Category Archives: Diet

Tweaking Our Diet

It occurred to me recently that we should think about tweaking our diet in light of the fact that our lifestyle has changed since we moved off our yacht “Reliance”. Chris and I have noticed that we aren’t as fit as we used to be and it seems harder now to keep the weight off.

tweaking our diet by cutting down on calories

Cut down on your calories. Just eat the fruit from the top!

Cut down on the Calories

We have already modified our diet so that we don’t eat as much bread and we have cut out the wine and cheese habit that we had at 5 pm every day! This is a habit that is easily formed when entertaining and being entertained on cruising boats.

Tweaking our diet has made a difference but we aren’t burning enough calories with physical exercise as we used to.

wellbeeing information benefits of exercise

Keep Up The Exercise

Our houseboat is all on one level so there are no steps to climb. On board Reliance we had 6 steps down into the saloon which we ran up and down all day.

We needed to haul the dinghy up and down in the davits every time we went ashore, then, haul it up the beach if there was an incoming tide.

We didn’t have a car and walked everywhere.  It probably isn’t surprising then that without all that exercise, we feel a bit sluggish and out of shape.


Recently I wrote a blog about thinning hair and although I am still massaging oil into my scalp I have also started taking cod liver oil as a supplement.

fish oil capsules

I take a teaspoon a day and although it is pretty disgusting it is a pure product without any additives so I prefer it to capsules.

We have always maintained that you should only take supplements if your diet is deficient. As we don’t eat enough fish then a fish supplement is right for us.

Most fish is expensive and pretty bland, plus we worry about the environmental issues such as all the plastic and waste in the oceans.


The Japanese have very thick hair because they eat so much fish and seaweed. I have thought about seaweed supplements but have never got around to trying it. I know that you can actually eat seaweed but I think that is a bit too much like mushrooms, dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing. A bit too adventurous for me I”m afraid!

drying seaweed

Drying Seaweed

Fruit & Vegetables

We have plenty of fruit and vegetables in our diet but I have to admit it is pretty much the same most of the time. We  have fresh fruit with our breakfast. Apple, grapes and a date with cheese and nuts lunch.

veggies for a winter warmer soup

Tweaking Our Diet

After deciding that tweaking our diet might be a good idea, we have made a few changes.

Having read good things about coconut oil, I have now started taking a teaspoon a day for my skin and nails. Our daughter Beccy says it is great and uses it on her skin regularly.

Chris and I have started eating two savory biscuits spread with Vegemite every day. We used to eat Vegemite on toast regularly until we gave up eating so much bread. Since we walk every morning before breakfast, we have the biscuits just before we go for our walk.

Yeast Extract

Vegemite is a yeast extract and a very good source of brewers yeast.  This contains the B vitamins as well as Thiamine, Riboflavin and Niacin.

According to the “ National Institutes of Health” the recommended dose increases with age. We could take B supplements but a couple of Vegemite biscuits a day seems a simple solution.

tweaking our diet with Vegimite

The benefits of Brewers Yeast are extensive and include.

  • Supporting brain function
  • Maintaining healthy blood vessels
  • Promotes a healthy nervous system
  • Lowers stress levels
  • Vitamin B6 also maintains healthy hair and nails which is a big plus as far as I’m concerned.

Of course Chris doesn’t worry about this hair thing, he still has most of his and since his mother died at 95 with a thick head of hair it is likely he will be the same. Alright for some!!

stopping hair loss


We still have gelatin every day. Gelatin is almost the same as collagen and a great deal less expensive.  I wrote about this in “The Benefits of Collagen.” Collagen is taken to help our joints, build cartilage and is good for hair, nails and skin.


Although we use eggs in cooking we now make an effort to have eggs for breakfast at least twice a week; usually boiled or poached.

 Eggs are very nutritious, they contain:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B5
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin B2
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
  • Folate
  • Phosphorus
  • Selenium
  • Calcium
  •  Zinc.

Eggs are rich in nutrients

Being retired means we have the time to sit down and enjoy our food, especially breakfast. When we were working meals were always rushed affairs.

Tweaking our diet has reminded me how important it is to make sure that the food we eat is providing us with the right nutrition.

Gluten Free Diet

Although I have never had anything to do with a gluten free diet, like most people I am familiar with the basic concept. However last week we actually went shopping for some gluten free products for guests we were entertaining.

A couple of weeks ago when we were in the old marina we made friends with a couple who came in to the pen next to us. They had come in to the marina to do repairs and had only expected to be in a week.  As is usual with repair work they had to wait for parts and ended up staying three weeks.

We invited them over for drinks one evening and laid out the usual array of snacks. When they came aboard they informed us that they were on a gluten free diet. Fortunately we had provided some cut vegetables and fruit; they also brought their own supplies so it wasn’t a total disaster. Vegetables make good snacks if you are on a gluten free diet

Last week we moved over to the new marina where most of the long term boats will be for the cyclone season and since it is a good walk between the two we didn’t expect to see our friends again. On the weekend they sent a text to say they were still here but hoping to leave on the Tuesday so we invited them over for farewell drinks.

When deciding on what to put out for snacks we thought it would be nice to have some gluten free savoury biscuits. Being our first foray into gluten free we weren’t really sure what we were looking for but assumed we would find something.

It was a bit of and eye opener, we thought there would be a reasonable selection to choose from but it was extremely limited. In fact we didn’t get anything at all which was a bit disappointing. We weren’t prepared to get anything that didn’t have gluten free on the label even though some products may have been ok.

To be fair we are in a remote area so the variety of foodstuff is much less than if we lived further south. Since it was all a bit too hard we just put out a bigger selection of natural food such as fruit and nuts which went down well. When we said we had had a problem buying gluten free our friends weren’t surprised since the range of products isn’t all that big.

Some people opt for a gluten free diet because of discomfort caused by wheat and related grains, however for anyone suffering from Coeliac disease a gluten free diet is the only medically accepted diet that eases the pain. Although the diet can reduce the symptoms it can lack vitamins, minerals and fibre that are contained in whole grains.

When we were in Rosslyn Bay last year we had a similar situation with a friend who was diabetic. In recent years food choices for diabetics has improved greatly but it is still crucial to read labels. In fact it was partly due to that which made Chris and I more aware of our sugar consumption and we have made a big effort to cut down.

the apple is the only choice for a gluten free dietWhilst we were in the supermarket shopping for gluten free biscuits a girl came round with a tray of freshly baked cookies from the bakery section. We both opted to have one but were shocked when we discovered how sweet they were. It was scary to think about the level of sugar you would be consuming if you ate them on a regular basis.

With more and more people finding the need to change to a gluten free diet there is no doubt the range of gluten free products will increase over time. I shall certainly take more notice in the future so that next time I shall be more prepared.


Cutting Back On Sugar.

Like many people I struggle with cutting back on sugar. The problem is even if you have a good diet it is amazing how much sugar is able to sneak in under the radar.

A little while ago I got serious about cutting back on sugar and managed to reduce my intake quite dramatically. My problem is I just can’t enjoy tea or coffee without a sweetener so I decided to compromise by using honey instead. Honey helps in cutting back on sugar

After reading about the dangers of artificial sweeteners I try to avoid products that contain substances such as “Aspartame”. Going cold turkey and cutting out sugar altogether wasn’t an option, tea and coffee tasted Yuk!

The honey works well in tea and I now enjoy tea as much as I ever did. Coffee however is entirely different, I can only enjoy it if it contains sugar, and honey doesn’t cut it. My strategy now is to use less sugar and limit myself to one coffee a day.

According to my research although honey contains fructose it also has a mixture of other compounds and minerals and tests show that honey has minimal effect on blood glucose levels.

When you eat sugar the body either burns it as energy or stores it as fat. Lifestyle obviously has a bearing on how much sugar you can safely consume. Active people will burn more sugar as energy than someone who leads a sedentary life. Also not everyone has the same type of metabolism so sugar affects people differently.

The body naturally produces insulin to deal with sugar in the blood, getting the balance right is critical for good health. Apart from making us fat, sugar has also been blamed for a range of health problems including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia and kidney disease.

This scary scenario is enough to make anyone think about cutting back on sugar. Even Chris, who has always loved sugar in tea and desserts, has managed to reduce consumption. He still uses it but not half as much as he used to.

Fructose occurs naturally in fruit and there is some debate as how much fruit we should eat. We eat a lot of fruit and I find it invaluable as a source of roughage. I would rather cut back in other areas so that I can continue eating fruit. Sometimes you have to do what works best for you.

Manufacturers are a bit sneaky when it comes to labelling produce. To disguise the fact about how much sugar is present they use different forms of sweeteners. Some types may sound more benign than sugar but often pack as much punch.

Some types of sweetener to be aware of are.

  • Agave Nectar
  • Cane Crystals
  • Corn Sweetener
  • Crystalline Fructose
  • Dextrose
  • Glucose
  • Lactose

Read labels to help in cutting back on sugarIt is pretty difficult to buy products that don’t contain sugar. I went grocery shopping with a friend whose husband is a diabetic, what an eye opener that was. I started reading labels and realized how hard it is to avoid sugar.

One of the best ways of cutting back on sugar is to avoid buying manufactured or pre-packaged food. Don’t imagine that savoury foods are free from sugar either, read labels and prepare for a few shocks.

Sugar in coffee notwithstanding I have managed to reduce the amount of sugar I consume. However cutting back on sugar is an ongoing battle and it pays to be vigilant.


The Danger of Soft Drinks

I never drink fizzy or aerated beverages and this is something I chose to do long before I, or anyone else was even aware of the danger of soft drinks.

wellbeing blog soft drinksWhen I was young I was given a glass of lemonade, a real treat in those days, however after drinking only half the glass I didn’t like the gassy feeling left in my tummy. After that I avoided all fizzy drinks, including champagne!

I was reminded of the whole fizzy drink issue last week when I volunteered to do a stint on the finish boat for race week. It has been a very busy time in Airlie Beach since yacht racing week is a big event on the annual calendar.  Unfortunately the weather hasn’t been very good, very strong winds and rain.

When we were preparing to go out on the boat the organizer was packing a cool box with drinks for lunch. He stood in front of an opened fridge and asked me what I wanted. When I replied that I didn’t drink soft drink he surprised me by saying that he didn’t either. I remarked that it was unusual to meet someone who avoided soft drink he said “That’s because most people aren’t aware of the danger of soft drink.

Part of the problem with soft drinks and sweet juices is the substance, a product called aspartame, with which that they use to sweeten them.  When I did some research on aspartame a while ago I was amazed that manufacturers of soft drink are even allowed to use it.  Supposedly the jury is still out on whether aspartame really is as dangerous as some people claim, but it scared me.

Read the labels to check for sweetenersWe even threw out a full bottle of vitamin C tablets because they contained aspartame.  Since then I have been very careful about reading labels, you would be surprised how many products contain this type of sweetener.

Heavy consumption of soft drinks and sweet juices can contribute to obesity and diabetes.  One of the problems with these types of drinks is that people can become addicted to the sweetness and the high a sugar hit induces. Instead of quenching thirst and hydrating the body they have the opposite effect which leads to other health problems.

Just recently I watched a programme on television about bacteria in the human body, specifically bacteria in the gut and why it is crucial for good health.  New research shows that what we eat and drink is critical to how the bacteria behave. The bottom line is that we need bacteria to stay healthy, but the bacteria can only do its job if we eat food that contains the right nutrients.

Apparently junk food and overly sweet drinks can send these organisms into a tailspin and prevents them from working efficiently. The good news is that we are very adaptable and eating the right foods can get us back on track again.

As a rule most people in the western world don’t have sufficient fibre in their diet and plenty of fibre is the key to a healthy gut and bowel. Cutting down on processed food and sweet drinks and eating more fruit and vegetables ensures that the good bacteria will keep you healthy.Fibre in vegetables better than dangers of soft drinks

By being aware of health issues associated with these types of drinks means you can make informed decisions about what you consume. Nobody wants to subsist on water, we all enjoy a nice beverage now and then but the dangers of soft drinks remain hidden from view, it is a multi-million dollar business after all.


Losing Weight Slowly

Losing weight slowly is the only safe way and the sure way to make it stay off.

The other day whilst out shopping I was saddened to see so many people with weight problems. Even more distressing is the fact that many of them are quite young. People in their twenties who should have an abundance

of energy were struggling along using a shopping trolley for support.

Chris and I have recently lost a bit of weight which wasn’t actually about losing weight but the result of making changes to our lifestyle a few months ago. We have become accustomed to this new regime, and were surprised to find that over the months since we changed, we have both lost weight.

Losing weight slowlyChris has always suffered from mouth ulcers, but about 3 months before Christmas he had thrush in his mouth. We put most of it down to stress as Chris was worried about the next part of our trip north. Having done some research though we thought it might also be aggravated by the yeast in the bread Chris always eat for lunch, so sandwiches were dropped in favour of an apple and cheese.

Around the same time we decided that drinking a glass of wine every evening was as much about the habit as the enjoyment, so we limited our intake to a couple of glasses a week. The upside of this decision was that the nibbles that we enjoy with a drink went out as well.

The wine rule is very flexible because living on aboard a yacht as we do, we often entertain or have sundowners with friends. If we have drinks a few nights in a row we just abstain for next two or three, it has been working very well. Over the Christmas period we stayed with our son and his partner and as we hadn’t seen them for a year or so the eating and drinking plan went out of the window!!

On board for the New Year it was back to our new regime but I have to say in all honesty we were both relieved, after over indulging during the break it was good to get back to a simple diet.

The result of all this is that last week when the colder weather kicked in, Chris decided to unearth a pair of shorts that haven’t seen the light of day since last winter. We actually wear shorts all year round but have very lightweight ones for summer and heavier ones for winter. Lo and behold when he put them on they nearly fell off! Up until then he hadn’t believed me when I said he was losing weight.

you don't have to jump on the scales daily if losing weight slowly We don’t have a set of scales or a full length mirror on board, which at our age is no bad thing, but it does mean that you don’t get a visual idea of what is happening. I had noticed that my pants and shorts aren’t as tight as they used to be and now feel more comfortable around the middle.

The marvellous thing is we haven’t struggled with diets or gone out of our way to do anything difficult. Over a six month period the simple measures we put in place have paid off. The general consensus is that weight that comes of slowly is more likely to stay off so it should be easy to maintain if we stick to our eating plan.

Friends came over a couple nights ago and it was great, wine, lovely food and good conversation, the next night our sundowner was a cup of tea and we enjoyed it just as much.

Losing weight is a major hurdle for many people and there is often a desire to get the weight off quickly. I would say don’t worry too much about diets; tailor an eating plan that suits your needs. Don’t get hung up on weighing yourself all the time and stressing about what you have lost. Modify your diet a little at a time and stick with strategies you think you can maintain, you will be surprised at the results.