Harriet Griffey: 'Holidays make me want to review my life'

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Home from the hols and to the alarming news that the Department of Health is targeting my age group (whatever happened to middle youth?) with a new booklet called Prime, which focuses on health before 50, in an effort to improve health after 50.

Home from the hols and to the alarming news that the Department of Health is targeting my age group (whatever happened to middle youth?) with a new booklet called Prime, which focuses on health before 50, in an effort to improve health after 50. This will be given to everyone over 40, free of charge, from health centres and GP surgeries. It features exercise tips from Sir Bobby Charlton, Coronation Street's Denise Welch on depression, and actor Brian Cox on diabetes. I can hardly wait...

More off-putting news (unless you're Spanish): apparently women in Spain live the longest in Europe and on average three years longer than women in the UK. The Mediterranean diet has long been celebrated for its health benefits, and the use of olive oil seems to play a large part. But we've come a long way from a simple choice of olive oil. I was reminded of this on holiday in the Perigord region of France, when a local producer of walnut oil, a speciality of the region, explained how it takes a kilo and a half of walnuts to produce 250ml of walnut oil.

There's something about being on holiday - eating well, chilling out and having time to think - that makes me want to review my life. More and more people are turning to life coaches like Suzy Greaves, whose new book, Making the Big Leap, has just been published, to help realise their dreams. Having a dream is one thing, making it happen quite another. Taking a big leap into the unknown is always daunting, but if it makes for a more authentic way of living, then it's better for both your mind and body.

Other good health news is that dark chocolate contains the same active ingredient that is also found in red wine and tea that promotes healthy blood flow, Greek researchers told the European Society of Cardiology last month. Half a bar a day is all it takes... While research from the University of California shows that those oils rich in the omega-3 essential fatty acid DHA, help to reduce the impact of the Alzheimer's gene. The simplest source of DHA is from fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, but flaxseed oil is high in DHA too.

For me this autumn, fitness is a priority, especially now my youngest is old enough to walk to school on his own, and I shall have to find some other form of regular exercise to counteract my sedentary life. Twenty minutes to school and back, twice a day - less of a school run, more of a totter - and at least I felt I was doing some exercise. But now my services as maternal escort are redundant as he wants to walk alone, so I will need to be more proactive. Failing that, the only feasible option is to move to Spain and eat dark chocolate. I wish.

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