Wednesday, April 10, 2013

the follow up food post

Remember the last time we talked about food? It was a couple of months ago now, in this post. But I remember being blown away by the comments, and fascinated by the different and sometimes similar approaches that you were taking. There was certainly a lot of food for thought in those comments (pun not intended). Also some great videos recommended there within the comments that are worth checking out. It is a subject that is close to my heart and one I feel very passionately about, as food is our life force with the ability to both damage and heal. The more I have read and learnt, I have found the more there really is to learn.

So you might be wondering if we have stuck to our "primal" way of eating. That is, using traditional foods, good saturated and monounsaturated fats (butter, coconut, lard and olive oil), local grass fed, ethically produced meats, home grown and organic vegetables and fruit (where possible) and good quality dairy. Grains and legumes are supposed to be limited and when eaten they are generally soaked overnight to get rid of the toxins, as traditional societies have always done in years past. All while avoiding sugar, white flour and vegetable oil.

Within the past few months we have changed drastically the way are eating. I began the "diet" myself, and felt so good after a few weeks (beware the sugar and wheat withdrawls though) of eating differently. Especially difficult was cutting out bread and any flour products, but after those first few weeks I found I had plenty of energy, my weight returned to it's pre-baby size, my skin was clearer, I stopped getting the 11 o'clock and 4 o'clock shaking (when my blood sugar must have been dropping) and I actually felt a lot happier within myself. It seemed my previously "good" diet was contributing to so many minor issues. Of course one day these minor issues can turn into something bigger.

While on holidays I read Wheat Belly. This book focuses on wheat as being the biggest source of our health problems since the 1950's. Apparently the wheat we eat now is not the wheat that our ancestors ate, but a hybrid variety with far too much gluten. Hence when we eat this bread, even an organic or wholegrain loaf, it is like getting a huge sugar hit. Which over time, does very bad things to the digestive system. It has been linked to many modern day diseases.

So I read much of this to Daniel, a die-hard pasta and bread fan. To my surprise he agreed to give it a go. Over the next few weeks, he felt constantly sleepy, achy, headaches and then a burning pain in the stomach. But he stuck to the way of eating, and through research, I began adding fermented saurkraut, kefir and apple cider vinegar (with the "mother") to our diet. A few days later the symptoms had disappeared. He says he has more energy, feels more calm and he has lost some weight. For the first time in years looks like he did when I first met him.

The kids are still eating bread, but I try to give them a good quality rye sourdough (which I am yet to learn to make at home) as they just love bread. I don't buy any sort of processed snack food or cereal anymore, so this is the compromise we make. Yes, we've had many heated discussions over food at home, as they want the homemade cake, bought muesli bars and biscuits that all the other kids are having. It is a difficult challenge, but we are getting there. Now they have a buttered rye sandwich for lunch with a filling (cheese, tomato, nut butter, tuna, salmon etc). Recess is often cheese sliced (usually Nimbin cheese or a mild camembert), nuts, homemade yoghurt or homemade popcorn. They seem to be getting used to the changes. In the afternoon I might give them a simple vegetable soup (one batch lasts several days) with rye bread and butter.

Breakfast now usually means eggs, fried or scrambled, sometimes with bacon rashers, but often with avocado or tomato. About once a week we have porridge with oats (soaked overnight) and served with lots of cream and a little maple syrup. Sometimes I make Sarah Wilson's Granola (her website is a good source of information and recipes).

We've stopped being scared of good fat, seeing it as an ideal fuel source, and a little goes a long way. So now we snack on nuts (often activated using this method), good quality cheese (cheese saved both of us during the early days of bread cravings), olives or yoghurt. We still drink coffee, often adding a spoonful of coconut oil or cream as well as full cream milk.

Lunch is often a salad with cheese, nuts, ham or tuna added, leftovers from the night before or cooked vegetables with melted cheese.

Dinner is usually a moderate portion of meat with lots of different vegetable dishes or salads. It's not really very different to usual, but I no longer fall back on pasta and bread to bulk up a meal. If we have dessert it is cream with nuts or fruit and a little maple syrup or honey.

It has taken a lot of adjusting, but the benefits have been well worth it. The thing is you don't eat less, but you do feel full sooner, because it is the wheat and sugar that switch off the "full" switch that we naturally have. I actually feel 10 years younger, when I thought that my loss of energy was the inevitable consequences of aging.

My own parents, who always ate bread with every meal, have also begun adopting this way of eating. They struggled at first, but the weight has begun dropping and my mum (diagnosed with early advanced osteo-arthritis) is finding her condition actually reversing. She is enthusiastically telling everyone she knows!

Some books you might like to take a look at:

Primal Body Primal Mind :  Beyond the Paleo Diet for Total Health and a Longer Life 
A comprehensive explanation of what our distant ancestors ate and why that is what our bodies are designed for. Also how to avoid degenerative diseases by changing our diet.

Nourishing Traditions :The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats.
This is my food bible. As well as the thorough information on what to eat and what to avoid based on the studies of Weston Price, Sally Fallon provides excellent recipes and methods of how to prepare food correctly.

Wheat Belly : Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight and Find your Path Back to Health 
Looks at what is wrong with our modern wheat and the many benefits in avoiding it.

Coconut Oil Miracle
 A look at the many wonderful health benefits of an oil that has been avoided for so long.

Sweet Poison : Why Sugar is Making us Fat. 
What sugar is doing to our bodies.

I Quite Sugar : The Complete Plan and Recipe Book
Sarah Wilson's inspirational story on why she gave up sugar as well as how to quit. Lots of good, simple recipes.

Big Fat Lies
The dangers in highly processed vegetable, canola and seeds oils (which is virtually in all processed food).

Wild Fermentation : The Flavour, Nutrition and Craft of Live-Culture Foods
Simple fermentation recipes and why our bodies need fermented foods daily.

I am certainly no nutritionist, and I believe everyone must make up their own minds how they wish to eat. But I am happy to relate my own and my families own experience, in the hope that it may help somebody else out there. I know that every body and every family is different. What may work for some may not work for others. I do encourage you all, though, to do your own research, don't accept what you are told at face value, ask questions and find what works for you and your family.

I would love to hear about your thoughts and experiences on this.


  1. We eat very similarly! I find hubby has much better health and weight loss when he is on holidays and I feed him 24/7! Just reading Toxic Oil- so good!

  2. Ah, I just lost my goes again.

    As you know Tania, we adopted a more wholesome diet last year in a bid for me to naturally treat some ongoing health issues. Over time I slowly starting allowing breads/pasta-rice back in and starting paying the price for them all over again. More recently I started eating more primally and within days feel the benefits. I was no longer waking up feeling exhausted and like I hadn't slept a wink, the brain fog that had hung over me for so long had finally dissipated, the aches and pains I had continually were much less, the unexplained skin rashes were clearing and today after a few weeks my bp readings are normal.

    I've gone a little more extreme though cutting out all dairy besides kefir, all grains and all sugar bar that consumed with fresh fruit. I actually caught up with a friend yesterday and to test my body had two cups of tea with milk and this morning I feel tired and lethargic so I know for sure now that dairy doesn't agree with me.

    Initially when we were adapting our food changes we had complaints from the kids,especially our older two but over time they have adjusted and still have the odd naughty food occasionally.

    Good on you for taking your health into your own hands Tania. After listening to the Healthy Life Summit talks this year I have comet to realise just how little Doctors actually know about nutrition and it's effect on disease.

    That's a great book list there. I am still yet to purchase Sally's book and have read all but the last two. Is Big Fat Lies David G's latest book?


  3. Hi Tania, I am new to your blog but am totally loving it, I am a mum living down in Sydney with little girls, one almost 2 and one almost 6. We did the whole Weston Price / Primal sorta diet last year and one thing I will mention just for you to keep in mind was that even though it brough great benefits for our family (i was especially excited about the lack of sinus and the weight loss) but after a few months i found my eldest daughter was quite cranky, moody and lacking energy. At the time i thought it was just angst about starting school but the more i thought about it, she wasn't eating a lot of slow-digesting carbs. Lots of fruit, yes and a sandwich each day from good bread, but in the end i had to add some grains back in and the effect was instantaneous. Since then we have tinkered a bit with our way of eating and have achieved a balance that works for our family :)
    Hope that helps!

  4. great post... I really need to cut out my refined sugar just struggling to find the willpower! What are your thoughts on spelt? Thought it might be a good option for making bread for the kids.

  5. Hi Tammi - so happy to hear you are feeling good. We all seem to be fine with dairy, but I know there are a lot of people intolerant. And yes, that is David G's latest book.
    Hi Lauren, thanks for the tip. It seems some of us can exist without grains, but some of us still need a bit in our diets.
    Hi Susan, when I do bake for the kids now I use spelt or rye, but I'm finding it hard to find a lot of information. As far as I know it is better than modern wheat, in that it has less gluten and does not spike blood sugar levels as much.

  6. This is such a great blog post Tania. I find this a very overwhelming topic at times. I'm always questioning whether I'm getting it right - plus eating well takes so much time and planning. We have been attempting to eat a Nourishing Traditions style diet for many years - sometimes I feel like we get it right, but other times we fall off the wagon. Our local baker makes us a slow-rise spelt bread and I do buy plain crackers at times. So we have wheat, although minimal. I've been battling a skin rash on my face for quite some time. I've seen naturopatha and doctors and no one has an answer except to say they guess it's related to food in some way. I gave up eggs recently but with no improvement. After reading the comments above I feel it's time I really cut out wheat once and for least to see where it leads. Goodluck with your nutrition journey. It sounds like you are on the right path for your family.

  7. Really interesting post Tania!
    I love baking bread too much to give it up, but find myself very satisfied with home baked bread, only baking small a loaf or two a week. We also have our own home-sized grain meal, so all flour is ground fresh as we need it. We also use "Spelt" wheat, which is suppose to be very close to the old traditional forms of wheat.

    Have you tried using rapadura? it's just evaporated cane juice, no processing. It contains many nutrients and vitamins and good actually be labelled as good for you! We use rapadura and honey now instead of refined sugars :-)

    Sarah x

  8. We have GOT to make some of these changes to our diet. Thank you for posting this info and the list of books to read.

  9. Okay, you've convinced me Tania, I'm going to try going wheat-free for a week (just me not the rest of the family for now) and see how I feel! I have not read the argument about today's wheat being so modified before but it makes sense. So long as I can have oats and corn and rice I think I'll be fine. Thanks for posting all this and those book references too. I really appreciate your moderate, sensible take on it all. Zealous Paleo converts etc really just make me want to go and munch on a baguette ;D

  10. We have also completely changed how we eat over the last few years (in particular, the last few months). We consume FAR less sugar than we used to and have totally eliminated white flour. I buy non-genetically modified, organic, heritage wheat from my neighbour (farmer) and we grind it fresh for bread making which means that we are incorporating all the fibre, protein and oils from the germ into the flour. I only make 100% whole wheat bread and am currently working on perfecting sourdough so will transition totally to that using this fresh flour. If we are out and end up eating anything with white flour we all feel AWFUL. In fact, just last night, we had pasta with our meal (very rare) and I felt so horrible afterward, I have vowed not to do that again.

    I also soak oat groats overnight and typically serve them with a big spoonful of natural peanut butter stirred in with a tad bit of maple syrup for the kids and a few slices of banana for me instead of the syrup. The peanut butter really holds us well for a long time and for me (I'm sensitive to eating a meal without protein) it levels out my sugars and blood pressure.

    My only other trick is to eat veggies EVERY time I eat be they raw or cooked. It makes me feel SO much better when I do that consistently. I aim for a protein, lots of veggies, a healthy fat and a very small amount of TRUE (non gmo) whole grain every time I eat (meal or small snack). When I do that, I feel full of energy and supremely healthy. If I get lazy and eat only one or 2 food groups, my energy flags and I feel horrible very soon after.

    I am currently reading Nourishing Traditions and am really keen on it. It makes perfect sense to me. Our diet will continue to evolve as I learn more and increase my skills in the kitchen. It feels really good to taking charge of our food (which really means taking charge of nourishing our families, doesn't it?).

  11. Thanks for this awesome post, it's really got me thinking on how we can improve our diet. Will definitely be borrowing some of your recommended books from the library. Your blog is a favorite, so thank you! :)

  12. Ive just started, I have been seeing a doctor, who has quite strong opinions on sugar, diabetes, hormones etc, so with some natural hormone therapy happening, I am now on the diet part of the 'new me' phase...Its only been two days in with the no sugar and no carbs, but I will stick with it...he said around 6 weeks to start feeling better and noticing some weight I am looking forward to it...I like the fact that I can still eat nuts, dairy I really dont feel I am missing out on very much at the moment...I think your food changed for your family sound great...and its something we can all do to make sure ourselves stay healthy and our kids grow up with some good eating habits too....we have never skimped here on butter, olive oil, cream, and full cream milk....and my children are no where near overweight...I believe it is the sugar....thanks for the reading list too...

  13. Great post Tania, I'm changing my diet around in a very similar way to yours. I've just started taking raw apple cider vinegar before meals, and I think it's really helping. I take in warm water with a little honey. For the kids, I'm using almond meal or part almond meal and spelt in cakes etc which they don't notice, and rapadura sugar. Unfortunately I can't send it to school though, as the school is nut free, which is a bit challenging when I have a very fussy eater! I have put a link to your blog and blog post on my blog. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  15. I used to consciously eat a very "healthy" diet coz I believed it was the best thing for my health.
    Then - a couple of things impacted upon me.
    Firstly, my 50 something year old father-in-law who had the classic Mediterranean diet which supposedly protects from heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer - all fruits, vegetables, legumes, olive oil, very little meat, etc - developed bowel cancer followed by diabetes.
    Then, my husband who had brain cancer at 29 and was given a 5% chance of survival - rejected the normal route of following an organic "healthy" diet that many very ill cancer patients follow and decided if he was gunna cark it - he was going to go out eating all the comfort foods he enjoyed and that included junk food. He was the fattest cancer patient on the ward - and miraculously he survived. He has continued to follow this theory and has gone from strength to strength and at 44 this year is the picture of health (there's a photo of him over on my latest post). He came back from the Peter Mac Cancer Hospital yesterday with a glowing report - good cholesterol, blood pressure, sugar levels, vitamin levels and no nasty cancer creepy crawlies in his blood.
    So....I've thrown up my hands in the air when it comes to good foods and bad foods - I don't think it makes much of a difference which way we go.
    I'm a bit of a fatty with no health problems - my younger sister, skinny - high cholesterol and pre-diabetic!
    What the....!!?

  16. Marvellous read....we too are slowly but surely in the wings of change but organic and grass feed meat still eludes us. Cost is the biggest factor however good food fills you for longer than empty carbs or sugars. For months now we have been only eating whole meal spelt and make our own bread. And processed foods now pretty much only are nut bars. I tend to snack on a few walnuts with a date or a few goigoi berries. I also make nut and date bliss balls which go down a treat with the kids. Still need to try some sprouted grains and I also would like to try out those activated nuts. Would loe you to share some of your broth and fermented food recipes ;)

  17. Interesting post Tania, just one question for you. We are big pasta eaters and I was wondering what you use in place of pasta?

  18. I gave up gluten and dairy almost two years ago. Within 48 hours I was full of energy, and over time lost 8kg.. Unfortunately I have multiple intolerances so a lot of the foods you eat are out of bounds for me. Interestingly, the doctors who designed my diet believe that sugar is not a problem, and in my case I agree. I still bake with gluten-free flours and eat as many vegetables, cashews and legumes as I can tolerate.
    So glad your diet is working well for you, it's one I've been looking into lately. Life feels so good when on is well and energetic!

  19. very interesting Tania, food for thought for sure!! I'm starting to think that too much bread makes me feel yick. and I don't even touch that white stuff...
    Just wondering about your kids sandwiches for school - nut butter on their sandwiches ? is that ok at your school?? (nut policies) ? Im forever finding lovely recipes with almond meal.. so my girl doesn't end up taking those ones to school :(
    I have nourishing traditions, I love the stuff in there, but honestly, it seems so overwhelming !! especially some of the ingredients ! oh well, little by little I suppose!!
    thanks for the inspiration!
    it must be getting chilly there by now?
    (we have returned back to Sydney and I am not missing the coldness of Canberra!)

  20. Interesting! I am lazy so haven't researched food much. I just try to use food that is natural. I just borrowed Nourishing Traditions from the library. I feel ver behind the times. I'm looking forward to reading over the next three weeks.

  21. Sarah Jane - yes, I have used rapadura with much success in baking before. I should get some more to have on hand for special occasions. Most of the time we sweeten with maple syrup and honey as it's easier to get here.
    Little Home in the Country - I love the sound of your diet. I must look into a grain grinder for fresh flour making.
    Head in the Sun - This is very interesting. I have firsthand seen some holes in the "Mediterranean diet" and I suspect it may not be what they ate in this region a hundred or so years ago. Good on your husband for re-claiming his health. I am wondering if he follows the traditional Aussie diet of meat and three veg much of the time?
    izzy57 - We were BIG pasta eaters too, but I couldn't really find any other carb option that I was happy with as most still contain wheat or white rice, which is probably still okay in moderation. But we found it easier just to eat meat and vegies. I guess our tastes have changed and we no longer crave it like we used to.
    Lauren- Nut products are fine in our smaller school as no students have nut allergies, but I understand that is a rarity these days. I too found Nourishing Traditions overwhelming at first. But I took it one step at a time, with significant changes to diet slowly over the past three years. Just take a bit at a time. Perhaps start out with sourcing good quality meat or soaking grains? Yes, the mornings have been chilly, but the days are hotter than usual for this time of year. Wishing you all the best in Sydney :)

    Thank you all for your informative and inspirational comments :)

  22. Hi Tania, I have been reading your blog for a couple of weeks, and finding so many interesting ideas here. I'm liking the idea of your diet - I have Nourishing Traditions on the bookshelf, and thoroughly embrace the 'good fats' without reducing the white flour/sugar.. it is something I really need to work on with the family. How are you finding the cost of this diet compared to previous eating habits?

  23. Hi Jo - I stopped buying a few of the "healthier" processed foods I was buying, and also a lot less flour and sugar, but this has been replaced by extra cheese, olives and more vegies. It probably costs about the same, sometimes a little more, because a sad fact is that carbs are cheap to fill up on. Sourcing bulk meat direct from the farmer can be a big saving though, as well as producing as many vegies as you can and having your own chickens (something we are working on!)

  24. We haven't purchased bread at all here for the last three or four months and to start with it was a bit of a struggle with bread often forming the base of many meals. I sometimes still make flat breads and pizza bases as a 'bread fix' but we're not eating it on a daily basis anymore.
    Thank you for the book reviews too. I have added Nourishing Traditions to my wishlist.

  25. I found this a really interesting post as I have been diagnosed with high blood pressure (inherited trait) and medium cholesterol in the last 6 weeks. Having had pregnancy diabetes at 36 yrs of age, and the experience of diet changing to manage this so I didn't need medication, I know it was just lazy eating and having an uncompromising partner who will only eat meat and 3 veg that was keeping me unhealthy. I'm trying a new diet similar to my diabetes plan and making sure I exercise on a daily basis so I'll see if it's made any difference when I have the follow up blood test on the 15 April. I know my blood pressure is lower and I'm positive it's not all related to the medication. I've also lost 3 kilograms without actually dieting and I never feel hungry.
    Cheers, Robyn

  26. Hi Tania, I watched Food Safari on Thursday and watched them make the most delicious looking rye sourdough, made with a buttermilk starter. Follow the link to it.

  27. Wow Tania this is amazing! As we plan to move to the Country and become semi-self sufficient I am more and more keen to learn about improving my families nutrition. I've cut out all processed snacks for the kids (although it doesn't stop the grandparents sneaking in some snacks) and they do grumble that their lunch box isn't like their friends. I've made a note of those books you have recommended, so I'll be doing some research for sure! thanks so much for sharing x

  28. Such a timely post for me Tania. I clicked straight over to our libraries website and put my order in for each book on your list. So many people must be thinking the same way, as each was lent out and some had long queues. :)

    We have been eating 'clean and lean,' since my sister introduced me to James Duigan's book, which changed the way I thought about certain foods and our meal plans. We have introduced more nuts, more eggs, olive oil and protein in to our diets and cut out juice, soft drink and processed foods entirely. We have cut down on sugar, but cutting out bread and pasta has been difficult for me. Especially with my thyroid problem and breastfeeding, I always feel hungry and bread is the only thing that makes me feel full for a little while. I look forward to finding replacement meals and ideas with your helpful book list. Thanks lovely! xx

  29. Hi Tania, thanks for your comment on my blog today. Funny to click over and see your tidy kitchen :) This is a fantastic post, so detailed and helpful for people especially those just starting out thinking about making changes in their diet and as one commenter noted the great thing about your post is your inclusive tone rather than the zealous tone that often goes with people following a particular way of eating. I compile a list of links on my blog on a friday I will link to this one I think my readers will enjoy it too. Have fun on the school holidays xx

  30. Hi Tania
    I've been catching up on some blogs and just read this post. I found it very inspiring. I am feeling motivated to embark on the better diet I used to follow. Thanks Tania.

  31. I very much agree. Yay to the apple cider vinegar... I am interested that you experienced the mid morning/ mid arvo shakes as well. Mine have gone without the bread and 'white' foods...
    Protein and lots of salads/vegetables and nuts.


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