saturated fat and salt intake – no surprise there really but worth reiterating:

MyNutriWeb Webinar: All Things Diet and Heart Health

Journal Club – Mobile Apps and Health:

I attended the fourth MyNutriWeb Journal Club: “Can a mobile app improve nutrition for women before and during pregnancy?” (journal article here), led by Dr Sarah Hillier from Southampton Solent University. The “Smarter Pregnancy” app was developed in the Netherlands by the Erasmus Medical Team. The app focused on vegetable and fruit intake and folic acid supplementation. We critically analysed the randomised controlled trial, including conflicts of interest and limitations. The results of the trial were promising, with diet improved in those who used the app, compared to mothers who didn’t use it:

MyNutriWeb Journal Club: Nutrition before and during Pregnancy

Professor Brian Cox:

I’m a fan of Professor Brian Cox, Professor of Particle Physics, University of Manchester. I’ve seen him lecture in person, and a brilliant lecture it was too. He’s also The Royal Society Professor for Public Engagement in Science, so I was excited to see he was hosting The Royal Society’s live online discussion with relevant scientific experts: “The Race for a Vaccine”. The discussion included the covid vaccines currently in circulation, how they were developed so quickly, how we know they’re safe and what this means for the future. It was so interesting and informative – I highly recommend watching it (access here):

The Royal Society: The Race for a Vaccine, hosted by Professor Brian Cox

My Painted Portrait with Turtles (of course):

Mum completed my painted portrait and I love it! Mum’s style is to add something personal to the background, so I requested turtles, because I’ve loved them ever since I was a kid when I first spotted them swimming wild in the Caribbean Sea. It was so much fun watching the portrait develop and having input into the final outcome:

Mum’s progress on my portrait: Turtle theme. Can you spot the hidden creature in the last picture?

Spot the Secret:

I love it when artists add a little hidden something into their artwork to further personalise the piece. I first encouraged Mum to do this when she painted a scene for my Aunt and Uncle’s 50th wedding anniversary last year – she included their star sign constellations linked by a bright star. So naturally, I asked Mum to do something for mine and we agreed upon a little hidden creature, just because that’s what appealed to me and seemed appropriate. Can you spot it above?:

The Secret Message: Linked star sign constellations. Painted by my Mum for my Aunt and Uncle’s wedding anniversary

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 66: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Busy Bee

Busy bee on the driveway, 2020

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

What’s New

It’s felt like a busy week. Has it been for real? Let’s see…

Job Application:

Firstly, apologies for the delayed post – a job I was applying for suddenly had the deadline brought forward from next Sunday to last night, so I had to drop everything and concentrate on that. I’ll tell you more about it next week.

Moving House (well, sort of):

Between my household, we’re doing a bit of house sitting of what was a rental property but is now waiting to be sold. We moved in some basic furniture and essentials and I’m planning to spend a few nights there each week. Packing and moving stuff kind of wiped me out – I felt like I’d completed a personal training session and the body aches the next day matched that feeling.

Facebook Group Admin:

As well as running my own Facebook page, I’ve also recently become an Admin on a covid long hauler food group, whose aim is to work together to pool resources. I had a video chat with Dawn, who set up the group, to discuss how we could encourage more members to contribute and I took away some tasks to work on.

Continuing Professional Development:

MyNutriWeb recommenced their free webinars and journal club. This week I attended How to be Vegan Savvy: A Practical Guide. I intend to write an Instagram/Facebook post about it soon, as there was some great information about building ‘Nutrition Bridges’, something I’m proud to report I’d already been doing.

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’m loving a salad filled pitta for breakfast – it just feels refreshing. But I need to limit pitta consumption, because of its risky histamine ingredients, so I only had this twice and a pitta with yeast extract once (yeast is also risky, though usually tolerated in small amounts). I’m back on the cereal and had cornflakes with oat milk a couple of times. I had porridge oats once, with seeds, maple syrup and cinnamon. Another morning, I just ate some chia and flax seed crackers. I need more fruit in my life:

Week 66 Breakfasts. Left to right: Salad pitta. Cornflakes. Salad pitta

Lunch:

I had a version of my usual salad for lunch four times, once in a pitta and another time with a cornmeal and quinoa-based frittata (details here). Thank goodness for the freezer – twice I had previously batch cooked soup – cauliflower (my favourite) and butternut squash. I opted for my simple but satisfying pasta once (details here):

Week 66 Lunches. Left to right: Salad. Salad pitta. Frittata and salad

Dinner:

I had my trusty pasta for dinner three times, because it’s so easy when you’re strapped for time – I added courgette (zucchini) and red pepper and once I stirred in ‘not tomato sauce’ (from the freezer) for a bit of variety. On Monday, I experimented with coated cauliflower, using a plain flour instead of cornmeal, but it didn’t work as well as I’d hoped, although still tasted good, because I like cauliflower. I accompanied it with Mum’s homemade chips (fries), so that made up for my slight disappointment. My favourite meal was probably the veg and seed loaded jacked potato – such comfort food (details here). At the end of the week I made a vegetable paella. And, on Sunday, I experimented with a green sauce (more on that later) and topped my paella with it for a change from the night before:

Week 66 Dinners. Clockwise: Vegetable and seed pasta. Cauliflower bites and chips/fries. Vegetable and seed baked potato. Vegetable paella with green sauce. Vegetable pasta with not tomato sauce. Vegetable paella

Snacks:

I ate a small amount of chocolate most days – I seem to tolerate Booja Booja chocolate truffles, probably because they’re predominantly coconut fat (which is very high in saturates, so I need to keep my intake low). Raw chocolate coated goji berries seem okay too, so I’ll try to get some more of these. But it all went wrong when I ate a chocolate lolly (from Christmas), which I think triggered a pretty bad rhinitis histamine issue, so I definitely need to be careful about my chocolate choices. Other snacks were chia and flaxseed crackers, popcorn, Brazil nuts and crisps/chips-like products:

Week 66 Snacks

Drinks:

Typically, I drank a few mugs of chicory drink each day and I had rooibos (redbush) tea once. On Friday, whilst socialising with friends, I indulged in three vodkas (white rice based) with cranberry and apple juice – thankfully no ill effects experienced:

Week 66 Drinks

Exercise

At the beginning of the week the UK was battered by Storm Christoph, with over 200 flood warnings. It wasn’t too bad here, but there was enough wind and rain to put me off walking – I didn’t want a tree branch to fall on my head! I got out for a walk on four days, of which 135 minutes were brisk (over two hours):

Week 66 Exercise

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

I lost both weight (1.2 lb/0.5 kg) and body fat (0.5%) this week – I’ll happily take that. I really want to get back down into the 150 lb bracket soon, but I know I should be prioritising reducing my body fat over the weight, so perhaps my aim should be to get down to 34% fat, as this is the top end of the acceptable range for my age (according to my scales booklet):

Week 66 Results: Weight, BMI and Body Fat

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

It’s a little bit sci-fi this week…

Food Experiment:

I decided it was about time I undertook another food experiment. I’d been inspired to try making a green sauce by someone on Instagram (I totally forgot to take a note of who it was, so sadly I can’t acknowledge them). My recipe is a mash-up of my cousin’s wife’s Mum’s (mouthful much!) green chutney and the mystery Instagram person’s green sauce. The base is coriander (cilantro) and macadamia nuts (ingredients here). I have to say it tasted great and is so versatile – use as a sauce, dip, spread or mix into coconut milk (occasional indulgence) for a mild curry-like sauce. I already have ideas on how I’m going to improve the recipe:

A portion of my green sauce

Let’s Talk:

I love that we now have widely accessible technology to see other people in real time when we talk to them. This week I met Dawn for the first time to discuss the Facebook group I’m assisting her with. We seemed to get on really well, which was a big bonus of course as we’re working together now. Also, I organised a Houseparty with my pub buddies who I haven’t seen as a group since before the Summer – so great to see this lot. And, I had my weekly catch up with Bevy and background Harry:

Online Meets. Image: mohamed Hassan, Pixabay

Threatened by a Dalek:

I was in the kitchen innocently preparing myself some food when a menacing voice repeatedly called ‘exterminate, exterminate!’ at me. I located the offender within a kitchen drawer. It seems the novelty dalek (Doctor Who) bottle opener’s contact had become nudged against some metal cutlery causing it to constantly shout at me:

Offending Doctor Who Dalek bottle opener

I found my pen:

You know how annoying it is when you can’t find your favourite pen (or something else) and all you can do is assume it’s been sucked into another dimension? Or is that just me? Anyway, I was pleased when the universe eventually returned my pen to me a week or so later, albeit in the depths of my weighted blanket cover:

My dimension hopping pen returned to present day in my weighted blanket cover

Twenty-One:

Realising that on Thursday at 9.21 pm it was the 21st minute, of the 21st hour, of the 21st day, of the 21st year, of the 21st century – like Wow!:

Twenty one: Image: Alejandro Garay, 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 59: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Christmas Vibes Arrived

One of Mum’ s Christmas Coconuts

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

What’s New

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

Covid-19 Vaccine:

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

The Plan:

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

Oh, Christmas Tree:

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

The Naughty List:

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

Food and Nutrition

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

Breakfast:

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

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

Lunch:

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

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

Dinner:

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

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

Snacks:

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

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

Drinks

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

Week 59 Drinks Log Table

Exercise

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

Week 59 Exercise. Blue sky and treetops

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

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

Week 59 Results: Weight, BMI and Body Fat

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

It’s smile time!…

Christmas Tree Decorating:

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

Decorated Christmas Tree. Cheeky Mince Pie and Port

Upcycling – Mum’s Christmas Coconuts:

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

Upcycling: Mums Christmas Coconuts

Spooky Moon:

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

Spooky Moon

Two Guys and a Gal:

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

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

Expanding Follows:

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

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

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

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Health Diary Week 52: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

One Year Review: Let’s Start at the Very Beginning…

Me on my 1st Birthday, 70’s style

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Hi, I can’t believe it’s already a year since I started on this health challenge! So, it’s time to review my year and also reflect on when my health concerns first began. And of course, I’ll also include some smile-provoking experiences – appreciating those little things in life became high priority in 2020, but I intend this to be part of my everyday life moving forward.

Overview

Part of me would have liked some big reveal of my health improvements, kind of like they do on TV weight loss series. But then I considered how not all health improvements are visible – it’s not all about weight. And people can lose weight in an unhealthy or non-sustainable way – I don’t want that – I want to age healthily and enjoy my life. I remind myself it took nearly five years to regain the weight I initially lost (more on that below), so how on earth could I expect to lose it all again in just a year? My aim was (and still is) to make sustainable lifestyle changes to gradually lose the excess weight impacting on my pain levels (hypermobility issues) and reduce risk of developing Type 2 diabetes[1] (a condition both sides of my family have contended with). So, my primary objective was (is) to restore my healthier lifestyle and move forward from there. This isn’t a race – I’m in this for life with the intention to live healthily (well, on the whole). That sounds sensible, right?

Now, the way things panned out haven’t been as expected – who would have known we’d have to massively adapt our lifestyles to survive a pandemic? Certainly not me. So, I’m proud of myself for not giving up, despite probably contracting the virus back in March and struggling with some lingering symptoms of insomnia and brain fog for months (more about this here) – thankfully, I think this is now mostly resolved.

Okay, so let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start… hang on, I sound like Maria from Sound of Music! Sorry, I digress…

History

So, what I should share (and did share in Week 0), was that this isn’t my first struggle with health and weight – it’s my second.

Late Night Socials:

I love socialising, alcohol was often a key component – I‘d go out most night’s in my late teens and 20’s and every weekend in my 30’s – I guess what I’m trying to say is I drank a lot of alcohol and snacked on less healthy convenience foods, sometimes equivalent to a meal, late at night. It caught up with me in my 30’s – I started becoming uncomfortable with my size at some point – it was a very gradual process. Also, I started experiencing food intolerances (gluten, dairy, sulphites) and worsened reactions to pollen and dust.

Left: Me aged 19 about to head to a house party. Right: Me aged 21 at College Summer Party (1990’s)

Weight Gain, Injury and Hypermobility:

I had no real health concerns until my early 30’s, when I started noticing a weight gain. So aged 32, I re-took up tennis and swimming – activities I’d loved as a kid. But then I decided to try jogging regularly and within a couple of months, I was experiencing excruciating pain in my feet – all exercise stopped. A couple of years later (at my heaviest weight), I was finally referred to a podiatrist who diagnosed plantar fasciitis, most likely caused by my rubbish running technique and hypermobile ankles offering little stability. The podiatrist identified several hypermobile joints[2] and explained high impact exercise was no longer an option for me – gutted.

Young flexible me flinging myself around fearlessly – there’s not much evidence of my bendiness as we didn’t take so many photos back in the 80’s

Turning things around:

Understanding my issues better, enabled me to work around them. So, I set up health challenges with various friends and Mum – I lost about 15 lbs (6.8 kg). Also, I re-took up swimming (less pressure on the joints) and completed my first 5 km swim challenge. Another important factor was transferring to part-time work, enabling more time to focus on my health behaviours.

After completing 5km Swimathon, 2012

Feeling healthier, increased my motivation to continue moving forward. I felt ready to start addressing the food intolerances – gluten was eliminated from my diet. I also gave up caffeine to improve my sleep – I had 10 days of horrible withdrawal symptoms. All was going well, until December when a cold progressed into a horrific sinus infection – the pain was unbelievable. I had a recurrence a few months later, spurring me on to eliminate dairy, followed soon after by becoming completely plant based (I was 37). I lost about 20 lbs (9.1 kg) during this time and felt at my healthiest since my 20’s. It took about four years to get to a place where I was happy with my weight – Wow! – I hadn’t fully grasped that until now, having looked at the below table:

My decade of changes: Weight and key events

Studying and Weight Gain – The Three S’s:

As you can imagine a lot of people questioned my plant-based diet, which was great, because this finalised my decision to study Nutrition – I had to take a long-winded route, studying Health Sciences with The Open University first (in hindsight I’m so glad I took this route) because I couldn’t jump into an accredited course[3] with no relevant science qualifications. The decision to study led to my assessment confirming Dyspraxia[4] (at 38) – finally I understood myself better.

However, five years of intensive studying took its toll and slowly the unhealthy habits crept back in and I regained the weight lost, along with regular flare-ups of food and environmental intolerances. I’ve asked myself what happened? Looking at the above table, I’d say the culprits were:

  1. Sitting for long periods of time (reduced NEAT – non-exercise activity thermogenesis[5])
  2. Stress from throwing myself into a degree level science with little prior knowledge, followed by completing a postgraduate degree in a year
  3. Sleep deprivation from long nights studying

(I’d love to hear what anyone else thinks based on my above table)

Late night studying. Image: Ambady Sasi, Pixabay

Now, don’t get me wrong, I do not regret having put those five years into studying, because not only am I more confident, I’m also proud of the skills developed and knowledge obtained.

My Progress

After graduating from my latest degree, I decided it was time to take some time out to focus on myself and gain back my healthier lifestyle (more on this in Week 0). And that’s how the idea to write this blog came about – I needed accountability.  

So, what’s happened after a whole year? Well, everything moved in the right direction. I lost 5.8 lb (2.6 kg) total – I get that this doesn’t sound like much, but it could easily have gone the other way given the challenges 2020 have presented – namely that virus – I was unwell for 68 days (long-haul COVID?) and continued to have sleep difficulties until mid-September (180 days – yep I tracked it). Add to that, my intensive physical activity levels plummeted with cancellation of circuit training and lack of fitness after illness. And then there’s the social isolation – not great for a comfort-eater. Am I making excuses? – Yea, I guess so, but they’re kind of warranted.

My weight increased by 1.8 lb (0.8 kg) from last week, because I indulged in foods I knew I had to cut out from Week 53 – at the end of the week I ate three pieces of chocolate cheesecake over two days! The most notable overall changes are that my right thigh lost 9 cm (don’t worry, both thighs reduced proportionately) and bust reduced by 7 cm. And I’m pleased I lost 5 cm from around my waist. My waist to hip ratio is still in the high-risk zone for type 2 diabetes and heart disease, but it has decreased at least. I view this past year as only the start – I’m still highly motivated to keep moving forward, so please continue to stick with me.

Week 0 versus Week 52 body changes: Weight, BMI, body fat, waist circumference (WC), hips, waist to hip (W:H) ratio and right thigh, calf and bicep

And, if we look at my body shape, it’s changed a little – my waist is more defined – I’m a little more toned looking. Oh, and my boots zip up – that was a concern at the beginning of this. One thing’s for sure, I feel better than this time last year, despite everything 2020 has thrown at us.

Left: Me at the beginning of November, 2019 (a couple of weeks into the health challenge). Right: Me now, 2020

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

Okay, I couldn’t leave without sharing some smile-provoking experiences:

Cuteness:

I saw Bevy and Harry’s son, Lawrie, briefly after his swim class. I hadn’t seen the little guy in real life since probably February. Lawrie looked very cute in his spiderman robe. And he was so good listening to his parents about maintaining physical distance. But when it was time to leave, he reached out his hand towards me and said, “Come on Katey, let’s go” – cuteness overload! I wanted to hold his hand but resisted. It was so lovely to see him though (oh and Bevy and Harry too of course):

Remember the days when we could hold hands? Image: Bruno Germany, Pixabay

Exercising my Brain:

Ah, more learning for this knowledge hungry lady. It was Breast Cancer Awareness week, so naturally the MyNutriWeb continuing professional development webinar was ‘Breast Cancer and Diet’. The four key recommendations were to limit alcohol (there is no safe limit), maintain a healthy weight, be physically active (follow the national guidelines) and breastfeed if you can if you have children. It was heartening to hear that UK survival rates have doubled over the past 40 years due to improved detection and treatment:

MyNutriWeb ‘Breast Cancer and Diet’ webinar and infographic

Freebie:

Who doesn’t love a freebie? In preparation for my low histamine diet, I‘d ordered some nutritional supplements from the Vegan Kind Supermarket. And kind they were, for they sent me an unexpected mallow puff chocolate bar with my order, which I promptly devoured, thank you very much Vegan Kind:

Mallow Puffs gifted by Vegan Kind Supermarket

Calamitous Katey:

Why is it that when I’m being particularly careful, I seem to have unfortunate incidents? Knowing that a comforting cup of cocoa could be a joy of the past, I decided to indulge this week. I was carefully resealing the pack, aware it wouldn’t be used for some time, when… Whoosh! Cocoa powder exploded out of the bag all over the kitchen cabinet! Obviously, I called Mum in to witness the result and we giggled at my mess before the clear up commenced:

The cocoa powder spillage

Motivational Quotes:

I do like a motivational quote. My former job share Marjory and I used to share a book of quotes and we’d leave it open on a page for the other to read when they arrived at work. So, I wanted to share some quotes I found regarding perseverance:

“Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.”

Earl Nightingale (1921-1989), American philosopher, motivational speaker, radio personality and author.

“Sometimes the strength within you is not a fiery flame that all can see, it is just a tiny spark that whispers softly, “you got this, keep going.”

Unknown

“It’s perseverance that’s the key. It’s persevering for long enough to achieve your potential.”

Lynn Davies CBE, Welsh former track and field athlete.

“There is no failure, except in no longer trying.”

Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915), American founder of the Roycroft Arts and Crafts community, philosopher, lecturer, critic, publisher, novelist, essayist, and biographer.

“When you feel like quitting, remember why you started.”

Unknown

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 53
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References

1. Diabetes UK, Ca 2020. Type 2 diabetes?
2. Hypermobility Syndromes Association, 2017. What are hypermobility syndromes?
3. Association for Nutrition, 2020. Accredited Programmes.
4. Dyspraxia Foundation, 2019. Dyspraxia in Adults.
5. Malaeb, S., Perez-Leighton, C. E., Noble, E. E. and Billington, C., 2018. Workplace Health and Safety [online] 67 (3), 102-110. A “NEAT” Approach to Obesity Prevention in the Modern Work Environment.

More from What’s on Watson’s Plate:

Health Diary Week 45: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

The Family Reunion

Family day out, Brighton & Hove (2015)

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

What’s New

Firstly, apologies for the late post – I was super tired after a busy weekend requiring extra thoughtfulness about acting safely (on top of my usual trying not to be clumsy) and I had loads of extra photos to sort through, culminating in a day’s delay.

The Bank Holiday weekend was busy, because excitingly we met up with my sister and her boyfriend in real-life – we last saw Emma and Carl at Christmas. It felt weird having to carefully plan meeting up with family: I walked with Em and Carl to-and-from the train station – Mum met us at the station with the car and they put their luggage in the boot. They set up camp in our garden and were allocated the downstairs cloakroom via a specific route. We socialised outside, sitting opposite ends of the table and served food plated-up (we’re usually a help-yourself kind of family) or provided separate serving dishes and utensils. And it felt strange not being able to hug, but we’ll take what we can get at the moment. It was still a lovely weekend:

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:

I skipped breakfast three times this week, grabbed those easy go-to biscuits once, sampled one of Mum’s peanut butter cookies and had cereal. Sunday breakfast was excessive – I had a massive hangover (I’m ashamed to admit I was sick – twice), so I grabbed crisps/potato chips trying to settle the nausea. Later I nibbled at some fruit and when I felt less delicate, I enjoyed guacamole on toast topped with ‘bacon’, tomato and red onion. Oh, and then I sampled Mum’s rhubarb jam on a slice of toast too – very tasty, but unnecessary:

Week 45 Breakfasts
I only ate one of those cookies

Lunch:

We had My Typical Salad four times, either with hash browns, falafel or Indian bites. Another day I had a salad filled pitta bread with ‘ham’ slices. Highlights were Mum’s cauliflower and almond soup (my favourite soup ever) and creamy curried gnocchi at Offbeet to utilise the ‘eat out to help out’ half price offer:

Week 45 Lunches

Dinner:

Mmm, a delicious variety of dinners – I don’t think I could pick a highlight. I had leftover veg spaghetti with garlic bread (Week 44), mince tacos, Mexican rice, chia nuggets with chips/fries and baked beans, veg risotto, veg curry, dhal and rice and our first (and probably only) barbecue of the year (burger, chipolata sausages and veg skewer) – yum!:

Week 45 Dinners

Snacks:

I snacked a fair amount. I had a hangover appetite on Sunday, resulting in loads of extra consumption. At least some options were healthy – griddled Padron peppers (I got my first ever chilli-hot one!) and asparagus. The ‘bacon’ sandwich earlier in the week was excessive – I could easily have halved it and still felt satisfied. My least healthy choice has to be the salted caramel cheesecake (although it tasted so good) – but high in coconut-based[1] saturated fat[2]. The other indulgence was a barbecued rum sozzled banana with cream (yet more fat):

Week 45 Snacks

Alcohol

Too much alcohol – waayyyy too much! On Friday, I drank three spiced rums with cola when chatting to a friend online. But Saturday night was ridiculous – I guess I got overly excited about Em and Carl visiting. I drank a whole bottle of red wine without really noticing (that’s over 600 calories according to Drinkaware[3]), plus a double salted caramel vodka liqueur and (I think) a double spiced rum. I’m not proud of myself – excess alcohol is damaging to health[4], as well as being highly calorific:

Week 45 Alcohol
Left: Saturday night’s Drinkaware calculation. Right: That red wine

Exercise

I’m pleased I more than doubled my activity compared to last week – 405 minutes versus 167 minutes. Mostly, I walked: 380 minutes (6.3 hours), with 244 minutes (4 hours) brisk. I squeezed in a 25 minutes Wii Fit aerobics session of Step, Rhythm Boxing and Hula Hoop. Next week I hope to report more Wii Fit and some exercise biking, as well as walking:

Week 45 Exercise
Left: Carl & Em admiring an Oak tree. Right: My week’s Active 10 walks

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

I was expecting a weight and fat increase when I stepped on the scales Monday morning, but not 4 lb (1.8 kg) extra weight – I don’t think I’ve gained that much in one week before! So, I’m temporarily back to being classified as obese with a BMI[5] of 30.1 – Noooo! Clearly all those additional calories, particularly the alcohol negatively affected my results. Naturally, I couldn’t resist a sneaky extra weigh-in again on Tuesday morning – as I suspected and with great relief, I’d already lost 2 lb, taking me back to overweight status, but still dangerously close to obese. Clearly, I need to avoid creeping back to my starting point. But despite these results, as I said before, I’m feeling healthier than I did back in November when I first decided to take control:

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

Okay, definitely time to move on to some smile-provoking experiences, after all mental wellbeing is incredibly important to overall health status. Hmmm, where to start? – there were so many…

Imaginary Katey:
My friends’ son pretended he was playing with me – melt my heart why don’t you:

I almost look like I could be imaginary in this pic of me sat outside in the dark

Socialising in real-life:
Obviously, a biggie was seeing my sister and her boyfriend. The bonus was having a catch-up with my sister’s friend as well:

Candlelit Alfresco Dining:
Don’t you just love a candlelit alfresco dining experience? Well, I do. It was rather chilly in the evenings though – I was a bit envious of Em & Carl’s onesies and Mum was toasty in her poncho, so I wrapped myself up in a big cosy blanket:

The Umbrella Incident:
We put the umbrella up so that we could see each other with less obstruction, but then the wind came and the umbrella started launching itself towards the kitchen window. Thankfully, we caught it before the situation became disastrous and Mum secured the sides with string to aid visibility – proper Nana-ism – my Nana was known for quick-fixes with masking tape or string:

Impressive storm clouds:
I’ve spent a fair amount of time gazing up at the sky recently and noticing the cloud impressiveness, especially when a storm’s brewing:

Top: watching the clouds roll in before the heavy rainstorm. Bottom left: Offbeet lunch in Pyramid Field. Right: Moon peaking through dark dusk clouds.

Silly Pigeon:
This particular pigeon makes us all chuckle – just lolloping around. Give Mr (or Mrs) Pigeon their due – the first to brave the new daffodil bird feeder – we’d been trying to lure birds with the fat ball. Later, we were concerned when we saw him lying in the heavy downpour with an odd wing angle, until he switched sides and we realised he was just bathing and seemingly thoroughly enjoying himself:

Clockwise: Decisions, decisions – should I sample that new daffodil food thing? Yes, mmm, yum yum. I’m the ‘King of the Castle’. Shower-time. Water bowl incident – whoops.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s ‘What’s on Watson’s Plate’. Thank you for reading and feel free to follow my bite-size journey updates on Instagram or Facebook. See you next Wednesday for another catch up. In the meantime, I’d love you to share what made you smile recently in the comments section.

>>>Week 46
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References

1. British Nutrition Foundation, 2020. BNF answers some common questions on coconut oil [online]. Available from: www.nutrition.org.uk/attachments/article/998/BNF%20FAQs%20Coconut%20Oil%202020.pdf.
2. NHS Eatwell, 2020. Fat: the facts [online]. Available from: www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/different-fats-nutrition/.
3. Drinkaware, 2019. Unit & Calorie Calculator [online]. Available from: www.drinkaware.co.uk/understand-your-drinking/unit-calculator.
4. Drinkaware, 2020. Health effects of alcohol [online]. Available from: www.drinkaware.co.uk/facts/health-effects-of-alcohol.
5. NHS Live Well, 2018. Healthy weight: BMI healthy weight calculator [online]. Available from: www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-weight/bmi-calculator/.

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Health Diary Week 43: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

My Holiday at Home

My Dad on holiday at my Aunt & Uncle’s home (2020)

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<<<Week 42

Hi and welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate, focusing on what I ate, my health report and some positive smile-provoking experiences.

What’s New

I’m on holiday! Our 14-days quarantine ended, and my parents left to visit my Aunt and Uncle for a week, so I had my own holiday at home. I didn’t get to socialise in person as much as I had hoped, but it was wonderful, nonetheless.

Food and Nutrition

I didn’t keep a completely accurate diary this week – I maintained it until Thursday evening, the rest is recall with the help of some photos. I felt like I needed a few days’ break from tracking and that’s completely okay.

Breakfast:

My favourite breakfasts were a THIS isn’t bacon sandwich and my scrambled tofu with mushrooms on toast. Other than that, I kept it simple, indulging in Mum’s carrot cake muffins, oat biscuits or toast:

Week 43 Breakfasts

Lunch:

I had My typical salad once – it didn’t seem worthwhile preparing it the rest of the week without my parents around. Instead, I made up a big batch of pasta salad and it was lovely. I was a bit concerned about the high fat mayo-base, but I was on holiday, right? I also had a rather tasty potato bowl – warmed steamed potatoes with red onion, sundried tomatoes, red pepper, hummus and a drizzle of Thai chilli sauce. My biggest lunch success has to be my ‘not egg mayo’ sandwich made with a mix of silken and firm tofu – I’ll definitely be making that again:

Week 43 Lunches

Dinner:

I did very little cooking during the week, keeping to more convenience type food – baked potato with cheese and beans, pre-cooked rice topped with tomato, avocado and red onion, microwaveable Thai red curry and a sauxsage roll. I made more of an effort at the weekend; my highlights were chilli nachos and vegetable spaghetti with garlic bread – yum!:

Week 43 Dinners

Snacks:

I snacked a lot! It felt like I ate loads of chocolate and crisps, including my favourite, Booja Booja chocolate, and Eat Real chilli and lime quinoa chips:

Week 43 Snacks

Alcohol

I drank every day from Tuesday through to Sunday – sooo much rum and some wine too. Having said that, probably not as much booze had I been on an all-inclusive holiday, so it could have been worse.

Exercise

I ensured I took some exercise each day until the weekend, as I wasn’t expecting to do much then. I completed 30 minutes exercise biking, 45 minutes Wii Fit and 226 minutes walking. It was lovely getting out for a stroll during the week, but it was super-hot. I was happy I was more physically active than last week (122 minutes/2 hours more), totalling 301 minutes (5 hours):

Week 43 Exercise
Tuesday’s very hot walk!

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

I was completely flabbergasted, but very happy, to discover my weight stayed the same (166.2 lb / 75.4 kg), because I felt like I completely indulged and didn’t pay much attention to my food choices whilst holidaying. Perhaps, subconsciously I was being more careful than I’d realised. My fat percentage increased a bit, but that does tend to fluctuate more:

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

Welcome back to my positivity section, although to be fair, I think most of this post has felt pretty positive…

Fish Doll – yep, that’s what I said:
Continuing on with the mango stone doll theme from Week 41 (Mango man) and Week 42 (Two-faced doll), my Mum’s next creation was a cute fish. I initially thought it was a hedgehog – oops, sorry Mum, but yes, definitely a fish:

Real-Life Hedgehog:
Talking about hedgehogs, I haven’t seen a hedgehog in years – I remember a time, several years ago, when I used to see them frequently during the summer. Imagine my joyful surprise when I spotted one strolling past the kitchen door late one night:

Image: TSA01, Pixabay

Friends:
Chud, dropped by for a chat and cuppa. I was extra delighted that he brought me some fresh tomatoes and cucumbers from his garden:

A rather tipsy Chud & I at my ‘Hat party’ (2009)

Extreme Physical Distancing:
It was so lovely to meet up with former work friends, Karen and Rachel. It was a blazing hot day, so we were trying to avoid being blasted by the sun, whilst remaining physically distanced. The end result was sitting rather far apart, which made me chuckle, so I took a snapshot from where I was sat in the shade:

Mum, sorry I didn’t take the clothes line down

Meteor Shower:
On Tuesday afternoon I was looking up and saw a movement across the sky. It was probably just a plane, but it reminded me the Perseids meteor shower was due. So, late that night, I sat outside for ages looking up at the sky. I couldn’t decide whether my eyes were tricking me, but I clearly saw one meteor. I awoke early on Wednesday, so I sat outside again for a while. It was so peaceful just staring up at the stars, not that you can see much from my photos, but trust me, it was beautiful:  

Walk and Wine:
Elise (my neighbour) and I went for an early evening stroll. We met up later for a tipple (wine) on my driveway and then moved across to her garden to join the rest of her family. It was so lovely sat chatting with everyone:

What’s My Age?:
It turns out that it’s not only Wii Fit that thinks I’m younger than my actual age (44). Elise’s kids (aged 18 and 20) seemed genuinely surprised I wasn’t in my mid-30’s. Obviously this made me smile (a lot):

The Weird Sunset:
On Wednesday evening, I decided to relax in the garden with a ‘sundowner’ rum and ginger beer. Imagine my delight when I witnessed the progression of this odd, but beautiful sunset:

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

>>>Week 44
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Health Diary Week 18: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Fruit-ilicious!

Image: Michi-Nordlicht, Pixabay

<<<Week 17
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Hi and welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate, health and nutrition updates and some positive smile-provoking experiences…

What’s New

This was another unfortunate week fighting off a Winter cold virus. I should add that this week has been my worst for sleep since starting this journey and there are now dark circles under my eyes (see final picture).

Exercise

My cold virus resulted in minimal physical activity: one hour circuits, one hour exercise bike and just 14 minutes brisk walking.

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 consisted of fruit over five days, with the other two being skipped due to getting up late:

Breakfasts: Left: Fruit salad containing mango, pineapple, raspberries, strawberries & blueberries. Right: Papaya with freshly squeezed lime juice.

Lunch:

Lunches involved BFree wholegrain pitta four times, twice filled with Quorn slices and salad; twice dipped into Sainsbury’s reduced fat red pepper hummus. I enjoyed the Asda fiery chilli noodle pot that was under 300 calories. It was green traffic-lighted (low) in fats, saturated fat and sugar, although red traffic-lighted (high) in salt[1]. I only had my My Typical Salad once. There was a vegan social this weekend, where 20+ of us met for lunch at the Art House – an independent community cafe that desperately needs support to remain open – they have a fundraiser page if anyone is able to help:

Lunches: Clockwise: Typical salad. Asda fiery chilli noodle pot. Art House cafe mushrooms (stroganoff-style) with dumpling & veg. Wholegrain pitta filled with Quorn slices, mixed salad & salad cream.

Dinner:

Dinners included some homemade meals: Twice, I had mixed bean chilli with brown rice, once with guacamole, salsa and garlic bread. For two evenings I ate vegetable fajitas with avocado, salsa and lettuce.  I had a light dinner following the lunch at the Art House, opting for a beetroot, coleslaw and mixed salad leaves sandwich using BFree brown seeded bread. These meals were all good sources of health-promoting fibre, important for long-term health[2]:

Homemade dinners. Left: Mixed bean chilli, brown rice, guacamole, salsa & garlic bread. Right: Vegetable fajita (jackfruit, peppers, mushroom & onion) with avocado, salsa & mixed salad leaves.

My convenience meals were both Amy’s Kitchen options: vegetable lasagne with Sainsbury’s Be Good to Yourself oven chips and salad; the other, rice mac and cheeze. Both the Amy’s Kitchen meals were green traffic-lighted (low) for sugars (under 5.0g per 100g) and amber (medium/okay) for fat (3.0-17.5g per 100g), saturated fat (1.5-5.0g per 100g) and salt (0.3-1.5g per 100g)[1]:

Convenience Amy’s Kitchen dinners. Right: Lasagne, chips & salad. Left: Macaroni cheese (ultimate comfort food).

Snacks:

I didn’t snack as much as usual – I only craved/had chocolate on four days – it’s usually a daily occurrence! We had a ‘Girls’ 80’s movies night in’, with lots of snacks, although fairly sensible options: cucumber and carrot sticks, Eat Real chips, hummus, potatoes with aioli, garlic olives, grapes, raspberry cashew bites, Deliciously Ella caramel cups (admittedly these were high in fat, saturates and sugars, but I only had one) and breakfast biscuits (I ate two of the three in the pack).

The ‘Girls’ 80’s movies night in’ snack feast. Clockwise: Hummus & quinoa chips, roast potatoes with aioli, grapes, raspberry cashew bites & caramel cups, breakfast biscuits, hummus dips, garlic marinated olives & cucumber & carrot veg sticks.

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

I was very happy to discover that I’d lost weight (1 lb) and fat (0.4%) this week, especially considering my lack of exercise. It’s a relief to know progress can still be made with limited physical activity:

Week 18 Results – yes!

What’s more, I’ve now lost 5% of my starting body weight, reducing my risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers[3, 4]. Also, importantly for my hypermobility[5], this loss reduces risk of joint issues[3]. My next aim is to reach a 10% body weight loss (17.5 lb) – I’m keeping my aims ‘SMART’ to increase likelihood of success:  Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.

Image: gabrielle_cc, Pixabay

I’ll fore-warn you, it’s my birthday next week and my celebrations may result in a small backwards step, but I’m okay with that – I’ll get straight back on track again. And, I intend to feel well again next week – positive thinking and all that!…

My much-loved ‘straws suck’ Plastic Oceans top from Rapanui that I wore to this week’s social.

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 19>>>
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References

1. British Nutrition Foundation, 2018. Helping you eat well: Looking at labels. Available from: www.nutrition.org.uk/healthyliving/helpingyoueatwell/324-labels.html?start=3.
2. National Health Service (NHS) Eatwell, 2018. How to get more fibre into your diet [online]. Available from: www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/how-to-get-more-fibre-into-your-diet/.
3. National Health Service (NHS), 2018. What are the health benefits of losing weight? [online]. Available from: www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/lifestyle/what-are-the-health-benefits-of-losing-weight/.
4. The Obesity Action Coalition, 2013. Benefits of 5-10 Percent Weight-loss [online]. Available from: www.obesityaction.org/community/article-library/benefits-of-5-10-percent-weight-loss/.
5. Hypermobility Syndromes Association, 2017. What are hypermobility syndromes? [online]. Available from: www.hypermobility.org/what-are-hypermobility-syndromes.

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