Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Following The Paleo Diet

Lately I've been reading more and more (mainly on the internet) about the Paleo (or Primal) diet. In fact, I think I may have mentioned the book, The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson before.

Despite having read the book, which incidentally is an easy and informative book, I still haven't managed to stick to the diet for a lengthy period.

However, I'm not easily defeated, and I keep hearing about how the diet and lifestyle will work to regulate hormones, balance blood sugar and sort out your cholesterol. The added bonus is that you'll be fit, healthy, slim and feel terrific. And a diet that encourages healthy fats and  grass fed meats is definitely for me.

So, why, so far, have I not been able to maintain the diet?

Like any diet, life sneaks up and sabotages it, every time. Celebrations, holidays, a dwindling supply of the right foods in the pantry and carbohydrate cravings have all been sent to test me, and oftentimes, I submit.

It's a bit like giving up sugar. You heard me rave about it here. I succeeded for more than four weeks. I felt really good for it. But then, I got pregnant, tired and sick and just had to eat whatever I fancied to get through, so I could feel "better".

So, with renewed vigour, I've decided to try the Paleo/Primal diet again. It is partly due the the fact that Michael has hypo-thyroid - it is borderline - not bad enough for drugs apparently, but enough to affect him with fatigue and weight gain. I've read that the Paleo diet will help regulate hormones, which in turn affect the Thyroid, so it's worth a go.

Michael loves his morning toast, and other grains too, but I thought we could just  give it a commitment for four weeks and see how we feel. I suspect we'll feel really good and will decide to continue.

Exercise is an important part of the Paleo/Primal lifestyle too. What I've learnt from The Primal Blueprint is that you don't need to do overly vigorous gym workouts (thank goodness!), but walking is great, with short bursts of exertion (much like going anywhere with Charlie! He walks, he runs away, I sprint after him!), and it is important to lift "heavy things" (Mark Sisson's words), to lift weights. I wonder if picking up a 14 kg toddler counts as heavy lifting?

I've been following the diet fairly closely for about a week and a half. So far I've done quite well. I still have toast for breakfast, but it is gluten-free sprouted grain sourdough, so I think it fits okay. I top the toast with smoked salmon and cottage cheese, or avocado. Sometimes we'll have bacon and tomatoes or mushrooms, Mike will have an egg (I'm not a fan).

My slip ups have generally been caused by sugar. I indulged in some Turkish Delight, which is pretty much 100% sugar, and had a hot chocolate when I caught up with a friend last week. I'm sure it had a little sugar in it, but I didn't sweeten it.

Lunches and dinners aren't difficult: we usually have some meat, and some vegetables. I have a fridge full of vegetables, and I quite like them.

We are both eating some dairy, and I know a "proper" Paleo diet wouldn't include them. The Primal diet, however, leaves some room for that, and it allows some dairy, preferably organic and fermented. I bought some beautiful Goat's cheese from the markets on the weekend. It was great on my morning toast. We also like to have yoghurt for a snack. We like it Greek and full fat. I have it with some strawberries or nuts to help sweeten it.

I hope that giving up most grains will soon become second nature. It isn't so hard for me as I've been gluten free for a long time. I think it may be harder on Mike, but I think he;ll be glad he did it when he starts to feel lighter, fitter, and well.

If you want to share great food ideas related to Paleo eating, then please do...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Family Holidays (Vacations)

 We've just got home after a week away on Rottnest Island. And what a wonderful week it was.

In fact, it was so good, we forgot to take photos. We were just too chilled out to bother! I do have a couple of pictures: the first one was taken at a seal colony, found down a track, right at the end of the road on the island. A very long bike ride, or a short bus-ride (we took the later on that particular day).
Watching the seal colony

One of the many things to love about Rottnest Island is the abundance of wildlife: the gorgeous quokkas, we saw whales breaching and blowing, the fabulous seal colony, ospreys and their amazing nests, cheeky lizards who ate our brownies on the beach and swallows who lived in our toilet - the nest built on the wall light.

Osprey nest
But there is so much more to love about our holiday at Rottnest Island.

I love that we get to spend a week with our dear friends, Rhiann and Aaron Gosper and their gorgeous kids (though the boys are grown now and we only had Beth this year). We are blessed to have such good friends, who have been loving and supportive and fun since we met them 18 years ago in Merredin. We can be ourselves, totally relaxed and comfortable with them. We drink many cups of tea  and coffee, complete the cryptic crossword daily(they are so much better at it than we are), drink wine, beer, gin and tonics and cider (in Rhiann's case), watch the sun go down at the pub, go snorkeling and swimming and sunning on the rocks at Ricey Beach and just chill out for a week.

The island lends itself to being a really relaxed holiday. Firstly, you can only get there by ferry or plane. There are only service vehicles on the island, so you ride a bike or walk everywhere. There is a general store where you can purchase everything you need, and it is in easy walking distance from your bungalow. The bungalow doesn't have a television, Internet access or telephone. Perfect, if you want to be cut off from the world. And it is relatively inexpensive.

I think family holidays are really important for children. As my friend Rhiann was saying, it gives them beautiful memories and the ritual of an annual holiday is also important. Our children benefit from the relaxed atmosphere, time spent with friends and the freedom to roam and play outside safely.

Charlie was the most relaxed he'd been in ages. Before we went away he was having regular tantrums, he was frustrated and angry, but we had very few altercations at Rottnest, and he really loved it, often saying,"we go to Rottnest house, not home", if we were out. Since we've been home he has talked about going back, and guess what?  We've booked for next year!

I'm hoping to keep the "Rotto glow" for a bit longer, but coming home to the clutter and complications of life is starting to wash it away!

Riding a bike on the island (despite getting a sore bottom) has renewed my love of cycling, so I'm hoping to get a bike for my birthday this year, and hope to ride it regularly. I always feel healthy and happy on the island, and I think it is due to all that fresh air, time with friends, exercise and sunshine...Ah, bliss.Oh, and the afternoon naps.

Charlie slept so well at Rottnest