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Phil Vickery recipes a treat for type 2 diabetes

Written by  |  November 17, 2017  |  Blog  |  No Comments Yet

Phil Vickery is a great chef and an all round nice guy so it was a pleasure to talk to him for the Daily Telegraph about his new recipe book which offers inspiring new recipes for anyone with type 2 diabetes. It’s an incredibly timely offering. Almost four million adults in England now have diabetes, of whom almost a million are undiagnosed, according to Diabetes UK. The vast majority of cases are Type 2 diabetes, which is fuelled by unhealthy lifestyles, with two in three adults overweight or obese.

Image result for phil vickery diabetes book


And earlier this month, the Department of Health unveiled new plans for GPs offer every single person aged 40 and over an NHS diabetes check. As a result, millions could be ordered to go on strict diets. New recommendations from the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (Nice) say “intensive lifestyle change programmes” will be routinely offered to those whose weight or habits is jeopardising their health. These would include slimming classes, fitness sessions and lifestyle coaching, with places prioritised for 1.7 million people whose blood sugar levels puts them in greatest danger.

But as Phil Vickery pointed out in our interview, eating healthily when you have been diagnosed with type 2 can be a minefield with many torn between eating low carb or low cal diets. His book Phil Vickery’s Ultimate Diabetes Cookbook had to be carefully written with guidance from Diabetes UK to make sure every delicious recipe – which include Lacy Pancakes with Zesty Lemon Yogurt, meltingly tender Slow Roast Lamb with Apricots and spicy Chicken Fajitas with Salsa – was nutritional and medically safe. “It has been the hardest challenge of my life,” says Vickery. “It hasn’t just been about removing added sugar, it’s been about controlling all types of carbohydrate.”

Salt had to come off the menu too – “We compensated by adding lots of fresh herbs and spices. But as a chef, giving up salt is much harder than giving up sugar.”

Sweet alternatives

He also experimented with sugar alternatives, settling on the sweetener xylitol – which is low in calories, and has a very low glycemic index and so doesn’t spike blood sugar – as his favourite. “I was told that I wouldn’t be able to make meringue without sugar – and I took that as a personal challenge,” he explains. “Using xylitol was so successful I was able to create a recipe for a floating island meringue in a chocolate sauce. And it’s very good. Light as a feather.”


A triumph of the heart (and an award)

Written by  |  February 12, 2016  |  Blog, Health  |  No Comments Yet

Dawn Faizey-Webster is a remarkable woman who I was lucky enough to interview in 2014 for the Daily Telegraph. Last night, that account was commended in the Guild of Health Writers Award, which was really pleasing.

Faizey-Webster_2996073bOf course, it is nice to get recognised by your peers for your work, but mostly it gives me a chance to highlight her story one more time.

Dawn  has Locked-In Syndrome; she cannot speak or move much more than a slight lift and turn of the neck, or control more than her intensely expressive left eye, and its immediate facial muscles. Yet she has wit and warmth, and her intelligence is undimmed.  When we spoke,  Dawn had just been awarded a 2:2 honours degree in history, a course she studied painstakingly over six years, using a sophisticated computer programme that picks up words when she stares at them for a sufficient number of seconds.

In addition, she has a laptop that can be controlled by subtle head movements, allowing her to use the internet, send email and do her academic research online. She can type at a rate of about 50 words an hour. Each three-hour exam took her three weeks to complete. Her plans were then for an MA in history of Art, followed by a PhD.

Dawn has the most amazing family too: Alec, 80, Shirley, 75, and little brother Mark, 54; plus her son Alexander, now 14.

Stories like hers stay with you, as they should. My commendation is simply another tribute to her candour and confidence.





Flesh Wounds and family secrets

Written by  |  September 18, 2015  |  Blog, Lambert Likes  |  No Comments Yet

Flesh Wounds is a memoir written by Richard Glover, a best-selling author, presenter on 702 ABC Sydney, very funny chap and also – full disclosure – my much-loved cousin. Currently available in Australia or via Amazon, its appeal is worldwide, I think, partly because the subject matter takes us with Richard to Lancashire on his search for his English roots. Partly because the elements explored in the book are so universal: family; love; secrets; abuse; Tolkein. (Note to publishers: how about an English edition?)



Flesh Wounds by Richard Glover

The book itself is an ‘anthropological’ exploration through Richard’s family; a mapping of the historical whys and wherefores as well as the practical geography of his childhood in suburban Australia with parents who drank, partied, argued and parted, all the time seeming to ignore the small boy who they happened to share a house with. As Richard said in an interview: “I wouldn’t call it a horrible childhood, it’s an imperfect childhood.  And that’s really common – we all have an expectation of a perfect childhood but I’d say maybe 40 per cent of people don’t get the parents they ordered.  Maybe 60 per cent say their parents never gave them the love they wanted.”

Most readers will think he is being over-generous in a style we know as prodigiously his – that sort of Yves Montand-shrugability, dashed with irrepressibly optimistic Tigger-ness. Yes, life was appalling at times, the text does say, but ‘This isn’t Angela’s Ashes’. It was awful, but he was saved (as many are) by real, adult, available and honest love, when he met his partner Debra Oswald.

If you want to hear him talk about the book and his family, there’s a great podcast here.

Richard Glover

Richard Glover

Flesh Wounds for all?

Some will want to find a sub-text or read between the lines for on-going horror or heritable flesh wounds. But Richard is straightforward: ”So many people had inadequate childhoods but we’re not all insane or self-harming or miserable.”

Richard’s message is inclusive and universal: ”We just found the love we needed elsewhere”. It’s OK to look back in anger or hurt, but it’s also OK to look forward in hope and love.

He makes me think of the poem by WH Auden September 1, 1939  and its difficult line: ”We must love one another OR die” which Auden apparently wanted changed to ”We must love one another AND die.”

In the first version of the line, we see love as an act of hope in a terrible world. In the second, as an act of despair. But I think Richard’s book switches that about.

That manic love of the first version as the only alternative to death leads to romanticised despair. In the second version of the line, I like to think of Richard choosing hope and love as the answer to an imperfect world around him, and even despite all his early experience to the contrary.