Letter to Berkley 1st School, Wiltshir

Dear pupils of Berkley 1st School,

First of all I would like to say what lucky children you are to live in such a beautiful part of the country. When I was a little girl I came to stay in Berkley in the summer holidays with my cousin who lived with her family in Church Farm just opposite your school. I had lovely time playing in the fields and being with the animals. On Sundays we always went to Berkley Church and I remember thinking it was the prettiest church I had ever seen. Several of my relations are buried in the graveyard.

I have been interested in all forms of movement, exercise, dance and sport since I was a very little girl. Having mostly boys in our large family, turned me into a bit of a tom boy, and with my long legs I could keep up with them most of the time which irratated them a bit!

The time to start looking after our bodies is when we are children, if we want to grow up into healthy adults. The secret of a good lifestyle is to eat a varied, well balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Try not to eat too much sugarey and fatty foods. I know that’s difficult because many of the things we love, like cakes, biscuits and sweets are made of sugar and fat. But they are bad for our teeth and can make us fat and spotty. Those things give us energy for a few minutes and then we are hungry again! But if we eat things like cereals and wholemeal bread, beans and pulses they are full of high fibre, which gives us lots of energy which lasts for hours and hours. Eating too much animal fat which is contained in red meats is bad for us and can cause heart problems and make us fat. It’s healthier to eat more fish and chicken instead.

What we drink is important too. Milk contains calcium which builds strong bones and teeth when we are children. Calcium is also in foods like cheese and Yogurt, so eat plenty of those. Water is essential to stop us dehydrating and feeling faint when we get too hot. It’s better to drink ordinary water than Cola and the other sweet fruity drinks because water doesn’t rot our teeth. It also washes out many of the impurities from our bodies which is what happens when we go to the toilet. When we overeat, the excess food simply gets stored up as fatty deposits around our bodies, which makes us look out of shape and spotty. It can also cause tummy problems making us feel full up, tired and lazy.

Having an active body and an active alert mind is very important. We all need to do some regular moderate exercise every day to keep fit. Three good things happen when we exercise and they all begin with S. We get stronger, more supple and we have more stamina. But exercise must be fun so make sure you enjoy what you are doing and try to get your family and friends to do it with you.

It could be cycling, swimming, aerobic classes, jogging, dancing or if you prefer, playing a team sport like football or volleyball. Any activity which gets us up off our bottoms and keep us moving is good! Taking the dog for a walk is good too. Better still let the dog take you for a walk. I bet he can run faster than you can!

Do you know what a couch potato is? It’s someone who sits down in front of the TV or computer for hours on end. They don’t move very much and usually eat bags of crisps and sweets and drink too much Cola whilst they stare at the screen. Very unhealthy! It’s so much better to go out into the fresh air and run about and have fun. Older children may think it big to do booze and drugs. Take it from me too much alcohol dulls the mind and drugs poison our bodies. So please don’t ever be tempted to act big and take them

Leading a healthy lifestyle is mostly common sense

With my love.
Green Goddess

I Am A Chocoholic!

I admit to being a chocoholic which as you may appreciate could give me a bit of a problem in my professional life. As the Green Goddess I am expected to be on a permanent diet and never to be tempted by anything so sinful as a chocolate But I’m pleased to be able to tell you that contrary to the picture sometimes painted of me by the media I’m actually quite normal. In fact I am not fanatical about my diet and I have never been fanatical about any aspect of my life. I prefer the Philosophy of life which says “moderation in all things” and “a little of what you fancy does you good”

That isn’t to say that I over indulge. I don’t think I have ever really over indulged in anything in my life. How boring I can hear you say. No it isn’t – it’s just that I found out quite early in life that everything in moderation is the healthiest approach for mes me, it suits me and helps keeps me out of trouble. It also gives me plenty of scope. I have no real dietary fads or fancies and I like to think I eat a well balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit, fibre and not too much fatty foods and as you might expect I take plenty of regular exercise. My well balanced diet contains a little of everything, including chocolate, which I love as much or even more so than the next person. And just like the next person I love chips and cream cakes and all kinds of “naughty but nice” things. And yes I do feel a little sinful when I partake of such goodies – but I also cherish, relish and enjoy the moment of consumption. But I don’t over indulge. Chocolates are special, they are treats and like all good things in life are to be enjoyed and remembered with pleasure.

Even so when I make choose, devour and savour my chocolate delights if I’m honest the calorie calculations are going on in my head. Subconsiously I’m asking myself “is this 50 cals or 100 cals” – and the vision of a pure green lettuce leaf io cals – takes shape in my mind as I continue subconsiously to plan a simple lunch for the following day. But I don’t have a problem with this. It’s one of my dietary secrets. It’s the way I can continue to indulge in one of life’s great pleasures – chocolate and not get myself hung up with guilt. It enables me to live and enjoy life to the full that day – whilst keeping a cautious eye to the future.

Of course I wouldn’t stuff myself full of rich chocolates every day. Chocolates are special and over indulgence in anything is potentially harmful and could damage my health. And anyhow it would bring me out in spots and Oil of Ulay wouldn’t thank me for that me for that. Excess calories from the chocolates which contain fats, sugar and nuts and all those other delicious things, would simply get stored up around my body in fatty deposits in most inconvenient places. Most of us women know where those places are don’t we? As the old West Country saying goes “When a man and a woman to 40 doth come – man puts on belly and woman a bum.”

What is they say about chocolate, biscuits, cakes and puddings and many other delicious treats “A moment in the mouth and a month on the hips. It takes a lot of hard work and exercises to work off the excesses. Fortunately I don’t mind all that but many women are not so keen Better to not over indulge and to keep chocolate as a special treat to appreciate in small quantities The best things in life come in small packages – or so they tell me and like many of the good things in life we must learn to use but not abuse. Even over indulging champagne can leave us feeling bloated and under par. But in moderation a few beautiful bubbles can lift our spirits and make an ordinary day seem quite extraordinary.

I was born and bred in the West Country and my school was situated in very close proximity to Fry’s of Somerdale – the huge chocolate factory near Bristol. It belted out the delicious aroma of chocolate all day long and when the wind was in a certain direction it permeated every pore of my body as I ran around on the sports field next to the factory. I often wonder if my chocoholicism started on that school sports ground. Since I was a little girl I have been interested in all forms of movement and sport and I danced and jumped and ran and swan, and all the time with that delicious chocolate smell up my nostrils! I associate the aroma of chocolate with happy healthy times.

I wonder how many of you have heard of or remember, a delicious little chocolate bar which was produced by Fry’s of Somerdale many years ago? It was called “5 Boys”. If so you have a long memory! For those of you or wonder what on earth I’m talking about, I should explain.

Over 50 years ago a bar of “Frys 5 boys chocolate” would compare with the Jelly Beans craze of today’s children. In other words it was often used as a bribe. You know the sort of thing…… “if you shut up and sit down I’ll give you some Jelly Beans” – or in my day “Diana behave yourself and if you are a good girl you may have a “5 boys”. On the wrapper of this small long milk chocolate bar was the clue – a series of 5 faces of a little boy. The first picture on the left hand side was a picture of misery. Then gradually over the series of 5 shots this miserable child miraculously changed from a sniffling brat into an smiling angel. And all from eating a “5 boys”. It made a big impression on me as a very little girl, it was a reward for being good, and led me to believe that chocolate had magic powers.

From innocent childhood I moved on into my teenage years. Unfortunately I was born too early to enjoy the swinging sixties and as a gawky young girl had to endure the restricted fifties. Chocolate played it’s part during those embarrassing times in the courting game as a symbol of love! Many a beau, some tall dark and handsome, others not, but rather spotty and short (disastrous for the elongated string bean that I was) – wooed me with HUGE boxes of chocolates tied up in a mass of ribbon. Chocolate was the language of love – fashionable and correct in the Fifties!

The young men must have watched too much TV, especially the advert “this lady loves MilkTray” as they fought for my favours and sought their rewards. Sadly for all but one those eager young men and the chocolate bribe failed. I still got to the Alter at the tender age of 19 intact. That reminds me – I must be owed an enormous box of chocolates!

As I got older my tastes became more sophisticated and there was a transition from milk to dark chocolate. Later still my taste buds changed yet again and I decided I enjoyed dark chocolate very much indeed – but I appreciated it even more, when it was given an extra “oomph” by the addition of a little liquor.

A few years ago I had teenage sons. Well – if I’m absolutely honest it’s many, many years ago since I had teenage sons. I know ‘cos they too grew tall, finally lost their spots, and are now fine handsome men of 36 and 38.

But believe me as teenagers Tim and Nick were a handful and often caused me angst and anger. But they soon cottoned onto the fact that their Mum was a chocoholic, and with their fast developing boyish charm discovered a way of getting around Mum. During the more difficult testing, teenage years, a box of liquor chocolates would often be presented to me as a peace offering after a family fall out. The chocolates became the signal for a truce. With the family at peace I would relax with the box of chocolates and savour the flavour – that was – until the next time!

Yesterday I was out shopping and i bought chocolate not for myself, not as a bribe, and not as a reward, but as a symbol of my love. The chocolate Easter bunnies may be getting fat, but my two adorable little granddaughters are getting excited about Easter and the thought of Chocolate Easter Eggs. For Jessica and Charlotte at the tender age of 2 and 4, chocolate is only occasional, but something very special. Nothing changes does it?

5 Top Tips For Health And Beauty

1) STRESS is an instinctive reaction for self-survival it automatically switches your body to a state of red alert. You feel fear and your senses sharpen – hormones flood into your bloodstream. You breathe more deeply, your heart rate soars and your muscles tense ready for action. Some stress is an essential part of everyday life and helps keep us out of danger. For example we need to be alert when we cross the road. But sometimes we all feel we can’t cope with our stress, even simple things make us “blow a fuse”. Know the difference – this is distress and is detrimental to your health. Pent-up feelings push up blood pressure and put a strain on the whole body including the heart. So learn not to panic and find ways to reduce your stress levels

2) To be happy and productive LEARN TO MANAGE YOUR LIFE, have a positive action plan and take control. Create a routine, set yourself realistic goals, and learn to prioritise and focus. Don’t say yes to everything you are asked to do, you are only human, so guard your time jealously. Make a list of things that cause you stress and consciously try to relax and tackle the source of the problem wherever possible. Gentle rhythmic cycling, jogging or swimming reduces tension; helps release pent up energy and encourages deep refreshing sleep. Yoga, body conditioning classes and relaxation techniques are also helpful.

3) STRETCHING is a fantastic way to improve your posture and make you look slimmer and younger. It keeps the joints flexible, eases aches and pains and fights stress. Start by standing tall and stretching out your entire body preferably first thing in the morning or early in the evening after a hot bath. Breathe normally and relax completely as you gradually reach up and stretch as far as possible. Don’t strain but hold for 8 seconds and relax. You may feel a little stiff and sore at first – it shows that your muscles are elongating to reach their full potential and your body is releasing stored up tension.

4) As part of the process of growing older we are all susceptible to intrinsic, chronological AGEING OF THE SKIN. But we don’t need to experience photo -ageing, which is the damage caused by exposure to the sun. Sun damage includes coarse wrinkles, age spots, small broken blood vessels and a leathery texture to the skin. The effects of the sun can also kill off skin cells and pose health threats and sadly cell damage occurs even before the signs of sunburn appear. The redness indicates deep-skin burning, which usually results in peeling, as the skin’s healing response. Whenever possible avoid the sun or take full advantage of the skincare products containing sun protection factor (SPF). Daily use of at least SPF15 on exposed areas is recommended, but anything higher than an SPF30 is considered unnecessary. The extra protection it affords is minimal and the additional chemicals can irritate the skin.

5) CALCIUM is essential for the development and maintenance of strong teeth and bones. 99% of the calcium in our bodies is found in our skeleton, our bone nails and teeth. Calcium is needed for the nervous system and is essential for the clotting of blood. A regular intake of calcium throughout our lifetime will help prevent the fragile bone disease osteoporosis. Calcium plus vitamin D are essential elements for building and maintaining strong bones. Lack of calcium during childhood and adolescence leads to week bones, poor nails, teeth and growth. Rich sources of calcium are milk, cheese, yoghurt and other dairy produce, and fish such as sardine and pilchards. Importantly for vegetarians, leafy green vegetables including spinach, kale and broccoli, and nuts, dried fruit, dates, prunes, raisins and figs, kidney beans, lentils and baked beans are alternate sources of calcium. Bottled mineral water contains calcium in varying amounts.

Strong bones

Osteoporosis, a debilitating condition caused by the loss of bone mineral, makes the bone susceptible to fracture, especially at the hip, wrist and spine. It is most common in menopausal women as the decline in oestrogen levels leads to an increase in the normal rat of mineral loss from bone.

You can help prevent osteoporosis eating a varied diet rich in vitamins and minerals, by consuming less caffeine and alcohol and by exercising.

Are you at risk?
Height and weight…….
Statistics show that tall women are more likely to develop osteoporosis. If you’re tall, pay extra attention to the things you can do to minimise your risk of developing osteoporosis.
If you are too thin, you could run and increased risk of developing osteoporosis. An overactive thyroid gland could be causing your lack of bodyweight. In addition, you don’t have sufficient adipose (fat) you will be less likely to produce oestrogen from this source.

Carrying a slight amount excess weight can actually push calcium into your bones. It is not helpful to be considerably overweight, however, as excess weight will put great pressure on your bones. If you do decide to lose weight, be careful. Research suggests that after the menopause it is better to stay the weigh you are that to go on a sudden weight-loss programme and lose more than 10 per cent of your body weight, which can double you risk of getting osteoporosis

Lack of exercise is a significant risk factor in the development of osteoporosis. If you sit and do nothing, calcium tends to leave your bones; if you run, calcium tends to enter your bones. The critical factor is that exercise should be more weight-bearing, such as walking, running or push-ups. The more you use your bones to make demands on them, the stronger they become. It is a great way to energise you body and becoming fitter and stronger all over.

Diet – what your bones need
This mineral is a major component of the structure of bones. You lose some calcium everyday, mainly in your urine, and it is vital that this is replaced. A daily dose of 1,000 mg is recommended, with an increase to 1,500 mg close to and thereafter the menopause. Make sure you diet supplies a large amount of calcium. You can also help this by making some positive changes and consider taking a calcium supplement, if necessary.

Calcium’s ‘partner’ in bones is phosphorus. The ideal would provide them in equal amounts, but the Western diet unusually contains an excess of phosphorus. A high phosphorus intake can remove calcium from bones and can also lead to reduced vitamin D activity and hence the absorption of calcium from the digestive system.
Meat, grains and protein-rich foods in general are rich in phosphorus, so reduce your intake of these foods to the minimum that will provide adequate protein. Most fruits and vegetables have a good balance of calcium and phosphorus. Avoid carbonated drinks.

About 70 per cent of the body’s magnesium is stored in the bones, where it replaces some of the calcium and has an important influence on bone structure. People with osteoporosis often have a deficiency of magnesium. Many medications prescribed for osteoporosis contains calcium and vitamin D but little or no magnesium, even though some people may need it more urgently that calcium.

Other essential minerals
In addition to those listed above, make sure that you are supplying your body with adequate levels of manganese, zinc, copper, silica and boron.

Vitamin A
Also known as retinol, vitamin A stimulates the production of progesterone, thought to be more useful than oestrogen in the prevention of osteoporosis. It is found in eggs and meat, especially liver. Carotenes, the precursors of vitamin A, are available from orange, red or green plant foods, such as carrots, beetroot, and leafy green vegetables.

Vitamins B6 and B12 and Folic Acid
These B vitamins help minimise levels of homocysteine. The effect can be enhanced by taking a supplements by taking a supplement with as much as 5 mg folic acid (ask PAUL C if this is still ok to rec). This is a safe dose, but it should be always taken in combination with vitamin B12.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C is essential for healthy collagen and increases the production of progesterone. It is usually found in combination with other bioflavonoid in foods such as oranges, strawberries, tomatoes and green vegetables. If choosing a supplement, look for one that contains vitamin C in calcium form (calcium ascorbate) in combination with bioflavonoids.

Vitamin D
By promoting calcium absorption from the intestinal tract vitamin D helps to maintain normal levels of blood calcium. An adequate intake of vitamin D will, for most people, make a big difference to calcium levels.

Vitamin K
The vitamin encourages calcium deposition in the bones. Many post-menopausal women stop calcium in urine whey they take vitamin K. Leafy vegetables are the richest sources. Because it is fat soluble, vitamin K should be eaten or taken with some form of fat. Another form, vitamin K2, is produced by bacteria and other microrganisms in the digestive tract. For most healthy people, this is a major source of vitamin K. Vitamin K is not stored in the body, and so is less likely to be toxic in high doses. A recommended does in 10 mg a day, but up to 50 mg has been used without any adverse effects.

Other risk factors to consider
– excess alcohol
– excess caffeine
– carbonated drinks
– smoking
– excess salt
– Prescription medication, such as sleeping pills and steroids. They are particularly harmful and can have an adverse effect on the bones. If you are taking these, speak to your doctor or a qualified practitioner about supplements you can take for bone support or natural alternatives to help reduce the medication. Look into natural alternatives to sleeping pills or steroids.

Hints for health
Eat a varied diet throughout your life as osteoporosis can start before the menopause. For strong bones, make sure your diet is especially rich in vitamins D and K, calcium and magnesium.

Recipe for strong bones
Fruit and nut crumble.
Serves 6
Preparation time 15 minutes plus soaking time
Cooking time 35-40 minutes
This can be enjoyed for an energising and wholesome breakfast, after dinner for a healthy desert or delicious midday snack.

Dried fruit such as apricots and prunes add to the iron content of the diet. Absorption of iron is by vitamin C, but inhibited by a number of factors including drinking tea. This delicious recipe contains natural foods that provide essential minerals for bone support.

6 oz dried apricots
4 oz dried pitted prunes
4 oz dried figs
2 0z dried apples
1 pint of apple juice
3 ½ oz of wholewheat /rye/spelt flour
2 oz margarine
2 oz brown unrefined sugar sifted (you can find this at local health food store)
2 oz hazelnuts chopped
To serve and garnish
Low fat yogurt – natural or soya
Rosemary springs

1. Place the dried fruits in a bowl with the apple juice and leave overnight to soak. Transfer to a saucepan and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until softened. Turn into an ovenproof dish.
2. Sift the flour into a bowl and rub in the margarine until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
3. Stir in the sugar, reserving a little to serve, and the hazelnuts, then sprinkle the crumble over the fruit (sugar does not need to be added to this recipe if you are trying to avoid)
4. Bake in a preheated oven at 200oC (400oF), Gas mark 6 for 25-30 minutes.
5. Serve with a low fat yogurt, if you liked, sprinkled with the reserved sugar and garnish with rosemary.

How to combat aging

Researchers now agree that destructive molecules known as free-radicals are responsible for many of the age-related degenerative diseases conditions in the human body – for example, wrinkles, memory loss, arthritis, atherosclerosis (which causes heart disease) and cancer-causing mutation in cells. The good news is that you can limit the damage inflicted by free-radicals and therefore affect the rate at which you age by making changes to your diet and lifestyle to reduce the levels of free radicals in your bloodstream.

What are free radicals?
Free radicals are electrochemically unstable molecules, generated within our bodies by normal metabolic functions such breathing, digesting foods and fighting infections, as well as factors such as certain foods (for example, heated fats), overeating, smoking, stress, sunburn and pollution. In large quantities, free radicals can damage DNA, accelerate aging and contribute to a wide range of disorders.

Anti-ageing regenerative plan!
Arm yourself with antioxidants
Antioxidants are nutrients that seek our and neutralise the cell-damaging free radicals, blocking their path of destruction. In this way they help ward of cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, alzeimers disease, cataracts and other age-related illnesses and conditions, hence their renown as anti-aging nutrients.

The key antioxidants are beta-cartotene (which the body converts to vitamin A), vitamins C and E and the minerals selenium and zinc. Manganese and copper, some B complex vitamins, certain enzymes and amino acids also have antioxidant properties. Many antioxidants work together, enhancing each other’s action, which is why a varies diet that includes different antioxidants is so important.

Anti-oxidant foods
In order to slow down the signs of aging you need to include plenty of antioxidant foods in your diet. Since nutrients can be destroyed in cooking, uncooked fresh fruit and vegetables are the best sources of antioxidants. Particularly good ones include: apples, avocadoes, bananas, all berries, brazil nuts, papaya, broccoli, carrots, cherries, citrus fruits, garlic, kiwifruit, peas, plums, prunes, red grapes, tomatoes, watermelon, and many more delicious fresh foods.

Feed up on Fiber
Dietary fiber is the part of the fruit, vegetables and whole grains that our bodies cannot digest but that is essential as it ensures a speedy passages of digested food through the bowel. Waste that builds up in the bowel not only causes constipation but also brings the risk of cancer and bowel disease like diverticulosis. Fiber also helps to lower bloody cholesterol levels and helps with weight control, and plays a role in steadying blood sugar, which is important for energy levels.
Fiber is particularly important as we get older as the digestive system functions less efficiently. Try to eat 20-35 g (about 1 oz) of fiber a day.
Good sources include wholegrain cereal foods, vegetables, chickpeas, beans and lentils, seeds and fruit. Make sure you drink plenty of water to help this indigestible nutrient through your digestive system.

Check your cholesterol
The body needs cholesterol to function, but too much of it in the bloodstream results in clogged and narrowed arteries, which can lead to heart disease. Blood cholesterol tends to rise with age, through high saturated fat diet and stress. Lowering your blood cholesterol levels is paramount for good health.