I have just returned from a 3-day juice fast/detox in beautiful (but very rainy) Byron Bay with my good friend Janet Kalmin who is equally as passionate about health as I am. We had a lot of time to read and learn while we were away, and we have returned from our trip invigorated, cleansed and very motivated to make positive changes to our diet. In particular we read the works of some of the leading voices in food and health at the moment – David Gillespie (Sweet Poison, Big Fat Lies, and Toxic Oil) and Sarah Wilson (I Quit Sugar). Janet has kindly offered to guest blog on The Shrinking Hubby this week. What she has to say about the fats we consume is not only interesting and thought provoking, but really (urgently) important for our future health. The large and very powerful manufacturers who control our food industry are not concerned about future risks of health, as long as their products don’t instantly kill us – it simply doesn’t make business sense to them. This is going to have extremely worrying consequences for our future generation.
I hope that you get a lot out of Janet’s article, and above all that it gives you some power to make informed decisions about the kind of food you are feeding yourselves and your families. Because if we can get the message out that there are foods swamping our supermarkets that are making us very sick as a population, then hopefully our population won’t buy these foods and then the manufacturers will not have the incentive to market them to us (and our kids)!
Finally I just wanted to bring to your attention the fact that Jessie Reimers (you can follow her facebook page ‘Get A Fresh Start’ here) is currently petitioning the Heart Foundation to stop endorsing unhealthy margarines and immediately review the ‘tick of approval’ program. I highly recommend that you check out what the petition is all about and sign it here. Please also take the time to share it with your friends – it is a very important crusade for the benefit of all of our health.
The Skinny on Fat
by Janet Kalmin
It seems a small revolution is happening in the world of fats, and with the help of the internet, vital research previously ignored is being brought to light.
There is a dawning of a new age in how we see fat, particularly the much maligned saturated stuff; butter, lard, cream, animal fat of any sort plus some other gems like coconut oil. Some are calling the war against saturated fat the biggest health myth of the century and you should know about it!
We are so conditioned into thinking that saturated fats cause heart disease and raise our cholesterol that even I find myself feeling some guilt when I add another slather of butter. But according to pioneering nutritionists Mary Enig and Sally Fallon of the Weston A. Price Foundation in the US, this is exactly what I should be doing if I want to raise my good cholesterol and protect my body from oxidation and other nasty repercussions of too little saturated fat and too much polyunsaturated fat. It’s the latter that raise your ‘bad’ cholesterol.
They say animal fat is “not deadly, but is necessary for our bodies to initiate, suppress, or resolve inflammation as needed. These are all vital processes that allow us to respond appropriately to our environment. My children have always enjoyed butter, animal fat, whole milk, coconut oil, just as our pre-war ancestors did. They are heart disease free.
However the food industry sponsored Heart Foundation continues to strongly urge us to replace saturated fat with omega 6 options (polyunsaturated) through the media, our GPs and little friendly reminders on margarine lids. Funny, that.
Just a few years ago I thought I knew it all, all about fats anyway. The much espoused Mediterranean diet told us to cook and cover everything in EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) and so I did. And don’t get me wrong, that was great, mono-unsaturated omega 3s and all that jazz. Problem was, almost everything from the shops contained anything but olive oil. From cook-in sauces and curry pastes to take-away you can almost guarantee a polyunsaturated fat has been used. They are lurking, weirdly, in things like an Up and Go, marketed as a great start to the day! And they are not just polyunsaturated. Canola oil needs so much processing to rid it of its foul taste and odour that it becomes a trans-fat – generally now agreed to be the worst possible scenario for fat.
Polyunsaturated fats are known as vegetable oils, which is laughable as no vegetable is processed for its oil, it’s just sounds good. David Gallespie more accurately calls them ‘seed oils’. Seed oils are nasty stuff according to some enlightening new and old research. Canola and Cottonseed oil are by-products of industrial waste! They are cheap and easy to make in large quantities. They just make perfect business sense.
These are everyday foods that contain seed oils:
- peanut butter
- boxed cereals
- packaged breads
- salad oils
- other fake fats like shortening and artificial “butter” products
Cotton-seed oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, rice bran oil….
These fellas are lurking in your daily diet whether you like it or not.
Bread, sauces, chips, take away, almost anything that comes in a jar of oil like olives, antipasti, snack foods, and the list goes on.
But what does it do you?
Seed oils are highly- processed polyunsaturates full of omega 6s. And there lies the problem.
Our bodies are designed to be 1:1 Omega 6 and Omega 3. Get this ratio wrong and you are asking for trouble. Apparently we are not getting enough of the 3 and WAY too much of the 6s.
And you can see why when you look at everything that contains ‘vegetable’ (aka seed) oil.
Some recent research (and more importantly some older research that seems to be constantly ignored by mainstream health ‘authorities’) is telling us that these oils are doing all sorts of damage including floating around while our bodies try and absorb them into our cells. Google the link between skin cancer and vegetable oil, it will turn your stomach.
Problem is we are animal fat! Yes that’s right; you know the saturated stuff that we have been warned will kill us. But if you think about it simply, how can we process fat into our cells if that is not the fat our cells are made of? Sometimes you don’t need a Bio-Chemical PhD to understand basic logic. And that’s the whole point. David Gillespie says it like this “… the reality is our body can’t tell the difference between them [polyunsaturated and saturated fats]. We use fats for energy and importantly, to construct our cells. The end result of a diet high in polyunsaturated fats is that our cell membranes are constructed of polyunsaturated fat. This is a problem because it is much more volatile, much more likely to oxidise. Out of control oxidation ultimately leads to the kind of mutations in the DNA of the cell nucleus that leads to cancer. “
The Weston A. Price Foundation sheds some light on the recent history of fats:
“[It’s] the mid-1980s and the food industry has a problem. In collusion with the American Heart Association, numerous government agencies and departments of nutrition at major universities, the industry had been promoting polyunsaturated oils as a heart-healthy alternative to “artery-clogging” saturated fats. Unfortunately, it had become increasingly clear that polyunsaturated oils…cause numerous health problems, including and especially cancer.” Check out westonprice.org and go crazy!
Join me in banning these foods from your family’s diet and go back to the good stuff. The Weston A. Price Foundation found women with lower saturated fat and higher polyunsaturated had far more wrinkles. That’s the deal breaker is it not? Wait and see, it will all come to light in ten years and you can sit back smugly and say with me:
“I told you so!”
Hands up if you have had a great time this festive season? Lots of barbeques, parties, cocktails??? Andrew and I certainly have had a lot of fun and obviously the diversion from our routine of clean eating has had a negative effect on our bodies. This is the perfect time of year to implement a short detox (7 days) to give your body a rest from the toxins and stresses that it has been exposed to during the festive season and to reset it for a happy and healthy year ahead!
When we give our livers a break from dealing with the toxins we expose our bodies to daily (such as sugar, caffeine and alcohol) our bodies become much more efficient at working to eliminate body fat which results in a happier and healthier you.
A detox can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it but basically by eliminating toxins you should find yourselves feeling energised, reinvigorated, less bloated and best of all you should definitely notice a positive effect on the scales.
You only need to implement this for 7 days to see and feel the results – it’s a fantastic way to start the year on a high. You may experience fatigue and headaches for the first couple of days but PUSH THROUGH as this is a sign that the toxins are leaving your body – and this is what you want!!
Things to AVOID on a detox:
- Caffeine (Green tea is acceptable)
- Red Meat
- Wheat – try swapping wheat for spelt if you struggle to avoid bread etc
- Anything artificial/processed
Things to INCLUDE on a detox:
- A glass of room temperature water (filtered if possible) with a squeeze of lemon each morning on rising
- At least 2 litres of filtered (if possible) water per day
- Plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables
- Organic Chicken
- Fish (e.g. salmon, cod, mackerel, herring)
- Healthy oils e.g. olive oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil
- Raw nuts and seeds
- Apple Cider vinegar (delicious mixed with olive oil as a salad dressing)
- Free range organic eggs
- Tofu/ tempeh
- Herbal tea – many brands have a detox range
There are so many yummy and healthy options to ensure that you will not go hungry.
An example of a great day on this detox would be as follows:
Upon rising: Room temperature filtered water with a squeeze of lemon
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs (2/3 whites and 1 yolk) whisked up and cooked with 1 1/2 cups of spinach OR a piece of spelt toast spread with almond butter or hummus and a cup of green tea
Snack: 1/4 cup raw nuts and a piece of fruit (the summer fruit is so delicious at the moment) OR 100 grams of chicken breast and 1/4 cucumber
Lunch – Healthy chicken and quinoa dish that I posted HERE OR a chicken and salad wrap (spelt wrap) that I posted HERE and a green tea;
Afternoon snack – A smoothie made by blending 1 frozen banana, 1 cup water and 1 1/2 cups baby spinach leaves OR a cup of carrot sticks with hummus (homemade or all natural ingredients) or almond butter;
Dinner – BBQ fillet of salmon served with pesto (homemade or all natural) and a big green salad dressed with apple cider vinegar/olive oil dressing OR the lentil and green bean salad (without the haloumi) posted HERE OR the almond meal schnitzel I posted HERE or my chicken and eggplant bake (without the mozzarella) that I posted HERE;
As you can see there is plenty of variety allowed and you will feel so much better for it. I always find that a detox is the best way to kickstart weight loss or break a plateau.
Good luck and enjoy
I often talk to people about how or when (or if) they are exercising and it probably doesn’t surprise you that biggest barrier for so many is the lack of time and/or motivation. When pressed, many of those who claim lack of time as a valid reason for not exercising will admit that they are not morning people and waking up an hour or so earlier than they are used to is too hard.
I train 4 mornings a week at 6am – not because I am naturally a morning person (I’m not), but because if I didn’t set my alarm and force myself to get up and get moving then I would miss out on what is usually my only opportunity to train that day. That feeling is far worse than the minute or so it takes for my body to register it is awake. Over the years I have learned that missing my early morning workout makes me feel guilty and sluggish and regretful. I would so much rather feel fit, healthy and energised!!!
Even though it is hard to drag yourself out of bed in the morning I think it is easier than hauling yourself to the gym or for a run at the end of a busy day. As much as I love exercising I can definitely relate to lack of motivation to train at the end of a hard day even though I know once I’m there I will get into the zone.
I have been training early mornings now for many years so I am in the habit of getting up as soon as my alarm goes off, getting dressed and out the door before my subconscious can even question what I’m doing, but I totally understand how hard it is to get into this routine.
There are so many benefits from early morning training, so if you can fit it into your schedule I highly recommend you do and here are some tips to help you out along the way:
- Make the commitment to an early morning training session. The first step is to make the decision to go before you go to bed – not while you are debating whether or not to press snooze at 5.30 in the morning!
- Get organised. The last thing you want to do at 530 in the morning is rummage around the place (waking everyone else up) looking for your heart rate monitor or training gear. I always lay out my training gear in the bathroom so I don’t need to turn on any lights in the bedroom, I wear my heart rate watch to bed, have my drink bottle filled up and in the fridge ready to grab as I fly out the door where my gym bag is waiting for me in my car!
- Find a training buddy – someone who will make you accountable. I cannot emphasise how much having a friend to run with helps get you motivated (thanks Candy!!!) Especially if the only time you have available to train in the morning it is always much easier to turn up if someone is waiting for you!!!
- Sign up! Committing financially to a group training session will definitely give you the motivation to turn up. Is there an outdoor training group or bootcamp in your area? By signing up to a program (e.g. a 6 week bootcamp) you are setting yourself up to form relationships with not only your trainer but also your training group and this will help keep you on track (and hold you accountable).
- Plan your route. It’s one thing if you are going to an organised training session where all the planning is done for you, but if you have set your alarm for an early morning walk/run you will be much more motivated to go if you know exactly what route you will be taking (and how long you expect it to take). There are some great apps available where you can map out your route, work out how far it is and even log your times etc. I love using mapmyrun.com.
Finally, getting your training session out of the way first thing in the morning is guaranteed to improve your quality of life! You will notice an overall improvement in your fitness, health and sense of well being and feel empowered because you are takin control of your life!
In our quest for good health sometimes it’s the little things that can make all the difference.
Here are 10 foods that most of us eat regularly that can be swapped for just-as- good- but- much- healthier options.
1. Swap BREAD for SPELT/RYE MOUNTAIN WRAPS
We really don’t need the amount of bread that the average person eats. We are conditioned to toast in the mornings and sandwiches at night and bread rolls for dinner but you will notice such a difference if you cut out the bread. Mountain Bread is so wonderfully versatile. It’s easy to swap your breakfast toast or lunchtime sandwich for a mountain bread wrap and as for the bread rolls at dinner – totally unnecessary GET RID OF THEM!!!
2. Swap OLIVE OR VEGETABLE OILS for COCONUT OIL (for cooking)
I love love love my olive oil in salad dressings or as a marinade, but for cooking coconut oil has amazing health properties and its exquisite nutty flavour adds something extra to your food. I have been using it to cook my bodyism pancakes, my healthy almond meal schnitzel (recipe to come) or even cook up our chicken for the fridge. It adds a delicious zing to my vegetable ratatouille (recipe to come) too. Yum! When taken in moderation it actually assists weight loss and apparently is amazing for your skin and hair.
3. Swap your REGULAR LATTE for a PICCOLO LATTE
Yes it’s not as nice as a big milky coffee, but not as harsh as a straight espresso and drinking milk definitely effects the bloating of our stomachs. This is one habit that is easy (and cheaper) to get into and makes your morning coffee (almost) guilt free. Especially if you drink more than 2 coffees a day make the 2nd and 3rd piccolos if you can’t deal without your latte in the morning.
I’ll also go against the grain here and say that I always drink full cream milk – I believe that skim milk although less in fat is so heavily processed that the body struggles to digest it. Whenever I’ve switched to skim I’ve never noticed a difference on the scales, on the contrary I find myself fuller after full cream so I am less likely to snack …
4. Swap BALSAMIC VINEGAR in your salad dressings for APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
Apple cider vinegar has amazing health benefits like aiding digestion and reducing bloating. It is such a yummy and easy salad dressing to whip up 1 tablespoon olive oil to 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar with some sea salt and cracked pepper.
5. Swap CREAM CHEESE for COTTAGE CHEESE
Cottage cheese IS YOUR FRIEND! It is just as yummy as cream cheese but much higher in protein. Spread it on your mountain bread wrap with chicken, tomato and spinach before toasting, or have it for afternoon tea with some yummy mango or berries and a sprinkle of cinnamon, or spread with avocado on rice cakes (plain of course). Delicious.
6. Swap CHOCOLATE for RAW CHOCOLATE
Good food stores sell raw chocolate – made with coconut or cacoa butter, and agave syrup. It is much richer than chocolate and definitely tastes different but it is a great way to get rid of those sugar/ chocolate cravings and a little goes a loooong way.
7. Swap MARGARINE for ORGANIC BUTTER
Your body doesn’t know what to do with the processed nature of margarine which is completely artificial and laden with nasty trans fats. Much better to use (better tasting anyway) natural organic butter instead – in moderation of course!
8. Swap REGULAR YOGHURT for GREEK YOGHURT
Greek yoghurt has more protein and less carbohydrates than regular yoghurt but so thick and creamy and delicious! It’s very versatile – mix with avocado and fresh lime for an easy guacamole or have with berries as a snack. Use in salad dressings or sauces.
9. Swap FLOUR for ALMOND MEAL
This is trickier than the other swaps because it takes a bit of getting used to but almond meal is a great substitute for flour and much better for our gut. The paleo diet has embraced the use of almond meal and there are many yummy recipes out there. I will be posting a few in the coming weeks.
10. Swap SUGAR/ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS for NATVIA or RAW HONEY
We are starting to realise how terrible sugar is on our bodies but if you really need that sweetness give raw honey or Natvia a go. Natvia is an all natural sweetener made from stevia – so versatile – without the harmful effects of artificial sweeteners.
So as you can see – you don’t have to suffer to be healthy, most of these swaps are far superior in taste than their counterparts!
I discussed some healthy snack options for our kids (here) a few weeks ago, but I thought it would be helpful to talk about some food ideas for us too! If you want to lose weight the worst thing you can do is stop eating. Our bodies need to be constantly fuelled to keep our metabolism going. A healthy day of eating would ideally involve lemon water upon waking followed by a hearty breakfast, mid morning snack, lunch, mid afternoon snack and dinner. Don’t forget to keep drinking water – at least 2-3 litres a day – often your body mistakes thirst for hunger making you eat more …
I often get asked what Andrew and I eat so I thought I’d give you a brief overview. It seems like a lot of food but keep portion sizes small. Also keep in mind that we exercise almost every day so we need to replenish our bodies. It’s long but I thought it was important to get the full day in.
Starting your day with a big glass of filtered water with a squeeze of lemon in it is such a great way to flush out and detox your body. I must admit until I recently started drinking my lemon water I was sceptical. However I have definitely noticed higher energy levels since I have been doing this.
Breakfast is SO important. If you tell your body (by not eating when you wake up in the morning) that it needs to go into famine mode you will start the day feeling sluggish and tired as your metabolism slows right down leaving the path open for unhealthy food choices during the day as you try to eat some energy back. Much better to start with a hearty and healthy breakfast to get your energy levels going from the beginning of your day. You will feel satisfied which will make you less tempted to make unhealthy choices.
I’ve already given you some delicious suggestions for breakfast e.g. a toasted mountain bread wrap (see here), quinoa porridge (see here), or healthy pancakes (see here). Another great breakfast is an omelette (with 2 eggs plus 2 egg whites) or poached eggs with mushrooms, tomato, avocado and spinach.
You don’t have to make a big deal about breakfast though. A good quality muesli (preferably without dried fruit) topped with some greek yogurt and berries, or some rye or spelt toast with avocado, hummus or a healthy nut butter (check out your health food section in the supermarket) are also tasty and easy options.
Mid Morning and Mid afternoon Snacks
These snacks are great! Always try to incorporate protein in your snacks to help satisfy you for longer.
Here are my favourite snacks (note that they all contain some form of protein):
- 2 Brown rice cakes with avocado and cottage cheese or hummus and avocado. (choose the rice cakes that contain puffed brown rice only. NOT the flavoured ones that are full of artificial junk.
- A couple of hard boiled eggs.
- Some greek yoghurt and berries (fruit best consumed in the morning because of its sugar content)
- A good quality protein bar – I love the protein bars from 180 nutrition as they are made only from superfoods rather than artificial junk.
- Protein shake – again I try to avoid the protein powders that have chemicals in them. 180 nutrition has a great protein powder but I love the sunwarrior one – have 2 scoops of chocolate with a banana, a tablespoon of macca powder (another superfood) and water. (Sometimes I have this shake for breakfast)
- An apple and 10 almonds
- 100 grams of chicken or turkey breast or smoked salmon
- Carrot sticks and hummus
- A small tin of flavoured tuna (again make sure you choose the naturally flavoured ones – i.e. the chilli, lemon and cracked pepper and zesty vinegrette are all healthy options)
Here are some suggestions of things I like to eat for lunch:
- Chicken or tuna and salad
- Mountain bread wraps either my toasted chicken wrap (here) or tuna and salad
- My yummy chicken quinoa recipe (here)
- Tuna with ½ cup brown rice or quinoa and spinach, lemon and chilli
- Homemade soup
We try not to eat starchy carbohydrates for dinner most nights of the week – e.g. pasta, potatoes, rice etc. Once in a while we allow ourselves a treat such as my healthy lamb pizza (here) but most of the time dinner is protein and vegetables – think delicious marinades for your meat and big healthy salads, stir fries, soups, bakes. I have already shared some yummy dinners such as my spicy lamb mince (here), salmon with haloumi and lentil salad (here), and the delicious piri piri roast lamb (here). I have so many more yummy recipes to come – so stay tuned!!!
If you got through all of that – well done!!! Feel free to comment or ask any questions – I love hearing from you!
I am so passionate about promoting healthy living because cleaning up our own diet and embracing a healthy lifestyle has had such an enormously positive influence on the quality of our lives. However as vocal as I tend to be about this subject, sometimes pictures can say so much more than I ever could.
Here are some photos I have found of Andrew from the beginning of our journey. As you can see Andrew has come such a long way! (For those who aren’t familiar with our story you can read a bit about it here and here).
From this (2003 – 2005)…
This photo taken just after meeting The Food Coach – April 2005
To this (2011/2012)…
We are far from perfect when it comes to healthy eating but our consistency and determination has definitely paid off. I think that the results speak for themselves – don’t you???