Wednesday, February 13, 2013

on food

I've been doing much thinking and reading on food lately. I was feeling less than healthy after the excesses of the holidays and the conveniences of being away.  In the space of a month I'd experienced a cold, a very sore wisdom tooth and swelling in one foot. I couldn't even wear my favourite sandals anymore. It had also been quite a stressful time with the fires, but I knew this was more than just stress. It is easy to get off track sometimes, and I'm noticing this far more in my 30's than in my 20's. It was so easy to bounce back then.

So I'd begun taking more care with our diet again. Lots of soups and salads on the menu. Homemade bread back on the menu. Within a week my gums were back to normal, though I was almost convinced the previous week that I would need to visit to the dentist.

I re-read Nourishing Traditions. Always a wonderful reminder of how our diet should be. For those that haven't read this book, it is full of traditional recipes using the ingredients that have nourished people for thousands of years. It is the complete opposite to everything we have been told about what we "should" eat. Grass-fed beef, animal fat, butter, vegetables, raw milk, eggs, fermented foods including dairy and grains that are soaked are all on the menu. There is also much information on what Sally Fallon describes as "new fangled" foods, the dangers in foods such as most vegetable seed oils (with the exception of extra virgin olive oil and some unrefined nut oils), sugar and white flour.

We watched Food Inc, after reading about it here on the Down to Earth blog. Though I thought I had read and watched a lot on food before, I really did find this shocking. I knew that cheap food came at a cost, but I was unaware as to just how far this goes. The animals, the farmers and ultimately the unaware consumer are all the victims in this billion dollar food industry. It is a very sad state of affairs.

While browsing through the Amazon reviews one night I stumbled upon Primal Body Primal Mind : Beyond the Paleo Diet for Total Health and a Longer Life, of which people had some very positive things to say about. So I ordered myself a copy and once arrived, read it within a week. It advocates a similar diet to that outlined in Nourishing Traditions, but with less emphasis on grains. Grains are to only be eaten once soaked, and preferably not at all. Starchy food is also not recommended. This is a version of the the Paleo Diet, based on what our ancient ancestors would eaten. Being a hunter gatherer, there was meat, seafood, animal fat, vegetables, dairy and small portions of grains and fruit available. According to the book, our bodies were designed to burn fat (mostly saturated) as fuel rather than carbohydrates (anything made with flour, sugar and grains).

I read this with great interest. I am not one to say I follow a particular diet, as I don't like to label how I eat, nor do I believe in diets. I know I could never completely cut out grains. Or potatoes or beans. But we can eat less of them.  I did cut out sugar (again) a few weeks back and I've cut out white flour, although I'm still eating oats and other soaked grains once a day or every second day. I've been baking the kids spelt bread, leaving the dough out overnight for now. Though we do still sometimes sweeten with maple syrup or honey and we do eat fruit. We've been eating quite a lot of eggs, salads, yoghurt, nuts and local grassfed meat with lots of vegies. Often with liberal amounts of butter, coconut oil or olive oil. Unfortunately I've had no success with sourcing raw milk in our area of no dairy farms, short of buying a cow for ourselves one day. You never know.

I'll admit that the first week of no wheat and sugar had me falling asleep virtually every afternoon. But this week I've got my energy back and then some. I'm feeling less hungry, particularly in the late afternoon which is always a low energy time for me. Also less bloated, and in a consistently better mood.

I don't know how sustainable this is in the long term, but I am definitely hoping that it will be. It is a rather drastic change considering that for many years our diets revolved around white wheat products and sugar. How I used to love bread and sugar.

As a bonus I'm able to wear my favourite sandals again. After about six months of minor swelling,  it completely disappeared almost two weeks ago.

Did you see Food Inc?
Have you ever tried a Paleo or traditional way of eating?
Have you read any interesting books or blogs lately on the subject of food?


  1. I did see the start of Food Inc Tania but had to turn it off. I've always been a cook from scratch person but it worries me how these large brands are tricking consumers. I always feel so much better the more raw the ingredients are. Its amazing.

    Anne xx

  2. I watched Food Inc too Tania and found it really confronting. I made some changes post that (sourcing meat from an ethical butcher, buying fruit and veg from the farmers market), most of which I have been able to sustain, and am relying less on the supermarket run. I'm still in the process of dropping the sugar but I think you may have more will power than me - I can't give up chocolate for the life of me! :) Great post.

  3. Really enjoyed reading this Tania. Yes I've seen Food Inc and I posted a link to it on my blog for all to see while it was showing on SBS. We eat well but I know I need to read more, because some of the information is confusing. Like you, I wouldn't follow a strict diet either, but I would like to incorporate more traditional food methods in our day to day meals. We buy organic food (and grow a bit too) and only eat grass-fed meat and free-range chicken. I cook with coconut oil, butter and olive oil and our milk, though not raw, is non-homogenised and organic. I've just this week started to make my own kefir and I'd like to make bone broths and things with gelatin. I have so much I want to do. So thank you for posting these book links. I'll look into them. x

  4. Haven't seen Food Inc but will search it out now that you've mentioned it.
    I have been grain free sugar free for a few months now (with a break for Christmas, ahem!) and yes it is tricky. I've read Nourishing traditions and agree with all she says, although I cant quite return to meat eating after being vegetarian for 22 years ;o) But I have upped our fats and eggs and lessened the grains for all of us. We have always been pro fats so that was no hardship but no grain for the whole family would be too difficult so I do the best I can by substituting quinoa or buckwheat for most recipes and using honey and stevia for sweetening. Bread is a dilemma and something I really miss!!
    I feel so much better without the sugar but it certainly takes some will power for a sweet tooth to give it up!! If you can manage for 2 to 3 weeks then its all good from there!!

  5. A really interesting post Tania - definitely food for thought. Lovely photos too - can I ask how how you are going to cook the sliced golden zuchinni?

  6. Hey Tania :)
    A topic close to my heart, as you know. Sounds like you are doing very well.
    After some playing around and trying different things, I now know that gluten and sugar and too many grains are not good for me. I am sugarfree, gluten free, and have other grains rarely. I feel great. Lots of good quality animal fats (organic and grassfed), coconut oil and milk, butter (yum yum) and EVOO. And the weight is dropping off me steadily.
    It is worth the sacrifices (oh, how I miss iced coffee!!!)
    Sally Fallon is awesome, and I love Jude Blereau, Michael Pollan, The Mindful Foodie (Lesh).... these are my food heroes.
    Keep it up!

  7. I'll have to try and borrow Food Inc from the library. It sounds interesting indeed.
    Yes whole raw milk is hard to come by. I was only able to get it when I worked for a dairy farmer neighbour.
    Have you considered gettimg a milking goat rather than a cow? She would take up less space and cost less to maintain and feed.

  8. Excellent post. That's exactly what's been happening here too. I cut out sugar 3 weeks ago and feel so good, I've lost a bit of weight which is a bonus but best of all I not a tired and cranky mum. We’ve seen Food Inc and it totally shock and appalled my husband who sheep and cattle farmer. It is a wakeup call for Australians to make sure our food industry never gets that awful. I will have to check out those books.

  9. Great post Tania! Good on you and what a wonderful mother and wife you are.
    I'm not even nearly as food conscious as you are, however I believe wholeheartedly that just eating good food that has sustained us for generations is the way to go.
    I think you should get a cow! My mum and dad milked our pet cow and made our butter and cream for our whole childhood, it was the best and my brothers and I still hardly ever get sick.

  10. Hi Tania,
    I saw Food Inc earlier this month and posted about it on my blog.
    I thought that I knew a lot about food, but this has certainly opened my eyes to industrialised food and how the animals are so badly treated.

    It made such and impact on me, that as of last week, I have changed to only purchasing free range, pasture fed meat with RSPCA approval.

    Although we are only a one income family, I will rearrange our finances to ensure that we can afford to only eat ethically produced meat.

  11. Hey Tania, it is so good to hear another person taking control back on what she and her family eats! Well done. I am with you on most of what you are being inspired by but I am not into meat and dairy so much. I grew up eating everything bad, then was vegetarian for 5 years and felt much better. But the refined carbs and sugar have done me in and I now have insulin resistence. With that in mind, I am venturing into the world of raw vegan. It isn't as boring as it sounds. I have recently discovered a delightful aussie mum living in Saudi Arabia who is an airline chef and accredited raw chef. You can find Robyn at I totally recommend her site and recipes. Even if you just do one a week. Last night we had her Beetroot & Butternut Pasta with Cheese Chive Sauce. All raw and all vegan and it was delicious. Even my meat-eating husband devoured it and asked me to make it twice weekly and the sauce especially for a spread for his sandwiches. The recipe is in her free ebook. Love your photos as usual. And congrats on getting yourself well again. xx fi

  12. One does not have to give up chocolate. I've been making my own chocolate with coconut oil, cocoa, lower GI versions of sugar (coconut sugar) or more natural forms of sugar (Maple Syrup) for a few weeks now. It is incredibly simple to do and so tasty.

    I'm not 100% paleo yet because that is a huge jump for me to take - if I had to describe my diet at the moment it would be more primal than paleo. I like a bit of dairy. I am going to try the whole 30 at some point, when I have the time to prepare properly for it.

    Potatoes were another one I was not sure I could give up however you can substitute sweet potatoes and I have had a lot of success with that. I prefer them now. I just wish it were easier to find sweet potato fries out and about.

    The side effect of cutting back on sugar and cutting out high GI carbs for me was losing my appetite completely. I just never got hungry anymore. I have to remember to eat.

    Is it long term sustainable? At home, for sure. When you have to go out in the world it becomes a bit more difficult.

    I've been posting some about this on my blog, and also sharing some recipes.

  13. Hi Tania, You should jump onto You Tube and type in Fat Head documentary. This guy is amazing. He is totally against the billion dollar food industry and believes also that we need to get back to basics. He is dead against grains as you mentioned. The whole documentary and concept is amazing to watch. Take a peak if you get the chance. xo

  14. Thanks Tania for this inspiring post. I haven't seen Food inc but will definitely track it down and watch if now. Some food for thought in your post and lots of great comments worth considering. Food is a topic we can all get in on, we all need it!

  15. What an inspiring post Tania, thank you. I am off to source food inc and a few of the other titles you have mentioned.
    I suffer from severe depression and on a mission to "fix myself" by changing my diet dramatically. This post has given me the kick and a point in the right direction.
    Also pulling my bread making skills out tomorrow I forgot the smell of freshly baked bread can be so amazing

  16. I'm a new follower who just had to say how much I enjoy your blog, I spent last evening reading quite a few of your posts, I'm glad you're feeling better, its amazing what eating the right foods can do.

  17. I've just ordered Food Inc from the library. It's something I've been meaning to see for a while and you've inspired me! As to books and blogs, I really recommend Jude Blereau's books, particularly her 'Wholefood for Children'. I make her fabulous minestrone (with no pasta) recipe from that book all the time! And last February a friend and I did one of Heather's online workshops, which I found really really great! Here: I know what you mean about getting back to eating really nourishing food. It does make you feel so much better. And the creative and meditative aspects of cooking are just an added bonus! Love your blog Tania. fiona x

  18. Sally's book is excellent, although it is a lot to take on board! We cut out white flour & sugar a few years ago. Oh the withdrawals and cravings we suffered!
    Then we even stopped buying wholemeal flour, and buying wholewheat & spelt instead....then we starting buying grain and grinding our own! I know everyone thinks we're a bit crazy...but the food tastes better and I feel better for it.

    Now we eat our own home grown beef, only eat poultry when we have grown it ourself. Now we have to get pigs and wait for our dairy calves to grow and give us milk.....

    Katie at House of Humble did an interesting post on Ethical Eating the other day by the way :-)

    Sarah x

  19. Hi Tania,
    I think It is great that you stopped and read and watched and made changes relating to food and your health. In our home we have had to make drastic changes fast. Our youngest became very ill and after an agonising week in hospital we found that she has been suffering coeliacs disease and will for the rest of her life. As a family we decided to all go gluten free to support her. Prior to her illness I knew little on this disease, i have seen the damage food did to her little body and her insides it really made me aware of ingredients and has driven us to make other changes regarding where and how we will buy food and what more we can grow. I am finding that the gluten free diet requires you to use so many strange ingredients and a lot of starches. I am concerned about this and need to research if there are ill effects on this in of itself and you mention starches so i am now wondering.
    Thanks for the post!

  20. I have not yet had the time to watch Food Inc but it's definitely on my must view list.
    I think if you make a commitment to eating a certain way Tania it eventually becomes second nature. Last year when we embarked on a more wholefoods diet I was skeptical that we would be able to maintain it but I just refused to buy those foods we were trying to cut out and before long we weren't even missing them. That's not to say we don't slip up from time to with friends is still my biggest challenge but it's getting much easier to avoid eating the things I used to be tempted by.
    Good on you for taking your health into your own hands :)

  21. Hi Tania,
    Please watch the DVD
    'Forks over Knives'. It is made by a Heart Surgeon and a number of other doctors speaking out about the Western Diet. We are constantly told to eat meat for protein and milk, yogurt etc for strong bones. But in fact all these things are bad for us. The western diet leads the world in heart disease, diabetes,kidney disease and obesity. It has changed my life completely. It is also the same diet President Clinton is on. Please watch this dvd and make up your own mind. Peace.

  22. Food Inc is pretty eye opening isn't it. The image of that chicken farmer picking up the dead birds on a daily basis was something I thought a lot about later.

    Diet, oh it's a funny thing. Since Christmas I have been playing more with sprouted and raw dishes with really happy results. Also cutting way back on the sugar and wheat baking. Hard as, damn I love it!

  23. If you found Food Inc. interesting, I recommend Forks over Knives.

  24. Hi Tania ,
    You have a wonderful blog! I always look forward to a new post.
    Have you heard of Dr. Natasha Campbel Mcbride ...she has written several books on importance of our gut flora.She has cured her son from autism as well.
    In this short video she explains why so many people suffer from auto imune diseases.I hope you find it helpful .

  25. I also watched Food Inc and was shocked and so glad to be a vegetarian! We are trying to go a bit more into raw food but I am very interested in what you've mentioned here - our food heritage as humans. I have found and use a useful website that lists places to source most things ethically when shopping and use that when I can....although, for example, we love cheese and dairy things but the bobby calf issue has presented a conundrum, not to mention the carbon footprint of dairy I very much look forward to hearing about your journey with this as it is something I have been wrangling with a lot lately.

  26. Wow I have loved reading this post and got very excited. You are talking my passion (some say obsession LOL). Yes to watching food was yet another edition that changed me to live the way we do. I did a post the other day about our food and write there always about getting away from the scary, money making suckers around food. As far as raw milk have you seen Cleopatra's? It is great. "Bath milk". So nice to read about other people looking and questioning what is on our plate. Thanks for this read..xx

  27. Hey Tania! I am your newest follower! I found you through Amber's blog and have tried some of your recipes! I will be featuring your daily bread recipe on my blog in a couple of days! Thanks so much for the inspiration! I look forward to journeying along with you!!! Nicole

  28. Hi Tania,

    I have slipped into the ways of convenience in recent months and am making effots to step back to more natural and home-made dominance for our diets too.

  29. It's sad we actually have to worry so much about the quality of our foods, isn't it? I'm going to go look up that book you spoke of now. We always strive to grow our own or buy local when able. Anyway, I just love your blog and wanted to tell you I'm passing on the Super Sweet Blogging Award to you! It's fine if you don't accept awards, just know I think your blog is so sweet!


Thank you for leaving a comment. If you have any questions please check back later as I will do my best to answer any within the comments section.