I have a dear friend at work that is also very interested in food and the whats good, whats bad for us equation. We can spend all day talking about this on a deeper level cos we just ‘get it’. I love that she challenges me to think outside the square and makes me really investigate various food ideas or thoughts that we see in everyday living.
I recently attend the Low Carb Down Under seminar that was in Sydney last weekend. Over lunch this week I was explaining many of the points that lead me to the conclusion that I had been over looking for so many years, that sugar – more accurately, Fructose – is what is making us ‘fat’.
Now, my friend is an avid fruit fan, she used to eat upto 6 or 7 pieces a day and believe that this was ok because she didn’t consumer ‘sugar’. A few months ago I introduced her to the Paleo-ish style/low sugar diet idea and she saw some amazing discoveries in her body and general wellness. She realised that she was relaying on fruit as a ‘pick me up’ in the morning and especially mid afternoons. But always believed that she was doing the ‘right thing’ as fruit is good for us, right? Well it does contain many essential vitamins, fibre and not to mention antioxidants! But now she sat across from me in our cafeteria with large blinking eyes, shaking her head in disbelief with a feeling that she had been ‘fooled’. Someone had been telling her lies! I suggested that she shouldn’t be hard on herself as, in fact, the entire world has been sold this story in previous decades, this is what we knew and so this is what we were told. Now we know better, just like how we now understand that asbestos built houses are not OK. We did what we thought was best as the time. I wholly accept that.
So back to our discussion at lunch time on low sugar…. She looks at me and says ‘ I hear what you are saying but i just don’t believe that something that comes from nature, that is a gift from the earth for us, could be bad’. ‘Yes’, I said, “But its all farmed now, and fruit isn’t what it used to be, it now so hybrid and modified that its hardly the same as its original species”. She went on to mention that fruit has been around for centuries and that we have been eating it and she was now not convinced (however she is proud to announce that she is only eating 2 pieces a day now). Well, I looked at her over the sandwich press and thought; perhaps she had a point. This really P’d me off. And challenged my thinking towards the whole fruit caper too. So I went away to ponder this.
And realised that; Yes fruit is from nature and we can eat it. BUT – and this part is important; we forget that fruit is seasonal, influenced by the weather and other conditions and what is available to you is largely dependent on the climate you live in.
What that means is:
- Fruit was often only around for a few weeks (seasonal) when the tree you were living near was producing ripe fruit.
- You only had what would grow near you – i.e. apples and mangoes do not grow in the same climates or same conditions
- Cold storage didn’t exist – so we could only consume it for a small period of time, unlike how grapes our in our Supermakets in winter. This is NOT what happens in nature.
- There was no such thing as ‘imports’.
Our ‘caveman’ relo’s would have eat it. They would have freaken lost their minds over how great it tasted too. And they would have gorged. Which, when you are living the caveman lifestyle totally makes sense. Think about it. Many fruits are often only ‘naturally’ around before the winter or after a fasting period. So as you might know fructose, when its digested goes via the liver to be transferred into either glycogen (a energy source for the liver) or fat, which is exactly what you would also need if you were about to ride out a winter in a cave and all the other animals that you would rely on for food would be in hibernation. Our bodies don’t detect our consumption of fructose like it can when we eat fats, proteins or glucose. This compromises our ‘appetite switch’. Translation; It takes a lot more fructose for us to feel full than any other energy nutrient. Therefore when we consume excess fructose we gain fat stores. Simple really.
I completely believe that we are designed to eat fruit. It is natural after all. However Mr and Mrs Caveman didn’t have a Boost Juice store around their cave corner.
So again, while I am here to help you make more informed choices I am not saying avoid, banish or burn either.
I happily consume fruit, mostly in the form of berries (they have the longest seasonality – and different varieties and its lowest in sugars)) as I find them more versatile and easiest to buy frozen and use when I need. I NEVER eat fresh fruit that is out of season for where I am living. But absolutely LOVE a mango or yellow peach when they’ve just come into season. (more on food energetics later)
Treat fruit as a ‘treat’ and you might just learn to appreciate how magical it is. And when you do this, your reasoning to be able to afford organic, locally grown might just be changed.
I love Christmas. Oh that feels so good to say as an adult. I love seeing twinkling Christmas trees up in peoples homes, Christmas carols playing in every single shopping centre, the trees along main streets wrapped in dodgy fairy lights and Christmas parties.
When I reflect back on all the Christmas parties that I have been too, one thing comes to mind; The Christmas Food! Its so weird that we go all silly with our food at this time and even stranger, we can so easily justify it and right it off as ‘normal’ eating when we over indulge and have fruit-mince pie’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I think this is the reason why I love Christmas. According to various experts that do random studies (I share this as interest, not a hard and fast fact) but we put on an average of 0.5kg to 1.5kg over the two weeks around Christmas. I have seen this first hand in myself. So what I wanted to share with you today is a few hints that might help you navigate the ‘Pre-Christmas Party’ food traps and avoid a sugar hangover on top of a traditional one.
Let’s assess our food options. Parties are generally a finger food affair. Translation; lots of high calorie unconscious snacking traps. I am not here to give you all the ‘healthy diet at Christmas tips’ cos lets face it, they sux and no one every adheres to that after their second glass of bubbles.
In saying that here are a few of my practical suggestions;
Don’t eat before you go – we are weak when it comes to finger foods. They are so delicious looking, beautifully presented, gives you something to do when you have no one to talk to and well, they taste really good. But have one or two big glasses of water as your getting ready or in the afternoon before you get there.
Listen to when you are full. Go and eat the party food – but notice when the food plates start to look a bit sad and have that ‘the dregs’ look perhaps it’s a sign that your done too?
Don’t stand near the food table – it’s just too easy to keep grabbing for another if your right near it. But when they come around enjoy!
Alcohol – I’m not here to give you the dos and don’ts around alcohol. But I know in myself I have an ‘F it, who cares’ attitude after a few glasses – which is when I will keep eating – because I can’t feel my hunger/fullness message anymore. Enjoy a few drinks; know when you are festively merry and when you are an embarrassment to yourself. (I know for me its around 4 standard drinks)
Oh, and have food before your first sip – it will send the right message to your stomach and brain.
Type of drinks; beer, wine, dry/non sweet bubbles and clear spirits ie vodka are all acceptable as they don’t contain fructose. Avoid soft drink – this includes tonic water. Mix with soda water and a squeeze of lemon or lime.
Type of foods to enjoy;
If it’s on a skewer its prob ok – chicken, beef, and prawns are usually served on this – they may come with sauces so go easy – however a teriyaki marinade won’t be to damaging.
Cheese plater – have a few big hunks of cheese – this will make you feel very satisfied and full quickly. Avoid the dried fruit and lots of crackers – however 4-5 thin wafers with your cheese is totally OK in my opinion. Sometimes you need the crunchy vessel for the food!
Avoid the deep fried stuff ie spring rolls and wontons– not that its sugary – but that is usually fried in cheap vegetable/seed based oils (more on the harms of oils later)
Enjoy a party pie or sausage roll if they are there. These are usually small and very filling. Go easy or avoid the tomato sauce, its often half sugar.
If there are veggie sticks for dipping – fill up your plate with this. Then add on your cheese. You can easily pick at this all night and not feel like you are missing out.
By the end of the evening you should feel comfortable full – not stuffed. This makes it easy to say no to the sweets or cake that might be around. But I have noticed that now I am off sugar I don’t go looking for it anymore – where as in the past I would get nervous and anxious waiting for the cake to come out. I’m cool and relaxed about it now. So when I have this attitude, I can take it or leave it. And 9 times out of ten I don’t see the need or desire anymore.
As you can see there are super easy ways to navigate your way around the buffet table. I’m happy to answer any questions you have about certain foods or options so feel free to throw some at me!
Until then, go forth and enjoy your pre-Christmas joy confidently and without the calorie counting or guilt.
I will be posting a Paleo Christmas day food guide in a few weeks. It will contain some food recipes and ideas to help you avoid the millions of questions from your relo’s about what ‘diet’ are you on now.
Until then have a happy sugar free silly season
Read this and it just might change how you purchase your meat for the rest of your life.
I was reciently at a conference where a topic of conversation from one of the speakers was grass finished meat. I felt a bit embarrassed as someone who is really into the food and produce, had, in actual fact, never heard that specific phrase before. Sure, when it came to livestock, i’d heard of Grass Fed, Grain Fed, Corn Fed, Free Range, Caged, Grazing Lots and so on. But i had NO IDEA that what happens to an animals last 60 days on this planet, could actually be dangerous to OUR health!
Cows are an interesting beast. I once dated a guy that had a small cattle farm in northern Victoria. They had about 140 head of cattle on approx. 260 acres. Often we would go to ‘the farm’ for our long weekends or holiday breaks and do a bit of ‘farm work’. This is where I got a closer view of what happens on a working farm. We would spend hours in the paddocks herding and ushering (with great amusement to everyone) the cows from one ‘eaten down’ paddock on to the next aka grazing rotation. (Vitally important in any sound farming practice). But the question that I was always asking when we lined them up to be transported off (beef cattle remember) was, what happened to them once they go?
I’ll break it down;
Grass Raised – a dirty marketing phrase.
Beef cattle that are grass ‘raised’ means once they are weaned off their mothers milk they are put in a paddock and feed off either grass that grows on the ground or hay (if its a bad season). Either way they eat grass while being growing. Once they are big enough to be sold for their meat they are then shipped off on to a ‘holding lot’. This is where they meet often hundreds of other cows and hang out in barren, tiny, dust covered paddocks or concrete holding stalls and fed grain or commercial cow feed pallets. This is to fatten them up- quick. They will live out their last approx. 60 days here. While here they often get sick from breathing in dust filled with their own feces or if its wet, standing in a muddy sewer. Often there is a dose of antibiotics added in the ‘grain’ to help keep them well enough, for just long enough.
Sounds bad huh? Well it gets worse…
The nutrition content of beef is rather extraordinary. High in protein, essential minerals such as zinc, iron, magnesium, calcium. Great levels of energy vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B12 and Vitamin E. But interesting, beef also contains the fatty acids omega 3 and omega 6 and polyunsaturated CLA (conjugated linoleic acid). The ration of omega 3 and 6 when they leave a grass fed environment is 1:1. When they are feed grain or a grain mix the levels can go as high as 1:25 – favouring omega 6. This is where you should be concerned. High levels of omega 6 can cause a variety of health issues associated with inflammation in the body often presenting itself as atheroscleorsis, arthritis, asthma and so on. Omega 3 on the other hand is know as the anti inflammatory helper – so once this ratio is compromised we are more susceptible to lean towards the diseases associated with inflammation. (more on the ratio later)
Grass Finished on the other hand is exactly that. The cow lives eating grass until its the right size to be sent to market for meat consumption. There is no holding lots for 60 days until they fatten up. This is how our animals should be treated.
How the heck do we tell the difference?
So if you like me and this is new news, its because they don’t have to claim it on the label. I have NEVER seen grass finished printed anywhere on my meat label if I am buying from a supermarket.
A butcher informed me that you can tell from looking at the fat. The fat is often more ‘yellow’ in colour due to the grass. Whereas a grain finished animal will have fat that is very white. Perhaps there is something in ‘you are what you eat’ saying after all.
So i urge you to ask the questions. You are the end user and you have the right to know how your produce is being raised. Besides, we expect the imported fruit and vegetable origin to be made known.
Starting at the butcher is a good first step. They love to discuss their produce, its what they do. If you are unsure or don’t use a regular butcher just begin slowly and try not to lead the conversation. Perhaps just enquire around what regional area the meat comes from, or is it grain fed? Ask how the meat was ‘finished’. If you are not convinced than thats ok, try another. Or go online, all supplies that sell grass finished are extremely proud of their produce and will want people to know about it.
The more we seek out the food we want, the retailer will have to begin to provide it. They want customer satisfaction after all – and repeat sales!
Oh, and for the record – the cattle that I helped to herd is grass finished…
See, happy cows!
AGE = Advanced Glycation End (products).
What do you think of when you see or hear the word ageing? Old people? dying? wrinkles? nursing homes? Denial?
I always thought that ageing was something that happened to other people, more accurately; people OLDER than me. I was somehow immune to it. I truly believed that it wasn’t happening to me until the other day when I mentioned that so and so was around the same age as me. To that my friend replied, ‘No, they are 28’. ‘Yeah’ I said, ‘I know, similar age to us!’…. She said; ‘Lis, you are almost 32’…. I just aged 3 years.
Since then I haven’t given ageing much more thought, until earlier this week.
Some of you know that I work for a large complementary supplement company in Australia as a product developer. And as part of that role I often get the chance to meet with people who are experts in many health related fields. On Monday this week i meet a professor who is literally an expert on AGE(ing).
Lets talk Advanced Glycation End products. (I’ll try not to get to techie here)
These little suckers are the bodies markers or indicators in how we age. It is basically a (chemical) reaction between a protein and a sugar being modified inside our body. When these two things connect and ‘modify’ they turn brown and go somewhat hard and crusty. Hence the term ‘Old and crusty’. Nice huh!
These reactions occur all over your body every minute of every day and can be accelerated by other factors such as stress, alcohol, smoking and excessive sugar. Good news is our body has another super power called; AGE-receptors. The good receptors swoop in and assist in removing the AGEp from the body. Phew right? Well, sort of.
As we age by years our ability to clean this up reduces and we get a lot more modification of proteins and sugars in our body, which results in a hardening and browning of cells. This is a perfectly normal process of life, however it can be impacted by a few external factors.
So what does this have to do with food?
I mentioned browning before. Thats the link here. We see this above reaction all the time in food, its often what makes it taste, smell and look better i.e. like when we witness our food turn a delicious golden brown colour when heated.
Cooking steak on the BBQ gives it grill marks; this is from a reaction between protein and sugars in response to heat – chefs call it caramelisation. You now know it as AGEp.
But don’t stress this AGE-ing process can be slowed and reduced by small alterations in your diet.
Raw is our best answer to avoid ingesting more age promoting factors, but that isn’t everyones cup of tea. So here are some tips to help us minimise and slow our AGEing:
- Avoid burnt foods – this applies to everything from burnt toast to the last lamb chop. You can cut the burnt edges off your food if it happens, its better than nothing.
- Cook with humidity; use water methods. poaching, steaming, boiling. Have you ever seen a poached egg with burnt edges? No – water keeps the AGEp reactions away.
- Oils -cook ONLY with Coconut oil or Ghee (clarified butter). Many other common oils are unstable in high temps which cause them to alter their chemical structure and go rancid, not good. Gentle heat can be used for olive oil, but no stir-frying or grilling. you can stir-fry with water.
- Onion and garlic contain a chemical compound called allithiamines. These contain the vitamin B1 or thiamine which helps reduce the AGEp formation in our body.
- Potatoes, broccoli, sweet potato and carrots contain a natural substance called Alpha-lipoic acid, which can prevent AGE modification.
This might be a bit on the heaver side of ‘the whole-food truth’, but it is a truth that we are currently avoiding. Granted it is much more sexy (and tasty) to have a flame-grilled BBQ chicken than a poached drumstick. I don’t ask you to do away with your hotplates and woks for a totally raw food existence, I just want to bring your awareness to some new science that may help keep us from crusting over before our time. No matter how smart we get, we still haven’t found a way to stop ageing, but at least we can help hold it off for as long as possible.
I do urge you to do more investigation in AGEp and as i find out more I will continue to keep you all informed.
Aarh, breakfast. Possibly the best meal of the day.
It can be sweet, savoury, big, small, hot, cold, liquid, solid, blended, powdered or blended.
In a cup, in a bowl, on a plate, in a wrapper.
It can be eaten with a spoon, fork, knife, straw or your hands.
You can go casual, get dressed up, drink alcohol that early without judgement.
And always is synonymous with coffee.
But with all that choice we can sometime forget that breakfast is often the most important meal of the day because it is literally ‘breaking (the) fast’ which translates to ‘ we haven’t eaten for 10 or so hours and now we are starving’ (or not hungry, which is a liver thing; more on that later).
So we have the responsibility to our bodies to do it good. It has just spent the last 10 hours in slumber so it can repair and recover from yesterdays stress’, exercise, work, food, alcohol so you can see another day through with ease. So right now you are probably feeling a bit guilty as you shoved white toast, smeared with margarine and jam in your face and then balanced a cup of coffee as you raced to get to work or the school drop off on time. If this sounds familiar than I am really glad to hear that as this is a perfect place for you to start and adapt a tiny change in your daily habits that will see you reap benefits that are 10 fold. congratulations!
Just eat it. If you are currently not then we need to start here. As mentioned above we have just gone 10 hours without food. our bodes are so finely tuned that it will switch over to ‘starvation mode’ and slow our metabolism right down to begin to preserve energy as it thinks there is now a food shortage. So lets prevent this and switch on our metabolism with food.
Quality of the food is equally important. To make this as easy as possible i advise the following guidelines
1. avoid cereal in a colourful box that contains a toy
2. if your bread doesn’t have visible grains or is as white a your sheets – its not ideal (go for dark, dense and grainy bread types)
3. Does your cereal look like nothing in nature i.e. shaped like a toy, square, or coloured? avoid. Go for grains or seeds that look like, well… grains and seeds.
4. Get creative. mix it up. I often add a spoon of this and a spoon or two of something else to avoid boredom.
Best spreadable options:
- Make an avocado smash by spreading avocado and then smashing some fetta or ricotta + cracked pepper onto toast for an easy, low GI, busting with good fats, option.
- Any nut butter i.e. cashew, almond, macadamia (try and avoid peanut butter – unless it is freshly made i.e. at a health food store)
- Tahini + honey for something sweet. Tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds – opt for the ‘Unhulled’ option, its usually a darker brown colour, it contains loads of calcium.
- Smash ricotta and berries on to toast with a sprinkle cinnamon for a more cafe style option.
My current fav ‘sit down’ breakfast options is Chia, Linseed and Coconut mix
- 1 tbs chai seeds in 1/4 cup milk or coconut water – let this soak for 5mins so it becomes like a pudding
- 2 tsp LSA or linseed meal
- 1 tsp coconut meal – shaved or shredded
- 1tbs puffed millet (or any other cereal or grain)
- pinch cinnamon and salt
mix everything together and add 1-2 tbs of natural yoghurt and 1/2 cup of seasonal fresh fruit on the top.
My Green frozen pudding breakfast
- 1 frozen banana or Berries if you want a lower sugar count
- 1/4-1/3 cup coconut water (or milk)
- 1tbs chia seed or LSA
- 1 stalk of Kale – remove stem
- a few sprigs of parsley or other green herb you like – lemon balm or mint is good.
- 1-2 tsp of coconut oil/butter (in a liquid form)
- optional add 1 tsp green powder like wheat grass etc)
Blend all ingredients in a blender or bar-mix. It should be firm and frozen. spoon into a glass, sprinkle with coconut shavings and or other nuts. Eat with a spoon or straw.
This is a great low GI breakfast option that you can mix up and take to work with you if needed. It contains loads of fibre and essential omega oils, along with vitamins and minerals that are naturally occurring in the grains, seeds and coconut.
Give it a go – get creative with it. Breakfast is a time for options. If you don’t love your first choice you’ll know for tomorrow and can give it a crack again.
Whats your fav breakfast choice??
i’ll add some takeaway breakfast options for people on the run.