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Life is like a box of chocolates

That was the unmistakable drip drip of water coming through the ceiling into a light fitting, and then a powercut. Rather an extreme way to earn planet points, however, the loss of lighting made us consider a few more creative options like these twinkly fairy lights. Yes that's right they're solar-powered, dahling. And since they also re-use 3 bottles that would otherwise have gone for recycling, I'm really racking up the points this week *grins*. Just the boost I needed, since today Roche (yup, naming and shaming) have had some pretty monumental-sized issues with getting us our usual supply of those cute coloured bottles we use for blood-taking, which means that across York non-urgent tests in the community are being cancelled. Luckily our amazing reception staff have been working over the weekend to try and phone patients to apologise and explain, to avoid them making unnecessary trips out next week. We're crossing everything (that isn't already busy being crossed for the flu clinics)(oh and COVID), hoping that the bottles will arrive soon, like an early Christmas present that we'll all eagerly fight over as a big loving York GP family. Ahem.

Now all this talk of gin is making me look around for a little sweet snack, reminding me I'm often asked to write about chocolate. Which is hard because it makes me (and you reading this I'll bet, ha!) very very hungry. You know we have a sort of tradition at OSMP on a Friday afternoon, where we share a bag of goodies from our local cafe 'But First' in Bishopthorpe. It's a homely haven for a cuppa and cake and the staff are brilliant about packaging. You can see where I'm going with this. They'll fill your own tub if you take it in, and they pack my Friday Crunchie-brownies in paper (salivating heavily here, sorry). They also do gluten-free! If I don't write any more blog posts it's because the partners who don't work Friday afternoon have just discovered what we get up to (#highcarbparty), and I've lost my job. But really I'm simply promoting vitality, vim and vigour (maybe I should lay off the Purina?). It demonstrates the importance of team morale, and we're big on saying thank you and well done.

If you're wondering if this chocolate promotion isn't a sort of going-totally-against-healthy-eating, then I'm going to sheepishly attempt to justify it by prioritising my team's mental well-being and encouraging everyone to get up and go to Reception (when we might have spent the entire afternoon in the consulting or admin room), so you see really, I'm promoting physical exercise at work, regular breaks, and a massive release of endorphins: happy hormones! Please don't tell the diabetic nurse...

Of course I can also be serious about food (well if only for the purposes of my job). My current foray into greener healthcare involves genning up on plant-based nutrition and using this in my consultations. Why? Because the planet cannot sustain an exponentially growing human population heavily dependent on a meaty diet. The land where cows (yum) and sheep (cute) graze, could be used to farm crops that would feed way way more people. And Brazilian rainforest is being felled to make way for crops that are used for animal feed. That steak might be tasty but it doesn't make great sense :-(

Let's break it down into simple food groups, taking a yummy Sunday roast as an example: meat (protein), Yorkshire puddings (starch foods or carbs), carrots (vegetables), potatoes dauphinoise (er, just me?!), crumble (carbs and fruit) and custard (dairy). When actually what we should be aiming for is this: Canada's answer to the food plate:

See how fruit/veg make up half of the plate? I was shocked too. "But fruit goes off so easily", I hear you say, and "berries always come in plastic boxes" (I know, this is royally irritating right?), and my supermarket shrink-wraps cucumber in unnecessary condom-esque packaging. Woah, for starters there's nothing unnecessary about condoms, but that's for another post. Secondly, if you're bothered about the pesky plastic, return it next time, take your own tubs, or make a fuss at the counter! Ok so you might not want to get stuck at the checkout behind me (my junior editors refuse to come shopping with me as I'm so "mumbarrassing"), but remember you have a voice! And let's be real, plastic sent to UK recycling gets a one-way ticket to a massive bonfire in Malaysia where it causes untold air pollution and misery for the locals.

I'm going to focus on this more next week but I just wanted to whet your appetite today, hehehe. For now, let me suggest (in the manner of homework): ditch the cod liver oil supplements and buy some ground flaxseed instead. It's bursting with omega-3 and low in cholesterol! Holland & Barrett and large supermarkets do a plastic-free pack. Extra planet points! Choose the brightest and most beautifully-coloured fruits and vegetables. Red peppers, orange carrots, purple plums, sweet potatoes, and the greenest greens. Buy fresh and loose if you can afford to! If you have room under the freezer-squidged chips and ice-cream, pick your own berries and freeze them! I've recently horrified friends with tales of a trial of raspberry suppositories that reduced the risk of bowel cancer, albeit with some rather, er, rip-roaring side effects. More on that another time.

But finally, I promised chocolate and yet it's been more of a tumultuous ride through fibre and packaging. Well, cocoa beans contain iron, B12 and flavanols (nope me neither) that act as antioxidants (which is a good thing), and may therefore reduce heart disease. Just try to choose dark or white, rather than milk (which has more calories and fat). And you know, if you're ever unsure, just drop by with your chocolaty quandary and I'd be happy to taste-test!

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Oct 10, 2020

It’s much simpler than that to justify chocolate. Cocoa comes from beans. Beans are a vegetable. Chocolate is one of your five a day. Happy to help ;) ;)

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