Dutch authorities to quickly begin vaccinating health staff

Dutch authorities to quickly begin vaccinating health staff

AMSTERDAM — The Dutch government announced Saturday that it will begin vaccinating thousands of fr…
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How to get over the midlife health bump

Her first book, The Midlife Kitchen, was a bestseller. Now Sam Rice is launching a holistic guide to healthy living for the over-40s In August 2012 my youngest brother Ben died, aged 27. He had type 1 diabetes, and many health complications as a result. At the time I was a 42-year-old mother of two young children and my own health was not a priority. With Ben’s death, that changed. My brother had been robbed of his once-healthy body; I owed it to him to take better care of mine. I wasn’t vastly overweight – probably a stone more than I wanted to be – but let’s just say my jeans were very snug. I’d tried loads of diets in the past, even a stint on those depressing meal-replacement shakes, and I had lost weight… But, inevitably, once the diet was over, the pounds crept back on. I was also getting more and more confused about what I should be eating. One minute I read that this food was good for me, the next it was bad. Everything I ate seemed wrong: it had too much fat, or salt, or it was full of chemicals – which made me feel guilty. Food had somehow become the enemy. And I was also getting older. I had ‘hit the middle’ and my body wasn’t playing ball. After a week of trying to ‘be good’, the scales would barely respond. I needed a plan to help me make the right food choices – but without having to devote masses of mental energy to everything I ate. There was no workable framework out there for my life as a busy midlife mother. That was eight years ago. It has been a gradual process of re-education, research, nutritional study and time spent in the kitchen to get to where I am today. It has ignited in me a passion for healthy eating that I could never have predicted, and has led to a new career as a food and health writer. I did eventually lose that stone, and once I had lost it my new understanding of how and what to eat helped me to keep it off. I had made friends with food again. Losing weight at any stage of life requires focus, determination and patience, and the four-week plan in my new book, The Midlife Method, is no different. There isn’t a magic potion we can take that will do the work for us, but, in the absence of an underlying medical condition, if you commit to this programme for 28 days you will lose weight and, more importantly, have the knowledge to manage your weight in the future. The simple, delicious recipes I have created for the meal plans are nutritionally balanced to support optimum health in midlife. I have tried to make them as family-friendly as possible, so that you can still all eat together, especially at dinner time. You owe it to yourself – and your loved ones – to look after your body, and live your best midlife. I’m assuming you are most likely a Generation X-er like me, born between the early 1960s and the late 1970s. You’re old enough to remember the cabbage soup diet and Jane Fonda in her snazzy leotards, but young enough to still bother dyeing your roots. Little did we know back then, as we bopped around our bedrooms to Duran Duran, and watched in horror as the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up (or in delight as the Berlin Wall came down), that we were destined to become the diet industry’s guinea pigs. There was a constant background fear that our bodies weren’t good enough, that we’d be so much happier/cooler/more attractive if we could just be thinner. But old habits die hard, and it would be disingenuous of me to say that vanity plays no part in my wanting to keep my weight under control as I head into my 50s. However, once we hit midlife, things change: our hormones become depleted and erratic, and our metabolism begins to slow. Muscle mass also starts to decrease, and our gut becomes less efficient at extracting what we need from our food. In short, we need more nutrition from fewer calories. So where do we start? Let’s look at the weight-loss question first. Calorie deficit – the technical term for consuming less energy than you expend – is the only proven way to lose weight. All weight-loss programmes, no matter how they are packaged, have this at their core, and so does the Midlife Method. But if we want to lose weight healthily, we need to ensure that, at the same time as reducing calories, we’re providing our bodies with the nutrition they need to function well. And for any weight loss to be sustainable, it must be underpinned by healthy habits: regular exercise, good sleep, stress management, and low to moderate alcohol intake (if you drink). I’m going to show you how to do this. The Midlife Method is a 28-day plan based on the concept of light days, where we calorie restrict, and regular days, where we eat normally but learn to make better food choices to support weight management in the future. Unlike many diets, nothing is cut out altogether; all food groups are welcome at the Midlife Method’s table, and there are no restrictions around when to eat. Not a breakfast fan? Fine – eat later. Prefer to eat a big lunch and a smaller dinner? No problem. If family dinners are important to you, make them your main meal of the day. When the four weeks are over, you’ll have changed not just how and what you eat (and all the recipes are delicious, I promise), but also how you approach exercise, sleep, stress and alcohol. In short, the Midlife Method will help you lose weight and feel great. A recent review by medical-research organisation the Mayo Clinic indicated that being overweight is of particular concern to menopausal women. Weight gain – accompanied by an increased tendency towards central fat distribution – can result in adverse metabolic consequences, including problems regulating sugar and fat levels in the blood, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately, weight gain is all too common among midlifers: menopausal women gain on average 1.5lb (0.7kg) per year during their 40s and 50s, and there seems to be a similar pattern for men. The latest UK government figures suggest about 70 per cent of people in the UK aged over 45 are overweight or obese. Add to this the more recent spike in weight gain as a result of coronavirus lockdowns around the world – the ‘quarantine 15’, referring to an average 15lb weight increase – and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that obesity is a ticking time bomb for public health. The heavier we are, the less inclined we are to exercise – it’s a vicious cycle. Together with other age-related issues such as bone and joint pain, poor sleep or the stress of juggling work, parenting teens and looking after elderly relatives, it really is the perfect health storm. The Midlife Method is a holistic, three pronged plan to lose weight and feel great: Light days On light days the focus is on achieving an energy deficit for weight loss by sticking to an 800-calorie limit. The plan included in the book starts with six light days in the first week, while motivation is high, to achieve a rapid initial weight loss. The number of light days is then reduced gradually to three per week by week four. This is continued until you reach your target weight. Regular days On regular days the focus is on eating balanced, nutrient-dense food to ensure adequate nutrition and a healthy gut. Having said that, it is important to stick to a rough allowance of 1,600 calories for a woman or 2,000 for a man so you don’t undo all the good work done on light days. The Midlife Method’s healthy habits – exercise, decent sleep, stress management, alcohol moderation – are also critical pieces of the midlife-health jigsaw puzzle to support your metabolism and physical well-being. A study published by the journal Circulation looked at the role of exercise in improving heart health in midlife. It found the optimal amount is four to five 30-minute sessions a week, including a mix of high- and low-intensity activity, strength/ resistance training, and at least one longer session of aerobic exercise, such as an hour of tennis or cycling. This might seem like a lot, but the aim is simply to be active most days. If you don’t have time for a class, a quick walk after dinner or some yoga stretches before breakfast all add up, and you will feel the benefits. Tuning in to our body’s hunger signals is really important if we want to manage our weight effectively, so next time you feel hungry, ask yourself these questions: Am I genuinely hungry? On a scale of 1 to 10, if it’s less than 8 you probably don’t need a snack. Am I thirsty? Thirst and hunger are often confused. Have a big glass of water and see if that helps. Can I ride it out until the next meal? If it’s not far off, resist munching. Melatonin, aka the sleep hormone, lets your body know when it’s time to rest and when it’s time to wake up. But as we grow older levels decline. A few foods contain melatonin naturally – eg, milk, cherries, grapes, strawberries, tomatoes, peppers and pistachios. Calcium and vitamin B6 are key micronutrients used in the production of melatonin. Calcium is found in dairy products as well as leafy greens. Sources of B6 include sunflower seeds, peanuts, oily fish, chicken, spinach and prunes. Magnesium is another vital nutrient: not eating enough has been associated with higher levels of stress and anxiety. It is found in almonds, leafy greens, bananas, avocado and fish. Extracted from ‘The Midlife Method: How to Lose Weight and Feel Great After 40’ by Sam Rice (Headline Home, £14.99)  Follow our Stella Facebook page for the latest from Stella Magazine, and join the Telegraph Women Facebook group, a place to discuss our stories We urge you to turn off your ad blocker for The Telegraph website so that you can continue to access our quality content in the future.
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