Health Diary Week 88: Nature’s Magnificence

Image: Nature’s Magnificence – Blue Footed Booby bird (check out those blue feet!), Galapagos Islands (2008)

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Hi, welcome to another weekly instalment (albeit a little delayed – sorry) of what’s on my plate: health updates, meal creations and smile-provoking experiences.

A Career in Health and Wellbeing

It was a standard week workwise. I’ve really enjoyed working in a Covid vaccine centre – I’ve felt part of something important and mostly everyone has been so nice (co-workers and patients). But I am ready now to move on to my real interest – Health and Wellbeing. So, I can’t wait to get started in the wellbeing admin post in August.

I’ve also been exploring Health and Wellbeing Coach jobs. I had a meeting with potential employers to find out more about the role – it sounds challenging in a good way, and I liked the people I spoke to. The meeting felt like an interview, so I was relieved I’d prepared beforehand – something I’d learnt after a disastrous PhD studentship ‘chat’. Anyway, I’ll keep you posted…

Practice what you Preach

Now that I’ve committed to work in Health and Wellbeing, I really need to focus more on improving my own health behaviours, particularly my physical activity – I’ve got lax since returning to employment. So, I had a lovely walk, partly in the countryside (totalling 92 minutes, of which 69 minutes were brisk – an acceptable start), whilst enjoying a social catch-up with my neighbour Elise:

Image: My Active 10 app walks. Left: My walk with Elise (92 minutes total, 69 minutes brisk). Right: Week 88 walks (284 minutes total, 116 minutes brisk)

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

As you know, like many others, I have developed a greater appreciation of the joys of nature since this pandemic – nature’s magnificent beauty has provided me with many moments of happiness…

Our pond jungle:

I think it is amazing how quickly nature can reclaim its territory. The foliage by the pond next to our driveway has really taken a hold, especially the foxgloves. I love how the pond area constantly changes (more photos in Week 85):

Image: Our driveway pond jungle – Foxgloves

Invasion of the birds:

I walked out of the rental house on Sunday morning to a loud chattering of so, so many Starlings – they were everywhere – on rooftops and grass verges – it was almost intimidating, but also totally amazing. It brought back a memory of swifts at Iguazu Falls (Brazil) when my friend Claudia and I travelled South America:

Image: Swifts at Iguazu Falls, Brazil, 2008 (This image came into my mind when I observed all those Starlings outside the house)

Survivors:

How excited I was to discover that at least three of the baby blackbirds had survived the magpie dramas of Week 85. Daddy Bird seems to be doing the majority of feeding the not so little ones. We wonder if Mummy Bird has more babies on the way or maybe she’s just got Daddy Bird well trained – I think she might be a bit bossy:

Image: Our Blackbird family. Top right: Mummy Bird looking proud. Top left and bottom row: Daddy Bird feeding one of the demanding baby birds

Almost famous:

When I visited Bevy, she excitedly informed me that I’d had a mention on Gardeners’ Question Time, a BBC Four Radio programme – I was referred to as “my dear friend Katey”. If you’re interested, its 28.28 minutes into the programme. Bevy’s question was about the campanula plant I bought her several years ago when her son was born. The plant has flourished, but some of the flowers developed a mutation of four petals instead of the usual five – it’s a mystery… And Bevy, I totally love your nerdiness!:

Image by Bevy: The campanula plant I gifted Bevy (five petals)
Image by Bevy: The campanula where one flower has four petals instead of five

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

>>>Week 89
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Health Diary Week 86: Kitten Therapy

Image: Loki, the Maine Coon kitten

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

Some Job Updates

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

Covid Vaccine: Second Dose

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

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

My Covid vaccine sticker of bravery

Food Challenge: Houmous

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

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

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

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

I didn’t panic:

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

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

Family reunion:

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

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

Massages on tap:

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

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

Cats sleeping funny:

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

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

Kitten therapy:

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

Image: Loki kitten cuteness

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

>>>Week 87
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Health Diary Week 85: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Dramas

Me trying to act dramatic – reenacting being eaten by a sabre tooth tiger, Edinburgh (2007)

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

The Histamine Story

Here’s my histamine updates from the past week (more info about histamine intolerance here[1])…

No ill-effects:

I’m ecstatic (and massively relieved) to report there were no ill-effects from the Sunday socialising at Tina and Ben’s house where I ate food that I hadn’t sourced or prepared myself (absolutely delicious food) and indulged in a few vodkas and cokes (I thought these could be a huge mistake). Does this mean my condition is improving or that I was careful enough before the event by keeping my histamine cup relatively empty?… I just don’t know.

Medication shortages?:

There appears to be an issue obtaining the medications I use. Firstly, I had to go to another pharmacy (not my nominated one) to obtain my Loratadine solution antihistamine prescription. Secondly, there was the prescribed sodium cromoglycate (mast cell stabiliser) unavailability (Week 83), so I never got to try this medication. Then, it took me four different pharmacy tries to get my hands on the Cetirizine antihistamine liquid – I had to buy the branded version that costs twice as much as the generic one I would usually get. I hope this isn’t going to be an ongoing concern.

DAO enzymes:

I’ve read quite a lot on the long haul Covid and histamine intolerance social media sites about people using DAO enzyme supplements to counteract the effects of histamine containing foods. My concern about these supplements were that they’re all animal-based (taken from the kidneys of pigs) and there doesn’t appear to be much solid scientific research on them. But then, someone posted about a plant-based option, Naturdao, so I decided I would buy some to use cautiously – reserved for occasional use when I want to socialise more ‘normally’ with friends and family. I’ll let you know how I get on with them.

Vegan DAO enzyme supplement: Naturdao

Food

I haven’t got much to report food-wise this week. I’ve just opted for my easy go-to options of salad and pasta based meals. I hope to create some interesting dishes soon.

Exercise

I’m conscious that the title of this blog includes the word “Exercise”, and I haven’t done much of that in recent months. But I’m determined to try to slowly introduce physical activity again soon.

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

And here’s some of my favourite smile provokers from this week…

A personal touch:

I try to buy from independent stores rather than big chains, so I often browse Etsy for cards and gifts. I recently stumbled across JuanitaManzana who sells “Illustrated greeting cards – with a touch of cats!” I ordered a birthday card for my sister and was pleasantly surprised by the cute cat paw tape on the packaging, followed by a sweet thank you note card and a bonus extra birthday card – how lovely is that?:

Top: Thank you card from JuanitaManzana, Etsy. Bottom left: Bonus greeting card. Bottom right: Cat paws tape

More garden socials:

Thank goodness for the recent decent weather. This weekend I had the pleasure of meeting up with Bevy, Harry and Loki kitten again in their garden. And I caught up with Neil, an old Uni friend (from my HND and degree courses in the 90’s):

Neil and I at my pub birthday party, Isle of Wight (1996)

What a difference a week (or so) makes:

Summer is my favourite season. So, I love seeing signs of Summer approaching – new buds appearing on bare trees as early as January, the Spring blossom and finally that summery greenery. Our pond view is a great place to observe the seasonal changes:

Pond greenery. Top left: Grey, bare trees and snowy, December 2020 (Week 63). Top right: Greenery appearing, April 2021 (Week 78). Bottom left: Lots of greenery, May 2021 (Week 84). Bottom right: Pond barely visible amongst the foliage, June 2021 (Week 85)

Bird dramas:

I love birds, but I am not a fan of Magpies since I discovered they eat our Blackbirds’ babies – I know its nature, the circle of life and all that, but I can’t help but be biased. So, you can imagine my horror when a Magpie found our Mummy Bird’s nest. One of the youngsters flew out in a panic, straight into the side of our house, fell onto the porch roof and rolled down onto the front doorstep! Now, you’re probably exclaiming “How on earth could this make you smile?!?”. Fear not, there was a happy ending (as far as I know). Baby Bird was stunned – we didn’t touch her, but took turns standing guard, even eating our lunch out the front of the house. This gave Baby time to recover until eventually Daddy Bird located Baby and they flew away together. Baddie Magpie returned later but the Blackbirds and Sparrows joined forces rather impressively chasing it away. The Starlings just legged-it! – I’m not sure how I feel about those guys either:

Bird dramas: Top and Bottom left: Mummy and Daddy Blackbirds obtaining much needed energy post the Magpie attack on their babies – they’re still looking fairly alert. Bottom right: Magpie (photo from Week 32 last year, but a similar time of the year)

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

>>>Week 86
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Reference

Swiss Interest Group Histamine Intolerance (SIGHI), 2019. Outline.

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Health Diary Week 83: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Broken

Image: Noupload, Pixabay

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

I’ve come to accept that these posts may have to be briefer nowadays to fit with my work life. But honestly, I still love sharing my diary with you all. Also, I hope you benefit from my posts, whether you find them helpful or just interesting. So let me update you about this week’s occurrences…

The Histamine Struggles

The histamine saga is ongoing. Here’s the latest…

Stinky people:

During lockdown I’d almost forgotten how much of an issue I have with people’s perfume products. Over the past two weeks, this has been a particular struggle at work – I’ve had a constant burning and itchy sensation in my nose, despite coating my nostrils (inside and out – yea, yuck!) with loads of Vaseline (it helped) and wearing a mask. This suggests to me that my mast cells (histamine releasers) are being over-dramatic, reacting unnecessarily. To enable me to function, I took an extra dose of my antihistamine, Loratadine (once in the morning and again in the evening) – I will inform my Doctor in case she has any concerns about this.

Our Border Collie boy, Shep, making friends with a goat, or perhaps they’re just intrigued by each other’s whiff (1988)

No-go prescription:

You may remember, I was excited last week to report I’d been prescribed a mast cell stabiliser to help with my histamine issues. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to obtain this medication and I don’t know why exactly – the Pharmacy seemed kind of cagey. I went into the Pharmacy on three days to try to collect my prescription and was told it was on order and then when my Mum went while I was at work, they told her they could no longer obtain it from the supplier and that I had to go back to my Doctor. So, I completed another e-Consult form requesting an alternative. To be continued…

And… My Back

I swear I’m falling apart! I woke up on Friday morning in agony with my back – I haven’t had this happen before. It felt like a combination of a trapped nerve (radiating from my back through to my side and ribs), a muscle knot and a tender bruise-like feeling. Even breathing hurt, until the pain eventually eased a bit. I somehow made it out of bed, but I couldn’t bend down to carry my laundry to the washing machine. I thought I was over the worst, until on Saturday afternoon the pain started increasing again. It got unbearable when I was in the shower – I struggled to seat myself on the side of the bath and was stuck there for about half an hour before I could move again. I’ll let you know how it progressed…

More Easy Meals

Once again, I had no energy to spend time in the kitchen creating new dishes. Instead I opted for easy options like simple fusilli pasta (with sweetcorn and onion), filled pittas (e.g. burgers) and leftover freezer options (e.g. roast). Once, Mum cooked me up some fennel steaks and homemade chips/fries – always a treat:

Some of my easy meals. Clockwise: Quinoa & rice burger (from freezer) in salad pitta. Simple pasta (fusilli, sweetcorn, red onion, Italian herbs, turmeric, sweet paprika & cold-pressed rapeseed oil). Mum’s fennel steak and homemade chips. Leftover roast items from the freezer (roast & sweet potato, courgettes & stuffing)

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

Here’s a few things that made me smile this week…

Interesting people:

I know I’ve already said this, but I’m particularly enjoying the social aspect of being back at work. And the thing about where I’m working (Covid vaccine centre), means that you get to meet a wide range of different people, with one great thing in common – wanting to support the community and reduce the spread of Covid-19. This includes quite a few retired health professionals (including a skateboarding former WHO medic, and retired midwife vegan of 40 years), loads of people furloughed from airlines or cruise ships, a wedding photographer, lighting engineer (working for bands touring the World) and even a Baroness opera singer – amazing! Who knows who else I’ll get to meet…

Me ready for work (Week 81)

A good excuse:

I was feeling a bit sorry for myself over the weekend because of my painful back. But then I decided to appreciate having time to myself in the cosy house where I was cat sitting during this rainy weather, along with a decent excuse not to move much and just binge watch Netflix – it could be worse, right?:

Netflix binge. Image: Tumisu, Pixabay

Peculiar cats:

My friend Tina likes me to cat sit for her “fur baby”, Buddy, when she’s away – apparently, he likes me. It’s been a long time since I’ve spent time with this guy, so I wasn’t sure how he’d react when I looked after him over the weekend. On the first evening, I couldn’t understand why Buddy was sat outside on the window ledge glaring in at me and ignoring my offer for him to come back inside (via the door). I messaged Tina, who explained he wanted to come in via the window and would therefore refuse the door option. Cats are so peculiarly funny:

Buddy cat glaring at me through the window

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

>>>Week 84
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Health Diary Week 82: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Another Quickie

Image: Catherine Nikitenko, Pixabay

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<<<Week 81

Hi, welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate. This is just a quick check-in to say “hi”, provide a little update and share some of the things that made me smile this week…

NHS Covid Administrator – Week 3

I’m pleased (and relieved) to report that I’m still enjoying working in the Covid vaccine centre. Interacting with people again is great.

Histamine Issues (continued)

On Friday, I had another phone appointment with my Doctor to reassess my histamine issues (mostly chronic rhinitis). I was pleased that she agreed to prescribe mast cell stabilisers for two weeks, initially. Most excitingly, the Doctor agreed to refer me to Immunology for further investigation.

Convenient Dinner: Vegetable Pasta

I haven’t been creative in the kitchen since I started back at work. Instead, I’ve concentrated more on easy meals. One of these was batch cooking a load of vegetable fusilli pasta. I just added sweet white onion, garlic, sweetcorn, courgette, baby peppers, chia and hemp seeds, dried Italian herb seasoning, turmeric, and sweet paprika with a cold-pressed rapeseed and flaxseed oil dressing – simple yet satisfying:

Enjoying my batch cooked vegetable pasta from the freezer with a ‘cheesy’ garlic pitta

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

And here’s a few of this week’s smile provokers…

My new garden fence:

Last week I told you about how the storms had blown down my fence (it was already in a sorry state). How wonderful it was on Monday to get a message from my friend, Ben, with a photo to say the fence was up. Such a load off my mind:

My garden fence. Left: Before. Right: After

New Starling family arrivals:

One morning, we were sat on the driveway looking out at the pond when a load of Starling birds flew in. The new Starling youngsters were quite sweet, but I think we can expect some noisy squabbles in the near future:

Starling youngsters looking unsure about how to deal with the bird feeder
The Starlings enjoying the driveway buffet

Rainbow:

We’ve had a lot of rain and general rubbish weather recently. This time last year, I was out in the sunshine loads. But, at least at the end of the week, I looked out of the window and saw a rainbow, which brightened my day – I do love a rainbow:

I can see a rainbow

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

>>>Week 83
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Health Diary Week 78: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Just a Quickie

Speedy snail. Image: Clker-Free-Vector-Images, Pixabay

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<<<Week 77

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

It’s been a fairly quiet week overall and I’ve been struggling with histamine issues (more on that in next week’s post), so this will be a bit of a quickie.

Antihistamine progress: Loratadine

I’ve started on 10 mg per day of Loratadine antihistamine solution[1]. I was previously taking 10 mg twice per day of Cetirizine solution[2] to keep my symptoms relatively under control (this was double the advised dose – not recommend without your Doctor’s approval). The new medication hasn’t been an easy adjustment, if you can even call it that. I’ve felt fatigued, itchy, snotty and sneezy all week – incredibly uncomfortable. I’m going to give it another week before I report back to my Doctor and explore other options. I’m starting to suspect my issue might be that my histamine-releasing cells (mast cells) are over-active, rather than my previous assumption that it’s my body having an issue breaking down histamine (an enzyme dysfunction). It would be great if I could be referred to an immunological clinic, so that they can figure it out for me.

Food Re-purpose: Pasta bakeCauliflower and broccoli ‘cheese’

Last week Mum made a delicious cauliflower and broccoli ‘cheese’, which she served up with roast potato and sweet potato. I froze the leftovers for another day – I love it when there’s leftovers! I decided to re-purpose the cauliflower and broccoli ‘cheese’ into a pasta bake for a simple, low effort, tasty meal:

Cauliflower and broccoli ‘cheese’. Top: My re-purposed cauliflower and broccoli ‘cheese’ pasta bake. Bottom: Mum’s cauliflower and broccoli ‘cheese’ with roast potato and sweet potato

Food: New buy – Quinoa flakes

Someone on Instagram recommended quinoa flakes as a “game changer” ingredient if you’re not keen on quinoa, so of course I had to get me some to try. Apparently, they can be used as a breakfast cereal, porridge oats replacement or in baking. I haven’t tried them yet, but I’ll let you know how it goes when I do:

BioFair quinoa flakes

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

Here’s a few positives from my week:

Every step counts no matter how small:

I hadn’t felt like I achieved much health-wise recently due to my histamine issues holding me back. But I’m happy to have made a little step forward: I realised that I don’t need to add sugar to my chicory (coffee replacement) drink – I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to realise this! Any improvement, as small as it may be, is better than giving up, or falling back into unhealthy habits. So, I’m giving myself a little pat on the back for reducing my ‘free sugar’ intake a little:

The ‘pat on the back’ image Pixabay offered me (Graphics@ HandiHow)

Friends in real life:

I was excited to meet up with Bevy in person, especially as we missed last week, for a good ole catch up on the driveway:

Dad’s pretty flowers along the driveway

Choir practice:

I joined a choir! For those of you who know me, this is a big deal. I don’t sing in front of people – it’s one of my fears. This started at Junior school (I must have been around 10 years old) after the music teacher stopped the whole class saying that someone was singing out of tune and everyone pointed at me. After that I just mimed. I used to love singing before this incident. Anyway, my friend, Dawn, encouraged me to attend the online long covid choir (and explained you can mute yourself). So, I thought why not give it a try? I’m so glad I did. Zoe (the teacher) had such a friendly smiley face and was really encouraging. I liked the breathing exercises and explanations of how to sing particular notes. It was fun, so I’ll be returning next week for more:

Heartfelt Choir. I joined a choir!

Happy Birthday to me, again:

My Mum found a Birthday present she’d put away ‘safely’ for me. My Birthday was back in February. I was given a bamboo comb, which I was on the verge of buying myself, so I’m glad I hadn’t got around to purchasing one yet. It was a lovely surprise receiving an unexpected late Birthday present:

Happy Birthday to me. My belated bamboo comb Birthday present from my Mum

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

>>>Week 79
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References

1. National Health Service, 2018. Loratadine (including Clarityn).

2. National Health Service, 2018. Cetirizine.

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Health Diary Week 77: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Katey in the Kitchen

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

Antihistamines: Acrivastine versus Loratadine

In Week 75, I updated that my Doctor had said I could choose between the antihistamines Acrivastine (brand name Benadryl)[1] and Loratadine (brand name Clarityn)[2]. So, naturally I undertook a bit of research to decide between the two options. The main findings of interest to me were:

My Acrivastine versus Loratadine research summary table

I decided Loratadine was my best option. Acrivastine is another of those antihistamines containing a high histamine food colouring (I really don’t get the deal with this!) –  Quinoline yellow (E104): “Very poorly tolerated, severe symptoms” and a “histamine liberator”[5]. The pharmacist confirmed that tablets for both Loratadine and Acrivastine contain lactose (which I have issue with), but you can get Loratadine solution (doesn’t contain lactose) on prescription. I just hope the other ingredients are okay, as I couldn’t find details for this. I was concerned that a common side effect of Acrivastine was sleep difficulties[1] – when I caught Covid (March 2020, read my Covid story here) I had 180 days of insomnia (which also messed with my mental health), so the possibility of going through anything like that again was hugely off-putting. I’ll let you know how I get on with Loratadine.

Side note: I should also mention that I asked the pharmacist whether all Fexofenadine (a stronger antihistamine) contained Allura Red/E129 (a high histamine food colouring) – apparently it does, so that’s definitely off the cards.

Exercise

I’ve been feeling too fatigued these past few weeks to exercise much. So, I was pleased with myself for completing three short walks this week, totalling 98 minutes, of which 54 minutes were brisk. Here’s hoping I can be more active soon. If I can, it will help towards losing the extra weight I’ve gained this week – I’ll tell you how much another time:

Exercise: Walking. Right: Pretty scene spotted on one of my walks. Left: My Active10 record

Food creation: Baked oats

Instagram has been trending with baked oats recipes these past couple of weeks, so of course I thought I should try them (details here). What I loved about this meal is that you just throw it all in an oven proof dish and pop it in the oven, leaving you to get on and do other things while its baking. It was tasty, so I’ll be having it again for sure, maybe with blueberries next time instead of apple and I’ll add in some macadamia butter – yum!:

Baked oats: Apple, black cherry jam, chia seeds, flax seeds, maple syrup and sweet cinnamon

Food creation: Vegetable and seed noodles

I rediscovered my love of King Soba noodles. I made a delicious meal of pumpkin and ginger noodles, notomato sauce, vegetable and seed mix and vegan feta – my mouth is watering just thinking about it! – details here. Vegan feta is a histamine risk, but one I’m willing to take occasionally:

Vegetable noodles: King Soba pumpkin and ginger noodles topped with notomato sauce, vegetable and seed mix and Violife feta ‘cheese’

Food creation: Risotto burgers

I had another attempt at my butternut squash risotto burgers. This time I added more binder (chia seed ‘egg’) and made up the burgers pre-freezing the risotto. The risotto itself was great and getting eight burgers from the leftovers was brilliant (details here) – lots to freeze for a low energy day:

From this tasty butternut squash risotto:

Butternut squash risotto

To these butternut squash risotto burgers:

Butternut squash risotto burgers. Clockwise: Risotto burger in a pitta with salad. Cooked risotto burger. Chia seed ‘egg’ ready to be stirred into risotto. Pre-cooked risotto burger

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

I had a pretty good week. Here’s some of my smile-provoking experiences:

Messy cooking:

I’m a messy cook – I claim its due to the dyspraxia. I got into such a mess making my risotto burgers, including my hands becoming well coated in burger mix. And when I was tidying up, I misjudged returning the flaxseeds to their shelf and they fell off, spilling over the floor. My parents are so used to these occurrences; Dad didn’t take any notice and Mum walked in calmly to see what had happened this time. I love that we just accept these little incidents as part of everyday life. And the seeds didn’t go to waste – I deposited them on the bird feeder for our little friends:

Messy cook. Clockwise: My hands during burger making. Flaxseed spillage (I think the birds were happy with the edition to the bird table). Burgers batch cooked and packed for freezing. Burgers pre-cooked, ready for freezing

Popping corn:

Talking of mishaps. I was staying at the rental property which is lacking cooking facilities and was feeling a little peckish. So, I decided to try out my new popcorn maker for the first time. The instruction manual said I needed a big bowl, but I didn’t have one, so I thought two small bowls would suffice. How wrong I was! Firstly, I wasn’t prepared for the amount of popcorn such a small number of kernels produce. Secondly, they came flying out of the popcorn maker at speed, bouncing off me while I was trying to catch them in my too small bowl. I wish I’d filmed it. I was yelling “No, no no!” at the machine while trying to contain the situation. Hilarious!:

Popcorn making: My first attempt with my popcorn maker and subsequent mess (this was after I’d cleared up a bit)

Long Covid research:

I attended the Royal Society’sLong Covid: an unfolding story” Q&A session, which was both informative and supportive. It was encouraging that two of the speakers had the lived experience of Long Covid: Dr Nisreen Alwan (Associate Professor in Public Health, University of Southampton), and Dr Adam Rutherford (geneticist, author, and presenter of BBC’s Radio 4’s Inside Science). I was most pleased to hear that there’s loads of research being undertaken, so hopefully it won’t be too long before we get more answers. I particularly want to hear more about the link with histamine issues:  

The Royal Society – Long Covid: an unfolding story. Left: My Q&A session questions that never got past review stage (I really wanted to hear about their hypotheses around histamine issues and mitochondria dysfunction – maybe another time)

Cherish each moment:

Do you remember that beautiful white blossom tree I shared with you in Week 75? Well, we had a couple of nights frost and all that beautiful blossom was destroyed. You might ask why this might make me smile? Of course I was disappointed about the blossom disappearance, but I was pleased that I had taken the time previously to enjoy the beauty when I first saw it. It reminded me that we need to cherish each moment, as we don’t know how long they will last or what’s around the corner:

Cherish each moment. Left: Beautiful white blossom tree, Week 75. Right: The same tree after a frost, Week 77

“Look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time: Thus is your time on earth filled with glory.”

Betty Smith, American novelist and playwright

“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.”

Alice Morse Earle, American writer and antiquarian

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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References

1. National Health Service, 2018. Acrivastine.
2. National Health Service, 2018. Loratadine (including Clarityn).
3. Drugs.com, 2021. Acrivastine and Pseudoephedrine.
4. Drugs.com, 2021. Loratadine.
5. Swiss Interest Group Histamine Intolerance, 2016. Food Compatibility List.

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