5 A Day ~ For Mind As Well As Body

The NHS has added a 5 A Day for your mind to the now fairly well understood theory about 5 A Day fruit and veg. I am not sure when this was introduced to the general wellbeing lexicon, but I rather like it.

wellbeing

The origins of the 5 A Day fruit and veg campaign are a bit unclear. Some argue it all started in the orange- growing fields of California but Ken Kizer was director of the US State Department for Health Services back then . He says that it wasn’t a case, as some have claimed, of fruit and vegetable growers looking for new markets, but a mutually beneficial venture for industry and public health policy.

“It didn’t originate from the agricultural community. It just so happens that when we reached out to them and pointed out this would help them, they got onboard and became enthusiastic partners.”

In the UK there is evidence it was mentioned as far back as the 1980s.

Whatever the history, in 2003 the World Health Organisation launched a worldwide campaign to promote the importance of having 400g of fruit and veg per day which could prevent cardiovascular disease, some cancers and stroke. Since then, many countries have marketed the idea; Australia have adopted a 2&5 policy (2 portions of fruit + 5 of veg which sounds eminently sensible); Canada, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand and Norway are all in on it.

Does it work? Well it works at Bee HQ and does seem to have entered the minds of the generation who were at school when it was first heavily promoted in schools here in the UK. Of course it is a target – the campaign in Australia is called “Go For 2 & 5″  and in NZ they add a ‘+’ into the equation (5 + A Day) showing an impressive optimism.

Naturally fruit and veg producers have got in on the marketing act, but I don’t see that as a bad thing. However I think the jury is out as to whether it works.

The government’s former chief medical officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, says he thinks it has been partially successful so far.

The middle classes did listen, and the supermarkets listened and they tend to respond to the middle class consumer particularly.

I think it’s been less successful in reaching the disadvantaged communities where those levels of fruit and vegetables were already low.

So now we have a 5 A day for mental health:

Connect

Be Active

Keep learning

Give To Others

Be Mindful

five ways to wellbeing

Food for thought. I like it ~ will it work? Let’s see

Annie Bee x

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The Side-Plate Diet: New Research On Portion Sizes

Hello friends

As many of you know, I am a keen proponent of losing weight, or keeping weight off, by controlling your portion sizes. You eat normally (though healthily) but use smaller plates to impose control over your food intake. This has worked extraordinarily well for me. I started doing The Side Plate Diet about eleven months ago and it has transformed by body and my relationship to eating.

The BMJ this week reports that

~ Theresa Marteau from the University of Cambridge and colleagues recently published a Cochrane review that found the “most conclusive evidence to date” that people consume more food or drinks from larger size portions or packages, and when using larger items of tableware.

Additionally, they say that reducing portion sizes may mean going back to the noticeably smaller tableware which was being used in the 1950s, and suggest that one change which could make a difference would be,

 ~ Designing tableware to encourage smaller mouthfuls, such as, shallow plates, straight sided glasses, cutlery.

My views and information on plate sizes, if you want to read more, are here. And if you are worried about your weight and would like to try The Side Plate Diet, use the search bar at the right of the blog, and have a look at this.

This new research has some great suggestions and is taking a very sensible and longer-term view about reducing over-consumption and preventing obesity. The most recent statistics showing the problem in the UK of childhood obesity are, frankly, alarming.

The possibility of a new sugar-tax being implemented is also currently at the top of the agenda here, but we have a long way to go.

side plate diet

Using smaller plates is a very easy approach to dieting. It works.

Please share the buzz ~

Annie Bee x

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New Research On The Importance Of Portion Sizes

Some of the news headlines today about a new piece of research (which is in fact a round up of 61 previous studies) are,

 ~ Portion size key in tackling obesity, says study

 ~ Growing portion sizes a major factor in rising UK obesity, study finds

 ~ End to supersizing could reverse obesity trend

 ~ Want To Lose Weight? Buy Smaller Plates!

The Cambridge University led team of researchers says that by simply replacing large sizes of foods and drinks with standard amounts, British consumers could reduce overall calorie intake by up to 16 per cent. Over a year, that could result in weight loss of around two stone. If American adults did the same, they could reduce their intake by 22%-29%.

One of the ways of achieving this, the authors say, is by shifting away from a culture of large dinner plates, wine glasses and “supersize” portions. They found that people offered portions of food or crockery in larger sizes “consistently” consumed more of what they were given.

Add to this the well-documented evidence that portion sizes of packaged foods have increased substantially, and you have a recipe for trouble. My blog post The Side Plate Diet: Portion Distortion from earlier this year cites a number of pieces of research on the subject.

side plate diet portion distortion

Of today’s news, Dr Alison Tedstone, the chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said: “This study clearly demonstrates that reducing portion sizes is a successful way to cut calories. Given that almost two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese, it’s important to keep an eye on portion sizes when cooking, shopping and eating out to avoid overeating and help maintain a healthy weight.” You can find the full research on the Cochrane Library webiste.

Well you could always try my simple solution, which is to eat all your meals off a side plate. How small will it need to be? Have a read of my Side Plate blog post.

It has worked for me  ~ I am a very healthy weight and I am eating perfectly normal, healthy food; in addition, I am avoiding adding a layer of what I regard as complication, such as calorie counting, fasting, or the cutting out of one food group (for example carbs).

Give it a go. I can highly recommend it. And please share the buzz!

side plate diet

side plate diet

Annie Bee x

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Willpower ~ How Does It Work?

I have been giving a lot of thought to the question of willpower. I can’t say I have it in abundance, but when I do decide to do something (even if it is after many years of not doing anything), I do seem to be able to stick to my guns. So much about our health (by which here I mean diet and exercise) comes down to that often elusive willpower.

Anyone with a slightly addictive personality (which refers to a particular set of personality traits that make an individual predisposed to developing addictions) will know about hitting rock bottom. There is often a trigger for deciding that enough is enough, whether it relates to drugs, alcohol abuse or over-eating. These triggers are very personal, but in my experience there comes a moment of compete clarity after which you know change MUST take place. It is only then that you take control of the problem and make changes.

Firstly then, what exactly is willpower?

The American Psychological Association calls willpower

the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.

From what I have researched on the subject, willpower has a finite supply. You therefore need to use it wisely, which is a nuisance frankly. I won’t be the only person out there who has thought it was a bottomless well and the issue was how you can harness as much as possible. On the flip-side, the good news is that you can work on building strategies to improve your use of it.

willpower

One interesting aspect of willpower is that people will often use up the limited supply on family and professional matters, leaving little for themselves. After a taxing day at the office, or with the kids, it is far more difficult to then find the time to keep on making good decisions about food. A recent study showed that people faced with a very stressful work-related task who were then asked to choose between different foods tended to make less healthy choices. Personally I think this is also compounded by the reasoning that a difficult day requires reward. You have had a very tough day at work, or dealing with 3 kids under the age of 7, or 2 moody teenagers, and a large glass of wine at 5.30pm (“the sun is over the yardarm somewhere”) sounds infinitely justifiable. Or, in food terms, you have a had the day from hell in the workplace, so you decide that a takeaway curry will cheer you up instead of the omelette and salad you had originally planned.

So willpower is definitely a tricky one: it is limited and it can be sabotaged fairly easily too. Sounds like other strategies are required. What are some ways of improving your chances of making best use of willpower when it comes to dieting?

  • Have a long-term, achievable goal. Are you going to a wedding in November, to which you would dearly love to get back into your favourite dress? Perhaps you want to be able to run a 5K next year and have realised that shedding some weight will make that goal a great deal easier to achieve? Make a record of your achievements as you go along and set yourself a goal you can meet.
  • Stay well rested. Over-tired people make bad decisions.
  • If you have a bad day, and your diet has seemingly gone out the window, put it behind you. It is done, nothing can be achieved by dwelling on it (except perhaps to work out why it happened and try to take steps to avoid making that mistake again – learn from it). Get back on track and don’t be too hard on yourself.
  • Minimise temptation. We are expecting a lot from willpower – don’t make it doubly hard by putting temptations in your way.

determination

I don’t want to sound preachy, but for those people who say “I simply don’t have the willpower” I would say this: you haven’t hit your rock bottom yet. When you do, and you decide to take control, have an achievable plan and work hard. The benefits are joyous.

Annie Bee x

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You Cannot Get Fat Without Eating Too Much

happy Sunday

Sundays can be a bit of a mixed bag really. They can be slow and without purpose. They can be full of dread for the week ahead. They can be a day of dashed hope ~ you plan for brunch in the garden and it turns out to be cold and wet as it is here in the ‘burbs today (many degrees below the July norm).

They can also be a day of resolution, particularly when it comes to fitness, health, dieting and wellbeing. All diets start on a Monday – every woman knows that and those decisions for a NEW YOU tend to be formulated on a Sunday. You resolve to change your attitude to all sorts of things on a Sunday – how tidy you keep the kitchen, cooking pancakes from scratch instead of buying them pre-packaged, building a new veg patch in a sunny bit of the garden. But surely more than anything else, losing weight.

One of the most sensible and interesting exponents of diet and health in the UK is Susan Jebb OBE, who 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. 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 says that ultimately, obesity is about food intake. Other factors (physical exercise, metabolism etc.) play a relatively small role.

If you are thinking about your weight, diet and health this Sunday I urge you to have a look at my previous posts on the side plate diet (see the Search Buzz Subjects bar on the right) and follow my instagram posts (Annie Bee on instagram ) which will help to show how easy it is to follow.

Side Plate Diet breakfast

Side Plate Diet lunch pic

Hope you are having a pleasant and fruitful Sunday.

Annie Bee x

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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

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Habits: Hard To Form? Hard To Break? ~ The Impact On Dieting

Parents try to instil habits in the tiniest of babies – we bath a newborn at bedtime partly in the hope that it becomes a cue for a good night’s sleep and, later, a habit. Many habits start in early childhood: cleaning your teeth, eating nicely at the table, saying “please” and “thank you”. Those are the good ones. Bad ones – biting your nails for example, a habit I eventually conquered at the ripe old age of 31 – also often start in childhood. Once they are entrenched, new behaviours are terribly difficult to adopt. This makes the whole challenge of dieting both interesting and hugely difficult. Once the bad habits become ingrained into your subconscious, they become ‘learnt’ behaviours and are really tricky to quash.

Aristotle Quote

Some years ago some self-help bods started bandying about the phrase that it took 21 days to form (or indeed break) a habit. Research in 2009 at University College London, however, (‘Intervention Based on the Principles of Habit Formation’ published in the European Journal of Social Psychology) showed that actually it takes an average 66 days for people to perform an initially new behaviour.

Habits are behaviours which are performed automatically because they have been performed frequently in the past. This repetition creates a mental association between the situation (cue) and action (behaviour) which means that when the cue is encountered the behaviour is performed automatically. Automaticity has a number of components, one of which is lack of thought.

They suggested that because bad habits are very difficult to break, one helpful way of conquering this is to take control of your environment so you don’t encounter the cue which acts as a trigger. The research also highlighted that while being wildly inconsistent meant no change to habits, the odd inconsistency was not the end of the world. So we need commitment, but not necessarily a 100% track record. Many women on diets think all is lost if they have a bad day. We need to change that mindset and keep looking forward.

habits

There is undoubtedly truth in the argument that most diets fail and if we want to lose weight, eat healthier and feel leaner and fitter, we need to make a lifestyle choice, not reach for a short-term solution.

I firmly believe that much of this can be answered by strict portion control. In his book “Mindless Eating”, Brian Wansink argues that just an extra 10 calories a day will make you gain a pound in one year. So there appears to be a small margin of error, but this should give us all hope. If you missed my info on Portion Distortion, please have a read: http://wp.me/p5MNeq-2r

Lifestyle change and a long-term outlook then is the answer: breaking bad habits, making new ones and sticking with them once and for all. Diets which work over a long period of time and which become a way of life are ones which suit the dieter and which don’t require too much aggravation and thought. For me, the Side Plate Diet is a winner (see http://wp.me/p5MNeq-2). I eat what I want and enjoy my food, but I simply restrict the amount. Let me know if you are giving it a try.

What experience have you had with habit-breaking and habit-forming? How has it impacted on your diet? Please feel free to comment – I would love to hear from you.

Change ahead

Annie Bee x

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