Back at the beginning of April 2013 there was no sign at all of spring. In fact an icy wind was blowing in from Siberia and there was snow in the air. The latte cravings were strong and I began to wonder if skimmed milk and freshly brewed coffee were quite the demons I thought they were. Wondering led to Googling, which in turn led to some surprising results…
4 April 2013
Yesterday there was snow forecast. For heavens sake it’s April! When I got outside it was COLD, but the sky was blue. As long as the sky is blue I can cope with cold, after all, I had my padded jacket, my hat and gloves and it did make me walk faster. The snow didn’t fall in the end but the weatherman on Daybreak was still talking about snow in the south and the bitter wind was still blowing from Siberia. Never had catching the bus to work seemed like such a good idea. Last night that wind felt as if it was blowing right through us turning our bones to ice and stealing our breath away. Gigi texted to say she was walking in this morning though and would meet me outside my house so that was that, I was walking.
While I waited for her to come down the hill I had a quick look round my front garden and noticed the grape hyacinths have come up. Obviously no one told them about the weather. Then she was at the gate and we were off marching along wrapped up like two arctic explorers. The only saving grace was that the wind was blowing from behind us this morning, an icy hand on our backs pushing us along. Boy was I craving a latte when I got to the office! The Mad House canteen seemed like such a good idea right then.
These latte cravings keep creeping up on me with all the stealth of a cruise ship, fog horns blaring. Now, in terms of Intuitive Eating, I should be listening to my cravings but I get the feeling I’d be living on a diet of chocolate and lattes if I took it too literally so I try to fight those urges while listening to all the others, within reason. Recently I’ve been pretty good at resisting the chocolate but the lattes keep biting me on the bum, so I got to wondering if there was something I was missing.
Maybe I’m demonising lattes too much. Making any one food the enemy is a sure way to make you crave it after all. A skinny latte isn’t a totally bad idea, nutritionally it has it’s merits. Low fat milk is a great source of protein and good carbohydrates, I know that and I’ve been having them on my long walks to give me an energy boost. As an everyday food item though, surely I don’t need it, or do I? Time for a little Google fest then to see if I was missing something.
Turns out skimmed milk has a lot more health benefits than I’d realised. There’s the calcium for a start, I’d forgotten about that, strengthening bones (important for post menopausal women like me) and playing a vital role in nervous and muscular function. Apparently it has also been shown to help prevent cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. The average skinny latte gives you about a third of your RDA of calcium which is no bad thing.
Interestingly, the great God Google told me people who drink milk and eat dairy products, in moderation, are likely to be slimmer, especially round the abdomen, than those who don’t! That sounded a bit suspicious to me until I read that they have been found to help bind harmful fats together in the gut and prevent them being absorbed, while simultaneously reducing high levels of bad cholesterol in the blood. Wow, who’d have thought it?
Something else that really surprised me was a Scandinavian study showing that milk seemed to help protect against breast and colorectal cancers, not to mention type two diabetes. So it seems low fat milk is good, but what about the coffee? I know coffee contains antioxidants and it’s a stimulant, which can be useful when you’re tired or need to concentrate but there were some other, quite shocking things I didn’t know. The US National Cancer Institute carried out a huge study over thirteen years and found that coffee drinkers are less likely to suffer with heart and respiratory diseases, strokes, diabetes and infections. They don’t seem to know why this should be but still, it sounds good to me. More American research found those who drank four or more cups of coffee a day had a lower risk of developing mouth, throat, endometrial and prostate cancers. Just as I started narrowing my eyes and wondering if those studies were financed by Starbucks, I read a European study linking coffee to a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s by as much as sixty five percent!.
I’ve never been much of a milk drinker. As I child I refused point blank to touch the white stuff, even when it was free in school. It used to drive Mother nuts. The only time I’ve ever drunk glasses of milk was when I was pregnant and I actually craved it then but I was building a baby so it kind of made sense. On a normal, non latte, day my milk intake is minimal, I have fromage frais or yogurt on my granola and just a dash in my normal coffee and cocoa. Milk has always seemed like empty calories but now I’ve had a read I’m wondering if those cravings are happening for a reason? Maybe I shouldn’t be fighting them and I should add latte to the Intuitive Eating yes list. Perhaps my body really does know better than my head.
Then again there are the calories to consider. How many calories are there in a latte exactly? I checked out the most popular brands and found that a small skinny latte ranges from 86 (Costa) to 95 (Starbucks), a medium from 114 (Costa) to 188 (Starbucks) and a large from 149 (Costa) to 248 (Starbucks). All in all no more than a chocolate bar, even for the giant Starbucks Vente, so one a day is not really going to do much harm as long as the rest of my diet is nice and healthy. I have my drinks sans sugar or extras but if you don’t and start adding sugar, whipped cream or syrup you could be getting more than you bargained for. Those sugars add ten calories per sachet, the syrups add a whopping seventy calories and you really don’t want to know about the whipped cream, that can more than double the calories of your drink. Even those pretty chocolate or caramel sprinkles add between six and fifteen calories. When it comes to the extras then, just say no!
So, after wasting the first fifteen minutes of my day on Google I cracked on with some proper work sending off the scores and the cruise offers Arabella and I went over last week. There were a few films from the ones we chose that weren’t available so I had to choose replacements and I had a ton of bits and pieces to sort through. Before I knew it it was almost two o’clock and I hadn’t stopped for lunch.
With my earlier latte research in mind, I went out for a late lunch time walk. I couldn’t believe my eyes, it was snowing! For heavens sake it is April, it should be warm and sunny not freezing and snowy. Admittedly the snow was nothing but tiny floating dots, which, when they fell on the sleeves of my coat, looked like miniature hail stones more than snow. I couldn’t believe how cold it was but I was determined to walk for a while. The call of the latte was strong, something warm to hold in my hands and thaw out my insides and, for once, I didn’t feel too guilty about it.
Back in the office, coffee in hand, I had to go through all the cruise reports and passenger comments for the last twelve months to gather information for Arabella’s meeting with the company who hold the concession for the on board shop. Arabella is disappointed in the stock they hold, lots of cheap fabrics, elastic waists and tat. Our passengers may be mainly over sixty five but they are the over sixty fives you see shopping in John Lewis and Harvey Nicks and the shop seems to be catering more for Primark shoppers.
Most of the afternoon was spent working on the passenger comments spreadsheet. Not the best thing for the eyes but interesting. The entertainers had record good scores and some lovely comments but some of the other comments had me rolling my eyes and wondering about the things people find to moan about. One was a complaint about the number of sea days on the cruise. Did they not read the brochure I wonder and how exactly did they expect the ship to get from point a to point b? Another was unhappy about the number of foreign passengers on the ship and said they should have been warned about this when they booked. There’s no answer to that. The one that really made me laugh asked why the ship had to dock in large ports with lots of other ships and couldn’t we have found quieter places? Um, no, ports are large and they are busy with lots of ships, I should know, I live in one.
The afternoon passed in a flash and the walk home was a cold, snowy affair. I’m beginning to wonder if I will ever go anywhere without my hat, gloves and padded jacket again! Whoever is responsible for switching on spring, could they hurry up and do it please. Sitting in front of a roaring fire is beginning to lose its charm, especially when I think about my gas bill.