Category Archives: About my Journey

Back to it… Paleo-style

Sorry!

I totally lost my mojo for months. Its been a shit of a past … way too many… months for me, mentally, physically, everything. I don’t know how else to explain it. How does one cope when the only things you want are still out of your grasp, and not through any fault of your own? My job is just that, a job. I’m lucky I love the people I work with, because I sure don’t have any love for the profession that is getting further and further from what I believe in. Very rarely someone will be responsive to something I’ve said about diet and their current medical predicament, but most of the time people still want a tablet to fix it.

I’m trying to get said mojo back. I’ve signed up for Pete Evan’s “The Paleo Way”, a 10 week program with meal plans, exercise plans and support from a naturopath, trainer and all that. And for the most part I’m excited. My lovely husband suggested that I start up my blog post again, and I kind of agree it’s a good time to do it.

At THIS particular moment I’m in a state of self-wallowing, hating my life as it is and still not being able to have the one thing I want more than anything. In case you hadn’t picked it, I want a child. It’s not happening, and we don’t know why. At this point I’ve got another 2 months (the 10 weeks so has it) before it’s been a year since I went off the pill. It’s depressing and I don’t know how those people who are further along in their journey do it, hats off to them. It hurts when inevitably another friend posts that they’re pregnant. It hurts when everything people talk about, post about, aren’t even doing anything specific about, is kids. And then I feel guilty for getting so upset at someone who I probably don’t know the backstory, is just living how they want, and I’d be the same if I was in their situation. But this is why I’ve signed up for this. 13 years of being on the pill, eating inflammatory foods, sugars, carbs and all that, have most likely damaged my gut and my body more than I’d realised, and more than it affects other people. I don’t have any weight to lose. I have to strengthen my body again, get my hormones working and heal my gut (which is the epicentre of nearly every body process).

Today is the starting day. From now till 10 weeks time, there is no grains, dairy, sugar, alcohol or processed foods. I’d pretty much been eating Paleo for the past few months, but sugar, grains and alcohol have slipped back in, and at levels that my body obviously didn’t agree with. I’d also been slack at the exercise, and that has been thrown in to this program as well. But it can’t hurt can it?

I’ve made bone broth. I’d been making it for a while with just the leftovers from a roast dinner, but this time i’ve brought chicken necks, carcasses, beef marrow bones, all free range/grass fed. I’m having some in some of my meals, and then again as a drink. Bone broth is full of liquid minerals, gelatin and goodness seeped out of the bones of these animals, in a warm, soothing broth. yum yum…. actually I’m still getting used to the taste. I add a bit of herb salt and pepper and cumin and its okay. I think its a thing to get used to.

I’ve bought (until I make my own) fermented veggies – in particular, Kimchi – which is cabbage, carrot, sweet potato, radish and a few other things. Its a bit of a weird taste, but again, something to get used to I suppose. This is to supplement the good bacteria in my gut to help digest and get the most out of my food. Slow and steady is the trick to this one.

Breakfast today was wilted silverbeet/spinach, 2 poached eggs, a piece of nitrate-free bacon, 1/2 an avocado and some Kimchi. That was yummy. Nitrate-free organic bacon is so different to the stuff you get in the supermarket. Proper smoked flavour and so much of it! My poached eggs failed…. but I think i’m just going to fry them from now on, poached eggs have never been my forte.

Lunch was a beautiful affair, a stir-fried ground beef with a hot/sour sauce, basil, chili and a fried egg on top. It was so good! Heaps of flavour. Pete says that we need flavour to make up for the lack of sugar in the dish, and it was amazing. AND I have leftovers 🙂 so will be having this one with a fresh fried egg tomorrow for breakfast 🙂

And now I feel better than I did before I started this post. Something to focus my mind on, and yummy, wholesome food that I really do get excited for once I start doing it. Time to put the next batch of chicken bone broth on too, I love my slow-cooker.

On a side note – I still think the thermomix was the best thing I’ve ever bought 🙂 We still use it all the time, and I’ll still be using it for various dishes on this paleo way, quite a few people have already converted recipes!

Dinner for tonight is a roasted smoked paprika chicken with veg, and a side of roasted broccoli and bacon. I’d better get going on marinating! And also to pop a new lot of chicken broth into the slow cooker for its 24 hours of cooking.

My Professional Dilemma

This post brings me to the reason for starting this blog. My profession. As a pharmacist, I am one of the healthcare professionals that people come to for advice. My heart breaks when I see the type and amount of medications that some people are on, knowing it could have been avoided in the first place, or that they could be doing so much more for their conditions by eating the right type of food and avoiding some of the foods that have been recommended for them by other health care professionals. I’ve been trying to use my knowledge to help these people. Unfortunately I don’t get very far. I’m blocked at every turn professionally and practically. From the Diabetes dietitian who recommends 10-12 serves of carbs a day. To the professional organisations (eg Heart Foundation) who says that Low-fat products are recommended, (totally ignoring the sugar content and other preservatives), saturated fat is bad, sugar is fine and margarine is preferred to butter. To the Doctor who is so overworked that writing a script is the “only way” to treat someone’s condition because he doesn’t have the time (or the accepting patient) to go through other aspects of a patients life such as food and lifestyle. To the patient who just wants a pill to control their condition. To the Pharmaceutical companies pushing doctors, pharmacists and other health care professionals to use their drugs, when nothing is going to change unless the person changes their diet drastically. To the few scientists in the early 1900s who ignored the evidence and changed the world for the worse.

I know I’ve gotten a bit off topic but it is how I feel. I’m so angry at how processed the world has become. When we go shopping at the supermarket we avoid 90% of the store, the middle of the supermarket with all the processed foods. At the moment I’m working on trying to get our fruit/veggies from alternate sources, such as the Co-op I just joined, or the farmers markets. Unfortunately working full time (and not your 9-5 monday to friday, I work weekends which is when most of these markets are on) makes it hard.

Anyway, the pharmaceutical profession has made me feel disillusioned the past few years, and even more so when I link how some medications work to what the body actually needs and how it works (An example of this is the medication known as Xenical – blocks fats being absorbed by the body, leaving you to excrete them. fun! Doesn’t help when it’s sugars/carbs converted to fats that cause most of the problem).

My idea at the moment, for what I’d like to do one day, involves Medication reviews. Pharmacists visit patients, record and check all their medications at their home (including complementary and over the counter medications), then write a report to their doctor reviewing their medications and recommending changes as required. Unfortunately there is no lifestyle or food being reviewed in this, and I’d love to make it more of a “health review” rather than just medication, where I could recommend changes to someones medications, but also to their food. Educate these people on why what they’re eating is actually detrimental to their health, and how to change this. Provide support as they work to make their body healthy, then review medications again.

There will always be medications that are necessary. The reason I was so drawn to pharmacology is that I am interested in the way a drug actually works to correct a wrong in the body. If the right food can do this, fantastic! I do respect that there are many times that food is not enough, and that modern medicine has done some amazing things. I don’t want to say to someone, “this medication is crap, just stop it” because that is unprofessional, and unfounded. If the patient still needs the medication until they can help themselves, then they should still take it.

I offer advice to some of my patients (I work in a retail pharmacy). 99% of the time they aren’t interested. They think what I’m talking about is wrong, because my Doctor/specialist/tv/health organisations say something totally different. Most aren’t interested. Most pharmacists I know still believe in what they were taught, what is shoved down our throats, and the food pyramid. But I understand why, it’s hard not to follow what we’re taught.

Hopefully one day I can have people come to me for advice, not just on their medications, but for their lifestyle and their food choices. I know not everyone has the motivation, drive or resources to change everything. I can’t afford to change everything to what I think is best (most organic food is unfortunately out of my budget at this point in time). But I try. And hopefully here I can share what I know, what I’ve learned, and my ideas for a healthier future 🙂

My journey thus far…

2013 wasn’t a good year health-wise for me, mentally or physically. I had joined the gym the year prior, and although I was fitter, I wasn’t shifting any of the weight or body fat i’d gained over the past few years, even though I “thought” I was eating pretty healthily. My body and gut was never happy, and I always felt uncomfortable. I was following all the guidelines that I’d been taught in my study in Science, and later Pharmacy, and everything that had been shoved down my throat for as long as I could remember. Of course I still thought that the occasional “blow out” shouldn’t affect me, just like everyone around me thought.

Once we moved house in may, I’d decided I was going to try to really focus on me. I joined Weight Watchers and suddenly lost about 5kg in a month, although I was feeling worse. Ultimately discovered I had a thyroid problem, which luckily did resolve, but made me go looking for reasons, and I was still feeling horrible.

A friend of my husband’s had seen a naturopath, and recommended him to me. Honestly this has been the thing that has changed my whole outlook in life. In the end both my husband and I followed his advice and food plans.

One of the things that he went through with me was body fat % and the muscle %. I’d always thought that I was just a bit overweight. Results showed that my body fat % was at 40%… much higher than the 25-30% that would be appropriate for me. All I could think of was, I hardly ate fatty food, loved my fruit and veggies, and the only thing I really had a weakness for was sweet things. I couldn’t understand it. This combined with an ultrasound (after a car accident where I was rear-ended, I’d had a lot of abdominal pain) which showed fatty liver and a lot of abdominal fat wrapped around my organs. My muscle mass was also up there with a 65yr old 😦

He gave me a sheet with things I could eat, how much, and what I should avoid. My aim was 90g protein daily. It all seemed overwhelming… only 1 serve of “grainy” carbs, limited certain veggies, only 1 serve of fruit a day, nuts, healthy fats, and avoiding sugar if possible. I started doing some of my own research for meal ideas and help.

A friend lent me a copy of Christine Cronau’s book, The Fat Revolution. Reading this book opened my eyes to why we are taught to eat like we do (all the “low-fat” ideas), and how the body actually works to process fats and sugars. It all made sense! I even went back to my old biochemistry books… I couldn’t understand how I could have missed all of this. Even though the biochemistry was staring me in the face, the recommendations we were taught still didn’t make sense until I re-read the book. I also looked into the “I Quit Sugar” and related resources. It became clear my previous love of sugary foods and excessive fruit (by excessive, I spent days where I ate nothing but fruit, but it’s so yummy!) had caused my current fat% state. Just realising there was as much sugar in fruit juice as coke, really turned the cogs in my mind.

Over the next few months, not doing much specific exercise (also due to a knee injury that kept flaring), I followed his recommendations (with a few changes). The weight came off so quickly. But the biggest boost for me was how I felt. I went from feeling horrible every day (bloating, inflammation, pain in the gut) to only every so often, and only then it was directly attributed to what I had eaten (specifically for me, sugar and high carb foods cause me so much pain later on). I searched Pintrest, Facebook, and google for ideas on food.

Our biggest problem was snacks. We are both snackers, and if we couldn’t find anything ready-made, we’d go and find something which made us feel horrible. I started bagging nuts in serves, and finding things I could make like protein balls, fudge etc.

The newest addition to our lives has been our Thermomix, which I had been thinking about for about 18months since I went to a demo. It is simply amazing. Nowadays the freezer is full of frozen, bite-size snacks, home made broth, tomato paste, herb puree/oils frozen in cubes, frozen fruit/yoghurt ready for an instant “ice cream”. I’m learning more and more every day. I’ve had the Thermomix for 2 months now, and i’m really starting to become confident in using it. I’ve even made a few things without a recipe 🙂

Anyway, so that’s my health and personal background to why I believe food is the greatest medicine. Without it I wouldn’t be here, trying to change my life one meal at a time.