Health Diary Week 70: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

A Trip to A & E

Image: mohamed Hassan (Pixabay)

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

What’s New

Well, it’s been a bit of a medically themed week…

My Shoulder:

I first noticed something wrong with my right (dominant) shoulder when I went outdoors swimming in Week 49, but I stubbornly ignored the pain. During Week 51, I awoke with my shoulder feeling mis-aligned – my muscles and tendons felt like they were over stretching. In Week 53, my shoulder did a large crack and re-positioned – the pain relief was amazing. But, in Week 57 still half asleep, I stretched and my shoulder felt like it moved out of its socket. The pain was immense, and I instinctively bashed it back into place. I ignored the discomfort and adapted to my ridiculously reduced range of movement (I know – I shouldn’t have ignored it). Just before Christmas, I noticed my shoulder didn’t look the same as the other, but Covid cases were surging, so I just decided to put it to the back of my mind until it was safer to seek medical attention.

On Monday I finally caved (thanks Harry for nagging caring). The Doctor’s surgery saw me that morning and sent me to the hospital’s A&E ward (FYI: nowadays you need to phone 111 to make an A&E appointment). I had two x-rays and the Consultant tried manipulating my arm. Thankfully my shoulder is probably in the correct position (phew!), but my rotator cuff was locked and needs musculo-skeletal physiotherapy. On Wednesday’s phone review with my Doctor, she completed the physio referral and we discussed investigating my hypermobility issues.

Image: Tumisu (Pixabay)

Histamine intolerance:

So, the last time I went to the pharmacy to buy antihistamine, they raised concerns about the amount I was using and asked me to review this with my Doctor. I absolutely hate going to the Doctors, so I figured I’d address the shoulder, hypermobility and histamine issues at the same time. There wasn’t time to talk about it on Monday or Wednesday, so on Friday I had another Doctor’s phone appointment, who prescribed a stronger antihistamine (H1 blocker) than my usual over the counter one. We’re keeping the possibility of H2 histamine blockers under review.

Job update:

I didn’t get the Occupational Health Admin job despite interviewing really well and being told I could “breeze it”. Apparently, the major reasons were that they wanted someone who would stay in the job – I’m pretty sure I made it clear I was committed. They said a basic admin role wasn’t sufficient for me and I should aspire for greater things – I guess I should feel complimented. Also, the successful person could audio-type and was willing to work full time (I’d agreed 30 hours over 4 days). I’d really wanted to work in Occupational Health, but of course I continued on and got back on the job search.

Food and Nutrition

Okay, let’s have a look at what food was on my plate, the healthy and not so healthy choices…

Breakfast:

My breakfasts included porridge oats, cereal and fruit:

Week 70 Breakfasts. Left: Melon. Right: Cornflakes with oat milk

Lunch:

I had salad for lunch every day; mostly salad filled pittas with Quorn ham – I’m so pleased I seem to be able to tolerate these Quorn slices even though they’re fungi based (contain some histamine):

Week 70 Lunches. Salad filled pittas

Dinner:

I opted for fusilli pasta meals four times, just because it was easy. Also I had cauliflower with turmeric rice and green sauce. Another day, I made Mum some scrambled tofu, so I decided to risk some myself in a wrap with salad leaves and notomato sauce. Mum surprised me on Saturday with fennel steaks and homemade chips (fries), accompanied by notomato sauce – yum:

Week 70 Dinners. Left: Scrambled tofu wrap. Right: Fennel steaks and homemade chips

Snacks:

I hadn’t realised until writing up my food diary that I didn’t snack much this week. I just had popcorn, Brazil nuts and some oat biscuits:

Week 70 Snacks Log Table

Drinks (excluding usual water intake):

I drank chicory coffee alternative with oat milk and ¼ teaspoon of golden sugar (three to four large mugs each day), apple juice, and rooibos tea with oat milk:

Week 70 Drinks Log Table

Exercise

I’m pleased with the amount of physical activity I achieved this week. I’m especially happy I used my exercise bike five times, totalling 160 minutes (2.7 hours). Admittedly, I only went for a walk once (50 minutes total, 42 minutes brisk). Also over five days I did some shoulder exercises recommended by the A&E Consultant (approximately an hour in total), which has started loosening up my shoulder a little:

Week 70 Exercise

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

I didn’t really have any idea what to expect result-wise this week. So, I was content with losing 0.2 lb (0.1 kg) weight and I wasn’t too disheartened that my body fat increased by 0.6%:

Week 70 Results: Weight, BMI and Body Fat

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

Here’s a few of my smile-provoking experiences this week…

My A & E visit:

Okay, I get that going to A & E doesn’t sound like something that would make you smile. I was really nervous about going, but relieved to book an appointment to reduce waiting time as a walk-in patient. I was there at 12pm and home again within two hours – in the past, getting through A & E so speedily was completely unheard of! As it was, there were only two other patients waiting. Of course, there must have been plenty of people arriving in ambulances with life-threatening conditions. And although the corridors I walked along seemed relatively calm, I was well aware the Covid wards would be full-on busy and I was so grateful for not being one of those patients. And the best news (for me) this week was that my shoulder didn’t need re-positioning:

My Trip to A & E as a walk-in patient. Left: Me in A & E. Right: A&E adults walk in area

Cushion collaboration:

My parents looked kind of cute working together on making new seat cushions for the conservatory – the previous ones were faded and literally falling apart. Dad calculated the amount of material required for six chairs and assisted in cutting out the pattern when the material arrived. They’re a cute bee design. Good work Mum and Dad:

Cushion Collaboration. Clockwise: My parents discussing cushions. New bee design and old faded stripey cushion. New bee cushion. Old stripey cushion

A Room with a View:

On Thursday, I was having a break from my computer screen, when I heard rowdy seagulls, so I looked out of my window and watched them circling, some flew quite close. By the time I’d decided to grab my phone, they’d mostly dissipated, so I only managed to catch one seagull on camera (badly). But I’m sharing the photo anyway, because I enjoyed watching those noisy gulls. Afterwards I became engrossed observing the steadily darkening clouds roll in:

A Room with a View. Left:Seagull from my bedroom window. Right: Dark clouds rolling in

Another Watson spillage:

I had a large glass of cold water and Mum had some very hot coffee. She asked me to pour some of my water into her coffee mug. I hesitated, thinking “Can I do this without an incident?” I reasoned “Surely I can!”. Alas, I was wrong. I completely missed Mum’s mug and poured my water over the chair. Dad, who had been watching us, sighed. Mum and I giggled. I cleaned up the mess. This reminded me of my cacao incident back in Week 52:

Amusing memories: Week 52 cacao incident

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 69: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Talking to Strangers

Image: Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke, Pixabay

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

What’s New

It felt like a lot happened this week. I was a bit wiped out by Friday afternoon and took things easy Friday evening and all of Saturday – I felt no guilt whatsoever about lazing around on Saturday and enjoying two rugby Six Nations matches. Okay, so let’s take a look at my week’s main events…

Job Interview:

I had pretty much given up hope of being interviewed for the NHS job: Occupational Health Service Administrator, despite my rejection being changed to we’ll put you on the reserve list (more on this in Week 68). So, as you can imagine, I was mighty surprised to receive an email on Wednesday inviting me to interview. I adapted my plans, suspending my work on several more job applications and my vaccine article, to prepare for my interview on Friday. Is it weird that I enjoyed the interview?

Covid-19 vaccinations:

I’m so relieved that both my parents have had their first dose COVID-19 vaccinations now. Dad received his invite last week and booked for Monday – he had the Astra-Zeneca jab. Mum received her invite on Tuesday and was vaccinated on Thursday with Pfizer. Dad said it’s the easiest vaccine he’s ever had. A few days later they were both a bit cold-like, but only mildly – a small price to pay.

On Monday, BBC news reported a quarter of UK adults had been vaccinated – that’s excellent! On Tuesday, I attended the University of Southampton: Beating COVID-19: Trials, Vaccinations and Prevention. It was informative, although the most interesting part was the Q&A session, as it addressed more of my queries. And on Wednesday, the BBC updated that priority groups 1-9 (over 50’s and over 16’s with underlying health conditions) should be vaccinated by the end of April instead of May. Also, the World Health Organization recommended Astra-Zeneca for adults and confirmed the 8-12 weeks gap until receiving the second dose was okay.

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 had quite a fancy (late) breakfast on Monday due to a cooking disaster that I managed to save (more on this later; also here). I had porridge oats with a gala apple twice and melon once. The remaining days were cereal – cornflakes once and I returned to my favourite multigrain maple syrup cereal, which was much sweeter than I’d remembered pre-low histamine:

Week 69 Breakfasts: Left: Porridge oats with apple. Right: Nature’s Path maple sunrise multigrain cereal

Lunch:

We were a little low on salad items this week, but I still managed to get our salad fix over four days accompanied by corn and potato balls or courgette ‘frittata’. Twice I had my simple go-to fusilli pasta (rice, corn and quinoa) with sweetcorn. And once I grabbed some courgette and sweetcorn rice from the freezer and added seeds and nutritional yeast (aka nooch):

Week 69 Lunches. Left: Cornmeal and quinoa flour based frittata with salad. Right: My simple fusilli pasta

Dinner:

Three times I opted for the above mentioned go-to fusilli pasta; twice I added vegan blue ‘cheese’ and nooch, another evening I used roasted butternut squash from the freezer (details here). Also, I ate brown rice (from the freezer) and added veg, accompanied by a garlic pitta pocket and a sneaky handful of my parents’ oven chips. Another day I had a baked potato filled with courgette, sweetcorn, sweet white onion, seeds, smoky ‘cheese’ and mild curry powder (small rhinitis reaction experienced). My dinner highlights were the roast-like meals – one from freezer bits-and-bobs, the other prepared by Mum with cauliflower and broccoli ‘cheese’:

Week 69 Dinners. Left: Roast from freezer leftovers. Right: Roast with cauliflower and brocolli ‘cheese’

Snacks:

Snacks included my usual sweet and salty popcorn and Brazil and pistachio nuts. Also, I’ve been enjoying my favourite ever chocolates: Booja Booja almond salted caramel truffles – so delicious! This means I can try adding more almonds to my nut menu – yay! And I seem to be forming a habit again for those delicious oat biscuits – thankfully they’re limited to four to a pack, so I know that’s my fill each time:

Week 69 Snacks: Two of my current favourite indulgences: Left: Booja Booja almond salted caramel truffles. Right Nairn’s Oaties biscuits

Drinks (excluding usual water intake):

I had lots of chicory coffee alternative (of course), a rooibos (redbush) tea and cranberry and apple juice a couple of times:

Week 69 Drinks Log Table

Exercise

I’m back on the exercise bike (three times this week), albeit a very gentle pace at half the resistance I was previously doing – but it’s progress and I’m proud of myself. This makes up for my lack of walking (just one short walk) – it was very cold outside and a bit icy – I just didn’t fancy it. This was probably what pushed me towards the exercise bike, and the bonus is I can watch TV at the same time:

Week 69 Exercise Log Table

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

My body weight didn’t change this week (it’s been the same for three weeks), but I’m okay with that, because my body fat dropped by 1.1% and that’s the most important figure here for my health tracking:

Week 69 Results: Weight, BMI and Body Fat

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

Ahh, my favourite section – what made me smile…

Meal Recovery:

I was really hungry on Monday morning and fancied a ‘frittata’. So, I grabbed the frozen potato slices I’d been saving and chucked them in the frying pan before defrosting them – big mistake! I ended up with smashed potatoes, but I thought “It’ll be fine, I’ll just mix them into my cornmeal and quinoa flour mix”, which I did. But then when I transferred the mix into a pan, I just had an unappetising blob (I wish I’d taken a photo!). I reassessed the situation, added some sweetcorn and made little balls, which I accompanied with salad and my green sauce from the freezer (sauce details here). I’m relieved to report it ended up being a delicious meal (although somewhat later than intended) and I had a batch to freeze for lazier days:

Meal Save: Potato and corn balls. Top: Potato and corn balls with salad garnish and green sauce. Bottom: Right: In a salad filled pitta. Left: Frozen sliced potatoes mess!

Snow Day?:

It was a proper Wintry week, with some parts of the UK snowed-in and experiencing temperatures as low as -23oC! – I really wouldn’t like that! Instead, in my part of the UK, we had some little snow flurries on Monday, and on Tuesday I awoke to this light dusting of snow – it didn’t last long:

A light dusting of snow

Jay visitors:

Recently, we’ve had new bird visitors – a couple of Jay birds. I couldn’t get a good photo, because we spotted them from inside the house and I didn’t want to startle them by going outside, as they’re notoriously shy.  It was lovely to see them, but I’m a little concerned for our long-tailed tits, as apparently Jay eat nestlings of other birds and small mammals, as well as acorns, nuts, seeds and insects (RSPB info). We’ll see if they become regulars:

Jay Visitors: Top: The bolder Jay on our driveway. Bottom: The shy Jay mostly stayed in the trees, but landed on the fence briefly

Talking to Strangers:

I’ve found myself looking forward to and enjoying talking to complete strangers (not random ones!) in these weird COVID times. It started with Dawn, another Admin on the long-haul Covid food group – I don’t consider us strangers anymore, we communicate regularly and know a bit about what’s going on in each other’s lives. Then last week, I was contacted by Hazel via LinkedIn, as she’s considering applying for the MSc Nutrition and Behaviour degree that I’d completed and wanted to know more. We had a video chat on Thursday for well over an hour – Hazel was an inspiring woman, carefully considering her options – why wasn’t I like this in my 20’s? Also, there was that Occupational Health job interview on Friday that I thoroughly enjoyed:

Socialising in the time of COVID. Image: Alexandra_Koch, Pixabay

Mindfulness with Friends:

I always look forward to my monthly meets with the Action for Happiness crew, Karen, Chrissy, Julie and sometimes Chris – I’m so grateful Karen invited me into this local friend group, because everyone’s so kind and accepting. Mostly we catch up on each other’s news and then finish off with a mindfulness session led by Chrissy. This time we did a relaxing seated mindfulness session – just what my busy mind needed. Fingers crossed we can meet in person next month:

Temple in Cambodia, 2006

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 63: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

A Brief Update…

Me Outside CommuniKate, Wales Trip (2005)

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

What’s New

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

Hello 2021:

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

My vodka and cranberry juice indulgence

UK Covid-19 Cases Rising:

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

Food and Nutrition

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

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

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

Week 63 Results: Weight, BMI and Body Fat

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

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

Storytime:

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

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

Delightful Nuts:

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

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

Snow – Well, a Little:

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

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

Princess Ariel:

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

Princess Ariel? Left: My latest profile picture. Right: Princess Ariel from The Little Mermaid (Image: peridotmaize, Pixabay)

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

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Health Diary Week 62: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

The Christmas Week Edition

Me in My Sparkly Santa Hat

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

This week’s post (and Week 63) will be a little different than usual, because it’s been the Christmas holidays and I decided to have a break from keeping a food diary. So, here’s my Christmas Edition…

A Relaxed Week – Perhaps a Little too Relaxed

As well as taking a break from my diary, I didn’t worry too much about my histamine intake. I’ve had to ensure I’m well dosed-up on antihistamine (Cetirizine) and corticosteroid spray (Beclometasone) to keep symptoms at bay. I experienced some fatigue and nausea, which I assume were histamine related, but nothing like how it has been.

I indulged in vodka on Monday and… threw up! I had five units, which was possibly a bit too much when I hadn’t drunk booze for so long (silly me) – lesson learnt (I think). On Wednesday I had two units and was fine – phew! And no problems when I had one unit on Christmas Eve. I received a Polish potato-based vodka for Christmas and I’m looking forward to trying it at some point soon – New Year’s Eve perhaps.

The vodkas I bought for myself: Left: Haku Japanese white rice vodka. Right: FAIR quinoa vodka

Just Us

It was just my parents and I over Christmas, since we’re currently in the same household; unfortunately we didn’t see my sister. We collectively decided mixing with others just wasn’t worth the risk, despite the relaxed Christmas day rules – Covid-19 cases are rapidly rising (again) and we’d been pre-warned we’d be Tier 4 (localised lockdown) from Boxing Day. So, we chose to keep it an insular one.

Christmas Eve Buffet

Usually on Christmas Eve night, I’d be at the pub with my friends until midnight and then come home (rather tipsy) to a late-night buffet. Instead, we enjoyed our buffet much earlier and I only drank one vodka with cranberry and apple juice. I prepared a separate vegan and gluten free mini buffet for myself (details here). It included a side salad, blue cheese, homemade macadamia nut spreadable ‘cheeses’ (smoked paprika and garlic and herb – ingredients here) and homemade veg puffs (ingredients here) – delicious!:

Christmas Eve Buffet Dinner. Clockwise: My Mini Buffet. Side Salad. Macadamia Nut ‘Cheeses’: Sweet Paprika and Garlic, Onion and Herb. Vegetable Puff Pastries. I didn’t eat it all, but I did eat a lot!

Still a Kid at Heart

Am I too grown-up for a Christmas stocking? Nah! I awoke Christmas morning to find a stocking filled with lots of beautifully wrapped wonderful goodies – yay! Santa also decided that my Mum wasn’t too mature to receive a stocking either:

My Christmas Stocking Goodies. And so Beautifully Wrapped – Thanks Santa

Chilled Christmas

We got up fairly late on Christmas Day. It was a beautifully sunny day, so we all went out for a stroll. Afterwards we had coffee (well, I had my Chicory Cup) on the driveway, watching the busy birds – who would have thought we’d be sat out on a Winter’s morning?!

Christmas Morning Coffee on the Driveway – actually it might have been the afternoon

Christmas Dinner Feast

It took us a while to get around to cooking Christmas dinner. I had a delightful assortment of veg – roasted carrot, parsnip, sweet potato and Jerusalem artichokes, Brussel sprouts with chestnuts, red cabbage with apple and Winter mash (swede, carrot and celeriac). My favourite was the crispy on the outside and soft on the inside roast potatoes (just heavenly!). There were also ‘chipolata’ sausages wrapped in ‘ham’ slices, sage and onion stuffing, cranberry sauce and gravy. I was completely stuffed by the end of the meal, but still looking forward to the same again on Boxing Day:

My Christmas Dinner: Clockwise: My plant-based Christmas dinner plate. Roast potatoes (my fav part), Brussel sprouts and chestnuts. Winter mash. Red cabbage with apple

Spa Evening

And what did I do in the evening? Well, I treated myself to a mini spa. I donned a face mask, loaded the bath with lovely smellies, grabbed a book and just chilled – lovely:

Me Trying to Smile with a Rapidly Solidifying Face Mask

Gifts Galore

Wow, I was totally spoilt, receiving loads of wonderful and thoughtful gifts, mostly from ethical and independent businesses. I particularly loved how my sister and Carl bought us all a gift from a charity shop – I got boxing gloves and my Mum received the sparring pads – I’ll try not to be too hard on you Mum. Emma also supported a local artist through some of her gift purchases – great idea.

The Amazing Present Haul

Bamboo Bliss:

Have I ever told you how much I love bamboo products? – it’s beautifully soft, antimicrobial (antiallergenic) and importantly, a sustainable material. So, imagine my delight when I received a bamboo duvet, pillow, pillowcases and weighted blanket (I’d wanted one of these blankets for ages – very comforting).

Chocolate Feast:

I was excited at the prospect of indulging in some chocolate over the festive season. I haven’t had any since 19 October, when I started my low histamine diet – that’s over 10 weeks ago! I didn’t venture into the chocolate stash until Boxing Day – I was a little nervous it would cause rhinitis histamine issues. It tasted rather wonderful – Booja Booja is the best chocolate ever (in my humble opinion). But once I’d started, I wanted more (and more and more) – uh oh…

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

So, after all my indulgences, am I surprised that my weight and body fat increased? Nope. Am I concerned? Not at all – I mean it’s Christmas! Do I expect to gain more weight next week? Probably. But that’s okay, because I’ll get back on it in the new year. As it stands, I’m around a stone lighter than this time last year:

Week 62 Results: Weight, BMI and Body Fat

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

So, what else made me smile this week? I’ll show you…

My Present Wrapping Skills:

I can wrap presents nicely – let’s not discuss the wonky paper cutting or tape issues though. In a bid to be more environmentally friendly, I used plain brown paper, as well as reusing bags, ribbons and other bits:

My Ace Present Wrapping (oops, I just spotted wonkiness in the top left pic)

Quinoa Protein Balls:

I’m not a massive fan of quinoa, but I’d been trying to think of an enjoyable way to include it in my diet, as it’s a good quality plant protein source and currently I can’t consume legumes, my former go-to, partnered with grains. And so, I created a rather tasty quinoa balls option (recipe here), served with brown rice spaghetti and previously batch cooked not tomato sauce (with fresh parsley). I have to say it was really tasty and there’s a nice batch of leftovers that have been frozen for another day:

Quinoa Protein Balls, Not Tomato Sauce and Brown Rice Spaghetti – Delicious!

I Got Cheesy:

I used to make a soft ‘cheese’ alternative with cashew nuts, but cashews are currently off the menu. However, I can eat Brazil, pistachio and macadamia nuts. I wasn’t that impressed by the macadamia nuts, so I thought I’d try making them into flavoured cheeses. The onion, garlic and herb version was so tasty, that I made it again (more successfully) on Boxing Day to accompany my salad lunch (ingredients here) – delicious!:

My Macadamia Nut ‘Cheese’ (onion, garlic and herb) with Boxing Day Nibbles

Daytime Moon:

I noticed a gorgeous daytime moon in the blue sky, peeping out above the treeline and had to take a photo:

Daytime Moon

Random WordPress Notification:

On Christmas morning I received a message from WordPress informing I’d reached 1,337 Likes – great to know, albeit a little random to choose this figure as a landmark:

Random WordPress Notification: My Likes

My New Avatar:

One of my besties created an Avatar Me for Christmas – very thoughtful and something on my long list of ‘to-dos’. The original was a much slimmer and less curvy version of the real me. The thing is, I strongly feel it’s important not to promote an unrealistic slim version of myself and I actually quite like my curves, so we agreed my avatar should be amended to reflect my figure more realistically. Absolutely love it – Thank you!:

My Christmas Present Avatar: Left: Final Version of Me. Right: Skinnier Version

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

>>>Week 63
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More from What’s on Watson’s Plate

Health Diary Week 61: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Unexpected Delights

Rainbow Spotted during my Walk

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<<<Week 60

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

What’s New

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

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

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

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

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

Food and Nutrition

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

Breakfast:

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

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

Lunch:

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

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

Dinner:

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

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

Snacks:

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

Week 61 Snacks Log Table

Drinks

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

Week 61 Drinks Log Table

Exercise

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

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

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

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

Week 61 Results: Weight, BMI and Body Fat

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

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

Journal Club:

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

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

Garage Social:

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

A Working Garage Door – Yay!

My Little Elf Friend:

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

Tina the Christmas Elf

Rainbow Delight:

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

Beautiful Rainbow on a Grey Rainy Day

Random Happiness:

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

Random happiness message from @majellarohan

I hope you enjoyed this week’s ‘What’s on Watson’s Plate’. Please feel free to follow my bite-sized updates on Instagram or Facebook. Wishing you all a happy holiday season.

Happy Holidays!

>>>Week 62
<<<Week 60
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References

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

More from What’s on Watson’s Plate

Health Diary Week 59: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Christmas Vibes Arrived

One of Mum’ s Christmas Coconuts

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<<<Week 58

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

What’s New

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

Covid-19 Vaccine:

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

The Plan:

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

Oh, Christmas Tree:

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

The Naughty List:

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

Food and Nutrition

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

Breakfast:

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

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

Lunch:

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

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

Dinner:

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

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

Snacks:

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

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

Drinks

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

Week 59 Drinks Log Table

Exercise

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

Week 59 Exercise. Blue sky and treetops

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

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

Week 59 Results: Weight, BMI and Body Fat

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

It’s smile time!…

Christmas Tree Decorating:

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

Decorated Christmas Tree. Cheeky Mince Pie and Port

Upcycling – Mum’s Christmas Coconuts:

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

Upcycling: Mums Christmas Coconuts

Spooky Moon:

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

Spooky Moon

Two Guys and a Gal:

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

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

Expanding Follows:

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

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

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

>>>Week 60
<<<Week 58
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More from What’s on Watson’s Plate

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

I Changed My Plan

Plan Change. Image: yogesh more, Pixabay

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<<<Week 57

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

What’s New

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

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

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

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

Food and Nutrition

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

Breakfast:

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

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

Lunch:

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

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

Dinner:

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

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

Snacks:

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

Week 58 Snacks Log Table

Drinks:

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

Week 58 Drinks Log Table

Exercise

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

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

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

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

Week 58 Results: Weight, BMI and Body Fat

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

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

I Ate a Prince:

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

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

I’m in the Club:

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

MyNuriWeb Journal Club. Images: MyNutriWeb

Natural Beauty:

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

Pretty berries and flower spotted on a walk

Slow – Hedgehogs:

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

Slow down for the hedgehogs!

Potato Love:

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

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

The Failed Country Park Walk:

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

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

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

>>>Week 59
<<<Week 57
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References

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

More from What’s on Watson’s Plate

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

I Totally Caved!

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

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<<<Week 56

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

What’s New

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

Histamine Error:

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

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

Hypermobility Incident:

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

Food Experiments:

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

Food and Nutrition

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

Breakfast:

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

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

Lunch:

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

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

Dinner:

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

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

Snacks:

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

Week 57 Snacks Log Table

Drinks:

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

Week 57 Drinks Log Table

Exercise

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

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

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

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

Week 57 Results: Weight, BMI and Body Fat

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

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

Zoom Time:

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

Images: Alexandra_Koch and Annalise Batista, Pixabay

Corny Love:

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

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

Not Tomato Sauce:

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

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

Pretend Coffee:

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

My Coffee Replacement: Chicory Cup

Nutrition e-Symposium:

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

Alpro Foundation e-Symposium (Images: MyNutriWeb)

Messenger Video Silliness:

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

Messenger Video Silliness

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

>>>Week 58
<<<Week 56
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References

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

More from What’s on Watson’s Plate

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

The Investigations Continue: Week 4 Histamine Elimination

Image: GraphicMama-team, Pixabay

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<<<Week 55

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

What’s New

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

Food and Nutrition

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

Breakfast:

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

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

Lunch:

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

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

Dinner:

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

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

Snacks:

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

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

Drinks

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

Week 56 Drinks

Exercise

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

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

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

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

Week 56 Results: Weight, BMI and Body Fat

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

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

Gaining Knowledge:

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

Bath Time:

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

Ducks’ Bath Day in our next-door pond

Suncatchers and Raindrops:

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

Suncatchers and Raindrops

Introducing Mr Blackbird:

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

Introducing Mr Blackbird: Potentially a New Bird Friend

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

>>>Week 57
<<<Week 55
Home

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