Monday, December 31

Make Change Happen!

For many of us the New Year will bring with it a resolve to change.  Perhaps to finally tackle that weight loss and achieve the lean strong body we have longed for since our teens.  For many of us too, we have been here before and the weight of perceived failure can feel so intense we wonder how we can make a difference, how we can change. 

How do you make change happen when it has not happened before.

Step one is to recognise that it is never too late to change, ever!

Second be prepared to walk a different path (in much the same way walking our paleo path goes against the grain) and different to those who opt for the way of the the New Year Resolution.  Be real. we are going to shake things up a little this year.  To make change happen then we have to be prepared to let things go.

First up,  consider what it is that needs to change.  Be detached, analyse and name it.

So what is it about carrying the extra weight that bugs us?

Take a sheet of tissue paper.  Divide it into smaller pieces and write down each feeling that comes up (discomfort, bloat, disgust, shame, greed, loathing: dig deep, really go for it but remember each word is me-specific).  The act of writing down will clarify the situation and allows us to detach from the issue, reducing the power of the issues hold over us and often times providing the glimmer of possibility of something new.

Now slip on those walking boots and get out there. There's work to be done and we are going to get rid of those feelings associated with being overweight once and for all.  We carry too much baggage around with us to allow for possibilities and like we write now, it's the New year and it's time to make a change, it's time to let it go.  We invite you to make a ritual of letting go.  Celebrate.  There's far too much unnoticed magic happening in our world, tap into that wonder and harness possibility to make that change.  Get out there and release the frustration, throw it up and out to something bigger than me, let them deal with it - we have a life to live!

 Here’s one woman’s experience:

“Out came my climbing boots and I headed out to climb the fells.  The sun was shining, the sky a clear blue and a frisky wind was blowing.  When I reached a good height I stopped and, one by one, I held a piece of paper out in my hand and let it fly.  I watched as each one lifted, fluttered, rose and flew.  They blew out of my system and away.  As I did this I thought “this is stupid” but since then I have changed, I feel released and relieved” Lesley Garner

Here is ritual and grace in action.  Use it, get free.

The paper words create a symbol of all that troubles us and when we hold them up to something bigger than us: in this case something elemental like the wind, it takes them from us and absolves us.

The burden of obesity can shame us.  Shame is an isolating, lonely affair.   But the act of ritual lifts us out of ourselves and reconnects us to the flow of life and from that point we have perspective and we say, from that point, we can make change happen.

Try it. Start 2013 clear of the old stuff, burn it, throw it out, let it set sail away on the swollen rivers and let's make 2013 a year to remember!

Sunday, December 30

Cavegirl Porky Scratchings

Heaven is...a great paleo snack that works with each new year's eve tequila!  So in keeping with the spirit of festivities, we offer home made porky scratchings, cooked in the oven and adored by any self respecting caveman for thousands of years!


Pork Skin


1.  Find some pork skin..try your local butcher and ask nicely - you will be surprised what you can get for free nowadays!

2.  Cut the pork skin into smaller manageable pieces but don't go too small....

3.  Lay the pork skin pieces on a baking tray and salt them.  Be generous and then place the baking tray in the fridge.

4.  Leave tray in the fridge, exit stage left and stock up for your celebrations

5.  Heat up the oven to 180C, remove the tray from the fridge and dry the pork skin.  The salt leaches the water out of the pork skin and will give us the ultimate crackling rosie porky scratching we love.

6.  Add more salt to the skin both sides and pop into the oven.

7.  After ten minutes turn the oven down to about 140C.  This process renders out the fat and dries out the pork skin to give us the flavour and crunchy texture

8.  Watch the baking tray and about every twenty minutes, drain off the fat and store elsewhere to use for other cooking projects - no kidding it will taste fantastic.  Turn the pork scratchings at the same time.

9.  Total cooking time approximately 90 minutes but this is cooking by look and smell and feel and touch - we know when they are ready: the colour deep and rich, the skin bubbly and turning in neat chunky shapes.

10.  Leave to cool, season with black pepper and enjoy

The beauty of this snack is that it is impossible to over eat - we promise

Try it and see.

Friday, December 28

New Year, New Paleo You

This is such a powerful exercise.

We somehow forget to focus on how far we have come. Why?  It's the same every year, we always see where we are not, what we have not achieved and how far we still have to go.  Don't let this year slip by like all the rest!

So as this year draws to a close, take a moment or two and reflect, log those triumphs and successes of 2012 and this year, let them carry us forward into the bright shiny New Year 2013. 

Grab a pen and paper and start writing.  Answer the following questions:

My greatest accomplishments this year include……..

Some of the magic moments (no matter how tiny) that shine in my memory are……

I am most grateful this year for…..

Now I’m celebrating……….

Go ahead and enjoy the feelings this brings.  It is like a tidal wave of celebration and it’s that mood of joy and creativity that we want to harness going forward into 2013.

Go on now…we can wait, we have so much time for you

These past eighteen months,  we have loved sharing our paleo journey with you!  

Our intention is for 2013 to be our best year yet and as our old friend W Somerset Maughan writes:

“It’s a funny thing about life: if you refuse to accept anything but the best you very often get it.”

Wednesday, December 26

Fat Burns Brightest, Longest and Best

Gentle post Christmas reminder of why we eat paleo comprising an excerpt from a post on Nora Gedgaudas' website entitled “Are you fat burner or a sugar burner?”

One of the most common complaints one hears about from friends and family these days is not having enough energy.  Energy drinks, bars and supplements, not to mention the ubiquitous presence of coffee shops on almost every corner in every city are a testament to these complaints and they are also BIG business.  Of course, when it comes to so-called “energy drinks” and caffeine we’re not talking about generating real lasting energy so much as we are talking about adding a jolt to the system in the form of a stimulant that provides the short-lived illusion of energy.  That said, one thing virtually all these products has in common is that they can dramatically spike your blood sugar levels.

So…that’s a good thing, right?

Anyone who takes a conventional course in nutrition, medical school, nursing school or any chiropractic or naturopathic school today will likely be taught that their brain, tissues and organs greatly depend upon sufficient blood sugar to fuel energy, maintain their day to day energy supply and fuel all their metabolic processes.  We are taught that “blood sugar” is important—critical, even–and that it must be sustained and regularly managed for optimal health. 

Unfortunately, this is only a conditional truth at best and one that conceals a rather mammoth sin of omission that is overlooked by nearly everyone.  The fact is that we are all one of two things:  we are either a “sugar burner” or we are a “fat burner”.  Perhaps since fat is (erroneously) assumed to be inherently evil, nothing about its potentially vital role in all aspects of health or primary energy production is ever discussed.  We are encouraged to avoid it at any cost and not ask any questions.

Blood sugar management is big business, too.  VERY big business.

We are taught that complex carbohydrates—up to 11 servings a day of grains, beans, rice, potatoes, pasta, etc should form the very basis of our daily food supply, with only honorable mention given to (what they insist should be) LEAN meats and fish, lots of fruits and veggies and next to no fat of any kind (other than perhaps a dollop of olive oil).  Alongside the lonely morsels of fat at the top of the food pyramid lie the sugary snacks…to all be eaten sparingly.  We are also taught to “eat a large breakfast” and many nutritionists admonish us to eat a small snack every couple of hours between meals “to keep that blood sugar up”.

So is the need for “blood sugar” for our energy real and valid…or is it just like its initials would suggest: “B.S.”?

As with many things the answer is “it depends”.  But what if the basic essentiality of blood sugar for our brains, organs and day to day energy was really a myth?  In fact, what if that dependence on “blood sugar” for our day to day energy actually did more harm than good?  What if there was an alternative?  Not only this, what if that alternative were the very fuel we were actually designed to depend upon nearly all the time from the very beginning and that very fuel were the one you actually had the hardest time using… all because you are too busy fueling yourself with sugar?

Come closer…and fasten your seat belt.  You are about to undergo a bit of a paradigm shift.

As with many things, certain things can be conditionally true, within a certain context.  Case in point:  IF you are metabolically adapted to depending on sugar as your primary source of fuel (and all non-fiber carbohydrates are sugar once they hit your bloodstream) then you must of necessity continue to refuel yourself with foods that keep these blood sugar levels elevated so there is no interruption in the energy supply.  Many people experience these interruptions of steady blood sugar supply as mood swings, brain fog, fatigue, irritability, jitteriness, problems thinking, and cravings for anything that will boost those sugar levels back up.  For some people this is experienced as more of an extreme urgency than others.  Either way, the dependence on sugar as a primary source of fuel is more or less the same in those adapted to it with a variable manifestation of consequences

So what does this mean?

If we are to look at the macronutrients in our diet (carbohydrates, protein and fat) strictly from the standpoint of the energy they provide our “metabolic fire”, then carbohydrates in this context can be viewed as a form of metabolic “kindling”.  Brown rice, beans and whole grains could effectively be viewed as “twigs” on our metabolic fire.  White rice, cereal, potatoes, pasta and bread would be “paper” on the fire and substances like alcoholic beverages would readily constitute “gasoline” on that metabolic fire.

Now I’m from a very cold place called Minnesota originally so wood stove analogies work well for me.  If you have ever had to heat your living space with a wood stove you know that the fire in it has to be fed.  If all you had to feed that fire was kindling (twigs, paper and gasoline) you could certainly do it.  The problem is that you would be able to think of or do little else but stay perched in front of that stove, loading it up with handfuls of twigs and wadded up paper all day long just to keep it going.  The flames would flare and die down relatively quickly and you’d need to add more fuel with fairly constant regularity.  God forbid you should need to take a bathroom break or run an errand.  By the time you returned to the stove the fire would be nearly out and you might need to resort to some gasoline to shock it back to life again, just so the process could continue.  Good luck sleeping, too.  Even if you could attach an alarm to the stove to awaken you when the fire got too low you would be awakened well before you were fully rested in order to feed the hungry flames (hmmmm…there’s an analogy here).  In essence you would be enslaved to that wood stove and your preoccupation with it would of necessity be relatively constant.  The flames would rise and fall like a roller coaster ride.  Much as I love a good wood stove fire, though (or carnival ride) that would be anything but my idea of a good time.

What if instead you were to place a nice big “fat” log on the fire?  All of a sudden you would…have a life! –What a concept!!  You could leave the house and run errands.  Heck–you could even get a good night’s sleep!  By morning if the fire was burning low all you’d need to do is grab another big log and toss it in.  You wouldn’t need to think too much about it most of the time and your fuel wouldn’t take up too much space, either.

Sugar is best described metabolically as “rocket fuel”.  It burns best anaerobically (in conditions of low oxygen—as while sprinting or extreme exertion).  Far from being a steady, lasting or reliable fuel, sugar burns very hot and very fast.  How badly do you need rocket fuel in your car to go most of where your car takes you day to day?  Do you really want to have your engine burn that hot all the time?  Don’t racing cars need a lot more maintenance in part because of that?  Increased metabolic heat also makes for a very hungry engine.

Sugar’s presence additionally attracts what is termed “free radical activity” which leads to unhealthy oxidation (damage) of tissues.  Sugar also undergoes a process known as “glycation” in the body where molecules of sugar combine with proteins and fats there and cause them to become sticky, misshapen and start to malfunction.  This in turn leads to even more free radical damage and basically fuels the degenerative aging process.  The brain and nervous system are particularly susceptible to all this as they don’t respond much to insulin and are therefore more likely to be bombarded with all the dangerous stickiness.  

In diabetics and alcoholics this can result in accelerated forms of neuropathy, organ damage and degenerative brain conditions.  

In others, glycated tangles of amyloid proteins eventually lead to a diagnosis of Alzheimers…technically a form of “brain neuropathy”.  Advanced glycosylation end-products (A.G.E.’s) lead to mutations in DNA and help potentiate cancerous processes which blood sugar additionally feeds the growth of.  In short, it ain’t pretty.

Most people feed themselves as if there were no alternative to running their metabolic fires other than kindling.  Food advertising consistently supports this.  Told to eat “low fat”, many people instead eat diets high in addictive sugar and starch in order to feed (and feed) themselves.  Those that don’t care about “low fat” eating often eat large amounts of sugar and starch along with dietary fat, which has its own brand of consequences.  Dietary fat in the presence of carbohydrates (sugar and starch) behaves very differently than dietary fat in the absence of carbohydrates.  The dietary fat in the presence of sugar and starch is far more likely to be stored as excess and also to become damaged through peroxidation, as the body looks to preferentially burning off the sugar to get the excesses out of the bloodstream quickly and as sugar combines with the fat to damage it and make its presence more problematic than it otherwise would be.  

And as long as insulin is present (in other words, as long as dietary sugar and starch keep coming in) it becomes impossible to burn fat at the same time.  Weight gain is the most common consequence, but there is more to this.  You can be skinny and athletic and also suffer serious consequences from a dependence on sugar burning.

Depending on blood sugar for your primary source of fuel means you will be hungry more often and that you may experience regular cravings.  It also means you must eat regularly or else suffer energy and mental and physical performance loss.  Consider the animals that are natural (what I term) “carbovores” (herbivores and ungulates).  What do you see them doing ALL day?  Their faces are on the ground and in the bushes continually.  Eating for them is constant.  I, for one have far better things to do with my time!

It additionally means the quality of your moods and thinking are often hugely dependent upon that steady supply of fuel.  You might also require caffeine to boost your kindling supply first thing in the morning if that supply gets too low, or you may crave alcohol in the evenings.  If you manage this balancing act poorly by regularly eating high glycemic foods then over time the swings can become greater, along with more symptoms typically associated with blood sugar lows: fatigue, anxiety, irritability, explosive anger, jitters and more cravings."

Boxing Day refresher - the analogy of fires works so well in the cold light of day!

Tuesday, December 25

Paleo Christmas at Home

In case it has escaped your notice, it’s Christmas and we’re loving it!

This year we decided to make it about the food and about the eating and about the ritual and the celebration of Christmas of the darkness passing and the light turning back into life and we are talking feast!

We love eating. 

We love paleo eating and finding this healthy sustainable way of eating has brought us closer together as family in unexpected, simple ways.  We eat together every day.  The family dinner is that one moment in the day when we get to really connect, to talk, to argue, to plan, to share and way too often recently to experience that kind of mass hysteria you get when you are sharing with people you love and who love you.

This family table is also the place where we gather together in times of celebration and sadness, to embrace food and each other.  “The table is a place of communion for life’s large and small events” (writes master chef Art Smith) and we wouldn’t disagree.

And so Christmas falls neatly into this space.  “You think you have a handle on God, the Universe and the Great White Light until you go home for Christmas”  writes Shirley Maclaine  “…in an hour you realise how far you’ve got to go and just who is the real turkey” and that for us  is the blessing of family.

And that we write, is one of the unexpected joys of paleo-living.  This sense of connectedness, this family.  We’ve always been here together but somehow investing the time to cook together and eat together has pulled us together and made us stronger and it’s this we pass onto to our readers.  And we are excited for all the amazing meals the family table will share next year!

So on this Christmas Day as you peel the sprouts and prep the parsnips, roast the turkey and braise the cabbage, look up: go on take a good long look and take a moment to connect with those around you.  Embrace those you love and invite them to share at your table: there’s nothing better.

Until next time…have a smashing Christmas.

Monday, December 24

Merry Christmas

Wishing you a very merry Christmas from all at Paleo Works!!

Sunday, December 23

Paleo Beautiful

This one's going up big for every mum who is about to role up her sleeves and plunge into Christmas with a passion!  Take heart, you're beautiful inside and out...and remember losing weight is not just about losing weight, it's about gaining love and acceptance one step at a time.  We figure that if this weight loss journey, this paleo journey, is to last our life time, we are going to stumble and trip sometimes but within each stumble and trip we now know that's where the treasure lies....

“A bit of advice
Given to a young Native American
At the time of his initiation:
As you go the way of life,
You will see a great chasm. Jump.
It is not as wide as you think.”
― JosephCampbell

Saturday, December 15

Paleo Mums Watch This!

Dr Yoni Freedhoff  (obesity expert) writes "So, I'd been asked by the food industry to give this talk at a food industry breakfast.  Three days prior to the event they got cold-feet and dis-invited me.  The good news is, the internet is a much larger here's my take on what the food industry can do, why they are not going to do it and what we can do about it."  

Think about the content and then hit the share's time for change.  What we take away from this? It's like the man says,  it is not the food industry's job to do anything but try to sell food! They have zero responsibility to society at large but maintain a fiduciary duty to their shareholders to make a's up to us to make the difference.

And like we say 

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed it is the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead MA & PhD 

Friday, December 14

Hunger at School: Make a Difference

School dinners – love em or loathe them this issue involves our children and is a very emotive subject.

This morning on Sky News, the lead item confirmed that 3 out of 4 teachers have given money to children who come to school hungry and who have experienced hunger at school without school dinners. 

This made us think.  Do we really not have enough money to give our children breakfast?  And are we feeding our children a good enough breakfast?  A breakfast that will satisfy their hunger? 

We advocate a paleo diet.  For our children too.  Why?  Because it is the only way of eating that keeps hunger in check.  This is key when we are on limited budgets and limited in the food choices we can afford to give our children.  Let’s make it count!!

Do not go for easy empty calories like pop tarts, cornflakes even porridge.  Why?  Because by ten o'clock those tummies hit by the sudden drop in blood sugar will be roaring for more food and who wants to spend the next six hours tearful, lunch-less and hungry?  Teachers educate your pupils to make good choices at home!

Children go for something different!  Think outside the box (cereal or other).  Choose for eggs, butter, bacon and spinach.  Mix ‘em up and make an omelette.  Crispify the bacon in butter and chuck on top of scrambled egg, add in some spinach and this breakfast will see you through even to getting home after school for a 3pm finish.

Get radical.  This choice of food and this way of eating will get you fit and lean.  Try it and see!

Saturday, December 8

What the World Eats

Take a look at What the World Eats!  This picture book is inspired.  Every day, millions of families around the world gather--at the table or on the floor, in a house or outdoors--to eat together. Ever wondered what a typical meal is like on the other side of the world? Or next door? Cultural geographers Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio visited twenty-five families in twenty-one countries to create this fascinating look at what people around the world eat in a week. Meet a family that spends long hours hunting for seal and fish together; a family that raises and eats guinea pigs; a family that drinks six gallons of Coca-Cola a week.  You know what we love about this book?  The connectedness.  This is our world: take a look!