Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Keys to the Paleo lifestyle

Diet is a word I hate to use, for goodness sake, I am a chef, so why bite the hand that feeds you (pun intended). 

No-body wants to be on a diet. Eating this way is a lifestyle change. We try to eat well, and that means real food, not fake, processed food. Eat lean meats, and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Do we have cheat days? Of course we do, but better to view all food as fuel and the cleaner the fuel, the better the burn.

I have been on a bit of a crusade of late, brought about by a health crisis which was killing me. Fortunately, I got a second chance at getting it right, when so many people don’t. So if I appear to be on my soap box, I have a vested interest in my future well-being and hopefully yours.

I hasten to add, that I “stumbled” on the lifestyle known as Paleo whilst researching medical and nutritional sites to help me combat my drastic health slump. I wasn't looking for a diet, I was searching for an answer to deal with my health issues. I had noticed that the choices I had already made, were reaping drastic results and I wanted to know why? Was it chance?, was it temporal? or was my eating habits that were bringing the results?

The term Paleo is an enigma really and I prefer to refer to my changes as being reverting to “whole foods” and refusing any foods which have gone through a processing plant. 
I need to qualify my expertise here. I am a trained and qualified chef with 40+ years of practical experience, qualified in: food and meat technology, butchery, bakery, meat inspection, small goods manufacturing, adult teaching, work place assessor and life coach. I love food and it nearly killed me!

I think I am qualified to make an informed observation with a vested interest in a positive outcome.

First of all, I had to acknowledge the state I was in, despite medical intervention and following their advice and medication, I was getting worse. The medications were having ongoing effects on my body, from high blood pressure, protein in my urine, kidney pains, stomach pain, cold sweats, ridiculously high sugar levels, dizziness, abscesses, depression and general feeling of un-wellness. I couldn’t sleep or focus. My weight (though I had lost 15 kg) was still in the obese BMI range. My diet was sensible and I don’t drink, smoke or take drugs, so there was little left for me to do, yet I was getting worse on a day by day basis. 

My inspiration came from a bible passage found in the book of Ephesians 6:13and having done all, to stand”. The two keys are found in its verse:

  1. We need to do what is within our ability to do (eat the way we were intended to eat)
  2. Make it a habit by starting, continuing and sticking to the plan. Do and Stand.

Blame is useless and unproductive. I can be consoled by professionals that call my state “a genetic issue”, I can blame the pharmaceutical companies for their toxic blends, even the scientists and medical professionals for not providing a cure, but the truths are far more sinister than that. I believe it comes in the boxes, packets and cans that we open on a daily basis, because we “trust” the labels.

We have been conditioned by our governments to believe that the food manufacturing regulations are safe and by following the latest scientific viewpoint we will be fine? My question to them is this. Why do we have a worldwide diabetes epidemic? Why is cancer so prevalent in the western world?, and why is natural fat bad for us, but sugar isn't?  

Well let me answer that for you! Because our food source is processed and adjusted in order to last longer, be more addictive to our palette and bodies, thus making more profit for the producers. We have swallowed the marketing hype for sugared drinks masquerading as energy sources and consume bottled water @ $4-$6 a bottle as if to avoid some pending onset of internal combustion. 

No amount of water drinking will improve one’s health if the food we consume is fueled with sugar, fats, antibiotics, (from animal sources), pesticides (from crops) nitrates and nitrites, (carcinogenic), food extenders, gluten, stabilisers and anti-oxidants. If it’s processed it isn't natural, and our bodies are not designed to deal with such continual pollutants and carcinogenic materials. 

Interestingly, a German corpse will take several weeks longer to decompose (than elsewhere in Europe), due to the high levels of nitrates consumed through their favourite food, sausage. Humans after all are meat, and the same process used to cure meat, enters us via our food sources.
And before anyone accuses me of being a vegetarian and anti-meat eater? Forget it! I make my own sausages, butcher my own meat and probably consume more meat than the average male. Ensuring we know what’s in our food and trusts its source is key. Don’t trust the label; eat food that doesn't have one where possible.

Here are some facts that helped me take back control over my health decline.

Fact 1 Most diets today are high in carbs, sugar, refined grains, and industrial vegetable oils, with very little healthy animal fat. Yet every cell in our body is made from fat, and we need a lot of the nutrient-rich kind in animal meat for hormone balance, immune health, and optimal performance. Research also suggests that a high-fat diet can also cause metabolic changes and speed weight loss.

Fact 2 Since the advent of agriculture, we've slowly increased our grain consumption. Today, some of the cheapest and most readily available foods are made from inexpensive, subsidized grains such as corn and wheat. These foods, like cereal, bread, pasta, and pizza, are also largely devoid of nutrients. They drive up insulin, putting our bodies in fat-storing mode, and cause us to crave more of them by the use of chemical additives. Try visiting your cafĂ© and asking this question? “What can I eat that hasn’t got starch, gluten or flour in it?”

Fact 3 The most nutrient-dense foods – and one of the primary components of a paleo diet – are vegetables. Try eating more of the healthiest: kale, seaweed, spinach, and arugula. The second most nutrient-dense food is meat from wild or grass-fed animals, like fish, cattle, buffalo, and boar. Animal meat is high in B vitamins, omega-3s, amino acids, and other nutrients essential to good health.

Fact 4 Before refrigeration, foods were preserved by fermentation, but today, we rarely eat fermented foods – and that's not a good thing. Fermented foods contain probiotics, healthy gut bacteria that increase digestion, nutrient delivery, and immune health. Scientists believe probiotics in fermented foods like sauerkraut were crucial to gut health thousands of years go.

Fact 5 Research suggests that meat from industrially raised livestock fed growth hormones, antibiotics, and unnatural grain feed contains harmful chemical residues and fewer nutrients. Meat from cows that eat a high-grain diet, for example, is lower in omega-3s and CLA, a fat thought to reduce stomach fat and help prevent cancer. For these reasons, eating naturally raised or wild meat is important, as is consuming organic or locally grown produce without fertilizers, pesticides, or genetic modification.

Fact 6 One of the quickest-growing nutrition trends is intermittent fasting (IF) – going prolonged periods without eating – which research shows helps reduce the risk of diabetes, cognitive decline, heart disease, and cancer. Some of IF's biggest proponents are paleo followers, who believe our bodies were designed to go without food for long stretches. Try fasting for up to 16 hours several days a week to boost energy and mood.

Fact 7 Without doctors, mass media, and the Internet, cavemen had no choice but to listen to their bodies if they didn't feel optimal. Everyone is different. Some people have trouble with dairy, while others can't stomach wheat. One thing's certain: We can all benefit from a little self-experimentation. The paleo movement believes in learning the rhythms of your own body and eating and exercising in accordance to how you as an individual thrive best.
More than 1 Billion people around the world are obese

Post script:

My weight has stabilized with a total loss of 30kg. Blood sugar is in the normal range, H1c’s within the normal range. My blood pressure is excellent and all infections gone. I sleep well, eat well and have a more positive outlook on life. 

The miracle is found in the having done all, stand. You may be faced with a similar challenge to myself, and if that’s the case, then take back your life. Take responsibility away from the marketers, and profiteers’ by making lifestyle choices now. Sadly, though we may correct our eating habits today, any long terms effects from a lifetime of eating wrongly, may have already taken their toll. For the sake of our children, grandchildren and future generations, lets not wait for another scientific review as the evidence is clear enough right now. We are what we eat!  

In the weeks to come, I will share with you some great recipes and tips, along with a support structure to empower your progress. Follow me on twitter @coaching4lifeNZ or facebook coaching-4-life-Ltd.