Why My Heart Sinks When I Am Handed The Allergy Booklet

Hello again

I recently joined an incredibly interesting, friendly and helpful Facebook page entitled, “Coeliacs Eat Out Too …… They Also Live Everyday Lives”. If you suffer from Coeliac Disease, it is always nice to be able to share info, moan a bit and support others who have this auto-immune disease.

Recently, I have noticed a phrase which has started popping up, and not necessarily in a good way. One fellow coeliac called it “being given the folder treatment“. Here in the UK some new legislation came out a few months ago which requires all places where food is sold to provide allergen information on everything they offer. This is a good thing right? Yes, without a doubt. The problem arises when the restaurant hands you the dreaded folder which contains all the information, covering all allergies, from nuts to crustaceans and everything in between. It can run to about a hundred pages of closely-typed script. Here are some coeliac’s views on the subject:

~ I hate ‘the folder’. It’s poor customer service pretending to be good service.

~ The whole file was so confusing as ingredient listings were spread over lots of pages. The main part of the meal was listed in one section, then sauces in another, sides in another so I had to check lots of different pages for each item on the menu. I ended up choosing the first thing I found as I couldn’t be bothered to plough through the information.

~ It just annoys me. Vegetarians get a nice little green ‘v’ on the menu and are pretty well catered for, and we have to wade through this massive folder!

I have encountered the folder a couple of times – once it took me over 20 minutes in the pub to cross-reference everything in the folder against the 3 menus on offer that day (lunch, specials and pre-Christmas). I was stressed and harassed by the time I came to order, as was my fellow diner. I will not go back there again.

Allergen Booklet Confusion

Some coeliacs say that it is better to get the folder treatment than have the waiter say “what is gluten?” (if that happens, I walk out). I agree, but there has to be an easier way. What is wrong with the chef or the company marking all the menus for us?

If you are interested to know what the new rules are, have a look at this guidance from the UK’s Food Standards Agency:

https://www.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/food-allergen-labelling-technical-guidance.pdf

The general advice being given to food businesses about allergies is this:

In the UK, it is estimated that 1-2% of adults and 5-8% of children have a food allergy. This equates to around 2 million people living in the UK with a food allergy, this figure does not include those with food intolerances. This means the actual number of affected people living with food allergy and/or food intolerance is considerably more. 12. An allergic reaction can be produced by a tiny amount of a food ingredient that a person is sensitive to (for example a teaspoon of milk powder, a fragment of peanut or just one or two sesame seeds). Symptoms of an allergic reaction can range from mild symptoms such as itching around the mouth and rashes; and can progress to more severe symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea, wheezing and on occasion anaphylaxis (shock). Around ten people in the UK die from allergic reactions to food every year.

There is no cure for food allergy. The only way to manage the condition is to avoid food that makes the person ill. This can be achieved by checking ingredients details on labels of prepacked foods and being provided allergen ingredients information for non-prepacked foods. Therefore, it is very important that food businesses provide clear and accurate information about allergenic ingredients in their products.

allergen poster

I have written a few other posts about Coeliac Disease which you might like:

https://anniebeebuzz.com/2015/04/05/am-i-getting-my-oats/

https://anniebeebuzz.com/2015/03/01/hello-my-name-is-annie-and-i-am-a-coeliac-or-is-that-celeriac/

Let me know if you have been given the folder treatment – annoying or essential? Let me know.

allergy humour

Annie Bee x

Annie Bee signature

Sugar? Carbs? Inactivity? What Is Causing The Obesity Crisis?

Everywhere you look these days, there is a vast amount of information on obesity and weight loss. Most of it makes very scary reading.

A few days ago I was listening to the UK’s leading expert on obesity, Susan Jebb OBE, on Radio 4’s The Life Scientific. She is a nutrition scientist, and the Professor of Diet and Population Health at the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at the University of Oxford; she is also the UK Government’s advisor on obesity in the United Kingdom. One of the headline things I learnt from listening to the interview, is that her many years of research on human metabolism has proved without a doubt that you “cannot get fat without eating too much”. Metabolism is a bit of a red herring in her view and energy intake is KEY: she said that ultimately, obesity is about food intake. Other factors (physical exercise, metabolism etc) play a relatively small role. She did make the very encouraging point though, that a fairly small weight loss  (she gave an example of losing 4kgs which is less than a stone) significantly lowers the risk of diabetes in those predisposed to the disease.

Prof Susan Jebb

Professor Susan Jebb

Obesity and being overweight affects all the organs in the body detrimentally (as well as joints) and is undoubtedly the biggest health threat to the nation.  Another frightening statistic I heard this week was that £1 in every £5 spent by the NHS is as a result of people’s poor lifestyle choices – over-eating, smoking, too much alcohol, drug-taking and inactivity.

One of Prof Jebb’s pieces of research which particularly interests me (in relation to The Side Plate Diet) is entitled, Is plate clearing a risk factor for obesity? A cross-sectional study of self-reported data in US adults. The conclusion was that

….. the tendency to clear one’s plate when eating is associated with increased body weight and may constitute a risk factor for weight gain.

You can read it in full here: http://www.phc.ox.ac.uk/publications/502174

I was on a bit of a research roll at this point, so I also watched the US documentary film, “Fed Up”, about the US food industry. One of the many ideas the film posited was the view that you cannot exercise your way out of being overweight. Physical exercise of course has benefits to your overall health but weight is mainly about the types of food we are eating.The film was jam-packed full of deeply worrying statistics (the growth of Type 2 Diabetes in pre-teens in the US being one) but the main thrust was the very great danger of eating too much sugar, and to some extent, sugar substitutes which have the effect of making you crave more sugary foods. (Note to self: Diet Coke may not be as harmless as it looks).

Sugar , according to the film, is the new tobacco.

Fed Up movie

Today, the following research has made the news, via the British Journal of Sports Medicine

Excess sugar and carbs, not physical inactivity, are behind the surge in obesity.

It’s time to bust the myth that anyone—and that includes athletes—can outrun a bad diet.

Regular exercise is key to staving off serious disease, such as diabetes, heart disease, and dementia, write the authors, but our calorie laden diets now generate more ill-health than physical inactivity, alcohol, and smoking combined. Read more here:

http://press.psprings.co.uk/bjsm/april/bjsm094911.pdf

If you still have a sense of humour after reading that round-up, have a look at Homer Simpson main-lining sugar:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzhIagCwUUc

Homer Simpson

Happy eating!

Annie Bee x

Annie Bee signature

Surprising Finds #4 ~ The Listening Stick

I live in a small town in Hertfordshire, England. Thankfully it is known for a fairly low crime rate (I still think I am one of only a handful of people ever to have been mugged on the High Street), great state schools, friendly neighbours and beautiful, green open spaces. Many would say nothing much happens here. Many (me included) would say, ‘that is just fine thank you’. If residents ever feel the need for more interesting things to do, see and take part in, we are a mere 25 minutes on the train from London. The Bees and I moved here 15 years ago and the first time I went back into London for a quick reminder of what goes on in the Big Smoke, I ended up 100 yards away from an armed robbery on Bond Street. I hightailed it out of there faster than you can say, ‘give me suburbia any day’.

So by far the most exciting thing to happen on my street in the last 6 months has been a water leak which is seemingly very difficult to locate. This has resulted in a steady stream of workmen, vans and pneumatic drills; they have been digging up the pavements and the road, and the men have been standing about looking very perplexed. What has been fascinating is how they try to detect the leak. You’d have thought they would use some kind of computerised, fibre-optic something-or-other, with a microphone and amplifier which then sends data back to HQ via the cloud, recording it in all its leaky glory. Not a bit of it.

They have ben using what can only be described as an ‘old school’ instrument and so I decided to go and ask them about it. I learnt that, in a no-nonsense way you have to admire, it is called a ‘listening stick’. Clearly it does what it says on the box; while the men were slightly taken aback at being asked about it, they were most happy for me to have a go.

listening stick

Essentially it is a metal stick with a solid cone-shaped piece of wood on the end, to which you put your ear. I can’t say I could hear anything other than a watery rumbling but then I am no water engineer.

leak detection

Some things don’t improve with age and high-tech isn’t always better than the old-fashioned approach. Mind you, they are still out there trying to find the leak……

Annie Bee x

Annie Bee signature

Fartlekking: Say What?*!?

In a previous post I was saying how good walking is for you. No disputing that. Research backs it up, as does common sense.

However, this past week, in order to wake my metabolism up (to be honest I am not sure whether that is even a thing, but it sounds like it should be) I have been fartlekking. The main reason is I like the word, but it also gets the heart-rate up and is generally good for your fitness levels.

So what is it? Like a lot of good things, it is Swedish (as is the zipper, tetrapak, the artificial pacemaker, the smorgasbord and – wait for it – the adjustable wrench). Essentially it can be described as follows:

….. periods of fast running intermixed with periods of slower running. For some people, this could be a mix of jogging and sprinting, but for beginners it could be walking with jogging sections added in when possible.

For me, it is the latter. I count my paces and do 100 fast walking followed by 100 s-l-o-w jogging. I do about 4 miles. I try at all stages not to look like I might need resuscitating.

When in doubt about benefits or otherwise of health matters, I tend to turn to the NHS website. This is what they say about fartlekking.

What is interval training?

An interval training workout involves alternating periods of high-intensity effort with periods of low-intensity effort, which is called the recovery. For runners, this would typically involve interspersing bouts of fast running with slower running.

What happens to your body during the recovery phase?

The recovery phase is a really important part of interval training. The stop-and-start pattern trains your body to recover quickly between bursts of faster running, which, over time, will gradually increase your ability to run faster for longer.

What are the health benefits of interval training?

The long-term health benefits from interval training are similar to those achieved from most types of longer-duration, moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, namely a lower risk of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and some cancers.

Can interval training help me lose weight?

During the high-intensity phase, your body burns mainly carbs for energy but during the recovery, your body burns mainly fat to produce the energy needed to help your body recover from the intense effort. This process can continue for hours after training, which can help you lose weight, as long as you’re also eating  healthily.

What research is there on interval training?

There is growing evidence to support that interval training might be as effective, if not more so, than longer, moderate-intensity aerobic workouts. Researchers at McMaster University in Canada found that three 20-minute sessions of interval training a week provided the same benefits as 10 hours of steady exercise over a two-week period.

knackered runner

Well in that case, I will stick with it.

Annie Bee x

Annie Bee signature

My previous post on walking is here: http://wp.me/p5MNeq-1P

Yay! The Fanny Pack’s Back

Hello again

My day could not have got any better than when I saw a tweet from US Instyle stating that the fanny pack is the bag of choice this summer for the girl on the go. I have been smiling all day – mainly because you have got to love our cousins across the pond who call it that, but also because I am a closet fanny pack lover.

In the UK, where the word ‘fanny’ has a different meaning, we refer to them as “bum bags” which, you could argue, isn’t a huge step up in the speaking-nicely stakes. In the world of fashion, I believe they will be referring to them as belt bags or waist packs. Deemed the ideal bag for the festival goer, there is no doubt if you are in need of being hands-free (jogging for example) there is nothing to beat it.

I still have my black leather bum bag from the 80s. It may not be pretty…….

Chanel bum bag

It may not be designer like this one from Alexander Wang ……

wang bum bag

It might not be good enough for celebs…….

celebs with bum bags

…….. but golly it is useful.

If you too still have one at the back of the wardrobe from the 1980s, get it out, dust it off and get it on.

Annie Bee xAnnie Bee signature

More pics here https://uk.pinterest.com/buzzanniebee/bum-bags-fanny-packs/

Why Is The Square Neck Top So Flattering?

When Roland Mouret brought out the Galaxy dress in spring of 2006, it was obvious that the (then) unusual neckline was very flattering. Not quite square, more trapezoid, it acts as an arrow from the bust up to the face and frames it beautifully.Mouret Galaxy Dress 07

Galaxy Dress

For us mere mortals for whom looking at this picture is the closest they will come to the Galaxy, searching for square neck tops and dresses is definitely worth doing. They are what my mother would call “like hen’s teeth” – certainly here in the UK you really can’t find many of them and they are definitely not mainstream. This surprises me. Frankly, if M&S or H&M were to start selling a simple square neck T-shirt, I guarantee it would fly off the shelves.

square neck T

Grey square neck T

Square neck dress

There are a few websites stocking square neck tops right now in the UK. Kettlewell Colours is a site I have recently bought a few things from http://www.kettlewellcolours.co.uk/. Miss Selfridge seem to have a few http://www.missselfridge.com/ as does M&Co http://www.mandco.com/.

If you find any, snap them up. Let me know, as I am stockpiling them. And do tell me if you think they are flattering.

Annie Bee x

More pics of square neck tops and dresses here: https://uk.pinterest.com/buzzanniebee/the-square-neck-is-super-flattering/

Annie Bee signature

To Weigh Or Not To Weigh?

I was listening last week to Clare Balding on R4’s Woman’s Hour chatting about the Oxford and Cambridge Women’s Boat Race. This year it took place on the Thames for the first time ever, and occurred on the same day (Saturday 11th April) as the men’s.  What interested me was that Clare Balding had been along to the weigh-in and was pointing out that while the rowers are all quite small women, they do weigh a fair amount. They are small, lean and full of muscle.

Ox and Camb weigh in

This reminded me of a diet and fitness statement one often hears bandied about: a pound of muscle weighs more than a pound of fat. Well, no. They weigh the same. But the point (which is correct) is that muscle is about 18% more dense than fat and one pound of muscle occupies less space (volume) than one pound of fat.

These pictures illustrate the point.

Muscle V Fat

same weight pic

Some people weigh themselves every day, and there is research to show that they do in fact lose the most weight. The research was published in 2014 in the online publication PLOS One (you can access it here http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0113164). Although a relatively small number of people took part (40) there are two or three other studies which show much the same thing.

I NEVER weigh myself. I did get super slim aged about 20 and enjoyed jumping on scales as often as possible, but the more I weigh, the less happy I am to know the truth. When I am forced onto the scales (perhaps at the hospital or by the GP), thankfully very rarely, I look off into the middle distance with a thoughtful, intelligent look in my eye and pray I am not going to get a lecture from the health professional. Often it is in kgs anyway, which is complete gobbledy-gook to me.

scales

I have lost weight recently (see posts on the Side Plate Diet) but am still going nowhere near the scales. For me it is all about how I feel, how I look, and how my clothes are fitting. Also how much muscle I have – the aim is to be lean and fit. Bring it on.

Let me know if you weigh yourself, how often, and whether it is motivating – does it make or break your day? Do you calculate your BMI? Or do you have your body fat percentage measured?  I am not sure I am brave enough to face those body fat calipers just yet, but you never know.

calipers

Annie Bee x

Annie Bee signature