Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Paleo Diet Myths

Yesterday I was having a little twitter-bitch with fellow ancestral health nutritionists, Claire Yates and Jamie Scott. Why? Because of the recent coverage of the Paleo diet on A Current Affair. Claire had this image to share in response on her insta account:

Yes, it is great that Paleo is getting more attention, however, unfortunately, it is still being portrayed as a carnivores feast, where animal protein has to form the majority of all of your meals. The ACA coverage kindly provided meal examples for Paleo…with absolutely NO vegetables in sight. Now that’s just not cricket. (For those of you non-Australians, this term basically means “Not cool. Not cool at all”). Indeed, when you mention “Paleo” to many people, they will often say:
  • “Urgh! It’s just too much meat!”
  • “It is not sustainable, or environmentally friendly”
  • “The Paleo Diet is selfish” - Yes, I have heard this one directly – it was like a dagger through my heart. As most paleo-enthusiasts would probably agree, we go out of our way to source the most ethically, humanely, appropriately raised animals and vegetables, AND we support the local farmers who provide us with our food. Gratitude is my second name.

Let me clarify, by way of pervy pictures of my food, that Paleo is NOT (necessarily) a meat-centric diet:

Breakfast: Here we have an entree of sautéed veggies,
and a main of sweet banana omelette with seeds and coconut
Lunch: Salmon with home-made labne,
 avocado, sautéed greens and roast sweet potato
Dinner: Chicken Curry, surrounded by,
and covered in an array of vegetables
Looking at these pictures, I would say my version of the Paleo diet is largely plant-based. Wouldn’t you agree?  Are you a little hungry now?

You see, if we were to think back to hunter-gatherer days, it would be highly doubtful that we were lucky enough to have meat at every meal, let alone every day. If we caught ourselves a Wilderbeest, it might last us a few days (maybe), AND we would be eating the WHOLE animal, not just the muscle meat, which would actually be the least-prized meat, as most of the nutrition lies in the organ meats – the liver, kidneys, brain, eyes….you may be squirmy, but these are the parts of the animal we should be embracing if we truly want to get the most out of this jig.

So what other untruths are being propagated about the Paleo diet?
  • Paleo is low in fibre. This is generally the biggy that dietitians pull out and, if we were to just eat meat and meat alone then yes, we probably would be lacking in poop-bulking, bacteria-feeding fibre (nice image in your head right now, isn’t there?). However, as I have hopefully shown above, the Paleo diet does not have to be lacking in fibre. In fact, I just plugged in a typical day’s worth of food and I am getting MORE than the recommended dietary intake (RDI). So stick that in your fibre-filled pipe and smoke it!
  • Paleo is low-carb. This one is controversial. Many people say low-carb is best. Many people say low-carb is bad. I’m of the opinion that everybody is different and should adjust their carbohydrate (and fat and protein) intake accordingly. I have seen some people excel on low-carb, while others fall flat on their face. For example, if you spend 20 hours a day playing World of Warcraft, you probably aren’t going to require the same amount of carbs as Usain Bolt. It’s not rocket science, but it can take a little bit of experimentation.  If we were to look back at traditional societies, some actually consumed a diet that was 70% carbs, whereas other would have 90% fat – both exhibiting exceptional health! I’m going to do a post in the next couple of weeks on carbs, so I’ll stop there on this one, but I think you get the point. In the meantime, you could check outthis interesting article by Mark Sisson on the variety of Paleo diets that actually existed
  • Paleo is dairy free. Strictly speaking, yes “paleo” is dairy free. However, some people who follow this way of eating find that they do just fine, and even thrive, on dairy, especially unprocessed, full-fat milk. The Maasai of Africa continue to flourish on fresh milk (and blood, and meat). Who are we to say then, that they shouldn’t have any dairy, if they are feeling like Peter from Family Guy on ecstasy. If you can't see it here, do yourself a favour and watch it HERE

Maybe not the best example, but it has been too long between Family Guy clips. I saw an opportunity, and I took it, OK?!
  • We eat a block of butter each day. Paleo is not Atkins. While butter is incredibly delicious and nutritious, there is no need to go overboard. A little butter on your steamed veggies is a great way to help absorb the fat-soluble nutrients. It sure beats margarine, which is highly processed and not what I would call a food at all. Anyone who wants to argue with me on this one….bring it!
  • Paleo is expensive. Cancer is expensive. Multiple Sclerosis is expensive. Heart disease is expensive. Diabetes is expensive. Anutrient-dense diet that could prevent or even reverse these diseases? Not expensive. Eating a Paleo diet does not mean that you have to dine on organic eye fillet, oysters and caviar! Paleo is easy to do on a budget. I’ve been there! Choose cheaper cuts of meat, such as lamb shanks, beef chuck steak and osso bucco. Use the “Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen” list to decide which veggies you should buy organic. And if you can’t afford any organic, that is OK! Heck, it you can only afford frozen veggies, that’s cool too. Often, frozen veggies will have more vitamins and minerals than their “fresh” counterparts at the supermarket anyway. If you’re still not convinced, Google “Paleo on a budget” – I guarantee you that you’ll find some handy resources. Robb Wolf has a great guide, too.
  • Paleo is unsustainable. Generally this one is brought up in regards to the impact that raising cattle to feed us has on the environment. If we all relied on grain-fed, factory-farmed cattle then yes, the world would probably implode (not necessarily factual). However – Paleo nearly ALWAYS emphasizes grass-fed, humanely raised animal produce. And for the sake of brevity, I will not argue why grass-fed is better (I have done so previsouly HERE), but I will point you in the direction of Allan Savory’s TED talk, which is well-worth a watch!
  • Paleo is lacking in nutrients. Pffft. That is what I have to say to that! Cast your eyes back to my meals – there is a shit-load of veggies there, providing plenty of vitamins and minerals. And that’s just the start. Then there are eggs, liver, bone broth, sauerkraut, kombucha, beet kvass, kefir, meat, chicken, fish, nuts, seeds, yoghurt, avocado, coconut, berries, bananas, olive oil…. Please – tell me – what nutrients is this diet lacking in? In fact, I heard on a podcast the other day that it should be called “The nutrient dense diet”. As a side note – if you are eating an ancestral diet, you really should be eating organ meats. Not just for their incredible density of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, but it is just respectful to the animal – if we are going to sacrifice its life for ours, then we should at least eat the whole thing (or as much as we can)
That’s just SOME of the myths. I’m sure there are more and please feel free to point them out in the comments below. As a final point – I am not an idiot. I am a university-trained dietitian. I studied my arse off and graduated with first-class honours. Do you really think I would be dumb enough to follow, or recommend, a “fad” diet that is harmful to my, and others’, health? I studied nutrition and dietetics because I wanted to help people avoid disease and attain optimal health and wellness so they can feel as good as they possibly can, for as long as they can (kind of like Peter on ecstasy, above). 

For those of you paleo naysayers out there, I have this to say: 

Just for a moment, take your ego out of it, forget about the “guidelines” that the government has told us to live by, and ask yourself “does this make sense?”.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Are your hands and feet cold? (non-wedding-related)

Mine were. Constantly. My husband would always complain about me “stealing” his heat (he used slightly more obscene language) as I rubbed my feet up against his warm legs, or as I stuck my ice-block hands up his top. Naturally, I thought it was funny. That’s because I didn’t really see it as a problem. Everyone has freezing extremities, right? Wrong. Little did I know, all of those years, I actually had a thyroid gland that was coughing and spluttering…..trying its absolute best to drive up my body temperature. Unfortunately, there were a number of factors in my life that were saying “F&@k you, thyroid!”, including:
  • Under-eating 
  • Over-exercising
  • Eating gluten (for breakfast, lunch and dinner – not smart when you have undiagnosed celiac disease)
  • Stressing like a mo-fo! Stress was my middle name! I wore it like a badge of honour! Fool!
  • Not allowing enough time for R&R

So it’s not surprising that I am now on dessicated thyroid extract (a natural thyroid supplement) to try and get this baby up and running again. If you’re thinking you can live with cold hands and feet, that isn’t all that low thyroid causes. Your thyroid impacts pretty much every cell in your body, with an underactive thyroid looking something like this:
  • Dry skin
  • Brain fog
  • Inability to focus
  • Poor memory
  • Infertility
  • Menstrual irregularities (which I have spoken about at length HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE….just in case you were after some light reading on the topic of periods)
  • Weight gain (and inability to lose weight)
Sexy, right?

That’s just a short list, and we haven’t even gotten to the subject of hyperthyroid (over-active) and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis!! And I’m not going to. Not here. Not yet, anyway. That’s because there is a FREE online Thyroid Summit coming up, starting May 4th with a bunch of AMAZING, incredibly knowledgeable, health practitioners (nutritionists, doctors, naturopaths and more) that are going to show you how you can NATURALLY heal your thyroid and restore optimal health through real food and lifestyle changes, as opposed to burying your head in the (warm) sand until it’s too late, like I did.

I’m particularly excited about these ones:
  • Chris Kresser – Thyroid Myths and Truths (because I love all things Chris Kresser)
  • Reed Davis - Stop Chasing Symptoms: An Illustrated Guide to Finding the Root Cause of Thyroid Disorders
  • Dan Kalish – Home Thyroid Testing (because sometime needles just suck)
  • Kim Schuette - The Thyroid’s Effect on Conception and Pregnancy
  • BenGreenfield – How exercise destroys your thryroid…and what you can do about it

So if you are interested in your own health, or perhaps you’re a practitioner caring for the health of others. Check this out while it is still free, because it won’t be free after the sessions have aired, but there will be an opportunity to purchase them and keep them for life. Then you can watch thyroid videos OVER and OVER. Doesn’t that excite you? No? Oh well, I always knew I was different!

Checkout the Thyroid Summit and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Chocolate + Gelatin! What, why and how!

Oh hey! Whaddya know? It’s Easter again! And what does Easter mean?

Treasure hunting of course!!

What? Is that not what your mind first wandered to? Well, I guess given the title of this post, I can’t really blame you. Your mouth is probably salivating in the hope that I’m going to give you some delicious chocolate recipe. I might. We’ll see where things go….

But as an aside, why not go on a treasure hunt? Why not grab a little basket and go fossicking around in the bush like you did when you were 10? How much fun was that?! And as I have blogged about before (actually my hubby wrote it, but I’ll claim it, thank you very much), incorporating PLAY into our life is super important for our health and longevity.

OK back to chocolate…’cos it’s so so good. Interesting factoid – cacao (the only form of chocolate you should be consuming) contains several components that make us feel all lovey-dovey. These are:
  • Anandamide, which has been termed “The Bliss Chemical” and is apparently being studied for use in treating anxiety and depression
  • Phenethylamin (PEA), which is a feel-good neurotransmitter (brain messenger) that is responsible for the feeling of love!
  • Tryptophan, an amino acid that serves as a precursor (starting point) for serotonin, our happy hormone that is often depleted in people who suffer from depression

Plus it tastes delicious, so you probably don’t need convincing do you?

BUT - word of caution - cocoa powder and your average store-bought chocolate (I’m looking at you, Cadbury Crème Egg) do not contain these loved-up bliss chemicals as the processing destroys them. And if we’re talking about aforementioned popular easter “egg”, the cocoa content is not even the part we should be worried about. There’s the sugar, the oils, the emulsifiers, the preservatives, the colours, the artificial flavours……just step away from the egg, people.

As a side note, does the Easter Bunny freak the shit out of you, too? Clowns too. Stephen King has a lot to answer for!

Image via myorganizedchaos.net
OK, so what’s a brother to do if he wants some chocolate, sans crapola? Make your own! It’s stupidly easy. And nutritious. And delicious. (Like what Nutella claim their product is, but they’re lying – don’t trust those bastards at Ferrero!)

Anywho, it just so happens that I am running a chocolate workshop at my house tonight and we are going to make lots of yummy chocolate. Bet you wish you could come, right? Well, you can’t, but I thought it only fair that I give you one of the recipes. This one contains gelatin (I only use GreatLakes Beef Gelatin, and so should you – all of the others are rubbish!). 

Why is gelatin so good for you? 

Lots of reasons, including:
  • It supports the growth of hair, skin and nails (it is a great source of bioavailable collagen and keratin)
  • It nourishes your joints and helps with joint recovery
  • It can improve digestion (the glycine content is very nourishing for the gut lining)
  • It provides an anti-inflammatory effect (and considering inflammation is at the root of all disease, this is a good thing, no?)
  • The glycine can also help improve sleep quality
  • It helps the liver to detoxify your body (again, the glycine helps bind up those bad boys)

I add gelatin to pretty much everything – smoothies, breakfast, soup, broth, and now…..


Now when I say “chocolate jelly”, don’t expect it to be all “wibble wobble, wibble wobble, jelly on a plate” (what? You didn’t sing that song when you were little?)

This recipe actually turns out more like a delectable, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate mousse. Here’s your how-to:

Makes 2 large serves (it’s pretty rich – you may want to divide it into 4)

  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 2 T cacao powder
  • 1-2 teaspoons honey (depending on how sweet you like it)
  • 1 T gelatin powder
  • 2 T water

  1. Add coconut milk, cacao, and honey to a pot over medium heat and whisk
  2. Combine gelatin and water in small bowl
  3. Add gelatin mix to the pot and stir well until dissolved
  4. When the mixture is warm, transfer into 2-4 small serving dishes (e.g. ramekins or cups)
  5. Place in the fridge for 30-45 minutes (or freezer to set faster)
  6. Serve as is or with fresh berries/coconut flakes

Now if you’re thinking “that’s not really a substitute for Easter eggs”, I say “stop being so ungrateful!”. Kidding. The team over at I Quit Sugar, as per usual, have you sorted with a variety of crap-free Easter options.

Happy Easter everyone! x