Sunday, May 31, 2009

"We have normality. I repeat, we have normality."

Show's over, folks.

After a crazy three days - four shows in fifty hours - the show has finally come to a tearful close and I'm left with time to dedicate to my eating, my blogging (reading and posting), and my marking. Forty-four essays await me upon my return to work tomorrow. Huzzah.

To help get me through it, I've whipped up a big batch of chicken and veggie soup - hello, Winter!

There may not actually be a way to make soup look sexy in a photo. At least, the ability escapes me and my sad little camera-phone.

Meanwhile, I - yet again - was unnecessarily snared into commenting on someone else's blog posts. She asked what others felt about low-carb diets, so naturally I had to lose an hour of my life to write this:

Congratulations on taking control over your eating habits and heading towards a healthier way of life! :)

Sugar and grains are addictive, so congrats again on making an effort to break that addiction. You've already received some great advice in the comments (as well as some majorly misinformed ideas, oh well), and I wanted to add my voice to the wall of support!

I'd encourage you to let go of thinking of yourself as following an 'eating program' and thinking more along the lines of changing to a healthier lifestyle. I spend my free time analysing health and nutrition studies, and am happy to share some of the well-founded science as well as some newly-proven information with you to help you on your way:

* Humans evolved to eat a diet based on land animals, fish, vegetation, eggs, and some fruit and nuts when found (occasionally - consider accessibility and seasonal availability). It has also been recently proposed that our genetic blueprint was 'finalised' around the time early humans discovered fire and were able to cook their meat and use tools - this is when our dental structure became flatter, as we had less need to tear into raw flesh with our hands and mouths.

* Many of our current health problems can be attributed to over-consumption of grains (wheat, rice, corn, etc) - consider how often you could find these plants in the wild, and consider the likelihood of consuming them raw... Studies have shown that eating grains prohibits our ability to grow secondary dentin to repair caries in our teeth - yes, humans can naturally fix dental cavities. Grains and sugar (another plant rarely found in the wild, and difficult to eat without being mechanically refined) also affect our insulin levels due to causing unnatural rises in blood sugar. Insulin affects our ability to metabolise fat, and triggers hunger sensations. I can go into that further if you'd like. You can also look up the work of Gary Taubes or Dr. Michael Eades - they are some great online options if you don't have the time or funds to access to published resources.

* There is absolutely no biological need for carbohydrates - complex or otherwise. All carbohydrates break down into glucose in the body, which our cells use for energy. However, our body can also use a form of glucose produced by the liver from protein. The body can also use ketones, a bi-product of dietary fat, as energy. The brain actually prefers ketones as its primary energy source, and can fulfill its need for glucose based on protein intake.

But if you don't want to wade through the science of nutrition and dietetics, just remember these points:

1. Eating fish as your core protein intake is fine, yum! If you could catch it in the wild, then go for it! It's good to note which species are sustainably farmed before you chow down though (if they lay many eggs - good; if they only lay a few - i.e. sharks - bad)

2. Eggs are one of the most nutritious and satiating foods in existence - enjoy! They are also one of the most versatile foods from a cooking perspective.

3. Eat as many vegetables as you can, and as many different kinds and colors as possible, to ensure you are getting a wide range of nutrients. Tubers (potatoes, etc) aren't great because they affect blood glucose and trigger insulin production, and they along with legumes aren't digested well by the body. Don't forget than peanuts are a legume, and corn is a grain.

4. Berries are the healthiest fruits, and have a lesser effect on blood glucose than most other fruits. Blueberries in particular have excellent nutritive properties.

5. Nuts promote satiety (feeling full) as they provide healthful fats (monounsaturated and saturated fat), so are helpful in small amounts.

6. Avoid all vegetable oils and other forms of poly-unsaturated fats. Omega-6 essential fatty acids should be balanced 1:1 with omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils, etc). Many health woes are firmly linked to the introduction of large amounts of polyunsaturated and trans fats into the human diet.

7. If it was made by chemists or machines, don't eat it. Try to stick to foods as found in nature - whole foods.

8. Dairy is a grey area - if your body responds well to lactose, try to go for raw milk/cream, and always full fat (low-fat dairy products are full of unnatural fillers and chemicals, and often sugar!). If you don't like full-fat milk, just add water - that's what the companies that sell 'skim milk' do anyway.

Ultimately, the human body evolved to consume a 'low carb' diet - eating refined grains and sugars is completely unnatural, and unprocessed grains are either inedible when raw, or cause health problems (such as restricting dental regrowth, etc). Once you break your addiction to sugars and grains, you will feel the difference in mental clarity, cardio-vascular fitness (regardless of activity level), organ function (including skin health) and sleep quality. Enjoy!

Still refining the art of simplifying the scientific findings I've been consolidating - what do you think?

Topped off the day with a delicious feast of primal dessert goodness:

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Fast & Loose

Fasted all day, from 9pm last night until 5:40pm today.


Good ol' fried eggs and mushrooms.

Followed by roast lamb and zucchini. I photographed it, but the photo is anything but appetising. The meat, however, was delicious. Washed down with blueberries and cream cheese, oh yes.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Zombie Shufflin'

Today was a fight between my intellectual drive and my all-but-complete physical exhaustion. After the first half of the production's season, my body is utterly knackered, and eight hours of sleep sure didn't cut it. I planned a sleep-in, setting my alarm for a last minute rousing, shunning the pretense of the earlier wake-up to be followed by continuous snoozing. This meant I was skipping breakfast, but I packed some almond porridge for a late lunch, post fast. Ended up doing a Fast 5, eating between 4pm and 9pm.


Baby octopus, green capsicum, wilted rocket, mushrooms, and haloumi.

Washed it all down with:

Two of my almond & linseed muffins, a big handful of blueberries, and a little cream cheese. Oh wow. I'll be upping my blueberry intake from now on, seeing as how Dr. Jonny Bowden shared the findings of a study linking blueberries to a reduction in abdominal fat. And while it's an occasional treat, cream cheese is just magical paired with my muffins and fruit. The perfect way to begin a fast...

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Recipe: The Primal Muffins!


1.5 cups ground almonds

2 T ground cacao beans

1/2 cup finely shredded dried coconut

1 t ground cinnamon

2 eggs

1/2 cup coconut oil

1 cup water

Substitutions: you can swap other nut meals for the ground almonds, or use a combination of a few types. Adding 1 T of baking powder will result in fluffier muffins. If you don't mind dairy, melted butter is a great substitute for the coconut oil. If you want to use a sweetener, try adding the equivalent of 1 T sugar or some fruit, then taste before adding more. Make sure you add any powdered sweetener before mixing wet with dry ingredients. I make mine to be more of a neutral (not sweet or savory) base so I can add fruit as a sweet treat, and to protect myself from potentially triggering cravings.

Note - this ingredient list has been updated to reflect the way I would approach making muffins now, i.e. no flax or psyllium, and more coconut. I would also probably add stevia as my sweetener of choice if I were making these for others.


Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (160 for fan-forced). Line or grease a muffin tray (12 medium muffins, 24 mini muffins).

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients well.

In a small bowl, combine wet ingredients and stir vigorously.

Combine wet with dry, and mix with a fork until completely combined.

Spoon into muffin tray, dividing the mixture evenly.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, until skewer comes out clean. Slightly under-bake for moister muffins.

These muffins freeze very well, and are delicious warm or cold. I heartily advocate serving them with some coconut cream (or whipped dairy cream) and raspberries!

Recipe: Almond Pancakes

The past few days have been a blur of work, visits from family, and FAME! My eating habits on Thursday and Friday were terrible - missing breakfast and lunch each day, then munching without appetite on roast chicken, almond porridge and cauliflower. Calorie counts were in the 350 - 700 zone. Bad girl.

Made up for the lack of variety this weekend though, heading out to the Slow Food Market in Abbotsford at lunchtime on Saturday. We sadly missed the bulk of the grass-fed beef :( Next time! We nabbed some AMAZING strawberries from Sunny Ridge Farms, and one lamb roast. Most of the slow food goodies were fruit or sugar-based, very disappointing. The veggies on offer weren't terribly impressive either, although we did find some excellent kale and rhubarb above the usual quality found in Macro. We headed out to Macro anyway, to show Mum the explosive range of organic products commercially available these days. Picked up a bunch of meat and pastured eggs (finally found some!!!).

Had a late night after the show on Saturday, where we noshed on strawberries, pesto on veggie sticks, macadamia nuts, and brie. The others insisted on using crackers, pfft.

I served up almond pancakes this morning, to rave review:

For the uninitiated, almond pancakes are super simple to make, and are so much tastier than the usual white flour rubbish.

Almond Pancakes


100g almond flour
4 pastured eggs
3T melted coconut oil (plus extra for frying pan lubrication)
1/2 cup (or so) water


1. Combine flour and eggs in a large bowl.

2. Add oil and stir well.

3. Gradually add water to the mixture whilst stirring, until the consistency is just shy of runny. (You could try going for a runnier mixture, but this will make your pancakes even more fragile)

4. Add a generous blob of oil to your frying pan and heat until oil is about to sizzle.

5. Spoon desired amounts of mixture into the pan and press/stretch into flat shapes.

6. Leave to fry until base is firm and edges begin to brown.

7. Flip pancakes carefully, watching for splashing oil. Allow to cook until other side has browned and centre is firm.

8. Remove from heat and serve immediately, or keep warm and covered (trap steam to maximise moisture level of pancakes).

I served these with whipped cream (no coconut cream), the leftover strawberries, and some defrosted raspberries and subsequent juice. For Valentine's Day I also melted a bit of dark chocolate and drizzled it over the fruit. Sweet.

For lunch - organic free range chicken drumsticks (the ethical sensations that followed were even sweeter than the meat):

'Twas a matinee performance today, so I was home in time to cook up a scrumptious dinner of free range pork, cabbage, mushrooms, ham and haloumi:

Seriously good eats today, I feel like going dancing!! As compensation, I'm blasting the RENT Broadway cast album and bouncing in my chair while I type :) Also, I'm singing my lungs out (and those of you that know me know how loud that is...) - hello neighbours!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A success!

Opening Night rocked their socks off!! The jury's still out on whether their remaining undergarments remained intact...

Today turned into an accidental 21 hour fast, after I chose a sleep-in over breakfast (again), and didn't have time to eat my sad little bowl of FibreX (it's like porridge made of almonds, amazing! Almost primal, too - just a bit of whey protein and polydextrose) until the school day ended. Then I trotted off to work on lighting - a process that took a good couple of hours, much longer than expected, but very much worth the effort.

I then headed to the 'dinner room', where I downed a bit of cold, shriveled roast chicken and some barely nuked broccoli and cauliflower. I would have spent time heating them up but it was weird being so far from where my cast was getting organised, so I ate quickly.

And then it was showtime!! What a success! I look forward to the back-slaps from staff as they get to see the show over the next two weeks :)

But on the nutritional front - oops.

Spark tells me I consumed a maximum of 368kcal, 6g carbs, 15g fat, and 46g protein.

I'm not even the slightest bit hungry though, which can surely be attributed to adrenaline.

Better have a big breakfast tomorrow!! Dang, I'm all out of bacon...!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Consolidating my reading thus far

A recent conversation gave me cause to take a crack at expressing the understandings I have constructed through my research thus far. I've decided to put what I came up with up here, so that people can give me feedback, etc. I'm on my way to bed, but I'll come back at some point and link the scientific points back to one of the locations I found the info during my many varied ventures through scientific reports, presentations, articles, and arguments.

If you restrict your caloric intake, your body naturally restricts your caloric expenditure to match, so you need to be alerted to the need to maintain expenditure levels in order to see results, and for many people this is achieved through routine exercise.

Here is a summary of the science behind fat accumulation - to keep fat in the fat cells, we need to produce the molecule alpha glycerol phosphate, which is a product of insulin secretion, and as we know insulin secretion is triggered by high blood glucose levels, and blood glucose is increased by the consumption of carbohydrates. Therefore, you need consume carbohydrates to drive fat accumulation. And if your body is turning your available energy into fat and storing it in the fat cells, the rest of your body is deprived of the energy it needs, and it responds by demanding more food. People don’t simply over-eat - they eat carbs and then eat more food because the energy from the previous food has not been delivered to the rest of the body. However, if you don’t eat carbs and don’t trigger the insulin-driven process I’ve outlined, your body is fueled by your intake of calories much more effectively, and that energy is kept available for your body to use rather than being locked up in your fat cells. If you don’t need that energy, then eventually your body will store that energy as fat, but even the sedentary (i.e. me right now) has trouble over-eating non- or low-carb foods such as meat, eggs, leafy greens, etc, purely because these bulky, low-GL foods prompt a sensation of satiety for far longer than high-carb foods.

A calorie-restrictive diet including high-carb foods leads to fat accumulation occuring while the rest of the body may go without adequate fuel, resulting in the body cannibalising muscle and organs to fuel the other cells (aka starvation mode). A calorie-restrictive diet not including high-carb foods may also lead to said cannibalism but on a much smaller scale, because the fat in the fat cells can be metabolised to make up for the caloric intake deficit, as the fat is not held hostage in the fat cells by insulin.

The science behind all of this is sound, and is backed by 150 years of research, both observational and clinical.

What do you think?

0 - We'll Be Right Back After These (not so) Brief Messages

Today was a full dress rehearsal with an audience of local primary school children. Wow. Everyone knew what they were doing, everything human ran smoothly - technologically, not so much, but not so bad as to result in stopping the show at any point. I call that a success. The kids kicked their acting up a few gears and thus I am confident that tomorrow night, Opening Night, has a pretty good chance of being awesome. Sitting up in the lighting box leaves me feeling very displaced and unable to directly impact on anything happening in the wings etc, but it's good to have the sole responsibility of calling the show rather than having to help with costume changes and cast wrangling. I'm tired, but not as emotionally drained as I could have been, should today have gone badly. I'm faced with lots of late nights over the next 11 days, so here's hoping I can keep up the fluids and the healthy eats. Today I ended up dehydrated and missed out on lunch, but the evening shows should be post-eating window.

Breakfast was a couple of fried eggs and some bacon. Exciting. No oil or melted cheese splashes to ruin my outfit though, so that's a win in my book.

Ate a couple of cherry tomatoes that I had packed in my lunch, but didn't get to truly eat until arriving home at 5pm:

I also count this as a win - I wasn't hungry til after the dress rehearsal anyway, and this way I had a chance to heat up my lamb - cold lamb fat is yuck. Served with rocket and cherry tomatoes, and disappointingly under-ripe organic brie. Boo.

I love my new kitchen scale, but not when it reveals to me that my 400g pork forequarter chop is actually only 280g once grilled, and that my 300g of brussel sprouts, carefully boiled then roasted in coconut oil, only actually weight 230g! Since I have always trusted the weight noted on packaging labels, etc, I'm now left wondering how long have I been wildly overestimating my portion sizes and therefore my macronutrient counts? I have to now restart my complete understanding of portion sizing and my daily food needs. Boo!

Despite this, the tastiness of the meal was by no means diminished:

Both cooked elements were done so perfectly, if I do say so myself. Boiling, coating in coconut oil and roasting produces the most succulent brussel sprouts I have had the pleasure of eating. And the pork was melt-in-your-mouth tender, despite the cut. I supplemented my meal with a rammekin-ful of almonds, which Macro tells me are 'insecticide free'. I'm not sure if I could taste the difference (whether that is the lack of chemicals, or the proliferation of insect-poop). They were crunchy, so whatevs.

The beau is off getting his geek on, so I'm being a normal, lazy, hark-worked person, and watching a video:

If you're even lazier than I am, here's a quick summary of Gary Taubes' scientific analysis of the cause of obesity and weight gain, courtesy of Rob from Entropy Production:

In return for knocking down a bunch of accepted "common knowledge" hypotheses , Taubes presents ten new hypotheses (p.454) and I will add a few more than I extracted from reading the book:

1. Dietary fat, whether saturated or not, is not a cause of obesity, heart disease, or any other chronic disease of civilization.
2. The problem is the carbohydrates in the diet, their effect on insulin secretion, and thus the hormonal regulation of homeostasis—the entire harmonic ensemble of the human body. The more easily digestible and refined the carbohydrates, the greater the effect on our health, weight, and well-being.
3. Sugars—sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup specifically—are particularly harmful, probably because of the combination of fructose and glucose simultaneously elevates insulin levels while overloading the liver with carbohydrates.
4. Through their direct effect on insulin and blood sugar, refined carbohydrates, starches, and sugars are the dietary cause of coronary heart disease and diabetes. They are the most likely dietary causes of cancer, Alzheimer's diseases, and the other chronic diseases of civilization.
5. Obesity is a disorder of excess fat accumulation, not overeating, and not sedentary behavior.
6. Consuming excess calories does not cause us to grow fatter, any more than it causes a child of grow taller. Expending more energy than we consume does not lead to long-term weight loss; it leads to hunger.
7. Fattening and obesity are caused by an imbalance—a disequilibrium—in the hormonal regulation of adipose tissue and fat metabolism. Fat synthesis and storage exceed the mobilization of fat from the adipose tissue and its subsequent oxidation. We become leaner when the hormonal regulation of the fat tissue reverses the balance.
8. Insulin is the primary regulator of fat storage. When insulin levels are elevated—either chronically of after a meal—we accumulate fat in our fat tissue. When insulin levels fall, we release fat from our fat tissue and use it for fuel.
9. By stimulating insulin secretion, carbohydrates make us fat and ultimately cause obesity. The fewer carbohydrates we consume, the leaner we will be.
10. By driving fat accumulation, carbohydrates also increase hunger and decrease the amount of energy we expend in metabolism and physical activity.

11. RM: Man, being the premier predator on the planet, evolved to eat a diet high in fat (and in particular the saturated and mono-unsaturated fat found in animal tissue). In the absence of clinical data, we should endeavor to structure our diet to be similar to that we evolved eating, prior to the introduction of agriculture approximately 10,000 BCE.
12. RM: Advanced Glycation End-products (abbreviated AGEs) may be a cause or byproduct of the oxidative stress that causes aging and many of the maladies associated with it.
13. RM: A low-calorie, high-carbohydrate diet will make you lethargic as chronically high insulin levels will try to convert glucose to fat while not leaving sufficient calories for the remainder of your basal metabolism. In comparison, low-carbohydrate, moderate-calorie diet will leave you energetic and lean.

Definitely go and read the rest of Rob's post - it's pretty heady stuff, but if you like wrapping your brains around the science behind nutrition rather than blindly following the Big-Pharma-sponsored piper, then this is like chowing down on a primal banquet while the ignorant pick at their plate of pasta & ketchup.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

1 - revving the engines

Today was the last day of relative normality, as all of tomorrow will be taken up with FAME dress rehearsing in front of an audience of primary school children (how they take to the erection song, we'll soon find out), and the show opens to public scrutiny as of Thursday. See you on the other side...

Breakfast -
The Usual with bacon, and an unfortunate melted-cheese-spurting incident which caused me much early morning stress and has put me off including cheese for a bit. I reckon I'll go back to fried eggs and bacon for a while, see how long that lasts...

Lunch - nicked off to the shops with a colleague, and grabbed some sandwich filler (minus the bread): roast beef and green salad. The guy there is great, he chopped up some tomato to make my salad more interesting for me :)

Dinner -
an organic lamb roast which refused to cook through. Bah. Ended up eating our roast veggies as a first course:

Man, my photographic skills are slipping- there mayhaps be a correlation between my willingness to carefully set up, light and take a shot and my excited taste buds... Anyway, the plate on the left is mine - roast fennel, carrot, pumpkin and zucchini, whereas the boy scored roasted capsicum, carrot and zucchini, as he's not a fan of fennel nor pumpkin in a savory context. Crazy person! Pumpkin has just entered my 'favourite food' zone, despite my apathy towards the buxom redhead in years past.

After sitting in the oven for an extra hour (and accompanied by more pumpkin), the lamb finally cooked through and was served with sautéed red cabbage (of course):

Sorry again. Will have more self-restraint from now on. Promise. See, I'm already exercising more control - I was able to package up the leftover lamb for lunch tomorrow, and have made a salad of rocket and cherry tomato to accompany it.

Now... Do I eat my dessert of thawed raspberries with or without cream?... Such a dilemma...

Monday, May 18, 2009

2 - spilling my guts

Breakfast - The Usual with organic bacon.
Lunch - half a roast chicken that a caring friend fetched from the local free-range store while I was rushing around like a headless - well, you know...
Dinner - a plate of sautéed red cabbage in coconut oil, followed by two roast chicken drumsticks with rocket and cherry tomato salad:

All washed down with a generous serving of raspberries and whipped cream. Nom. Am now supping on green tea (Sencha Earl Grey from T2) while contemplating my existence. No, really.

Given that I will be run off my feet with shows for the next couple of weeks, I thought I'd use this little bit of spare time I have to express my Real Food story.

I've always had quite simple tastes - my favourite meals growing up were ones involving only a few ingredients, primarily meat, veg, and perhaps eggs and/or cheese. Mum often messed around with stir-fry mixes like Chicken Tonight and Kan-Tong, but didn't tend to add gourmet ingredients nor herbs and spices. Food was left relatively similar to how it was grown. However, I always loved the art of cooking, but since main meals were quite simple, I tended to toy with baking cakes and creating sticky confections. Later in life, Dad insisted on more and more junk food be brought into the house, with frozen entrees and savoury snacks and packaged desserts landing in our grocery cart, and the advent of Fast Food Night becoming part of our weekly cycle. Needless to say, I gained weight.

I gained even more weight when I moved to the Big Smoke for Uni, and lived in a dog-boxed deemed suitable for on-campus student accommodation. I had little access to the communal kitchen, so tended to buy meals at the cafe on campus (chicken burgers, fries, and cheesecake were the norm), and had my bar fridge stocked with soft cheese and crackers, ice-cream (which had to be eaten quickly since my freezer was a flop), chocolate, and chips. When I cooked, I cooked pasta or pita bread pizza.

It wasn't til I moved out and met the beau that I started exploring the restaurant scene, developing a taste for intricate flavours and cultural experiences. I bought recipe books and started cooking special meals every night. They were quite healthy meals, but life was still peppered with pastries and chips. Pasta was still the go-to food, and I developed a love of sushi. Pizza was ever-present as well. I lost a bit of weight, but this was mostly due to joining a gym, and I worked hard for small returns.

I finally began the ideological turn-around towards a fuller understanding and appreciation for real food when I started experiencing stomach aches after my usual salad roll from the canteen at the school where I worked. A chance encounter with a low-carb article while sitting and waiting for a bento meal sets the wheels of research in motion, and I spent a few months studying the science behind cutting our grains and sugar and starchy vegetables like potatoes. The nay-sayers had little evidence supporting their argument, so at the beginning of 2009, I started putting my information into practice. The weight poured off, despite spending the majority of January sitting on my butt avoiding the heatwaves.

Cutting out grains and sugars essentially meant waving farewell to all junkfood, and soon I found myself enjoying simply prepared meats and vegetables, just like I enjoyed during my childhood. I experimented with a few frankenfoods (a low-carb chocolate bar survives to this day, but I hope to replace it with a purer form of dark chocolate once my stock runs out) and spent a bit of time creating low-carb replacements that seemed just like my old way of eating, but have gradually shed the artificial sweeteners since my palate can detect natural sweetness much more keenly than it could a few months ago, and even a cherry tomato can illicit a dopamine buzz.

Once I exhausted the research plumbing the depths of low-carb theory, I pushed through to more general nutritional analyses, exploring the links between chemical-heavy agricultural process and sustainable alternatives, food processing practices and naturally prepared foods, and healthy eating patterns which aligned both with an understanding of how insulin affects weight and mood, and the wholefoods ideology.

Enter, The Paleo Diet / The Primal Blueprint / Intermittent Fasting (or Feeding... or Feasting).

Allowing scientific understanding of human evolution to suggest the diet and way of life our bodies and environment are best suited to seemed so glaringly obvious, the thought of mass-produced, over-processed foods began to turn my stomach. Why couldn't we enjoy food as we would have found it in nature? Why are we stuffing ourselves with manufactured and chemical-laden products without really considering the consequences? Bodies of research and thousands of followers were made apparent to me, and today I continue to explore the standing and developing research into the reasons why we should avoid products manufactured by corporations and the artificial ingredients they use (such as soy, canola oil, anything genetically modified, and anything with processed polyunsaturated fats and trans fats).

Today, I am passionate about the source of my food and the relationship the food has to my body. I am developing my cooking techniques (and replacing inappropriate equipment) in order to get the best out of whole foods without destroying the nutritional elements my body requires in the process. I love the way sauteed cabbage tastes, and the psychological excitement and pleasure I feel when looking down at my small bowl of raspberries far surpasses any joy I felt in the past when scarfing blocks of chocolate.

Sugar and grains, especially when refined, are detrimental to health. When one takes a wider world view, we can see the damage we are amplifying by continuing to eat too much of the wrong foods. Obesity is devastating our medical systems, and the commercial food industry is manipulating us towards consuming ever-more food to keep themselves in profit. Corn and soy products are pumped into every packaged food imaginable, and as a result the more we eat, the hungrier we become. We inhale food instead of savouring it, let alone reflecting on where that food has come from. I take pride in knowing that my vegetables were grown in conditions closer to nature than the typical chemical-laden capsicum. I feel the significance of making informed choices when it comes to purchasing locally farmed produce and animal products raised in ethical and healthful conditions. And I am passionate about helping spread the work of many passionate souls who have done the leg-work necessary to put real foods in the public eye; the public know needs to wake up and realise the impact their choices have on the world and themselves.

Fortunately, as a teacher, I have direct ability to engage the next generation in discussions of sustainability and health. When I see their strength, passion and intelligence tackling the moral and environmental issues at hand, I even allow myself the thought that perhaps the future of Australia is finally looking up.

Until Costco sets up shop here, that is.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

3 - poor me

Since beginning this trek towards dietetic awareness and sustainable eating, I've 'suffered' from too much available time to think and research and obsess and weigh (food) and so on.

Not today.

Today was the tech run of the show I'm directing. Anyone who has ever worked in the theatre will know what my day was like.

I even had breakfast (albeit at 11:15am, after a much-needed sleep-in). The Usual, with bacon on the side.

After rehearsal the beau and I went to the Greek restaurant near us that does the killer Mixed Grill and simple sides. Tonight I went for the Horta, which is wilted chicory with olive oil and lemon juice. Delicious. I even found, for the first time, that the mixed grill didn't stuff me full like it used to - indeed, I subjected my poor beau to my impassionated crunching of spatchcock bones once I could tolerate ineffectively scratching at the meat with my fork no longer! Yes, I chucked whole sections of the teeny bird in my mouth, and chowed down on bones. I think three were too big for me to satisfactorily decimate. I may be insane, but I'm sated!

Came home wanting some comfort food:

Sorry about the terrible photo, but that's actually a scrumptious bowlful of mixed berries (defrosted), whipped cream, and shaved dark chocolate. I am comforted. And also very tired. Two days of normal work ahead of me, then the huge all-day Dress Rehearsal, and then we open. So for the next two weeks, Thursdays and Fridays for me will mean full days of teaching, and then full nights of running the show. Weekends will also be jam-packed with shows. Here's hoping I can keep up the primal food supply despite so little down-time, and so many meals provided for me (and at this point, I have not been quizzed on dietary requirements, yikes...)

I can't wait for June.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

4 - Macro Wholefoods Market vs Coles Online

Now that I've had my second go at stocking the fridge and pantry via the Macro Wholefoods Market in Richmond, I decided to compare the pricing of my purchases at Macro to the costs currently listen on Coles Online. This isn't the sexiest table in the world, but hopefully it's clear enough:

ItemMacro Wholefoods Coles Online
Celery$6.99 each$1.75 (not organic)
Mixed Salad Leaves$24.99/kg$34.50/kg (not organic)
Green capsicum$4.99/kg$4.99/kg (not organic)
Green cabbage, half$2.99$2.49 (not organic)
Red cabbage, half$3.49$2.99 (not organic)
Brussel Sprouts$15.99/kg$2.75/kg (not organic)
Cherry tomatoes$3.99/punnet$1.79/punnet (not organic)
Cauliflower$3.49/half$4.49/whole organic
Carrots$3.49/kg$3.49/kg organic
Mushrooms$5.99/150g punnet$5.99/150g punnet organic
Wild rocket, pre-bagged$3.99$3.78 organic
Zucchini$7.99/kg$11.00/kg organic
Raspberries, frozen$8.19/500g$7.50/500g (not organic)
Bacon$6.49/250g$3.48/250g (not organic)
Shaved ham$3.99/100g$4.29/100g (not organic)
Butter$3.00/250g$6.60/250g organic
Eggs$7.49/dozen$7.62/ten organic
Lamb roast, marinated$12.50$18.00 (not organic)
Beef scotch fillets$15 for two$15 for 2 (not organic)
Beef roast, marinated$13.30$16.50 (not organic)
Chicken, whole$12.99/kg$6.99 (free-range/not organic)

From this data, we can see that more often than not, it's not much more expensive to get organic vegetables, especially since Coles tends to stock a limited range of organic veggies, which are as expensive if not moreso than their Macro counterparts. Meat is still hit-and-miss, though going for the meat that is on special at Macro helps keep costs equivalent. Eggs and dairy tend to balance out, as do deli options.

Conclusion - it's really not that much more expensive to cut chemicals and growth-hormones out of your groceries, and by shopping at Macro you're also supporting sustainable farming. Plus, since one of the other options for buying organic produce is 'lucky dip' fruit & veg boxes delivered to you - a method that is bound to result in a certain amount of waste since you might end up with unpleasant combinations - by selecting exactly what you want via Macro you're minimising landfill. Macro also does home delivery, so if it's a convenience issue, they've got that covered too. I would still prefer to support a local farmers market or some such, but time is a huge issue and the nearest market is a decent drive anyway.

Skipped breakfast again today, and enjoyed a late, decadent lunch of coconut chicken drumsticks with parsley. Mmm.

Dinner was eventful - I grilled some organic lamb forequarter chops and chopped up bits of pretty much every veggie bought today, including some mushrooms, and tossed them in the frying pan:

Then things took an ugly turn - I turned on the oven ready to bake my frittata, and added the eggs into the veggies to bake the bottom-half. Then I opened the over door to slide the pan under the broiler, and instead was blasted with stinky smoke and an entire lack of heat. Yum. Turns out the outer-burner blew up; thanks, Landlord, for installing the cheapest over you could find.

So, instead I tried to cook the frittata completely on the cook-top - i.e., burn the bottom-half until the top vaguely sets. It tasted fine in the end though, but I had wanted to add cheese and herbs on top, so it seemed lacking despite being full of cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, red cabbage, green capsicum, and zucchini. Bleh. Might be good cold tomorrow morning, like pizza.

Friday, May 15, 2009

5 - franticness, facials, and feasting!

I hadn't ever been so stressed about relaxation.

'Twas a fairly ordinary day today - a good class, a bad class, some squeezed-in rehearsals, speaking in front of the whole school again (sooo not stressful the second time around), and a skipped breakfast. But the light at the end of the roller-coaster tunnel was my pre-paid super-cheap Facial Club facial in Fitzroy. Ahhhh.

I had hoped to catch a lift with a colleague who lives in the city, but I discovered after school that she had left early. Then my other colleague who travels that was was in an endless tizz about her social life being too busy. Poor thing. So at the last minute she pulled out of giving me a lift, leaving me rushing to get the only bus that headed into the city.

I caught it, as it was running quite late. Oh, and it was raining heavily. Of course. So I sat on the one empty seat (not until the bus started again with a lurch, landing me in an Asian couple's squishy groceries.. Nice work as always, Public Transport System.) and jolted slowly through the suburbs until reaching the final leg of my journey. I pressed the buzzer and waited for the bus to stop.

And waited. And waited. And watched in horror as the bus gaily sailed past my connecting tram, and hurtled enthusiastically along to the next stop. I got up, I pointed out to the driver that he had missed the stop I needed, I asked if he could let me out at the next lights, and received "No, we're not allowed".I fought back the anger and stressed tears. F%&$!

I leaped off the bus when it finally pulled over at the next stop, and started trudging (in heels) back up towards my tram - a good 500+ metres uphill. My phone alerted me to the time - 5pm, facial time. Panic! I hoped and hoped that the salon would call and I could reassure them that I was on my way, I hoped that I wasn't the last customer, I hoped I wouldn't arrive just in time to see the lights flicker out and the rear door close...

I reached my tram, and jumped aboard. And waited. For a good three minutes the tram just sat there, before reluctantly closing its doors and trundling up the street. At last I saw my salon, and waited for the tram to stop at the next intersection. Traffic. Argh! The tram was perhaps three metres from its designated stop, but since there were cars waiting for the lights to change, it refused to allow my escape until it could inch those few feet forward. Eventually it spat me out, and I fled from the vehicle, all but running to my salon, crossing my fingers that I wasn't too late (15 minutes, at this point)...

Hallelujah! The lights were on, the sign was welcoming, and the door unlocked! Despite remaining on the verge of tears in my panicked state, I managed to smile and introduce, and begin what would now be a very slow, very long process of unwinding. Thank Cabbage it was worth it, oh-so-very worth it, and contrary to expectations I was not hard-sold any products after my treatment. In fact, I asked about products and even sampled some make-up, but my beautician never asked me if I wanted to buy, or even offer me prices! Oddness. But I might be back post-FAME, as I'm sure I'll need some kind of therapy once the show is over, so why not make it beauty therapy?!

The day deserved to be rounded off with epicurean delights:

This weekend is brimming with bumping-in lights and final rehearsals, but hopefully between moments of chaos I'll find time to kick back. And it's time to go to Macro again. I'm out of cabbage!!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

6 - keeping busy, and being a warrior princess

Today was one of those non-stop 10 hour work days, but I was able to stay motivated right through til the end of rehearsal. Yay me!

Decided to skip breakfast in favour of a few more minutes of snoozing, but packed leftover chicken and rocquette plus two of my muffins for lunch, which I found time to eat at around 1:30pm, ending a 19 hour fast.

Then it was time for dinner:

Pork forequarter chop (400g inc. bone, aw yeah), with red cabbage, kale and slivered almond salad.

You'd think that would fill me up, but no, I had to wash it all down with this:

Cheese omelette with sautéed rocket. Sure hit the spot.

But now I'm munching on almonds and some super-dark choc. I'll lock everything away at 10pm, since I'll be collapsing onto my pillow not long after that. I'm definitely responding well to the skipped-breakfast routine. After all, it's how I subsisted throughout Year 12. And I was certainly at my healthiest, slimmest and most focussed that year. No cognitive fuzzies thus far either; I haven't noticed a change at all. I want to find more scientific research in this area though, before I can completely trust that I'm doing a good thing where my body is concerned. Especially since I'll need all the clarity and energy I can get over the next three weeks. Six more sleeps...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

7 - accidental fasting

Today was meant to be a 'normal eating' day, but fate had other plans...

I woke up at 7:15am, but my body protested, so I skipped the shower and slept for another 30 minutes. You'd think that would be enough. Nope. Another 10 minutes. Another 10. Now it was leaving time. Erp. So I flung on an outfit and slicked back my hair (it helps when it's already self-coated in three days worth of grease - yum) and then looked for something 'grab-n-go' from the kitchen. The best I could do was to nick some of my lovely almond-coconut muffins (that's what I'm calling them, since no one but me can pick the cocoa element it seems...) from the freezer, buzz them in the microwave, dip the bits in cream and scoff them. Hiccup central. I haven't had the hiccups since cutting out grains at the beginning of the year. I don't miss them.

So, hmm, muffins for breakfast. Not as bad as toast though, as they are low-carb, nutritious, and filling!

Lunch - I had my crab and leafy salad sitting in the staff fridge, along with another muffin. I sat down to eat my lunch, opened the container of crab, and noticed a certain smell. I sniffed the crab but couldn't really smell anything, so I tossed some into my salad. The smell was now much stronger, and others around the table asked if it was off. The package said - "Best Before June 2010"... But within a few seconds the stench was filling the vast staffroom, so I got up and tossed the lot into the bin. That left - yep, the muffin. I skulked back to my desk to consume what would appear a frivolous lunch in private.

So by the time I arrived home and popped a chook in the oven, my running total for the day was: 3 muffins, 1T cream. Healthy! (Well, yes actually...)

I made up for the lack of variety during the day with this:

Aw yeah. Chicken smothered in coconut oil and coated with fennel seeds and rosemary then roasted (I took the drumsticks and wings, the beau gets the breasts - skin removed and eaten by me, of course), roasted zucchini, fried haloumi and mushrooms, and sautéed red cabbage and spinach.

Despite my 'treat'-heavy day, I've ended up under 1400kcal, 20g net carbs, and a healthy dose of protein despite the unusual absence of eggs. Feeling great!

I spent part of today looking into the 'warrior diet', the basic premise being that we shouldn't eat during the day as it interferes with other organic systems, and should instead eat one big meal at night. The past two days have proved that my energy is not as dependent on breakfast as I thought it to be, so it might be worth an experimental test-run, swapping my cyclic intermittent fasting with this regulated system. If the science is there, then I'll be doing more research to see whether the claims of the warrior diet are substantiated.

Until then, I'm hitting the hay - tomorrow's schedule is not pretty; teaching all day without a break, then 3 hours of rehearsal, the last real rehearsal until showtime! There's only the tech run and the sitzprobe between us and the dress rehearsal, which has an audience of primary school kids. We're so ready, but everyone wants me to look nervy and pull cute 'eep!' faces when they delight in reminding me how close the opening is, but whatevs. I'm a drama queen, I can fake a nervous breakdown as good as anyone!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

8 - Successful Fast at Work!

I never thought I could possibly cope with fasting while working. So far, fasting while sitting on my butt in front of the computer at home all day hasn't been a problem, and I've even managed to skip breakfast and lunch despite going shopping during that time (ooh, how gruelling!). But surely during the normal working day, when I have to get up early and be on my feet for at least 7 hours, would require a decent breakfast to keep me going? Wrong. Admittedly today wasn't the most strenuous schedule, but I was on my feet for two lessons (140 minutes) and one long yard duty session. And I walked to work. I felt a bit of slow-down at the end of the day, and I had some killer ketone breath at 3pm (once all my teaching was over for the day, phew!) but other than that I didn't feel the slightest hunger. I took some lettuce, crab meat, cherry tomatoes and a chocolate muffin just in case I wasn't going to make it, and I think having the food in the staff fridge helped spur me on, working as a safety net. It's all still in the fridge, ready for tomorrow. Whether I eat it tomorrow or not is another matter...

Broke the fast just before 5pm, with a little bit of haloumi fried in butter, while my chevups cooked. Then we ate dinner at 6pm - organic beef scotch fillets, with red cabbage and spinach, and one fried egg. Blogger's not letting me upload photos right now, wondrous site it is and all... But I'll post it via Twitter, not that it's the most exciting photo in the word. The taste of organic beef, however, is certainly something to capture and share with others! Yum!

Monday, May 11, 2009

9 - with ticks in all the boxes

A top food day today, after fasting yesterday. As a result I'm feeling light and lithe, although I've also loosened a bit around the belly - gotta love/hate that visible fat burning...

Breakfast - The Usual.

Lunch - some cheddar and kabana (yes, I was running late and knew to grab SOMEthing because I was going to be late home thanks to my Monash Uni students coming for their tutorial), and two of my AMAZING chocolate muffins!! You saw it served as last night's dessert, but today I just grabbed two out of the freezer (where they are individually cling-wrapped in a resealable bag for continued freshness and aroma), and dumped then in my lunchbox. They were thawed enough to eat by 'brunchtime' at 11am.

They kept me going well until 6:30pm, when I was walking home in the dark, imagining the taste lamb chops I would be gobbling up soon enough... Gotta love it when the inner hedonist makes its presence known, yum...

Dinner: all organic! Lamb forequarter chop, fried egg with parsley, sauteed brussels sprouts, spinach and mushrooms. I also cooked up a couple of chicken drumsticks but there were still in the oven at photo time. I noshed on some grape tomatoes while everything was cooking. But here's the centrepiece of the evening:

My food log assessed my day as being PERFECT in terms of carbs (21g net), calories (1748 if I include the butter used for sautéeing, and I over-estimate my cheese intake just in case...), fibre, fat and protein! And I walked to and from work today, so that's 45mins light exercise in the bank, and I had to carry around my big tub of books all day, and I kept my liquid intake up, and even got some sun! Perfection!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Counting Backwards From 10...

After a couple of hellish days punctuated by skipped lunches and late-night face-stuffing (admittedly, I was snacking on meat and veg and sugar-free choc, so not altogether naughty), I kicked my system back into shape by sleeping in until past noon and fasting for 19 or 20 hours (I don't remember exactly when I had my last bit of choc last night.

We jumped in the car upon waking and tootled off to Macro Wholefoods Market, which wasn't as expensive as I remembered it to be - either organic food is more competitively supplied, or I was a serious tight-wad of a Uni student 5 years ago... Possibly a bit of both. We still shopped the perimetre, grabbing a couple of organic roasts and steaks and even my oh-so-favoured lamb forequarter chops, still cheap despite the organicness.Then we hit up the veggie bar, grabbing big bagfuls of mixed lettuce, spinach, red cabbage, and even kale! I'm very excited - I even snacked on lettuce between dinner and dessert!

Post-shopping refrigerator:

At 5:30pm I broke my fast with the organic beef roast, marinated in tomato and rosemary, served with ham & cheese cauliflower and mixed lettuce:

Then I enjoyed a bowl of mixed lettuce (I cut up some leftover cheddar and kabana, but decided after the first mouthful that I wasn't interested, and in fact wanted the tang of red lettuce... What's happened to me??!), followed by your typical, anti-hedonist, "help me this way of eating is leaving me feeling oh-so-deprived" dessert:

Oooh yeah. Chocolate muffin made of linseed and almond meals, pure cocoa, coconut and psyllium. Served with whipped cream and defrosted berries (hence the extravagant amount of juice). Sweet, sweet heaven. At just over 200 kcal for the lot, and 5g net carbs (and a 9g punch of fibre!) I don't think it comes any sweeter...

FAME opens in 10 days. There's still some performance polishing to do, lighting needs to be bumped-in and plotted, but we'll definitely be ready to go at show time. I'll be up in the box calling the tech side of the show, which wasn't what I was expecting - I imagined being backstage, prompting or helping with costumes, but apparently my predecessor was a Tech Goddess and I have to fill her shoes... We'll just ignore the fact that I've never done anything like this before and would much rather be helping quell stage jitters than dealing with tech crises... Fingers crossed!!

And in the meantime, I have 9 more of these chocolatey bad-boys in my freezer, ready to pop into my handbag to get me through long hours of rehearsal. Things are looking up.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Today's Tucker - 7/5/09

Breakfast - The Usual, with a generous side of bacon. Ate it at 8am, and it kept me going until well past 9pm, when we finally arrived home after seeing Star Trek at IMAX. Yep. Star Trek. Dragged along to the opening by the beau, but it is admittedly a great film, especially if you read the lead-up graphic novel (yes, he made me read that too).

Grilled up some tasty lamb forequarter chops and sautéed red cabbage and spinach for dinner, and am now snacking on almond and macadamia nuts, and sipping my T2 sencha earl grey tea.

One more day of school, then rehearsals all day Saturday, and - oh my word - a day off on Sunday??! I forget what those feel like! I'm going to go to Macro!!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Today's Tucker - 6/05/09

I intended to fast today, from breakfast til tomorrow's breakfast, but I needed my sleep and left only minimal time to scarf The Usual down before work.

No lunch, due to time constraints (both to prepare lunch in the morning and to eat lunch in the arvo), and while I thought a bit about food, I wasn't hungry.

Arrived home at 4pm and decided skipping dinner wouldn't be the best idea, so crunched some almonds and grilled up some lamb chops. Whacked the defrosted 1/2 leg of lamb in the oven and after two hours covered in foil and 30 minutes naked, simply melted off the bone!

All in all, I reckon I downed a good 600 or 700g of lamb in the past 3 hours! And yet, I don't feel stuffed in the least! I feel like a leopard, strong and streamlined; my love-handles have almost melted away completely; my shoulders are slender; and despite catching a cold and suffering from laryngitis, I've never felt more fit and healthy. Here's hoping that this feeling lasts for the next three-and-a-half weeks, and that I don't become the living dead half-way through the run of FAME. Opening in just two weeks...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Today's Tucker - 5/5/09

Breakfast - The Usual (no bacon this morning, have now restocked)

What a hellish yet amazing day. Run off my feet from 8:30am til 6pm, yet events unfolded pleasantly, especially with a very positive rehearsal session in the late arvo. I didn't even notice that I missed lunch.

Dinner - slacked off and picked up a roast chicken from the lovely free-range place down the road. Served it up with sautéed cabbage and spinach, with some sliced fresh capsicum.

Which plate would you prefer -



To me, it's no contest whatsoever, but at least breast meat roasted in oil-slathered chicken stays tasty and moist.

Did a quick grocery run despite the organic butcher being shut and the organic produce delivery still being a few days away - scooped up my two favourite non-bacon meat cuts - lamb forequarter chops and chicken drumsticks. Yum! I can't believe these pieces tend to be the bulk buy bargains whenever I'm in need of some tasty, fatty meats - luck is on my side! And cheaper meat helps to balance my somewhat less thrifty tastes for gourmet cheeses and organic eggs. Still keeping an eye out of pastured eggs, but can't find them. Perhaps at Macro?

Haven't even started on my blog reading for the day - was alerted to this site about fasting and I've barely scratched the surface of its depth of content. I might flip through some of my lighter blog subscriptions now though, since midnight is catching up with me. Hopefully I will actually sleep well tonight! Cross your fingers for me...

Monday, May 4, 2009

Today's Tucker - 4/5/09

Breakfast - The Usual with bacon - same as yesterday.

Lunch - a small handful of almonds.

Break during long Parent/Teacher Interview session - two slices of beef lunch meat and two pieces of lettuce (hey, I didn't expect anything even vaguely Primal to be served up to us, so I was very happy!)

Dinner #1 - baby octopus with capsicum, cabbage and tomato. This photo is from the first time I made my baby octopus salad, but I couldn't bear going out to get basil so I subbed in some cabbage instead:

Dinner #2 - baby octopus salad was low in fat and my system was craving some fatty protein, so I went back and grilled some beef patties and some cabbage sautéed in coconut oil. And then I went and had some chocolate. I now feel ill and would consider fasting but I have another huge day tomorrow followed by hours of rehearsal, so I better get some breakfast into me even if I skip lunch. I've been hitting the 1500kcal range for the past few days, while I've been sick, but today I bumped it up to 2000kcal (was only at 1200kcal after Dinner #1, so no surprise I wasn't sated!). Bleurgh, pokey-out gutness.

Fuel For Thought

Methuselah has written up a simple outline of how to make the Transition To A Primal Diet as a guest post over at

Richard Nikoley slaps us in the face with the true enemy of health - SUGAR - with a little help from the fine folks at Sugar Stacks

Sunday, May 3, 2009

What's the difference between Primal and Paleo, anyway?


Wikipedia has an excellent breakdown of what our ancestors eat, so this is a good historical guideline of what nature fed us before farming was discovered and we started causing ourselves all manner of health problems.

The Paleo Diet, by Loren Cordain, is what can be considered the modern healthy eating Bible for those of us who don't fancy continuing the self-sabotage.


Now, while one text published under the title of The Primal Diet refers to only eating raw food, the rest of us appreciate the possibilities (both flavourful and sanitary) of combining food with fire.

The father of what he calls The Primal Blueprint is Mark Sisson, and has published an excellent tome of knowledge and insight - not that I've been able to get my hands on a copy. But if the quality of his blog posts are any indication, one day it will be mandatory reading for all high school students. And I'm only being slightly hyperbolic.

The concept of 'living primally' has more of a focus on the first word there - living. While Primal folk tend to stick to the outlined 'Paleo Diet', we also look at the lifestyle of early humans and the environment within which our genetic blueprint was - arguably - perfected. To quote Mark Sisson, in a summary of the content of his book;

In Chapter One I present the “re:evolutionary” premise that our primal ancestors were bigger, stronger, healthier and possibly smarter than us! I provide a quick summary of the remarkable process of human evolution leading to the creation of the perfect human being…some 10,000 years ago. Our primal human role model from that time – the starring character of the Primal Blueprint - is nicknamed “Grok”. Since 10,000 years ago, the advent of agriculture and the inexorable technological progress of civilization have led us ever further astray from the dietary habits and active, stress-balanced lifestyles that allowed Grok to thrive and prevail under the harsh competitive circumstances of evolution. As a result, we have literally gone soft since then. Furthermore, thanks to medical intervention allowing even those with genetic flaws to reproduce, we exist today in what is arguably a state of devolution.

The ten Primal Blueprint laws allow us to overcome the negative cultural influences in the modern world and achieve robust health, peak longevity and effortless weight loss. The ten laws are: Eat Lots of Plants, Animals and Insects; Avoid Poisonous Things; Move Frequently At A Slow Pace; Lift Heavy Things; Run Really Fast Once In A While; Get Adequate Sleep; Play; Get Plenty of Sunlight; Avoid Stupid Mistakes; and Use Your Brain.

Two notable differences between the ideologies put forward Cordain and Sisson is that Cordain shuns saturated fat and restricts the intake of eggs - two choices that ignore much of the evidence uncovered by paleontologists, as well as more recent studies of cultures which exist in a way believed similar to our ancestors.

And on a baser level - give up egg omelettes and bacon fried in butter every morning? 'Sif.

Today's Tucker - 3/5/09

Well, let's just say the food was certainly the high point of today's shenanigans.


The Usual, with a generous side of bacon. Served me very well, kept me going through a tough day of rehearsal - I wasn't even hungry for dinner:

Surf 'N Turf! Salmon fillet, lamb fillet, sautéed red cabbage and spinach, and wild rocket salad with olives, cheddar cheese and cherry tomatoes.

Yeah, I wasn't hungry, but I sure as heck ate it anyways:

... Yeah. And now I've just remembered that I have Parent/Teacher Interviews tomorrow afternoon/night, and now haven't any leftovers (the school provides "food" for the staff, but it's always crap like finger sandwiches and pastries!). Guess I'll be packaging some nuts and cold meats, maybe some boiled eggs...

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Six Pack Doc's 7 Day Challenge

Found a great blog today that puts pretty much everything I've been learning very succinctly, and in an imperial fashion to inspire action.

Check Out Six Pack Doc's Blog.

One of his blog posts was particularly interesting, as I've been asked by some readers (OMG I have readers!?) to be more specific about what I am doing. Well, I am aiming to live the lifestyle as laid out by Six Pack Doc for the majority of the time (with a little wiggle room for some monthly chocolate - boys, you know better than to argue with this statement.) At the moment I'm not getting much exercise except walking to work, and I don't eat fruit (am trying to stay in ketosis) but other than that, here's what being Primal is all about (if the food can possibly be organic):

"Starting this Monday (or any day of the week), can you go for one week (seven days, or one hundred and sixty-eight hours) without eating one milligram of bad food?
Specifically, do you have it in you to do ALL of the following, for one full week, no excuses?

1. Eat NO artificial sugars, sweeteners, fruit juices, honey, agave nectar, chocolate (and you know what else could come in this group), etc.
2. Drink NO alcohol, whether beer and wine, or rum, whisky, etc.
3. Eat NO grains, including rice, wheat, corn, etc., including hidden forms, for example, batter-fried chicken (the batter contains grain).
4. Eat NO processed foods at all. This includes breads, chips, biscuits, cake, savories, ice cream, pizza, etc.
5. Not eat out at all.
6. Work out or do an activity for 45 minutes every day. You could start bodyweight exercises at home, and you could climb stairs several times fast, or walk outside, or play tennis, to complete this criterion. If you are already doing exercise, increase the intensity by 10 percent and time by 10 minutes. For weight trainers, this could mean increasing your loads or your total reps or both. If you are the type who skips core workouts because you lifted heavy, then be particular not to cheat this week. If you are too busy, remember you are saying no to yourself. Take 30, then.
7. Eat (all) vegetables, except potatoes.
8. Eat (all) fruits, but no fruit juices. Do not exceed three portions a day.
9. Eat (preferably lean) meats and eggs ad libitum.
10. Fast for 18 hours on any one occasion. If you can do two, even better. The hours need to be consecutive, and may include overnight sleep time.
“But I am already doing all this, dude!” are you saying? Then this challenge is not for you. Simple. This is for the vast majority who do not manage to start a healthy lifestyle because of the lack of a stimulus. Hopefully, this challenge will spur you on, and you will try this out.
Why, one may ask? Simple. If you fulfill this challenge, it is likely that you will run up a calorific deficit of around 1000 to 1500 calories every day, leading to a net loss of two to four pounds of fat. One week.
This will show you that, by next Monday, you would have changed your health and body composition for the better. A significant first milestone.
Are you man or woman enough to do it? Can you submit your name in the comment box, and report back to all of us? I will set an example. I will do more than any of you and try to lose the most fat, by jacking up the intensity of my workouts. And I will be honest if I fail. If you can, weigh up, but this is not important. I guarantee you that sincere effort in this will make you notice the change in some way.

So to do this for a week would be a really great kick-start to living a more Primal lifestyle. And if you've got weight to lose, then all the more reason to start cutting out the garbage and giving your body the fuel it requires - and craves! Tell me - would you really prefer to sit down to a plate of this:

or to something more like this:

The latter was my dinner. Oh yes. Lamb chop fresh from Dad's latest beast; a pork chop fresh from, er, Coles; organic rocket, red cabbage, spinach, zucchini and parsley. I am more than sated, and well prepared for a fast!

What did you eat?

Getting Back Into The Real World

Today I ventured outside my front door, away from my sick bed and doonas and central heating, into the icy weather once more. Despite wearing two layers of gloves - yes, gloves - my fingers ached with the cold and my nose glowed like a beacon. Not pleasant. I didn't even have the luxury of a warm breakfast in my belly, as my fast wasn't meant to end until 11:30am. I started walking at 7:30am.

I wasn't feeling great, but more dehydrated and cold than hungry. I figured we'd be done with our musical production preparations by 11am, and I'd be home in time to eat a nice hot brekky. Yeah, nup. The guys with the stage rocked up with the wrong stairs, so they had to return to their factory out in woop-woop-land, leaving me to kill two hours from 9:30am til 11:30am. I went home, and I had breakfast.

And here's what it looked like:

Oh yes, all 300kcal cheesy goodness of it. A lovely way to break a fast - but due to the available eating time, I broke the fast two hours earlier than planned. No matter - I ended it two hours later than planned yesterday. So that balances out. :P

I wasn't home again in time to eat within the 5 hour window, so today is a normal eating day. I've indulged in some macadamia nuts to tide me over til my chicken drumsticks finish cooking (truly, if all I had for food were chickens pigs, and cabbage, I would be happy for the rest of my life). Of course, I will be sautéeing red cabbage to eat with the chicken. Obviously. Now I just have to overcome the temptation to wrap some crispy bacon around the drumsticks...

I feel like I should make a fancy dinner to photograph, but lately I've been keeping things as simple and quick as possible, since work is becoming hellish in terms of eating up all my time. I'm loving it, but even three days of sick leave haven't totally unwound my pressures. The show opens in three weeks, and it's all going nicely to plan (read: I'm very flexible), and by the 1st of June it will all be over with. June is looking pretty sweet too - no obligations except theatre to view; we've something on almost every weekend, how delightful!

But anyhoo, I will cook some exciting things soon. My brand-new French cast iron cookware arrived yesterday, and the jumbo-wok is just dying to sizzle some baby octopus and bok choy... Ironically, the item I'm missing for that recipe is the bok choy. I really wish we lived near a Macro.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Fast & The... quite content, actually.

Closed the eating window at 3:30pm yesterday. Went to bed at midnight, and woke at 11am. Was meant to eat at noon...

I was distracted. Lots of tweets to read, lots of catching up to do, blog posts to respond to, ebay auctions to monitor, blah blah blah... And then it's 2pm. And I still haven't felt hunger in the real sense (I did get a bit rumbly when reading about the pre-fast meals of my Twitter buddies, but I was still energetic).

But I finally cut the cord between myself and my computer, and quickly prepared a tasty brunch (it's serving the purposes of breakfast and lunch, but it's a little later than your usual brunch):

The Usual (without ham, we've run out)
A chicken breast left over from yesterday's roast chook
Red cabbage sauteed in coconut oil

And I finally remembered to take a picture so you can see my Usual breakfast!

Mmm, see the melted cheddar pooling near the mouth of the omelette? Now just imagine a piece of crispy ham lying against it... Can't wait for Coles Online to arrive with more ham; they'll arrive after I close the eating window, but I'm already looking forward to tomorrow's breakfast...

The idiocy is propagated, yet again...

Now, I was supposed to break my fast 90 minutes ago, but since I'm not hungry I decided to stay and rant at yet another 'health' blogger espousing the old low-carb myths without even bothering to reference her ideas. Yes, I'm guilty of wasting time fighting against "someone on the Internet [who] is wrong!!" but what the hey. Since I'll bet she will ignore my post (all comments are moderated, how convenient), I figured I'd stick it up here since it closely related to the path I have been following, and the misinformation that I examined and proved false along the way:

Here's her post:

The Dangers of Low Carb Diets: A Quick Overview

And here's my comment:

Wow. That is the most idiotic, ill-informed post I've read in quite a while.

Who are these "many people" you've spoken to who can't stay eating 'low-carb' (whatever you are claiming that equals - less than 100g carb, less than 20g, zero?) because of the myriad 'facts' you present here?

Here are some actual facts:

Cutting out processed and refined carbs such as grain and sugar allows your body to 'detox' and shake the addiction many have to sugar. You might feel a bit weird for the first week, but isn't that expected for any addict going cold turkey? It's temporary, and not all carb-cutters experience it at all.

Cutting carbs allows you to take control over your blood glucose levels - no more sugar rushes and resultant 'crashes'. Most low-carbers go on to claim they have more energy, fewer mood swings, and clearer heads. Any "struggling to stick ot the diet" that goes on is NOT due to physiological suffering; it's far more likely that the psychological 'deprivation' is too much for some people. That said, for most people, slimming down is more motivation that the short-lived taste of candy.

Quote: "Ketosis (the process in which your body converts fats into energy) is a potentially life threatening condition and can also cause other problems due to the unnecessary stress put on the liver (resulting in potential liver damage)."

You are talking about ketoacidosis, a very different condition. Do your reading. Ketosis is perfectly natural, with many scientists and anthropologists citing that due to the availability of food before civilisation (animals and some plants) it's almost certain that humans existed on the ketones produced by their bodies. The brain actually prefers to use ketones as its primary fuel, and the 25% of the brain that is believed to run on glucose is fueled by the glucose the body can make from protein, etc.

"Unpleasant side effects to low carb diets also include bad breath, constant cravings for sweets, irritability, constipation and low energy"

For those who do not use all of their available energy (ketones) to fuel their daily needs, the body does get rid of them through urination and the breath. Fortunately, we have toothpaste and mint gum. Is it preferable to store unused energy as fat? As for the other "side effects", you are completely wrong. After the initial detox, it's unlikely that you will crave sweets. Hormonal balance is restored, improving mood regulation. Constipation?? Most low-carbers find they are eating MORE green vegetables when they start cutting out refined and processed carbs. Even Atkins states that you should be getting at least 75% of your daily carb ration from vegetables. And low energy may be a result for those who cut their calories as well, but that's not in any way related to carbs. I know many people who have tried Weight Watchers and cut their dietary fat intake - now THAT'S your fast track to fatigue.

You didn't bother providing your readers (if there are any) with the location of your "scoured resources", but here are some excellent resources that actually know what they are talking about:

Jimmy Moore is an excellent, prominent example of how low-carb can be a very sustainable way of life. Gosh, if what you say is true, the poor man must be so depressed, and talk about years of constipation! Surely he must be going in for weekly enemas, right?

Lyle McDonald has written a very insightful, objective book on ketogenic (low-carb) diets which clears up much of the rubbish you have spewed here. He analyses the facts behind what happens in the body during ketosis and why this is at least as healthy (if not healthier) than the typical high-carb diet.

Mark Sisson has taken things a step further - for optimum health, we need to eat the way humans ate throughout history. Eating clean, eating naturally - and given that wheat crops and sugar cane aren't all that easy to find without plantations, let alone refined version, they don't belong in our diet.

That should be enough for you to start learning what actually is going on and why low-carb diets are certainly not dangerous - they are more likely to help you shed weight and restore your body to optimum health than the continuous inflammation self-inflicted by those who stuff themselves with refined, processed, carby junk food.

That said, there are of course people who diet the wrong way - like low-fat diets where dieters think they can fill up on fat-free confectionery, some low-carbers might use too much artificial sweetener, or overfeed on meat and cheese. The bonus for low-carbers is that it's almost physically impossible to eat too much fat-dense food, since fat and protein promotes and sustains a feeling of fullness. Some people also continue to believe that saturated fat is the enemy - while the link between saturated fats and heart problems has been repeatedly severed by scientific research and studies, you can easily maintain a low-carb way of eating and limit your saturated fat intake. So long as you are getting enough protein and good fats like monounsaturated fats, you will still feel sated after eating and avoid the misery of caloric restriction dieting.

And a quick look at me - I started researching nutrition last year, and since all of the science backed up the hypothesis that refined carbohydrate consumption is what is fueling the obesity epidemic, I cut out all refined sugars and grains, as well as starchy vegetables at the start of 2009. I was perhaps 15kg overweight, which is weight I have carried all my life despite living quite an active lifestyle at times. Making this simple change helped me to shed 9kg thus far, and along the way I have made continual progress towards a cleaner, Primal lifestyle, eating primarily meat, vegetables and eggs, with some dairy, fruit and nuts (in the proportions you might find them in the wild - good luck milking a wild boar!). I have spent a lot of time communicating with those on a similar path, as well as those whose research presents opposing views. I am passionate about learning and extending my understandings - nothing is fixed, and I am always willing to adapt my views when presented with evidence.

You, however, have simply trotted out unfounded beliefs without giving us any kind of evidence. And yet no comments appear below your article (unless this one clears your 'moderation' process). Either you are too afraid to allow yourself to be criticised, or no one reads your blog. For your sake, and for the health of everyone, I hope it is the latter.