Wednesday, 28 May 2014

NICE Obesity Advice to GPs

At long last NICE are recognising the role that counselling has to play in tackling the UK’s Obesity problem and are urging GPs to refer patients to weight loss services for help and support.

Everyone is an individual, our bodies all behave in different ways, especially when it comes to food and our weight. Some rules apply to everyone; if we consume too many calories over a prolonged period of time then our body size will increase. But there are many other factors that affect our relationships with food and how our bodies react to what we eat. There are illnesses that affect how the body absorbs nutrition, both chronic and acute. Our lifestyles can also have a major affect; stress causes a release of the hormone Cortisol, which can cause weight gain. Busy work schedules result in missed meals through the day and a desire to binge eat at night, when the body retains more fat. Even drinking too little water will stimulate the body to feel hunger rather than thirst. Chronic fatigue and depression also play a role, resulting in comfort eating to overcome emotional and physical pain.

Being overweight can result in numerous problems that then exacerbate the issue. Movement becomes more difficult, and then painful, as joints lose the protection of muscles and then come under strain from burdens they have not evolved to support. This results in a more sedentary lifestyle, which weakens the body further. The constant bombardment of advertising and the media promoting slim, fit, bodies as the answer to all life’s problems makes those of us that do not match the image feel inferior and undeserving of happiness, which can trigger comfort eating. Over time our bodies override their natural systems, such as feeling full when we have eaten enough; we develop cravings for increasing amounts of sugar, fat and salt, and our organs lose the ability to deal with food in a healthy way. We steadily build up poor eating habits that become more and more ingrained, becoming psychologically difficult to break, especially on our own.

There is no quick fix, no magic bullet; unfortunately though, many diets abuse the fact that the body contains several pounds of Glycogen, a fat that acts as an emergency supply, which disappears rapidly in the first couple of weeks of a low calorie diet. They hint that this rate of weight loss will continue and while an obese individual can lose a stone in the first couple of weeks, as the glycogen is used up. After that the weight loss slows rapidly as the body starts to lose the fat reserves that are the real problem, and 2lbs a week is an average, whatever the programme. Ads that shout ‘I lost 14lbs in two weeks,’ are the ones to watch out for. If the person goes back to eating normally straight away afterwards, the the body builds up the Glycogen store as quickly as it came off, hence Yo-Yo dieting. Maintaining a steady weight loss will result in the body reducing its capacity for building up Glycogen, but this develops over a period of months.

Weight loss requires a holistic approach to be successful, understanding each person as an individual, and addressing the different components that have lead to weight gain. Some people will find this easier, others will find the process a real challenge, but it is within everyone’s ability to achieve their goal. The components to a successful reduction in weight that is sustainable are a reduction in calories, an understanding of what has lead to the increase in weight, help and support through the process,  and most importantly, building a healthy relationship with food again, one that will last a lifetime, which may now last much longer.

At Wits End Weight we treat everyone as an individual and offer a range of help and advice, including group sessions, workshops and 1:1 counselling, depending on the individual. We take people on a journey, it may be difficult at first, but we are with them every step of the way. Our goal is a new you, healthier, happier and confident in their food choices. We cannot claim to work miracles, simply to put you back in touch with the body you were born with.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Healthy Eating Tips for Nurses

Healthy Eating Tips for Nurses, by Debbie Saunders, Ideal Weight

Nurses do not always have the time to eat the healthiest of meals. Whether you’re working all night and are too tired to eat, or you’re working a busy twelve hour shift; taking care of your nutritional needs can be a real challenge. At work, you cannot always take time away from patients in need, no matter how hungry you may be. That is when quick snacks from vending machine start to look rather appetising.

Skipping meals or substituting unhealthy snacks will not provide the fuel you need to meet the demands required for nursing. Eating well can help you live better by preventing diseases and other medical conditions; and also help to relieve stress. Here are some healthy eating tips designed for busy nurses.

Think Whole Foods, Not Deprivation

Luckily, it’s not difficult to give your body the nutrition it needs to run efficiently and then you will have more energy and generally feel better. Good nutrition does not mean depriving yourself of all your favorite foods. It is about adding more whole foods into your everyday diet and enjoying the less healthy options, such as doughnuts, chips and caffeine drinks, as occasional treats. The less you consume these treats, the less you’ll crave them.

Keep Blood Sugar within Normal Limits

As a nurse, you know that missing meals can cause a drop in your blood sugar level, which can make you even more hungry, irritable and fatigued. When that happens you are more likely to eat anything that is easily available for a quick energy boost. In extreme conditions, if you don’t eat, you could become light headed and disoriented, which is obviously not the best condition for a nurse.

Try to keep blood sugar levels stable throughout your workday by planning ahead for your nutritional needs. Stock up on apples, low-fat cheese, dried fruit and raw nuts, such as almonds and walnuts. Pack moderate portions to snack on before you get too hungry. Remember that fruits, especially dried fruits, have a sugar content of their own, so do not overdo it or your glucose level could rise again. Balance fruits with protein from cheese or nuts. Focus on high-fiber snacks, too, such as rice cakes, oranges or berries.

Don’t Eat One Big Meal a Day

Saving the bulk of your calories for one large meal is not the best eating strategy. Your body can’t handle too much food at a time, so it’s better to divide your food intake into regular intervals throughout the day. For many nurses, eating six small meals a day would make them feel better than one or two large meals and snacks.

Add Colour

Colourful foods are generally higher in nutrition. For variety and optimum health, aim for three colours in every meal. Aim for two servings of fruit and three vegetable servings each day. Pack a big salad for your lunch or dinner at work, for an easy way to add colorful veggies to your diet. Prepare a large bowlful of salad on your day off and you’ll be ready for quick meals throughout the week.

Avoid Processed Foods

Processed foods are easy to prepare, but usually high in sodium and fat. They often contain preservatives and hidden sugars, as well. Skip the aisles of packaged and canned foods and make your own basics from scratch. Brown rice, prepared dry beans and whole-grain pasta can fill you up and prevent you from overeating. The fibre is good for your digestion and blood sugar, too.

Create a Healthy Food Zone

Encourage nutritious eating with co-workers by establishing a “healthy food zone,” where only healthy food is allowed. It is too easy to overdo it on biscuits, cakes and other treats brought from home, and given by grateful patients, so make a pact that only healthy foods will be brought into the workplace.

Take Small Steps

Changing eating habits takes some planning and effort, but it’s not difficult. Every small step you take adds up to new, healthy, lifelong behaviors.

Start with bringing salads and healthy snacks to work.

Is Fat Necessary?

Fat is often thought of negatively in a diet, but your body could not survive without it. For one thing, it’s a valuable source of energy, but more importantly, we also need fat to absorb certain vitamins that are important for your health – such as A, D, E and K.

Fat is made up of individual ‘building blocks’ which are the fatty acids. Some of these are essential, in that they have vital functions in your body, and you can only get them from your diet, as your body cannot synthesise them. These essential fatty acids include omega-3 and omega-6, which are vitally important as they are used to make the outer layer (membrane) of the cells in your body, and are also involved in the production of substances that control the chemical reactions inside these cells.

Although it is undeniable that you need some fat in your diet, it is all too obvious what happens if we eat too much. Fat is the richest form of energy that we consume, which means it is very easy to eat more than we can burn off through activity, leading inevitably to weight gain. The rise in obesity levels is often blamed solely on eating too much fatty food, but it is a bit more complicated than that. The average intake of fat in the UK is not far off the recommended level, and as a population, people are eating less fat today than 20 years ago; so why is the population getting fatter, why are we not at our ideal weight? Fat is obviously not the main culprit.

The problem in our diets is not the total amount of fat we eat, but the types of fat. Naturally occurring fats can be classified as either saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated, depending on the chemical structure of the fatty acids they contain. There are also trans-fats – which are produced artificially, turning a source of fat, such as vegetable oil, that is liquid at room temperature, into one that solidifies. Unfortunately, these trans-fats make excellent ingredients and greatly enhance the taste and texture of processed foods, but are disastrous for our bodies.

Saturated and trans-fats are the ‘baddies’ – the ones that are harmful to our health, by increasing cholesterol levels, which can lead to heart disease. Trans-fats are thought to be particularly unhealthy as they raise the levels of bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) while lowering the good variety (high-density lipoprotein). Since their harmful effects have been exposed, the food industry in the UK has been pro-active towards cutting these fats out of processed foods; so fortunately, most of us are not consuming large quantities anymore, just dealing with the after affects. Nowadays it is saturated fats that are the main cause of problems because we are eat far too much, about 13 percent of people’s energy intake currently comes from saturated fats, with the recommended level being 11.

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats meanwhile, are actually good for you, and most people don’t eat enough of them. Unsaturated fats help to lower cholesterol and also provide you with the essential fatty acids that your body needs. Omega-3 fatty acids that come from fish are thought to have specific benefits in helping to protect against coronary heart disease; and there is evidence to suggest numerous other health benefits as well.

So, what should we avoid?

Foods high in saturated fats include:

  • fatty meat and meat products
  • dairy products – such as butter, cheese and cream
  • pastries
  • cakes and biscuits
  • chocolate
  • coconut oil and palm oil

The average man should have no more than 30g of saturated fat a day, and the average woman no more than 20g.

Foods to look for:

Good sources of unsaturated fats include:

  • Sunflower, rapeseed, olive and vegetable oils, and spreads made from these oils (so long as they have not been hydrogenated (trans-fats), not to be confused with emulsified, combined with water.)
  • avocados
  • nuts and seeds
  • oily fish, such as mackerel, salmon or trout – these are a particularly good source of omega-3

So, yes, too much fat in a diet where it is not being burned off will lead to an increase in weight, but it is in fact sugar, in its numerous guises, that is really responsible for high levels of obesity. For a healthy diet, all most of us need to do is reduce our saturated fat intake, while some of us would actually benefit from an increase in unsaturated fats. As with most things, moderation is essential to maintain your ideal weight.

For more information on weight loss in South Wales contact Debbie Saunders, weight loss counsellor.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Find Your Ideal Weight

South East Wales is a good place to live, but especially so if you would like to lose some weight because that is where Debbie Saunders works. Debbie is a qualified, trained counsellor and coach, who uses the highly regarded techniques of cognitive behavioural therapy and transactional analysis to help people who have serious weight issues, or want to lose a little and maintain.  Our modern day relationship with food is very complicated; we have the same urges as our hunter gatherer ancestors, but have access to as much food as we could possibly want and more. Over time, our bodies are affected by this constant feast without famine and we lose the sensations that tell us to stop eating when we are full.

With a structured diet plan, group counselling sessions and lots of support, it is possible to get your body back on track.  Debbie has done this for hundreds of clients over the past six years and is an expert on the whole diet journey.  For example, even on a steady diet containing exactly the same calories each week, weight loss is not constant. There are times when the weight loss plateaus, and despite the diet, nothing happens for a week or two which is when people are tempted to give in, but Debbie helps clients understand what their body is doing and see this in a different way.  Sure enough, the body relents and the weight drops again, with a sudden big jump. It is this kind of insight that enables Debbie to help her clients reach their goals. An unexpected weight gain could be down to a stressful week, as high levels of cortisol released into your system will encourage water retention.  Talking through why your body is reacting the way it is can help you to stay focused.

There are a number of reasons why group counselling is so effective; firstly there is the support that comes from the other members. Everyone has good and bad weeks, so it is great to be able to pool experiences and strategies to cope with the down times but also to celebrate successes together.  There is nothing as motivating as a group member hitting an 11 stone weight loss target!  Groups also mean that costs are kept down, although Debbie is happy to provide 1:1 sessions if that is what you would prefer. So if you are lucky enough to live around the Abergavenny, Monmouth areas and need some help to reach your ideal weight, why not give Debbie a call and find out how she can help.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Gourmet food at an unbelievable value

I’m a bit loath to spread this about as the price is bound to go up but the more of the animal we eat the less I have to stress about being a carnivore.
Tesco Beef Liver £1.70Kg
Waitrose Calves liver £34.99Kg
The gory facts are that beef cattle are generally slaughtered just before 30 months, so still quite young. Beef liver is almost undistinguishable from calf’s liver, a fraction of the price, and we are eating more of the animal.
So, a gourmet meal for two for 70p (yes that’s for two people!)
I was brought up on liver but if you have never tried it you must. Hunters will kill a deer and cut out the liver & eat it raw, still warm. Bit extreme for me but liver cooked properly is nothing to be scared of. It is better than the best fillet steak. Tender and tasty, once you try it you won’t go back. It’s not gamey or offally and at this price you would be a fool not to at least try it.
If you have tried pigs and lambs liver (especially in casseroles) and not enjoyed the experience, forget all that. Beef liver, flash fried, is something else.
Traditionally I would go for liver, bacon and onion gravy. So start with some onions and butter in a small saucepan with a lid. Let them stew on the stove on a low heat.  When the onion starts to caramelise add enough water to make gravy, a bay leaf, thyme & sage and warm through to let the herbs infuse.
The meat is vac packed so empty it into a bowl of cold water, this gets rid of any blood and it soon gets much more pleasant. Place in a sieve or colander to drain.
Now make up some seasoned flour. Plain flour, salt and pepper, don’t get fancy, the liver is the star. The easiest way is to put this in a sandwich bag. The liver is probably in slices a few mm thick but might need cutting into manageable pieces to fry. Dry the liver on kitchen roll, both sides, drop into the bag of flour and shake until coated. take the coated meat out of the bag and place on a plate, ready to fry.
Then place some dry cure bacon in a frying pan, two rashers per person.  Cook until crispy and all the fat runs out. Remove the bacon and keep warm in an oven at 100C.
Use the pan and fat to fry the liver, a couple of pieces at a time. Then keep warm with the bacon until it is all ready. The liver only needs a couple of minutes on each side, it should melt in the mouth, not be like leather.
With the liver keeping warm it’s time to make the gravy. Put a large knob of butter in the same frying pan and as it melts use a wooden spoon to loosen all the crispy bits in the bottom. Then add a couple of table spoons of left over seasoned flour and cook through to form rue. Now, SLOWLY add the water from the onions, make sure the flour absorbs all the liquid before adding more. Discard the bay leaf. As the gravy cooks it will thicken, give it a taste and if it needs extra flavour crumble in some of a beef stock cube, it probably won’t need a whole one so add and taste until you are happy. Finally add the onions and heat through.
Everything is now ready to serve. My choice would be to have it with buttery mashed potato and lightly cooked white cabbage. The sweetness of the cabbage, onions and liver is perfect with the saltiness of the bacon, mash & gravy.
Just make sure there is plenty of gravy.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Joined Up Thinking

Are you still struggling with food going out of date in your fridge? Do you buy food on the way home just in case & find you already had more than enough already?
Here is a way of keeping control of your perishable foods with your phone.
There are now a number of apps that will track what is in your fridge and give you a count down of what needs using up first. They do vary in quality & some are quite pricey for apps, but compared to what they can save you in wasted food it’s a no brainer.
Some come with bar code scanners, date opened (for long life products) and all sorts of other bells and whistles.
In no particular order of merit here are some to check out:
So now you will know what is in your fridge , about to go past eating, so what do you do with it?
Here is a useful website that takes your list of ingredients and suggests recipes that best incorporate them - Super Cook. Simply add each ingredient and the website will ask you what else you have available and what your options are. So, just check this out on the commute home, pick up any last minute ingredients and you are all set for a delicious home cooked meal when you get back.
And if all your good intentions go by the wayside and you are still faced with a fridge load of out of date food check out Still Tasty  which lets you know what is still safe to eat or freeze, and what needs to be binned.
So, no more excuses for turning your fridge into a gruesome science experiment.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Surviving A Fuel Strike

Driving smarter can greatly reduce your fuel use, saves money and reduces your carbon footprint. Faced with a fuel strike it will also help you last longer between top ups.

For someone spending roughly £50 a week on fuel, an equivalent 20% efficiency increase would save around £500 a year. So how much was your pay rise this year?

It is possible to drive the same distance in the same time, yet use considerably less fuel, chopping up to 30% OFF your fuel costs without cutting your top speed. It's simply about driving more smoothly to boost your fuel efficiency. Driving smoothly will also significantly cut your CO2 emissions.

·         Accelerate gradually without over-revving.

Speed up smoothly. When you press harder on the pedal more fuel flows, but you could get to the same speed using much less power. A good rule is to stay under 3,000 revs.

·         Drive in the correct gear.

Always drive in the highest gear possible without labouring the engine.

·         Slow naturally.

Rather than brake all the time, let your car slow naturally and use its stored momentum.

·         Think about your road position.

To do all this takes road awareness. The more alert you are, the better you can plan ahead and move gradually. Keep an eye on brake lights beyond the first car in front of you and decelerate before you have to apply the brake yourself.

Every time you put your foot on the accelerator, remember the harder you press, the more fuel you are burning. Braking is reducing the momentum that you have just burned fuel to achieve.

Just being conscious of this, and your road position, should massively increase how far you can drive on a tank of petrol. It's estimated someone who averages 35 miles per gallon could reach 40 mpg by driving better.

Generally, the faster you accelerate, the quicker you come to the next stop, and everyone else then catches you up. Fuel consumption shoots up when you travel above 55mph. An increase to 75mph raises fuel consumption by 20%.

If you are at a standstill for more than 30 seconds it is more efficient to turn your engine off and re-start it.

Additional savings can be made by addressing the following:

·         Keep your tyres inflated.

Lower tyre pressure increases the drag on a car, meaning you need more fuel, so regularly check the pressures are correct and your car needs less oomph to keep it moving.

·         De-Clutter your car.

The lighter your car is, the less effort it needs to accelerate. By de-cluttering, clearing out junk from the boot, and not carrying unnecessary weight, you can make extra savings.

·         Take your roof rack off.

A roof rack, even unused, adds massive wind resistance to a car, increasing drag and making the engine work harder. So if you don't need it, take it and anything else that's inefficient off. Even closing the windows will make the car run slightly more efficiently. If you have a bike rack on top you might as well be dragging a small parachute.

·         Don't fill it up.

In an ideal world you would run your tank to a safe minimum and top up regularly in small amounts. Fuel is heavy, so by filling the car up you're adding quite a weight. The less fuel your car has in it, the more efficiently it drives. As your fuel level decreases you get the benefits. Here’s hoping you can outlast the strike.

·         Keep your car tuned regularly.

A poorly tuned engine can use up to 50% more fuel.

And finally, do you need to drive?

Save 100% on your fuel costs by walking or cycling