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Federica Diliberto federyka [CC0]_edited

Image by Federica Diliberto

In the quest for an all- round healthy lifestyle, the subject of diet cannot really be ignored. I don't mean following weight-loss fads or trendy new and exotic eating plans. What I am advocating is good, solid food, easily obtained, simple to prepare and in manageable quantities. Firm foundations on which to live and train particularly into older age and here is the question. When does the amount of food you are consuming become too much?

If you are going to burn energy, any energy, you will need to eat accordingly. This blog is not the place for highly specialised diets for elite athletes. Rather it is a platform to state what works for us. I am not a dietician but if what I am advocating helps anyone else, then I shall be be very pleased. All I can say is that our approach to eating works well for  my husband who is 85 and myself ten years younger.

Firstly, let's take a look at breakfast. If you are still of working age or have high energy output then I think you can do no better than set yourself up with a good breakfast as the foundation for the day and there is so much to choose from. Will it be cereals? Or toast with additions? Perhaps a 'full English' - that is to say fried egg, bacon, sausage, tomato, mushrooms, fried bread and more? Maybe grapefruit, yoghurt etc., etc.?

Over a very long time we have sampled most breakfasts on offer but until quite recently, mainly settled on porridge. But porridge with additions. Anyone who knows me accepts that I rarely work to exact weights and measures when I cook being more intuitive than scientific. So, into my container of ordinary rolled oats in various measures and according to our personal likes, go all sorts. Sultanas and raisins, sunflower seeds and maybe chopped dates, or prunes or figs. Cranberries, apricots, whatever. Sometimes I add nuts. Anything we fancy at the time.  I keep this, ready-mixed in a plastic container in the kitchen.

Incidentally, quite by accident we came across another very beneficial addition to our mixture; milled linseed. This you can buy in various mixes such as chia, sunflower seeds, goji berries and pumpkin. As linseeds are gelatinous particularly when crushed, they provide very useful mucilage to the diet, excellent if you suffer from constipation!

Porridge for breakfast is very sustaining and you shouldn't feel hungry until lunchtime. Also, if you are gluten- free, it is a very filling alternative to wheat products. We have never been fanatical about food so the occasional full English particularly when trekking or toast and marmalade when the urge takes us makes a lovely change. Porridge though remains king or at least it did until about a year ago when our daily routine changed quite radically.

Through chatting with medical friends and also reading of the importance attached to allowing one's stomach to rest for 12-14 hours in order to cleanse itself of unwanted 'debris', we experimented with what is now fashionably known as 'intermittent fasting'. What it boils down to for us is that we have cut out one meal a day and that happens to be the one we call breakfast since it naturally comes after the longest period without food and it is easy just to extend this time. We can both honestly say that we do not miss it in the least! For our advanced ages we are still brimming with energy and have also trimmed a little surplus from our waists.

We have not entirely abandoned our favourite porridge though we do not eat it on such a regular basis s before, swapping it now for dessert or for a delicious teatime treat.

                            Granny Bonnet

Tip: I soak our porridge for an hour or two. For two of us just under a tea-cup of dry mix  is enough. This I just cover with water, later adding about the same fluid quantity in milk then cook as usual.