Sunday, September 30

My Paleo Journey - Part 1, Paul Tubbs

Paul Tubbs
Paul J Tubbs, Head of Nursing, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK


This particular journey started more years ago than I care to remember – 1976 to be precise! Clearly I was a slow learner because I didn’t put it all together until 2009! That’s when I found Loren Cordain’s paper on the Origins and Evolution of the Western Diet (Cordain et al 2005), and the penny finally dropped! My first insight, was in a book by Surgeon Captain T L Cleave, The Saccharine Disease (Cleave 1974), in 1976, in which he explained the dangers of refined carbohydrates and trans fats, concluding that, with no other predisposing factors, increased levels of cancers and heart disease could only be laid at the door of transfats and refined sugars.

In 1982 I attended Bristol Polytechnic to do a course in Clinical Teaching which had quite a lot of physiology in it, and notably, one physiology lecturer who taught us about diabetes and explained that our physiology was designed for times of feast and famine. Our ancestors would kill themselves a mammoth he explained, gorge themselves, then perhaps not catch anything for a while so had to exist on stored body fat – still the penny didn’t drop! Along the way I was eating the standard British diet which included lots of bread, refined carbohydrates, chips with everything, beer (natch, I was in the Royal Navy!). Although I stopped taking sugar in anything whilst on board my one and only ship – HMS Reclaim, in 1975. I listened wholeheartedly to the conventional wisdom of the medical fraternity, dieticians and nutritionalists who all based their advice on carbohydrates, low fat, fruit veg and some protein – a so called ‘balanced diet’.

Then, along came Atkins which was quite interesting, but I couldn’t reconcile his ‘no carbs’ approach with my own view that fresh veg and fruit must be good for the body, but tried it anyway and, like everybody else, lost weight – then put it all back on again, not that I was ever really overweight. But at least he said that the danger was in the bun, not the burger itself! (no ref sorry!)

The Paleo Diet

I stumbled upon Cordain’s paper in 2009, and then the penny dropped! It made so much sense. This was the affirmation that had lurked in my subconscious for so many years. However, I still wasn’t particularly overweight at 175lbs at 5ft 11ins. but felt ‘heavy’. I’d always exercised, swim and gym, once I stopped playing sport (arthritic big toe!), but I was getting older and felt that aging was making me slowly put on weight. So having discovered this new paleo genome linked diet, I searched out more information. What I found confirmed and strengthened my resolve to do something about it. I follow Cordain’s 85/15 principle (Cordain 2002), which he explains in his book The Paleo Diet (Ibid) so I avoid the guilt if I succumb and have something non-paleo.

There are many expert writers and proponents of the Paleo lifestyle but in 2009 they were all in the USA. I could find none in the UK until now,with the emergence of Paleoworks, an excellent resource and very well written and presented.

Paleo Diet References

So I gravitated to a series of websites to do my research (Mark Sissons – The Primal Blueprint), (Loren Cordain), (Robb Wolf – The Paleo Solution). I also bought their books and those of otherexperts along the way – The Protein Power Lifeplan, (Eades M.R. and Eades M. D. 2001). The Paleo Diet (Loren Cordain, 2002), The Primal Blueprint (Mark Sissons 2009), The Paleo Solution (Robb Wolf, 2010), Why we Get Fat – Gary Taubes (2011), The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living - Volek & Phinney, 2011). The date of publication of the first two really surprised me because they certainly hadn’t come up on my radar prior to reading Cordain’s paper.

But this got me interested in the science of eating the correct foods and the debate surrounding obesity and Diabetes. This really fascinated me – I recall being on a renal nursing course in 1977/78 when @5% of our ESRF dialysis patients had diabetes. It is now a much higher proportion @25%, and you only have to look around to see a plethora of ‘muffin tops’, all munching their cupcakes and burgers.

Do your own research - the media have it wrong

I don’t have an obsession with my weight, but I do have a curiosity about how the body works, and always have had – part of the reason I became a nurse I suppose. But the more I read the more I became aware that the message in the media and from the health professions was plain wrong, and that I had been part of that disinformation for many years.

In the new year of 2009, having overindulged at Christmas, I decided that the time was right to look at Paleo as a lifestyle, realising that this was not just a diet, but a step change in the way I thought about food, its production, its composition, consumption and in caveman style, its availability. The only way I was going to make this work was by getting into the head of my ancestors. So I began to ask myself what I was going to eat now that bread had been dis-invented, there were no cows, so no dairy, and so the challenge began .....

Keep reading for Part 2 to follow listing Paul's "how to".. and practical tips for eating a paleo diet

Friday, September 28

Back to Basics

Back to Paleo basics or a quick recap on why we eat paleo.

It’s not rocket science and …well…. may be that’s just it, it’s not rocket science!

If you stick to the list of good stuff: meat , fish , eggs, vegetables, a bit of fruit, seeds, nut and most important the good saturated fat you are going to be OK.  There is nothing on there that will make us fat.  There is nothing there that is processed and full of junk.  And who needs sugar when we can have fat?

Also we stop having to think about it:  about food.  Well we do think about food but not the craving type thinking about food that got to each and everyone of us in the period before.  Sound familiar?  Remember this from Caitlin Moran when we wrote about processed food an addiction of choice

“ 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.”

Life moves on.

The thinking about food now becomes simply what are we going to have for tea?  What can we create for tea out of that list?  Researching recipes out of the desire to create something lovely and somehow being bound by those ingredients it’s easier.

And we say again who needs sugar when you can eat good delicious saturated fat?  Never underestimate the flavoursome difference eating saturated fat can have on your diet and food.

And we are not the only ones who think this.  We’ve been talking to Paul Tubbs Head of Nursing at Manchester University.  He has written a fantastic piece for us about how he came to paleo and going forward how he incorporates paleo into his life.  We think you will want to read this…starting this weekend only at Paleo Works.

Tuesday, September 25

Accepting Where We Are

Guess what?

The best way to improve your situation is to accept it.  Unconditionally.  Warts and all..

Counter intuitive?  May be but watch those who reject what is happening believing that rejecting the present is the best way to create positive change.  From experience, we can see that rejecting our perceived failures gives rise to pain (and an all-expenses paid one-way trip to the land of denial).

Trouble is, if we feel it is unacceptable to be overweight the truth, the actual facts, hurts.  A lot.  And yet many of us believe that kind of self-loathing to be motivational? 

If this is you, try this experiment:

·         Think of something you haven’t been able to do: lose weight for example

·         Now feel the anxiety of what  must be done to achieve the change and start to turn up the volume on that anxiety: fat thighs, rippling back fat, thick neck, stubby fingers and scream and shout for change: immediate, total permanent change, now: you want it, need it, it's not right what you have it's wrong and must be fixed (you get the idea)!

·         Notice what reaction this is having: are you  more or less wanting your comforts?  Do you feel more or less like eating are you feeling happy about yourself?

·         Now give yourself ten minutes out of life: release the anxiety, the stress about failing, self -abuse, non-acceptance and try for this ten minutes saying this is where I am, this is OK for these ten minutes I am being with who I am.  If judgments keep presenting themselves tell them to back off, we’re taking ten minutes here.  You can have them all back after the ten minutes but for now we are taking ten.

·         Feeling angry?  Feeling scared?  Feeling mean?  Accept where you are.  Identify what you are feeling and say hello, give yourself permission to feel what you are feeling and let it go. “It’s  okay to be cross”  “It’s okay to be sad” “It’s okay to cry” 

·         Notice now by accepting where you are (your outward truth, what’s real) and your inward truth (what you are feeling about it) how you are feeling about wanting that sweet treat wanting to go with the chocolate and biscuit answer.  And suddenly it's not so bad.

Accepting where we are frees up a lot of energy in a way that rejecting the truth and crawling back into denial does not.  And from that calm place we can take stock and chose something different. 

And we would start by actively choosing for paleo food.  Making this choice helps us withdraw from sugar and processed food which provides clarity and from that clearest point we can start to make a difference.

There are lots of recipes to follow on this site and on our facebook page where we post pictures of the food we have cooked and eaten with our kids.  Let you into a secret: it's the best fun.

Until next time..

Monday, September 24

The Truth will set us Free

self love
Or nothing changes until it becomes what it is…

Most of us can tell at a glance what isn’t working in life unless it’s our own life that is.

And denial is not just a river in Egypt. 

Take being overweight.  When we are feeling chubby it’s true, we avoid the scales like the plague…..the last thing we want to know is accurate information being our actual weight. 

The same with overspending we don’t want to see the actual overspend written down on credit card statement oh nooo.  Let’s keep the dream alive a little longer (you know the one that says money is not an issue and we have a lot of it)

In truth, we are not ignorant just a little vague.  For being vague on the detail can seem to make life bearable.  We let ourselves know just enough, we take a small peek just enough to let us know that we don’t want to know any more about it.  It’s there but not fully formed so doesn’t count.  Psychologists call this denial..

The first step to making change is to accept that there is a problem. 

Martha Beck recommends we hold onto that denial for a moment and then fill in the following blanks:

Here’s what I know is true even though I wish it weren’t……………

Here’s what I really feel about it even though I don’t want to………………………….

Bummer.  Really bad.  Really bad.  Don’t panic!

Remember to breathe. Remember too this is the first step in the process of change which we have bravely begun.

Next time we will take a look at the next step: self-acceptance and how this can set us free.

Friday, September 21

On Perspective

Yesterday turned out to be a great day.

It’s about connecting sometimes about being vulnerable and being OK with that.

Helped along by those who take time to connect with us, take time to write in with words like this:

“Given where I was and where I am now, I don’t sweat the small stuff.  If the walk is long enuff you can expect to trip up sometimes”

Because for a minute in that clear given sentence, there it is: perspective.

And in that given minute we can pause, make peace with the choices we have made before and then try something different.

And sometimes that’s all it takes.

Yesterday was one of those days.

So thank you for sharing.

This post is dedicated to:

“the courage and fortitude of those who ride the night winds--who are the day trippers and midnight cowboys--who in sonic solitude or the hazy hell of habit know--that for all the devils and gods--for all the illnesses and drugs to cure them--Life is a marvelous, transitory adventure--and are determined to push us into the next century, galaxy” –Nikki Giovanni

Thursday, September 20

On Being Real

on being accountable

Change is tough.  Throw in a set of altered circumstances and wow, after 47 years how easy to slip back into old habits, routines and coping mechanisms.  Keep vigilant.  Watch.  There’s nothing else to do in circumstances such as these. Feel your way out of the scary places, the new house, the new routines, the new life together and trust.

Action plan required. 

Today we drop the milky coffee comforter before work that has slipped into the routine and opt for Americano, a splash of milk, no more than that.  We skip breakfast keeping the fast going til lunch and pack up some roast pork and fat crackling for lunch or whenever, whenever the day gets to feel long and scary.  It’s about trading out those habits it’s not about being hard and it’s not about being outfaced by the challenge.  We trade it up and out for manageable chunks.  We keep walking.

Arriving at work.  Take five minutes out to find a new simple paleo recipe for tea.  Chorizo and bacon frittata: simple and do-able: prepare quick list of ingredients to collect at lunch-time.  Pressure gone.  This we can do.  Keep breathing.

Hold fast an intention to post supper pictures on facebook.  Being accountable helps. Come visit us tonight and share.  We could sure use some paleo love from our paleo friends and family.

Talk soon.

Sunday, September 16

Remembering Old Posts: Blackberries featuring Hurricane Irene

Back from tea time romp on Ilkley Moor, I'm sure Hurricane Irene has changed course and is currently passing over,  my ears are singing but its exhilarating too.  Back home and we left thick belly pork slices cooking in the oven.

On the way we pass the forest where the brambles are and we stop the car to take a look.  We are so happy to find the blackberries tucked away in a corner. Dark  purple and shiny hiding under the leaves, we grab Rob's hat and start gathering.  The children love it climbing over the fence to reach the fattest berries, shouting out when the bramble thorns catch their trouser legs, cursing and laughing at the same time.  Michael directs loudly, his broken rib (sustained during a playfight with one of our boys) making him opt out for once.

We load up once more and drive home.  The door opens to a delicious smell of roasting meat, fat sizzling in the pan.  Michael opens the fridge door and grabs a bit of liver left over from breakfast and Poppy and me start to make a salad.  We had no idea what we were going to serve with the meat but the dinner seems to grow and take shape without effort.  We throw in spinach leaves, lettuce leaves and Poppy takes some leaves off the herb plants growing on the window sill.  Baby tomatoes, cucumber, cress and then some old polish smoked sausage from the back of the fridge goes in and then because those blackberries look so darn good we chuck in two handfuls of them too!  We make dressing for the salad and tea is ready.

And cooking  paleo really is as easy as that.  Do you have a paleo Sunday tea you can share with us?  Get in touch and let us know, we'd love to hear from you.

Taking the Power Back

ring the bells
Elsewhere on this blog we have touched on the idea of Intermittent Fasting (IF) and here. Possibly one of the most beneficial aspects of IF is that it dramatically alters our perspective on eating.  Like moving across the road or standing on our heads. Try it and see. After 24 hours food choices come much easier.We have gained perspective and no longer want to put junk food into a body that feels rested and well.

Further, by abstaining from food for a short period we are putting our mind in control of our behaviour and giving ourselves a break. Taking back a bit of control over life is an empowering feeling and can lead to improved self-image and confidence. What felt dense and challenging begins to feel extraordinarily clear.  And with perspective we gain understanding building on the chink of light ahead.

And for those worried about their body failing without food across a mini-fast? Please rest assured that our bodies are genetically adapted through a process known as ketosis to last much more than ten hours without food.  It feels natural not to eat sometimes so just go with that feeling: it just happened fasting packs more of a punch than those planned for moments where some will over compensate and eat more because of a decision consciously made to fast as opposed to skipping a meal.

Always remember to keep hydrated during a fast. Drink tea or green tea or black coffee as well as water. Keep busy and try exercising before breaking your fast – the results are always positive.

For more great ideas on fasting try this new paper review of intermittent fasting and calorie restriction: can they help me live longer? Lose Weight?

Then tell us about your success.  We'd love to hear from you

Friday, September 14

Paleo for Life

So, we’ve moved in and like we’ve written before, never underestimate the power of stress to wreak havoc with diet and life! These two weeks have been a roller coaster ride.  After living in my home town for the last 25 years, we upped sticks and moved away.  Have experienced much of life in that old town:  the births of my four children, divorce, the deaths of both my parents, the death of my children’s father.  Gaining hope, stepping up, stepping out and meeting my much adored husband, Michael, marrying, gaining a wonderful stepson, holding down a full-time job though all of it, the list feel endless and so you see, moving away was a wrench.  

And like we wrote, never underestimate the power of stress to wreak havoc especially when it comes to food!  Truth is genetically we haven’t evolved that much from our hunter-gatherer ancestors for whom stress meant only one thing – famine, starvation and lack.

So when stress kicks in, our bodies slow down to save energy and food output and send out these crazy food signals shouting “come on, don’t delay, get it while you can!”  

Finding ways to remove that stress becomes key because now we are fighting evolution and for survival of the species.  That’s what our bodies tell us any way and unless we remain scrupulously aware, we can easily slip back into overeating into overconsumption of carbohydrates into feeling horrible.  We have written about the effect of stress on the body many times over: this stuff isn't new.

Truth is, gaining perspective helps.  Not always easy but helped by becoming aware of what we are doing.  It’s like we need to create a little space in which good things can happen instead of experiencing this portion of life with our face pressed up against the window, we need to step back and see the bigger picture.

Exercise helps.  Becoming physical helps.  Becoming present helps.  Become aware of what you are sitting on for example, the telephone resting on the table, the steam from the cup of tea on the table, watching, describing, pulling back from going inside ourselves again and remaining present, pulling back again when we come up against the stress, pulling away from the same old stories: can’t do it, scared, unloved, small.  It's about taking a deep breath and getting back on track.

So here’s the view from out my new bathroom window.  Here’s what blew in this morning.  The presence in the wind so strong, perhaps it can’t help but stir something positive and new.  And just for a moment, all is well.  Life is this incredible journey: how do you manage your stress?

Tuesday, September 11

On Eating Dairy Products

Through the Narrow Gate
This is a great question received in the mail bag last week which deserves an answer:

Message: Hi, I love your website.  I’ve been trying to follow paleo for a while now – with a one month relapse when I decided that I couldn’t cope with being deprived of wheat and other grains.  Any way I’m back on the “straight and narrow” although I’ve realised that I’m eating way too much fruit and I’ve been using Agave – which I’ve just read is a big no no – so it’ll be a little straighter and narrower now!  It probably explains my inability to lose weight whilst I thought I was being good!  Having said that – I’m confused by your inclusion of dairy products in your recipes?  I thought they didn’t feature on the paleo diet because milk and it’s products are designed for baby cows not humans.  I’d be interested in your response because I love butter and yoghurt almost as much as fruit – I really like the two together !!

First thank you for your question. It is great to share and gives us a chance to explore our diet with you.

Second, take a look at the picture.  Reading between the lines (to us) there is an element of "old-school" thinking: the kind that says when I follow a paleo diet I deprive myself, I restrict myself and I must force myself to walk a straight and narrow path.  Take a second look at the picture - does it make sense now?

Read this feature about abundance, take a deep breath, let go of all the old school thinking and make a different choice.  Whatever has gone before,  it's never too late to press that re-set button.

The great question you raise on eating dairy products fits neatly into this pattern.  

For us, eating paleo is a lifestyle choice.  How we do it is up to us.  We say on the "Oliver Diet", that dairy products are optional because for some giving up a cup of tea with a splash of milk is too hard.  Life is so not about being hard on ourselves.  And if it's that splash of milk or yoghurt that makes the difference between adopting this lifestyle and not then take the milk for all the science behind it with this one proviso, how does your body tolerate it.  And to find that out do without dairy products for thirty days then start eating them again and see what happens.  

If our body reacts with fearful tummy cramps, nausea and gas then that experience tells us not to use it in our diet and it is amazing how those symptoms make it easy to leave these products behind.  

Try it and see!  Give it a month and get back to us, tell us how it's going, we'd love to hear from you.  

Until next time..

Monday, September 10

Mum, Please Don't Teach me to Count Calories!

fat mum and child
This is a pet hate….please do not teach children to count calories.  Teach them instead to value good food and understand how to eat to thrive.  Don’t know how?  That’s why we are here so there will be no more fraught conversations with your child at the chocolate pudding counter in Tescos over the calorie content of each “treat”.  Just put it back!

Instead ask your children to spot the natural food, the food that is going to fill their tummies and keep them fit and strong.  Make it an adventure, make it fun.  Children love to participate and love to spend time with us, sharing.  Make that sharing worthwhile.  Teach them well and the foundation will last a life time.

Teach them calorie counting and our children will battle with weight all their life. We have to learn from our own experience and we know that calorie counting; eat less and exercise more will only ever lead to weight gain, yo-yo dieting and a sense that whatever we do, there will never be enough.  Our children deserve so much more.

First take a refresher course on why calorie counting doesn’t work.  Then send us your questions.  We love to hear from you.  Til next time

Tuesday, September 4

Moving Home

moving dog

Hold onto your hats..we're moving!

We are relocating out of town and can't wait.  This will not impact our service at Paleo Works save to highlight a new address as of Thursday.  And you know what's great?  How life constantly presents us with opportunity.  Moving is a golden opportunity to explore, shake down and take stock.  And never underestimate the effect of stress on our eating habits!  More on that later....

Monday, September 3

How to Stop Emotional Eating

This is a great question we received in the mailbag over the weekend.

And it leaves us in somewhat of a dilemma.  Those of you who follow our blog know that for us emotional eating is all about the hormone insulin and the food choices we make.  The beauty of our diet is that it levels out the sense of emotional overload brought on by carbohydrate addiction.  It gives a fighting chance to those of us who lurch from mood to mood because it takes the “sugar” out of the equation and presents us with a level playing field from where we can tackle any underlying causes.  You get this when you decide to commit.

Overeating however is one of the most common causes behind sudden weight gain.  But eating in response to emotions is an easy trap to fall into.  We say that we eat when we are stressed, bored, sad or even happy but the reality is very different.

Try looking at it like this.  It’s the food that is causing us to experience the emotional turmoil particularly so if the food choices we make are laden with sugar and poor quality fat with carbohydrates (doughnuts, fried chicken, sweets) exactly the kind of food we do reach for to cheer ourselves up.

This can be an “aha” moment for some (yes the picture makes sense now)!.  It’s this heady realisation that we each have the ability and power within us to stop the turmoil and get off the roller coaster that causes us to feel wretched.  It comes down to our diet.  Try it and see.

In the meantime for any of us out there today who are right in it and “riding the tiger” here are a few tips courtesy of celebrity therapist Marisa Peer entitled: Masterclass

  • If you are stressed, have a cup of tea – hot drinks have an immediate relaxing and calming effect
  • Stop seeing food as a reward, refusing it is not a restriction but a benefit to our health
  • We only eat emotionally because we tell ourselves it will make us feel better but the relief is temporary.  We become trapped in a cycle of eating when we are low and then feeling down because we have gained weight and then eating more.  By distracting our self with a phone call to a friend or a quick look at facebook we can break thses old habits.
  • Change our language from “I can’t, I’m on a diet”(Jeez)  to “I’m choosing not to eat to help make my body stronger”  When we deny a desire it only makes it stronger (sound familiar) – instead we tell ourselves that we want to be strong and healthy (like an avatar) and after two weeks it will be natural
  • Keep the unhealthy food out of the house, change your route to work and don’t keep walking past Greggs (we added that last bit)!

It's taken the writer a long time to realise over something that feels relevant to share this morning: "nobody but nobody can make it out here alone"  writes Maya Angelou.  Plans are afoot at paleo works for something new to share.  Keep watching!

Until next time…