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Happy International Falafel Day

Falafel recipe

Today – 12 June – marks International Falafel Day! Deep-fried and composed of chickpeas or fava beans, this Middle Eastern food is often found wrapped up in a pita bread, or served with salad and sauces.  A favorite among meat-eaters and vegetarians alike, the latter of whom will often find it presented as an alternative to meat, falafel is one food that certainly deserves its own day of recognition.

To celebrate your favourite chickpea treat, we are sharing a special, new recipe from Iida van der Byl-Knoefel, author of A Kitchen Fairytale. This falafel recipe, complete with Tahini miso dressing, is brand new, made especially for International Falafel Day. Enjoy!

Falafel recipe

Falafel
2 portions
Ingredients:
  • 1 heaping cup of cooked, drained and patted dry chickpeas
  • 0.3 cup of mixed coriander and parsley leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 0.5 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 teeny tiny onion, chopped (approximately 2 tbsp)
  • 0.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 tbsp oat flour (blend oats on their own for a few seconds to get oat flour)
  • Black pepper
  • 0.5 tsp Himalayan pink salt

Method:

  1. Turn the oven to 200C (400F).
  2. Set aside 2 tbsp of chickpeas.
  3. Place the rest of the ingredients in a food processed and blend until you have a nice, crumbly consistency, about 1 minute.  When done, add the remaining 2 tbsp of chickpeas and blend for another few seconds as it is nice to have some varying textures in there.
  4. Put the mixture in the fridge for an hour to allow it to set.
  5. After an hour, using your hands, make small round balls with the dough, about 2 tbsp each, and pat down on a non-stick ovenproof sheet – or baking paper – in an ovenproof dish.  You will get eight of them.
  6. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
  7. Serve in pita bread/your choice of gluten free bread with generous amounts of shredded lettuce, sliced onion, tomato and cucumber and this heavenly dressing drizzled on top:
Tahini/miso dressing 
Ingredients:
  • 2 tbsp Tahini
  • 1-2 tsp brown rice miso paste
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 4-5 tbsp of near-boiling water

Method:

  1. Add the tahini, 1 tsp of miso paste and the maple syrup to a mug.
  2. Start stirring in the water, one tablespoon at the time.  Note that the water mustn’t boil completely, in order to retain the wonderful enzymes in the miso paste.
  3. Keep adding water until you have a smooth dressing consistency.  You can add more miso for stronger flavour.
  4. Drizzle the dressing over your falafel creations and enjoy!  This makes a big batch of dressing so you will have plenty for many more days to come.
Falafel recipe
Yum!
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The Emotional Journey of My Decision to Undergo Risk-Reducing Surgery

Understanding BRCA

Clarissa Foster is the author of Understanding BRCA – Living with the Breast Cancer Gene. Her book was highly commended by the BMA in the Medical Book Awards, and recently, she was awarded the Beryl Bainbridge First Time Author Award at the 2019 People’s Book Prize. She was also a finalist for Best Author in the nonfiction category. The following post originally appeared in the BMJ blog for BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health.

By Clarissa Foster, Author of ‘Understanding BRCA’

After learning that I carried a harmful BRCA2 gene mutation, I needed to make the decision on how I would manage my increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer. For a very brief moment, I considered the possibility of doing nothing at all – after all, I might never go on to develop cancer; I might be one of the lucky ones. But, the odds were very heavily stacked against me. If I knew that my flight had up to an 85% probability of crashing, I wouldn’t get on that plane! Likewise, if I knew that I had up to an 85% risk of breast cancer, I wouldn’t choose to do nothing about it.

I had three options available to me; enhanced screening, chemoprevention and risk-reducing surgery. Personally, I did not feel comfortable with breast screening throughout the course of my life for the simple reason that my risk of developing breast cancer was exceptionally high. Even if I was lucky enough for it to be caught early, I considered the fact that there were women whose cancers had been detected at an early stage who had still succumbed to their disease. Furthermore, with this option, I knew that I would always be living in fear of developing breast cancer. With regards to ovarian screening, I was advised by my genetic counsellor that there would be no screening available to me under the NHS as it was considered to be ineffective.

As far as chemoprevention was concerned, I disliked the idea of taking medications, such as tamoxifen, to lower my risk of developing breast cancer. This was partly because the side-effects experienced by people taking this drug can be extremely difficult to tolerate, causing many to stop taking it long before the five year period is up, and also partly because of the associated increased risk of uterine cancer. In addition, I felt that taking a low-dose oral contraceptive, which might lower my likelihood of ovarian cancer, was not the right choice either, because of the slightly increased risk of associated breast cancer. For these reasons, chemoprevention was not an option with which I was comfortable.

This left me with the possibility of risk-reducing surgery. Whilst this was the most drastic, and in no way an appealing option, it was the one which would give me the greatest reduction in risk of developing both breast and ovarian cancer. These at-risk tissues could be removed from my body, thereby lowering my risk of ovarian cancer down to approximately 1% and my risk of breast cancer down to approximately 3-5% to age 70. Being able to reduce my risks down to as low as this was phenomenal and, for me personally, it felt like the most logical step to take. Personally, I wanted to lower my risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer by as much as possible and, for this reason, I soon knew that undergoing removal of my ovaries and tubes, known as a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (BSO), and a bilateral mastectomy was the right decision for me.

However, an emotion which lingered for many months was this feeling of having a choice, but not really having a choice. I didn’t want to have to have my ovaries or my breasts removed, but I knew that doing so would give me the very best protection against cancer. Very reluctantly, I began to prepare myself, mentally and emotionally, for major and life-changing surgery.

Having seen my mum suffer ovarian cancer, the decision to remove my ovaries and fallopian tubes was certainly the easier of the two decisions to make. I would do whatever it took to avoid ovarian cancer, but what was difficult was the fear of the unknown and the fear of what it might do to my health in other ways. I was terrified by the idea of going through the menopause and, particularly, a surgically induced menopause, as I was aware that this could be more severe than a natural one. Until now, the menopause was something a long way off in my future and not something I had ever really given any thought to at the relatively young age of 35.

Coming to terms with the decision to remove my breasts was an extremely difficult and emotional process. They were a very important part of my womanhood. I had only recently finished breastfeeding my youngest, which had been one of the most beautiful experiences in my life, and now to have to face removing them felt as if I was betraying them in some way, and worse still was the fear that I would feel mutilated or even violated by these surgeries. In addition, my breasts played a very important part in my love life and I wondered what effect losing them, and the erotic sensation that I would lose along with them, would have on my overall enjoyment of making love. Trying to look at the positives, however, if there was ever a right time to have to lose them, it would be after they had fulfilled their role breastfeeding my children and prior to them becoming a threat to my life. Only naturally, I questioned whether I would feel less of a woman without my breasts and ovaries – after all, it was these parts of my body which made me female. Fearing this as a possibility was just awful, but while this mutation could take my ovaries and breasts, it couldn’t remove my XX chromosome. I figured, I am genetically female and always will be – nothing can change that. Furthermore, my husband reassured me that, in his eyes, I would be more of a woman for finding the bravery and strength to face my fate head on and to do whatever was necessary to protect our family from the trauma of cancer.

My full personal journey, and an in-depth analysis of the science and medical literature relating to BRCA gene mutations, can be found in my book, ‘Understanding BRCA’, available via Amazon and all good book retailers. I am delighted to say that my book has been ‘highly commended’ by The British Medical Association (BMA) and is, also, a Finalist of The People’s Book Prize competition.

If you have been found to carry a harmful BRCA gene mutation, or if you fear that you may be at high risk of breast and/or ovarian cancer, please get in touch and I will do all that I can to provide as much support as possible. I can be reached via my webpage and associated Facebook support group – Understanding BRCA.

You can also read the first chapter of Clarissa’s book for free here.

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Celebrating the Healing Power of Garlic

The healing power of garlic

19th April marks National Garlic Day. To celebrate, we thought we would take some time to acknowledge the healing power of this versatile plant. Below is an excerpt from Nature Cures, a book by NH Hawes.

Garlic (Allium Sativa)

Native to central Asia, garlic is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world and has been grown for over 5000 years. Ancient Egyptians appear to have been the first to cultivate this plant and it had an important role in their culture. It was revered and placed in the tombs of Pharoahs and also given to the slaves that built the Pyramids too enhance their endurance and strength.

The garlic bulb is a natural antibiotic, antimicrobial, antifungal, cleanser and antioxidant and aids the body’s natural ability to resist disease. Garlic has been used for expelling intestinal worms and parasites from ancient times by the Chinese, Greeks, Romans, Hindus and Babylonians. It is a natural anthelmintic and is especially useful against giardia, leishmania, plasmodium roundworms and trypanosomes.

Tips on Using Garlic

  • Always add crushed or chopped garlic at the end of cooking a meal to retain the powerful properties that prolonged heat can destroy
  • Never store garlic in oil at room temperature as this provides the perfect conditions for producing botulism, regardless of whether the garlic is fresh or has been roasted.
  • Garlic should be avoided by persons diagnosed with lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus)

Ailments Garlic Can Help to Treat and Protect Against

  • Anaemia
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Bacterial infections
  • Bronchitis
  • Cancer
  • Colds
  • Colitis
  • Colon Cancer
  • Diarrhea
  • Digestive disorders
  • Fever
  • Food poisoning
  • Herpes
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Influenza
  • Liver disorders
  • Nasal and sinus congestion
  • Parasites and worms
  • Poor circulation
  • Prostate disorders
  • Renal cancer
  • Toothache
  • Tumours
  • Whooping cough
  • And many more…

To learn more about garlic and other natural food remedies, check out Nature Cures by NH Hawes.

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Vote in The People’s Book Prize

People's book prize

Recently, the People’s Book Prize announced 36 finalists in three categories: fiction, non-fiction and children’s books. The annual awards, now in its 10th year, celebrates the best in each category as voted on by readers. This year, we are extremely pleased to have three of our authors nominated in the non-fiction category:

The winners in each category are determined by votes. The People’s Book Prize is a great opportunity for us and our authors to seek the support of our many readers and to be judged by the actual readers of our books.

In the last awards, Hammersmith Health Books received the Best Publisher Award, which was a huge boost for a small independent like us. The glass trophy stands proudly in the office and encourages us to keep challenging received wisdom in relation to health and wellbeing.

The awards rely on your votes. If you already voted in the first round, you can vote again so please head over to the People’s Book Prize website and pick your favourites in each category. Here’s how to vote:

Voting is open now until the end of the month and the winners will be announced at a special, black-tie event in early May. The evening will also see the presentation of the Beryl Bainbridge Award for First time Author, the People’s Book Prize for Best Publisher, and the People’s Book Prize for Best Achievement.

We wish Lynn Crilly, Clarissa Foster, Dr Sarah Myhill and Craig Robinson the best of luck in this year’s awards.

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Five Questions with Lynn Crilly, author of Hope with Eating Disorders

Lynn Crilly with books

Lynn Crilly is an award-winning counsellor, author and mother of twin girls. After finding one of her twin daughters, Samantha, was struggling with anorexia nervosa and OCD, and having followed the conventional routes to no avail, Lynn took the decision to follow her gut instincts and rehabilitate Samantha herself. She subsequently developed her unique form of counselling to support sufferers and their families going through similar experiences. Lynn continues to work with families battling mental health issues every day at her clinic in Surrey. She recently released a second edition of her book, Hope with Eating Disorders. We sat down with Lynn to ask her five questions about the book…

What was the inspiration behind your book?

After the recovery of my own daughter, I was asked by many other families to write down my own experience and how I managed to support my daughter into recovery from Anorexia Nervosa. One friend suggested I write a book, and that is how the first Edition of Hope with Eating Disorders came around. It has been over 7 years since the release of the first edition and so much has changed with the knowledge and understanding of mental illness and especially eating disorders. It was time re-write the book with the new knowledge I had learnt both professionally and personally.

What was the most challenging part of writing the book?

When I started writing the second edition, I thought it would be a case of adding and taking away little bits here and there. When it actually got down to it, I hadn’t actually realised just HOW much everything has changed. The hardest part was actually that I had to pretty much re-write most of the book!

What has been the most satisfying part of the writing process?

Being able to share my new knowledge and message of Hope with the readers of my book.

Did anything surprise you while writing Hope with Eating Disorders?

The amount of support we received from professional in the field, contributors who have suffered with an eating disorder, families who have struggles, and many others. Everyone has always been so supportive, and without them, the book would not be as relatable and full of hope.

What sort of people would benefit most by reading your book?

Anyone who is affected by an eating disorder, the book is mainly aimed at carers, however, I pride my books on the fact they do not contain anything triggering, so anyone can read them. They are also useful for teachers and professionals as they can help in spotting signs and how to start a conversation.

To read more about Lynn’s work, go to her website here. You can purchase a copy of her book (either eBook or paperback), from our website  here

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Five Questions with Richard Shaw, author of Conquer Type 2 Diabetes

CRAB & RADISH STACK (VARIATION) PAGE 83

Type-2 diabetes doesn’t have to be a lifelong condition; for many people, especially those who have been recently diagnosed, it’s possible to reverse the symptoms of this malignant disease.  But how can that be done? Inspired by results obtained from research done at Newcastle University, Richard Shaw decided to try and kick the disease by following a carefully structured, low-carb, whole-food diet and starting a modest exercise regime. Conquer Type 2 Diabetes describes what he did to lose 31 kilos and all his diabetes signs (high blood sugar, high cholesterol, high blood pressure) and symptoms. We caught up with Richard to ask him a few questions about his new book and his amazing recovery. 

What was the inspiration behind your book?

When I started this I really wanted to talk to someone who’d managed to put their own T2D into remission: not a doctor, not a dietician, not a medical professional but someone who had had first-hand experience of doing it for themselves.  I couldn’t find anything that really told me what it was like from the patient’s point-of-view, so I thought it might be worth writing my own. Plus, because I like food so much, I really wanted to write some decent recipes to make the point that it’s not all about bland salads, tasteless soups and intermittent fasting.

CRAB & RADISH STACK (VARIATION) PAGE 83
Richard’s book is full of amazing recipes, like this crab and radish stack.

What was the most challenging part of writing the book?

It can be tough to write a book and hold down a full-time job.  I did it by getting up every morning at 4am, writing for 2 hours and going back to bed for a while before heading into work. I wrote it as I went through the process and there was a part of me that worried that if it didn’t work it might all be a bit of a wasted effort.  In hindsight, I think writing the book probably gave me motivation to keep going and made me even more determined to see it through.

What has been the most satisfying part of the writing process?

I’ve collaborated with other writers on books about food and cooking in the past so, to be honest, it was amazing to finally produce something that had my name on the cover. And even a slim book like this goes through so many versions, eventually having your editor tell you one day that it’s finally done is an enormous relief. I also took huge satisfaction from my GP agreeing to write the foreword, she was incredibly generous with her comments.

FRENCH OMELETTE WITH GRUYERE
French omelette

Did anything surprise you while writing Conquer Type 2 Diabetes? 

I spoke to dozens of other people as I was writing it and I was surprised to find so many people attempting to come off the meds and resume a normal life.  Putting T2D into remission is a very active and passionate grass-roots movement but it hasn’t really translated into mainstream medicine yet.  By and large much of the medical profession is treating this disease in exactly the same way, as it was 30 or 40 years ago, with lame public health advice, generic exhortations to adopt a healthier lifestyle and by prescribing a raft of meds that treat the symptoms rather than the underlying cause.  So finding other people doing exactly the same thing all over the world provided enormous encouragement to keep going.

What sort of people would benefit most by reading your book?

Professor Roy Taylor’s work from the DiRECT trials tells us that the earlier we attempt put T2D into remission after diagnosis the greater the chances of success. And for many people this doesn’t have to be a ‘forever’ diagnosis, – something I took at face value for several years. It’s a story for people who want to take a shot at reversing their condition and testimony that (if addressed soon enough) it may not have to be a lifelong, meds-dependant, progressive illness. And if someone who’s as hopeless at exercise as me, who likes food as much as I do and who’s as much of a slacker as I am can do it, then so can many others.

For more information about Richard’s new book,  go to  his website here,  or join the conversation on Facebook.

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Q&A with Alex Wu, author of A User’s Manual for the Human Body

Alex Wu’s new book, A User’s Manual for the Human Body is a transformative guide to the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The book shows how Traditional Chinese Medicines differ from Western medicine and what that means in practice. It also illustrates how we can help our bodies to heal themselves and thereby achieve a longer, healthier life. Here, Alex answers a few questions about his lifestyle, which is the basis for his book.

Alex Wu
Alex Wu, author of A User’s Manual for the Human Body

Can you describe your current lifestyle? How many hours per night do you sleep?

I am 66 years old so my regime might not be the same as people in different age groups. I sleep at 10pm and I wake up normally around 6am. I do the pericardium massage when I wake up in the morning and at night time, I practice the bladder meridian massage (Both the hair combing and back massage). I do the gallbladder massage (leg) after dinner. I try to walk at least an hour a day during the day time and I pay attention to the amount of clothes that I wear to avoid getting a cold.

Describe your diet. What do you eat? Are there any foods that you avoid?

There is no specific food that I eat or avoid but the general rule is I try to eat as little processed food as possible. To avoid cold energy, I do not eat anything raw except for fruits. The fruits that I eat are the ones that are in season.

What exercise do you do?

I exercise mainly through walking and I practice Tai-Chi occasionally.

What was your life like before you started practicing Traditional Chinese Medicine? What aspect of Traditional Chinese Medicine that was most impactful?

Before I was ill, I worked well over 60 hours a week under high pressure. I was an investment banker in China back in the 1990s. I wouldn’t say that my regime was changed because of TCM but rather TCM concepts let me understand what type of harm this regime was causing to my body. I quit my job and it changed everything.

In your book, you talk about the Qi and the TCM concept of blood. How would you explain that to a Western audience?

An analogy I often use when describing qi to those who do not have a deep cultural understanding of the concept is that the body is a battery. Blood is the equivalent of the battery’s capacity and qi is the amount of energy currently stored in the battery. It would logically follow that the amount of qi you can have is limited by the amount of blood you have. This relationship between blood and qi is important if we are to understand how to improve our health. Because the quantity of qi a person can have is determined by the amount of blood the person has, the focus of healthy living should be to increase the amount of blood in the body.

To learn more about A User’s Manual for the Human Body, watch Alex Wu’s explanation video on YouTube here and here.

You can purchase the book from Hammersmith Health Books. The paperback is now on special offer for £9.99 and the ebook is £5.99.

A User's Manual for the Human Body

 

 

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Best Gifts for Expectant Mothers

As a highly experienced community midwife and teacher, Bridget Sheeran knows that pregnancy should be a time for vital physical and mental preparation. The body and mind do much of this automatically, but there are many ways to support this process and to resist the day-to-day stresses that can hinder it. In her book, Preparing for Birth: Colouring Your Pregnancy Journey, Bridget invites pregnant women to allow their natural curiosity to rise up and lead them to discover how they can help themselves through the process of birth. If you’re looking for a great gift for an expectant mother, ditch the helpful advice books and instead, get her something that will be truly appreciated.

Here is a review from an expectant mum who recently received Bridget’s book:

I was on my own in New York City, pregnant, working two jobs and facing winter. It was a pretty daunting time.

People were so quick to recommend all manner of books I should read about pregnancy and birth and childcare that just trying to jot down the names was exhausting. It often felt that if someone recommended a book one day with one approach, the following day someone else would mention a different book with a completely opposite way of doing things. Put babies on their back. Put them on their tummy. Don’t let them cry. Do let them cry. Let them sleep with you. Don’t let them sleep with you. Do various forms of exercise before childbirth. Keep away from precisely those activities. It felt that if I started buying books I could disappear down a rabbit hole of conflicting advice so, in the end, I didn’t buy a single one.

When I was given Bridget’s book as a gift, I dutifully opened the wrapping paper and expressed kindest thanks to the giver for such a thoughtful present, all the while thinking that it was highly unlikely I’d end up reading whatever was inside. So as not to be rude, I opened the book and immediately fell in love with the whole idea. A colouring book. Blooming marvellous. The perfect thing for banishing anxious thoughts and conflicting messages. How was this not the go-to gift for expectant mothers?

As the pregnancy progressed and I stole quiet moments to colour in the charming pages, I found that I had my own instincts on how this would all play out. I just needed to create the space to let those thoughts form and flow and setting aside time for colouring and a cup of tea was the perfect catalyst. The tranquility of mind that comes with something as simple as colouring in cannot be underestimated and I’ll be buying Bridget’s book in future for anyone growing a little human. 

You can purchase Bridget’s book from Hammersmith Health Books for £9.99

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Making Changes That Last: Simple Ways To Successfully ‘Nudge’ Your New Year’s Resolutions Towards Achievement

Sally_Baker_Liz_Hogon

By Senior Therapists Sally Baker & Liz Hogon.

If there is an almost guaranteed way to feel like an abject failure then setting a New Year’s Resolution will do it for most of us. There is plenty of research to show that between 40-60% of all resolutions, year upon year, have either been broken or forgotten for good or at least until next year, by halfway through January!

Although many people imbue January 1st with magical properties as the ideal date to change their habits and behaviours. The truth is its just an arbitrary date in the diary with no more power or influence than next Tuesday week or even the next wet Wednesday for that matter.

When you think that four of the most popular life changes people want for themselves are to lose weight; give up smoking; drink less alcohol or achieve a better work-life balance these habits and ways of thinking can seem daunting to change when they represent long-term and entrenched behaviour.

So, if making a New Year’s Resolution really isn’t going to work to ensure lasting change then what would?

Instead of setting yourself up to fail by making a grand gesture the alternative is making incremental changes instead. Although this may feel less dramatic than a pledge made as the clock strikes twelve to beckon in the New Year, it is often a more successful way to make the changes you want for yourself.

Small, incremental changes are the basis of the ‘Nudge Theory’.

This is about nudging or encouraging behavioural changes through positive reinforcement and indirect suggestion. In the wider world, nudge theory has been applied to economics, politics and health. Supporters of the effectiveness of the theory exist in the hallowed halls of academia, the White House and in the British Government to name but a few. So, how can nudge theory be applied to you successfully changing behaviours you would rather not have in your life?

Firstly, the nudge theory recommends you choose the best time to initiate changes to allow yourself the best chance of success. This frees you up from a New Year’s deadline, and instead, you can commit to a date that suits you best and when you are at your most ready to make changes.

Think about how much you already have on your plate

It is surprising how many people set themselves up to fail by launching a new initiative in their life without thinking through how much they already have on their plate. Look at your diary for an opportunity when there may be a lull in stress levels at home or work or a time when you are able to give more energy to embrace fundamental changes. If you are canny with timing, you can give yourself a real head start towards success.

This may mean scheduling changes you want to achieve in your life for after a family holiday, or a big social event, such a wedding or birthday party. These are the kind of life events that might have turned your New Year’s best intentions to dust without some thoughtful planning. Equally some key events you have planned in your diary can be a beacon to aim for. Changes in behaviour are more likely to be enduring if you can align them with real-life events and deadlines such as being slimmer for a family wedding or getting fit to run a 5K or 10K charity race.

It takes twenty-one repetitions to embed a new habit

Often psychologists agree it takes twenty-one repetitions to embed a new habit so bear that in mind when you’re making changes in your life. An example could be if you’ve decided to take up running or swimming as part of a new fitness regime and you are hating it. Nudge Theory would recommend you commit to jumping in the pool or going for a run without fail for twenty-one times and only then judge how you feel about your new activity. You may be pleasantly surprised how what was once a reluctant chore feels surprisingly satisfying and is easily included as part of your routine.

Behaving with your usual default habits perpetuates your feeling the same way about yourself. It is a truism that if you keep doing what you have always done, you’ll get the same results you’ve always got before so spend some time considering the most significant changes you want to see in your life.

However, if you wait for everyone in your life to come on-board and be in agreements with your plans, you could wait a lifetime so do as Mahatma Gandhi suggested: ‘Be the change you want to see’.

Set your own standard. It’s about doing something for yourself.

Your existing habits, thoughts and beliefs have brought you to where you are today, so nudging towards making positive changes is vital in allowing effortless changes and maintaining them into the future.Be kind to yourself. If you feel overwhelmed making changes to your habits and anxious about succeeding with lifestyle changes then break down your goals into smaller steps which are more manageable to tackle.

Changing old habits that are not good for you or no longer serve you are life-changing steps on your road.  Your true potential to live every day as a brand new day, with a brand new dawn which makes every day a New Year’s day!

Sally Baker (www.workingonthebody.com) and Liz Hogon (www.lizhogon.com) are senior therapists working in private practice and co-authors of ‘7 Simple Steps to Stop Emotional Eating’ and ‘How to Feel Differently About Food’, published by Hammersmith Health Books.

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Q&A with Iida van der Byl-Knoefel, author of A Kitchen Fairytale

A Kitchen Fairytale

We talked to inflammatory arthritis sufferer Iida van der Byl Knoefel about her new cookbook, A Kitchen Fairytale. Iida beat the symptoms of her crippling condition through cooking. Her book explains how switching to a plant-based diet left her free of inflammation. Her food is not only a boost for arthritis sufferers but can also help those with autoimmune conditions. Her book, A Kitchen Fairytale, is out on November 1. 

What was the inspiration behind your book? 

My greatest inspiration and motivation was to let others know that the symptoms of inflammatory arthritis can indeed be reversed through a change of diet; and to show what a delicious and enjoyable option it is!  I have always loved cooking but knew nothing about being plant-based when I first joined the Paddison Program, so when I discovered how lovely these very humble recipes were, I started writing them all down to be able to go back and make them again.  My friends and family who tried the food often asked for ideas so I kept collecting the recipes, so I could easily share them, and soon I realised I had a cookbook on my hands!

Tell us how a plant-based diet has helped you manage your arthritis? 

In very simple terms, it has helped heal my gut and restore it to good order, which keeps any symptoms away.  For me, getting this far was no walk in the park though and it required a lot of focus and determination.  I rigorously followed the steps on the Paddison Program because simply going plant-based wouldn’t have cut it; neither would I have known why I got sick in the first place!

What was the most challenging part of writing the book?  

Getting the measurements right!  To achieve the same result every time I had to learn to measure all the spices, get the exact right amount of fruit and veg etc. which was very different from my usual way of cooking, where I just experiment my way through a dish!

A Kitchen Fairytale

What has been the most satisfying part of the writing process? 

Getting feedback on the dishes from those who have kindly test-run recipes for me.  Having someone take a photo and send it over with a happy review is the most amazing feeling!

Did anything surprise you while writing A Kitchen Fairytale?  

The process of writing A Kitchen Fairytale has more or less taken three years, ever since I joined the Paddison Program.  During that time, I have found that the attitude towards eating plant-based foods has changed profoundly here in the UK. People have become really interested in trying plant-based foods and lots of people have even converted completely to this way of eating.  When I initially started out, it was very hard to find a vegan option on restaurant menus and I would often bring my own food when we went out to eat, or when we visited friends.  These days, it is very easy to find delicious vegan food out, and my friends have become more confident in cooking things that I am also able to have.  This has motivated me further in getting the book ready, because I know that many people want to get started but haven’t quite found the right inspiration. Hopefully A Kitchen Fairytale will help them on the way!

A Kitchen Fairytale
Breakfast of ryebread with avocado and lettuce, and porridge with persimmon and nuts

What sort of people would benefit most by reading your book? 

I would like to say that it would be most beneficial for a certain group of people, but if we follow the advice from plant-based health professionals around the world, we will find that eating this way has enormous health benefits for people all over.  These types of recipes can in fact reverse or prevent many common illnesses – illnesses that we currently may think are part of getting older, but that don’t necessarily have to be.  This is what makes this book suitable for everyone!  However, since I wrote the book while recovering from inflammatory arthritis, there is a fair bit of focus on my story, so people who have also been on the Paddison Program may recognise their own journey in the book, so it is very much suited for someone who is/has been on the program.

What’s your favourite recipe in the book? 

That changes all the time!  An all-time favourite is the ‘Sunshiny pancakes’ which I often make at the weekend and serve with fresh fruit, berries and coconut yoghurt.  Now, with the proper autumn chill setting in, I have found myself making the ‘Sweet and easy yellow split-pea stew’ for supper a fair few times – it is just so incredibly delicious and comforting, so it is definitely a favourite!

A Kitchen Fairytale

We are giving away a copy of Iida’s fabulous new book, A Kitchen Fairytale, on our Instagram account! To win a copy of her book, just do the following: 1) Follow @HHealthBooks and @akitchenfairytale on Instagram . 2) Like this post. 3) Tag a friend in a comment. Tag as many pals as you want to get more entries. Good luck! Winner picked on Monday 22 October. UK only.