Monday, January 9, 2012

The Blame Game

This interesting blog post got me thinking about the current state of the health and fitness industry and the sad fact of the world we live in. Do you know that they had to change the name of Adult Onset Diabetes to Type 2 Diabetes because kids were getting it?! There are also reports that suggest that the human race is in a state of de-volution, meaning we're actually digressing in the evolutionary stakes. And by all accounts, children born today are part of the first generation that won't live as long as their parents before them.
This article suggests that parents are to blame. And I mostly agree with it. Parents are children's first teachers. From birth (and even from conception) they decide what children are fed, they control the purse strings and the shopping trolley. If their children are obese, it is most likely because they let them drink Coke instead of water, let them skip dinner and just eat dessert, and feed them things like fruit loops for breakfast. And please don't tell me that parents have no control over their children's behaviour and reactions at meal times! Seriously, everyone has heard it time and time again - if a child refuses to eat their healthy dinner, they are not going to starve! They will eventually eat when they get hungry. It is not an excuse to just feed them a packet of chips and chocolate yoghurt! This is what creates the vicious cycle!
There are of course, other factors that can influence the way parents feed their children, and marketing is a huge contributor. Take "Fruit" loops for example. Some parents see this and think that it is healthy for their children because it has the word fruit in it. Now it is obviously a ridiculous notion to forgive parents for thinking this, but it is also shame on the cereal companies who exploit them! Another favourite of mine is "Vitamin" water. Many parents would, I'm sure, assume that this is healthier for their children than pure water, because it contains added vitamins. Unfortunately, the added sugar content means that vitamin water is actually no better for children than soft drink!
Education is another key factor. If parents have no idea what is healthy food and how to prepare it, then their children are going to grow up the same way. Jamie Oliver demonstrated just how poor American children's knowledge of fruit and vegetables is in his recent TV series. Perhaps there needs to be more of a focus on this in the education syllabus.
This is what has led me to consider going back to study this year. I am really passionate about making a difference and feel that working with children is the way to do it. So, I'm going to sign up to do my degree in nutritional medicine, with an aim of working with children and their parents in getting their eating habits on track!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Whole 30 Challenge

I started the whole 30 challenge on Monday. For someone who has been eating primally for a while, it’s not such a big deal, but it’s still good for me to have something solid to stick to, and to help me get back on track after the Christmas/New Years period. I honestly don’t feel too guilty about my eating over the Christmas break. Funnily enough, it’s fairly easy to stick to meat and veggies during the traditional Christmas lunch, so the only thing I really splurged on was dessert.
The primal/paleo community uses the Whole 30 to kick start a period of clean eating, usually after blow outs like holiday season eating. While primal uses the 80/20 rule, the Whole 30 has no cheating whatsoever. But hey, it’s only for 30 days, that’s nothing really! And the only differences from my normal primal eating routine are that I can’t have any dairy or dark chocolate. Everything else is basically the same!
For those of you who don't follow the primal style of eating, here's the basic premise of the Whole 30 - Eat real food. Seriously, it's that simple. But to clarify, the following foods do not count and are avoided during the Whole 30:-
-sugar (including honey, stevia, agave nectar, splenda - seriously if it's artificial, it can't be good for you!)
- grains (including wheat, rice, barley, oats, corn, soy...)
- legumes (this includes peanuts, which are not a nut but a legume, but green beans & snow peas are acceptable)
- dairy (seriously, the only animals who should be consuming cow/sheep/goat milk are their babies)
- white potatoes
- processed foods (yeah, those 'protein bars' are so not on!)
- alcohol
While it looks a bit scary, it honestly isn't. You can still eat bacon & eggs for breakfast, just substitute the toast for avocado and steamed spinach. Cauliflower rice and mashed pumpkin are two of my favourite 'carb' replacements. And don't get me started on how much I now enjoy eating chicken skin, guilt free!!!
So as I ate my beautiful 170g eye fillet steak this morning, I thought about how happy eating this way makes me. I am no longer lethargic and never get headaches. I am quickly increasing my strength at the gym, something that used to take me ages before! I am rarely ever ‘starving’ and can often go for up to 10 hours without eating and still feel fine (note, this is not starving myself, it’s simply only eating 2 nutritionally dense meals per day). People have been commenting that I look lighter, and it’s not just because I’ve lost 10 kilos! It’s because my skin is glowing, my hair and nails look healthy and strong, and my arms are finally seeing some definition in them!
And that is why I will eat this way for the rest of my life! Obviously I won’t be as strict as I am with myself on the Whole 30 challenge (I mean really, what girl is ever going to give up chocolate completely!) but I now know that I can easily survive eating like this.
It’s funny, when you stop eating sugar, everything tastes OTT sweet. I can’t stomach any chocolate below 85% now, which most people would just screw their noses up at. I even tried some 100% stuff over Christmas, and I reckon I could even develop a taste for that! Chewing gum is too sweet for me and I even struggled to get through a bowen mango the other day! I’ve pretty much figured out that my only sugar intake comes from certain fruits, such as berries and cherries – surely not such a bad thing in moderation!
So my challenge to you is to try the Whole 30. Sometimes all you need is a kick start and you’re on your way. And hey, it’s only for 1 month and you’ve most likely made a new year’s resolution about your weight/health… Why not do something different!?!?