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This week's blog post comes from a lovely lady called Charlie - maybe you might know her from her own blog Gin Fuelled Blue Stocking
I must admit to not always having the best relationship with food.
My mum, and my grandparents for that matter, always made food a reward, and of course growing up being told we should always finish what we had on our plate, didn't help.
It's no surprise that I found comfort in food. For bad days, for good days, when I was bored, when I was tired, and just because. My weight slowly climbed through my teenage years, into adulthood – until it settled and I was a size 22.
For all my weight, I wasn't unhappy with how I looked, or felt. I sometimes considered weight loss, but though I dipped into dieting, I still had this unbalanced relationship with food. I felt I couldn't leave food on my plate, hated waste, but having been brought up in a big family (there were 7 of us in the house at one point) I always cooked too much.
I tried dieting, weight loss – Weight Watchers to Slimming World, to Slim Fast. What I failed to realise was that it was how I viewed food, how much I ate and what I ate that was causing the problem.
It took developing a stomach condition to push me not only into weight loss, but to reassess my eating habits. It took 2 years of effort, of learning to stop when full, how much was too much, to step away from the beige food that holds no nutrition, and into discovering exercise.
Now I'm a comfortable size 16, I exercise regularly and that keeps my mind healthy as well as my body. My running, my weights sessions, my classes, are as much therapy for my mind as they are for my physical wellbeing.
And food? It's essential. I still love it, still occasionally overindulge, but that's the key, occasionally. I still sometimes eat beige, but most of the time it's home made, it's freshly purchased, and it's all the colours of the rainbow. It's a balancing act.
Now food and I are friends, not enemies.
Find Charlie on https://www.facebook.com/Ginfuelled or @the_lady_sybil
Whilst developing the website we've come across some fantastic bloggers and lovely blogs which are written so openly and give a real insight in to the writer's minds. Even now there is such a stigma associated with mental health issues and while attitudes do seem to be improving, the writer's of these blogs are going a long way to help explain their relationships with food and the thoughts which really run through their heads.
Sometimes they're very eye opening and almost shocking while other times it's easy to identify with them and their experiences, just the way in which they react or cope with different situations may differ. Either way, through writing about their lives, they seem to find a real therapy as well as opening up avenues of discussion and highlighting such important aspects and areas of often taboo subjects.
So this week we'd like to share a few of these blogger's pages with you - grab a brew and take ten minutes out to sit back and have a good read.
For a whole host of amazing recipes on a budget from someone who has always had a passion for food throughout many ups and downs visit Skint Foodie
We love Clare's 'Depression Island' analogy and the 'realness' in the way she talks about her relationship with exercise and the impact on her day to day life. She's also an extremely busy lady, not just running her blog but being involved with a whole range of mental health projects and charities. Find her on Clare Rose Foster
If you'd like to feature, guest blog or contribute to our blog or website in anyway or you'd like to get involved with Good Mood Food or Manchester Mind - please fill in our contact form and we'll be in touch!
At Good Mood Food we're all about providing fantastic catering services, but we're also about promoting healthy eating and a balanced diet, and the importance this can have on mental health.
A massive thankyou goes to Jane from Hodge Podge Days who is our guest blogger this week. Take it away Jane...
Good Mood Food: Breakfast, the most brilliant meal of the day
It wasn't until the last few years I started eating breakfast. I've never been a toast or cereal kind of girl and I always felt sick if I ate before 10am anyway. Feeling nauseous first thing is pretty common, so people like me often skip breakfast. I'm a freelance copywriter, working from home means I can have breakfast whenever I feel ready for it, not forcing it down before running for the bus in the morning like I used to.
In the last few years I've also needed to take a cocktail of medications in the morning, some quite heavy duty pain relief, some anxiety medication and some antidepressants. Most of these require me to eat when I take them. So like it or not, I've had to find a way to love breakfast.
When I was first diagnosed with anxiety and depression in 2013 I didn't know how to cope with my feelings. In order to exert some form of control over what was at the time a life rapidly spiraling out of control, I revisited a long lost eating disorder, something I did as a teenager, which I stopped doing when I moved away from home. In the summer of 2013 I stopped eating, thankfully it only lasted about 6 weeks, by which time my anxiety medication kicked in and I started eating again.
Nutrition suddenly became quite important to me. If I was going to eat, then I needed to eat (mostly) right. These days I really like a hot, hearty and fairly nutritious breakfast. I'm a vegetarian, so eggs usually play a big part; usually scrambled, poached or boiled, served with wholemeal toast, or on a tortilla wrap, sometimes with some tomatoes on the side to bump up my five-a-day count.
At the moment I'm really into avocado. I mash a ripe avocado, season with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon if I have it and smother a piece of toast with it. Sometimes I might have scrambled eggs and tomatoes too, depending on how hungry I am. You'd think a breakfast like this would take lots of time to prepare, but I find I can usually scramble some eggs, or mash an avocado in the time it takes for my toaster to pop.
For me the thought of starting my day with a dull bowl of cereal or some plain buttered toast doesn't do it for me. I look forward to my breakfast now and I'm happy knowing that I'm starting my day right, I may not eat it first thing, but having a healthy, hearty breakfast in my belly each day certainly gets me off on the right foot, and I feel much healthier and happier for it.
Jane Arschavir is a family and lifestyle blogger based in Manchester. Jane blogs at http://hodgepodgedays.co.uk and she writes frankly about her mental health and general well-being, as well as food and her family.
Our next blog is from the original 'Tough Cookie' - Rose Walters who has kindly written a guest blog for us incorporating one of her favourite recipes as well as sharing about her experience and relationship with food. Find Tough Cookie on Twitter @toughcookieblog
For those who don’t know me or don’t know my book and the blog I run, bringing out a recipe book seems frankly crazy when they hear that just a few years ago, food was most definitely not my friend – let alone an ally and collaborator which not only saw me discover physical strength I never knew I had, but also helped me to achieve my lifelong dream of publishing a book.
At the age of 14 and consumed by Anorexia, I was convinced that I would never have a healthy relationship with food. It was inconvenient to say the least to my eating disorder – it got in the way of an end goal which even now doesn’t bear thinking about. I think myself so lucky to be here and to have discovered a love for food as I have, but I think being so close to death actually brings you closer to life – in addition to the gift of a unique perspective and strength.
More than that, ever since my eating disorder, I have wanted to help others in the same situation. That’s why my first published book, Tough Cookie, is a positive resource written from my own experience for others with eating disorders – and why my second is a recipe book for those in recovery! What I’m also passionate about is improving each and every person’s relationship with food – a relationship which I believe has deteriorated in the age of the rat race, saturated with diets, processed and convenience foods, and a society consumed by the media’s perception of how we all should look and what size we should be. Anorexia still has the highest mortality rate of all mental illness. Devastatingly, cases of Anorexia and other eating disorders are on the rise, and the NHS already struggling to cope, with many being left to fend for themselves. With awareness and education, I’m positive that together we can all do something to change that.
Food, for many of us, has become a little bit of an inconvenience. For most, no longer does it mean a lovingly prepared meal that is placed on the table in the evening, or a therapeutic afternoon spent baking with the kids. Instead it is a frantic stabbing of a fork into plastic and the furious jabbing of the well-worn numbers on a microwave at 8 o clock in the evening, skipped breakfasts, crippling indigestion and the hoarding of low-fat yoghurts and Special K bars reserved for when we have the energy to ‘diet’.
I had Anorexia when I was 14. Having had an eating disorder, you see food from a completely new perspective. For me now, I see with clarity a culture which soured my relationship with food and led me to go to a dangerous extreme using food as my (bomb) with which to self-destruct. I was so frustrated and angered by food – I saw it as something which made me fat and disliked. I followed the frankly irresponsible and largely contradictory advice offered up by glossy magazines in the hope that I would look like the celebrities which I longed to emulate, in order to be approved of by my peers. As adults and as children, our perception of food is simply as fat and calories and good and bad, and we are not actually aware of how it is actually used in our bodies and how important a good diet is for us to function properly.
Now, food for me is so important. Not only have I always loved cooking and baking (and still do, I find it incredibly therapeutic and love the feeling I get when people enjoy the food I have cooked for them), I also find it fascinating how we fit food into our lives with some irritability yet it has such a huge effect on our lives. Nutrition is still hugely misunderstood and even government guidelines on health and what we should be eating tend to be vague and generalised and don’t actually inform us of how beneficial eating the right foods can be to our mental and physical wellbeing.
We only have one body, and if you have any sort of mental health problem you will know the massive toll that your mental health takes on your physical self. I have Generalised Anxiety Disorder and as a consequence I suffer all day every day from IBS. It’s exhausting and of course throws up a host of things I can’t eat, which impacts on my overall health.
One of those things is gluten, and as a consequence I can’t eat bread or biscuits or cakes or for that matter anything heavy or over-processed as my digestive system simply can’t cope with it. Combine this with me reading up on nutrition, realising how processed and refined foods should be reserved for consumption in moderation and learning how food is really used in our bodies and I started to devise recipes for treats which were healthy but delicious. I started with cookies and cakes – a repertoire which soon expanded to include all my favourite things which I had come to miss. I tested them on my parents (complete newbies to eating anything unprocessed) and my boyfriend at the time who was no stranger to eating nutritiously himself and they were a resounding success. I started to share them with others too who couldn’t believe that they could possibly come under the bracket of ‘healthy’.
I think that’s because generally people’s perception of what is healthy is skewed to think that anything ‘low fat’ or ‘low calorie’ is good for us when in fact, the opposite is true. Wholefoods, such as nuts, vegetables, meat, and unprocessed dairy, all contain a wealth of nutritious goodies, vitamins and minerals which enable all of our bodily functions to work as best they possibly can. Because they are usually eaten as nature intended, they often contain a perfect balance of nutrients. I don’t count calories or fat – I don’t even look on the back of packets. Generally I don’t have to – the food I buy is in its raw state and sometimes doesn’t even come in packets! For someone who has had an eating disorder and who lived in a world of disordered eating and packet-reading, it’s a huge departure – and one which I hope I can share with others to inspire them to see food differently, in a positive light.
What we eat (and enjoying what we eat) has such a huge effect on our mental health as well as how we feel and look. For example, did you know that peanuts and oats can help to increase serotonin production (as anti-depressants do)? Or that pure cocoa powder contains more antioxidants than fruit juice?
I’m not saying for a second that food is any substitute for medication. But just rekindling the joy of food and realising what it means for our overall health for me is a huge step for anybody – not just those who are in recovery from an eating disorder or any other serious mental or physical blow to their health which has left their bodies reeling.
I’ve included a couple of recipes below from my soon to be released recipe book – Recipes for Recovery by Tough Cookie, and I hope you enjoy making (and eating!) them.
This recipe came about because being unable to . I wanted to include it in the book because chickpeas are an excellent source of protein, fibre and iron. They also work to stabilise blood sugar and have been said to benefit the heart; all of which qualities are good for recovering bodies. I normally use mine as wraps, like tortillas, or simply to dip with guacamole or houmous. They’re also fab with curries!
Chickpea or gram flour
Chopped parsley, basil or cilantro leaves
Black pepper/chilli flakes (Optional)
Rapeseed Oil/Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1. Pop the flour into a large bowl and gradually add the water, whisking as you go so that no lumps are formed. The batter should be fairly runny and smooth.
2. If you can, leave the mixture to rest for 1-3 hours as this makes better flatbread, especially if you are baking and not frying. If frying, I tend to find it doesn’t make as much of a difference.
3. Before frying, add the herbs and chilli/black pepper if you’re using.
4. Add oil to a frying pan and place on a med-high heat on the stove. Once the oil is nice and hot add the batter as you would pancake batter and tilt the pan if needs be to make sure you have a nice round flatbread. You want it to be around ½ cm thick as a guide. The flatbread doesn’t take long to fry at all; when golden brown on the bottom just turn it over and brown the other side off too.
So easy – serves 2 – unless (like me) you tend to eat a whole batch yourself!
- 150ml double cream or whipping cream
- 1 lemon
- 3 tablespoons agave syrup
- 1 egg white
1. Grate the zest of the lemon
2. Place the cream, zest and syrup in a bowl and whisk until thick yet still soft.
3. Stir in the lemon juice. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white until stiff (almost like you would if you were making a meringue)
4. Fold the egg white mixture into the cream mixture.
5. Divide the mixture into two bowls (or one!) and leave to chill for 1-3 hours. You could decorate with dark chocolate shavings or extra lemon zest, if you like.
Rose Walters is an ambassador for positive, sustained recovery from eating disorders and an advocate and campaigner for better awareness and treatment for sufferers, working eliminate the stigma against all mental health issues. Her blog, Tough Cookie, and accompanying book, offer a positive resource and support for people going through Anorexia written from personal experience. Recipes for Recovery by Tough Cookie is out in March 2015.
Our website launched last week and since then hits on the website have increased massively. We love the fact it now shows off what we do properly which is great food for all types of occasions.
We have amazing volunteers working with us on a daily basis, if you or someone you know would like to volunteer in the kitchens or as a mentor then please visit www.manchestermind.org
You might also be interested in our competition which is running throughout July, you could win £100 of catering for your workplace which is just perfect for your next team meeting or office event. Just follow the link on the menu above for more details.
Welcome to the very first Good Mood Food blog post! Thanks for stopping by.
Our blog is going to tell you all about what we've been up to at Good Mood Food HQ, whet your appetite with all of our amazing food and introduce you to some of our wonderful volunteers.
We're also lucky to have had a lot of interest in our little blog on social media so we have some wonderful people who will be contributing with guest posts. Our guest bloggers all either love food as much as we do or have experienced mental health issues.
As Good Mood Food, we're here to provide amazing, healthy buffets but we also promote positive mental health and the impact that a healthy, well balanced diet can have on mental health. So we're combining the two and will be blogging about all different research, nutrition advice as well as our guest bloggers bringing you their own experiences, favourite Good Mood recipes and also how diet may have impacted on or still impact on their lives and mental health.
Please do send us your feedback, comments and opinions, we love to share and love to hear from you - via Twitter on @goodmoodbuffets or email us on email@example.com