Health Diary Week 72: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Ch-ch-changes

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<<<Week 71

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

What’s New

I just have a couple of updates this week:

I’m changing my blog:

Recently I’ve been thinking about how I can sustain writing my blog when I have less free time with the imminent return to work (which I’m rather excited about). I want to ensure a healthy balance between work, blogging and leisure to best support my overall health.

So what have I decided? Going forward, I feel it’s time to leave the food diary reporting behind – I still need to log possible histamine reaction foods with slow re-introduction of more diversity into my diet, so I will let you know what I’ve introduced successfully (or not). I intend to continue sharing what’s happening in my life and any new food creations or particularly tasty meals, because I do love food. Once a month I’ll report on my health results (e.g. body fat percentage and weight), although my main focus now is promoting an all-round healthy lifestyle. And I will continue sharing smile-provoking experiences – appreciation of the little things in life to boost our resilience and protect our mental health.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about my plans. What would you like to see?

Another job interview:

I had an interview for admin support in training and education at a local hospice, still part of the NHS, but also a charity. I didn’t expect an interview, because one of the essentials was a driving licence – I never learnt to drive due to coordination difficulties (dyspraxia[1]). Anyway, back to the interview. I had to attend in person – all my other interviews were via Zoom – it was a challenge finding a suitable outfit! I did a Word and Excel test first, then faced a panel of three interviewers (from a distance, we were all masked-up). I think it went well and I enjoyed the interaction. I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime I still have my temporary admin role in a vaccination centre to look forward too.

Food and Nutrition

Let’s start with my nutrition updates and move on to my meal highlights…

Histamine issues:

I suffered for my birthday indulgences last week, on Monday and Tuesday. I was a bit lax and suspect one of the culprits was the cocoa birthday cake. I also had two units of vodka, which I’m sure added to the reaction. I guess my “histamine cup” overflowed.

At the end of the week I started re-trying the prescribed, much stronger antihistamine (fexofenadine hydrochloride). Previously, I stopped taking it after three days, as I ended up with terrible rhinitis, brain fog and fatigue. I discovered the ingredients included Allura Red (E129) – listed by Swiss Interest Group Histamine Intolerance as “incompatible, significant symptoms at usual intake” and “liberators of mast cell mediators (= histamine liberators)”[2] – why, oh why would the manufacturers put this in an antihistamine medication? – It’s just a food dye![3,4]. But I feel I have to persevere and try again to report back the Doctor confidently about its effects – I’ll let you know the outcome.

Covid Symptom Study diet scores:

Last year, I completed a diet survey for the ZOE Covid Symptom Study and this week I received back my results… Interestingly, my diet scores improved during the pandemic (August to September 2020) compared to pre-pandemic (February 2020). My traditional diet score was already good at 11 out of 15 but increased to 12. My gut friendly diet score improved from “satisfactory” to “good” – I’m unsure what I did differently here, because I can’t see my survey answers.

Covid Symptom Study diet scores. Left: Traditional diet score. Right: Gut friendly diet score

I’d love to see how my diet scores have changed now that I’ve had to adopt a low histamine diet (October 2020). I barely eat health-promoting legumes (e.g. beans, pulses) containing fibre and good quality protein – I really hope this can change soon. I rely on brown rice, cereal grains, oats, vegetables and fruit to support my fibre intake – my gut seems pretty happy with this. My protein is mainly sourced through nuts, seeds, rice and quinoa (I need to eat more quinoa) and now occasionally Quorn ‘ham and ‘chicken’ slices. I obtain health-promoting omega-3 essential fats via seeds (e.g. chia, flax and hemp). But I consume way more total fat (thankfully mostly unsaturated) because I rely on rapeseed and flax oils to dress my meals, as I can’t eat tomato or vinegar containing sauces. But on the positive side (score wise), I now have to cook meals from scratch, as I can’t eat convenience foods or most fake meats yet.

Salad lunches:

As you know, I love my salad lunches, whether it’s my usual salad with mixed leaves, a filled pitta bread or pasta salad (great for when I’ve run out of salad leaves, details here):

Salad lunches: Fusilli pasta salad, salad with corn bites and salad and Quorn ‘chicken’ filled pitta

Dinner highlights:

Recently, I’ve struggled with finding the energy and motivation to cook properly. But I did make this rather delicious butternut squash and seed risotto, with portions leftover for other days:

Butternut squash risotto

And, I thoroughly enjoyed a slightly odd dinner incorporating leftover red pepper, courgette (zucchini) & seed fusilli pasta from the night before. I had a craving for ‘cheesy’ garlic, onion and herb bread. So, I ended up throwing it all together in the pitta (details here) – very satisfying:

Pasta and cheesy garlic pitta: Carb-ilicious!

Exercise

I went for three walks this week, totalling 149 minutes, of which 102 minutes were brisk – it’s not much, but it’s better than nothing. I’ve been half-heartedly doing my physio exercises – they hurt – but I will get properly on board, because my intention is to increase my fitness levels as my shoulder gradually improves.  I must get back on the exercise bike again!

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

I didn’t report on my results last week, as my focus was birthday smiles (Week 71) – my weight increased by 1.4 lb (0.6 kg) and remained the same this week. Despite this, my body fat actually reduced last week, by 0.5% but increased a little, by 0.2% this week. I’m okay with this after the recent birthday indulgences:

Week 72 Results: Weight, BMI and Body Fat

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

For me and meteorologically, Spring starts on the 1st March. This past week I’ve noticed loads of indications of Spring: On my walks (more here), in the garden and by the driveway pond, so naturally this was my happy focus this week …

Signs of Spring:

These are some signs of Spring I spotted whilst out for a stroll:

Signs of Spring: Out walking

Roadside daffodils:

Daffodils are so vibrantly yellow – such a joy to see them springing up alongside the roads when I’m out walking:

Roadside daffodils

Magical flower rings:

There’s something that feels a bit magical about seeing flower rings around the trunk of a tree – it reminds me of fairy tales. And they are pretty too of course:

Magical flower rings around trees: Daffodils and crocuses

The intricate beauty of flowers:

I thought these flower shots were particularly gorgeous:

Intricate beauty of flowers

Dad’s flowers:

And let’s not forget Dad’s driveway flowers – so pretty:

Dad’s driveway flowers

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 73
<<<Week 71
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References

1. Dyspraxia Foundation, 2021. Dyspraxia in Adults.
2. Swiss Interest Group Histamine Intolerance (SIGHI), 2016. Food Compatibility List.
3. Food Standards Agency, Ca. 2021. Food additives: Different food additives and advice on regulations and the safety of additives in food.
4. NHS, 2020. Food colours and hyperactivity.

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Health Diary Week 63: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

A Brief Update…

Me Outside CommuniKate, Wales Trip (2005)

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<<<Week 62

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

What’s New

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

Hello 2021:

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

My vodka and cranberry juice indulgence

UK Covid-19 Cases Rising:

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

Food and Nutrition

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

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

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

Week 63 Results: Weight, BMI and Body Fat

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

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

Storytime:

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

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

Delightful Nuts:

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

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

Snow – Well, a Little:

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

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

Princess Ariel:

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

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

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

>>>Week 64
<<<Week 62
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Health Diary Week 49: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

My Inner Mermaid

My sister in school production of Neptune’s Realm, BVI (1984)

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<<<Week 48

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

What’s New

I’m pleased to report I’ve felt more positive this week. I’m sleeping six to eight hours a night – a massive improvement on the four hours I was averaging over the past six months. Weirdly, I’ve felt more tired despite the additional sleep – it could be due to intolerance flare-ups, or the CBD oil (more in Week 48) or something else – who knows. I’m just happy to be regaining a healthier sleeping pattern.

I’ve had a few days of intolerance-type reactions with severe sneezing and snot (too much info? Okay, rhinitis sounds better), making me super tired and fuzzy-headed. I haven’t had a chance to research histamine intolerance further (more in Week 48), but I’ll get on it soon, as I really need to find a solution and get this under control.

I’ve applied to the NHS Professionals temp bank for administrative work. I figured it could be a good way to get my foot in the door – if I can just get my foot in the door. My two long-time employments started off as temporary positions – fingers crossed this strategy works here. Until then, I’m working on my continuing professional development and have drawn up a weekly schedule (yes, it’s an Excel spreadsheet – I just love a spreadsheet) to maintain some kind of routine.

Food and Nutrition

Firstly, I should explain I’ve been a bit lax on my nutritional choices, because I’m aware of the looming elimination diet and how restrictive it will be. Ironically, this probably contributed to my rhinitis flare-ups. So, let’s have a look at what food was on my plate, the healthy and not so healthy choices…

Breakfast:

I used up the last of my frozen  sourdough bread with yeast extract, as I’m aware it will have to be eliminated from my diet soon and I want to make space in the freezer for what I can eat. I had some delicious strawberries – they’ll also be off the list. Other foods included those oat biscuits (twice) and cereal (twice):

Week 49 Breakfasts

Lunch:

I started the week with leftover curry, dhal and rice, but mostly I had salad; My Typical Salad five times and a filled wholegrain pitta once. I’m happy with all these choices, except that I’m back to the rapeseed chilli oil dressing (high in fat, but healthful omega-3 fat rather than saturated fat). My dressing choices are becoming limited, as my favourite balsamic vinegar will be off the list:

Week 49 Lunches

Dinner:

Dinners were often on the stodgy side – I craved stodge – I was hungry. This included a seriously loaded burger in a bun and oven fries, sausage sandwich and a disappointing Mac ‘n Cheez. My healthiest choice was the roasted tahini-coated cauliflower with potatoes, purple carrots and corn on the cob. Other decent meals were Nana’s spaghetti (pic in Week 46) and Shawarma and salad kebab:

Week 49 Dinners

Snacks:

My morning snacking was minimal; I had those oat biscuits once (they’re too tasty), another time some mixed nuts. In the afternoon I had chocolate twice, rice crackers with hummus and a pack of crisps. I snacked most evenings. I was particularly excessive on Wednesday, interestingly the day I struggled most with my intolerances – I ate seaweed puffs, ‘chicken’ slices, hummus, crispy seaweed and half a bar of chocolate. Spread over the rest of the week, I had chocolate, hot cacao, crisps/chips, pear and a falafel with hummus:

Week 49 Snacks

Alcohol

I drank the equivalent of five rum and sodas at the online family Houseparty on Friday night. I think this may have contributed to my rhinitis issues on Saturday:

Week 49 Alcohol

Exercise

I had no energy and lacked motivation for exercise this week, so it was minimal, only 107 minutes, incorporating a 30 minutes gentle swim (oh how I’ve missed swimming) and a 51 minutes stroll. On the up-side it should be easy to report an improvement on activity levels next week. Just to explain, my total walking for the week is 77 minutes, based on my Active 10 App, because it includes my general wanderings at home:

Week 49 Exercise
Some lovely flowers spotted on my walk with Mum

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

I wasn’t surprised to have gained weight (1.6 lb, 0.7 kg) and fat (1.1%) this week, given my lack of physical activity and potentially larger portions of the foods I know I’ll miss when I undertake my histamine elimination diet:

Week 49 Results

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

Despite only a couple of in person meet-ups outside of my household (with Elise and Bevy), I’ve felt like this was adequate social contact. We also had an online family get-together for my Uncle’s birthday, where I also saw my sister and her boyfriend. Here’s some other examples of my smile-provoking experiences:

Cats in the Pond!:
Okay, I’m being a tad dramatic – they’re patrolling the currently empty pond. It looks like there could be a looming territory battle between Jasper the Friendly Cat, Molly the Disapprover, New Cat and Elusive Cat. Jasper and Molly have already had a loud territory row. My money’s on Jasper – he’s pretty tough and seems to spend the most time there. It’s like my very own wildlife programme, but with cats:

Clockwise: Jasper the Friendly Cat. Molly the Disapprover. Elusive Cat (white and tortoise-shell coat – I’ve not captured a pic yet). New Cat

Bird Feeder Antics:
Meanwhile, a few feet away at the bird feeder… The Starlings are causing havoc! They deterred some of the smaller regular bird visits by swooping in together, taking over the feeder and constantly squabbling with each other. Surprisingly, the Starlings don’t seem bothered when a Pigeon or Dove want to share their dining space – they just like to argue amongst their own family unit:

Clockwise: Long-Tailed and Blue Tits, Starling and Pigeon. Starling and Dove surprisingly eating nicely together from the same tray. The return of the Long-Tailed Tits between the Starling raids. Starling raid

Embracing the Nerd:
Not literally! – I’m back on track with my Nutrition Continuing Professional Development. I’m incredibly grateful MyNutriWeb provide free accredited lectures. Also, they’ve just started a Journal Club – we’ll be discussing peer-reviewed scientific articles – I’m so looking forward to this:

Top: MyNutriWeb lectures attended and my certificates for the past two weeks – both had a strong emphasis on the benefits of plant-based diets for health and the environment. Bottom: Upcoming lectures

The Mermaid in Me:
I absolutely love swimming – I’d forgotten how much, as I’ve not been in a pool for well over a year – I’d become self-conscious about my body and stopped going – somewhat counter-intuitive I know. Elise convinced me to try the outside pool at her leisure centre as her guest. I was anxious about going into a public area but wore my mask (face mask, not snorkelling mask) for the brief amount of time I was inside. It felt amazing being in the pool (surprisingly warm for an outside pool) and I was pleasantly surprised I hadn’t lost too much technique, although it was painful for my right shoulder (it’s been sore for weeks). I can’t wait to get back into swimming again when it eventually feels safe to do so, maybe even setting myself a challenge – another 5km swim perhaps:

Me completing the 2012 Marie Curie Swimathon 5 km (200 lengths) challenge to raise funds for end of life care. It seems I had a turbo-powered advantage here – thanks Harry Jackson for capturing that shot! – he hadn’t actually realised – I was sat at my work desk looking through the photos during my lunch break when I spotted it and dissolved into uncontrollable giggles, pulling my boss out of her office, who found me with tears streaming down my face – she soon joined in

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 50>>>
<<<Week 48
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References

1. British Dietetic Association Food Allergy Specialist Group, 2018. Sensitivity to Histamine and other Vasoactive Amines.

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Health Diary Week 47: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

The Human Yo-Yo

Image: OpenClipart-Vectors, Pixabay

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<<<Week 46

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

What’s New

It’s been a more positive week compared to Week 46 – admittedly there were a few lows, but all-in-all a better week overall. The insomnia experienced since I was unwell in March hasn’t helped, so I’m trying to resolve this issue. I stumbled across antihistamines[1] as a potential solution to break the cycle. This seemed ideal, as I already use antihistamines, so my plan was to swap to a drowsy inducing one and take it before bed. But further research revealed I need to wean myself off regular antihistamine use[2], because they could damage my health long-term and actually increase histamine release (annoyingly, I can’t find the source where I read about this issue). I may still try the antihistamines short-term though.  

Then someone shared an article about histamine intolerance[3], which took me down a rabbit hole of research, because it’s highly possible this is the root cause of my gluten, dairy and ‘sulphite’ intolerances. I’ve been known for my nose to get through a whole box of tissues in a day or for my stomach to bloat to the extent I look pregnant. Interestingly, according to Dr Peers[4] 80% of people with this condition are women and 80% have hypermobility[5] (which I have). So, I decided to investigate a specific elimination diet[6] of food/drinks containing histamine and those triggering its release (N.B. I’m confident to manage this diet myself because I have relevant nutrition and health qualifications, otherwise I’d consult my GP or a Dietician first). Completely changing how I eat again (the last time was 2013) is a daunting prospect, but I’m up for the challenge and intend to start from Week 53 to give myself plenty of time to undertake adequate research. And of course I’ll be sharing the progress with you all.

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:

Not such a great week for breakfasts. I’ve fallen back into the habit of the easy-grab oat biscuits – I should make porridge topped with fruit instead – maybe I’ll be more inclined to as we head properly into Autumn. I ate pineapple twice though, so that’s good (unless you’re trying to avoid histamines). And, I had cereal with oat milk once – I’ve recently swapped from almonds to oats as it’s more environmentally friendly, but I prefer the taste of almond milk:

Week 47 Breakfasts

Lunch:

I had a week full of salad lunches – it’s a good thing I love salad. On six days I had My Typical Salad – sadly this will have to be adapted soon to exclude tomatoes and avocados – I’m gutted about that, but hopefully they can be re-introduced eventually. We also had a delicious Shawarma kebab:

Week 47 Lunches

Dinner:

I didn’t realise until my week’s analysis just how much pasta I’d eaten for dinner – I had some form of it five times – I reckon I could happily eat pasta every day, but this isn’t a good idea, as diversity to obtain a range of nutrients is preferable. One of my non-pasta meals was a high fat, but tasty pizza; the other, was my highlight of plant-protein mince filled tacos – yum:

Week 47 Dinners

Snacks:

I didn’t snack loads, except over the weekend, especially during the evenings. The unhealthiest snack (high in sugar, total and saturated fat) were the chocolate ginger tiffin – I’d actually had these in my food cupboard since February and only ate them because they had reached their end date – I shared them with my parents during our morning coffee and bird watching meet-up on the driveway. Also, I had crisps/potato chips a few times, so that would have increased saturated fat intake. I think my chocolate intake was okay – another favourite food to be excluded during my histamine elimination diet – I’ll be okay, right? Right?:

Week 47 Snacks

Alcohol

I drank two bottles of cider when I visited the pub garden for my friend’s birthday. It turns out they weren’t a great idea – I ended up with a headache that lasted the rest of the evening and into the next morning. I’ll be giving up alcohol during my elimination diet – I might be able to re-introduce vodka later on an occasional basis:

Week 47 Alcohol

Exercise

My physical activity was less than I’d thought, totalling five hours, an hour less than last week. I’m pleased I incorporated WiiFit (once, 45 minutes) and exercise biking (twice, 90 minutes), as well as walking (twice, nearly three hours). I hope to report a higher amount of exercise next week, with all the activities listed, perhaps even two sessions of WiiFit:

I’ve got such long legs!

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

Okay, so I put on a bit of weight, just 0.6 lb (0.3 kg), but on the up-side, I lost 0.6% body fat, which I’m happy about, as fat loss is a preferable outcome. My weight is yo-yoing somewhat, but as long as the overall trend, as slow as it may be, is in the right direction, I’m happy:

Graph: SI: self-isolation. LD: lockdown. PLD: partial lockdown

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

Looking back on the things that made me feel more positive and smile was a particularly helpful activity this week and I’m glad I can share this with you all: 

Going Out-Out (well, sort of):
Tina kindly invited me to join her for some Birthday celebrations. So, I anxiously ventured to the pub for the first time since February. Granted it was on a weekday and during the afternoon, so, it was fairly quiet really, but great for me. It was lovely to socialise for a few hours with Tina, her Aunties and Ben. As the sun set, the Landlady pointed out the glowing orange-tipped trees effect – they almost looked Autumnal:

Jasper the Friendly Cat:
Jasper (not my cat) has taken to joining us for our morning driveway coffees. He seems very chilled. I’m kind of torn between my fear of him hunting our bird friends and loving having a cat around (my old girl passed away back in 2017). Thankfully, he hasn’t seemed interested in the birds so far:

Seeing my First Dragonfly of the Year:
I love dragonflies – I don’t know why exactly – maybe it’s just because I think they’re beautiful. So, I was happy to finally spot one flying above the driveway. Unfortunately, its visit was too fleeting to get a photo. But I’m hopeful I’ll be seeing more dragonflies soon and capture a picture:

Image: komkrich Srigoson, Pixabay (I wish I could say I’d taken this great photo)

Hello Friends:
I had lovely online chats with Chud and Bevy (separately). I was delighted to finally catch up with Mark – we met about twenty years ago at work and used to spend a lot of time belly-laughing, whilst being incredibly productive I should add. Naturally, we maintained the friendship after we both left the company. Also, I had a WhatsApp chat with Marjory, my former job-share – thankfully, we used to overlap once a week, otherwise we would never have met – we often lunched together in the park, appreciating nature and chatting about health and the environment:

Left: Marjory & I on WhatsApp this week. Right: Mark & I at my Summer house party (2010)

Nature Close-Up (Continued):
Instead of just marching along during my walks, I’ve tried to take time out to take a closer look at the surrounding nature. Sometimes you spot something you’ve never noticed before, like some strange orangey tiny flower-tubular thingies I spotted amongst a bush. Does anyone know what these are please?:

Left: Orangey tubular flowers from a distance (top) & close-up (bottom). Right: Some other plant from afar (top) and then close-up (bottom).

Mindfulness Meditation and Lovely People:
My highlight has to be the evening catch-up in Karen and Chris’s garden, as I felt completely relaxed. Our lovely hosts previously ran Action for Happiness[7] courses. And it was lovely to meet Julie and Chrissy for the first time – both incredibly inspiring women. Chrissy, a yoga instructor and runner of 52 marathons in 52 weeks, led a Mindfulness[8] meditation session – just what I needed:

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 48
<<<Week 46
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References

1. National Health Service, 2020. Antihistamines [online]. Available from: www.nhs.uk/conditions/antihistamines/.
2. Olson, E., Mayo Clinic, 2020. Healthy Lifestyle – Adult Health. Is it OK to use over-the-counter antihistamines to treat insomnia? I’d like to avoid prescription sleep aids. [online]. Available from: www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/sleep-aids/faq-20058393.
3. Swiss Interest Group Histamine Intolerance (SIGHI), 2019. Symptoms [online]. Available from: www.histaminintoleranz.ch/en/symptoms.html.
4. Dr Tina Peers, Ca. 2020. Symptoms of HIT [online]. Available from: www.drtinapeers.com/symptoms-of-hit.
5. Hypermobility Syndromes Association, 2017. What are hypermobility syndromes? [online]. Available from: www.hypermobility.org/what-are-hypermobility-syndromes.
6. British Dietetic Association Food Allergy Specialist Group, 2018. Sensitivity to Histamine and other Vasoactive Amines [online]. Available from: www.bda.uk.com/uploads/assets/5aa56020-71df-46f2-b47bc5e93317c25b/histamine.pdf.
7. Action for Happiness, 2020. Keep Calm. Stay Wise. Be Kind [online]. Available from: www.actionforhappiness.org/.
8. MIND, 2018. Mindfulness [online]. Available from: www.mind.org.uk/information-support/drugs-and-treatments/mindfulness/about-mindfulness/.

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Health Diary Week 45: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

The Family Reunion

Family day out, Brighton & Hove (2015)

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<<<Week 44

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

What’s New

Firstly, apologies for the late post – I was super tired after a busy weekend requiring extra thoughtfulness about acting safely (on top of my usual trying not to be clumsy) and I had loads of extra photos to sort through, culminating in a day’s delay.

The Bank Holiday weekend was busy, because excitingly we met up with my sister and her boyfriend in real-life – we last saw Emma and Carl at Christmas. It felt weird having to carefully plan meeting up with family: I walked with Em and Carl to-and-from the train station – Mum met us at the station with the car and they put their luggage in the boot. They set up camp in our garden and were allocated the downstairs cloakroom via a specific route. We socialised outside, sitting opposite ends of the table and served food plated-up (we’re usually a help-yourself kind of family) or provided separate serving dishes and utensils. And it felt strange not being able to hug, but we’ll take what we can get at the moment. It was still a lovely weekend:

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:

I skipped breakfast three times this week, grabbed those easy go-to biscuits once, sampled one of Mum’s peanut butter cookies and had cereal. Sunday breakfast was excessive – I had a massive hangover (I’m ashamed to admit I was sick – twice), so I grabbed crisps/potato chips trying to settle the nausea. Later I nibbled at some fruit and when I felt less delicate, I enjoyed guacamole on toast topped with ‘bacon’, tomato and red onion. Oh, and then I sampled Mum’s rhubarb jam on a slice of toast too – very tasty, but unnecessary:

Week 45 Breakfasts
I only ate one of those cookies

Lunch:

We had My Typical Salad four times, either with hash browns, falafel or Indian bites. Another day I had a salad filled pitta bread with ‘ham’ slices. Highlights were Mum’s cauliflower and almond soup (my favourite soup ever) and creamy curried gnocchi at Offbeet to utilise the ‘eat out to help out’ half price offer:

Week 45 Lunches

Dinner:

Mmm, a delicious variety of dinners – I don’t think I could pick a highlight. I had leftover veg spaghetti with garlic bread (Week 44), mince tacos, Mexican rice, chia nuggets with chips/fries and baked beans, veg risotto, veg curry, dhal and rice and our first (and probably only) barbecue of the year (burger, chipolata sausages and veg skewer) – yum!:

Week 45 Dinners

Snacks:

I snacked a fair amount. I had a hangover appetite on Sunday, resulting in loads of extra consumption. At least some options were healthy – griddled Padron peppers (I got my first ever chilli-hot one!) and asparagus. The ‘bacon’ sandwich earlier in the week was excessive – I could easily have halved it and still felt satisfied. My least healthy choice has to be the salted caramel cheesecake (although it tasted so good) – but high in coconut-based[1] saturated fat[2]. The other indulgence was a barbecued rum sozzled banana with cream (yet more fat):

Week 45 Snacks

Alcohol

Too much alcohol – waayyyy too much! On Friday, I drank three spiced rums with cola when chatting to a friend online. But Saturday night was ridiculous – I guess I got overly excited about Em and Carl visiting. I drank a whole bottle of red wine without really noticing (that’s over 600 calories according to Drinkaware[3]), plus a double salted caramel vodka liqueur and (I think) a double spiced rum. I’m not proud of myself – excess alcohol is damaging to health[4], as well as being highly calorific:

Week 45 Alcohol
Left: Saturday night’s Drinkaware calculation. Right: That red wine

Exercise

I’m pleased I more than doubled my activity compared to last week – 405 minutes versus 167 minutes. Mostly, I walked: 380 minutes (6.3 hours), with 244 minutes (4 hours) brisk. I squeezed in a 25 minutes Wii Fit aerobics session of Step, Rhythm Boxing and Hula Hoop. Next week I hope to report more Wii Fit and some exercise biking, as well as walking:

Week 45 Exercise
Left: Carl & Em admiring an Oak tree. Right: My week’s Active 10 walks

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

I was expecting a weight and fat increase when I stepped on the scales Monday morning, but not 4 lb (1.8 kg) extra weight – I don’t think I’ve gained that much in one week before! So, I’m temporarily back to being classified as obese with a BMI[5] of 30.1 – Noooo! Clearly all those additional calories, particularly the alcohol negatively affected my results. Naturally, I couldn’t resist a sneaky extra weigh-in again on Tuesday morning – as I suspected and with great relief, I’d already lost 2 lb, taking me back to overweight status, but still dangerously close to obese. Clearly, I need to avoid creeping back to my starting point. But despite these results, as I said before, I’m feeling healthier than I did back in November when I first decided to take control:

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

Okay, definitely time to move on to some smile-provoking experiences, after all mental wellbeing is incredibly important to overall health status. Hmmm, where to start? – there were so many…

Imaginary Katey:
My friends’ son pretended he was playing with me – melt my heart why don’t you:

I almost look like I could be imaginary in this pic of me sat outside in the dark

Socialising in real-life:
Obviously, a biggie was seeing my sister and her boyfriend. The bonus was having a catch-up with my sister’s friend as well:

Candlelit Alfresco Dining:
Don’t you just love a candlelit alfresco dining experience? Well, I do. It was rather chilly in the evenings though – I was a bit envious of Em & Carl’s onesies and Mum was toasty in her poncho, so I wrapped myself up in a big cosy blanket:

The Umbrella Incident:
We put the umbrella up so that we could see each other with less obstruction, but then the wind came and the umbrella started launching itself towards the kitchen window. Thankfully, we caught it before the situation became disastrous and Mum secured the sides with string to aid visibility – proper Nana-ism – my Nana was known for quick-fixes with masking tape or string:

Impressive storm clouds:
I’ve spent a fair amount of time gazing up at the sky recently and noticing the cloud impressiveness, especially when a storm’s brewing:

Top: watching the clouds roll in before the heavy rainstorm. Bottom left: Offbeet lunch in Pyramid Field. Right: Moon peaking through dark dusk clouds.

Silly Pigeon:
This particular pigeon makes us all chuckle – just lolloping around. Give Mr (or Mrs) Pigeon their due – the first to brave the new daffodil bird feeder – we’d been trying to lure birds with the fat ball. Later, we were concerned when we saw him lying in the heavy downpour with an odd wing angle, until he switched sides and we realised he was just bathing and seemingly thoroughly enjoying himself:

Clockwise: Decisions, decisions – should I sample that new daffodil food thing? Yes, mmm, yum yum. I’m the ‘King of the Castle’. Shower-time. Water bowl incident – whoops.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s ‘What’s on Watson’s Plate’. Thank you for reading and feel free to follow my bite-size journey updates on Instagram or Facebook. See you next Wednesday for another catch up. In the meantime, I’d love you to share what made you smile recently in the comments section.

>>>Week 46
<<<Week 44
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References

1. British Nutrition Foundation, 2020. BNF answers some common questions on coconut oil [online]. Available from: www.nutrition.org.uk/attachments/article/998/BNF%20FAQs%20Coconut%20Oil%202020.pdf.
2. NHS Eatwell, 2020. Fat: the facts [online]. Available from: www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/different-fats-nutrition/.
3. Drinkaware, 2019. Unit & Calorie Calculator [online]. Available from: www.drinkaware.co.uk/understand-your-drinking/unit-calculator.
4. Drinkaware, 2020. Health effects of alcohol [online]. Available from: www.drinkaware.co.uk/facts/health-effects-of-alcohol.
5. NHS Live Well, 2018. Healthy weight: BMI healthy weight calculator [online]. Available from: www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-weight/bmi-calculator/.

More from What’s on Watson’s Plate:

Health Diary Week 24: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Fat and Sugar Tastes too Good!

Image: Hassan Monteleone, Pixabay

<<<Week 23
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Hi and welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate, health and nutrition updates and some positive smile-provoking experiences…

So, to start, I must confess I had a few indulgences this week. I could pretend I regret it, but I don’t, except the excessive wine intake – more on that later.

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

My weight stayed at 164 lb (74.4 kg) throughout the week but, jumped up to 165.8 lb (75.2 kg) especially for Monday! But, I’m not too disheartened, partly because I was bloated at weigh-in and despite the gain my graph shows an overall downward trend:

My weight progression showing a downward trend – Week 0 to 24.

It was also my body measurements week. This gives a helpful indication about my progression. Waist circumference importantly indicates abdominal fat, with an excess linked to chronic conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes[1]. Unfortunately, I’m still ‘substantially at risk’ of these diseases[2], but I’m moving in the right direction having lost 4 cm around my waist in the past 8 weeks – a total of 7 cm since this journey began. Also, I’ve also lost a total of 9 cm from my thigh, 7 cm around my chest and 5 cm from my calf.

I’m still considered an ‘apple’, but I’m working towards a ‘pear’ (Image: Shutterbug75, Pixabay).

Food and Nutrition

As per usual, I analysed my weight and fat gain… My appetite was greater this week (potentially as I’m feeling better), so I snacked more. But I think a major culprit was excessive saturated fat in the guise of coconut-based cheese – including cauliflower and broccoli bake (twice) and a cheesy garlic pitta. I also consumed a tub of coleslaw (high total fat) throughout the week with my My Typical Salad or filled pitta lunches:

Potential pitfalls: Top: Cauliflower & broccoli cheese bake. Middle right: Cheesy, garlic pitta with M&S veg spring rolls. Middle left & bottom: M&S vegan coleslaw.

These meals were still nutritious and fibre-loaded, it’s just that overall, there was an excess of fat this week, so I’ll reduce fat (or at least try) for the coming week. Other lower fat meals included plant-based fajitas, Risotto, curry and pasta:

Lower saturated fat meals: Clockwise: Red lentil pasta with spinach, tomato & black olives drizzled extra virgin olive oil & hot chilli sauce. Mushroom & pepper fajitas with lettuce, salsa & avocado. Aubergine, potato & spinach curry & lentil dhal with brown rice. Aubergine, potato & spinach curry with brown rice.

Also, this week I had a few high fat and sugar chocolate indulgences, including a Nak’d double chocolish bar, hot cacao drink (made from Raw Chocolate Co cacao) and a Mummy Meagz cream egg (as a household we agreed to break into the Easter egg stash; we still have three each left):

Chocolate indulgences: Clockwise: Nakd double chocolish bar. Hot cacao drink (favourite mug made by the talented Deb). Mummy Meagz crème egg.

Exercise

I’ve not really started exercising again yet (due to ongoing discomfort down my back and around my ribs following a virus) except being compelled to join the brief sessions with Mr Motivator on the BBC HealthCheck UK Live weekday programme, because he makes me laugh – a good stress-reliever:

My Motivator on BBC HealthCheck UK (BBC screenshot).

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

Clap for Carers:
On Thursday we were back outside for ‘Clap for Carers’. We ventured off our driveway (still physically distanced) so that we could see our neighbours further down the road and wave to them – it was great to see them.

Online Socialising:
Also, I’m loving online socialising and highly recommend it. Friday night was so much fun with an online ‘Houseparty’. I should confess here that the excitement of socialising led to my other major downfall. I broke my  26 days ‘dry’ streak –  I opened and then unintentionally finished a bottle of Stellar Organic Merlot, adding around 675 calories[3] to my daily intake. I further paid for my indulgence with a thumping headache and lack of productivity on Saturday. Next time I’ll drink more sensibly – promise!:

‘Houseparty’ with some friends: Top left: Stellar Organics no sulphite-added Merlot. Top right: Me ready to meet my friends online. Bottom: The ‘meet-up’ well under way.

Future Learn Course:
On Sunday I completed week two of the free Future Learn online course run by London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene – one more week to complete and then I’ll see what else is on offer – hopefully something nutrition-related. Future Learn covers diverse subjects taught by universities, including arts, business, engineering, environment, healthcare, history, IT, languages, law, literature, maths, politics, psychology and mental health, science, study skills and teaching.

Top: My Week 2 completion of COVID-19 course. Bottom: Future Learn subject areas (plus study skills & teaching that didn’t fit onto the screenshot).

Garden Time:
The weekend weather was lovely, so I took the opportunity to spend some time chilling in the garden – I haven’t been out- and-about for over three weeks – after quarantining we decided outside public spaces should primarily be for those without the luxury of private garden space. So, here’s what I’ve seen from my home confines this week:

The flowering rockery
Gorgeous purple flower
Okay, I know it’s a ‘weed’, but it’s still a beautifully vibrant yellow
Blossoming garden tree (admittedly not great for my hay fever) & blue sky

Heron:
The highlight was watching a heron from my bedroom window! – it visited a few times:

That’s my news for what’s on my plate this week. I hope you’ve all kept well and safe.

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 25>>>
<<<Week 23
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References

1. National Health Service, 2019. Why is my waist size important? [online]. Available from: www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/lifestyle/why-is-my-waist-size-important/.
2. World Health Organisation, 2011. Waist Circumference and Waist-Hip Ratio Report of a WHO Expert Consultation. Geneva, 8–11 December 2008 [online]. Available from: https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/44583/9789241501491_eng.pdf;sequence=1.
3. Alcohol Change UK, Ca. 2019. Alcohol and calories [online]. Available from: https://alcoholchange.org.uk/alcohol-facts/fact-sheets/alcohol-and-calories.

More from What’s on Watson’s Plate:

Health Diary Week 19: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Birthday Indulgences!

My 40th birthday banner (a few years ago!)

<<<Week 18
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Hi and welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate, health and nutrition updates and some positive smile-provoking experiences…

What’s New

…This week’s post will be a little different, since it was my birthday and I decided not to worry about what I was eating/drinking or exercise (much like Christmas). I’ll still post my results, but first I’ll share my birthday indulgencies with you – perhaps don’t read this post if you’re dieting and struggling with food cravings!

My Birthday hat courtesy of young Lawrie (my friends’ son)

Food and Nutrition (not so much Nutrition)

Birthday Lunch:

On my birthday, Mum took me out for brunch to the fabulous plant-based restaurant: Offbeet New Forest, located on Sunnyfields Farm. We had coffee (great coffee) and the most amazing Middle Eastern waffles with vegan ‘smoked salmon’, ‘sour cream’ and ‘boiled egg’ – magic! We perused the farm shop and returned to Offbeet for a matcha latte and gooey chocolate brownie – the brownie was so beautifully rich – I ate ½ and took the rest home (I had it for breakfast the next morning!):

Offbeet New Forest Birthday brunch. Top: 1st course: Middle Eastern waffles. Latte with soya milk. Bottom: 2nd course: Gooey chocolate brownie with matcha soya latte.

Birthday Dinner:

For dinner, I was treated to one of my favourite homemade meals – tomatoes, spinach and olives with tagliatelle pasta in a creamy silken tofu and pesto sauce, topped with asparagus and toasted pine nuts with griddled aubergine, courgette and pepper – love it!:

My Birthday dinner tagliatelle made by my Mum – yum!

Birthday Party

At the weekend, I had a small party planned that evolved into an open house scenario, where most of those who couldn’t make it to the evening do, visited me during the day. I had guests from midday through to the early hours of the morning and I loved it! It was especially lovely to see friends from further afield who I don’t get to see as often as I’d like. Whenever I throw a party, I include an optional theme: this year was odd socks/shoes, which was taken up by a few of us.

Left: My birthday outfit (dark tired eye circles still there!). Right: The circle of odd socks!

Birthday Buffet:

I prepared a buffet for the party, but totally forgot to take a photo of it, because of all the distractions with the fun of socialising. Instead, I’ve cobbled together some photos at food preparation and leftovers stage, although sadly not as well presented as on the night.

I made sausage rolls using Linda McCartney red onion & rosemary sausages and Jus-rol gluten free and vegan pastry. I also made my Nana’s curry puffs using a pea, potato, spinach and tomato filling, accompanied by Nita’s Mum’s green chilli chutney (soooo delicious and works perfectly with the curry puffs) – a definite hit!:

Birthday buffet: Top: Sausage rolls. Bottom: Curry puffs with green chutney.

Do you remember cheese and pineapple or pickled onions on cocktail sticks? – A classic party food when I was a kid. Well, I decided to expand on this with Applewood vegan cheese, fresh pineapple, pickled onions, pickled cornichons (little gherkins), freshly steamed beetroot, baby plum tomatoes and marinated olives (I forgot to put the olives out). I came up with the idea for guests to ‘pick and mix’ their combos by placing the cocktail sticks in the middle of the options, also saving me preparation time – win-win! I was surprised by how much the non-vegans enjoyed the cheese – I had to chop up another block – it was quickly demolished again!

Cocktail stick options (minus the baby plum tomatoes & olives). Clockwise: Applewood cheese (was cubed). Pickled onions & cornichons. Freshly steamed beetroot. Fresh pineapple.

There were various crisps/chips, Bombay mix, peanuts and crackers. The tortilla chips (and sausage rolls) went especially well with the cashew cream cheeses I’d made – lemon and black pepper, and red chilli and smoked paprika. I also prepared carrot, celery and cucumber veg sticks with shop-bought hummus and tomato salsa – I would have liked to make the dips, but time was limited.

Clockwise: Some chip/crisp options. Carrot, celery & cucumber veg sticks (a few left-over from the party). Cashew cream cheeses: lemon & black pepper (left) and red chilli & smoked paprika (right).

I also made Creative Nature banana bread mini muffins using a mix where you just add mashed ripe bananas. I had intended to put out the Daiya Chocolate Cheezecake I’d bought for Christmas and never used, but completely forgot – if any of my guests are reading this – I’m so sorry!:

Banana bread mini muffins – individual cases used for better portioning instead of a bread tin.

Alcohol

I drank alcohol at the weekend. On Friday I had 3 doubles of Hotel Chocolat salted caramel vodka liqueur. Saturday night, over approximately 7-8 hours, I drank a bottle of bubbly and 2 double rums with ginger beer – surprisingly I felt okay on Sunday.

My ‘Try Dry’ (free app) February results.

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

Okay, so I should probably update on my results… Surprisingly, I only gained 1.2 lb (0.5 kg) and my fat percentage increased by 0.2%. I’ve extended my self-experiment of weighing myself every day from 4 to 12 weeks – interestingly, I weighed my lowest since starting this journey, 164.6 lb (74.4 kg) on Thursday and Friday, but by Sunday (after the party) I increased to 168.2 lb (76.3 kg). I was relieved my weight dropped a bit by Monday’s weigh-in!

Week 19 results – not as bad as expected.

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

I had a happy week and I’m so grateful to have such lovely family and friends – you’re ace! I’m ready to get back on track now (I think), so I’m expecting to report some positive results next week…

Cute idea from Offbeet New Forest – motivational quote on the back of our table number.

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 20>>>
<<<Week 18
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More from What’s on Watson’s Plate:

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

Honesty can be Hard!

Image: Terta Filius Saggio, Pixabay

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

What’s New

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

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

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

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

Week 14 results (not much change)

Alcohol

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

Image: Gerd Altmann, Pixabay

Food and Nutrition

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

Total and Saturated Fat:

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

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

Unplanned Indulgency:

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

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

Mindless Snacking:

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

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

Meals:

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

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

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

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

Exercise

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

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

Advice to Self:

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

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

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

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

Less chocolate (eek!).

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

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

Week 15>>>
<<<Week 13
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References

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

More from What’s on Watson’s Plate:

Health Diary Week 13: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Katey Versus Chocolate!

Image: Ridwan Hardjowibowo, Pixabay

Home
<<<Week 12

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

What’s New

It’s been a week of self-reflection, partly influenced by other’s thoughts on my previous results – I very much appreciate having these different perspectives to consider. Back when I studied Counselling skills, we were taught that feedback and reflection, as difficult as they can sometimes be, are an important part of self-development:

Me deep in thought, British Virgin Islands, 1992 (yep – 1992!)

It turns out I’m a bit obsessed with chocolate – initially I felt quite defensive about this observation, but upon reflection they’re not wrong! Clearly, chocolate isn’t as comparably harmful as some other habits like smoking, but there are weight/fat gain consequences if eaten excessively – as shown in my results this week. I particularly crave chocolate immediately after a meal and when feeling stressed or tired. I try to curb the craving after meals by having a rooibos (red bush) tea (no added sugar) in the hope the urge will pass. But, it’s more difficult to ignore when the craving is emotional[1, 2]. I have no intention of giving up chocolate, but I’d like to have a better handle on how much I eat.

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

Here are my results – oh dear! – everything went in the wrong direction:

Week 13 results – not good!

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…

Poor Sleep Affects What You Eat:

What happened this week? Well, I think the weight/fat gain was a case of tired comfort-eating again, as discussed in Week 8 – The Big Grump!, although this time my sleep deprivation was due to pain in my left shoulder blade (I’m not sure why it’s hurting so much). But, poor sleep increases hunger hormones, reduces satiety (fullness) hormones and induces cravings for high calorie foods[3, 4] – in my case chocolate. Usually I’d stick to my raw chocolate goji berries, but I’ve had a stock of higher fat and sugar options from Christmas – thankfully the stash is running low now, so I’ll be back on the goji berries soon enough:

Image: Derek Robinson, Pixabay

High Sugar, Fat and Calories:

Also, it didn’t help that I had two meals out where I chose highly calorific, fatty and sugary options – again probably the fatigue influence. The pizza and pudding at Zizzi were particularly calorific – I took half the pizza home, but of course I ate it the next day. Thankfully, I resisted the temptation to have a pudding after dinner at the Black Phoenix, as I recognised and accepted I was full – that’s progress! Also, my home meal portions were probably larger than usual due to my tiredness-hunger:

Top: Zizzi jackfruit Italian hot pizza & millionaire slice. Bottom: Black Phoenix ‘Ribz’ (king oyster mushrooms) & sodas (instead of booze, but high sugar).

Exercise

I completed nearly 6 hours physical activity this week – 1 hour of circuits, 2 hours 45 minutes on the exercise bike (moved up to the highest tension this week) and 132 minutes walking, of which 74 minutes was brisk. I was satisfied with this accomplishment considering my pain levels were quite high:

My week’s walking recorded on the Public Health England/NHS ‘Active 10’ app.

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

Things haven’t gone so well, but there was some progress to smile about:

My Boots Zip-Up:
Okay, so I gained back the 2lb weight lost the previous week, but despite that, this was the first week I could fully zip-up my boots – an issue discussed in Week 0: The Starting Point.

Left to right: Week 0: calf- boot-zip issue. Week 13: issue resolved – yay! Me wearing my boots for an evening out.

My Pyjamas are too Big:
And, my pyjamas have become ridiculously long since this health journey began (they used to fit snuggly and were at ankle-length), demonstrating my reducing thigh and calf circumferences – must be all that time reading on the exercise bike!:

My shrinking legs in my pyjamas. (Just realised this week’s post has lots of pictures of my legs!)

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed that I’m classified with obesity yet again. Regardless, I can’t give up – this is too important for my long-term health and clearly there have been some positive improvements. I just have to keep trying to move forward…

Beautiful blue winter sky on my Sunday walk (including it just because it made me feel happy).

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 14>>>
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References

1. Nash, J., Ca. 2019. Diabetes UK: Sugar cravings: combating a sweet tooth [online]. Available from: www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/enjoy-food/eating-with-diabetes/food-psychology/sugar-cravings.
2. Nash, J., Ca. 2019. Diabetes UK: Emotional eating and feasting [online]. Available from: www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/enjoy-food/eating-with-diabetes/food-psychology/emotional-eating-and-feasting.
3. Hanlon, E. C., Tasali, E., Leproult, R., Stuhr, K. L., Doncheck, E., de Wit, H., Hillard, C. J. and Van Cauter, E., 2016. Sleep Restriction Enhances the Daily Rhythm of Circulating Levels of Endocannabinoid 2-Arachidonoylglycerol. Sleep [online] 39 (3), 653-664. Sleep, Available from: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4763355/.
4. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2016. National Institutes of Health matters: Molecular ties between lack of sleep and weight gain [online]. Available from: www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/molecular-ties-between-lack-sleep-weight-gain.

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Health Diary Week 12: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Not Obese – Take 2!

Image: Mediamodifier, Pixabay

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

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

… Finally, and phew! – I was starting to get worried and embarrassed that I wasn’t succeeding at this weight loss journey! However, this week I lost the 0.8 lb gained during the Winter festivities plus an additional 1.2 lbs. So, once again, I’m downgraded into the overweight/pre-obese category with a BMI of 29.8[1]. Also, my fat percentage reduced by 0.7%. Hoorah! Of course, there’s still much work to be done to get down to a BMI of 24.9 or less. So, let’s analyse what went right to try to replicate these results next week and keep that momentum going…

Week 12 results – really pleased with this!

Food and Nutrition

Let’s start with 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 have been mostly fruit. Admittedly, I skipped breakfast three times, though only because I’ve woken up later than usual (I don’t generally advocate missing breakfast):

Papaya with freshly squeezed lime – reminds me of my childhood!

Lunch:

I generally ate lunch early, midday(ish), due to light or missed breakfasts. Lunch was mostly salad-based – I love salad, so I’m happy to eat loads! – I had my My Typical Salad a few times, sandwiches and a Shawarma Kebab. Also, I had a Mediterranean-style scrambled tofu (leftover from dinner) in a pitta bread:

Top left: Quorn slices, Sainsbury’s vegan coleslaw & salad sandwich. Top right: my ‘Typical salad’ with Strong Roots courgette & spinach hash browns (the hash browns weren’t on their website – they were tasty though!). Bottom left: my Shawarma kebab. Bottom right: Quorn slices & salad sandwich.

Dinner:

My dinners were varied, although unusually several convenience meals, including:
M&S Plant Kitchen sweet potato and cashew Sri Lankan curry
– M&S sag aloo, M&S Plant Kitchen onion bhajis & Tilda wholegrain pilau rice
Amy’s Kitchen rice mac & cheeze
Ugo Thrive Pumpkin and sage raviolini
– M&S ‘chick’n’ nuggets, oven chips and baked beans:

This week’s convenience dinners
Nutrition Traffic Light System:

Being me, I was intrigued about how these foods rated on the traffic light system – so, whether their fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt content rated as red (high), amber (medium) or green (low). It’s recommended we restrict red-lighted foods and mainly have a mix of green and amber[2]. Some of my foods were conveniently traffic lighted, whilst for others I had to compare the nutritional information on the back of the packs against the traffic light values[2]. Thankfully, my choices were okay, being a mix of green and amber lights. Another strategy is to be aware of amber lighted foods close to becoming red and trying to restrict these too:

Nutritional traffic light labelling system per 100g[2]. Some foods are labelled on the front of the pack, others you need to check the ‘Nutritional information’ on the back of the pack.

Additionally, I had a couple of freshly prepared dinners. My highlight was a mushroom stroganoff with tagliatelle made with Elmlea plant single cream leftover from Christmas. I was concerned about the cream’s fat content – whilst total fat was acceptable at 15.4% (amber), saturated fat was high (red) at 6.5% per 100 grams. But I’d like it again sometime, so I’ll try a silken tofu (green lighted at 0.5% saturated fat) sauce version instead. Talking of tofu, I had a pack that needed using, so I made a Mediterranean-style scrambled tofu with sundried tomatoes, olives and peppers from the food cupboard, since fresh food supplies were low (it’s always worth having a good store cupboard stock for such situations):

Top: Mushroom stroganoff & tagliatelle (delicious!). Bottom: Med-style scrambled tofu – sundried tomato, bell peppers, olives & Linda McCartney red onion & rosemary sausages (very filling!)

Alcohol and Snacking:

Importantly, I’m very pleased to announce that I’ve not touched a drop of alcohol since my New Year’s Eve binge. I think the alcohol exclusion has attributed to no late-night snacking. Although interestingly on the snack-front, I’ve eaten some chocolate every day – just a few squares here-and-there. Thankfully, this didn’t impact on my results this week, but it’s definitely something to keep an eye on, as its high sugar and fat content can soon add up. Other snacks were savoury – hummus with either toasted pitta or Peckish sea salt & vinegar rice crackers:

Image: 13smok, Pixabay

Exercise

My physical activity totalled just over six hours. I did two hours of circuits – I’ve missed the boxing pad station too much, so I’m just using my left-hand, while my right wrist injury recovers. I did over three hours on the exercise bike, whilst reading – it takes my mind off cycling, whilst maintaining a decent pace. The rest of the time involved walking. I can track this more easily now since downloading ‘Active 10’ – a ‘Public Health England’ walking app that includes measuring a brisk pace[3].

Left: Pre-circuits serious readiness. Right: Post-circuits happy-completion face (& somewhat dishevelled look)!

Positive Progress

All-in-all it’s been a good week and I’m making progress again – small steps that slowly accumulate results. So, a reminder to myself – speedy results don’t necessarily mean long-term success – keep doing what you’re doing – you’ll succeed!…

Baby Galapagos giant tortoise, 2008

“Thus plain plodding people, we often shall find, will leave hasty confident people behind”(The hare & the tortoise: Aesop’s Fables, Jefferys Taylor version).

Week 13>>>
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References

1. World Health Organization: Regional Office for Europe, 2019. Body mass index – BMI [online]. Available from: www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/disease-prevention/nutrition/a-healthy-lifestyle/body-mass-index-bmi.
2. British Nutrition Foundation, 2018. Helping you eat well: Looking at labels [online]. Available from: www.nutrition.org.uk/healthyliving/helpingyoueatwell/324-labels.html?start=3.
3. Public Health England, Ca. 2019. Active 10: Exercise made easy [online]. Available from: www.nhs.uk/oneyou/active10/home.

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