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

The Christmas Week Edition

Me in My Sparkly Santa Hat

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

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

A Relaxed Week – Perhaps a Little too Relaxed

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

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

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

Just Us

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

Christmas Eve Buffet

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

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

Still a Kid at Heart

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

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

Chilled Christmas

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

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

Christmas Dinner Feast

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

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

Spa Evening

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

Me Trying to Smile with a Rapidly Solidifying Face Mask

Gifts Galore

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

The Amazing Present Haul

Bamboo Bliss:

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

Chocolate Feast:

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

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

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

Week 62 Results: Weight, BMI and Body Fat

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

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

My Present Wrapping Skills:

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

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

Quinoa Protein Balls:

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

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

I Got Cheesy:

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

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

Daytime Moon:

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

Daytime Moon

Random WordPress Notification:

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

Random WordPress Notification: My Likes

My New Avatar:

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

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

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

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

Spotting Joyful Moments

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Hello again; how quickly time passes! I’m back for another instalment of what’s on my plate: health and nutrition updates and some positive smile-provoking experiences…

What’s New

I’d like to start by saying a big thank you to Pooja from Lifesfinewhine for her blogging advice. I’ve been taking note and making changes to my writing style and layout. I’ve still got loads to learn, but I’m getting there (I think). I hope you all approve.

The not so great news is that I didn’t get the job I interviewed for. But I’m okay about it. I asked for feedback and was pleased (relieved) it was positive “We thought you interviewed really well… you provided some really strong answers to our questions. It was a hard decision…”. Overall, I see it as a good practise run – after all, this was my first proper job interview in years – previously I’d been working as a university Disability Adviser for about 15 years.

Food and Nutrition

So, let’s check out 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 four times this week – I just didn’t fancy eating first thing in the morning on those occasions. Strawberries were my healthiest option; I resorted to those easy-grab biscuits twice and once a slice of peanut butter and jam on toast. I really do need to up my fruit intake again:

Week 44 Breakfasts

Lunch:

I had a batch of steamed potatoes that needed using, so I oven cooked them in a spice coating of onion, garlic, smoked paprika, cumin and chilli oil, with some chickpea flour to add crispiness – I have to say, they were rather tasty, but then, I do love potatoes. The next couple of days were convenience meals – a miso chilli noodle pot and a pitta filled with cheese, coleslaw and salad. We had My typical salad the remainder of the week, as my folks were back. I’m happy enough with these food choices:

Week 44 Lunches

Dinner:

I do love pasta, as evidenced by my four pasta-based dinners this week: I split pumpkin raviolini over two days with a jar of bolognese sauce. Another day I opted for my lazy pasta – fusilli, sundried tomato, peppers, sweetcorn and onion, with a drizzle of chilli and extra virgin olive oil. And then there was a simple, but delicious brown-rice spaghetti with tomato, mushrooms, olives and pepper with homemade garlic bread. Other meals: leftover Mexican chilli on cheesy nachos with tomato and mushrooms – yum. A slightly disappointing burger and low-fat oven chips – we suspect the burger recipe has changed. Mum made a delicious cheesy veg bake to use up carrots, broccoli and courgettes, which we had with sausages, roasted potatoes and more carrots. I admit, I went back for seconds; actually, also with the spaghetti meal – I shouldn’t be doing that:

Week 44 Dinners

Snacks:

I’m not entirely sure how much I snacked during the first part of the week; I suspect not much. And I barely ate between meals the latter end. I’m surprised with myself and pleased. I hope I can continue to keep snacking to a minimum without feeling hungry – we’ll see. Sweet snacks were chocolate (a bar and a bit), whilst savoury included a filled pitta bread of cheese, coleslaw and salad (big snack!), crisps and Balti mix:

Week 44 Snacks

Alcohol

I had an alcohol-free week. I really didn’t fancy any after my excesses last week.

Exercise

Hmmm, what can I say? I’ve not had a particularly active week. The only exercise I achieved was through walking, nearing three hours total. I definitely intend to be more energetic next week:

Week 44 Exercise

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

I wasn’t really sure what to expect this week results-wise. As it was, I had another week of no weight change (166.2 lb / 75.4 kg) and minimal body fat loss (from 40.2% to 40.1 %). I think the reduced snacking probably balanced out the lack of physical activity, resulting in just maintaining:

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

It was tough narrowing down which positive experiences to include this week. So, here’s my favourites…

Mummy Bird’s Demands:
Mummy Bird (our Blackbird friend) makes me smile every time I see her. When it started to rain, we rushed inside to the living room with our morning coffee. We heard her loud chirping through the open window. So, I investigated and found her below the window looking up at me – she then jumped off the wall and ran towards the front door in anticipation (top row). Dad obediently went out and fed her (we’re well trained). But maybe she’s getting a bit chubby now? (Bottom row: Week 35 (left) versus now (right)):

Apologies for the poor top pictures – the photos were taken through the window in a hurry

Guard Cat:
Jasper, our guard cat (well, my neighbour’s cat), has taken to sitting under the bird feeder – thankfully he’s not particularly interested in the birds – we think he’s searching for other creatures. It brightens my day when he visits, especially when he shirks his duties and just rolls around on the driveway being cute (last pic from Week 35):

Tiny Beautiful Nature:
When I was sat watching Jasper on his guard duty, I noticed a tiny flower by his side (you can just about see it in the above picture too). I had to have a closer look and observed the pretty intricacy despite its tiny size:

Amusing Shadows and Bendy Birds:
Mum and I went out for a walk and found a pond currently popular with the ducks – we spent quite some time watching them – they have such bendy necks! When I was taking photos, I noticed our shadows looked amusingly oddly-shaped – we had our raincoats tied around our waists – I’m on the right:

Ghostly Friends:
I’ve missed seeing Bevy in person and I’m super excited she’s back – hopefully we can see each other in real-life soon. However, she appears to have become somewhat ghostly since we last met – she’s that eerie figure in the bottom of the screen. And Harry, Bevy’s boyfriend, lurking in another room, seems to be bodiless. Perhaps I should be concerned about meeting up with these people:

Homemade Gifts (for Me):
My highlight was the birthday presents my Aunt sent back with my parents. My Birthday was back in February and my Aunt had offered to post them, but I said I was happy to wait. Receiving presents is always a delight, but even more so when they’re created especially for me. My talented Aunt sent over a whole package of beautifully handmade crystal-based gifts. So, I took my time enjoying opening and appreciating each treasure:

The intentionally prolonged present opening process
My presents on display. The suncatchers still look beautiful without bright sunshine

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

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

My Holiday at Home

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

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

What’s New

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

Food and Nutrition

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

Breakfast:

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

Week 43 Breakfasts

Lunch:

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

Week 43 Lunches

Dinner:

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

Week 43 Dinners

Snacks:

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

Week 43 Snacks

Alcohol

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

Exercise

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

Week 43 Exercise
Tuesday’s very hot walk!

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

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

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

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

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

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

Image: TSA01, Pixabay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Health Diary Week 37: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Driveway Antics

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Hi all, welcome to another weekly instalment, starting with what was on my plate (literally), followed by my health results and closing with some positive smile-provoking experiences…

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:

This week I lacked in my usual fruity breakfast start – I had pineapple once. Instead, a couple of times I ate Nairn’s Oaties biscuits (4 pack) or opted for heartier Meridian yeast extract on toast, scrambled tofu on toast or Nature’s Path granola cereal:

Lunch:

Of course, for lunch I had my typical salad (5 times) with either Strong Roots hash browns, rice-filled vine leaves or falafel. My shawarma kebab (Vivera) also contained plenty of salad, although another day I caved to cheesy chilli nachos with Applewood vegan cheese, tomato, jalapenos, black olives and sriracha sauce:

Dinner:

Dinners were mostly rice or pasta-based – I absolutely love my carbs! I try to choose the fibrous wholegrain options (e.g. brown rice, lentil/chickpea pasta) over refined white rice or pasta. On the only non-rice or pasta day, Mum made ratatouille (minus the aubergine), with Linda McCartney caramelised onion and rosemary sausages, more veg: steamed broad beans, peas, carrot and broccoli and roasted potato and yellow sweet potato. We stretched the leftover ratatouille (twice) into a spaghetti mix with added Plant Pioneer chorizo sausages and black olives – delicious:

We had homemade veg curry (chickpeas, spinach, potato and carrot) with brown rice, poppadums and chutneys. It was stretched into another meal later in the week by accompanying with red lentil dhal:

Naturally there were days when preparing dinner from scratch was unappealing. One evening I opted for Tilda lime and coriander rice topped with avocado, tomato, red onion and sriracha sauce. Another simple meal was pasta with sweetcorn, olives and Ponti Zero Olio sundried tomato and pepper, drizzled in Mellow Yellow chilli oil:

Snacks:

I snacked quite a bit again, particularly on ‘discretionary foods’ (a term picked up from the Food as Medicine Future Learn course) i.e. chocolate, although in small quantities. Also, more sensibly, I satisfied my sweet craving a couple of times with fruit (mango, strawberries). Savoury snacks included popcorn, a healthier choice than the crisps I also had, although I portioned them into a bowl (a strategy used by a friend with her children) to avoid over-indulging:

Alcohol

I also consumed alcohol (5 units) at the weekend.

Exercise

My physical activity levels were a little lower compared to recent weeks, totalling 296 minutes (just under 5 hours). I ventured out for 3 walks (146 minutes total, 114 minutes brisk), used the exercise bike once for 60 minutes and the Wii Fit twice (90 minutes total) concentrating on aerobic and balance exercises.

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

Taking all the above and my snacking into consideration, I was relieved not to have gained any weight this week, although there was a slight fat increase:

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

There were plenty of positives this week. Here’s a compilation of ‘What Made Watson Smile’:

I reached 500 total Likes!:
When I first started blogging, it was mainly for personal motivation to lead a healthier lifestyle. It feels rewarding and motivating to know you’re reading my posts. Thank you all so much for your support:  

Birds, Lots of Birds:
The little coal tit (I think) bird invasion on our driveway. How many birds can you spot? I think I see 9:

Future Learn Food as Medicine course:
Completing the 3-week Future Learn Food as Medicine course. It was so interesting and informative for nutrition beginners or as a refresher. I’m a strong believer in constant learning to improve oneself – the more I learn the more I realise how much I don’t know:

Driveway Antics:
Driveway wildlife antics. Loving my morning coffee sat on the driveway looking out over the pond watching the feeding birds, cheeky squirrels, flitty butterflies and occasional dragonfly:

Tiny Flowers and a Shiny Bug:
On one of my walks noticing this beautiful purple bunch of tiny flowers; then looking closer and seeing a little shiny bug:

Baby Bird Introductions:
Meeting our friend Mummy bird’s baby bird for the first time. My parents said baby bird was ugly, but I think he’s kind of cute really:

Completing my Latest Article: Probably ‘That’ Coronavirus:
Publishing my article: Probably ‘that’ coronavirus: My symptoms – I’d started writing it back in May – it was a difficult one to write:

Weird Bed-Hair:
Laughing at myself – I woke up one morning to this weird bed-hair, although upon reflection, not as out-of-control as this humidity morning bed-hair when I was on Sal (Cape Verde Islands) back in 2014:

2020 versus 2014 morning bed-hair

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

>>>Week 38
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Health Diary Week 31: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

The 50 Challenge

Image: mohamed Hassan, Pixabay

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Hey everyone. Thanks so much for joining me. So, let me tell you about my week…

What’s New

…The first half of this week we were cooped-up inside whilst workmen were replacing fascia around the whole house – recent strong winds were detaching the fascia and it was at risk of being thrown onto us or our neighbours. Being stuck inside provided more insight into living with no outside space during lockdown. Pre-lockdown, I was planning to rent a flat in a seaside town – outside space wasn’t a concern as I reasoned I could visit the beach – but now my plans have changed – wherever I end up (if I re-locate even), there needs to be some decent outside space. Anyway, I digress…

Image: Hatice EROL, Pixabay

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…

Diversity and Health:

I’m succeeding in consuming a diverse range of plant-based foods. Back when I was researching my Health Sciences dissertation (‘The effect of diet on age-related alterations in gut microbiota, its effect on gastrointestinal function and resulting impact on human health and disease’), I read somewhere we should aim for 50 different food items per week (sorry, no reference). The idea was this would increase wholefood diversity despite any ‘junk’ food eaten. Thus, increasing our health-promoting gut microbiota numbers and diversity to reduce whole-body inflammation (inflamm-ageing[1]) linked to age-related health conditions (e.g. heart disease, type 2 diabetes)[2, 3].

Cycle of accelerated ageing with progressive nutritional decline & reduced microbiome (microbiota & their genes) diversity. Key: ↑: Increase. ↓: Decrease. LPS: Lipopolysaccharides (increase inflammation). SCFAs: short-chain fatty acids (reduce inflammation). Inflamm-ageing: Systemic (whole body) inflammation with biological ageing. Immunosenescence: Gradual deterioration of the immune system through biological ageing. [Adapted from 2, 4, 5].

After reading about the ‘50 foods challenge’, I was interested how my diet matched up, so I devised a log sheet of my weekly food items – I discovered I was easily reaching 50. I got curious again after completing this week (over 2 years later) – I reached target without separating out the mixed seeds, nuts and salad leaves.

My ‘50 different food items challenge’ for Week 31 – not bad at all.

Snacks and Alcohol:

Clearly, I don’t only consume health-supporting foods – I gave into my chocolate cravings, eating a small amount every day this week. And my other issue is large main meal portion sizes – I’ve always had a big appetite! I had a couple of snacks that could have easily passed as main meals, especially the pasta bowl I made to ward off crisp munchies when drinking rums on Sunday night.

Left: My booze snack (meal): A simple pasta salad with sundried tomato & pepper in mayo to stop me eating crisps after a few drinks. Right: My icy-cold booze bucket.

So, here’s what I ate for my main meals…

Breakfast:

Breakfasts included satsumas, mango, scrambled tofu on toast (twice), Bacon-ish butty/sandwich with ketchup (twice) – once with Quorn smoky ham free slices, the other with ‘This Isn’t Bacon’ (game changer!). I skipped breakfast on Wednesday:

Breakfasts: Top: ‘This Isn’t Bacon’ butty. Bottom: Scrambled tofu on toast.

Lunch:

For lunch I had My Typical Salad (five times), homemade broccoli, leek and potato soup with toast and nothing on Saturday:

Lunches: Top: Homemade broccoli, leek & potato soup. Bottom: Typical salad with Strong Roots courgette hash browns, asparagus, radishes & coleslaw.

Dinner:

My Dinners included Meatless Farm Company mince Mexican-style in tacos, also with a fajita on another day; Waitrose jackfruit burger with Sainsbury’s low-fat oven chips and salad one day and on another, with potatoes, asparagus and peas; a very large portion of Daiya macaroni ‘cheese’ and spaghetti with tomato, peppers and olives (twice).

Dinners: Top: Spaghetti. Mac ‘cheese’. Middle: Tacos. Bottom: Jackfruit burger.

Exercise

Another example of positive action towards health was my physical activity – a respectable 290 minutes (nearly 5 hours): 195 minutes exercise biking, 15 minutes on the trampette (minimal due to sore ankles) and 80 minutes walking. About the walking – I’m really uncomfortable with it. I used to enjoy going for a stroll pre-pandemic. As well as the usual concentrating on not tripping-over or walking into anything (story of my dyspraxic life!), I’m also, ‘staying alert’ for any passing walkers, joggers and cyclists. By the time I get home I’m mentally exhausted and stressed out! I’ll still aim to walk at least once a week, just to stay on top of these new agoraphobic feelings.

Image: iXimus; Fathromi Ramdlon, Pixabay

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

I feel like I should be disappointed about not losing any weight or body fat this week. I gained back 0.6 lb of the 1 lb I’d lost last week. But I didn’t mind; I feel I should mind, but I just didn’t. Additionally, it was a Bank Holiday weekend and indulgence usually occurs – on Sunday we had our online ‘pub-ish’ meet-up and I snacked late into the evening, which would have affected the next morning’s weigh-in. We’ll see what next week brings before I get concerned.

Slipping again

As I’ve said before, I’m in this for the long haul – my whole lifetime! – and these are weird times, so I don’t want to be down on myself when there’s more important concerns. I’m trying to support my overall wellbeing – a key component of this health journey – I can be patient for the weight loss – I’m confident it will happen.

Image: Arek Socha, Pixabay

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

Anyways, enough about that; let’s move swiftly on to ‘What Made Watson Smile’it doesn’t actually take much – sometimes learning something new, the beauty of nature or just something a bit silly…

Odd Shoelaces:
No-one noticing (or caring) I went out for our walk wearing odd shoelaces. I’d changed to a pink shoelace back in February for my odd shoes and socks party, but I’ve not re-located the black lace I removed. (I usually undo my laces before taking off my shoes, but I’ve stopped doing that since lockdown to avoid touching my shoes immediately after being outside):

Right: My odd shoelaces. Left: My odd shoes from my Birthday celebrations back in February.

Blooming Roses:
The beautiful roses have bloomed:

The Coleslaw Incident!
Mum and I are clumsy (I have Dyspraxia, Mum probably too). We were preparing food separately in the kitchen – Mum dropped the coleslaw – it landed upside-down, thankfully with little spillage. We started giggling and then I spilt macaroni over the floor trying to open the bag. About half an hour later Mum realised she’d been walking around with a foot smothered in coleslaw – we got the giggles again – it beats getting frustrated with yourself:

Continuing Development:
I attended some nutrition continuing professional development: MyNutriWeb lecture: Immunity Series Part 2 – Gut health & immunity through the lifecourse. A great refresher – health and the gut microbiome were my Dissertation topics for both undergraduate and post graduate degrees:

Noticing the Daily Flora Changes:
Beautiful foxglove-like white flowers appearing around the garden. The bees and ants seem to be particularly attracted to these flowers:

Seeing Bevy’s Face:
Finally seeing Bevy’s face, one of my ‘besties’, online on ‘Zoom’. It was great to chat and I’m looking forward to our next meet-up:

Left: Us during a weekend in Wales, 2012. Right: Us on a day-out in Bournemouth, 2013.

Beautiful Flowers:
These beautiful big pinky-purpley big flowers (clearly I’m no botanist!) started appearing in the garden:

Houseparty Meet-Ups:
The usual online ‘Houseparty’ gang turning up to the Bank Holiday online pub-ish event I’d created. The idea was for our local pub-goers to mingle between online rooms to chat to different groups, much like in the pub. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much interest. We had a fun night regardless and it was good to welcome a new familiar face. Also, I was amused by Chud’s ghostly appearance when he popped outside (top pic, bottom left):

Well that’s all for this week. 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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References

1. Franceschi, C., Bonafe, M., Valensin, S., Olivieri, F., De Luca, M., Ottaviani, E. and De Benedictis, G., (2000). Inflamm-aging – An evolutionary perspective on immunosenescence. Molecular and Cellular Gerontology: Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 908, 244-254 [Online]. Available from: DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2000.tb06651.x.
2. Vaiserman, A. M., Koliada, A. K. and Marotta, F. (2017). Gut microbiota: A player in aging and a target for anti-aging. Ageing Research Reviews, 35, 36-45 [Online]. Available from:  DOI: 10.1016/j.arr.2017.0.001.
3. Claesson, M. J., Jeffery, I. B., Conde, S., Power, S. E., O’Connor, E. M., Cusack, K. S., Harris, H. M. B., Coakley, M., Lakshminaryanan, B., O’Sullivan, O., Fitgerald, G. F., Deane, J., O’Connor, M., Harnedy, N., O’Connor, K., O’Mahony, D., Sinderen, D., Wallace, M., Brennan, L., Stanton, C., Machesi, J. R., Fitgerald, A. P. and Shanahan, F. (2012). Gut microbiota composition relates with diet and health in the elderly. Nature, 488, 178-184 [Online]. Available from: DOI: 10.1038/nature11319.
4. Jeffery, I. B., Lynch, D., B. and O’Toole, P. W. (2016). Composition and temporal stability of the gut microbiota in older persons. THE ISME Journal, 10 (1), 170-182 [Online]. Available from: DOI: 10.1038/ismej.2015.88.
5. Rampelli, S., Candela, M. T., Turroni, S., Biagi, E., Collino, S., Franceshi, C., O’ Toole, P. and Brigidi, P. (2013). Functional metagenomic profiling of intestinal microbiome in extreme ageing. Aging, 5 (12), 902-912 [Online]. Available from: DOI: 10.18632/aging.100623.

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