Monday, August 25, 2014

My Paleo Choice

So it has taken me about 10 years to get to this point in my life where I finally feel like ' I get it'  with regard to food, health and nutrition. I don't purport to be an expert and I realise that everyone is different and our bodies react differently to food. 


Caveman Fast Food - Banksy
A friend of ours actually started on his Paleo journey early last year and I remember thinking he was crazy. "How can he give up gluten and all grain? He's not even a celiac! What about the wonders of wood fired pizza!!!" I said to Pete. Meanwhile, Dave was losing weight, getting fitter, feeling better and he had a certain glow and confidence about him that we all seemed to be lacking. 

It's very easy to be resistant to things we don't understand or choose to ignore.

my health history
My road to good health has been a fairly long one, and I'm still on it. But, for the first time in a very long time I feel good, I have more energy, am no longer hungry between meals and I'm losing (my baby) weight. 

As long as I can remember I have suffered with stomach pain, low platelets, and frequent and long lasting colds, flu & bronchitis.

The catalyst for change was a severe case of the flu where I literally couldn't get out of bed for several days. It was terrible. In the months ( and years) leading up to this point I had suffered through countless colds and my doctor could not offer any reason as to why I got them more than most. Not only did I get more colds than most but they lasted longer and often developed into secondary infections requiring antibiotics.  

the dietitian
In my early 20's I started seeing a prominent Sydney dietitian - who not only cost me a small fortune, but after a series of tests, had me on a diet plan packed full of fibre, soy, lean meats and dairy. A healthy Thai takeaway (no curry) was also promoted and I'd often grab a stir fry on my way home from work or uni. I was actually quite fit at the time and was going to the gym at least daily sometimes twice and wanted to make sure I was eating the best I could for my body. 

But my insides were struggling. 

I would get up each morning, consult my expensive diet plan and have my bowl of All-bran or wholemeal toast, some low fat dairy or protein and a big glass of low fat soy milk and I'd head off to work or the gym. And whilst I looked pretty good on the outside, my insides began to rebel. I often had stomach pain so bad I would be doubled over in pain convinced that my appendix or gall bladder had burst. 

After more tests including that for celiac disease - I was assured by my dietitian that I was on the right track and should continue on her plan. But things got worse. So much so that I ended up at the doctor one day crying in pain. An x-ray of my gut revealed a frightening image. My high fibre dietitian-endorsed diet was having the opposite effect. 

After realising my dietitian wasn't helping, I decided to save my money and try and work it out myself. For years I was convinced coffee was to blame for some of my problems and so I went through periods of not drinking it. It didn't work though, I still got pain.

I was so confused. 

Busy working shift work and studying, I just battled through it. 

Fast forward to 2011 and I went to my GP in tears and in pain begging for a solution. Blood tests revealed I had low platelets but nothing more and ultrasounds were all clear. He then sent me straight to an allergy and clinical immunology specialist. 

Finally, I was getting somewhere. 

After a series of specific food related tests I discovered I was allergic to soy and wheat products.  This was my aha moment. 

The specialist told me that most people have some level of wheat allergy mainly due to the highly processed grains we eat. She also told me that allergens can build up in our bodies for several days before symptoms present and therefore it can be hard to determine what is causing the problem without proper recording and testing. 

the trainer
I flashed back to years earlier when I trained with Steve Willis aka The Commando


Steve Willis - Image Source: Commandosteve.com
At the time, Steve told me that he avoided grain related carbs and instead preferred to get his carbs from vegetables and urged me to do the same.Whilst it wasn't referred to as Paleo back then, it is something which he strongly believed in - A good balance of protein, carbs from vegetables, healthy fats and some fruit. He also believed strongly in the success of the 80/20 rule - 80% comes down to what you eat and the remaining 20% relates to how you train and move. He also told me I should look at food as fuel for the body. I wish I had paid more attention to these principles back then.

I remember he told me that every now and again he would test his body - He told me of a time where he had dined out with his family at an Italian restaurant and had eaten pizza and pasta. He said it left him feeling heavy, bloated and depleted of energy for the next few days. I remember thinking that Steve was on to something but I was too young and busy (not disciplined) to really implement it. Instead I trained hard and ate some of the things Steve recommended and I lost weight and got pretty fit. I felt pretty good but still had pain and would get colds more frequently than most. I just put it down to shift work and being busy and kept going. 

the paleo lifestyle
Getting influenza fuelled my interest and research. Enough was enough. Following on from what I had discovered through allergy testing, I had a chat with our friend Dave who directed me to some great podcasts, websites and general Paleo principles

Photo Source: Robb Wolf

To get an idea of what these principles involve, Chef Pete Evans describes them in a recent article:


"In an (activated!) nutshell: the paleo way promotes the minimisation of sugary and starchy foods, moderation of protein intake, the liberal consumption of fibrous vegetables and greens (raw, lightly cooked and/or fermented/cultured), nuts, seeds, eggs (if tolerated) and as much dietary natural fat as needed to satisfy the appetite and support the brain and nervous system.

A small amount of seasonal fruit is optional.

The diet avoids grains, legumes, conventionally-raised meats, conventional dairy, non-organic produce, GMOs and processed foods.

We embrace 100 per cent organic, pasture-fed-and-finished meats, wild seafood from unpolluted waters, free-range poultry and pork (with no hormones or antibiotics), wild game (if available), organically-grown produce, nuts, seeds and healthy sources of natural fats" - Pete Evans.

Pete Evans is also about to launch The Paleo Way and here is a sneak peek - To view it just enter the Password - 'Paleo' 

I have been following these principles for a while now and feel the best I have ever felt. My choice to do so has been a means to heal my body from the inside. Once I started to investigate the the inflammatory effects grain and other foods can have on the body it all started to make sense. I am confident that this type of lifestyle best suits my body and I urge you to do your own research and hope you can join me.

a new direction
In light of this new lifestyle, I'm excited to announce a new direction for this blog. The Food Mentalist will now examine the role of food on our health and include recipe favourites without gluten, grains, refined sugars or dairy. This new focus is great for those that follow Gluten-Free, Paleo, and Primal lifestyles.  I hope this blog can help inspire you to get healthy and nourish your body. Even small changes can make a huge difference to our health and wellbeing. 

I also urge anyone who suspects they may suffer from any form of food intolerance,allergy, related pain or reaction to go see a specialist like I did. There really is no need to suffer through it.

2 comments:

gaby @ lateraleating said...

Welcome to the paleo trenches!

Helen (Grab Your Fork) said...

Great to hear you've had success with your health! So appalling to hear that the dietician's diet was making things worse too!

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