Health Diary Week 98: Attempting Life Balance

Image: Me balancing my fellow travelling friends, Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia (2008)

Home
<<<Week 97

Hi, welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate: health updates, meal creations and smile-provoking experiences. I’ve fallen a bit behind with posting again in my attempt to balance, work, play and rest.

My NHS Work Life

I definitely feel more comfortable in my Staff Wellbeing Admin role and I’m ready to take on more responsibilities (I’m five weeks in now). I still have loads of settling in to do yet with my Health and Wellbeing Coach job (it’s only week two): I attended the online Trust Induction, shadowed the Social Prescriber again and received some training on the GP patient system – there’s still loads more to learn and prepare before my clinic is up and running.

Histamine Food Challenge: Baked Beans

I was feeling reckless and craving baked beans, so I decided to top half of my jacket potato with some baked beans (one of the riskiest histamine ingredients, as it contains tomato) and a sliced pea-protein sausage! I took a DAO enzyme beforehand (just to be safer) and waited to see what happened – surprisingly, I seemed okay, so I’ll give it another go, without the enzyme, at some point:

Image: My jacket potato topped with baked beans and sliced sausage

Topped Meals

I hadn’t realised I’d been so into loading my meals with some kind of topping this past week. The most indulgent was my loaded cheesy nachos with a ‘ham slice’, spring onion and sweet paprika. I accompanied a salad with some free-from coleslaw (a small histamine risk). My pasta and rice were topped with reduced fat hummus (my addiction):

Image: My loaded meals. Clockwise: My typical low-histamine salad with coleslaw. My typical low-histamine easy pasta with ‘ham’ and topped with reduced fat hummus. Loaded cheesy nachos with ‘ham’, spring onion and sweet paprika. Vegetable rice topped with hummus

Physical Activity: Walking

I was pleased with the amount I walked, as I exceeded the government recommendation of 150 minutes moderate exercise, completing 172 minutes (nearly three hours) of brisk walking. My total was 296 minutes (nearly five hours) – I like to think those two slower hours included a great deal of mindfulness, like enjoying the scenery as I passed by:

Image: Left: River view on one of my walks. Right: My Active 10 week’s walks

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

And of course, here’s a few of my week’s smile-provokers…

Appreciating a ‘Duvet Day’:

I was tired after the social weekend, so I was very happy to spend most of the bank holiday Monday lazing in bed watching television. Sometimes doing nothing is the best, but too much gets boring. Working full-time again has really made me appreciate the times when I can do guilt-free nothing:

Image: Charlotte (one of my besties) and I enjoying a relaxing duvet-based “girls’ night in” (2006)

A pub night:

I was feeling a bit anxious about this pub visit for my friend, Tina’s, big birthday (looking fab Tina!). We were sat in the outside area which helped me feel more comfortable and it turned out to be an enjoyable evening. What’s more, I’ve adjusted to just drinking a couple of vodkas (instead of far too many) and I particularly like not waking up with a hangover the next day:

Image: Tina and I taking selfies at her ‘Big Birthday’ gathering at the local pub

An afternoon out with my parents:

My parents and I decided to have lunch at a marina cafe as it was such a sunny, warm day. We parked about thirty-minutes walk away to give ourselves some exercise there and back. I took one of my DAO enzymes (to counteract histamine effects from the food) and thoroughly enjoyed a butternut squash and avocado salad with chunky chips, and salted caramel dairy-free ice cream for dessert – delicious (and histamine rebellious):

Image: Clockwise: My salad and chips lunch. My salted caramel ice cream. My parents and I attempting a selfie. Our view of the marina (can you see the swan?)

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

>>>Week 99
<<<Week 97
Home

More from What’s on Watson’s Plate

Health Diary Week 96: Quality Family Time

Image: Elephant family (JL G, Pixabay)

Home
<<<Week 95

Hi, welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate: health updates, meal creations and smile-provoking experiences. I’m still trying to catch up with posting, but I keep getting delayed by my new work life and socialising (I can’t complain)…

Staff Wellbeing Hub Admin: Week Three

This was my third week in my new admin role, but also my last week on-site at the hospital before being based at home for the foreseeable future. I will miss the camaraderie of working directly with my job share, Lorraine. And while I won’t miss the early morning public transport commute, I will miss the walking part – I need to factor a walk into my working days.

Exercise: Walking

Talking about walking, my current physical activity is mostly limited to walking. I completed 320 minutes (over five hours) and was pleased to scrape the UK’s government recommendation for 150 minutes moderate exercise per week, in the form of brisk walking:

Image: My Active 10 walks and rewards for Week 96

My Low(ish) Histamine Meals

It’s been a while since I’ve shared meals I’ve prepared, so I thought I’d show you some of this week’s meals I made to substitute those the rest of my family were eating. My food choices are quite limited on this low histamine diet, although thankfully my options are slowly increasing…

Pasta, salad and garlic pitta:

I enjoyed my dinner of gluten free vegetable pasta (yellow bell pepper, courgette, sweetcorn, sweet white onion, garlic, chia seeds, B12 yeast flakes, turmeric, dried herbs and cold pressed rapeseed oil), served with a side salad (mixed leaves, red onion and cucumber) and a garlic pitta pocket – tasty:

Image: Pasta served with a salad & garlic pitta pocket

Vegetable & pistachio rice mix:

This vegetable brown and white rice dinner actually contained most of the same ingredients as the above pasta, except the pasta was swapped out for rice, and I added some chopped pistachios:

Image: Vegetable and pistachio rice mix

My tasty salad:

I love a salad. My go-to low histamine salad contains mixed leaves, spring onion, cucumber, radishes, beetroot, chia seeds and cold-pressed rapeseed oil. Here I took a risk and added pre-prepared roasted bell pepper and artichoke hearts. Also, I always accompany the leaves mix with a potato salad of steamed potatoes, hemp seeds, dried Italian herbs, turmeric, sweet paprika, vegan mayo (a teaspoon) and cold-pressed flax oil. Always satisfying:

Image: My tasty salad

Cheesy Nachos:

My end of the working week meal was indulgent cheesy nachos. I topped mine with coconut-based cheese (an occasional indulgence, as it is so high in saturated fat), roasted bell pepper, artichoke hearts, red onion, dried herbs and sweet paprika:

Image: Cheesy nachos

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

And of course, I couldn’t leave without sharing a couple of smile-provokers…

Family guests:

Kerry, my cousin-in-law (well near enough) and three of the children (two I hadn’t met before) stayed with us for a few days. It was great getting to know Kerry better and having time with the kids, albeit I was shattered by Thursday afternoon. I did very much enjoy my time with them though:

Image: Baby Eric

Memory lane – The shell house:

On one of our walks, Mum and I found this minature stone town in someone’s front garden. One of the neighbours told us it was built over fifty years ago and was far more impressive back then. What I loved most about this little scene was that it brought back happy memories of my grandparents taking my sister and I to see the Shell House near Bournemouth when we stayed with them – I was always excited to go there:

Image: Minature stone town

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

>>>Week 97
<<<Week 95
Home

More from What’s on Watson’s Plate

Health Diary Week 92: A Surreal Week

Image: Surreal time, Spinxh21 (Pixabay)

Home
<<<Week 91

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

Time Out

This week was the start of my two weeks off work to relax before starting my new job as an NHS Staff Wellbeing Hub Administrator. It started well: Gorgeous sunny weather and socialising, but then…

A Family Bereavement

…Very early on Wednesday morning, when you know it can only be bad news, we had a phone call: My cousin, Ben, had passed away suddenly from a heart attack. As well as it being an upsetting shock to the whole family, it also made me think about my mortality, as Ben was only a few years older than me (still in his forties). I want to be here for many more years, and crucially, enjoy those years feeling as healthy as possible.

Exercise: Walking

As part of my health-promoting behaviours, I’ve been trying to get out more for walks (a convenient, low impact activity). I was pleased to achieve 334 minutes (over five and a half hours) total walking, of which 246 minutes (four hours) were brisk. Active 10 rewarded me 2000 Club (2,000 brisk minutes since starting a year ago), Perfect Week (for hitting my daily targets) and Wonder Week (for daily brisk walking) – go me:

Image: My Active 10 walks and rewards. Left: Week 92 walks – 334 minutes total, 246 minutes brisk. Right: My rewards: 2000 Club, Wonder Week and Perfect Week

Histamine Food Challenges

This week my main histamine risks were avocado and lentils:

Avocado:

Last week, I’d started re-introducing a little avocado back into my life and I thought all was going well. But I got carried away, increasing the quantity and consuming avocado several days in a row. By Thursday I was suffering with some sneezy and snotty issues – no surprise really. So, I’ve decided to quit the avocado for now and try again another time:

Image: Avocado on my plate of salad delights

Lentil dhal:

On Monday, my parents had visitors – friends we met when we lived in the Caribbean back in the 80’s. Mum cooked up a curry lunch and ensured I could tuck into the side dishes: Lentil dhal with rice, spiced cauliflower and potatoes – yum! The dhal was made with the usual spices, so these were a risk on top of the lentils:

Image: Some of Mum’s curry feast. Lentil dhal (centre dish), spiced cauliflower, spiced potatoes and rice

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

Despite the difficult news, there were still occasions for smiles this week, so I’d like to share some of these with you…

Rusty the loving dog:

A big highlight was cuddles with the gorgeous Rusty, who visited with Dennis and Jenny, our neighbours when we lived in the Caribbean. Rusty loves attention and I was very happy to accommodate him, so we spent most of the day together:

Image: Rusty the loving dog lying with his leg on my lap (we spent much of the day like this)

Bevy, Loki and a new campanula:

Looking back, it was actually quite a social week. As well as my parents’ visitors, I met with Karen, Julie and Chrissy for our monthly catch up with mindfulness (courtesy of Chrissy). Also, I had my usual weekly visit with ‘my dear friend’ Bevy (and Loki kitten). Bevy proudly showed me her latest campanula plant, grown from cuttings of the one I’d bought her years ago:

Image: Loki kitten with the new campanula outside plant (a cutting from the one I’d gifted Bevy)

I went to the pub:

The big social event was a visit to the pub (outside) with friends. I have to admit it ended up being a bit of a sensory overload situation by late evening with people becoming inebriated and louder, whereas I hadn’t consumed much alcohol and was sober. I left at the end of the evening feeling quite anxious and was relieved to return home. But, having said that, it was exciting to go out and lovely to see everyone together in person:

Image: Me ready for an evening at the pub with friends

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

>>>Week 93
<<<Week 91
Home

More from What’s on Watson’s Plate

Health Diary Week 90: Feeling Appreciated

Thank you postcard received, as part of the NHS Big Tea event, 2021

Home
<<<Week 89

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

Physiotherapy

I had another in-person physio appointment, which was great as a couple of new exercises were introduced to improve movement of my dominant arm behind my back and to increase overall shoulder strength. It is expected I’ll only need one more appointment, as I’ve almost recovered normal use of my arm – great news.

Exercise: Walking

In my current job, I can get in a fair amount of walking during a shift, even when working in a seated role – I recorded 70 minutes walking on the day I was mainly sat updating medical records in the vaccine bay – I try to get up and move around between vaccine vials (when the vaccine drawers need to prepare the next batch). My total weeks walking was recorded on my Active 10 phone app as 296 minutes, of which 101 minutes were brisk.  And sometimes I don’t have my phone on me, so my stats are lower than the amount I actually walked. I still need to get out for more brisk walks though, as you can see in the below graph:

Image: My Active 10 walking stats. Left: My week’s walking log. Right: 70 minutes walking when working in a seated role (not bad)

Food Risks

I don’t know what got into me this week – perhaps it’s because I was feeling particularly well since having the antihistamine combo (Loratadine liquid in the morning and Cetirizine liquid before bed), so I got a bit lax on my low histamine diet. As it was, my rhinitis and fatigue symptoms started flaring up on Saturday, but they calmed down by Sunday – phew! I experienced minor gut ache, which could have been histamine related or due to the re-introduction and increase in different types of fibre (legumes) as explained in my article: Carbs: The Good, the Bad and the Sometimes ‘Farty’![2]. Anyway, here’s more about what I ate:

Scrambled tofu:

Mum wanted scrambled tofu again (as did I), so of course I made us all some. The tofu itself was a risk (significant histamine symptoms expected[1]), and the risk was further increased with my wholegrain pitta (yeast, fermented products) and cauliflower hash browns (sunflower oil, black pepper). I absolutely loved this comfort food meal and don’t regret it one bit:

Image: My scrambled tofu with pitta, hash browns and notomato sauce (a proper comfort meal)

Broad beans (risotto):

Now, I love broad beans, to the extent I used to cook up a whole batch, peel off the outer coat and just eat them as a snack. But, they are listed as “Incompatible, significant symptoms at usual intake”[1], so I’d obediently avoided them. But I’d been craving them recently and they’re seasonal, so I didn’t want to miss the opportunity. Mum kindly cooked up a rather delicious risotto loaded with broad beans, asparagus and courgette – divine!:

Image: Mum’s green risotto: broad beans, asparagus and courgette (divine)

Chickpeas (hummus):

Now, the chip butty is one of the Brit’s proud inventions – basically a chip (fries) sandwich – trust me they’re wonderful. And when I visited Amsterdam (many years ago), they made amazing falafel wraps loaded with hummus and salad. Well, I kind of combined these two delights to make my own creation – chips, salad and hummus pitta – I can’t even begin to tell you how good this was! But risks were taken (again) – the frozen oven chips were pre-cooked in sunflower oil (single dose considered okay[1]) and hummus is listed as incompatible[1], and there were the pitta bread ingredients as well – but it was totally worth it:

Image: Chip, hummus and salad butty (yum!)

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

As always, I’m very happy to share a couple of my smile-provokers with you…

A family visit:

My Uncle Chris dropped in for a visit as he was in the area for work. It was lovely to see him and catch up on some family updates. The last proper family event where I saw this part of my family was at my cousin Alice’s wedding in Liverpool, a great vibrant city – we had a fabulous weekend. Hopefully, we’ll meet up with the wider family in the not-too-distant future:

Image: Mum and I (and Cilla), Liverpool, 2018

Return of the long-tailed tits:

Our long-tailed tit bird visitors have returned. These little fluff balls are so cute – they look like little anime characters. I was starting to worry that we wouldn’t get to see them this year, because the starlings have been so dominant at our bird feeder:

Image: Oldiefan (Pixabay): Long-tailed tits. My own photos just didn’t do these little cuties justice

Feeling appreciated:

On Tuesday, I got to my work position to find a little message for us all on one of the boards, wishing us a “Happy Tuesday” – courtesy of one of our friendly security guards. Then during my break, I received a gift bag as part of the “NHS Big Tea” event – they contained a cupcake, cup with tea and coffee and a thank you post card – how lovely. I passed on these treats to Dad who seemed to enjoy them:

Image: NHS positivity. Clockwise: “Happy Tuesday” message. NHS Big Tea gift bag. “A Big Thank you NHS” sign on someone’s house that we pass on my way home. The cupcake and postcard from the NHS Big Tea

I feel a lot of appreciation recalling the moments that bring me happiness. Likewise, feeling appreciated makes me happy too – I receive a lot of that nowadays since working for the NHS, from both patients and line managers – I really appreciate the appreciation – thanks so much to all those lovely people:

Image: NHS appreciation on one of the walls at the Covid vaccination centre where I currently work

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

>>>Week 91
<<<Week 89
Home

References

1. Swiss Interest Group Histamine Intolerance (SIGHI), 2016. Food Compatibility List.
2. Watson, K, 2019. Carbs: The Good, the Bad and the Sometimes ‘Farty’!.
3. RSPB, Ca. 2021. Long-tailed tit.

More from What’s on Watson’s Plate

Health Diary Week 79: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Sunny Spring

Beautiful blossom and blue sky on one of my walks

Home
<<<Week 78

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

Covid Adminstrator shifts – yay!

I was concerned that I hadn’t heard back about starting my role as “Covid Administrator” despite chasing it up. So, I was talking to my parents about how I was going to consider other NHS temp bank positions, when I received a phone call to obtain my availability for shifts at the vaccine centre – how exciting! I’m going to work three days per week for now, starting next week (at time of writing, this week!). I’ll let you know how it goes in my next post.

Histamine update

It was a rough week with the histamine issues. I suspect the high tree pollen count contributed to the problem. The symptoms (cold-like) gradually worsened throughout the week and by Thursday (after my morning walk) I was completely floored for the rest of the day. I’m worried about how I will cope at work if I can’t control these symptoms. How can I possibly not appear scarily germy and manage to wear a mask all day?

So, I completed another e-Consult Doctor’s form requesting referral to an Immunology Clinic and asking if I could try mast cell stabilisers (to calm down the cells that release histamine) – I’ve started wondering whether my issue is more to do with over-active mast cells, rather than a histamine intolerance (a problem with the enzymes that break down histamine). I need professional medical help to figure this out. In the meantime, I’m being extra careful again about minimising histamine food risks:

Some of my low histamine meals this week. Clockwise: Pasta salad. Veg and seed rice. Veg and seed noodles. Fennel steaks with homemade chips and notomato sauce

Exercise: Walking rewards

I was really pleased with myself for going out walking every day this week, despite feeling unwell. “Active 10” recognised my efforts and gave me three rewards this week: “1,000 Club” for reaching over 1,000 minutes brisk walking since I first downloaded the app, “High Five” for five out of seven days brisk walking (I achieved seven days) and “Perfect Week” for hitting my brisk walking target everyday – go me! But, I still gained a pound (0.45 kg) in weight – it doesn’t seem fair:

My Active 10 rewards and week’s walking record. Clockwise: Perfect Week. High Five. My week’s walks. 1,000 Club

Food creation: Baked oats

I had to give the baked porridge oats another try (details here), of course with a few improvements. This time I added blueberries, as well as the fresh apple and black cherry jam (I’d also meant to add quinoa flakes, but completely forgot!). And, after baking I added a drizzle of macadamia nut butter – absolutely delicious!:

Food creation: Baked oats with blueberry, apple, black cherry jam and a macadamia nut butter drizzle

Food creation: Egg-free ‘omelette’

It’s been a while since I’ve made one of my ‘omelettes’ for lunch, so I decided it was about time I made one again. (Okay, so this wasn’t actually an omelette, but I don’t know what else to call it, so ‘omelette’ will have to suffice for now). The base was a mix of cornmeal and quinoa flakes, whilst the filling was yellow pepper, courgette/zucchini and seeds. I got a bit carried away with the seed topping! I had three portions leftover to freeze – bonus. The omelette accompanied my usual salad (I need to write a post sometime about my new typical salad since being on a low histamine diet):

My egg-free ‘omelette’ creation, accompanied by my new typical salad

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

It’s been a good week, if we ignore the histamine issues. We had glorious sunshine culminating in lots of outside time, including socialising with friends…

Socials and a kitten:

My social week included a lovely online catch up with Marjory, whilst I was sat outside bird watching and enjoying the sunshine. Also, I visited Tina and Ben and enjoyed a chat in their sunny garden spot – so nice to see friends in real life. And, I walked up to Bevy and Harry’s to meet Loki, their new, adorable Maine Coon kitten (and socialise with Bevy, and Harry of course):

Kitten cuteness. Top right: Loki, the Maine Coon, when he first arrived home. Other pics: Loki now. Awww – cute, cute, cute!

Dragonfly visitor:

A dragonfly landed on me while I was quietly sat reading in the garden. I love dragonflies:

Dragonfly. Image: Tanuj Handa, Pixabay

Cactus corner:

I was admiring the new cactus corner in the conservatory, when I noticed that my real-life cactus plant was flowering – I’ve had that cactus for years – it’s the only one that survived from a set of four. I was also impressed by Mum’s latest ‘repair shop’ work on my fake cacti – I wish there was a before-and-after photo, because Mum did such a good job of livening them back up with a bit of skilful painting and adding decorative flowers:

Cactus corner. My real-life flowering cactus and Mum’s cacti repair work

The case of mistaken identity:

I finally realised that my neighbour’s cat, “Not Molly” is in fact “Molly”. I was concerned that Molly was no longer coming to visit, and her elusive brother was visiting instead. But when I was discussing this with my parents, my Dad, said “Are you sure this isn’t Molly?”. I was convinced it wasn’t Molly, because this one had a moustache. But then I looked back through my photos and realised Molly did indeed have a moustache and was clearly the same cat – how could I not have noticed the moustache before? I felt so silly, but also relieved Molly is okay:

Cat confusion:“Not Molly” is “Molly”

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

>>>Week 80
<<<Week 78
Home

More from What’s on Watson’s Plate