Diabetes – Millions At Risk of Type 2 – Are we Just Greedy pigs?

Diabetes and the increase in the numbers of people being diagnosed with Type 2, has been in the news a lot recently, including today.  Public Heath England estimates that one in ten people in the UK, suffer from high blood sugar levels, which can then be a factor in developing type 2 diabetes.

I am currently embarking on putting on some monthly health and food workshops in my local church, to help people with their lifestyle in general.  It is worrying that many people do not even know how to manage certain illnesses such as diabetes.  Two people I have met with this week, have been given the pills and equipment for diabetes but do not have a clue as to what they should be eating or drinking.  The advice of ‘cut down on your sugar’ is pretty pathetic, considering that there are hidden sugars in some healthier style foods.  Modifying your lifestyle is of MAJOR importance.  To pack people off with their pills and not tell people more about their diet, reducing alcohol and quitting smoking is beyond ridiculous.  The NHS is cash strapped, but I can only see that the figures are going to get worse, unless we tackle the problem.  They say that there are going to be more facilities set up to help with diet and lifestyle concerning diabetes.  I will believe it when I see it, but also just wonder if people have the strength of mind to commit to such programmes?

alcohol

Like everybody else, I like to enjoy my food.  I love baking cakes and treats.  So does this make me a hypocrite?  Well what I will say, is that I can have a treat and let it be a treat.  One small slice of cake per week or one chocolate bar a week is not going to affect me.  I can use self-control and will power, and not eat a whole cake, an entire pack of biscuits or sweets everyday.  But can you?  Sadly (especially where I live) people seem to be gorging themselves constantly, dragging around the weight, smoking and drinking to excess.  I need to be blunt and tell it as it is, but I see that people are becoming more piggy that a piggy!  Youngsters in particular will rolls of fat over their trousers and struggling to walk, is a very sad sight to see.  Even with my own family and friends some will listen, some won’t.  As they say, you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink! If more people kept an honest food diary then I think it may just shock them.  There have been certain shows on TV where people have been exposed to what they have eaten in a week.  Out on huge tables, is all the food they have stuffed into themselves within a week, and their shocked faces are a picture.

I am all for enjoying life, enjoying food and having a treat.  This is not about being skinny (because even some skinny people can have a shocking diet and lifestyle) but about being healthy and well.  Diets, scales and slimming is all good, but I want to see ‘health and fitness’ make a return into people’s lives.  Diabetes is rising and can cause amputations, blindness and strokes.  If your diet and lifestyle is poor, then you may wish to start making some positive changes.

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Blackberry Jam

Yet again I have been in the hedgerows picking some great produce!  Plump juicy blackberries are great for picking now, and when you look at what the supermarkets are charging for them, then you may be in for a shock.  I picked a kilo of the best uncultivated fresh blackberries for absolutely nothing yesterday, whereas a leading supermarket was charging £2.50 per 150g.  I almost dropped through the floor.  My stash of blackberries in my freezer, will see me through the winter months for puddings and pies, but I have also made some fabulous jam and thought I would share the recipe with you.

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Ingredients

1kg of Blackberries
1Kg of Jam Sugar (Has the added pectin)
Juice of 3 lemons
Sterilised jam jars
Place a small side plate in the freezer

Wash the blackberries and strain them to ensure no bugs are lurking within them.  I tend to put the blackberries in a bowl of water and leave them for a few minutes, that way any insect will feel like it has been drowned and floats to the surface.

Get a large stainless steel pan and place the blackberries in with the lemon juice.  Simmer gently, stirring from time to time for around 5 minutes.  Add the sugar and continue to stir and cook on a low heat, for around 10 minutes until all the sugar has dissolved.  Increase the heat to a gentle boil, ensuring that you keep stirring.  The temperature for the jam needs to reach around 105 but you will see it start to thicken as it coats the back of a spoon.  You may see a slight blackberry scum on the surface, scoop it up and discard it.

To test to see if the jam will set, remove the side plate from the freezer and place a blob of jam on it.  After a few seconds it should firm up to a jam consistency.  If it hasn’t, then continue cooking for a further few minutes.

Leave the jam in the pan to cool for a good ten minutes or so, before transferring it to sterilised jam jars.  Place a greaseproof lid on the top, along with your lid and then store in a cool dark place.

Could long work hours cause a stroke and heart disease?

I read a very interesting article in The Lancet this week, which looked at research coming out of the University College London, concerning long hours and the effect it could have on our health.

Before we all start worrying about a few extra hours worked here and there, this study seems to be more about those who burn the candle at both ends, and who never let up with work.  So what did the study say, and are these risks due to a lack of sleep/rest or lifestyle?

tired and stressed

Here are the statistics.  People who work for more than 55 hours per week have a 33% increased risk of a stroke and a 13% increased risk of developing coronary heart disease.  Those who work between 41-48 hours led to a 10% increased risk of a stroke.

Back in May of this year, it was revealed that younger people were getting more strokes.  There were 6,221 hospital admissions for men aged 40-54, which is a rise of 1,961 on 14 years previous.  Strokes are no longer thought to be a disease of the older generation.

Nobody could say for certain as to what was the cause for this risks, but it has been thought that those who work long hours, generally do not take good care of themselves, plus their lifestyle is not one that is conducive to being healthy.  Some of those who took part in the study, (and who worked long hours) would engage in things such as smoking, drinking excess alcohol and not exercising enough. I dare say their diet was not that great either, as obesity has also been linked to the rise in number of people taking a stroke.  So maybe it is not the long hours that are worked that is the issue, but the fact that folk have not been taking enough care of themselves during and after work.  It was found that people were also sat down for long periods of time (which is never great for health) and the fact that individuals in many cases, felt the effects of stress.

So what is the answer?  It was suggested that people monitor and keep an eye on their blood pressure, but Dr Tim Chico, a consultant cardiologist said: “Most of us could reduce the amount of time we spend sitting down, increase our physical activity and improve our diet while working and this might be more important the more time we spend at work.”

In other words, start taking better care of ourselves!

You are more capable than you think!

I have been really inspired by people who have read my last book and who have told me that they plan to make some positive changes in their life.  It is not always easy to make change, especially if you have that niggling insecurity of the fear of failure, nagging you in the back of your mind.

The one thing as humans we have to recognise, is that when you start a change, then you tend to be more hopeful.  Is change or a new goal in life easy?  No, but nothing rarely is.  The problem is that we are bombarded with media that shows people ‘having it all’ and in reality, that is not true.  I have often found that those people who think they ‘have it all’ actually have not much.  Strip away all their fancy goods and lifestyle and you find that their actual being, is starved of true enjoyment in life.  These people feel devoid of an actual identity and personality, because material things seem to define who they are as a person.

I am not against having nice things, for I love my holidays and home etc. but I know who I am as a person, and know that if I lost everything, (like I once did) then I can be happy with the simple pleasures in life.  I also know that despite the many rough times I have had, I will still continue to pursue my dreams, goals and ambitions.  I will not have an attitude of defeat and despondency.

yes you can

Folk need to cease with the ‘can’t do’ mentality and start feeding from the ‘can do, will do’ mentality.  If you are sat pondering whether or not you can realise you dreams then my message is simple to you – YOU WILL NEVER KNOW UNLESS YOU TRY!

I am now writing my next book in the ‘Yes You Can’ series, as I thoroughly enjoyed the process and feedback of the first.  If you want a copy of my latest book please see the below links for Amazon. It is kept at a low price so all can gain from it.  Know that you have capabilities and start setting yourself some challenges today.  Find out who the real you is, by stripping back materialism and finding simple pleasures in life.  Start making those hidden away goals a reality!

Amazon.co.uk link

Amazon.com link

Blackberry Sponge

I’ve been raiding the hedgerows again!  This time not to make our favourite crumble but to make a wonderful blackberry sponge.  It is pretty similar to a treacle sponge but has a delicious jam style topping.  It is fabulous with custard or cream.

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Ingredients

A good couple of handfuls of blackberries
2 Tablespoons of caster sugar
160 g Self raising flour
160 g Soft butter
160 g Caster sugar
2 Large eggs beaten with 2 tbsp of milk
Zest of a lemon

Get your steamer prepared and heated up, along with a pudding basin with a lid.  Butter the pudding basin.  I buy plastic pudding basins from a company called Lakeland, and use them repeatedly as I like the tight lids that they come with. They are 1.2 litre basins.

Prepare the blackberries by placing them in a saucepan along with the 2 tablespoons of sugar.  Let them gently cook for a few minutes.  You will notice a lot of blackberry liquid.  You need to strain off the liquid, but do not waste it, as it is lovely spooned over meringues and pancakes.

In a mixer place the butter and sugar and beat until pale and creamy.  Add a couple of tablespoons of flour and a little of the egg/milk mix. Keep alternating until both mixtures are used up.  Fold in the lemon zest.
In the bottom of the 1.2 litre pudding bowl place the blackberry mixture.  Place the sponge mixture on top leaving a good inch gap at the top.

An important thing to mention is to ensure that the lid or top you use to seal the pudding, is as moisture tight as possible.  Nobody will want a soggy pudding!

Steam for an hour and a half – 2 hours .  You can check by removing the lid and seeing if the sponge is cooked.  Be careful not to get any moisture in the pudding and make sure the lid is back on tightly again if it needs further cooking time.  Once cooked, leave to cool for a few minutes so you don’t burn yourself.  Loosen the pudding from the sides of the pudding bowl with a sharp knife. Place a plate on top and turn upside down.

Serve.