Is Supplementation Needed If You Are Eating Healthily?

SupplementsSo if you follow all my tips on eating healthily in my ‘Healthy Eating For Rubbish Cooks‘ Series, does that mean you don’t need to take supplements, minerals or vitamins?

The answer is: use your common sense (which isn’t the same as ignoring it or over-worrying about it).  You don’t need every supplement, and health food shops are full to the brim of ideas for you to spend your money on.

If you follow my tips on healthy eating, weight loss and exercise and you are feeling in tip top condition, then no, I doubt you need a supplement.

But if you are exhausted and have tried all my tips to get more energy, are sleep deprived and generally feel rubbish, then yes, maybe it would be a good plan.  The sorts of things that can be helped are PMT, joint pains, digestive issues, skin problems, depression, I even saw them help Alopecia on ‘The Food Hospital’ on Channel 4.

My top tip on supplementation is to ASK someone who knows more than you and knows more than the internet.  Sometimes the people who work in health food shops can be really helpful.  Sometimes you might actually want to talk to a nutritionist, homeopath or medical herbalist.  You might even have a great doctor who is willing to do a test for you to check how you are doing, as general exhaustion can also be a sign of deeper problems.  If they won’t do a check on your body’s nutrients, then you will find that there are private professionals who will; but make sure that you use someone with loads of experience who has come well recommended to you.

I think that the biggest question is whether to take a multi-vitamin or not.  Some people claim that you can get all the vitamins that you need from a healthy balanced diet.  Some claim that unless you eat totally organic, the quality of our vegetables and meat is not good enough any more and you will need vitamins.  My answer is; does your body feel healthy and vital?  If not, what’s wrong with it?  Maybe consider a supplement or vitamin.

I do use supplements, so I’m going to list what I use here or have used.  For all of them there is a really obvious reason, I’m not just supplementing for no reason.  Plus I have asked professionals about the combination of them.

Bear in mind that I haven’t slept through the night in 6 yrs, I have 2 young children (6yo and 2yo), I co-sleep and am an extended breast-feeder, as well as working from home when you look at my list!

1) Floradix: A liquid mineral and iron supplement: This is magic in a bottle for me when I’m breast feeding, and it doesn’t constipate you like iron can.  Without it I was getting HUGE bruises, but within a couple of weeks of going back on it I had tonnes more energy and the bruises were gone.

2) Vitamins: I take the ones for breast-feeding women as those little tikes do tend to suck all the good bits out of our bodies.

3) Omega 3, 6 and 9: My brain works better with these, REALLY noticeably!

4) Vitamin C: My body really likes me taking vitamin C, despite the fact that I pretty much always hit my 5 a day.  Maybe it’s habit, but I don’t feel as good starting the day without it.

5) Probiotic: A proper ‘pill’ one, rather than a yogurt with sugar.  Mine come from Optibac who kindly sent me a couple of packs to try for free.  I’d been having stomach cramps and this totally fixed it.  I’m going to write a proper post all about what probiotics are in the next couple of weeks for you.

I was talking to a friend today about the fact that she reckoned that supplements had helped her depression.  I know of loads of people who swear by whatever it is that they take.  There is a possibility that it is a case of the vitamins being a placebo.  But then there is research to show that even operations can be placebos because of the power of the mind.  I don’t really care, what is most important is that the proof is in the pudding.  There will be times in your life when you need a little extra help.  If the help is there and available, then I think it’s well worth it.

BUT, I’ll say again; it’s wise to get advise because herbs, vitamins, minerals and supplements are actually a lot more powerful than you might think.  You can take the wrong things that might make the symptoms worse or disagree with something else you are taking.

One final word: If you are pregnant, then it’s crucial that you take a multi-vitamin that is tailored for your needs and includes folic acid.  If you are pregnant with twins, get professional advice about whether you need more.

What are your favourite supplements?

Or do you think that it should be possible to survive without them?


Learning About Solar Energy with Tutbury Eco Power and Energyshare

I might not have the best Eco credentials in the world as a blogger, in fact I’ve looked briefly at politics and the riots, but I don’t think I’ve covered green issues yet, although I do love saving money and recycling has always appeared to be sensible to me, with or without global warming.  Well that is all going to change!  Hold onto your hats as I learn about Solar Power and Hydro stuff, and then convince you to vote for my guys Tutbury Eco Power.  (And when you vote, make sure you have voted and not just subscribed – check by trying to vote again!)

So what’s this all about?  And why should you be bothered?  Because by voting you could win River Cottage books, and because all of these projects are great ideas on how to make local energy that then saves money for or gets used in the local community.  Plus it’s projects like this that are going to be important in making sure there is energy left for our kids to use.

Now there are a lot of people involved, so in this post I’m just going to explain the basics, and then I’ll do another about how fabulous Tutbury Ecopower are at the beginning of next week:  (However you can VOTE HERE now in the medium sized category, if you are convinced already, and remember to check that your vote went through by trying again!).

Who is involved in this project?

River Cottage:  Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s has already been involved in people,  hugh’s fish fight, three hungry boys, landshare, and chicken out.  I love people with a lot of passion, and this guy clearly has it.  He is one of the founding partners of Energy share and well done him for combining his celebrity with something he feels strongly about.

Energy share was founded by river cottage and british gas. It means that you can pay the same for energy from a community as standard energy, rather than having to pay more (i.e not get ripped off).  The project gives “everyone the opportunity to source, use and (when you’re ready…) even generate your own 100% British renewable energy – and save money doing it.  Energyshare brings together people, communities and organisations to turn the system on its head to”.  So that means that aside from this competition, you can actually apply to get a grant for your local community project for creating renewable energy.  Plus you can support the growth of the usage of renewable energy, by signing up for the energy share tariff.

British Gas has a number of tariffs (payment options), and one of them is energy share, which is where some of your energy comes from british renewable energy for the same price as standard energy.  I couldn’t quite understand what all this was about and why you had to ask to go on it.  So I put on my private detective hat and phoned up pretending to be a customer (naughty, maybe, but it was a way for me to check whether this was all above board!).  The BG guy was very helpful.  By signing up for Energy share tariff you are basically telling British Gas that you do want it to look for more renewable energy sources.  If everyone signed up for it, BG would then have to go off and try and find/make loads more renewable ways of getting energy.  The reason why there are separate tariffs seems to be because they are gauging interest.  The difference is that you can instead sign up for a fixed tariff, where you pay extra now, but are promised that the price won’t rise, and this isn’t available on the energy share tariff.  Plus, there is a cancellation fee for coming off the energy share tariff.  I think this fee basically covers the Eco gadget (like an eco-friendly kettle) you get and that £10 pa goes into a fund for energy share.

Three Hungry Boys is a channel 4 program who last year where challenged by river cottage to live without buying food.  This years program is all about renewable energy, so they will be covering the competition.

Now Tutbury Eco Power is one of six contestants in the MEDIUM sized group.  They already have a proven track record with a Hydro Project going, and have won a pile of awards (see next weeks blog).  They are a great example of a community project because they have involved so many parts of the community that I really can’t keep track of everyone I’ve met so far!  There’s the council, the housing association, the local school, and loads of local people and groups.  For this competition they would like to expand their project to add Solar Panels to local buildings (Like schools and village halls).

Solar Power: So I did a bit of research.  If you would love a techie description of solar power go here to wikipedia.  I found a simpler description as well for the kids (and me!) here.  What was amazing was that it said that if we put solar panels in 4% of the worlds deserts, we could power the entire planet; which kind of makes me ask why we haven’t done it already?  The downsides are clouds and that the panels are expensive, but if we made more panels the cost would reduce, and deserts clouds aren’t always around, at least we don’t run out of sun, like we do fossil fuels etc.

Okey dokey that’s me done for today!  More about Tutbury coming next week.  By the way, did I mention they desperately need your votes?  They’ve spent a lot more of their time getting the community involved than learning about social media, so they are a little behind in the voting system.  Go on, give them a boost and VOTE HERE (remember it’s the medium group, and you need to check your vote went through by voting again; some people have found that they only subscribed and didn’t vote).


By the way: This is a sponsored opportunity on behalf of Tutbury Eco Power.  Because The River Cottage and Energy share love the concept of community so much, they found bloggers they considered to be great/connected/influential and asked us to support one of the finalists.  We have been paid for our time and expenses.  No projects near me in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire or London got through to the finals, which is how come I’m supporting a Staffordshire group.  However, if I thought the project I’d be assigned was rubbish, I wouldn’t have continued despite the cash.  Plus having spent a fabulous weekend at the Just So festival in Staffs, at least I can say that I have been there, next year I hope to go back via Tutbury and check out their shiny new solar panels on the local primary school and other buildings!


Staycation vs Vacation vs Crazy Gap Year

This summer we opted for a ‘staycation’ with curly headed boy (4.5yrs) and little dimples (6 months).  For ages I had perused all sorts of vacation options, but there were three problems:

  • I was shattered and really wanted bigtime pampering and five star service (for that read price!)
  • Little Dimples was just turning 6 months, so just about to start weaning and changing on a daily basis, so we had no idea what she would really want, plus really hot (like greece) wouldn’t be ideal with a little baby, and she screams in the car, so the UK wasn’t an option either.
  • Little Dimples had just decided to develop a bit of separation anxiety, or preference for who she liked to be left with, so a creche might not work.

So we opted for a ‘staycation’.  I did miss the automatic relaxation I get from the sound of the sea, with a bit of warmth, and laughing children in the background.  But we had someone to look after Little Dimples, and Curly Headed Boy went to camp a few days, so we had a bit of time together to chat, plus get a couple of massages each.  It made me realise that it would be more sensible to take care of my body regularly, rather than wait for holiday time, so I’ve kept up the massages/reflexology since then which is helping with the general exhaustion and breastfeeding.

We had some great adventures as a family too, and found that going into London really suited both the kids, even if it was just to meet up with friends.  The science museum is a must if you haven’t taken your kids.  It’s free (but I recommend taking refreshments, because big-time rip off!), and the kids section is so much fun.  Curly Headed Boy keeps ‘doing science’ when he finds reflections since our visit.  We are definitely going to go back in the next month or so to the Natural History Museum to see the dinosaurs again.  There’s a splash park in St Albans, which I’d been meaning to go to for years, and we are members at a local children’s farm.

There was one big disaster when the morning that we were off to see ‘The Lion King’ I asked big hairy northern hubby to check if pushchairs were allowed, only to find that under 3’s were not allowed.  Seriously, it’s a Disney show!  Before people start leaving comments saying how they hate being interrupted by kids at shows like that, let me point out that I’m not daft.  Curly Headed Boy loves shows and would definitely have the stamina for it, and he has read the book, bet you haven’t recently!  Little Dimples might have needed a break, but being a matinee it was perfectly timed for her nap.  We couldn’t go because Curly didn’t want to leave his sister behind, and I couldn’t leave her for that long as I’m still breast feeding.  So learn from my lesson.  It might be disney, but many shows in london are not actually for young kids.  I was very tempted to give my tickets to 3 smelly tramps, but couldn’t find any, and sadly couldn’t find anyone else either, which was a big shame.

Since then I’m even more chuffed we stayed at home, because having gone through the whole rite of passage of curly headed boy starting school, I’ve got very different opinions on what I would like to do for holidays with the kids.  Watching ‘My family’s crazy gap year’, I had a huge realisation.  I was incredibly lucky as a young baby and child to travel to africa every year, and go to lots of places in europe as a young girl, and colorado as an adult.  There are tonnes of amazing places in this world that I never got to go to as I didn’t have a gap year.  I’d love to make sure that over the next few years I can share my children’s first experiences of some of these places, and set them off on a path where they remember to look for the magical places on offer.

So that’s my plan.  Take care of myself during the year a bit more, so that I don’t need the huge relaxation of a holiday (not sure it’s possible with young kids anyway), and make a big long list of places that we can go as a family.  They don’t have to be posh or far away or an amazonian rain forest (like the TV show), it’s about giving them a richness of experience.

So here’s the beginnings of my list:

  1. A Festival: I’ve never done a festival and the other day read about camp bestival, which sounds fab!  It’s certainly the only way that big northern hubby is getting me in a tent.
  2. Lake District: Dare I admit I’ve never been there, I’m more of a devon & cornwall girl!
  3. Isle of Wight & Jersey: as above
  4. Lapland: I know it can be a bit rubbish, but if we get a good trip it’s meant to be amazing (in a few years when little dimples is 3/4).
  5. Colorado: Definitely need to take them there, I LOVE this place.  I might be a rubbish snowboarder, but you can pretend to be quite cool when sitting on your bum looking at the mountains.
  6. Africa: specifically zimbabwe when it is safer and when the kids are older, so I’m less worried about giving them malaria pills.  I’d LOVE to do an elephant safari oneday if it was one where I could be sure the elephants were well cared for.
  7. Aura Borealis : This is for big hairy northern husband ;o)

So can you help me with ideas to fill up my list?  Where have you been?  Did you take the family?  Feel free to link to your blogs if you’ve blogged about it (sorry I’ve not learnt how to do a mcklinky thingy yet).

Feel free to promote your holidays or your company, but beware: if they are boring, bog standard and have not an ounce of ‘experience’ in them, then they wont get shown ;o)  For instance, a mummy friend of mine just stayed in devon at a farm, which sounded brilliant, and amazing value: something like that is definitely a ‘yes’, and I’d love to know about it.  But your villa on whatever costa, however nice, doesn’t fit the bill for what I’m interested in today, unless you are also teaching curly headed boy to become ‘Avatar’ (he’s seen the cartoons, not the film ‘the last airbender’), have some great tree hugging stuff for me, a pool for little dimples, and a mountain for big hairy northern husband to climb.