Health Diary Week 64: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

We Are Family

My Grandmother (Nana)

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

What’s New

Here’s what’s new in my life this past week…

Lockdown:

I should probably start with the big news here in the UK – we are back into a national lockdown (3.0) due to a concerning (though unsurprising) rapid rise in Covid-19 cases, related hospital admissions and deaths. This hasn’t majorly changed my behaviour, as we were already being really cautious and following the science, rather than governmental updates.

Long Lost Family:

My biggest news personally is discovering about 90 new family members – how amazing is that?! My Mum had chatted to family in Australia, who told her about our extended family group on Facebook, so I joined too.

Job Interview Update

Last week, I forgot to update that unfortunately I missed out on the NHS Occupational Health and Wellbeing Practitioner position. I was told I was a close second choice and there was nothing I could do to improve my interview. The successful candidate already had experience working in the NHS and a specific mental health qualification. Upon reflection, I should have talked more about my mental health training from when I was a University Disability Adviser and the relevant mental health modules in my Health Sciences degree. I’m still really pleased with myself though, as I usually find job interviews incredibly challenging, whereas I enjoyed this one.

Food and Nutrition

It was another diary-free (and lax on the low histamine diet) week, although I did take some photos of what food was on my plate…

Salad Meals:

As you know, I often enjoy a salad for lunch. On my current low histamine diet, I skip the tomato, avocado and vinegar containing dressings. My salad is still tasty though and includes mixed salad leaves (not spinach or rocket), beetroot, radishes, cucumber, celery, spring onion, chia and/or pumpkin seeds in a sweet paprika and rapeseed oil dressing, with steamed potatoes and a cornmeal-based (no eggs) vegetable frittata (ingredients here):

My Typical Salad Lunch: Low histamine style with cornmeal-base frittata

Pasta Meals:

I never get bored of pasta – currently I’m having brown rice or corn-based fusilli or spaghetti accompanied by vegetables. My ‘go-to’ veg are courgette (zucchini), sweetcorn, green cabbage, grated carrot and sweet white or spring onion. I’ll often have a simple pasta lunch when I’ve run out of fresh salad items and load it with sweetcorn, onion, chia, flax and/or hemp seeds, mixed herbs, turmeric and rapeseed oil. Dinner pasta calls for more veg and sometimes quinoa or polenta balls (ingredients here):

Pasta and Veg Meals: Left: Fusilli. Right: Spaghetti with quinoa balls

Rice Meals:

Rice and vegetables have become a staple since adopting a low histamine diet – it’s an easy ‘go-to’ dinner:

Rice and Veg Meals

My Food Highlights:

One of my meal highlights this week has to be the comforting cauliflower ‘cheese’ with roasted sweet potatoes, pan-fried courgette and steamed purple carrot. The sauce didn’t actually contain any cheese and was instead sweet potato based – delicious:

A very saucy cauliflower ‘cheese’ (sauce made with sweet potato), roasted sweet potatoes, pan-fried courgette and steamed purple carrot

My other favourite were vegetable puff pastries (I made these) and Mum’s homemade chips (fries), although admittedly an incredibly high fat combination. And I scoffed my way through two batches of veg puff pastries this week, so that’s a lot of saturated fat! – but they were ever so tasty!:

Left: Veg puff pastries and Mum’s homemade chips. Right: Some of the vegetable puff pastry ingredients – see, it’s not all beige, at least not on the inside

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

Okay, so I gained 3.2 lb/1.5 kg. This sounds like a complete disaster right? – Fear not, it wasn’t. Initially, the gain was a bit of a shock, but then I remembered I was expecting to weigh around 162 lb anyway at this stage after holiday indulgences – it’s just last week I lost weight for some reason when I expected to gain, so the 3 lb jump this week seems a lot. The truth is, I haven’t been particularly careful about what I ate and only went out for a walk once, but I needed a break from behaving. I’m aiming to be back on track from next week:

Week 64 Results: Weight, BMI and Body Fat

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

So, let’s move on to some of the experiences that made me smile over the past week…

Family:

Earlier I told you about discovering loads of extended family I never knew I had. I’ve particularly loved looking through the old photos, noticing some family resemblances and connecting with new people. It’s made me reminisce about my amazing Nana who was dedicated to caring for her local community as a District Nurse:

Old Family Photos: Top: My beautiful Nana (grandmother). Bottom: My Nana as a girl (front row, sitting) with her family, Near Bhusawal, India

Online Socials:

Happily, it’s been a rather social week, albeit all online. I chatted to Bevy and Harry a couple of times, Tina and Becky and family (Emma, Carl, my Aunt and Uncle). And a monthly catch up with Karen, Julie and Chrissy – Chrissy led a bitesize mindful movement and breathing session, which was fabulous and much needed. There are still several friends I need to catch up with, so hopefully I’ll be doing that soon too:

Calming gardens in Luang Prabang, Laos (Eco Adventure Tour, 2006)

Portrait Artist Mum:

I might have told you previously that last year Mum completed portraits of my sister and the boy she used to look after. So, this week, it was finally my turn – yay! Mum decided to try out her new watercolour pencils to replicate my latest profile picture . My friend’s daughter might have influenced the inclusion of the sea-life additions (Week 63). I absolutely love it:

Portrait Artist Mum: Portrait of me at various stages

Cute Kittens:

I was searching through some photos for my extended family group and stumbled across some of the adorable kittens I looked after when house sitting for friends a couple of years ago. There were four kittens and two cats – what was I thinking?! It was a challenging, but heart-warming few days. The kittens learnt to climb over the child barrier from the room they were supposed to be residing in, during the short time between my friends leaving their home and me arriving. So, they weren’t where I expected to find them and I frantically searched for the little guys. On another occasion, I found one kitten hiding in a bag hanging on the back of the door – how on earth did the little tyke get in there? And how could I not share this?:

Cute Kittens: Kitten and cat sitting for friends (Lancing, 2018)

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

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Health Diary Week 14: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Honesty can be Hard!

Image: Terta Filius Saggio, Pixabay

<<<Week 13
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Hi and welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate, health and nutrition updates…

What’s New

…This is the first week where I’ve had to fight the urge to be misleading about my results – I hate admitting that, but I felt that I should own up. Just to clarify, I didn’t end up lying!

“The best measure of a person’s honesty isn’t their income tax return. It’s the zero adjust on their bathroom scale”. Arthur C. Clarke (adapted by me to be gender neutral).

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

My scales did that thing where they look like they’re going to settle on a lower number (169.8 lb – this was what I was tempted to report) and at the last second it switched to 170.2 lb – gutted, no change – my scales are such a tease! But, at least my fat % reduced slightly:

Week 14 results (not much change)

Alcohol

Now, the expectation was I’d lose weight and/or fat, because I’m doing ‘Dry January[1]: No alcohol = fewer calories = weight-loss. Right? – No! So, what’s going on? Detective time – to help my analysis, I tabulated my consumption and physical activity…

Image: Gerd Altmann, Pixabay

Food and Nutrition

So, what went wrong? 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…

Total and Saturated Fat:

…I’d suspected my issue was chocolate (again) – the stash really is nearly finished! But, my analysis also revealed how much coconut-based cheese I’d eaten. I’d found a chunk left over from Christmas and finished it off in a couple of lunchtime sandwiches. Plus, I had cauliflower and broccoli cheese twice and returned for seconds! Also, more saturated fat – Friday night involved a huge portion of chip shop chips. And, there was a bag of crisps open in the kitchen – I mindlessly grabbed a handful of them several times throughout the week:

Monday & Tuesday dinner: Cauliflower & broccoli cheese with Linda McCartney sausage, oven-cooked potatoes, stuffing, carrots & gravy – it was very tasty!

Unplanned Indulgency:

Tuesday there was unplanned indulgency. After circuits we decided to stop off at Offbeet for coffee – but we succumbed to its breakfast menu. Truth is my hunger would have been satisfied with one of the Shakshuka waffles, but there were two on my plate and they were delicious, so I happily ate them both:

Offbeet Shakshuka waffles – doesn’t that just look amazing?

Mindless Snacking:

Also, on Friday evening I was with friends at our ‘Girls’ night in’ watching 80’s movies – although we mostly picked healthier snacks, I mindlessly worked my way through them. I knew I was eating too much, but I’m embarrassed to admit, I didn’t care at the time:

‘Girls’ night in’ – 80’s movie night snacks: Popcorn, hummus, mixed melon, carrot, cucumber & red pepper sticks, Itsu crispy seaweed thins, vegetable crisps, olives, Leon pea-lentiful dip (yum!) & mango

Meals:

I made hotdogs twice – I hadn’t had a hotdog for about seven years! These hotdogs were high fibre[3], with almost half the recommendation for adults (30g/day[4]) – 6.3g per Heck vegfurter and 8.1g per BFree seeded baguette – definitely having that again! The only concern was the sausage’s high salt content (red traffic-lighted[2]). I enjoyed the Gro porcini ravioli – but ate the whole pack – it was supposed to serve two people – oops! Another tasty ‘go-to’ meal was Mexican rice topped with avocado, tomato and red onion. Both the ravioli and Mexican rice were green or amber traffic lighted:

My easy meals: Top: Hotdog. Bottom left & middle: Spicy Mexican rice with avocado, tomato & red onion. Bottom right: Porcini ravioli.

I had my My Typical Salad a couple of times for lunch – once with the tasty Strong Roots courgette and spinach hash browns. The best dinner (which I had twice) was my Mum’s curry (adapted from my Nana’s recipe): aubergine, pea and potato curry, lentil dhal, rice, poppadum and chutney/pickles – a comforting and nutritional meal, including quality plant-protein and fibre. I know I’m obsessed with fibre! – but it’s so important to our long-term health[4, 5]:

Left: Mum’s curry, rice & lentil dhal. Right: my typical salad with hash browns & sauerkraut

Exercise

I completed around 6½ hours physical activity, which probably helped prevent a weight gain. The breakdown: 2 hours circuit training, 2 hours 40 minutes exercise biking, nearly 2 hours brisk walking – I’d intended to do more walking, but the rain put me off:

Left: My fully co-ordinated circuits outfit (not happy about that belly though!). Right: My Active 10 walks

Advice to Self:

So, advice to ‘self’ for the week ahead:

More appropriate portion sizes – that includes not going back for seconds!

Reduce saturated fat – stay clear of coconut-based cheese this week.

Eat more mindfully – fully focus on what I’m eating – no researching whilst eating!

Less chocolate (eek!).

Tuesday’s morning frost – I thought it was kind of pretty & I’m trying to appreciate Winter beauty, despite it being my least liked season

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 15>>>
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References

1. Alcohol Change UK, Ca. 2019. Dry January [online]. Available from: https://alcoholchange.org.uk/get-involved/campaigns/dry-january.
2. British Nutrition Foundation, 2018. Helping you eat well: Looking at labels. Available from: www.nutrition.org.uk/healthyliving/helpingyoueatwell/324-labels.html?start=3.
3. European Commission, Ca. 2019. Nutrition claims [online]. Available from: https://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/labelling_nutrition/claims/nutrition_claims_en.
4. Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, 2015. SACN Press release: Expert nutritionists recommend halving sugar in diet [online]. Available from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/446188/SACN_Carbohydrates_Press_Release_July_2015.PDF.

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Health Diary Week 11: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

That Weird In-Between Time

Image: Gabe Raggio, Pixabay

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

What’s New

…It’s been a weird couple of weeks – hard to keep track of the day and time. Consequently, I’ve slipped into late nights and lay-ins. Despite that, I’ve usually managed to get the recommended hours’ sleep[1], except on New Year’s Eve – I didn’t get to bed until about 3 am (after late night snacking), sleep was disrupted and I was up again (eating crisps!) around 8 am.

Cats: the masters of sleep! (This was my beautiful girl)

Alcohol

Okay, so talking about New Year’s Eve – I should mention this was the only time I consumed alcohol this week. But, I’m ashamed to confess it was a big binge (with everyone else) and the next morning I was ‘hugging the toilet’ and felt terrible! And when I could finally keep food down, I was ravenous – I ate a massive bowl of pasta and a whole garlic baguette! (This doesn’t sound at all good so far does it?):

Image: Alexas Fotos, Pixabay

Dry January:

However, I turned this unfortunate booze incident into positive action, as it convinced me to do Dry January[2]. I can proudly report that when I went to a couple of pubs at the weekend, I didn’t drink any alcohol (and didn’t snack when I got home). Unfortunately, the alternative drinks were either loaded with free sugars (juice, sodas) or artificial sweeteners (sodas). And, I feel cheeky just drinking soda water in a pub, although next time I must at least include a couple:

Image: Steve Buissine, 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…

Christmas Left-overs:

Food-wise, it’s been a week of trying to finish the Christmas leftovers – I’ve eaten loads of cashew cheese on crackers in various guises! I was craving broccoli, so decided to have the last piece of Wellington and sprouts with broccoli, cauliflower and carrot cheesy bake using some of the leftover cashew cheese. I had my My Typical Salad with the last of the stuffing and coleslaw. Also, I’ve eaten too much of my fudge and chocolate (presents) – my intention was to work my way slowly through it – instead I’m in danger of forming a habit! Disappointingly, I’ve only eaten fruit once – papaya with freshly squeezed lime – it was delicious and I’m craving more:

The last of the Christmas leftovers (well, nearly).

Dinner: Eating Out:

I had one meal out – it’s ‘Veganuary[3] after all, so loads of extra choices for me! I chose the healthiest looking option on the menu ‘Jerk’ – Caribbean black bean and jerk jackfruit with rice ‘n peas, mango salsa and plantain chips – it was lovely! I couldn’t resist the chocolate brownie and salted caramel ice cream, so the compromise was sharing it with a friend – I’ve had it before, it was just as amazing as I’d remembered it being:

Veganuary’ at the Black Phoenix – yum!

Exercise

Towards the end of the week I did three sessions on the exercise bike, totalling two hours – not as much as usual, but better than ‘nowt’. And, I started back at circuit training – it was tough but, felt good to get back on it – I ached loads the following two days though! I was pleased to include the boxing pad work for the first time in ages. But, sadly, it’s off the cards again, as my wrist gave way when I was simply getting a container out of the fridge (ridiculous!) – #hypermobility challenges[4]:

My happy post-circuits face (those endorphins must’ve been flowing!)

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

So, what were the results of this abnormal week? Well, not too bad really. I was dreading getting on the scales – I was certain the numbers had gone up, but as it was, they pretty much stayed the same. Quite frankly I was relieved!:

My week 11 results (very slight reduction in body fat)

Yep, I’m still classified as obese and progress is slow, but I’m confident I can move forward this year, especially after we get through these gloomy Winter months. I’m actually looking forward to the challenge…

Sky over the Galapagos Islands (my favourite holiday destination), 2008

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 12>>>
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References

1. National Sleep Foundation, 2015. National Sleep Foundation recommends new sleep times [online]. Available from: www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need.
2. Alcohol Change UK, Ca. 2019. Dry January [online]. Available from: https://alcoholchange.org.uk/get-involved/campaigns/dry-january.
3. Veganuary, 2019. Veganuary [online]. Available from: https://uk.veganuary.com/.
4. Hypermobility Syndromes Association, 2017. What are hypermobility syndromes? [online]. Available from: www.hypermobility.org/what-are-hypermobility-syndromes.

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