I am not the wellest 40-year-old around. In fact, you could argue I am probably the unwellest 40-year-old you know. If a virus is to be got, I will get it. Despite dilligent hand washing, shielding my face if someone sneezes in the vicinity and using my knuckle to push lift buttons or opening a door at an unusual point on the handle, I still seem to get all and sundry.
I think my genetic makeup just makes me very susceptible, although my parents weren’t particularly ill. I also remember reading somewhere that the appendix was thought to be linked to immunity and as I lost that at 11 years old, so that might be my problem. I know I spent a lot of my 18th, 19th and 20th year with various illnesses until a doctor eventually suggested I should whip out my tonsils to prevent infections. It worked, I didn’t get another ear, nose and throat infection. Unfortunately I still get cold viruses.
I’m also on a mild immune suppressant for my Ankylosing Spondylitis. This could be lowering my already awful immune system further. Either way, it’s pretty miserable getting all these illnesses.
Whilst I am considered at risk and can therefore get the flu jab, I was hoping to get on top of it all this year by improving my diet (and inadvertently, that of my family) to see if I can improve it. I have a friend who is a bit evangelistical about getting enough protein (he’s a meat eater) and he says he has never felt better since he increased his intake and is fairly confident I don’t get enough. Which is a bit annoying to hear, but for all I knew, he could be right.
Now, I’ve done a lot of research as a vegetarian (and whilst weaning my daughter as a veggie) and I know that us humans often eat too much protein. I did a rough calculation when Pickle was about 3 and discovered she was getting enough, but things have moved on now and we have a much more complicated set up in our house.
Hubby and daughter are NOT veggie. Daughter doesn’t eat red meat. I’m a veggie and so is The Monster, but he’s also a toddler that doesn’t eat vegetables and only appears to be interested in beige food! Hubby does the weekly shop and the majority of the cooking, but he’s often in a rush and doesn’t have the same dietary concerns I have. I’m constantly tired (and ill) and it’s just easier to let him get on with it. However, I decided I needed to take some action and stop being a passenger, so I asked a friend for details of their nutritionist. Nothing could be simpler, I’ll get someone else to do all the thinking, tell me what I’m lacking, plan my meals.
The trouble was she was bloody expensive!! The deluxe option was £149 per session. I’m presuming I’d need around 5 sessions. The basic session was £99 per session. That’s still £500 pounds for a decent number of sessions and reviews. I just couldn’t justify that at all! Bearing in mind that judging by my friend’s diet I was going to have to fork out a tonne of money-making smoothies, sprinkling expensive seeds on things, drinking ten tonne of coconut water and generally smashing our budget, all in the aid of improving my diet.
So I decided to chip away at the problem myself. Not to focus on the my overall goal (improve my diet immediately), but to break it down slowly. So I kept a food diary for a week to monitor my protein intake only. At the same time, I had just started visiting my local health food shop and bought 3 bags of dried fruits and nuts to create little snack pots for work. Not every day. Just 2 or 3 days a week. So I used various resources to find out the nutritional content of things. I found this one the best (and I used this a few years back to find foods that were anti inflammatory) but it’s American, so it’s a little hit and miss. I find just googling the food and putting in the nutrient I want to find and something pops up.
So, I’m just looking at protein and guess what. I’m getting enough. More than enough. I found a site that calculated how much protein I should be having (46g per day) and I’m hitting or exceeding this in general. There is protein in lots of things and provided it is varied, then as a veggie I’m combining them to create complete proteins all the time. Also, we have our own chickens so one of my complete proteins is good old eggs. I’m trying to eat a few more of those.
This bit of news has made me so much better. I think I’ll keep tracking things, just to keep an eye on it, but I now need to focus on things like iron, zinc and Vit C now. So that’ll be my task in the next few weeks, no hurry.
I’m also hoping to pick a new recipe for the family to try. The incentive is improving everyone’s diet, but the thing that puts me off is the fact the kids turn their nose up at things they’ve not seen before all the time, so I could spend hours making something that only I eat. I need to get over that and accept it will happen. The bottom line is that I can’t move forward with improving things if I don’t take the plunge, so I need to just bloody get on with it.
So there you go. I’m my own nutritionist at the moment. Not trained, not an expert, but I’m fairly comfortable it’s just basics and if I crack this, I may be in a position to improve my immunity without having to fork out £500.
What do you do to keep a track on your diet? Do you bother? Are you confident you get everything you need?
PS: Did you know that Pret’s choc bar has 3g of Protein? Nope, me either. RESULT!