How Do You Take Your Water

When it comes to bottled water, there are numerous types on the market: mineral, spring, artesian, purified, flavoured and alkaline water, to name a few. Stroll through any supermarket and you’ll be taken aback by the sheer diversity of choice. It’s a struggle to know which water is the best because there are just too many options. Each brand claiming to have wildly impressive additional health benefits. Some swear by glacial meltwater or whatever designer water is currently trending. It’s difficult not to make sweeping judgements about bottled water, there has to be more that just hype. But which is better for your health and do they all just do the same thing, keep you hydrated.

Is water well, just water?

Tap water in the UK is among the safest in the world, according to Dr Jim Marshall, the senior policy adviser at Water UK. It passes more than 99.9 per cent of quality tests. There are more standards regulating tap water than those applied to the bottled water industry. But despite this, whether it stems from concern about tap water, clever marketing or a fondness for a crisper, cleaner flavour, bottled water is hugely popular and is going from strength to strength.

So, what exactly are these different waters? Some of the larger water companies have admitted that their bottled water is nothing more than filtered tap water, so what you are actually paying for are large advertising campaigns and wonderfully designed packaging.

The UK bottled water market is worth £2.4 billion and has grown year-on-year since 2012. The total bottled water production stood at over 2,700 million litres last year. It’s no different in America, where consumers shell out $16 billion annually. Clearly the advertising men are doing a great job of selling something that we all need to stay alive.

Spring water comes from an underground source and must be collected at the spring or through a borehole tapping the spring’s source, according to the International Bottled Water Association.

Mineral water is natural water that has a constant level and relative proportions of mineral and trace elements, containing no less than 250 parts per million totals of dissolved solids, according to the water association. No extra minerals can be added to it.

Purified water the Bottled Water association defines as water that has been highly treated through distillation, deionization or other suitable processes in order to meet certain standards before being sold. Most bottled waters use this method.

Artesian water is derived from a well that taps a specific layer of rock or sand.

Filtered water is the home- made version of purified water, by using a water filter jug like Brita or water filter taps also referred to as 3-way kitchen tap, which filters the water automatically.

 Alkaline water has a higher pH level than tap water. Natural alkaline water can occur when water picks up minerals from areas such as springs, when it passes over rocks in the environment or can be produced by water filter systems called ionizers.

Ionized water has antioxidant properties. Therefore, what you get is an abundance of hydrated minerals. It is said to taste better than regular water, Its filtered and purified by machine.

Flavoured and enhanced water Some varieties boast beneficial antioxidants from plant extracts, tea and fruit juices. It’s best to look for brands that are free of calories, sweeteners and artificial ingredients.

Sparkling waters are acidic. Carbonation introduces carbon dioxide, which lowers the pH level and increases the acidity. These can replace fizzy drinks like lemonade and soda water.

Coconut water forms naturally in the fruit and contains 94% water. It’s a good source of fibre, vitamin C and several other minerals. Evidence shows that coconut water may be no more effective than drinking plain water.  But the potassium it contains can be a benefit to you, particularly after sports.

Artesian water is from underground wells, whilst spring water comes from surface water and mineral water (which accounts for the lion’s share 45% of the UK market) comes from natural springs rich in minerals like salt and sulphur compounds. Some of these like Buxton and Harrogate Spa have been famous for their healthy water for hundreds of years. I did drink water from a natural spring during a stay in Spain and the taste was more pleasant that tap water, which isn’t drunk very often my the locals.

A cheap way of purifying tap water for some time has been the Brita water filter system, I have used these myself in the past. There have been some recent health concerns raised. One of the downsides of filters is keeping them maintained, and if you don’t, they can become a hazard in themselves because of the potential hygiene risk. The filter can grow mould and break down and impart material in to the water and old filter’s are less effective. So, you’re could be drinking tap water with contaminants and whatever else has grown in the old filter. (As water attracts bacteria) Experts stress that there are no specific health benefits to water filters and its a matter of personal preference, but that filters should always be changed regularly.

You might have seen alkaline water in recent years, become popular due to a belief that it may benefit health. There’s not really a lot of evidence either supporting the health claims that are made about alkaline water or refuting the claims. A pH level is a measure of how acidic or alkaline something is. Tap water has a PH level of 7 containing one acidic hydrogen ion (H+) and one basic hydroxide ion (OH-), balancing each other out to make water neutral. Most alkaline waters lie in the PH range of 8 or 9, due to addition of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium. It been thought to provide better hydration, especially for athletes.

Water filter systems called ionizers are home appliance’s that claims to raise the pH level of drinking water by using electrolysis to separate the incoming water stream into acidic and alkaline components. These are often combined with Reverse Osmosis systems. To give the water a healthier mineral content it often has to be put through an ioniser as purified water (RO) tends to be acidic.

Reverse Osmosis uses a semi-permeable membrane system to remove ions, impurities, minerals and molecules to create pure water. Some systems have a remineralization filter which adds calcium and magnesium and other healthy mineral’s back into the water. During the purification process quite a lot of water is wasted and the costs involved can be high.

Plain drinking water can be a bit uninspiring and adding a wedge of lime or lemon to the water can help to improve the taste. Many prefer flavoured waters instead and it’s easy and healthier to make flavoured water at home. Simply add your favourite sliced fruits to cold water and the longer you let it sit, the stronger the flavour. To add a little bit of excitement you can try mixing fruits and herbs: grapefruit, strawberries, berries, lemon, lime, cucumber, ginger, celery, basil, mint and lavender.  Pinterest has a lot of wonderful ideas. Invest in a carafe or Kilner jar, so it not only tastes great it looks lovely too. I have a reusable water bottle which has a lift-out section for adding extras in the centre. Re-usable water bottles are the best to use and a huge range of bottles and designs are on sale, for every taste. Some even show how much you have drunk during the day.

Who knew that water could vary so much? But as long as you are drinking it in some form or other, that’s fine!

Health Food Trends in 2021

In a year when our lives are once more turned upside down, our health and well-being are at the forefront of our thoughts for the foreseeable future. Our eating and drinking habits have changed accordingly with foodie trends that enhance immunity and keep us healthy of much importance!

So, what will the year ahead deliver more of then? Many of us, including myself, did not follow as healthy a diet, as we could have last year, takeaways and comfort eating was too much of a temptation. So in a New Year we get the chance to try a bit harder to eat a healthier diet! There are a few new-ish trends that can give you a dietary kickstart.

Postbiotics-The latest player in the gut- health game is postbiotics, how are these different to probiotics? Well, postbiotics are the metabolites (or end products) of the fermentation that goes on in the gut by probiotics. They have being studied for anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits and may also help bolster the immune system. These are found in some of the same foods that contain probiotics, such as kefir, sauerkraut, sourdough bread and kimchi. The main difference is they’re not alive, so can be used in more ways than live probiotics and even added to our food products.

Home Coffee’s-Not always seen as good for you, coffee is having a healthier make-over. As many of us are still working from home and are making our own drinks instead of buying at the local coffee shop, a cup of instant Nescafe just won’t cut it anymore. Recent surveys have found that 45% of respondents were using a new coffee brewing method at home compared to 2019 with a similar amount of people indicating an interest in improving their home- brewing skills.  Which Magazine reviewed electrical and hand-held Frothers recently. Consumers have been using more indulgent creamers and syrups. Sales of plant-based creamers rose buy 30% percent in 2019 and oat, rice and soya milk has been produced specially for the coffee market. Younger consumers like to experiment with flavours to replicate healthier custom-takeaway drinks. For a healthier hit try turmeric latte or matcha latte, which are easily made at home. You can also mix and match your favourite spices like cinnamon and ginger and use honey to sweeten your drink.

AI Created Food-Artificial intelligence is helping food companies create things we could have only dreamed of a couple of years ago. In particular in dairy- free and Vegan products that taste just like the real thing. Like a non-dairy milk that behaves like dairy milk (it froths, foams and blends like dairy) but is made from pea protein, cabbage juice, pineapple juice and other plant ingredients.

Micro Greens-These are not exactly new, but consumer appetite for them is at an all-time high and they are mainstreaming. These tiny shoots are the baby counterparts of plants like carrots and broccoli. You may have enjoyed microgreens at a high-end restaurant in the past, but now you can find them at the supermarket. They are not only colourful but loaded with nutrients and can be easily added to salads and smoothies. These can be grown at home, in a garden or on a windowsill. Home- Growing is also trending in 2021.

Kelp– Seaweed has been traditionally used in Japanese, Korean and Chinese cuisine for thousands of years. Nutritionally kelp is a sustainable superfood, offering several minerals, including calcium, and B vitamins in each serving and environmentally it cleans the water by removing the nutrients that cause algae blooms. Added to smoothies and broths, it gives an extra health boost.

Foods That Fight Climate Change– Food production is a significant contributor to climate change, accounting for a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. So, our food choices can help to counteract the effects of climate change. Simply swapping meat for plant-based food like beans one day a week can make a huge difference on your personal environmental impact. Locally, organically grown crops like vegetables have a lower carbon footprint. Consuming produce when it’s readily available saves energy from production and transportation costs because it didn’t have to be shipped from a faraway country. So seasonal cooking is the way to go. Better still grow your own!

Home- Made Condiments– As the pandemic stretches on, consumers are missing their favourite restaurant foods and are trying to replicate these flavours at home. This has led to an increased demand for authentic sauces, chutneys, and seasoning blends that home cooks can use to make restaurant- worthy dishes. With so many people stuck at home, they are rediscovering the joys of cooking.  Small companies producing: spices and condiments have been a huge pandemic hit and making chutneys at home is also becoming popular as these can be free from additives and artificial colours so are healthier as well as tastier than the usual shop bought.

All of these trending foods can be added to your diet with relative ease and I noticed the move away from strange and wacky, designer foodie trends in favour of simple foods that can actually benefit your health and also that of the planet. What next I wonder?


Veganuary 2021 has had the largest pledge since it’s beginning in 2014. More than 500,000 people signed-up for the 31-day vegan challenge, surpassing the 2020’s total of 400,000. So exactly what is this and who or what is Veganuary?

Inspiring and supporting more than one million people in over 192 countries to try a vegan diet in January. It’s a non-profit organisation encouraging and supporting Veganism. They have worked with businesses to drive up vegan food provision in shops and restaurants, and have made veganism more visible and accessible by working with national and international media. Matthew Glover is the co-founder of Veganuary. After 17 years of working in the window and door industry, his priorities and focus changed when he became vegan in 2011. With a drive to reduce animal suffering, Matthew used his business and marketing skills to launch the Veganuary campaign in 2014 with his partner Jane Land, a former English teacher turned animal campaigner. Today he continues to guide the charity along with a team of very talented and dedicated trustees.

Not just for January, but throughout the whole year, Veganuary encourages and supports people and businesses (large multinational corporations and smaller high-street retailers alike) to move to a plant-based diet as a way of protecting the environment, preventing animal suffering, and improving the health of millions of people. Its website providing: great recipes, interesting articles, workplace challenges and eating guides, as well as helping to fund and support projects.

The UK is now officially the world leader for vegan food launches. Mintel reports that around 16% of new food products released in the UK in 2018 were vegan, which more than doubled the previous years’ output. (Veganuary is cited as being behind this up-swing) In 2020 more than 600 brands, restaurants, and supermarkets promoted the campaign and launched more than 1200 new vegan products and menus in the UK market alone. Products like: Gregg’s Vegan Steak Bake, Pizza Hut’s Pepperoni Pizza, KFC’s Vegan Burger, and Subway’s Meatless Meatball Marinara.

Perhaps the biggest landmark is that British supermarkets have embraced and promoted Veganuary this year more than any other, even advocating the reasons to try a vegan diet. It’s truly game-changing in taking the trend mainstream. As retailers vie with one another to bring out bigger and better vegan products and menus to capitalise on the huge popularity of Veganuary. Now cynic’s could say that, they are simply using it as a marketing opportunity, but I think that would be a bit unfair. As the bastions of the food supply chain, they do know and understand that the most sustainable way forward is plant-focused. And their involvement as well as the endorsement of the medical world has encouraged more people to take up a vegan diet or to at least be more open-minded than previously. Many more people are interested in giving it a go.

Having been a vegetarian on and off since a teenager, I know how difficult it was to find affordable, tasty vegetarian food both in supermarkets and restaurants at times, vegetable lasagne and nut roast been the only uninspiring offering on the menu. Today, the variety is huge and its no longer a take it or leave it attitude to non-meat eaters. It’s quite exciting to see how so many changes have happened!

Aldi has a webpage that not only highlights its plant-based products but also sets out the main reasons to try a vegan diet: caring for animals, staying healthy, being greener and more sustainability. It also features dozens of vegan recipes, tips on vegan swaps and a link to Veganuary’s website. Asda also has a dedicated webpage that explains what a vegan diet is and highlights three of the reasons to try vegan: it’s better for the environment, it could improve your health and it’s delicious! It also features their top vegan product picks and encourages people to sign-up for Veganuary. Tesco has launched its first Veganuary TV and radio ads. It also has a dedicated webpage with recipes, product highlights and tips on making vegan swaps. M&S also releasing its first Veganuary TV and radio ads and produced a 31-day Veganuary meal plan with ideas for making plant-based eating exciting every day of the month. Morrison’s launched a £25 Veganuary Essentials box filled with much-loved vegan favourites to help give your January a kick-start. It also dedicated a Veganuary shopping page on its website featuring all its plant-based products.

As, we come to the end of January, did you try the Vegan diet? If so, I hope you enjoyed it! If not, there is still a whole year to make changes to your diet, not just a single month. So possibly a couple of small changes or baby steps, once a week? 

See  for some great ideas!

Diets- The Good and Not So Good

The New Year is often a signal that it’s time for a fresh start and that has never felt more welcome than in 2021. After nearly a year spent staying home, stressing out and comfort-eating, many of us are looking forward to getting more active, healthier, and taking off all those quarantine pounds in the next 12 months. In a year where our lives were turned upside down, our eating and drinking habits changed accordingly and not for the better. And with health at the forefront of our minds for the foreseeable future, foods that enhance immunity and keep us healthy rule the day.

If you type best diets to lose weight into Google, as I did, it will bring up masses of results. Its totally overwhelming and it doesn’t help when there are pages upon pages of conflicting information in-between lots of dodgy science. When you start researching the best ways to lose weight, your head can start spinning with all the different miracle diets. It can be impossible to know which one is the best to try or to avoid!

Many celebrities have been endorsing their personal weight losses, often very extreme diets and social media like Instagram has an army of true believers, who post about how great they feel after giving up carbs, sugar, meat or food on the latest fad diets!

I have to say at this point, that I am not a trained expert, I am like you interested in eating better and losing some unwanted extra weight. I have visited websites, that I hope offer beneficial and safe advice like the NHS website and been watching on TV where nutritionists and doctors have dieters try out the various diets under supervision.

I have tried many diets over the years, some more successful than others. A knee injury has meant I have not been able to exercise, and the lockdown, poor sleeping patterns and less activity has taken its toll. I find myself with some weight to lose! I had been attending some lectures from a nutritionist and had started to learn more about a more balanced diet, which had whetted my interest. I received several great books on healthy eating as well as too much chocolate for Christmas. I will let you know how I get on later. But in the meantime, see below!

The Good

Throughout my research, the diet that came out on top, time and time again was the Mediterranean one. This is less of a diet and more of a healthy eating plan, so the pounds will come off more gradually, however it is easier to stick too and maintain in the future. Longer- standing Diet plans like Weightwatchers are also still giving good results with a moderate eating and exercise plan.

Mediterranean-style diets– Based on the heart-healthy lifestyle of Greece, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. These diets include healthy fats such as avocados, olive oil, nuts, and fish at least twice a week, plenty of beans, fruit, leafy greens, and whole grains, and even a daily glass of red wine. You can eat cheese and red meat only in moderation. This diet’s primary appeal is in its numerous health benefits and its an enjoyable diet compared to some others. On my travels, I lost weight eating this way and was healthier too.

Weight Watchers or WW-This diet company has been around for years with good results and many dieters been able to maintain their lower weight. The updated version is my WW+, after a personal health assessment you are given a colour-coded program that assigns you a certain number of points per day. (Foods are given points based on calories, saturated fat, sugar, and protein) You can eat whatever you want within that range. You can also eat an unlimited number of 0-point foods (most fruits and veggies and lean proteins such as fish, tofu, beans, eggs, and chicken breast. Coaching in groups or one-to one and advice on exercise, sleep and wellbeing is offered, online or by app. Research has found that dieters assigned to WW were more than eight times more likely to lose 10% of their body weight over 6 months than those trying to diet on their own.

DASH– is an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, but it’s not only for people with high blood pressure. As it is also promoted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The DASH diet, is a flexible and balanced eating plan that helps create a heart-healthy eating pattern. This plan borrows elements of the Mediterranean diet, but it’s a very specific eating pattern that’s been highly researched. It recommends specific portions from various food groups, depending on one’s daily calorie needs. The rate of weight loss can be slow, as it’s a sustainable long-term diet. Your daily calorie needs are determined by your age, sex and activity level. A limit is put on sugar and salt. This diet includes: 6 servings of grains daily, 3-4 servings of vegetables, 4 servings of fruit and 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy. Also recommended are 3-4 ounces total per day of lean meat, poultry, or fish, 3-4 servings of nuts, seeds, and legumes per week and 2 servings of fats and oils daily.  I haven’t tried this myself, but it has been medically endorsed and the diet books have been best-sellers.

Intermittent Fasting Plan-My nutritionist friend is a great fan of intermittent fasting and is in such great health. As a major trend. It’s claimed to cause weight loss, improve metabolic health and perhaps even extend lifespan. There are a few different ways to do the intermittent fasting plan:

The 16/8 method -Fasting every day for 14–16 hours and restricting your daily eating window to 8–10 hours. Doing this method of fasting can actually be as simple as not eating anything after dinner and skipping breakfast. You can drink water, coffee, and other zero-calorie beverages during the fast, which can help reduce feelings of hunger.

Eat Stop Eat involves a 24-hour fast once or twice per week. For example, if you finish dinner at 7 pm on Monday and don’t eat until dinner at 7 pm on Tuesday, you’ve completed a full 24-hour fast. You can also fast from breakfast to breakfast or lunch to lunch. Water, coffee, and other zero-calorie beverages are allowed during the fast, but no solid foods are permitted.

Fast 800 Diet or 5:2 diet is for those who are trying to lose weight quickly and helps to re-set their metabolism. This was created by Dr Mosley who originally wrote the Blood Sugar Diet because he was diagnosed as a type 2 diabetic. A Mediterranean Diet is eaten for five days and then for two days only 800 calories. In a University of South Australia trial, the 5:2 group also lost 40% more body fat than the standard dieters and most interestingly, their blood sugar control improved, so many were able to reduce medication. People find this way of eating to be easier to stick to than a traditional calorie-restricted diet as for five days per week, you eat normally and don’t have to think about restricting calories. For dieters with more weight to lose this could possibly be a good starting diet.

Replacement Meal Diet-Even the NHS website states that meal-replacement diets can be effective at helping some people lose weight and keep it off: like Slim fast and Huel. These are more convenient to dieters as there is not a lot of preparation needed as in some of the other diets. Shakes and bars are easy to take to work. My sister lost five stone using the slim fast diet but when she returned to eating normally (her poor eating habits) the weight went back on. So, it does work short-term. But there’s a risk of putting the weight back on again once you stop using the products, as meal-replacement diets do little to educate people about their eating habits and change their food behaviours.

Vegan or Plant-Based Diet-Now, I was a bit surprised at this one as I thought that a Vegan diet was motivated by ethical and moral beliefs rather than weight-loss. Going vegan won’t necessarily help you lose weight but by following a healthy eating plan eating high-quality vegan food like leafy greens and plant-based proteins, you could lose weight. These diets did feature amongst the best for losing weight. Going a step further than the traditional vegetarian diet, vegans shun all animal products, including dairy, eggs, and honey. With the new era of plant-based meats, going vegan is easier than ever. You just focus on eating whole foods derived from plants. Plant-based foods tend to be higher in fibre and lower in fat than animal products, keeping you filled up for fewer calories.

The Flexitarian Diet-Flexitarians are also known as flexible vegetarians or vegivores. Quite simply there are no rules. Some flexitarians will have a meat-free meal once a week while others will only eat meat on rare occasions. As a lapsed vegetarian, who would find a vegan diet difficult, this is quite appealing. Whereas the vegan diet goes one step beyond vegetarianism, the Flexitarian diet, gives you the flexibility to have a small amount of meat on occasion. There are no strict calorie limitations, though a 5-week plan that provides around 1,500 calories a day. By filling your plate with more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and plant proteins and sticking with the low-calorie plan, you can lose weight and improve your health, there are some great recipes to try.


I also came across a few more controversial and possibly dangerous diets. As a rule of thumb anything from a celebrity is best taken with a pinch of salt as our life’s and requirements are very different.

The Paleo Diet– is still getting a lot of attention, even though it’s nearly impossible for modern-day humans to stick with this diet over the long-term. Based on the eating patterns of our Paleolithic ancestors, this diet requires a strict adherence to foods that would have been hunted and gathered, including lean meat, nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables. Any diet that has a large list of what’s not allowed is going to be very hard to maintain and cutting out numerous food groups from your diet can also eliminate many important nutrients.

Keto Diet-Celebrities like Kourtney Kardashian and Halle Berry are fans of this low-carb diet.  Similar to the Atkins diet. but as carbs are gradually increased on the Atkins diet, intake stays low on the keto diet. You can lose weight initially on this high-fat, low-carb diet, which puts your body into a state of ketosis. (With no carbs to burn off for energy, your cells start burning off stored fat) But keeping your body in what is basically a crisis state is not a viable long-term plan, the diet can lead to side effects such as headaches, muscle soreness, constipation and fatigue. This is not one for vegetarians due to its heavy reliance on meat and lack of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. I think this diet is too restrictive and lacks health benefits and balance.

The Atkins Diet-One of the biggest fad diets in the industry. The Atkins Diet has now reformed itself as a refreshing new healthy eating plan according to its website.  The pioneer of low-carb diets, Atkins promotes weight loss by restricting carbohydrates and sugar and loading up on protein. The updated diet plan does now include vegetables and berries but still lacks adequate fibre from whole grains and beans.  which can have negative consequences on gut health and moods.  Now, I have tried this one, I lost weight but had bad breath, flacked energy, and didn’t enjoy it that much.

The Five-Bite Diet-From Californian Alwin Lewis, the Five-Bite Diet requires you to skip breakfast and then only eat five bites of your meal at lunch and dinner. The very small portions of this diet will promote weight loss but eating only 10 bites of food per day is not a healthy way to lose weight, I think we can all agree on that. The hunger and lack of satisfaction and lack of nutrients provided by this diet ensures it will be unable to be sustained and this restrictive meal plan will lead to lack of energy and muscle loss. Avoid It…..

The Alkaline Diet Popularized by Tom Brady other celebrities, the idea behind the alkaline diet, is that your food can affect pH levels in the body. This fad diet has no scientific basis. And what about the alkaline diet’s side effects? Whilst, it’s good to reduce your intake of red meat and processed foods, restricting entire food groups can negatively impact your body. A strict eating plan which eliminates grains, dairy and animal foods may be deficient in protein as well as vitamins and minerals. So, there’s a huge risk of malnutrition, especially if you’re not taking supplements or getting important nutrients like protein elsewhere.

The Cabbage Soup Diet-Another fad diet that has been around forever, I tried years ago and it didn’t work and caused a lot of wind. The Cabbage Soup Diet emphasizes eating large amounts of it as every meal. You are allowed to eat one to two other low-calorie foods daily in addition to the soup, which is supposed to accelerate weight loss in seven days. Does it work? Short-term, yes for some, but it can’t be sustained in the long-term and after a very low-calorie diet when you return to regular eating will likely cause you to regain any weight lost. So, is it really worth it?

I hope this has given you some ideas, a diet is personal and what works for one person doesn’t for someone else. But I think a well-balanced diet which builds on a gradual weigh loss and changing eating habits would be more sustainable that a restrictive eating plan and much less of an ordeal!

The Health Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet

In my last blog, I talked about how adopting the Mediterranean diet can help to prevent degenerative brain problems like Alzheimer’s, however there are many more health benefits to following this diet. By Mediterranean, this can be Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal. The one thing that all these countries favour is the use of fresh, seasonal and local foods. The health benefits include; a lower risk of cancer, cardiovascular and heart problems, obesity, diabetes and longevity. It fact its less of an actual diet than a lifestyle, but the basics are: a high intake of fresh fruit and vegetables with nuts, legumes, cereals, olive oil, fish and poultry, A low intake of dairy, mainly yoghurt and a low intake of red meat, processed meats and sugar, Red wine is consumed in a low quality and often mixed or drunk with water.(Flavonoids and antioxidants in red wine can reduce heart disease )

Although fast foods have spread worldwide, McDonalds has a lot to answer for, in the main many aspects of the traditional diet are followed. Sardina, in Italy, has the oldest European population. Many vegetables like Tomatoes and Red Peppers sum up this diet to us, these also have beta-carotene, antioxidants that convert to Vitamin A, which helps to fight against free radicals, which benefits skin, eye health and general wellness. Combining these foods with olive oil, nuts and seeds can help the absorption. Oily fish, sardines and shellfish can help you to keep sprightly.

You only need to shop on market day to see the wonderful variety of fruit and vegetables sold; Tomatoes, peppers, onions, eggplants, leafy greens, carrots, courgettes, melons, apples, peaches, cherries, oranges, lemons and apricots alongside spice stalls and an array of olives, to understand the love of food and cooking is very much from the heart. (In my travel blog, I have given local recipes which I have very much enjoyed eating)

A diet low in saturated fats and high in mono-unsaturated fats helps to avoid high cholesterol and heart problems. Unsaturated fats are olive oil, avocados, almonds, cashews and pumpkin seeds. Saturated fats are in most junk foods and processed meals. Avoiding or reducing the use of butter, fatty meats, cream, biscuits, cakes, ice-cream and chocolate helps lower the amount of saturated fat in your diet.

Scientists feel that the most damaging aspect of the western diet is too much Omega 6 is consumed and too little Omega 3. So, having a healthier balance between Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids is linked to preventing degenerative brain problems and heart disease. Omega 3 is in salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, eggs and flaxseeds, whilst Omega 6 is in soy beans, corn, meat, poultry, fish and processed cooking oils. Once again highlighting the improved diet of Mediterranean countries. Eating seafood once or twice a week would help to give a better balance, as well as replacing meat a couple of times a week.

Legumes like beans, chickpeas and lentils are key ingredient in many stews and this are been used more now in the UK often to replace a meat-based meal.

Cakes, biscuits and sugary desserts feature much less in a Mediterranean diet with natural sugar from fruit and honey used more than adding sugar. Its much more of an occasional treat rather than an everyday food.

I thank that food is seen as much more, living to eat rather than eating to live.

Striving to live with nature and the land and sharing this with loved ones, eating together as a family is a strong part of a culture which has been the same for many years and I do hope continues to be for many more years.

tomates vine

meals 1





Lockdown Diet

A bit of an Oxymoron this one. (Two words that don’t go together) Prior to lockdown I had a change of diet, I have had a knee injury for a while and been unable to exercise so had put on some extra weight. I decided I needed to make some improvements to my diet and hopefully lose a stone in weight.

As soon as I even mention the work diet, I suddenly start feeling hungry. Fad diets don’t work and can even be dangerous if too extreme, so I stopped eating sweets, biscuits and cakes and reduced down my bread and dairy (No cheese or cream) consumption. I started making salads for work with lots of Kale and stopped eating processed food, I also ate less fruit. (Even natural sugar should be restricted) It took a couple of weeks to notice a difference, but I did lose weight and started to have lots more energy.

All was going well, until the Lockdown was announced, I managed to go shopping and get in some essentials like Quinoa and greens I could freeze, just in case. As I live with a family member who can’t leave the house for health reasons I can’t either. Having started educating myself to eating in a different and healthy way, here was the challenge to continue doing so under my current restrictions.

I thought that by spending time at home it would be far easier than been out and about and seeing lots of temptation, dear me how wrong was that. Without an everyday routine it is far too easy to focus your day around eating, as it’s the one essential thing that you do plan. It is too easy to eat between meals and been less active than usual adds an extra problem as you are not burning off the calories.

As I mentioned in my last post Breakfast is the most important meal of my day, it is tempting to skip breakfast, but I try to make this more of a ritual as I have more time on my hands. Its very hard not to snack so I have been making smoothies, although some of the goodness is removed from the fruit this way, it’s also a great way of supercharging with seeds, greens and spices as well as eating lots of fruit and vegetables. These can be filling and it’s fun to play with different flavour combinations (only one a day should be consumed). I regard them as my daily treat. Peanut butter, cacao nibs and coconut add some extra sweetness, if like me you are struggling without chocolate.

Drinking too much tea and coffee is also a problem, so I stocked up on Mint and Ginger herbal teas, two of my favourites, I am less likely to need a biscuit than with my usual Earl Grey tea. I have started drinking hot water with lemon, particularly in the morning and at night and staying hydrated with water throughout the day is important. You often eat when you are thirsty.

I must mention we all enjoy an occasional drink and without having to get up early to go to work it could become tempting to drink more than usual, however this is not a great path to pursue as it is important right now to stay as healthy as we can. There may be some health benefits to an occasional glass of red wine but drinking a bottle or two a day is detrimental to your health and your waistline. Some UK charities have serious concerns about the increase in alcoholism. Supermarkets have been unable to deliver food essentials but are still sending out wine, spirits and beer orders, which seems downright irresponsible.

Eating small meals at regular times and drinking water throughout the day and restricting snacking, (a small amount of fruit, seeds or nuts not biscuits) and cutting down on sugar and salt hopefully will help to maintain a sensible weight. I have been trying out lots of new recipes with pulses and plant- based meals and these  freeze well.  Quite a few chefs are giving advice on YouTube and Instagram for quick, easy and wholesome meals so its never been a better time to improve your culinary skills and even become healthy.

At least time spend in food prepartion stops you from eating all the time!

Eating During Stressful Times

Having a varied diet and eating nutrient rich food is important at all times but during stressful times this becomes vital. When we are under pressure, eating often becomes an afterthought as we reach for junk food or a quick fix like crisps, often eating quickly at our desks or even worse on the way to the next meeting. Eating slowly, even grazing, simple easily digressed foods like salads and cooked fresh vegetables in small portions would be much better for you. These can still be delicious but work with the body not fight it.

I am not a chef or a nutritionist, but have taken advice from both, most of what I know, I have learnt from getting it wrong. Any extreme diets should only ever be taken under medical or trained supervision. However, I can offer a few small tips, which have worked for me and my friends.

We often crave the wrong foods (I know I do) like high calorie cakes and snacks high in sugar and salt. But these highly processed foods are not recognized by the body so cannot be broken down which leads to digestive complaints and food intolerances as well as weight gain. Caffeine is addictive we all know that, but it also is dehydrating so the more of it you drink the more dehydrated you become. Staying well hydrated with water or swapping out a couple of your usual tea and coffees with herbal drinks will make a difference. If your intake of caffeine is high reduce gradually rather that stopping overnight unless you were advised to do so, because you can get terrible headaches and even nausea if you stop abruptly.

Stress in the body can be due to nutritional deficiencies so a poor diet could make you more stressed. When digestion is poor you miss out on vital nutrients and become malnourished. Digestion needs energy and when your energy is focused elsewhere food can only be partially digressed, allowing toxins to build up and cause bowel problems like IBS and constipation.

Eating better will not take away the stress but having a diet that makes you feel better from the inside out and gives you energy is a great tool for combatting the stress in your life and cooking in itself is stress- relieving and enjoyable. Making your own meals can be cheaper and processed foods contain hidden sugar and salts. By batch cooking you can fill your freezer and fridge with healthier meals that can be reheated when needed.

There are some great books and online websites to help you find recipes to follow: I like Michael Mosley, Deliciously Ella, Joe Wicks, Grizzi Erskine and the BBC good food guide but there are plenty more to explore.

I have been a vegetarian on and off since I was a teenager, so I do know that there are some positives and negatives to following this diet and whether to eat meat or animal products is a personal choice. However, when the body is stressed, meat, particularly red meat, can become very hard to digest so reducing the amount of meat or swapping some meals with a high protein source like Quinoa (this deserves its own post) or trying a plant- based meal can nourish the body and assist in healing.

One of the most important meals of the day is breakfast and taking time to enjoy this time is very important. Slow releasing Carbohydrates, with a small amount of protein and some healthy fat will keep you full for longer and less likely to crave biscuits or sweets mid-morning. I tend to start my day with Porridge, oats or Quinoa with either chia seeds, flax seeds, goji berries, kiwi, blueberries, banana, apple, sunflower seeds, coconut, dates, prunes, Greek yoghurt and honey. I try different combinations to supercharge my morning. Eggs can also be a great start to the day.

Home- made soups are perfect for lunch and adding pulses like Lentils, Pearl Barley or Butter Beans give extra protein, fibre and complex carbohydrates. In warmer weather Hummus is very easy to make and has many variations just add carrot sticks, celery, an apple and oatcakes. A light evening meal like grilled chicken or fish with salad or vegetables not taken to late in the evening finishes off the day. ( Eating late at night can cause problems with digestion and stop you from sleeping)

I remember meeting a nutritionist several years ago who recommended eating only boiled brown rice and a small amount of steamed vegetables as a suitable diet and thought at the time it was hardly an encouragement to eat healthier food as it sounded very unapealling. Today we see a colourful array of varied ingredients which make up tasty food that we love to eat and our body’s love too.

I will post some of favourites for you!

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Buy Local- Buy in Season

I have written about this before in my previous blog, but today this is even more important than ever particularly with food.  to view other articles.

Because of the closure of restaurants and hotels many local food producers have lost their clients, but farming still has to continue; crops have been grown and animals reared etc. To combat this many have started selling food boxes directly to customers rather than just to businesses. This is a great opportunity to try seasonal, local produce and also champion local companies. Small farm shops and local shops are also still trading as well as supermarkets. This also encourages us to think seasonally rather than expecting to purchase the same foods all year round. We have got into the habit of eating summer fruits and vegetables in winter, these are grown under polytunnels even in countries like Spain. It is quite shocking to see how many blight the landscape and beautiful vistas.

Our ancestors ate seasonally, often growing their own fruit and vegetables. Is it not more interesting and healthier to vary our diet?

If you look online in your area you will be able to see who can deliver to you. Why not try it?


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You Are What You Eat

I have for several months been going to a set of talks at Neals Yard about diet and nutrition. I have always tried to have a well-balanced diet but I do have a sweet tooth and drink large amounts of Tea, so there was room for improvement!

During the talks, our wonderful advisor Becks, explains about digestion and why some foods are beneficial, we also find out what harm certain foods cause to the body. (This was a real eye-opener) We do know that sugar and salt and processed foods are not our friends but don’t actually know why that is the case and why we should drink more water.

I am much more informed now; we got to try some foods and drinks like Kefir, Kombucha, green smoothies and sugar-free treats, I found that a small amount of dark chocolate ( not several Bounties) can even have some benefits. Soaking dried fruits and nuts can aid digestion and that even a light sprinkle of Chia Seeds or Linseed on your porridge in the morning can make a difference.

Now whilst, I can’t say that I loved everything I tried, I do have to say I was pleasantly surprised and I have introduced many new things into my diet. I have even bought a Nutribullet blender and make my own smoothies, which are much tastier and healthier than the shop brought version and Green smoothies: using Kale or Spinach, after a bit of trial and error can be great!

Book shops are crammed with books on clean living and detox diets, but many of these can be very extreme and often difficult to achieve if you have a job and don’t have hours available to shop for and prepare food.There are alot of mixed messages about what healthy eating is and it can seem very confusing. We were advised that small steps are better than large changes. Strict detox regimens should be under observation as you can become very unwell. Drinking more water, reducing salt,sugar, caffeine and alcohol and adding more vegetables to your diet would be a good start, particularity if your current diet is highly processed.

I have been replacing cups of tea with herbal drinks and in the morning and evening I drink hot water with lemon. I still love my cups of tea but enjoy them more than before as less frequent so they are more of a treat. It helps as my colleagues have been going to the same talks so we have all been encouraging each other and have been trying different herbal teas and swapping our unhealthy snacks.

It is a move towards a balanced, enjoyable diet of wholesome, natural food and away from processed foods which can be lacking in key nutrients and lead to poor energy levels.

Drinking more water was the biggest challenge but adding a slice of lemon or cucumber did help and I have noticed improvements from just this small change. I have started to prepare more food myself, it has taken more thought and planning but it is quite exciting to try new things. Why not have a go!

Enjoy x

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