Tuesday, 17 July 2012

What is a healthy diet anyway, part 2 - finding paleo/primal

Having banished the worst of my IBS symptoms by cutting out all the fruit I was eating (especially high fructose fruits like apples, pears and grapes) I continued to read avidly about nutrition and was attracted to the paleo/primal way of eating that basically encompasses foods that we would have eaten back when were cavemen. The thinking behind this is that simply our bodies do much better if we eat foods that we were designed to eat, namely meat, fish, vegetables, eggs, nuts, seeds and some berries. It is not certain how long we have been eating grains but in the grand scheme of human evolution it is a short time and many people may not be well adapted to them. We are certainly not designed to eat all the processed foods now found in the modern supermarket and the prevalance of obesity and chronic disease today speaks for itself. I have a personal reason for wanting to stay as healthy as possible and live as long as I can as I had children relatively late in life (I was 40 when I had twins in 2002) so I want to be around as long as possible for them.

So, I began to adopt some of the paleo principles eating fresh foods whenever possible and very little processed foods. The major change for me was embracing fats which I had always avoided as I was brainwashed into the low fat high wholewheat carb diet that most people in the West eat today (and the one that is recommended by governments and health authorities). The big question was could I cut out grains? Fresh bread, breakfast cereals, sandwiches, scones - all foods I loved and enjoyed. Well so far so good, I haven't eaten grains for about 6 months now except for an occasional tiny piece of birthday cake now and again when it would look really churlish to refuse (more about the 80/20 rule in a future post).

So what drove me to finally cutting out all these foods I liked but decided not to eat? It was finding out that actually all these starchy carbs simply turn into sugar in the digestive system and the body treats them like any other sugar and raises insulin levels to deal with them. This constant assault on our pancreas to produce more and more insulin is what causes type 2 diabetes and leads to inflammation which in turn leads to disease. I was also motivated by looking lean and attractive into my fifties!

Since giving up grains and processed foods I have felt better, looked lean and my stomach is now flat (well as flat as it's ever going to be considering I carried twins to 37 weeks gestation!!). I wasn't really overweight before but did have cellulite on my thighs which has gone, and had the start of middle aged spread around my stomach which has also gone.  And the best thing is that I can maintain low body fat whilst never being hungry. So a win win situation!

Next post will discuss how to make a start on a paleo/primal way of eating if you want to have a go. Why not try it for 10 days and see how it goes?

Sunday, 15 July 2012

So what is a healthy diet anyway? Part 1

This is a tricky question which is open to many different points of view. Everyone has their opinions on this often based on government guidelines or information they have picked up from the media or organisations such as Weight Watchers or Slimming World if they have been on diets (and according to the BBC more than 1 in 4 adults are trying to lose weight at any one time in the UK).

Up to about two years ago I would have considered myself a very healthy eater. Lots of fruit and vegetables (I used to graze on fruit most of the day in between meals), wholemeal bread and pasta, beans and legumes and some meat and fish. I ate low fat versions of dairy products and didn't eat any thing I knew to contain a high fat content such as avocados and nuts. So I should have been my ideal weight and very healthy. However I was about 7lbs heavier than I am today, had cellulite around my thighs and had some very bad stomach problems such as gas, bloating and pain. Some evenings I would be so bloated I looked like I was expecting twins again (I actually had twins in March 2002!).

I began to search for answers to my stomach problems and came across some discussions about fructose which is found in sugary foods and fruits and how this can feed a yeast called candida which lives in the body but can overgrow causing IBS type symptoms. As I didn't eat much in the way of sweets I suspected it might be the amount of fruit I was eating that was causing my stomach problems. I cut out the fruit (I found an amazing book  http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Sugar-Fix-High-Fructose-Fallout/dp/1439101671) which details how damaging fructose is to health and lists foods both high and low in fructose which helped me to minimise the fructose in my diet.

I immediately began to see a vast improvement in my IBS type symptoms. Today I can eat small amounts of fruits, usually on their own or mixed into yogurt and usually low sugar fruits like berries without any problem. I steer clear of apples, pears and grapes and most dried fruits. I make sure I never eat fruit immediately after a meal too as doing so can cause the fruit to ferment on top of the other foods in the meal as fruit is digested much more quickly than other foods.

Whilst researching the low fructose diet I began to see links to paleo and primal type diets. The next post will discuss these diets and why I decided to try them out and what impact they have had on my weight and health.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Fruit is good for you - isn't it?

If you are on a weight loss programme, especially one that encourages calorie counting or low fat and high carbohydrates, it is likely that you are eating fruit as part of this programme, believing it to be helpful in a weight loss plan. Although fruit is a low fat food it is high in fructose, a sugar substance which can have a detremental effect on your weight loss efforts. Far better to concentrate on vegetables and salads and limit fruit to one or two portions a day of lower sugar fruits like berries. It may be worth completely cutting out fruit for a few weeks if you are trying to lose a few pounds and see if it makes a difference. As long as you are eating plenty of vegetables you will still be getting all the vitamins and minerals you need. Nutrititionist Zoe Harcombe explains more about the effects of fruit in this link http://www.zoeharcombe.com/the-knowledge/fruit-is-fuelling-the-obesity-epidemic/

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

If you do what you've always done.....................

There's a saying that goes 'if you do what you've always done you'll get what you always get'. Never is this truer than in the world of weight loss. When deciding that it's time to lose some weight most people dash out to the supermarket and stock up on low fat 'lite' diet foods such as fruit yogurts, skimmed milk cottage cheese, cereal bars and liquid meal replacements. They then spend a couple of weeks feeling very hungry but virtuous before it all gets too much and they cave in and eat a packet of chocolate digestives!! Believe me I've been there, (but not for quite a while). So why does this cycle happen?

It happens because the low fat diet food companies have replaced the fat with sugar and additives which are highly addictive to our human bodies. In addition many of these foods are not nutritially dense, meaning that they are not feeding our bodies with the vitamins and minerals they need to thrive and stay healthy. They also cause an inbalance in our hormonal system which is responsible for telling us when we are full. So, many good reasons to stay away from them!  What should you eat when trying to lose some weight? Good wholesome fresh unprocessed foods such as meat, fish, vegetables, eggs, nuts and seeds. What about fruit I hear you ask? There's a post on fruit coming tomorrow!

So, change what you have always done, break the cycle and you will see results!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

If you are trying to lose weight - ditch the diet foods

If you are trying to lose weight or maintain a weight loss you might be tempted into thinking that the 'low fat' diet foods on the market are the way to go. However these foods tend to be packed full of sugar and additives to give them an acceptable taste and will in the long run sabotage your efforts. If instead you eat real food comprising mostly of meat, fish, vegetables, eggs, berries, nuts and seeds your body will be better nourished and you will be less hungry and so able to sustain your weight loss efforts and meet your goals.

The article below is from the BBC website and is linked with a TV programme aired on BBC 2 a couple of weeks ago entitled 'The men who made us fat'. When fat was (wrongly many now believe) linked to heart disease a hugely lucrative industry of low fat "diet" foods were created. The article comments:

The creation of "low fat" promised an immense business opportunity forged from the potential disaster of heart disease.
Overnight, low-fat products arrived on the shelves. Low-fat yoghurts, spreads, desserts and biscuits. All with the fat taken out, and largely replaced with sugar.
The public embraced the new products, believing them to be healthier. But the more sugar we ate, the more we wanted.
By the time anyone began to ask if it was a good thing to replace fat with sugar, it was too late - but it was a decision with huge implications for the obesity crisis.

Read the whole article at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-18393391

The programme will be aired again on Wednesday 11th July at 02.30am and is well worth recording. I think many people will be very surprised about how the public have been manipulated by the sugar industry and how powerful this industry has been in surpressing any unwanted publicity about how damaging too much sugar can be to health and wellbeing.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Where to begin? Well, lets start by explaining what EAT REAL FOOD is all about. It's based on my own experience and the knowledge I have gained from studying health and nutrition. Two years ago I was plagued with IBS type symptoms which would flare up and cause me pain and bloating for days at a time. Whilst not too overweight I was carrying unwanted fat on my stomach and thighs which I hated and wanted to get rid of. In my research on IBS symptoms I realised how important it was to eat REAL food rather than processed and how detremental sugar is to our health and well being. I began to cut out most processed foods and focus on natural foods such as meat, fish, vegetables, nuts and seeds. I began to realise that this way of eating was close to how our ancestors would have eaten before grain based and processed foods became available. This is often known as the paleo or primal diet and is a blueprint for good health and sustainable weight loss. I'll be blogging about my journey with primal eating and offering advice, tips, links, recipes and more for those who are interested in primal living in the 21st century!