I decided to restart writing this blog, I took a look at what I’d
started out with some 4 years ago, and it struck me how much has
changed since then both in my life and in my eating habits.
always considered that the food we ate as ‘healthy’ (while not being
raw-vegan-organic-Eton educated etc.) but looking at my scrappy
notebooks of shopping lists and menus, I think we were in denial!
we ate a fair amount of variety, almost every dinner was and
mashed potato, and
bread. Then there’s the unaccounted for M&S sarnies (someone may
have had 2 at a time – ahem) while out on a shopping trip. The crisps
and dip with a few beers before dinner. The nachos in the bar,
because we were being good and not ordering burgers and chips.
Crumpets with jam or marmite, because I needed them 😉
decided to give Paleo a go at my husband’s suggestion, partly for
health reasons (he’s a bit of a running fanatic) and due to the
research we’d read about the effects of sugar and wheat on the body.
Having both suffered some minor, and major, symptoms it seemed worth
a go. Plus, being given the green-light to eat meat & fat – where
do I sign up?!
are you on a diet?
you’re on the gluten-free thing, then?
you get bored eating meat and vegetables every day?
it’s Atkins 1.2
you eat then?
heard these things a few times since I changed my eating habits last
year. I’ve also realised how little some people know or understand
about the food they eat everyday – my favourite; you don’t eat pasta?
Have couscous instead, that’s really good for you!
let’s address a few of these.
someone who has always been fairly-slim, and moderately active with a
snobbery about commercial junk-food, I’ve never gone over a UK size
10-12 and I didn’t set out to lose weight. So I was surprised
when I suddenly fitted into a size 8 – most of this was due to losing
inches off my bust, so actual weight loss was only about 5kg. The
biggest difference for me was the extra energy I felt and
stabilization of my hunger – no more 3pm dash to the vending machine
for a Double-Decker hit. No more hangry (hungry / angry) episodes at
I do avoid gluten, but I also don’t eat the ‘gluten-free’ food
substitutes such as tapioca, rice and corn, and I don’t eat sugar or
starchy legumes either (easy to spot – they look and behave like
seem to be a lot more restaurants now who serve you meals without
sides as standard now, which makes things easier. Plus it’s a lot
more interesting for me to eat steak with beautifully wilted spinach
and dressed green beans than the standard ‘chips’.
can’t think of a better way to spend a weekend than grazing over a
stack of food-porn and cooking up a storm. I thought cutting out
processed food would be easy enough, as we’ve never been ones for
ready meals and I don’t have a sweet tooth, but I was surprised at
just how much processed carb-based food we were eating by way of
rice, pasta and bread. A bacon sarnie on the weekend for brunch,
fajitas for dinner, the occasional pizza, antipasti with ciabatta to
mop up sauces….. I digress. At first, I was unsure how I could make
a whole week of menus, let alone a month’s worth, without repeats and
the dreaded oh, so it’s carrots and peas again. So I dug into my
stash of food magazines and trusted recipe sites for inspiration –
even then, so many were only half a meal with the final line: Serve
with crusty bread
or the bigger cop-out: Serve
with seasonal veg…
what veg? cooked how?
Bing’ing and checking dozens of ‘Paleo’ food blogs, I found a couple
I liked. There are a lot of food-nazis out there who want to jump all
over bloggers for daring to include a teaspoonful of sauce that has a
wheat or soy derivative in the ingredients, or < SHOCK
> include cheese, and I ain’t got time for that. Paleo-friendly
versions of things like fish sauce or soy sauce are available in some
parts of the U.S. and at specialist stores, but elsewhere we don’t
always have that choice. Given the choice between a smidge of
wheat, or no Asian food – I’ll take my chances. To (badly) quote Voltaire
“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good”.
no, I don’t get bored. I feel like I’ve entered a whole new world of
food and have never been more excited by cooking. Looking back at my
old menus, we were eating pasta at least twice a week, and sometimes
bread twice a day – surely you’d get bored with that?!
isn’t a ‘diet’ – it’s a lifestyle choice, like being vegetarian or
vegan. Broadly speaking, Paleo (or Primal) diets include meat,
fish, fruits, and vegetables. It can be high or low carb. Atkins can
have processed grains and sugar. As long as it’s low-carb, that’s
main focus for me is to eat good quality food, and to enjoy it. I
don’t want franken-foods and, having cut them out from my diet,
I’ve seen what wheat and sugar do to my body and mood if I
eat everything! Meat with fat, fish and vegetables with full fat
dairy products (in moderation, not due to the fat content but because lactose
is a sugar) and fruit (again, in moderation due to fructose). Eating
real food is satisfying in flavour, texture and nutrition. It does
take a little longer to prepare than an oven ready meal, but actual
cooking time is often less and I tend to make more than 1 meal at
a time anyway while I’ve got something to use up and the oven is on.
The fact that most meals are prepared from scratch, and can’t be
eaten without a fork, means food is savoured and not just troughed –
think how easy it is to eat a hamburger. I could eat 2 without even
noticing, and I’d still be hungry after. I don’t count calories, but
for those who do: 250 calories * 2 = 500 calories. That’s about the
same as a salad with goat’s cheese. NAUGHTY! It’s about choices. I’d
rather have option B and not be hungry after (and not have a bloated
stomach or insulin spike soon followed by the crash).
Obviously, you’ll have spotted the price difference there, but this
is a meal we’re talking about here; something you do 3 times a day,
putting food into your body. By not going for the leanest, prime-cuts
of meat, you also cut the price significantly. By eating consciously,
there is less need to snack because you know
you’ve had a meal, and protein + fat = satisfied.
for what exactly we eat; well I’ll be updating you on that soon 🙂