My beef with the paleo diet ….

diet

I get asked often about various diets – Paleo, Atkins, Low Carb, High Protein, High Fat, Dukkan, Sugar Free – the list is endless.

My go to answer is that I’m not a fan of any of these ways of eating. They all have their redeeming features but I cannot endorse any of them in good faith. Boring as it may seem moderation is key. Sure there are some ‘foods’ that no-one needs to eat ever – think McDonalds, primary coloured lollies, deep fried Mars Bars.

By far the most common diet I am asked about is the Paleo Diet. For those of you who have been living under a rock for the last couple of years The Paleo Diet advocates eating like our ancestors supposedly did. Lots of meat, fish, eggs, non starchy vegetables, nuts and seeds.

Whilst I agree that eating less processed foods and refined sugar is laudable I have real objections to any diet which rules out whole food groups.

Healthy, wholegrain carbohydrates are NOT your enemy. Carbohydrates are our bodies go to source for energy, they are necessary for good gut flora health, are an essential requirement of many cellular functions of our bodies and are necessary for regulation of mood.

Too much carbohydrate can lead to weight gain and spikes in insulin but this generally occurs when we are eating too much carbohydrate (or anything) of the wrong kind. The simple rule is avoid eating white carbs. No magic tricks, no need to get too complicated – just steer clear of white bread, rice, flour, potato etc.

The thing that drives me crazy about the Paleo Diet is that there is very little evidence that our ancestors ever actually ate this way. Sure, they may have killed a beast and eaten it but this didn’t happen every day. There are also the many studies by anthropologists (people who actually know what they are talking about and not those trying to make a buck out of fad diets) who have proven that a varied diet of meat, seeds, grasses, fruits and grains was closer to the truth. Wild meat was thought to have been much lower in fat and the plant component of ancient diets would have been around three times higher in fibre. The lack of cancers and heart disease that Paleo proponents attribute to this diet is more likely a result of the high fibre diet and lack of artificial ingredients and the fact that our ancestors simply didn’t live long enough to develop these types of diseases.

I can fully appreciate the benefits of eating less processed foods and I applaud the move away from chemicals, excess salt and sugar but lets not give this diet kudos for things it doesn’t deserve.

On an environmental level I can’t help but feel that this type of diet is a nightmare for the animals involved, the greenhouse gasses produced and the high costs of water and grain that meat production requires.

My other problem with Paleo eating is the well known increased risk of bowel cancers associated with meat consumption and lack of dietary fibre. Eating a plant based diet as vegans and vegetarians do provides much higher levels of fibre (about 60 grams per day). The Paleo diet is far lower at an estimated 25 grams. Some particular health conditions do better on grain free diets – mostly auto-immune disorders – but this is a specialised situation which requires monitoring by health professionals who know what they are taking about to ensure adequate micro and macro nutrients.

There is plenty of evidence that healthy carbohydrates like wholegrains and legumes are a great source of nutrients and fibre and there is absolutely no reason why they should be excluded from a healthy diet.

There is no doubt that reducing refined carbs, eating lean proteins, fresh vegetables and fruits leads to healthier weight management. I used this method myself recently to lose quite a bit of weight. I reduced my carbohydrate intake quite markedly for a short period of time then reintroduced healthy carbs in reasonable quantities to maintain my weight and look after my health.

My motto has always been ‘If you can’t pronounce it don’t eat it’. Eat like your grandmother is another good idea – simple meals of reasonable size. Lean proteins in small amounts, lots of veg and salad, some healthy carbs like beans and pulses and the occasional treat.

If only we spent our money on growing food, eating local seasonal produce, demanding healthier options and the regulation of chemicals and preservatives instead of fad diets and diet cook books I think we would be a whole lot healthier in body and soul and our planet would thank us for it.

The_Diet_Cycle_20101

Advertisements

Getting it right for breakfast – homemade muesli recipe

Image

There are lots of reasons why you shouldn’t skip breakfast. Not least of which is because it’s yummy and really is the easiest meal of the day to prepare. If you think you don’t have time for breakfast then get up 10 minutes earlier. This may be one of the simplest and most health inducing things you can do for yourself today.

Breakfast is important, especially for kids who need adequate energy to fuel brain function and growth. Having said that, us big people need to be looking after ourselves too.

Eating breakfast :

* helps brain function, memory and cognition.

* helps you avoid the 10am sugar low when you get so hungry that you fill up on coffee and biscuits or anything you can find while battling a cranky mood and headache,

* You are more likely to maintain a healthy weight when you are a regular breakfast eater – you are less likely to snack and it also increases your metabolism.

Avoid like the plague anything which calls itself a breakfast cereal but is primary coloured ! Fruit Loops, Coco Pops etc are the scourge of the world and will do you no good. Please don’t give them to your children – it’s like having lollies for breakfast.  Things like pastries which are high in fat and low in anything of much good to you are to be avoided. Meats, particularly processed ones like bacon, are a no-no offering little in the way of nutrition and giving you lots of nasties like saturated fats and nitrites which are known carcinogens – and I’m sure the animals aren’t too happy about it either.  I am constantly dismayed by the queue at the McDonald’s drive through – McDonalds for breakfast ?- you may as well just sign up your funeral plan now.

Look for cereals which are wholegrain, low in saturated fat, salt, sugar and calories. Aim for fibre, and protein with things like dairy or soy products, nut butters, eggs, wholegrain cereals and breads, fruit and veges.

Breakfast ideas can be simple and wholesome and prepared in minutes – eggs on toast, juice smoothies with yoghurt, yoghurt and fruit, toast or fruit loaf with ricotta and fruit, porridge with grated apple and some nuts or try my MAGIC HOMEMADE MUESLI.

I made a big batch of this muesli today. It took me 2 minutes to throw it all together and 10 minutes or so in the oven. Voila ! Muesli for weeks to come which is yummy and has all the things you need and nothing that you don’t. Try it with some yummy vanilla yoghurt and fruit – poached strawberries or rhubarb is about as fabulous as it gets. Treat yourself to something great …this wheat and dairy free version is bound to become a favourite and who doesn’t feel virtuous eating homemade muesli ???

MAGIC HOMEMADE MUESLI

500g shredded coconut
300g pepitas
200g sunflower seeds
130g pecan pieces
125g walnut pieces
125g flaked almonds
500g rice bran cereal
170g dried cranberries or other dried fruit of your choice
40g melted butter or dairy free spread
3 tablespoons honey

Melt butter and honey together.
Mix all other ingredients except cranberries in a big bowl and add honey/butter mix. Stir well to combine and place on baking trays. Bake in oven till golden, stirring a few times to make sure everything gets evenly toasted.

Add cranberries and allow to cool before storing in airtight containers.

This does make lots so feel free to halve or quarter quantities according to your needs.

The facts on red meat

Image

Meat eaters be warned – you are not going to like what you hear. It’s time to have a long hard look at your meat consumption and to decide whether you want to keep consuming foods that give you heart disease, cancer and ramp up your risk of early death. Harsh but true – read on.

A Harvard University study has tracked 120,000 people over 28 years to asses the affects of red meat in diet.

Particpants who ate unprocessed read meat daily (a palm sized portion) showed a 13% increased risk of premature death. For those who ate processed red meats the risk jumped to 20%.

Red meats, especially processed ones like salami, bacon and hot dogs, contain nitrites, preservatives, colourings, carcinogens and salt. Both processed and unprocessed meats are high in saturated fats and can lead to heart disease, high cholesterol levels and cancer.

The facts are in and you know what to do. Significantly limit your intake of red meat if you want to look after your heart, live longer and reduce your risk of bowel cancer. Why not kick off the week with ‘Meatless Mondays”.

The risks associated with eating other meats such as poultry and fish are significantly less. For a healthy, risk free option why not give other forms of protein such as tofu, eggs, beans and nuts a try.

Looking for meat free recipes ??? Go to http://www.naturocath.com.au/Naturocath/Food_%26_Recipes/Food_%26_Recipes.html