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 68: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Enjoy the Little Things

Enjoy the little things. Image: Merry Christmas (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

I’m pleased to report that on the whole, it’s felt like a really positive week.

Covid vaccine update:

I love that many of my family and some close friends have either been invited to, or already received the vaccine, including my Dad (yay!), most of my Aunts and Uncles, cousin, sister’s boyfriend and two of my best friends. And it won’t be too long now before it’s my Mum’s turn. It finally feels like we’re properly moving towards getting out of this pandemic mess.

I have an article brewing:

Last week I told you I’d attended a brilliant expert panel discussion about the UK vaccines: The Race for a Vaccine[1] hosted by The Royal Society. And this week, I watched: Covid-19 Vaccines: What we know so far[2] hosted by the ZOE Symptom Study – also a great event. Next week, I’ll be attending yet another: Beating COVID-19 – Vaccines, Trials and Prevention[3] by University of Southampton. My plan is to collate the three discussions into a blog article.

Job application update:

Remember last week I told you I’d applied for an NHS admin role in Occupational Health? Well, I didn’t even get an interview. I sent my supporting statement to a friend who already works in the NHS and he said my application was… excellent, maybe too excellent. He suggested I request feedback, so I did. The response was that my application was “very good and details well your roles and experience…we have recommended you go on our reserve list”. Where I fell short was “recent, relatable administrative experience using various patient systems” – at least now I know how to move forward on my next admin application.

Facebook Admin

I had my first MS Teams online meet, so that’s another form of socialising technology I can happily use now. Dawn and I met to discuss further updates to the Covid Long-Haulers food group. I do enjoy our little social chats before we get down to business.

The Rugby Six Nations:

I’d completely forgotten that the rugby Six Nations was starting on Saturday, with two matches, so my day unexpectedly became rather lazy, as I settled down in front of the tele (but let’s not discuss the England results). There was another match on Sunday, so I achieved a bit more that day at least.

Food and Nutrition

Okay, moving on to 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 ate cornflakes three times this week. I’m going to try re-introducing my pre-low histamine diet cereal again and see how I get on with it. I’d totally forgotten about my pledge to eat porridge oats at least once a week until Sunday, so I managed one portion, with apple, chia seeds, sweet cinnamon and golden syrup. Other than that, I missed breakfast once, had just two Brazil nuts another day and indulged in Nairn’s Oaties biscuits another time:

Week 68 Breakfasts. Left: Cornflakes. Right: Porridge oats with apple

Lunch:

I had some form of salad for lunch every day. I’d made a batch of vegetable balls (details here) to accompany my salads, which I ate four days straight – they tasted so good! I ate the veg balls in a pitta bread with salad over three days – I’m loving that I can get away with eating some gluten free bread products again. I have been a bit indulgent though, as Mum found me a soya-free garlic vegan mayo and I’ve been stirring a teaspoon of it into my salad – I need to do this less, as it’s high in saturated fat:

Week 68 Lunches. Left: Sweetcorn and onion ‘omelette with salad. Right: Veg balls and salad in pitta

Dinner:

Mum really wanted me to make her some scrambled tofu, so I decided to undergo a histamine challenge (food re-introduction) by having some too, in a wrap with fried potatoes on the side – I think I had a bit of a reaction, but it was well controlled by my antihistamine medication. Another highlight was the fennel steaks with Mum’s homemade chips (fries) – I ate way more chips than I should have! Oh, and there was also the roasted butternut squash with seeds and fusilli pasta – sooo good (details here) – this was a nice change to my go-to fusilli with vegetables and seeds, which I also had twice this week. Another day I cooked up some rice, vegetables and seeds, but wanted to add more excitement to my meal, so I accompanied it with cheesy garlic bread using a pitta pocket (small pitta) – more saturated fat:

Week 68 Dinners Log Table
Week 68 Dinners. Clockwise: Fennel steaks with Mum’s chips and not tomato sauce. Butternut squash and seed fusilli. Scrambled tofu wrap with fried potatoes and not tomato sauce. Vegetable and seed rice with cheesy garlic bread

Snacks:

I can’t believe I didn’t snack at all on Wednesday! On the other days I indulged in the usual sweet and salty popcorn, nuts and crackers. I do love beetroot – so on Monday, I snacked on beetroot leftover from lunch. Mum bought me some salted caramel and chocolate puddings, as I’d seen theirs last week and was a bit envious that I couldn’t have any. It was risky, but I decided to try one and honestly, I was a bit disappointed, so I told Mum she could have the other one – if I’m going to take a histamine risk, it has to be for something I really, really want:

Week 68 Snacks. Left: Steamed beetroot. Right: Plant Pioneer salted caramel and chocolate pudding

Drinks:

As you know, chicory is my go-to coffee alternative, so I had several cups of these each day. Other than that, I also had some apple and elderflower juice a couple of days, on top water intake:

Week 68 Drinks Log Table

Exercise

I was easily more active this week compared to last week’s abysmal 27 minutes walking. I totalled 224 minutes (3.7 hours) walking, of which 162 minutes (2.7 hours) were brisk. I’ve been considering giving the exercise bike a go, but I’ve been putting it off, as I’m nervous about causing a histamine reaction. I’m going to aim for a gentle exercise bike session next week though:

Week 68 Exercise

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

Well, it could be worse, at least I didn’t gain any weight, but I did stay the same, despite the additional activity levels. But annoyingly, I gained body fat, so I need to keep an eye on this – starting by reducing the saturated fat intake:

Week 68 Results: Weight, BMI and Body Fat

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

I actually had trouble deciding which smile-provokers to include this week, as there were quite a few, so I decided it would be fun to focus mostly on the little unexpected occurrences…

Tasty Balls:

…But firstly, I want to share my yummy vegetable and seed balls triumph with you. As I mentioned last week, my appetite has increased during these Winter months, resulting in larger portions. So, instead of making a cornmeal and quinoa based ‘omelette’ and eating the whole thing, I decided to add extra flax and chia seeds to firm up the mixture and make balls instead, and freeze some before I had the chance to go back for more (details here). This tasty batch kept me going for four days – excellent:

Batch cooked veg (courgette, carrot and sweetcorn) and seed (flax and chia) balls

Massive Onions:

We received some massive sweet white onions from Ocado – I was suitably impressed:

Massive white onion shown against an apple and mug, for context

Brilliant Blue:

It was a beautifully sunny Saturday morning, so Mum, Dad and I sat out to have a late morning cuppa together. It was pleasantly warm with the sun shining down on us. And the sky was such a brilliant bright blue colour:

Beautiful blue Winter sky

Is it Spring yet?:

I’m not a fan of the Winter months, so I was excited to see signs of Spring approaching, firstly noticing the appearance of Dad’s crocuses when we sat outside for our cuppas. And the following day we spotted a row of them by the roadside when Mum and I were out walking:

Is it Spring yet? Top: Dad’s blooming crocuses. Bottom: Roadside crocus row

Mask Fail:

What can I say? I wouldn’t want to be standing in the vaccine queue next to the lady who appears to be wearing her mask as an awkward earring. And don’t even get me started on the lack of physical distancing:

Mask fail: Department of Health vaccine rollout plan – 2nd part of diagram (BBC News)

Home Schooling – Learning the ‘F’ Word:

This one was a laugh-out-loud moment. I was talking to Bevy and Harry on Zoom and they showed me their son’s recent home school writing task – set by the school. For context, the children were being taught to write using a tree and monkey story to help them figure out where to start the letter. Now, do we really believe that the teachers didn’t realise what they’d done, or perhaps they wanted to give the parents a laugh, or subconsciously teach children the ‘F’ word?:

Home schooling: “Okay, today we’re going to learn the ‘F’ word”

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things”

Robert Brault, author

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. The Royal Society, 2021. The Race for a Vaccine.
2. ZOE Symptom Study, 2021. Covid-19 Vaccines: What we know so far.
3. University of Southampton, 2021. Beating COVID-19 – Vaccines, Trials and Prevention.

More from What’s on Watson’s Plate

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

Love, Learn, Create

Mum’s painted portrait of me

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

What’s New

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

Job application:

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

Facebook Admin:

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

Covid update:

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

Building my Knowledge:

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

Food and Nutrition

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

Breakfast:

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

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

Lunch:

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

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

Dinner:

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

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

Snacks:

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

Week 67 Snacks

Drinks:

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

Week 67 Drinks

Exercise

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

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

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

Week 67 Results: Weight, BMI and Body Fat

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

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

Lettuce Love:

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

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

Heart to Heart:

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

MyNutriWeb Webinar: All Things Diet and Heart Health

Journal Club – Mobile Apps and Health:

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

MyNutriWeb Journal Club: Nutrition before and during Pregnancy

Professor Brian Cox:

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

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

My Painted Portrait with Turtles (of course):

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

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

Spot the Secret:

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

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

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

>>>Week 68
<<<Week 66
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More from What’s on Watson’s Plate

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 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 61: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Unexpected Delights

Rainbow Spotted during my Walk

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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

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!

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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.

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Health Diary Week 60: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Mindfulness in the Woods

Woodland Trees

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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

This week felt quite productive on the whole – I completed some job applications and arranged a new shower installation for my tenants. But Tuesday was the exception – I achieved very little, owing to a case of bad rhinitis, which continued into the following afternoon. My poor nose was ever so sore. I’m unsure what triggered my histamine reaction. I’m wondering whether it was something in my multivitamin and mineral supplement, which I’ve not taken as often as I’d intended over fear it could set me off – I’ll have to keep track of this.

And, I’ve been more social, albeit mostly online, despite being ‘allowed’ to socialise with up to six people outside (England Tier 2 ). On Wednesday I had a lovely mindfulness catch-up with Karen, Julie and Chrissy, although sadly not in person as previously planned, because it was very cold. Thursday was my most social day, starting with a visit from my uncle who we probably haven’t seen for over a year. He was working in the area, so joined us on the driveway for a cuppa. I then caught up with some friends online.

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 and health…

Breakfast:

No porridge oats for me this week – I just didn’t fancy it. But I know I should eat more oats, as they’re a good fibre source and I definitely need more fibre in my life now that legumes (beans, peas and pulses) are out on the low histamine diet – I really hope I can re-introduce them in the not so distant future. Instead, I ate nuts, apples and rice cakes with jam:

Week 60 Breakfasts: Left: Rice cake with black cherry jam and an aple. Right: Brazil and pistachio nuts

Lunch:

I ate salad for lunch five times this week, usually accompanied by either polenta or cornmeal frittata. I’m in a Facebook group, which includes people with histamine intolerance and was surprised to hear that corn is a trigger for some – fingers crossed this doesn’t present as an issue for me, as it’s become a staple on my low histamine diet. In fact, on Thursday, my lunch was just cornmeal mash with courgette (zucchini). And on Friday I made my best cornmeal frittata yet. We were lacking fresh salad on Wednesday, so I made a simple rice with turmeric and courgette – I should have used brown rice for added fibre, but I was hungry and craving white rice, which is quicker to cook:

Week 60 Lunches: Left to right: Salad with polenta balls. Turmeric rice. Salad with my best cornmeal frittata yet

Dinner:

I had a couple of meals from the freezer during the week: frittata with roastie potatoes and butternut squash risotto. Unfortunately, the risotto is less risotto-like texturally after it’s been frozen, but it still tasted good. On Monday I had a very satisfying plate of veg: roasted potato, sweet potato and carrot with pan-fried cabbage and courgette. As I was feeling rough on Tuesday, I opted for my simple pasta of sweetcorn, spring onion and turmeric. Thursday was my favourite baked potato combo of courgette and sweetcorn (I know – lots of courgettes this week). I made a tasty vegetable spaghetti on Friday with… courgettes (of course), baby sweet peppers and sweetcorn (my other easy go-to veg). My highlight was the cauliflower ‘cheese’ Mum made at my request with sweet potato instead of cheese – more on that in What Made Watson Smile:

Week 60 Dinners Log Table
Week 60 Dinners: Clockwise: Cauliflower ‘cheese’. Vegetable spaghetti. Plate of vegetables. Courgette and sweetcorn jacket potato

Snacks:

I didn’t snack much this week, but when I did it was usually sweet and salty popcorn. I ate chia and flax crackers a couple of times and once I chose rice cakes with jam. I should try to include some fruit into my snacking to mix it up a bit and reduce my free sugars and salt content:

Week 60 Snacks Log Table

Drinks

I’m consuming a lot of Chicory Cup (alternative coffee), which is completely okay (especially as it’s a source of fibre), except that I add a little sugar (1/4 teaspoon) to each drink, so I need to be mindful about this. Other hot drinks were rooibos and peppermint teas. I also drank some juices – I don’t want to be having too many of these due to the high sugar content:

Week 60 Drinks Log Table

Exercise

It’s been another gentle week exercise-wise, focusing solely on walking (when the weather was decent). I only went out three times and I can’t always blame the weather for the days I didn’t walk. But it was an improvement on last week (that wasn’t hard), totalling just over two hours strolling. My motivation for walking was renewed at the end of the week after watching a video shared by fellow blogger, Effective Diet Plan, reviewing the scientific evidence on how 30 minute daily walks can aid weight loss – so now I’m going to have to prove that in next week’s blog:

Week 60 Exercise – Walks: Left and right: Interesting tree trunks. Middle: My week’s Active 10 walks

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

Oh no, my weight is gradually increasing again – I gained 1 lb (0.5 kg) and 0.2% body fat. I will get this under control again, although I’m not exactly eating loads. I guess I need to get out on those walks I just talked about. But also, I might have gotten a bit overly generous with the rapeseed oil in cooking and as dressings – I’ll still use the oil, but be more conscious about how much I’m using each time:

Week 60 Results: Weight, BMI and Body Fat

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

Okay, let’s get some smiles on our faces…

Saucy Goodness:

I love cauliflower cheese – so much! But most cheeses, including hard dairy varieties, soya and some nut-based ones are an issue on a low histamine diet. So, this presented the perfect opportunity to try making a sweet potato cheese sauce alternative. Well Mum actually made it, because I was engrossed in completing a job application. The great thing about this was that it reduced total and saturated fat content, as cheeses tend to contain a lot. The ingredients are here if you’d like to give it a try. I reckon it would also be great in a mac and cheese:   

Cauliflower ‘cheese’ – Just look at all that non-cheesy (sweet potato) saucy goodness – yum!

Woodland Secrets:

Mum and I wandered through a little woodland area, looking for interesting trees and bark to photograph for Mum’s latest weekly art project. We stumbled upon a pathway we hadn’t noticed before and spotted this rather beautiful scene. The path ended in a clearing within the woods:

Woodland Walk

Mum’s Mindfulness-Provoking Art Projects:

There’s been a beneficial knock-on effect of Mum’s weekly art projects. Mum tells me the theme and if relevant, I’ll spend time more mindfully, looking carefully at what’s around me during my walks in case there’s photo opportunities for Mum. Last week’s mission was garden gates, which I tried to take photos of discretely. This week, as mentioned above, was trees and their bark, so I took photos of the ones below to provide Mum more options to choose from:

Interesting Trees and their bark. The one on the left looks like it has a face, don’t you think?

Hello Heron:

I was delighted to watch this heron gracefully alight on my neighbour’s rooftop while I was diligently working away at my computer. I wish I could have got a closer shot. In my excitement, I fumbled with my phone trying to take photos of the heron mid-flight as it flew away – as you can see by my unsuccessful efforts below:

Heron Visitor

Land Rover Parking Zone:

So, I was sat at the dinner table with my parents when I glanced towards the Christmas tree and noticed a little, rather battered, Land Rover parked underneath it. I asked what this was about (it’s not like we have any kids in the house) and Dad’s response was “Oh, so that’s where it went” – no further explanation – has Dad started playing with toy cars during lockdown boredom? Upon more questioning, he explained that he’d found it lurking under some furniture. I wonder if it’s still parked under the tree – I’ll have to check:

Parked Land Rover under the Christmas tree

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 58: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

I Changed My Plan

Plan Change. Image: yogesh more, 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 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.

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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.

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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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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
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More from What’s on Watson’s Plate:

Health Diary Week 55: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Embracing Creativity: Week 3 Histamine Elimination

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

What’s New

The biggest news was England going into another lockdown from Thursday until 2nd December (they say). I’m aware that when restrictions ease again, it doesn’t mean the virus is retracting, it just means there’s available space in hospitals, so I’ll continue to be cautious. Anyway, moving on…

This was Week 3 of my histamine elimination diet – as of Sunday, I haven’t taken any antihistamines or steroid spray for 16 days. But I nearly caved on Sunday, as I had a terrible case of rhinitis – I’ll have to look back through my diary and try to figure out the trigger. I’ve noticed I wake every morning with mild rhinitis, leading me to hypothesise there’s another environmental factor in addition to diet. I spend a lot of time in the same room, so I’m wondering whether something in there is triggering my reactions – do I need to remove the carpet? Or maybe it’s a toiletry product? – I’ve had to make a few changes based on what’s available online.

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 finished off the blueberry muffins for breakfast at the beginning of the week – I’m wondering if this caused an issue, because they were a few days old. I had my trusty porridge oats on three days, with apple or nectarine and seeds, sweet cinnamon and maple syrup – so good! Also, I had easy brown rice cakes with jam a couple of times:

Week 55 Breakfasts: I’m a porridge oats convert

Lunch:

I’m enjoying My New Typical Salad, which I had four times this week, twice with brown rice pasta. I also had a delicious watercress salad from our veg box delivery – I replaced the usual citrus and balsamic dressing with my go-to sweet paprika and rapeseed oil, which worked well. The Institute for Functional Medicine reported that watercress may reduce histamine release from mast cells[1], so it could be a good choice. On Friday, I defrosted Mum’s new version of my favourite cauliflower soup – she’d replaced almonds with ground Brazil nuts and used flaxseeds as a thickener – yum:

Week 55 Lunches: Left: My New Typical Salad. Right: Watercress salad. Delicious!

Dinner:

I started the week with an Autumnal dinner of pumpkin with spaghetti – I loved this. Another day, I had Mum’s homemade cauliflower soup. I was pleased with my rice experiment of courgette and grated purple carrot with basmati – I’d be happy to have that again (and I did). I attempted to make fiddly spring rolls – they tasted great but didn’t look pretty (see What Made Watson Smile). Mum and I made mashed potato with green cabbage and onion (colcannon-style), accompanied by roasted purple carrot, courgette, cauliflower and broccoli – a very comforting meal. When I felt rough on Sunday, I wasn’t going to bother with dinner, but Mum insisted on making me a baked potato with courgette and spring onion – I suggested adding turmeric to the rapeseed oil, as turmeric could inhibit histamine release from mast cells[1] – it was a joy to eat:

Week 55 Dinners Table
Week 55 Dinners. Clockwise: Pumpkin spaghetti. Carrot and courgette rice, Courgette and onion baked potato, mashed potato with cabbage, accompanied by roasted veg

Snacks:

My go-to snacks are now popcorn, rice cakes with jam and Brazil and pistachio nuts. Interestingly, the selenium in Brazil nuts may reduce histamine release[1] – I know, I’m all about the histamine – it’s just a big deal at the moment:

Week 55 Snacks. Left to right: Rice cake with jam. Sweet popcorn. Brazil and pistachio nuts

Drinks

I didn’t resist adding oat milk to my rooibos tea and I’m thinking I should have to see if it could be an issue for me – I’ll try to next week. Other teas were apple with cinnamon and peppermint. I’ve ordered chamomile tea, as it may inhibit histamine release, although fresh was found to be more effective[1]:

Week 55 Drinks: Teas

Exercise

There was no exercise, as I’ve felt exhausted all week and lacked the motivation. I’m aiming to get some walks in next week – now I’ve said it, I’ll feel I should do it.

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

Another week of weight loss – a reasonable 0.8 lb (0.4 kg), a total of 13.6 lb (6.2 kg), bringing me close to losing a stone (14 lb/ 6.4 kg) in total. I’ll celebrate that milestone with a big bowl of ice cream – ha, just kidding! Maybe I’ll buy myself something nice, probably not food related. I was pleased my body fat reduced a bit this week (1.4%), as I feel like I’m consuming loads of fat through rapeseed oil:

Week 55 Results: Weight, BMI and Body Fat

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

Despite feeling really tired all week, suffering with rhinitis episodes and a continuing sore shoulder/arm, there was still plenty to smile about:

Munchkin Pumpkin:

I thought Mum was kidding when she said she’d bought me a Munchkin Pumpkin – I didn’t know little pumpkins were actually called that. What a cute name and I must say, it was rather tasty too:

My Munchkin Pumpkin

Pesky, Sticky, Flimsy Spring Roll Wrappers:

My attempt at making spring rolls was hilarious. Soaking the first wrapper and trying to keep it from sticking together in a blob was initially disastrous. I called Mum for assistance and she helped rectify the situation, whilst laughing at my mess. Soon I got the hang of it (well, kind of) – the wrappers really were so sticky! And when I was trying to cook my spring rolls without using too much oil, I ripped them open when turning – I need to rethink my method, because, despite this, I’ll definitely try making them again – they were really tasty:

My Vegetable Spring Rolls Attempt

Driveway Creatures:

We’ve had a few sunny days enabling us to enjoy some outside time by the driveway pond. I spotted a busy bee during Bevy’s visit and was pleased with the shot I captured. And we (my parents and I) were excited to see three ducks feeding in the pond on two days (video here) – we haven’t had any ducks since a brief lone visit in May. And there was more joy when we saw an elusive woodpecker fly up into the trees:

Driveway Creature Visitors. Clockwise: Busy bee. Ducks in the pond. Elusive woodpecker

Doorstep Fireworks:

I have mixed feelings about fireworks – I would never buy them myself as I wouldn’t want to be responsible for scaring animals or polluting the air, but I loved them as a child and have to admit these ones we viewed from our doorstep were pretty impressive and did bring a smile to my face:

Doorstep Fireworks

Last Minute Socials:

I was so pleased to meet up with a few friends in person before England entered its second lockdown. It was a gorgeously sunny day when I met Bevy – we watched the birds at the feeder while chatting. And then in the evening I met up with Karen, Chris and Julie – we sat around a firepit in Karen and Chris’s garden, keeping extra toasty wrapped up in blankets:

Outdoors Socialising: The toasty firepit

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 56
<<<Week 54
Home

References

1. The Institute for Functional Medicine, 2020. Mast Cell Stabilizing Foods.

More from What’s on Watson’s Plate