I must confess I am not good with holidays, usually leaving it to the last minute, and then slightly dreading them as the time to ‘get away from it all’ draws closer. Oh the expectations are so very high; the weather, the food, the mattress, the view, the other people if we’re in a hotel, the lack of other people if we’re half way up a mountain. In the past most of my packing consisted of first aid (cystitis, conjunctivitis, piles, thrush, athletes foot, you name it I am prepared) and toiletries – litres of sun care of every SPF, hair protecting serums, bronzers of all types; face, legs, body, matt (for day) glossy (for night), herbal mosquito repellents, full on warfare repellents and creams and pills for when neither work. They regularly part company from their firmly put on lids spreading their contents throughout my freshly prepared holiday clothes. I have been known to empty my linseeds (they stop constipation) from the inside of my husband’s trainers where mysteriously they decided to migrate when the bag split. How does that happen snugly packed away in a suitcase? The holiday usually starts off badly as we wait for the dreaded 3am taxi to the Gatwick Express and I am several kilos overweight with my husband yelling things like “We are NOT going to an African war zone, they have pharmacies in France!’’ So I have finally pared down but this is my list of cannot-do-withouts on my holiday packing list that I have to bring from here:
Mosquito bites: take a good vitamin B complex with extra B1 a week before and during the holiday; although there is no firm scientific evidence it does really help some people as they make the skin smell bad to a mosquito, so worth a try. Also Avon Skin So Soft body cream has a fantastic reputation for being an excellent mosquito repellent.
Upset stomach: Optibac Travel Probiotics, just take one a day to help protect as well as speed recovery from bugs.
Constipation: Herbs Hands Healing Chamomile & Cascara capsules and glycerine suppositories
Skin: This Works In Transit First Aid, from cuts to spots, bites and stings this is a one stop cream that smells fabulous and from the same range Turbo Balm, for lips, cuticles and rough skin everywhere. I also love the Aesop Travel Kits for their delicious smelling skin and hair products in small bottles
Suncare: Futurebiotics High Potency Astaxanthin, one a day starting two weeks before you leave may help to protect your skin from burning and sun damage. With new research suggesting that chemical sunscreens damage sperm it could be assumed that they are not very good for anyone so try products like Neals Yard’s new chemical free range or Mypure Natural Mineral Sunscreen, Jason Mineral Sunblock or Dr Mercola Natural Sunscreen from Evolution Organics.
Hair: Aveda make three lovely products to protect from sun damage and chlorine – a spray, a shampoo and a serum.
Beetroot is not everyone’s favourite vegetable but it has had a bit of a revival recently thanks to its use by athletes at the Olympics for increasing blood flow to the muscles. For women undergoing IVF with thin uterine lining I often recommend 300mls of beetroot juice a day until embryo transfer for the same reason. Beetroot contains nitric oxide which dilates blood vessels allowing a rich supply of oxygenated, nutrient-rich blood to flow to the uterus and ovaries. This ‘opening’ of the arteries allowing blood to flow more freely is also the reason why drinking beetroot juice regularly may help lower blood pressure and improve brain function; some research has shown improvement in memory before specific tests.
Uterine blood flow is so incredibly important for implantation; aspirin and Clexane thin the blood and increase uterine flow. So if you have thin lining it is worth trying 300mls a day of beetroot juice alongside another food that increases blood flow, a handful of blueberries. Beetroot is also a great source of iron for vegetarians.
Finely grated fresh beetroot mixed with horseradish and crème fraiche with smoked trout and homemade healthy soda bread (see previous blog)
Fresh squeezed beetroot, apple, carrot and ginger juice.
Roast baby beetroot; arrange it in a dish with butternut squash. Cut them both into round slices, drizzle with a little rape seed oil and scatter with fresh thyme (this looks very pretty), then roast for about 40 minutes.
Raw finely sliced beetroot with baby spinach and torn buffalo mozzarella and a sweet balsamic and olive oil dressing
Raw grated beetroot and carrot salad with a dressing of rape seed oil, apple cider vinegar and a little honey
And for a special treat try Hugh Fearley-Whittingstall’s Beetroot & Chocolate ice cream.
I have just come back from a fabulous six days in Cape Town, but I always dread the flight, particularly the home run, leaving the sun to arrive back at 6am on a cold January morning is challenging! I don’t want to come back with a cold or completely knackered or with elephantine ankles, so I really try and prepare myself well for flying, especially if it’s long haul. Truly plane crashes are the least of our problems! Disruptions to our body clocks affecting circadian rhythms and sleep cause hormonal changes that can affect our health, lack of movement impedes circulation and recycled air can be challenging to the immune system as well as dehydrating.
Sticking to the sleep/dark and wake/light cycles that maintain hormone ‘normality’ is essential. So when it’s light we need to be awake and when it is dark (lights dimmed, dinner finished) we need to instigate those habits that signal sleep. During proper normal sleep our bodies produce all sorts of hormones and chemicals responsible for growth and repair, one of which is a major sleep hormone called melatonin. This is naturally produced from a tiny gland called the pineal gland that picks up neuronal messages through the eyes in response to darkness, initiating feelings of sleepiness. When it gets light in the morning the pineal is switched off and melatonin production ceases, causing us to wake up properly. Taking a melatonin supplement can really help when crossing time zones but you need to take it ONLY when you are getting ready for dark-induced sleep. Many people tend to take melatonin like a vitamin pill popping it a few times during a flight or if they want to go to sleep before night time. But in my opinion this is not a good idea; if you want to minimise jet lag and maintain your night time ‘repair’ routine, take it only when it is evening time according to the flight and then the country that you arrive in. Melatonin is also an important antioxidant, maintaining cell health and protecting us from damage and, interestingly, a lack of it is being suggested as one of the (many) factors related to Alzheimer’s Disease.
With wax earplugs (they are the best type unless they get stuck in your hair!) from Boots or simliar, a good eye mask and a great pair of headphones (I find Bose ones block out most of the sound), and a travel pillow to support your head and neck, you will be set to go.
I also like a hefty spray of magnesium to help the sore stiff muscles as well as relaxation, which I apply all over just like a body spray before and after the flight. Try Better You Magnesium Spray.
Obviously the most serious ramification of impaired circulation during flying is deep veined thrombosis (DVTs) and so moving about and doing some leg and feet exercises are essential, wearing comfortable clothes like tracksuit bottoms and of course for long trips, flight socks. Thinning the blood is important and people at risk take aspirin for this. Another way for the rest of us is to take a powerful antioxidant known as an OPC (read more). The most researched is pycnogenol, or pine bark extract, and you can read about it here in a study about Flite Tabs which contain pycnogenol. Take 100mg twice a day from two days before flying and two days after – try Life Plan Pine Bark Extract 100mg or Solgar Pycnogenol 100mg. OPCs like this have multiple benefits for other aspects of health too.
Try to build up your immune system before a long flight. Sugar is a real immune suppressant whereas fruit and vegetables are immune boosting so really looking after your diet if you fly a lot makes a big difference. Strongly coloured fruit and veg – dark green, red, blue and black, and not overcooked will do the trick. Moreover, plane food is always incredibly salty which is daft as salt really encourages water retention, so try and take a bag of potassium-rich vegetables to combat this like celery, carrots and cucumber and some magnesium filled almonds to snack on.
The pine bark/pycnogenol is great for your immune system and I take some extra zinc and vitamin C, not a huge dose but a little boost like Healthspan Zinc with Vitamin C one-a-day. I always use Vics First Defence nasal spray and so far I have never caught a cold or anything after a flight – it’s available in most chemists.
Last but not least, drink LOADS of water, and not too much alcohol. I do always have a bit of wine because for me it’s just part of the experience but not much! And I love coconut water; it’s incredibly hydrating and full of electrolytes so when I come home I have at least a litre.
We are hard-wired to like sugar; we can eat lots of it, we want to eat lots of it because it puts on fat in preparation for when food is less plentiful. But now we don’t have those times; we have lots of food all the time and more importantly we scoff on sugary things far more than just the delicious treat we rewarded ourselves with in the old days. There is the treat drawer full of mini bars of this and that, there are biscuits ‘in case someone comes round’, there is an obsessive desire to bake cakes all the time, offices are full of people having birthdays, leaving, baking at the weekends and generally kyboshing everyone’s good intentions!
Even fruit juices are now regarded as the new ‘killer’! Full of fructose, the sugar in fruit, and without any of the fibre, they rocket sugar into the blood stream which put simply, goes off to the fat cells around the middle. And there is a theory that fructose suppresses leptin, the hormone that makes us feel full. And in the old days this was great because it meant that in the summer when fruit was plentiful we stuffed ourselves and packed on the fat, and then a bit like polar bears, we had a nice supply of fat to last us through the winter.
But the problem is that this fat, when left to grow and grow has a life of its own. Unlike other body fat which can cause problems for the heart and joints if there’s a bit much, abdominal fat is pretty dangerous. It releases hormones; men can make oestrogen in fat cells and this can disrupt testosterone levels, women also can have hormonal problems. It fires off all sorts of inflammatory chemicals into the blood stream, and inflammation is really the root cause of disease, and ageing. It causes havoc with your insulin levels and raises your risk of diabetes and fatty liver; geese are force fed high sugar sweetcorn to make them have fatty livers for the production of foie gras, ugh, horrible thought!
And horrors, eating sugar causes wrinkles (if I eat too much it makes me have spots too). It mixes with the protein part on a cell membrane and forms something a bit like a sheet of hard plastic netting. This is called cross-linking and the end result is the formation of AGEs (Advanced Glycation End Products) – good name. So the lovely, plumptious peachy cell becomes hard and shrivelled.
And the more sugar you eat, the more you want. The idea that sugar can affect brain chemistry is controversial but I believe it does have an opiate and/or endorphin-like effect, which makes it pretty addictive. And really the only way to ‘normalise’ your relationship with sugar is to stop eating it for a while – three weeks is a good time. Replace your sugary snacks with more savoury, fibrous or protein-rich ones. Then you should be able to have the odd sugary treat, which you can savour and enjoy every mouthful of without having those awful feelings of guilt and regret, and worse, stuffing yourself as you think you have already been ‘bad’ so you may as well carry on and start again on Monday. That is no way to live your life; you should be able to enjoy delicious things. The way I see it sugar has way too much power and needs a bit of taming!
The best way to avoid it is to eat as much ‘normal’ unadulterated food as you can; sugar is a hidden ingredient, any word with an –ose on the end of it is a sugar. And more often than not ‘low fat’ ‘healthy’ or ‘diet’ options are even worse. The fat has been taken out and to make up for the lack of taste in goes a ton of sugar. And artificial sweeteners are just crap too. Research shows that people who eat artificial sweeteners put on more weight than people who don’t. When you eat them your brain is picking up sweetness and anticipating a nice hit of glucose, brain food, and when it doesn’t happen that sets up strong sugar cravings. And if you need to buy them for home, get options that you don’t particularly like. So, if I kept biscuits it would be fig rolls which I just love, and if I didn’t want to eat biscuits I would buy Garibaldis (what we used to call ‘squashed flies’, horrible!) and sweets would be a treat for the weekend.
Also, make sure you eat decently at meal times. If you skip breakfast you will make more unhealthy choices in the morning. If you have a good protein-rich lunch you will be less likely to head for the biscuit tin. But this is a vulnerable time for most people so nuts are a good option and I still love my Rude Health Multi Grain Thins with WholeEarth peanut butter; two with a cup of tea, delicious! After your evening meal, another weak moment for sugar addicts, have a couple of clementines, and try some liquorice tea which is slightly sweet.
The most important thing to remember is that you will get used to it and when it becomes a habit, you will control your sugar intake, not the other way round.
For more information…
This just the most delicious soup EVER! It’s from my friend Ali Godbold’s lovely recipe book ‘Feed Your Health’. I give the recipe to all my clients because it includes so many good ‘fertility’ foods but everyone loves it. The original recipe isn’t blended but, for me, smooth is best. The recipe is exactly as it says, so if you follow it, it will be perfect and it is so simple to make. I use much less olive oil to cook it with but add a good drizzle, about a tablespoon (I love olive oil – see previous blog) to my cooked soup – utterly divine and the best comfort food.
Make a big batch and freeze in bags. Use a food flask to take it to work. It is so filling it really doesn’t even need bread.
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 sticks celery, sliced
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
Extra virgin olive oil
Thumb sized piece of fresh ginger
1 fresh red chilli (more if you like it spicy)
10 cherry tomatoes
1.8 litres of stock, using Marigold Bouillon
300g red lentils
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat a large pan and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the carrots, celery, onions and garlic and cook for approx 10 mins with the lid askew, until the carrots are softened. Meanwhile peel and grate the ginger, deseed and slice the chilli finely and slice the tomatoes in half. Add the stock to the pan with the lentils, ginger, chilli and tomatoes. Bring the soup to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for approx 10 mins with the lid on until the lentils are cooked. Add the spinach and let it wilt into the soup. Serve immediately. This is delicious with the homemade soda bread. I have also added purple sprouted broccoli instead of spinach, cooked it for about 3 minutes then blitzed the whole soup in a blender as I prefer my soups smooth.
OK, this is not for all men who are going through fertility problems; I see lots of men who are so willing to take on board anything that will help them to become fathers, even if it is not ‘their issue’. They recognise that sperm needs to be healthy, but also that their partners need the support, the acknowledgement that you are both in it together. And more and more young men are willing, able and confident enough to say, yes my sperm is the issue here and I will try my best to make it better. After all, male infertility is increasing around the world. These men are not alone in this; I see all sorts of lovely, fit, healthy men; the issue they share is poor quality sperm. Just like women have poor quality eggs, or endometriosis or PCOS or even unexplained infertility.
So this is a plea to those of you who actually are just not prepared to pull your weight on this, who cannot or will not accept that your sperm is 50% of the DNA of your baby; the baby that needs every chance to grow up to be a healthy child and a healthy adult, that will produce your grandchildren who also need to pass on a healthy genetic blueprint.
I have had a bit of a week of it, partners that cannot be ‘nagged’ (poor things), don’t believe that smoking or eating crap affects sperm (hello, if diet affects cancer risk it affects sperm), don’t want to in any way modify their lifestyle, aren’t interested in any of the research that regularly comes out and believe that ICSI is the answer – the clinic just picks the best looking sperm, injects it into the egg, and hey-ho, job done, yes? Well, no actually! Because no-one can know if the DNA of that sperm is any good; sperm is a vehicle for DNA, that’s all, and the egg is very good at discriminating genetically good sperm from bad. With ICSI this selection process is over-ruled. So yes, ICSI is an amazing medical advance but it is absolutely incumbent on the man to ensure that the one sperm chosen has the best DNA possible.
But it must be said that much of this attitude is down to the IVF clinics themselves. Many of my clients have asked if there is anything they can do to help their sperm. The answer is always ‘No, there’s nothing you can do’, or ‘Maybe old chap, could you possibly stop smoking’…arrgghhh! As well as being so utterly un-empowering for the man, it’s also not true and it seems to me that this attitude is downright irresponsible. There is a mass of research out there. Vets and farmers have known for ever that the food they feed their breeding bulls, boars, stallions whatever, is going to make good sperm and better progeny which makes more money. It’s not rocket science. And yes, there’s always the fat bloke down the pub, drinking 10 pints a night, smoking 40 fags a day and eating chips, and he has loads of babies doesn’t he? A bit like the ‘crack addicts have babies’, ‘starving people in war zones have babies’ argument. The thing is actually often they don’t; and there is a higher rate of miscarriage and health problems for the children, from learning difficulties and behavioural problems, allergies and obesity right through to an increased risk of some cancers.
So think of it as a project; three months of ticking all the boxes, getting the latest information on the dos and don’ts for healthy sperm and contrary to what you may think it’s not all hellish. You can still drink wine, eat chocolate, have a social life, play sport and actually be quite normal! Eating well just supports your life generally; you will have more energy and better resources to deal with stress and many men feel so different that they keep many of the changes going. But above all you will have given it your best chance to have the baby you want and you will be a team with your partner.
I am doing a course at the moment which means that I have to drive to Guildford from north London and sit from 9am to 6pm in a warm, stuffy room for a week. I had been finding it almost impossible to stay awake from about 3 o’clock, no matter how lovely, interesting and engaging the lecture I would begin to yawn, desperately stifling them as much as possible, then the drooping eyelids would begin, followed by the hallucinations that I was lying in bed, arrrgggghhh what to do? I rammed my fingers under my eyebrows, physically trying to stop my dropping lids, I even pinched myself hard on the arm with my nails, surely pain would work, I drank loads of water in the hopes that wanting to go to the loo would keep me awake, that always seems to work when I am comfortably asleep for God’s sake! But to no avail; it was a bit like being drugged. Then to my horror, on my week but last I found myself doing it in the morning and I thought this just has to be sorted.
Hard-core solution needed. New drastic regime…….
Wake up: cup of tea, then before leaving at 7am, green juice; spinach, apple, celery, cucumber and whatever other greenery I could find. Quite difficult to do though.
In car: by the time I hit the A3, Village Bakery Rye Bread toast sandwich with Whole Earth peanut butter, delicious actually. One cup of not very nice coffee on arrival.
Morning break: went outside, walked around and ate some blueberries and walnuts, both of which are very good for memory, and a green tea. I don’t actually like green tea but I have found one called Yerba Mache by Rio Trading which is OK. Lots of water.
Lunch: Usually my downfall. I am starving by then, there’s loads of carby things which I eat gratefully and you do get to meet people but then you go back into the lecture room and it’s all over. So this time I returned to the car, put on my trainers and went for a run around the playing fields, got back in the car and ate my salad. This is my staple salad that I almost eat every day; John Hurd’s organic watercress, an avocado, tomatoes, Romano red pepper, pumpkin seeds, drizzle of really good olive oil, plus protein – chicken, cottage cheese, salmon, tuna and listened to the radio. Then I did my e-mails and walked back.
Afternoon: Cup of tea, 2 oat cakes.
Result, no friends but stayed awake, remembered things and didn’t arrive home knackered. All good.
The recent headlines confidently claiming that omega-3 ‘causes’ prostate cancer have caused a bit of confusion for sure. I suggest omega-3 regularly for my clients for its anti-inflammatory and blood thinning properties, especially if they can’t or won’t eat fish, which in itself provides such a wealth of nutrients, as well as omega-3.
It’s not the study which is baffling: it’s the rush to reach a conclusion using a study which wasn’t designed for the purpose (it’s an observational study into selenium and vitamin E and cancer not a gold-standard, randomised controlled trial into omega-3 and prostate cancer), which did not investigate the diets of the men involved, which runs completely contrary to epidemiological evidence AND previous studies suggesting the polar opposite, for example Dietary omega-3 fatty acids, cyclooxygenase-2 genetic variation, and aggressive prostate cancer risk.
Although the researchers have not themselves claimed that omega-3 causes prostate cancer, the news has been sensationalised in the press, and may as well suggest that even eating fish fingers may give you prostate cancer!
It is impossible to draw a firm conclusion as to cause and effect with an observational study. There is an association or a correlation but this then leads to further trials which can establish, or not, a more robust link. The most striking feature of this study is the fact that no dietary analysis was included, so the source of the omega-3 fats was not determined. Were the participants taking supplements, eating lots of fish, or both? Or neither? Did they start doing so upon diagnosis of prostate cancer in an attempt to eat more ‘healthily? Eating a low saturated fat diet is recommended for the prevention and management of prostate cancer and low fat diets enhance blood levels of omega-3. Moreover, the differences between the omega-3 blood levels of cancer and non-cancer were very small and both fell into the healthy normal range.
Epidemiologically this conclusion opposes the evidence. As someone said you would expect fish-eating countries like Japan and Scandinavia to have rocketing levels of prostate cancer and this simply isn’t the case. The Mediterranean, the Nordic and the Japanese diets, all high in fish are believed to be the healthiest in the world. Could it be that these diets are also rich in anti-oxidants in vegetables and fruit, and these anti-oxidants protect the highly reactive omega-3 oils from oxidative damage? There is a world of difference in healthiness between eating fried fish and chips and fish and fresh vegetables. It would have been interesting to see what the overall blood anti-oxidant levels of the participants were, and of course to know for certain if they were taking supplements and if so, what and how much, in addition to dietary analysis.
I am always careful to suggest that my clients use a pharmaceutical grade fish skin (rather than liver) oil from a sustainable source of small fish, and they take it with either a multivitamin containing antioxidants or following a meal containing fruit or vegetables. I take fish oil for my skin and my joints; I don’t particularly like oily fish. I recommend it to my fertility clients because it is good for sperm and anti-inflammatory. For the moment a strategy of risk management may need to be employed until more studies have been done. If you have a family history of prostate cancer just eat fish. But the evidence for complete avoidance of omega-3 just doesn’t stack up in my opinion.
All my clients know I am mad about watercress; those peppery little leaves pack an amazing nutrient punch. It’s a bit of an acquired taste I know but absolutely worth it. Watercress is particularly good if you have ever smoked; it contains a specific compound that may protect against lung cancer, and like broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables it also seems to protect against other common cancers like breast and colon. I am interested in its DNA repairing properties, especially for my clients with high sperm DNA fragmentation, and a recent study from the University of Ulster suggests that watercress helps to repair the DNA damage caused by intensive exercise. It also happens to be rich in other nutrients too like folic acid, vitamin C, beta-carotene and iron. Oh, and while on that subject, the non-haem iron in dark green leafy vegetables may help to reduce the symptoms of PMS, and for fertility, the beta-carotene is important for the ovaries.
Eat it in a salad with really good cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, sweet Romano red peppers, avocado and pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Stuff it into wholemeal pittas with hummus and grated carrot or soft creamy buffalo mozzarella and sun dried tomatoes, stick it in a quiche, or wilt it through a rich tomato sauce to have with pasta. It is better to have it raw but it does make a delicious soup, and if you are in the mood for a really hard core green smoothie blend a handful with celery and cucumber, it’s fantastic for the skin.
Always wash and spin it til it’s properly dry, then store it in an airtight container in the fridge.
Watercress really is utterly wonderful………
I think we have finally cracked it at last. If you can stick with the 5:2 diet, and try out different things I think it should work for almost everyone. Husband is now the weight and fitness level he was when he was 15 (so he says….) and best of all a client who had multiple failed IVFs and needed to lose weight before another one was attempted just did it, lost the weight, looks fabulous and is pregnant at last. And after hearing more anti-aging validation on Radio 4’s The Food Programme, I am filled with renewed enthusiasm!
My friend said she wouldn’t be able to do it as skipping meals was meant to be bad for you wasn’t it, and it was good to eat regularly? Well, yes and no really. If you skip meals you tend to overeat and/or make poor food choices because your blood sugar levels are low, and then you fall into a pattern of what I call random eating. And on the 5:2 you just can’t do that, you have to keep going with the fasting stage and that’s when all the benefits happen. And let’s face it; we were designed to eat when we could and the idea that we always have to eat every couple of hours just doesn’t make sense to me, especially as most of us barely move anyway, nor do we have to keep ourselves warm.
The most important thing is making a good plan, and working out when the most important meal of the day is for you. If you want to skip breakfast and make up the calories in the evening then do. Almost everyone I have seen for this is sticking to it and is used to it, and feels pretty good too.
This is an email I received from a client:
‘Just wanted to say thanks so much for putting me on the 5,2 diet, it’s been quite revolutionary! I’ve lost 9lbs already from it, and it’s become so much easier these days. And often on the non-fast days I hardly feel hungry either. And not only that but I’ve got loads more energy, my hair and skin look better, and it’s totally worked like a natural antidepressant – walk round on a high quite a lot. It’s been awesome. I think it’s going to change the world! Hoping to get down to my ultimate goal of 9 1/2 stone and think it can happen, feels like the first thing ever that really works!’
I love the idea of all that energy and good mood!
This is another typical meal on one of the fast days and the evening meal is pretty filling.
Medium poached egg 77 cals
On Rude Health Multigrian Thin 23 cals
Cup of tea with semi skimmed milk 20 cals
Total 120 cals
Green soup (see first blog) 80 cals
Cup of tea with semi skimmed milk 20 cals
Sub Total 220 cals
Chicken breast with herbs, garlic & lemon 150 cals
Baked sweet potato in skin 100g 90 cals
Watercress, celery & cucumber salad 10 cals
1 tsp butter or olive oil OR
100g honeydew melon 30 cals
TOTAL 500 cals
Steamed chicken breast with herbs, garlic and lemon
Trim all the fat from the chicken breast with scissors. Then cut three slits in it and fill with crushed garlic and finely chopped fresh herbs like basil, thyme and parsley. Stuff a slice of lemon into each slit, sprinkle with black pepper and Seagreens the Mineral Salt (a delicious rock salt mixed with crushed seaweed) and then steam it for about 20-25 minutes until cooked all the way through. Steaming it keeps it from becoming dry, as you have no oil. It is surprisingly delicious.
Men can have a slightly bigger lunch eg a Pret soup up to 180 calories. Their cream of mushroom has 148 calories.
It can be done!