Tag Archives: fruit and veg

1st week of food testing completed

Well I’ve made it to the end of the “setting up” week and I’ve eliminated everything from my diet that is most likely to cause a food sensitivity issue.

So how’s it been?

Well, it’s certainly been a long week.  I started off very enthusiastically but by mid-morning on the first day I wanted a cup of tea more than Alex Salmond wants independence for Scotland.

I felt mean and nasty and by lunch time I had a headache.  This progressed rapidly into a migraine and although I served up dinner for the children I couldn’t face eating and went straight to bed.

Fortunately the migraine was gone by morning and I was able to eat.  But I sorely missed those cups of tea.  They kick start my day and propel me through the morning jobs and as much as I love water it becomes dull when it’s the only choice.

The menu for the week was limited and I mostly ate fruit (apples or pears) for breakfast with cashew or macademia nuts for some extra energy.

Lunch quickly settled into a pattern of fish (haddock, cod or plaice) or turkey steak with roast sweet potato and green vegetables.

I’ve never bought turkey steaks before and they’ve been quite a revelation: lovely drizzled in olive oil and roasted.

I really didn’t fancy salad at all so alternated between courgette and green beans.  I’m not normally a fan of courgettes but a recent trip to one of Rick Stein’s eateries in Cornwall has converted me to them sautéed in olive oil (preferably with lots of garlic but I can’t try that until I’ve tested garlic which is coming up soon).

The biggest problems I encountered during the week were:

  • boredom – there really isn’t a huge lot of choice of things to eat (particularly if like me you have selective taste-buds)
  • feeling grotty and miserable during the first three or four days
  • adjusting to a lack of appetite – I just wasn’t hungry and at times felt like I couldn’t be bothered to eat and literally had to make myself as I was worried I wasn’t eating enough otherwise.

I was tired during the first few days but towards the end of the week felt a renewed surge of energy. I was sleeping really well and was waking up around 6am raring to go.

I feel lighter, actually I am lighter by around 2-3 lbs and am looking forward to adding back all the foods that I’ve taken out.  I get to test two foods a day.  One at breakfast and one in the evening.

Tonight I’m testing broccoli.  I can’t tell you how excited I am to be eating a different vegetable.  Then tomorrow pepper and chicken.

After I try each new food I need to monitor whether I experience any reaction to it eg. headache, fatigue, weight gain.  If there is no reaction I can carry on eating it, but if there is then I am best to avoid it, or retest at a later date.

I’m excited about the week ahead and very curious to see whether any of the foodstuffs I’m most concerned about show any form of reaction.

There’s a part of me that is wondering whether I’ll go through this whole process with no form of response.  But we’ll see.

Next update will be next week.

Exploring food sensitivity

Apple and Pear
Fruit from the core list

It’s no secret that I strive to eat healthily.  Not all the time – let’s face it what would a week in Cornwall be without pasties and cream teas? Or a blow-out birthday meal? Or an eat-until-you-pop Christmas dinner?

But the rest of the time, the 80-90% part of normal life then I try to make sensible choices.  And one of the things that I’ve noticed is that certain foods affect me in different ways.

The difficulty is knowing exactly what it was that caused the problem.  And that’s what I’m trying to find out – what are the foods that fill me with energy and zest and what are the foods that make me feel lethargic, tired, dull, bloated, and low in mood?

I’ve got a good idea which the guilty culprits are but I want to find out in a scientific way rather than by guess work.  For example is bread ok or not?  And if my body doesn’t particularly like me to eat it, is it the wheat, the yeast or the sugar?

So I did some research and found a book that could help me on my quest:  The Six Secrets of Successful Weight Loss by Dr John Mansfield – a doctor who trained at Guy’s Hospital, London and has worked in the field of food sensitivity for nearly 40 years.

His book talks a lot about weight loss but it was the chapter on food sensitivity that really interested me.

The two key concepts that he explains are that food sensitivities stem from foods (generally newer ones to the human diet, eg. grain and dairy) that we tend to rely on too much in our diet and over time may create an adverse reaction within our body.  Secondly, if we become sensitive to a food we may not notice because in general, we will be eating that food regularly which creates a “masking” effect within the body.  This means that we feel better after we have eaten something we are sensitive to rather than worse (confusing huh?), unless we haven’t eaten that food for five days in which case the body will react to it.

He then outlines a plan which involves stripping the diet right back to a core list of foods that are generally accepted not to cause problems for anyone. After one week of this then you start to introduce one food at a time at breakfast and dinner and monitor the effects.

Perfect – a scientific approach to what I want to do.

Not so perfect is that the core list is only 40 foods – of which I like about 27 of them (turkey, cod, green beans, lentils, apples and pears to name a few).  So the first week is going to be tough – but I am going to do it.

After the first week I move into phase one, introducing foods that shouldn’t cause any problems but are slightly more prone to causing sensitivities than the core list so that includes broccoli, chicken, peppers and more.

I’m not expecting any problems with phase one, but phase two I think will be interesting.

The foods I’m really keen to see if I react to are:

Caffeine (coffee historically causes migraines so I tend to drink tea – strong and black)

Sugar – this has caused me so many problems in the past I would be surprised if I don’t react negatively

Wheat

Yeast

Dairy – particularly cream (which I love and crave) and greek yoghurt which I eat a lot of in the belief it is good for me (I hope I’m right)

Alcohol (wine)

How will I know if I’m having a negative reaction?

Well I’m going to have to get used to weighing myself on a regular basis: twice a day to see how my body reacts to the “safe” foods. In the first week I can expect to lose a little weight and although I might feel a bit rubbish for a few days, if I am sensitive to food, then I should feel amazing by the end of the week.

Then when I introduce each new food I have to see if my weight increases (probably due to an immediate inflammatory response in my body which should happen within a few hours) and/or I suddenly feel lethargic or experience some other negative response.

It’s a bit technical and I’m going to have to think hard to keep my menu as varied as I can given the constraints but I’m really keen to identify the best foods that work, or don’t work, for me.

I’ll be updating daily on twitter…you can follow me on @mumontherum and I’ll be using a hashtag of #foodsensitivity.

I’ll also be blogging again at the end of week one to let you know how I’m getting on.

The World’s Best Diet

Healthy Lunch
Healthy lunch

I settled down to watch this documentary on Channel 4 last night about which country had the best diet.

I was hoping that it was going to explore in depth some of the identified healthy diets from around the world.

Instead it was a top 50 rundown from The Marshall Islands (in the north Pacific Ocean) taking the 50th position with a pretty unhealthy diet of processed and tinned products shipped in from America.

Their diet took a turn for the worse after the American nuclear tests took place on the Bikini Atoll during the 1940s and 50s – up until that point they relied on home grown goods and they were pretty healthy.  Now they have one of the highest rates of diabetes and the most common operation in their hospitals is for amputation from diabetes.

Fast forwarding we discovered that the UK didn’t fare too well – not a big surprise really – with Scotland at 37, Northern Ireland at 36, Wales at 35 (with the most obese children in the UK) and the UK at 34.

Not surprisingly we were ahead of America (43) but very surprisingly (for me anyway) ahead of Mexico and Australia. In Mexico, 1/3 of children are obese and this is put down to imported processed goods from America along with an average consumption of 1/2 litre a day of soda and fizzy drinks.  On top of their obesity problems they also appear to have a high incidence of dental problems/decay too.

Australia was a bit of a shocker.  I really thought they lived on a healthy diet of meat. fruit and veg but it seems they too have succumbed to the fast food revolution.

Ethiopia came in at a mid point at 24.  Western food only appears in the cities and it was interesting to see that for most people the standard diet was made up of the teff seed.  A small seed which they grind to a flour to make pancakes which they serve with lentils or vegetables.

The South Koreans (13) have some of the lowest obesity rates in the world which is attributed to a diet of fresh fish, vegetables and fermented cabbage.

And the French, who love their cheeses and high fat foods but have lower rates of heart disease show that it’s not all fresh fish and veg.  But instead they like to eat three meals per day (as we did in the UK 50 years ago), some wine and no snacks between meals.

Not surprisingly the Mediterranean diet made it into the top 3 with Greece and Italy taking 3rd and 2nd place respectively. So, yay for legumes, wholegrains, fruit, vegetables, fish and lots and lots of olive oil.

I wasn’t expecting Iceland to be no. 1 but they have low rates of strokes, heart disease and diabetes and they eat lots of fish, high quality meat and dairy and lots of natural whole foods.

There wasn’t much time spent on any one diet.  But the overwhelming message was that the healthiest diets were the ones that hadn’t changed much in the last 60 years and were reliant on natural foods rather than processed ones.

It didn’t seem to matter too much if you were an Innuit living on an all fat and protein diet of meat, a member of the Masai Tribe living on milk, meat and cow’s blood or a resident of Campodimele in Italy growing your own vegetables and killing your own chicken – the secret seems to be that as we progress and develop in all areas of our life, perhaps our diets should be best left alone to how they once were.

If you didn’t catch the programme, it is well worth a view – if only to see presenter Kate Quilton eat raw octopus which wriggles around as she eats it and attaches itself to her lip…I’m really not sure I could have done that – and can be seen again tonight on 4seven at 9pm or on the internet here.

 
Healthy lunch

Super 7 fruit and veg for kids

Jacket potato with chilli and saladIt’s impossible to pick up a newspaper without the latest advice on what we should or shouldn’t be eating and sometimes the research and advice is so contradictory it can be hard to know what to eat.

However I don’t think there’s any doubt that eating fruit and vegetables are a good thing to do to be healthy.

Just this week we’ve seen that we need to be eating more than the government recommended five a day.  Some research suggests eating seven portions can reduce the chance of an early death and some experts are even suggesting up to ten portions a day.

I must admit I was pleased to see these figures – my own personal experience tells me that the more “plant-based” food I eat, the healthier I feel.

And so it’s not surprising that I encourage my children to eat healthily too.  That’s not to say that they don’t eat cake and sweets but I try to keep them to a minimum and encourage them to fill up at meal times with fruit, salad and vegetables.

Back in January, in a bid to eat more of the green (red, yellow, orange and blue) stuff and less of the refined products (for that read sugar) we launched an initiative called Super 7 days.

This was two days a week where the children had to find seven different fruit and vegetables to eat during the course of the day.

The rules were simple – and discussed and agreed with them before hand so they bought into it from the concept:

1. Juice didn’t count

2. Dried fruit could only be counted once

3. Portion size wasn’t crucial but they couldn’t for example count just one blueberry it had to be a handful

4. There were no cakes, biscuits etc on Super 7 days.

The children were quite excited about this – they love a competition and they wanted to outdo each other – and I threw in a chart and stickers for the younger two which always seems to produce results.  So we were off to a good start.

I discovered some interesting things in this experiment.

1. The children didn’t moan or whine if they forgot the no sugar rule on these days.  If they asked for a biscuit I just said “no, it’s a super 7 day today,” and they were like “ok,” rather than the usual begging, pleading, cajoling routine.

2. They were keen to get more fruit or veg so they asked me to give them more.

3. Because their focus was on achieving the goal I was able to give them meals they hadn’t tried before without the usual: “What’s this? Do I like it?” instead if they could see that it had vegetables in they were more interested about how many vegetables it would give them towards their daily count and guess what – they just ate it.

4. It made me raise my game a bit.  Some times in the morning when I’m making the lunches it’s easy to throw in a bag of dried fruit and think that’ll do.  But because I wanted them to succeed I was chopping up cucumber, carrot sticks, washing blueberries, slicing apples etc

They didn’t always hit the magic seven.  sometimes they only got to five, but sometimes they got to eight.  However we celebrated them all, because at 5, 6 and 11 years old I think that looking for ways to eat more fruit and veg is something to be celebrated.

Unfortunately Super 7 took a bit of a hit over the last half term and never got properly reinstated.  Although habits certainly got changed and we are at five portions of fruit and veg a day on a regular basis.

However reading those newspaper articles this week has reminded me that we really do need to ensure we get more fruit and vegetables into our daily diet.  So with the Easter holidays upon us, the season of chocolate, it seems like a good time to start again.

The format may get changed a little, I’ll be consulting with the children later how they’d like to see it implemented and then we’ll get on it again.