My 30 day paleo challenge – A new way of life

As some of you may know, I have followed a paleo diet on and off (more off really…) for the past 2 years. It all started with the trouble I had weaning Emily. When speaking to a nutritionist in South Africa, I realised that giving Emily baby cereal as her first foods was causing a whole heap of trouble. While cereals certainly play their part, I personally feel that there are more nutrient dense foods you can give your baby as a first food. Needless to say, Emily’s tummy cramps, sleepless nights and unsettled bed time all stopped the moment I let the baby rice go and started to feed her food that she could actually digest easily. I guess it was on this journey that I discovered paleo.

I posted an issue I was having regarding my skin on the Paleo Britain facebook page and realised that it could be related to a hormone imbalance or intolerance to foods I may be eating. I was then approached by Chloe from Paleo Britain to do their 30 day challenge for free to see if there was any change. I quickly agreed and embarked on my 30 day journey!

What is Paleo?
This page on the Paleo Britain website sums up the paleo diet really nicely. It is a nutrient dense way of eating which eliminates processed foods known to be bad for our health. Paleo has a keen focus on gut health making sure you are getting a good intake of your gut friendly bacteria by eating fermented foods such a sauerkraut. I believe the paleo way of eating to be very personal. While you can introduce other foods back into your diet after the 30 days (such as white rice and legumes), I have found that lentils do not agree with me but white rice I am actually ok with. It is all about what makes you feel good. If anything does not agree with you, eliminate it! It is not good for you!

My 30 day experience
If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail! This has definitely been my experience. Because all of your food is unprocessed and eliminates refined sugar you need to prepare for each day so you are not tempted to go out at lunch time and buy that pesky sandwich. The transition can be hard and the prep time can be time consuming so being organised makes a big difference. Chloe emails you every day to tell you what you can expect to be feeling. From energy loss in the beginning to when you may have cravings and how to overcome them. She provides an exercise plan with suggested workouts you can follow as well as useful information on the paleo diet and the reason for eliminating various foods from your diet for 30 days. She also provides some scientific based information for aspects of the paleo diet for those that are interested. The Paleo Mom is my “go to” resource for everything scientific in the paleo diet. She explains most aspects of the diet right down to cellular level. I find it fascinating and gobble up all the scientific facts but then again, biology was my favourite subject!!

Chloe is literally there, every step of the way. Hints, tips, and advice are all part of the service. Meal plans are provided and a full shopping list to compliment your meal plan is also given. She also tells you where you can source your paleo friendly products (Mainly for UK based customers). The Paleo community is all about animal welfare and the meat you consume should ideally be grass fed/outdoor reared/free range/organic. I honestly can’t fault the support you receive and the wealth of information given to you to help you understand why you are on this journey.

As suspected, I began the first week feeling very tired and I had very intense cravings. Once I hit week 2, I was in much better spirits. I was finding it easier to make good choices as I started to get the hang of preparing meals and figuring out what foods I could enjoy. Week 3, I was almost 3kgs down and felt amazing. My energy levels were up and all symptoms of reflux and painful cramping in my abdomen were totally gone. I normally live on antacids for my hiatus hernia but I took a total of 3 zantac the entire month!! I slept well (due to the lack of heart burn) which meant I felt so much better during the day. I did not suffer from afternoon slump because the protein and fats maintained my energy and sugar levels. I only got one flare up of my skin where it is normally a daily issue… All in all, it was a great month! I detailed my months worth of meals on my Instagram account with the hashtag #essenceoflifepaleo. Do pop in and have a look at some of the meals I enjoyed throughout the month.

I will certainly be staying away from gluten and wheat from now on as this is a big stressor to my gut health. I have also become so much more aware of my body and how it reacts… it’s as if I have finally fallen into step with myself so I can now easily pick up on foods and environments that are not good for me. I really can’t go back now to how I was living. The constant stomach ache and reflux is no way to live your life! For me, this is now really just the beginning. Making myself and my health a priority. Not just for me but for my family too.

Some of my meals:

Here are some of my tips to prepare for the week ahead:
-Boiling a whole bunch of eggs on the Sunday for the week (they last a week in the fridge)
– I found having a BBQ/braai over the weekend and cook a whole heap of meat made meals so much easier later in the week
-Cook extra for left overs, they make a great lunch!
-Pack your lunch box the night before so you are not running around in the morning
-I would blend a head of cauliflower for Cauli rice, cook it and keep it in the fridge.
-Roast a large dish of veggies and store in the fridge. Great in salads, with egg or in a fritatta.

Thanks Chloe and Paleo Britain! My new beginning starts now.

If you feel that the 30 day challenge is for you, you can contact Chloe here. The plan only costs £30 so for £1 per day, I would say it is very reasonable… you won’t be sorry… I promise!

*My 30 day challenge was complimentary

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Body Shaming – It’s a shame really…

I was looking through my Facebook home page, catching up on the activities of friends and family when I stumbled across an advert for a gossip magazine that said “Hot celebrities that have ugly spouses!!” and there was a picture of Pierce Brosnan and his beautiful wife Keely Shaye… I couldn’t quite figure out who they were saying was ugly?? I soon realised that they were referring to Keely because she has gained weight… I mean, who could love a gorgeous curvy girl like her?? Well the answer to that is very clear on Pierce Brosnan’s Instagram account… He can!! (Yes, I follow him because to me, he is the best James Bond!! But, that is another debate for another day)

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*Above picture taken from Pierce Brosnan’s Instagram*

I felt like I could relate to her a little. Weight issues and being health conscious is something I am constantly struggling with. It is like a thorn in my side and my freedom all wrapped up in one annoying package. When I do well and feel great… Woohoo!! the world is my oyster and anything is possible. When I feel a bit meh and look in the mirror, judging every blemish and roll, I feel terrible. And believe me, no one can say things that I have not already said to myself and far worse! I have come to realise that there is no “destination” as such when it comes to living a healthy life style. You don’t “arrive”. It is something that you work on every single day. Making smart choices and doing your best for you (first of all) and for your family. And although there seems to be a rising-up of people against all this shaming nonsense, I am so acutely aware of the messages I am sending out about myself and woman in general because I want to be a role model for Emily and I want her to grow up feeling confident about who she is and the way she feels about herself.

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There was an advert campaign in the UK for a diet supplement that had such strong reactions against the billboard, the advert was actually banned. Initially, I was shocked by everyone’s reaction but in retrospect, I think many people are tired of feeling like if they are anything less than perfect, they are simply not good enough. Stylist Magazine wrote an article on it which also brought out different views but I think the gist of the backlash was that no one wants to feel inferior any more. And I am not saying that you shouldn’t be realistic! The “This Girl Can” campaign is great!! and it encourages you to get up and get moving. I can see things in myself that do need to change and I am working on it and that is the point… I am working on it. As long as I continue to take those small steps I will see the rewards at some point. It is a journey and I feel grateful to be working my way through it, as frustrating as it can be sometimes. At some point, we all need to be kind to each other and learn to love ourselves for who we are.

Well, at least I know that is what MY hope is for my beautiful, amazing, impressionable daughter.