Thursday, May 31

How Refined Carbohydrates Make Us Fat

Food can be complicated.  Period.  And to understand nutrition, it can feel like we need a degree in endocrinology - and not all of us have the time to study!  But to understand why we get fat, we do need a little understanding of what the food choices you make are doing to you, your mind  and your body.

So let's start here: how refined carbohydrates affect your body.

Refined carbohydrates are processed food: pasta, rice, white bead, white flour, donuts, cake, buns, sweets, cake again, breakfast cereal (especially special K)…..and lets get some perspective here, this food is the new kid on the block.

A generation ago we went to work on an egg (not literally you understand) but we knew the nutritional value of eggs and bacon and the like to see us through the morning.  Nowadays (in this faster society) we snatch a low-fat (read high sugar) breakfast bar, low – fat (read high sugar) yoghurt (muller lite anyone?) or instant porage oats in a sachet – no time, we say no time to eat a simple breakfast….

Here at paleo works we say “Get Real”.  That instant breakfast is making you fat! And here’s how!

You are eating a refined carbohydrate.  Because it has been processed, the effort of digesting the product (in its natural state) has been taken away.  You digest the product rapidly and you turn the product quickly into energy, (known as blood sugar) and into fuel for your body.

So far, so good.

Your blood sugar levels are regulated by the hormone insulin.  Rapidly digested carbohydrate foodstuffs are converted quickly into blood sugar in your body and cause a “spike” in your blood sugar levels.  Insulin (the regulating hormone) is fired out from the pancreas to deal with this unexpected guest by escorting it smartly round the body to find where it can best be used.

First stop the muscles – hey muscles do you need extra energy?! thanks all the same, we're not up to much these days (so we don't need much fuel) – have your tried the liver?

And so the insulin escorts the blood sugar round to the liver where surplus energy is stored as glycogen (a booster energy supply to call on in times of emergency) Don'tcha just  love your body and it’s ability well…to simply exist without even trying it's figured it all out for us.....Hey liver do you need more energy?  Hell no we’re jam packed with glycogen already, thanks all the same our glycogen stores are not being called on much these days ……..

And so insulin thinks Oh!  But this fuel has to go somewhere…what’s left?  Why fat stores of course.  Adipose tissue.  Never says no!  Always open, never closed.  Great.  And so insulin escorts the surplus fuel into your fat stores.  Stuffs it in in fact.  Crams it in fit to burst.  And slams the door shut, locks it and takes the key (for now) standing guard at the door.

We like this anaolgy.

So to reverse the process of putting on fat you have to find the key! and open the locked-in fat stores. You must learn how to prise out that fuel (stored as fat) and BURN IT, USE IT do whatever you have to do to shift it and make sure you do everything possible not to replenish those stores.

And stay away from that refined carbohydrate!  Keep it simple, make it real.  That's what gets you those results.

By now we hope you are good and angry with the food industry!  Now use that anger to fight back....and tell us what happens.  We love a happy ending!

Wednesday, May 30

The Magic of Making a Start

"Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would not otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man would have dreamed would come his way.  I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets:"What ever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.  Boldness has genius, magic and power in it.  Begin it now."

 - W H Murray,
The Scottish Himalayan Expedition

Processed Food: A Caring Addiction?

This is written by Caitlin Moran from whom we quote with gratitude:

“People overeat for exactly the same reason they drink, smoke,  serially f@#* around or take drugs…..I’m talking about those for whom the whole idea of food is not one of pleasure but one of compulsion.  For whom thoughts of food and the effects of food are the constant dreary background static to normal thought. Those who think about lunch whilst eating breakfast and pudding as they eat crisps who walk into the kitchen in a state bordering on panic and breathlessly eat slice after slice of bread and butter – not tasting it not even chewing – until the pain can be drowned in an almost meditative routine of spooning and swallowing spooning and swallowing.

In this trance-like state you can find a welcome temporary relief from thinking for ten, 20 minutes at a time until finally a new set of sensations – physical discomfort and immense regret make you stop in the same way you finally pass out on whiskey or dope.  Overeating or comfort eating is the cheap meek option for self satisfaction and self obliteration.  You get all the temporary release of drinking f@0King or taking drugs but without – and I think this is the important bit- ever being left in a state where you can’t remain responsible and cogent.

In a nutshell then by choosing food as your drug – sugar highs or the deep soporific calm of carbs, the Valium of the working classes – you can still make the packed lunches, do the school run, look after the baby, pop in on your mum and then stay up all night with an ill five year old – something that is not an option if you’re caning off a gigantic bag of skunk or regularly climbing into the cupboard under the stairs and knocking back a quart of scotch.  Overeating is the addiction of choice of carers …………fat people are slowly self destructing in a way that doesn’t inconvenience anyone. ...” (*)

Some time ago this was my wake up call.  Do you know the bit that really cut me up?  “overeating and comfort eating is the cheap meek option ….”  Why was I selling myself short?  Such a betrayal of all I am and can be……
I had a friend once who told me that she was afraid to open her mouth, afraid of the noise that would come out from within, of the roar that might never end…At the time we both found that thought entirely scary.  Now I love it!

What response did that passage provoke in you?  Justification for your eating practices?  Hopelessness?  Recognition at some level?  Let me share this with you.  The problem here is you believe it!  You get caught up in the psychology and then abdicate responsibility for yourself and your food choices because you have labelled yourself a comfort eater…you believe now that food and dietary input is beyond your control.  Well step away from the doughnuts and get a grip.

Unlearn all you think you know about food and start again.  Press you re-set button. How? Paleo.  Focus on a primal diet and see what your body tells you.  The path to paleo is here…the rest is up to you.

From "How to Be a Woman" by Caitlin Moran

Leap Of Faith (Or Indiana Jones & Me)

Often times, I notice people remarking on the perceived difficulty in transitioning to paleo from the standard diet (American or other).  Folks, it doesn't have to be hard!  There is no boot camp, no calorie counting, no meditation, no yoga, induction no phase I, II or III, no Jenni Murray style moans from the Daily Mail.

For me going paleo came out of a simple heartfelt desire to be strong and to live well and up to that point, it simply wasn't happening.  I read somewhere a quote from Candace Pert which shocked me:  your body is your subconscious mind.  This was picked up recently by Nora Gedgaudas at the Ancestral Health Symposium 2011 who wrote of her agreement to this and added that anyone who thinks their conscious mind is running the show is seriously mistaken.

If this is true then what I had called my life was filtered through a diet "screen" of unnatural junk, processed food and sugar.  My mind, my perception, my experience was coloured by this and seriously off.  In the end, there did not seem to be a choice.  I wanted change and something had to be done.  And with that single commitment within days, a GP friend of a friend entered our lives, referred us to the paleo diet and we began to move out of survival mode and we began to thrive.
Here's something that helped Mike and me...

In those early days we made a simple shake that could act as a meal replacement.  The main ingredients for this were heavy cream, raw egg, whey protein powder and a little sweet fruit.  Initially we used a sugar free syrup (raspberry flavour I think) that we found on the internet.  And it tasted thick and good and seemed to line the inside of my belly in a deliciously satisfying way..........a way I had not experienced for along time.

After a while I moved away from the shakes and dropped this as an item.  Mike moved in the opposite direction and began to experiment with wilder and wilder concoctions, having fun.  It worked for both of us.  It worked for me because it was a bridge between the old food world order and the new.  Do you remember Indiana Jones when he steps out into a void and a boulder appears beneath his feet which carries him to the next step and the next?  That's what consuming the shake did for me.  This was after all (for both Indy and me) a leap of faith.  Neither of us ever looked back.

Take what you can from this.  Challenge yourself to paleo even if you only take up the challenge for 30 days.  We are here to walk the journey with you.  Drop by and tell us what you would like from life - we'd love to hear from you!


Tuesday, May 29

Being Fat can Cause Dementia

dementia-caused-by-being-fatNot sexy and not hot but it's true: being fat can cause dementia.

Not Alzheimer's true - the cause of that is not yet fully understood though is known by many as Diabetes of the brain. On the other hand the roots of vascular dementia are well understood.  This is the second biggest cause of dementia in the UK (over 200,000 diagnosed)  and is caused by vascular disease.....caused when the blood supply to and within the brain is disrupted or damaged.  Blocked blood vessels and general damage to the vascular system..just like heart disease and just as debilitating.

Vascular disease can cause damage to any part of the brain - where ever the blood flow blockage occurs.  So depending on what part of the brain is damaged, you may lose cognitive function (such as perception), physical function or memory loss.  Like suddenly coming too in Tescos and not knowing for the life of you what money is for or where you are.

There is a crucial difference between vascular dementia and Alzheimer's and you need to know this.  The causes of vascular dementia are  in most cases preventable!

And that is, anything that causes the arteries to clog up  and stops the blood supply from flowing adequately: smoking, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, obesity, lack of regular exercise, hypertension you name it,  all those factors that can cause cardiac disease can cause this disease too.  Lifestyle factors increase the risk of heart disease and increase the risk of dementia.  According to the Alzheimer's Society, if you smoke you double your risk, if you have high blood pressure your risk is up to three times higher and your risk is further increased if you have diabetes.

Here, though is the good news.  Lifestyle changes may well reduce your risk, postpone and/or even prevent the onset of vascular dementia.  Don't think that dementia is do have a choice.  You need to change up the odds in your favour and actively reduce your risk: lose weight, quit smoking, drink responsibly and take regular's not much is it?  And it's what our clients do at Paleo Works! It's easier than you think.

If you are reading this then, like us you are chasing optimal health.  If your Doctor has told you that you are at risk of heart disease then you are also at risk of vascular dementia.

We urge you to consider this: your lifestyle can affect your future.  You have the opportunity to make a difference every time you place food into your mouth and if you take only one thing away from this post make it this: being fat can cause dementia.

Monday, May 28


Doubt has a way of intruding into every area of our lives.

We get a very clear and powerful insight ..and then a day later doubt our self.  Something really good happens and we doubt we deserve it or we stumble across a site that is telling us “how to diet in the modern world”, how life can be simpler, deeper, fuller and we really get it ..but hours later we doubt we can put theory into practice and the opportunity is lost.

Sound familiar? 
So what’s happening?
Where does this doubt come from and what can we do to change it?

Doubt comes from the mind.  It’s like a growling watchdog trained to protect us.  Doubt brings back bad memories of past events and scares us from moving “out the box” for fear of rejection, failure or ridicule (because may be that’s what happened before).  It is acting like an invisible fence, boxing in our dreams for a fit and healthy life, for weight loss, fat loss or recovery.

Why is this happening?

It’s a question of evolution.  Humans evolved to make sense of things.  And the most efficient way to do this is to filter experience through what has gone before.  That’s all.  But in this way we are only responding not choosing.  And we are bigger than that!

Viktor Frankl was a Jewish psychiatrist who spent three years during World War II living in several of the most notorious concentration camps.  While imprisoned under impossible circumstances he realised that he had only one single freedom left: he had the power to determine his response to the horror he saw unfolding around him.   So he chose to imagine.  He remembered his wife and imagined the prospect of seeing her again, he saw himself teaching students after the war and he did indeed survive and went on to write a book about his experiences.  “A human being is a deciding being” he wrote in his book “Man’s Search for Meaning” “Between stimulus and response there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and our freedom”

The creation of a new reality for us begins with the question “why”.  As soon as we ask this question we open up to the possibility of change.  For example, why, after everything I have done, am I still fat?  Why do I always see myself fail?

Answer because we perceive/remember/understand/are reminded internally that this happened before.  Remember..human beings evolved to make sense of things and the most efficient way to do this is to filter experience through what has gone before.  But we give our minds too much power, it’s only a thought - we don't know what is going to happen in the future and we can't change what went before but every moment we enter we can make a different choice...

Still with me?

By becoming aware of our mind-sets and perceptions we can create breakthrough.  Doubt is only mental programming.  It is a like our television set has been tuned to only play old horror movies over and over.  Don’t battle it.  That’s like feeding the monster.  The moment we try to defeat doubt we enter an exhausting battle.  The mind is where doubt flourishes, it’s doubt’s training ground and is embellished with a long list of successes.  And don’t try and argue with doubt either because the moment you try to rationalise or apply logic to doubt, it’s won..check mate, game over ( again)!

Like Viktor Frankl says, you have to imagine beyond your perception of reality.  And yes yes, yes, you will still hear doubt roaring in the background, trying to scare you into giving up….listen to the howl, if you like for a while then move on and you will hear it quieten, every time you take a step forward into your new life experiences.

If doubt feels very present for you right now it’s because you are ready to ask “why” and ready to make change happen.

And however you wish to play it,  we wish you well!

P.S. Need more convincing?  Try this TED talk with Beau Lotto entitled "The Power of Perceptions: imagining the reality you want"and see what he has to say about perception...the way we perceive even the most basic of our senses is dependent on interpretation.

 Related Article:

Saturday, May 26

Spices are Magic!

Spices are magic...they allow us to take a set of every day ingredients on a world tour. They let us reinvent ingredients that can be mundane and familiar, giving them a depth of flavour that makes them distinctive and genuine and are an economic way of changing up your meat.
So what are you waiting for?

Turmeric and coriander whisk you to India and Pakistan, smoked paprika and golden saffron to Spain and the fabulous Iberian Peninsula, nutmeg and all spice to the Windward Islands, fish sauce to south east Asia, vanilla to Madagascar and Mexico.


In their simple forms, spices hang together in six main groups:

Coriander, Nutmeg, Mace, Cloves, Allspice
Vanilla, Green Cardamom, Fennel Seed, Dill Seed
Cumin, Chilli, Ginger, Black Peppercorns
Saffron, Fenugreek, Black Cardamom, Nigella, Black Mustard Seeds, Paprika, Turmeric
Sumac, Amchoor, lime powder
A little goes a long way (overbearing)
Star Anise (divine), Cinnamon, Sichuan Peppercorns, Juniper Berries, Caraway, Pink Peppercorns, Dried Bay Leaves

Now get going!

PS Did you know that our national love affair with spices started back with the Normans in Medieval Times?  Our taste for the exotic continued with all the colonial "adventures" we have had as a nation and that's worth celebrating!  So let's get inspired, blow your mind and and take your family on a magical whistle stop food tour of our wonderful stop Iberian Peninsula!

Thursday, May 24


"Live all you can; it's a mistake not to. It doesn't so much matter what you do in particular, so long as you have had your life. If you haven't had that, what have you had?" HENRY JAMES, The Ambassadors

Tuesday, May 22

Best Exercise for Fat Loss

So What's the best exercise for fat loss?

First of all let's establish exercise is not the key to fat loss, diet and the right nutrition are.

Wow now that's certainly a statement to put the cat amongst the pigeons. It's true though as you will see. Losing weight is not dependent on exercise! This is merely a tool fad diets use to force fat burn ( a temporary fix, with limited results).

Now don't get me wrong exercise does have it's uses. For instance if you're on one of the Paleo Works program or consuming a similar caveman style diet, high intensity intermittent exercise is the best exercise for fat burn, improve fitness and accelerate weight loss, though only when associated with the correct nutrition, this point is key.

What is high intensity intermittent exercise?  Periods of brief intensive exercise interspersed with periods of relative rest.  Not for the faint-hearted true but take a look at this study on the effects of high-intensity intermittent exercise training on fat loss and fasting insulin levels of young women... impressive!
And what we are looking for is the best exercise for fat loss: a method of exercise that delivers.

Cycling, rowing , running, swimming all adapt well to this form of training and all can take place outdoors away from the gym however if you are not fit, very overweight but generally well, it makes sense to build up a basic level of fitness before you start.

Walking is great and gets you out doors, you can build on that, resistance training will strengthen and tone your body.  Build up the intensity to include some light jogging, cycling and soon you will know you '[e ready to do more and then work with your body - it's not rocket science!

How does it work?

It's simple..intersperse relative rest periods with intense "sprint" periods.  The length of these sprint periods can be built up over time but a  programme might look like this:


  • Warm-Up: jog for a couple of minutes then...
  • Sprint: long and hard at high intensity: push hard for ten seconds
  • Jog in relative rest for 30 seconds
  • Pick up the pace again and sprint: long and hard for ten seconds
  • Back down again gentle jog for 30 seconds
  • And repeat this cycle for between 6 and 10 sprints
  • Cool Down with some gentle jogging.


Exercising in this way is truly exhilarating.  Try it and see.  Start with one of these sessions per week the build upon the number of sessions and then build up and vary the intensity of the sessions:  How?
Increase the number of sprints, extending the time of the sprints, putting more effort into the sprints, shortening your rest time lengthening the session times - the beauty of this exercise is it is free and it works with you, (outdoors, fresh air) and it is amazing fun with the kids (who love to operate the stop watch and challenge us)

Feel free to adapt this to cycling and rowing: warm up sprint hard on your bike, relative rest, pick up the pace again, sprint hard (12-15 seconds to start) relative rest  (45 seconds) and don't forget to cool down at the other end.  There are endless variations.  Play with it and see.  And the good news?  You are shredding more fat in less time than any other exercise.  And best of all, anecdotal evidence suggests that this type of exercise does not cause an increase in appetite.

In this way we feel we are moving like our ancestors connecting with our past, tuning into our bodies, working our bodies naturally and feeling alive.

The Science?

A review of High-intensity intermittent exercise and fat loss concludes that:

"the effect of regular aerobic exercise on body fat is negligible, however, other forms of exercise may have a greater impact on body composition. For example, emerging research examining high-intensity intermittent exercise (HIIE) indicates that it may be more effective at reducing subcutaneous and abdominal body fat than other types of exercise.

The mechanisms underlying the fat reduction induced by HIIE, however, are undetermined. Regular HIIE has been shown to significantly increase both aerobic and anaerobic fitness. HIIE also significantly lowers insulin resistance and results in a number of skeletal muscle adaptations that result in enhanced skeletal muscle fat oxidation and improved glucose tolerance."

This then is the best exercise for fat loss.

Try it and see, tell us what you feel exercising in this way?  We welcome your feedback and to hear of your experiences.

Paleo Cupcakes, Sugar and Cocaine

This in the Daily Mail yesterday: why trendy cupcakes may be as addictive as cocaine.  Specifically the news article picks up the combination of butter in the fluffy sponges and the sugar in the icing piled on top and suggests that combined this combination could be as addictive as cocaine.  Cocaine?

A host of studies this year have linked sugary and fatty foods to brain changes more usually seen with hard drugs.  Scientists say that the evidence is "overwhelming" with 28 pieces of research on food addiction published this year alone.

The article goes on to acknowledge Nora Volkow director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse in the US who said " We are finding tremendous overlap between drugs in the brain and food in the brain"  In one of the studies volunteers were shown images of their favourite treats.

The decision making area of their brains, the orbital frontal cortex experienced a surge of the pleasure seeking chemical dopamine the same area activated in cocaine addicts shown white powder.  In another study images of milkshakes lit up the same brain regions that become active in alcoholics anticipating a drink.  These then are pathological food preferences.

What we need to challenge is the concept of these foods as "treats".  Evidence suggests that such "treats" cause tremendous damage to our bodies: what kind of a reward is that?  Paleoworks suggests that this too is a sign of an underlying trend in society to seek out immediate gratification and short term solutions to what can sometimes feel like overwhelming challenges.

Often times "treats" are  the secret addiction of choice of carers see here: Processed Food an Addiction of Choice.

The beauty of this "addiction" is that it allows you to function in your life (make pack-ups for the kids, take them to football practice, cook tea, visit our parents, hold down a job) which cannot happen when you are off your head on cocaine or whiskey or both.  But make no mistake: it is an addiction - the science is being done to show this but we know it ourselves anyway.  To break your addiction and lose your fat you are going to have to make some choices fast somewhere down the line.

Help Me Stop Eating

Monday morning after a great weekend.  I'm Rushing to be some place I don't want to be to work on something I don't want to do.  I'm late.  I catch myself thinking I have to get some food for lunch.  Do I need it? Will I be hungry? What can i do to stop eating?  How do I know I will even be hungry?  How do I know I am going to be  hungry at any given point in the day?

Truth is, I don't.  And to give it further serious consideration, the more I use intermittent fasting in my diet the less hunger happens.  The more I follow paleolithic nutrition the more I know how to stop eating, the less I am subject to the vagaries and ups and down of blood sugar spikes and the less food calls me. 

Unless that is, I am doing something I don't want to do in a place I don't want to be.  Then old patterns creep in.  Old thoughts break out.  Old behaviours rear up and grab my, my earliest comfort, my biggest friend.

What do you think the biggest addiction is in our lives today?  It's not TV, it's not Facebookcigarettes, heroin, cocaine, buns or's thought.

The average person thinks between 60,000 and 120,000 thoughts a day and mostfood-addiction of them, to be frank, are unhelpful..They are limited, points of energy seered into our being usually at a time of great stress offering some sort of coping mechanism which worked at the time and which the brain seems to find in default position when it is searching for a way to deal with a stressful situation.

It is a primitive response, a pattern that may have been established in childhood, a record, a notion of something that worked, then.  Only it doesn't any more.  But at a moment of stress we go back there.  And at a moment of stress that solution might well be food.  High sugar food, comfort food call it what you like, this is food addiction and each of us knows what does it for us and where to go to get that hit.

So here I am Monday morning, facing a potential stress and going back to my default position: food!  Only this time I have caught the thought before the action follows through and I am ready.  This time Mike offers to drive me to the venue where I am talking, taking a major stress from me and my day begins to take shape.

So you see, it's not about food and it's not about packing sufficient lunch to get me through (!), it's about finding a different answer and confronting the source of the stress.  What is paleo?  What is the caveman diet? Of course they are one and the same. It is a balance in every aspect of life, mind body and soul.  Use it well and don't dilute this powerful gift from our ancestors.

So...What can i do to stop eating?

Well remember this is paleo, so to thrive you ought eat to live, not live to eat.

Paleo Success

Emma (Before)

A Life Changing Experience:

I started the Paleo way of eating/life February 2011, 9 months ago. My health wasn’t good, I was exhausted and felt bloated and sick most of the time. I had followed many of the so-called ‘healthy’ diets in my life, and had been particularly seduced by a well-known low fat diet in the mid 90s, which in resulted in me eating tons of carbs such as cereal, bagels, bread and beans that I ended up desperately trying to burn off through long runs each day.

Cleaning up her act...
I started to put on weight on this diet, and found it almost impossible to control the amount of food I was eating. I became addicted to eating breakfast cereal, and it started to form the basis of nearly all of my meals during my first year at university. I developed IBS after several months on this low fat diet, which was so bad, it affected my attendance at university. I became so exhausted and depressed, I eventually went to a specialist, who diagnosed me with ME.

Although I achieved some remission from ME after seeing a nutritionist who advised me to cut out sugar and junk for a while, my real health breakthroughs have come through following a paleo/primal way of eating. I was sceptical when my brother-in-law fitness instructor discussed some of the benefits of following a way of eating that included animal fats and coconut oil. Like many people, I had been fully brainwashed into thinking that these foods were unhealthy as they contained saturated fats.  However, after hitting yet another brick wall with my health, where I was having problems conceiving, had polycystic ovaries, and was gaining weight rapidly, I felt I was running out of options. I went to a ‘functional nutritionist’ who ran some tests showing me the extent of my health problems. I remember being shocked when he said that my body was having a ‘health crisis’, and if I had carried on eating what I was eating, I could end up with some serious health problems. The tests showed I had a parasite in my gut, my hormones were out of sync (estradiol and testosterone too high, progesterone too low). He also suspected that I had become insulin resistant. He explained that my hormones had probably been affected by my years of following a low fat diet, as they need fat to remain balanced. He put me on an eating programme that was in line with the Paleo/Primal guidelines.  Although it’s not hard to follow, it took me a while to re-programme my thinking and allow myself to eat fat again without guilt. I also had to get used to not eating sugar, grains and cereals; the foods I have been consuming in huge quantities all of my adult life.

So, 9 months into the Paleolifestyle change, I have lost 2 ½ stone, am no longer bloated after eating, no longer have a parasite, my progesterone is now within  the normal range and I have so much more energy to do things I’ve wanted to do for years in my life. I come back from work in the evenings with plenty of energy to work and play in the evenings. I feel fuller than I have for years, and enjoy the most delicious, rich food that is full of fat to help my body keep my hormones balanced.

People at work can’t believe I’ve lost weight eating the amount of fat I have in my food! I lost the weight at a slow, steady pace and reached an equilibrium for several months, but I wasn’t bothered; this was not just about my figure, this was about me reclaiming my life back and supporting my body to heal itself from the damage I had caused it through poor lifestyle choices. Anyway, my body has started shedding excess fat again and I’ve recently lost another 4 pounds. I never thought it was possible to have vibrant, optimal health without feeling deprived, but now I do!

Happy Day!

Paleo Rocks!

Monday, May 21

What Is Paleo?

Paleo or Paleolithic Diet, also known as The Caveman or Stone Age Diet. There are several names for this type of diet that pretty much all mean the same thing, Evolutionary, Real Food, DNA and Natural Diet are also terms used to describe a move away from the western pattern diet to a cleaner healthier more nutritious option.
The basic premise is of eating only naturally occurring real foods. These being the plants and animals our great grandparents though specifically those before them knew as food. 

Why should we change? Well there are many foods we think of today as natural and healthy that are actually anything but. What are the foods we should eat? A very simple criteria would be to ask yourself a question before you put anything in your mouth. That is, could I eat this raw without cooking, not that we want to or would suggest eating raw meat, the idea here of course is merely to establish what's good and what's bad before we put it in our mouth.

Many so called healthy foods are only made digestible by cooking or processing. Note I said digestible as neither processing or cooking can make these foods healthy. Regardless of what we're told foods in this category include all grains, more on this later.

Before we can begin to really understand 'what is paleo' or what's behind a Caveman Diet we need to know a little about what has been going on. Since the advent of mechanisation and the development of machines to manufacture food, things have been getting progressively worse. The Neolithic or Agricultural Revolution as it's known was and still is heralded as a great milestone in the development of our societies.

Well, was it that great? What has it really achieved? The answer is it wasn't, and still isn't that great for the long term health of individuals who make up these societies. True it enabled mass civilisations to have "food a plentiful!" and grow to the huge populations we see today. This of course is great news if your (a) responsible for providing the food or (b) responsible for managing these populations. Though sadly it's not such great news if your an individual being fed on these foods and being told they are healthy so eat more.

What if you were told that the foods included on the NHS 'eatwell plate' are far from healthy. In fact they are decidedly unhealthy and will cause you to gain weight at the very least, but also increase the likely hood of disease. One would imagine that you may be a little alarmed and wish to know more about these claims, how could they be anything but 'off the cuff claims'? After-all it is official advice and so has to be right, right?

Hmm, ponder this for a moment...

Why are we getting Fat? Why so much Diabetes & Heart Disease?

There is certainly something seriously wrong with our current diet, obesity and it's associated diseases are at pandemic levels. Two governmental reports into the matter, a House of Commons Select Committee report and the Foresight Report concluded the cause of obesity to be 'Gluttony & Sloth' (Overeating and Laziness).

As a result official advice to resolve the issue is simply a matter of reversing the equation i.e. eat less and exercise more.  Is this right? Has it worked for you? Has it ever worked? Well with obesity, heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, alzheimers and many more on the increase, it would be fair to suggest not.

You see it takes an extreme amount of effort for this method to work, much more than the average 'joe' has that's for sure.  To eat less and do more just doesn't equate, this is simply because when you do more it increases your appetite and makes you hungry (Read: Best Exercise For Fat Loss).  As you will learn willpower doesn't stand a chance due to the power of a chemical called Ghrelin (the hunger hormone) which gets produced in ever increasing amounts until you give in and feast.  OK more on this later but for now let's move on a little further and look at what else is going on.

You've heard it all before a thousand and one times, choose 5-a-day, low-fat, low cholesterol, low calorie, whole grain. Eat these type of foods in smaller quantities and exercise more to lose weight and be healthy.

These are the core principles of a healthy diet, being commonly accepted by almost all, this is what is known as Conventional Wisdom.

A Paleo Diet v All Other Diets

Yoyo Flow chartOn the back of this we've had quick fix pills , Atkins, Hollywood, Weight Watchers, Slimming World and Dukan, Dash, HCG to name but a few. All of which are short-term temporary solutions, which means once you stop doing as instructed by a particular program, you will almost certainly put all the weight back on plus some additional. These of course are what are known as 'fad' or 'yo-yo' diets due to their unsustainable nature and cycle of weight loss/weight gain. They actively disrupt the bodies metabolism, which is perhaps not the best route when we are focusing on our health.

In addition to add to the confusion over diet we have vegetarianism and even worse veganism. Both of these lifestyle choices focus on some sort of moral high ground at the expense of complete nutrition, long term exposure to these diets is detrimental to health due to the nutritional deficiencies and chemical imbalance caused by a high carbohydrate diet and the absence of essential fatty acids found in meat and fish. Vegetarians are particularly prone to Cancers of the nervous system and reproductive organs.

What is needed is a simple, sustainable, easy to understand that school children can follow and understand. One that stays with you for the rest of your life and doesn't require periodic renewal of diet club or gym memberships, visits and re-visits to clinics. restriction, lack and general misery.

“One of the unintended consequences of decades of terrible health advice (eat low fat foods, avoid red meat and saturated fat, do endless cardio on machines while indoors) is that being healthy becomes miserable drudgery.  Good health and diet should be joyous and life-affirming.  If it isn’t we’re doing it wrong” - J Stanton Gnolls

It is not our intention to point the finger of blame at anyone for the current situation in which we find ourselves. Further reading on this and the historic events that led to the present day situation can be found in the book Why we get fat (and what to do about it) by Gary Taubes, or if you prefer you can watch the shortened video summery below:

If we look at the biological evidence, we find that the cause of obesity to be directly associated to chemical imbalance within the body, causing production of key hormones to be disrupted. Therefore stabilisation of this hormonal imbalance is where we will find the real solution. 

So why should this happen? Why are so many people affected? Why are we getting fatter? Why are we getting sicker?

If you look at the rising numbers of overweight and obese people today and the volume of autoimmune and degenerative disease, Metabolic Syndrome, Cancer, Heart Disease,  Alzheimer's, Parkinson's,  Depression, Arteriosclerosis, Nephritis, Asthma, GERD, Osteoporosis, Stroke.  What you will find is a close correlation with high carbohydrate intake, in particular refined carbohydrates and sugar contained in processed foods which make up a significant proportion of the western diet.

Why is this so? This is the body's response to foods it does not recognise and thus is unable to process in the manner it was designed. We have evolved on a diet high in natural fats, protein with moderate fibrous carbohydrate, increasing seasonally with the availability fruits, you will all be familiar with the term 'fattening up for winter'.

Never in our history have we been exposed to the level of carbohydrate we are today, never in our history have we been in such poor health.

So It's Sugar not Fat making us Fat?

'Healthy' eating is making us fat!
Indeed! our bodies like to operate with stable blood sugar (glucose) and maintain temporary energy stores in our cells, liver and muscles for instant access should we need it. These stores get used up with moderate activity or exercise. When this happens, fat is released from the fat cells to be used as energy.  Consuming processed foods, HFCS, sugar, starchy vegetables and grains causes blood sugar to spike and high levels of insulin to  flood the system in order to stabilise rising blood sugar. Fat normally used for energy when our temporary energy stores are depleted is now locked away due to high insulin levels.

In short refined carbohydrates create an excess of glucose, far more than our temporary stores (muscles and cells) can take or use. High blood sugar is toxic and so it is insulin's job to get rid of it, the only place left is our fat cells where it is delivered via the liver and converted to triglyceride's to allow this to  happen.  Regular exposure to high carbohydrate loading will result in the condition known as insulin intolerance (Type II Diabetes).

But why does the body not recognise these foods as food? Why do they not satisfy our appetite? The fact is that when digested all carbohydrate is transformed into glucose (blood sugar).   The rate at which this happens is what is important as it has a direct impact on the level of insulin production.  Remember fat cannot be used as energy in the presence of insulin.  And insulin is caused to be present in response to eating foods that are high in carbohydrate (refined carbohydrates) which convert easily and quickly into blood sugar.

If you consider our exposure to sugar, fructose, sucrose, dextrose in our diet and compare this to what our ancestors ate, you will notice a huge difference. If you gave a caveman a Mars Bar do you think he would recognise it as food?  Then neither should you!

Our ancestors  matured fast to adulthood and independence, lived healthy active lives then died.  By contrast increasing modern societies spend ages maturing (some much longer than others, some never getting there), live a life of dubious health and well-being and then spend ages getting old and dying.

You Choose...

So how do we really resolve the obesity issue?

What's needed is another radical shift, only this time in the opposite direction. A diet that's aligned to and similar in principle to that on which we evolved, a natural diet of nutritionally dense foods we're genetically designed to eat. This is evolutionary nutrition and when you eat this way, body fat management becomes automated and normal.
You eat when you are hungry and because you're only eating real foods, your body is able to tell you when you've had enough and to process it without any fuss. However as we have learned so far, this is much more than just a diet. It is a sustainable lifestyle, a wise shift away from sugar, HFCS , starchy vegetables, grains & legumes meaning your general health and well being will be at a level you previously thought impossible.

"In the end, we subscribe to perhaps the most Conventional Wisdom of all – the time tested, naturally selected wisdom spanning hundreds of thousands of years, the wisdom, founded in the incontrovertible facts of evolutionary biology, that guided our ancestors. We may not ever change the minds of society at large, but we can make the small – or big – changes in our own lives that will ensure health, longevity, and wellness" - Mark Sissons.

So there you have it, you now know not only what is paleo but also the history, principles behind it and why we all you too should eat this way. Though of course that is up to you, but what is not in question is that Paleo is and always has been...quite simply the world's healthiest diet, it needs no promotion, no marketing, the proof is in the pudding.

Paleo Works!

Saturday, May 19

Sicilian Paleo Caponata

The aubergine, majestic in its dark purple robe, glistens invitingly, beckoning innocent shoppers to buy with promises of rich meaty textures, vibrant colour and general all round deliciousness……

Well to be honest previous experience of this vegetable has not been promising…at all. Bland, pulpy and flaccid with a taste about as interesting as candle wax, my previous aubergine experiments have been studiously ignored by all three children and even placed out on the lawn for the birds by Mike where it remained for a period of three days till the rains came and took it away.

But then I took to the books and observed two new principles: First aubergines love oil! Second aubergines hate water, tomato juice, wine and any other liquid ingredient unless they have first soaked up enough oil to fire up the QE2. Failure to observe these two principles results in a tough slightly bitter tight skinned piece of rubbery ness. Get it right, though and aubergines are really quite special! And they are a really good economical way to bulk up any family dish.

Try them cooked in coconut oil with tomatoes and garlic, leave to stew for a couple of hours, add cinnamon, salt, pepper and sprinkle with parsley and salty white cheese before you serve. This is a great accompaniment to meat dishes and gives them that sort of “middle eastern” flavour. Yum.

For a lighter different type of meatball you could use half and half cooked chopped seasoned aubergine and minced lamb or add cooked aubergine to a hot fragrant coconut broth laced with subtle thai spices.

In a Scilian caponata, aubergines provide a great base for a “sweet” and sour partnership which is traditionally made with celery, tomatoes, capers and vinegar.

This paleo caponata is delicious served with a thick layer of goat’s cheese ( if you don’t do dairy on your paleo journey don’t add this in )


1/2 cup virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

3 tablespoons pine nuts

1 tablespoon hot chili flakes

2 medium aubergines, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 jar of tomato sauce (no added sugar)

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

Salt and freshly ground pepper


1. Fry the onions and pine nuts in the olive oil for about 5 minutes or until soft. (Traditionalists will add a handful of currants at this point but this dish work well without the additional sweetness).

2. Add the chopped-up aubergine, chili flakes, cinnamon, thyme and balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper.

3. When everything is soft , add the tomato sauce.

4. Bring to the boil and then turn down the heat and simmer.

5. Serve piping hot.

6. Enjoy!

Notes on aubergines:

Aubergines are a great source of B vitamins which aid brain and nervous system function and folate which helps prevent birth defects. They are rich in useful minerals: potassium, manganese, copper and magnesium and they provide lots of soluble fibre which helps to slow down the rate at which sugar is released into the blood stream - useful if you are susceptible to dips in mood due to low blood sugar although you will find eating a paleo diet will even this out for you.

Tuesday, May 1

Top Five Regrets of the Dying

Big subject, big challenge but as we write here of embracing life and optimal health perhaps this is also a timely reminder for us that “in the midst of life we are in death.”  And especially today as we mark the passing of winter..

So below are listed the top five regrets of the dying.

(And there was no mention of sex or parachuting, fast cars or loose women)!

How do we know?  We read it in a book (of the same title) written by an Australian palliative care nurse called Bronnie Ware who cared for people in the last 12 weeks of their lives and recorded their dying “epiphanies”.  And what Ware sees is the phenomenal clarity of vision people gain at the end of their lives.  And what Ware notes is that “when questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently,” she says, “common themes surfaced again and again.”  And we can learn deeply from this:

Here are the top five regrets as witnessed by Bronnie Ware:

1 I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

“This was the most common regret of all.  When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled.  Most people have not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.  Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.”

2.  I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

“This came from every male patient that I nursed.  They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship.  Women also spoke of this regret but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners.  All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”

3.  I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings

“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others.  As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming.  Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”

4.  I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

“Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down.  Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years.  There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved.  Everyone missed their friends when they are dying.”

5.  I wish I had let myself be happier. 

“This is a surprisingly common one.  Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice.  They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits.  The so-called comfort of familiarity overflowed into their emotions as well as their physical lives.  Fear of change had them pretending to others and to their selves that they were content, when deep within they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their lives again.”

Makes you think, doesn’t it?

What would your biggest regret be if this was to be the last day of your life?