THE STRESSED MOTHER OF THREE LUCY DENYER, 37

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Front Page -

I like to think I have a pretty healthy diet. But with three small chil­dren, a busy job and a mul­ti­tude of other ac­tiv­i­ties, of­ten the healthy choice goes out of the win­dow in favour of a quick fix. I’d love to find out how to make easy tweaks to boost my en­ergy lev­els and keep my IBS from flar­ing up so reg­u­larly.

THURS­DAY:

8am: hot wa­ter with cider vine­gar; muesli with oat milk Mid-morn­ing: oat­cakes and a flat white 2pm-3pm: ash­tanga yoga 3.30pm: two roast chicken thighs with hum­mus, pars­ley salad, av­o­cado and let­tuce salad 5pm: two cups of tea with semi-skimmed milk; one square of dark cho­co­late with nuts 7pm: small glass of prosecco and hand­ful of ready salted crisps 8pm: cin­na­mon and raisin bagel with but­ter

FRI­DAY:

8am: hot wa­ter with cider vine­gar 9.30am: full-fat latte and a ba­nana 12.45pm: roasted squash, lentil, ri­cotta and mush­room salad with basil oil dress­ing 3pm: tea with skimmed milk, three squares of dark cho­co­late with pis­ta­chios. Two pret­zels. 5pm: four squares of dark cho­co­late with nuts 8.30pm: curry, while out with friends (small por­tions of roti, rice, okra fries, chicken curry, saag pa­neer); 650ml King­fisher beer and a tequila cock­tail

10pm: cup of herbal tea Cy­cled to and from work (five miles each way)

SATUR­DAY

8am: hot wa­ter with cider vine­gar; Greek yo­gurt with hand­ful of muesli and a hand­ful of blue­ber­ries 11.30am: al­mond latte; peanut but­ter sand­wich on sour­dough bread 2pm: chicken fa­jita with sour cream, gua­camole, salsa, cheese and let­tuce, plus a hand­ful tor­tilla chips. Tof­fee fudge yo­gurt and a square of milk cho­co­late 6pm: tea with semiskimmed milk; ap­ple 8pm: pan-fried salmon fil­let with brown rice, av­o­cado, sour cream, tahini sauce, radic­chio; a glass of red wine; three Fer­rero Rocher choco­lates 10pm: cup of herbal tea Bike ride with the kids, around six miles

SUN­DAY

8am: hot wa­ter with cider vine­gar; por­ridge with oat milk, hand­ful of blue­ber­ries, one tea­spoon of co­conut and al­mond but­ter, seeds 11am: latte 1pm: roast chicken thigh with hand­ful of roast pota­toes, roast car­rots and roast onion, small por­tion of steamed green beans and peas; home-made rice pud­ding; one Fer­rero Rocher; glass of red wine 3pm: tea (semi-skimmed milk); two squares of dark cho­co­late with nuts 8pm: bowl of veg­etable soup; half a chicken sand­wich, half a cheese sand­wich on whole­grain bread; a small glass of red wine, small bowl of left­over rice pud­ding, two Fer­rero Rochers.

10pm: cup of herbal tea

RC SAYS:

I’m impressed by Lucy’s di­ary: she is pretty proac­tive about her health. Lucy is a clas­sic case for me of when the diet is good enough: fo­cus­ing on five or 10 per cent im­prove­ment with her diet is un­likely to yield a five or 10 per cent im­prove­ment in her health. In­stead, she needs to fo­cus else­where.

IBS is a dis­or­der of the gut-brain ac­cess, which means stress is a ma­jor part of it. When you’re tired or run down, it flares up; that in it­self can be drain­ing. My tip is to recog­nise she’s got three young kids and works long hours and be kind to her­self. Look to lock in mo­ments of calm through the day; 10 min­utes at lunchtime when she goes for a walk.

Fo­cus­ing on one of the other pil­lars of good health, which for her I would sug­gest is stress, would give her re­wards more quickly. She’ll sleep bet­ter, have more en­ergy and feel calmer.

HW SAYS:

Lucy has a re­ally bal­anced diet rich in healthy fats, pro­tein, and car­bo­hy­drates. To fur­ther sup­port her gut bac­te­ria, she could try in­clud­ing fer­mented foods such as sauer­kraut, kim­chi or ke­fir.

Lucy also has ir­ri­ta­ble bowel syn­drome, which she said is trig­gered dur­ing times of stress. Al­though food does not cause IBS, it can trig­ger symp­toms of IBS. Di­etary trig­gers vary from per­son to per­son, so a food di­ary can be help­ful to see if symp­toms co­in­cide with eat­ing par­tic­u­lar foods. The main cul­prits tend to be al­co­hol, fizzy drinks, caf­feine, spicy or fried food, and in a small amount of cases, dairy.

She may want to con­sider re­duc­ing her caf­feine in­take to see if it im­proves her gut symp­toms. As stress is a trig­ger, it’s great that she prac­tices yoga to com­bat this.

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