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.