Essential foods (and lessons) for women of a certain age!
For those of you who know me, you know I love a good list! A couple of years ago, I took to organising my diet to help me feel healthier and get more energy, and this, as you can probably guess, involved quite some writing. In columns.
Firstly, I designed a list of herbs that help with ailments (image attached). This meant that I’d know what herb to go and pick to make my tea depending on what my body was telling me. This worked quite well until many of the herbs got severely dehydrated. Not even the mint or rosemary survived that first season.
Secondly, I designed a list based on what one website told me were ‘super foods’ (list 2 on image attached!). I decided to use this list to help me plan meals. I like garlic, broccoli, avocado and apples so I increased my uptake of those quite easily. The meal planning didn’t go so well….
I’ve struggled for years with PMT, back pain and depression. I’ve been convinced for at least half of those years that the conditions are inter-related. Or at least impact significantly on each other which makes some days / weeks in the month particularly gruelling. By Spring last year, I was feeling fobbed off once again by the medical profession, and it seemed that my body & mind were functioning at an average age of 7o, which I am 30 years from. So in sheer desperation that my broken, painful and exhausted body must be all my own fault, I decided that something had to change so started again to focus on my diet… This is what I have come up with:
Cut down sugar: It’s so hard, it’s in anything processed. And I love sweet things. And Mars Bars. And Galaxy…. But it is do-able. I cut out biscuits first. Then reduced sugar in hot drinks. Now I never eat cake and chocolate on the same day. Small steps.
Reduce caffeine: It’s a stimulant which unbalances your body’s natural rhythm. I used to do at least 2 coffees before my morning coffee! Mission 1: purchase some herbal teas. Urgh! Persevered. Powered through the caffeine-withdrawal headaches. Now I like some herbal teas and as a general rule, I only have 2 caffeinated drinks a day.
Reduce household chemicals: It’s all about the little chemical things that float around smelling all lovely, but they’re toxic. I use flash wipes. I use washing up liquid. But when I’ve got the time, I mix up some lemon juice and bicarb for the bathroom, I’ve thrown out at least half of those bottles under the sink and I rarely use candles unless they are pure bees wax.
Real butter or Coconut oil are better than the plastic stuff / fake butter that has lots of oils and stabilisers all mixed in as these upset your body’s natural balance too! I have a feeling that Countrylife Spreadable is as close to natural you can get if, like me, you’re prone to hacking up your toast / biscuits with the real stuff.
But back to the all important lists! Food that are great for lots of things:
Salmon / Olive Oil / Oily fish – Arthritis, bones & joints, anti-aging, low fat, good fat, hormone balancing
Dark Greens / Broccoli / Spinach – Arthritis, bones & joints, anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, immunity, mental health
Almonds / Walnuts / Pumpkin seeds – Arthritis, bones & joints, anti-aging, good fat, mental health, immunity
Garlic / Ginger / Turmeric – Arthritis, joints, anti-inflammatory, immunity
Avocado – good fat, mental health, hormone balancing
Blueberries – Anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, mental health
Olive oil / Olives – arthritis, joints, anti-aging, good fat
Yogurt / Dairy – Arthritis, bones & joints, immunity
Tomatoes – mental health, joints, anti-aging, immunity
In addition to that list, top of the list of things I always have at home are:
Edamame (soy) beans – Arthritis, joints & bones, anti-aging, immunity
Green Tea – Arthritis, immunity
Apples – mental health, immunity
Spinach / Pumpkin seeds / Banana – hormone balancing
So with those food top of my lists, I’ve moved towards a diet that helps my body fight back against pain, inflammation, skeletal deterioration, and moods that swing in a way only a slightly neurotic hormonal woman can understand! I’ve not included info about the benefits relating to cholesterol, lung function, circulation & more, as that’s not my personal area of interest, but it’s all on the internet if you want to add that in. I’m not a nutritionist and I’m not saying my list is scientifically accurate.
What I am saying is that those wild New Year Resolutions of giving up alcohol, sugar, coffee, chocolate and going on a diet and going to the gym and and and…….. Pfffft! Just no! Don’t do it to yourself! What does work is some small changes over the space of a year, three years, five years… Having some acceptance that there will be unhealthy phases. Deciding that indulging in a little of what you fancy DOES NOT mean that you have to engage the ‘guilt ridden / I’m a failure / I can see the cellulite already’ brain cell. Be as kind to yourself as you would be to a friend. By picking only foods that I already knew I liked to start making those small changes made getting onto a healthier road much less daunting. I am learning to take better care of myself, my lifestyle is changing and I’m feeling good. And small steps are okay.