But I Still Need a Little Something Sweet

This article appeared for Paleo on the Go

Most people’s sugar evolution goes something like this: promiscuous sugar usage as a child, artificial sweeteners in college, honey post college, then agave maybe stevia, now mostly none. Zilch. However if 30 years of low-no fat dieting has told us anything, removing entire food groups from your diet when you don’t know what you’re doing, is dangerous. Organ, hormonal and emotional dysfunction can all result from cutting out food that is vital to your body’s function. So should we be quitting sugar for good?

SHOULD WE ELIMINATE SUGAR ENTIRELY?

Most of us following Paleo whole food values are pretty much back on the (healthy) fat bandwagon. We’re eating pastured animals complete with the fats they come with, cooking in butter and lard and delving back into our love of bacon. And speaking of bacon, it goes with anything right? There was even a bar of bacon chocolate the other day at my local store! Yum…

Ok, so it’s that last little bit of over-indulgence that this article is about; because who doesn’t fancy a little something sweet no matter the health or balance or both of their diet.

Let’s just face it: anything that seriously satisfies our sweet tooth isn’t going to be the epitome of health: most snacks (even the healthy ones, gasp) contain sugar. We swap out white, brown and raw sugars for more natural versions like coconut, Yacon, maple and honey. However the trouble with substituting one added sugar for another is it still keeps the sugar bar high, never allowing our taste buds to recalibrate. We still need more and more sugar to get the same sweet sensation. We just don’t give our insulin producing pancreas, and its myriad relationships with all the hormones in our body, a rest.

GET YOUR SWEET ON FROM LESS

Luckily, we can aim for low sugar or one that offers something beneficial (not eliminating sugar completely) at the same time. You could get your sweet tooth:

  • From fruit, or from teasing out food’s internal sugars by roasting root veggies (with a sprinkling of cinnamon to lower their insulin surge)
  • By distracting the tastebuds with another flavor so they’re less focused on the absence of sugar. Cinnamon or nutmeg can give the impression of sugar in it’s absence. Vanilla extract is a great sugar like substitution too.
  • Lemon juice-soaked or lightly (not caramelized) onions in dishes can also add that little something sweet you’re looking for.
  • Coconut oil in cooking, baking or just on a teaspoon is a great sweet craving reliever
  • Paleo ‘sweets’, though beware even following Paleo principles, when these become creeping-up-on-every-meal treats, are still ‘treats’.

CUTTING WAY BACK ON SUGAR

When you try it yourself, cutting way back on sugar (even those healthier natural sugars) you do start to crave less and detect hidden sweetness in non sugar foods; you get the same sweet sensation from less.

Because we need some sugar; a higher fat diet will have you craving sugar too. We need that sugar we’ve been carefully removing from our diet. Our brains are wired for sweetness. We’re naturally wired to seek ripe, seasonal foods that are naturally sweeter. The same wiring lets us know when a food is spoiled or if it’s poisonous! Sweetness in food was a marker for edibility in primitive times and it should still be in modern times, and for the deliciousness we’ve all come to love (albeit in excess).

So what’s the best way to get a better balance, and even enjoy that little bit of sweet you love after a meal? No guilt, no craving; just ‘that’d be nice thank you’. Does it exist? You’ve probably heard that certain cravings can tell you about what’s missing from your diet. When we don’t assimilate food well, or don’t eat nutrient-dense food, our body craves extra food in the attempt to fill in the nutritional blanks. Yet, we don’t always crave the correct foods, and can end up reaching for something that doesn’t support our health.

A SINGLE MEAL CAN HELP YOU LISTEN

A single meal can help you get back to listening to what your body needs:

  • Excess fats/ proteins – leave you feeling lethargic, ‘heavy’
  • and sleepy and with a dull mood
  • Excess carbohydrates – leave you feeling headache-y, jittery and jumpy in the mind or with brain fog, nervous/anxious and tired, and you seem to get hungry quickly
  • A great starting principle is 40:30:30 (carbs: fats: proteins) of your plate, where most of your carbs come from green leafy vegetables (and a few starches like sweet potatoes as sides now and then); your proteins from pasture raised organic where possible ethical choices; your healthy fats from the most pristine sources.

DON’T FORGET TO ENJOY YOUR FOOD!

But this is just a start; you need to work out how best you feel so try keeping a food diary for at least four days, even a week, and track your own feelings after eating: you know your body better than anyone. Try cutting back excess sugars, mix up your go to’s meals, distract your taste buds using cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, lemon juice-soaked onions and coconut oil. Try and detect sweetness in fruit and vegetables you’re eating. And don’t forget to enjoy your food!! Paleo whole food values is a great template for you to listen to your body. And then enjoy that little something sweet you love.

The truth is that nothing is good or bad, just in or out of balance. Too little (i.e. sugar) or too much (even the healthiest, daily) of anything doesn’t do a body good. A single meal can help you get back to listening to what your body needs, and let’s face it, that little bit of something sweet we all feel now and then, no matter how satisfying a meal.

Get the Basic-Foods Before the Super-Foods

This article appeared for Paleo on the Go

DO WE REALLY NEED SUPER-FOODS?

If your diet’s good, no. You shouldn’t need anything more to supplement your daily meals. But with soil depletion, our use of additives and the prevalence of sugar, refined carbs and rancid veggie oils, no one can really say their diet has been perfect. And for those unwilling or unable to give up bad habits like caffeine, alcohol or smoking, a daily supply of superfoods is essential.

GET THE BASIC-FOODS BEFORE THE SUPER-FOODS

Research has shown that the ideal diet is one that is largely plant-based with a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and healthy animal products. If you’re interested in eating a healthier diet upgrade to the most nutritious whole foods, not processed, and as close to the form that they were planted and grown in. Something you have to love about Paleo whole food principles is that these qualities are innate: it’s rich in nature’s superfoods!

EAT MORE VEGETABLES!

  • We could all do with adding more vegetables at every meal because most of us don’t get enough, especially dark leafy greens.
  • We’ve all pretty much been on low fat diet for the last 30 years, and and now it’s time to up your (healthy) fats slowly and optimize their digestion. We are what we eat: our bile is what our bodies use to emulsify fats but the best quality bile is made from the very fats it breaks down!

HIGH QUALITY PROTEINS

  • Add in high quality animal or alternative protein, like nuts and seeds, and more as a side than the huge steaks we see. Even the Paleo lifestyle tends to over rely on almond butter and flour in cooking as we try to resolve our love for the bread and cakes we’re missing. As with fats, we need to encourage their optimal digestion. We’re also seeing an epidemic of low stomach acid in our culture. Good stomach acid is the key ingredient to protein digestion and assimilation of 90% of all our nutrients (and our health!).

DON’T FORGET TO DRINK WATER!

  • Don’t forget good quality water: we’re 70% water and we cannot store it. Sipping up to half your body weight in water (not tap) in ounces (or kg x 0.03 for liters) a day with a pinch of sea salt in each glass is a good start.

SLOW DOWN AND ENJOY!

  • Don’t forget to stop and enjoy your food, our forgotten macronutrient! Thinking about the delicious food to come, while cooking, shopping or ordering from a menu, triggers your body’s cephalic response. It helps your body to start releasing salivary and then stomach juices to prepare for optimal digestion and absorption well ahead of time.

WHOLE FOOD PRINCIPLES

Get the basics first, through Paleo whole food principles, and you’ll keep your body balanced at just the right amount of enough for nature’s superfoods to give your body all the super powers you need.

Paleo: What to Eat, Not What Not to Eat

This article appeared for Paleo on the Go

PALEO: WHAT TO EAT, NOT WHAT NOT TO EAT

For a long time we’ve been basing our diet decisions on what not to eat: don’t eat fat, don’t eat carbs, don’t eat sugar. We’ve tried eating a diet limited to cabbage soup, restricting calories by only eating grapefruits, prohibiting complex carbs and protein during the same meal, lowered or totally immured fat in everything, only choosing high protein but low carb, a specific ratio of carbs, fat, and protein or meals based on restrictive whole grains and veggies. We’ve excluded so many foods from our plates it’s no wonder we’re so confused what to eat now to look after ourselves.

So maybe we’ve all been told what not to eat for so long that it’s time we started with what we should. And of course on a paleo meal delivery blog you’re expecting to read that it’s the solution we’ve been waiting for. And of course that’s absolutely right! Sure Paleo tells us what to avoid, but its more what we can eat, allowing us to fill up first on what we need instead of filling up on fillers and non-foods.

EAT ORGANIC, GRAIN FREE, ANTIBIOTIC FREE

If you’re from the history of dieters rolling your eyes at yet another ‘way to eat best’, you’re seeing meats and thinking mad cow disease or heart disease; meat is just bad. And if we were talking feedlot animals, eating under enormous pressured conditions in every way possible, then I’d agree with you. But with all the paleo dieters, or just a sign of the times, we’re forcing more awareness of organic growing than ever, and of pasture raised meats: naturally hormone and antibiotic free simply because they’re eating what they’re meant to eat. And reared this way, they are indeed a whole food for us: even the fats are not only delicious but nutritiously naturally free of toxins and instead full of nutrients we have been omitting for our health. We are indeed what we eat, in fact what we eat eats, what nature intended, unaltered chemically, genetically or prescriptively, for naturally good health. That said, let’s not all rush out and eat as much meat as we can. Everything in moderation (even moderation!).

EAT HEALTHY FATS

So back to the healthy fats thing, after thirty years of no fats, let’s talk butter. One thing you cannot deny is that it tastes really good. Yet lots of us still don’t eat it because we feel we should eat something less tasty, apparently making it better for us, despite being chemically laden and far worse for us that the real deal. The low or no fat diet has really done a number on us! And for too long we’ve not just been low or no fat, especially no saturated fat and most certainly no butter! But saturated fats are one of the main ingredients especially for our body’s pro inflammatory mechanisms. So a good thing to omit then? No way! The truth is we need a balance of as much pro inflammation as we do anti inflammation. It’s a self regulating system. So we need all fats, saturated and unsaturated and everything in between. Our bodies are far too out of whack and even more complicated than a this-for-that mentality could even begin to fix! Let’s just suffice, it’s all about the balance: eat your butter. And your olive, coconut and sesame oils, your duck fat, beef tallow, lard, the whole egg, macadamia and avocado oils. Mix them up. Enjoy them with each meal. They’re what bring everything together, including our low fat flailing health.

Which leads us to considering the importance of proper accompaniments: there are a few vitamins (A, D, E, and K) that are only soluble in fat. That means that they are not bioavailable unless they are eaten alongside fats. Similarly, there are other foods that can improve the bioavailability of nutrients. The organic acids found in fermented foods improve absorption by forming soluble compounds with trace minerals. Ascorbic acid in citrus fruits, tropical fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts makes certain iron compounds more soluble. Ascorbic acid can also counteract the inhibitory effect of phytate and may enhance the absorption of other trace minerals like selenium. Finally, animal protein enhances the absorption of zinc, iron, and copper. Yup, we need to eat whole food, all foods, great variety, and even more, to eat with enjoyment.

eatEAT AND ENJOY

Ok so that last bit about enjoyment is not just to make you smile. But then again it is. Enjoyment is what food is all about. Scientifically it’s our cephalic response: the sight, smell, thought, or taste of food, and the greater the appetite, the more intense the response. It’s the start of all our gastric juices, beginning digestion before we even eat, ready for all the very best foods we’ve now elected to eat knowing they’re what our bodies need. It could even be more important than the food itself!

Paleo enables us to turn dietary restrictions into culinary opportunities. And to start every meal with boundless possibilities rather than a long list of nos. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!

(Kid’s) Birthday Bash Without the Crash

This article appeared for Paleo on the Go

What parent doesn’t want to make their child’s birthday a very special day, filled with all the fun and joy in the world? As parents, we feel the need to indulge our little ones with food they may not normally get, activities they may not normally participate in, and many, many presents at birthday time. But, what’s the ending result? Have you noticed your LO to be cranky, hard to deal with or even extremely hyper during this time? A lot of the highs and subsequent lows of the day are yours to choose, just like the food you decide serve. Spoiling your kid on their birthday doesn’t have to mean derailing their diet, sabotaging their immune system or giving them a tummy ache. Have a birthday bash without the crash!

BIRTHDAY BASH WITHOUT THE CRASH

To start, I just want to say that I don’t want to be one of ‘those mums’ or my son to be one of ‘those kids’ that doesn’t eat like everyone else. No matter what my efforts, my kid will one day eat “non-paleo food” and I realize this. Not even “one day” currently, he eats ice cream or an occasional treat. But it’s amazing to see how much better a child thinks, behaves and performs when they’re eating healthy. We’ve come to see hyperactivity, attention deficit and dyslexia as commonplace in kids. What we don’t often realize it that the cause could very well be simply in the balance of bacteria in their gut. The presence of foods that produce an intolerance or allergic reaction could be the cause. All of which can be avoided through an overall better food selection.

KIDS DON’T KNOW ANY BETTER

And that goes for birthday parties too. After all, for a kid who doesn’t know any better, this is really just doing them a big disservice on their birthday – not to mention creating exhausted, cranky kids that no one wants to be around. Oh and a resultant night of sleeplessness for you too as their hyper continues into the night.

My boy just turned two in February and is already known for his even temperament, which hopefully can be taken back to his healthy beginnings. That said, he’s only two right? And he probably doesn’t know what a birthday is, however after the five day span of ‘happy bday to you’, I think he was starting to get the hang of it being his? So, this birthday is pretty much about us parents. And an opportunity to realize that you can indeed have a great bday bash without the crash.

birthday

THE BASICS OF A BIRTHDAY BASH WITHOUT THE CRASH ARE:

SUGAR HINDERS IMMUNITY

Sugar hinders immunity. Say what? Did you know sugar has a crippling effect for 4-6 hours after being eaten? That means you give your little one candy then they get exposed to a child with a virus, and your little person is much less able to defend himself from getting sick. They’re now more likely to get sick because of sugar consumption. Further sugar depletes B vitamins, which are critical to the immune system functioning and protection against infection. And yet more sugar displaces more nutrient dense foods further reducing intake of nutrients that could protect and strengthen immunity.

Instead of: soda and chocolate cake

Serve this: water if they’re thirsty and not with meals. Water dilutes their stomach juices for digesting food, so it’s important to drink water separately from the meal; Chocolate cupcakes made with 6 eggs, 1/2 cup each cacao, coconut flour, maple syrup, coconut oil and coconut milk, 2.5 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp each cinnamon, vanilla and salt. Whiz all, bake in muffin tins at 320F for 25min or until fork comes out clean. Frost with ‘guacolate’ using 2 avocados, 1.2 cup each cacao and honey, whiz and spread.

Or checkout these amazing recipes as real food birthday cake substitutes: Paleo Molten Chocolate Lava Cake, Paleo Version of Ding Dongs or Paleo Blonde Brownies your kids won’t know they’re eating real food. These are amazing!

SUGAR HINDERS DIGESTION

Sugar hinders digestion. Like the term ‘kids and candy’ easily rolls off the tongue, so does ‘sugar and digestive fireball’ especially combined with the excitement of birthday parties. Because pure sugar or candy is simply just one of the possible sugars consumed. It’s also only one of the blood sugar responses. You have to realize we’re giving our kids other foods that break down to sugar (bread, pasta, rice, grains and dairy), which means more sugar still or sugar overload. A blood sugar high is really all the hormones flooding in to reduce the high no matter the source. Then subsequent hormones flood in afterwards to lift such a reduction in sugar and so on until we are on a blood sugar roller coaster. Now add a child who’s developing hormones you’ve suddenly put on this roller coaster.

ADDITIONAL PARTY FOOD SUBSTITUTES

Instead of Gummy Bears or Sugary Jellies

Serve with: Cherry and pear jellies. Cook and puree and cup each cherries and pear in separate pots, sprinkle a tbsp gelatin on each leaving tis it blooms. Gently whiz then pour into shapes and refrigerate 2-3 hours before serving. These gelatin gummies are good for adult digestion too.

You can also experiment with different fruits! Try our Watermelon Gummies. They were a hit during Halloween. 

USE COLORFUL FOOD AT YOUR KID’S BIRTHDAY PARTY

Color at birthdays is a great place to start: digest the rainbow. Nope this is not a Skittles ad. Because sugar hinders digestion, it alters mineral balance. And sugary foods replace this rainbow generally vegetable and fruit foods, which incidentally are full of the vitamins and minerals sugar displaces. Sugar replaces and displaces minerals. Imbalanced minerals are unable to function properly as they rely on each other in specific proportions. Because minerals are helpers to enzymes when minerals are unbalanced, enzymes are too and so don’t function properly to do their job, especially affecting digestion. When foods aren’t digesting, allergies are likely, which is why foods eaten with sugar are more likely to have allergies developed against them.

Instead of: fruit loops, goldfish, or any other artificially colored weird kids snacks
Serve with: guacamole and mango salsa. Delicious, colorful, fruity but balanced with good healthy fats

Instead of: chicken nuggets
Serve with: chicken strips first rolled in arrowroot, then beaten egg, then almond flour and salt fried in coconut oil.

Instead of: candy and more candy
Serve with: chocolate crackles 1/2 cup each cacao, macadamias (chopped), coconut oil (melted), shredded coconut, honey to sweeten, handful each dried goji and  blueberries. Mix all ingredients and serve them in mini cupcake patties. Deliberately make the batch small because that’s just how treats should be: a suggestion, without being sickly.

FOOD ISN’T THE ONLY WAY TO MAKE KIDS HAPPY

Food isn’t the only way to make kids happy especially on their birthday. Spoil them with presents for sure. Cover your house in streamers, balloons and cards all about their day. And remember throughout that attention is everything: even though you have guests, they’re the star, your star. Mostly too hope to continue your efforts to give them a healthy appetite full of choices, to know what he likes and hopefully when it comes to food that he’ll be good most of the time. It’s just my job as a parent to do the “best job I can.” Empathy, choice, “please” and ‘thank you” can, hopefully, set him up for success later in life.

Longer Days Means Less Kitchen Time, But Not Less Health

This article appeared for Paleo on the Go

Spring or the start of daylight savings time and longer days means less and less time in the kitchen. But that doesn’t have to mean the end of your healthy eating pledge! We tend to work longer hours and stay out later when our days get longer. Consequently we lean towards easy options such as take out or microwave foods. We let food product manufacturers drive our meal decisions rather than nutrition based research that is really what a healthy human body needs to eat. Thankfully, eating well is simple if you begin with how you value food. No matter if you’re eating out at restaurants, opting for a meal delivery service or plan or buying and cooking meals yourself.

EATING OUT AT RESTAURANTS

In America we tend to cook less and eat fast. Often spending more money at restaurants and bars than grocery stores. But there are healthier options and choices no matter where you choose to dine. Starting from paleo whole food principles are key! If you’re going to cook less and spend more money in restaurants and bars, you need to know you’re choices are as healthy as they can be. But even more important, to eat slowly and enjoy your time with the friends you’re out with. You’ll digest better and get great health benefits even while eating out.

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PLAN, BUY AND COOK YOURSELF 

You’ve had the time to plan that night out at a restaurant. Afford yourself the same time to plan a few meals you can easily handle. Here’s a few examples that may get your brain thinking and to help you get started.
  • On Sunday night cook a roast. It should leave you with lunch leftovers for Monday and Tuesday; Monday night a throw together quick dinner. On Tuesday night make enough dinner to have Wednesday and Thursday lunch leftovers. Planning like this allows you to make quick and easy dinners on Wednesday and Thursday.
  • Boiled eggs and bacon strips with avocado over a caesar salad is as fast as seven-ten minutes cook time. Just enough time to boil your eggs, fry your bacon and wash your lettuce at the same time. You can also keep cooked bacon and hardboiled eggs on hand to add to salads or for a quick snack.
  • Cook a few grass fed sausages served them as hot dog buns, filled with sauerkraut, tomato salsa and arugula.
  • A Sunday roast chicken translates into a delicious chicken, blueberry, walnut salad on Monday. Save the legs for Tuesday’s lunch with some cold roast carrots and beets tossed in hazelnut oil with hazelnuts and raisins.
Pre-planned meals, scheduling a few grocery deliveries (if available) and planning for and mixing up leftovers for lunches means frugality with flare and health! Your post work or gym session hunger pains will be satiated in the healthy fulfilling foods you’ve rewarded yourself with ahead of the time.

OPT FOR A MEAL DELIVERY SERVICE

If you’d really like to simplify things, there’s the option to have someone else plan it for you. We love great food but many of us are not excited about the actual process of cooking of food. That doesn’t have to result in unhealthy eating. A paleo delivery meal service could be just the answer to getting people back into the kitchen, without the time we no longer have with Spring in the air. Having someone source the best foods and create a quality meal is a great time and health savings! Just make sure you have the time to sit and enjoy what you’re eating. The value of eating well begins with relishing each meal. Even though we’re in a wondrous positive trend toward better eating within our time limitations, we shouldn’t relegate eating to unimportance while we do something else. It’s not an excuse to have even less time. The very best foods are healthful for your body only if you give your body the opportunity to digest them.
  • Don’t eat standing up, sitting in your car or in front of the tv. Even your delicious banana nut muffin lends itself to an a sit down on the balcony to contemplate your day ahead.
  • Put your fork down between mouthfuls and serve yourself a little less on your plate. This way you have to get up to get more. Try a delicious homemade chicken pot pie.
  • Eat mindfully, bringing everyone together for a family meal.

Eating better within our time limitations could easily be a combination of the three below.

  1. Plan to eat out one to two times a week for lunches or dinners
  2. Plan your Sunday roast and leftovers and quick meals then online shop for grocery delivery when it’s available.
  3. Reward yourself with a completely restful night off at home with a paleo delivery meal service.
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DON’T COMPROMISE WHAT YOU EAT

Daylight savings, summer work hours and spending more time outdoors means we might not have the cooking, shopping, even meal planning time we’d hope to restart our health this Spring. But less time in the kitchen doesn’t have to mean compromising what you eat: eating out, quick cooking meal ideas and a paleo delivery meal services can help us out. Eating well is simple if you begin with valuing the food you put in your body. Know where it’s from and how it benefits to you. We have less time to make it all happen, so you’ve more time to enjoy and digest it for all its goodness to your health.

Don’t Wear Your Insides Out – Paleo on the Go

This article appeared for Paleo on the Go
You’ve heard the adage “you are what you eat.” This basically means our food is shaping us from the inside out. However, in most cases, it’s not for the better. The food we choose to eat is wearing us out, and our bodies are running out of backup supplies to help. When we eat too much of one thing and too little of another that we need, or choose not to add a variety to our diets, our bodies begin to lack the nutrients we need for proper digestion.

TOO LITTLE MICRONUTRIENTS

Conventional, organic, non-gmo, natural, gluten free, hydrogenated or trans fat free there’s too many terms to keep up with. Why? The natural order is gone and processed food has become the norm. Put simply, food should just be food but instead most of what we eat are food-like products. Eating has become a stress on our body. As more chemicals and preservatives are added it’s no wonder. Our body recognizes most chemicals as toxins. All stress (toxins we put in) summates in our body as stress no matter the source. But health is a choice, three times a day. We all can live healthier from the inside out by making the right choices.

CONSUME THIS TO HELP WITH DIGESTION

1. Organic produce and pastured animal products, as close to their natural diets as possible from local sources like a farmers market
2. Real foods properly prepared through traditional food practices.
3. Steer clear of packaged and processed methods to help with the overall healing of our gut after years of damage.

TOO LITTLE MACRONUTRIENTS

Sugar free, fat free, high protein, low or no fat, low or no carb? So many options, the answer is simply to just get each macronutrient at each meal. You’ll stop getting those sweet tooth cravings. The reason is because we need each macronutrient – proteins are our body’s building blocks, carbs our energy transporters and fats are the basics for hormones and more – but also because each macronutrient helps the other digest.
Also, our brain is wired to seek difference. If we were foraging our food in the wild, we’d survive on being able to detect ripeness and sweetness in fruit or spoiled or potentially poisonous foods. Do you have your regular go tos? Shop for the same things each week?  Try a Paleo-on-the-Go meal with all three macronutrients so your plate is ready made and delivered. Plus, it saves on time.

TOO LITTLE; BASICS

Forget the superfoods or the power bars, the extra muscle protein shakes or vitamin fortified milk. There’s actually a lot to be said for ‘meat and three veggies’. Perhaps reversing the order so your meat is more of a side and you ‘fill up’ first on the fat soluble vitamins in your vegetables. Oh and don’t forget to eat these with healthy fats like pastured butter so you can get those ‘fat’ solubles!
– Most of us only eat 3-5 veggies. Don’t get stuck in the rut of eating the same things. Expand your horizons, try 5 new veggies for seven days and see how your cooking and your mood fare!

TOO MUCH

How do you know you’ve had enough? Do you limit yourself to one portion, side plates and no dessert? A lot of us snack to get us through to the next meal which incidentally means our last meal wasn’t right in macronutrient portions. It takes about three hours for your body to finish digesting a meal. Do you ever give your body the rest it needs or just keep filling it up and giving it more work to do? Overeating and over snacking cost your body more in the long run than the food they give! You know yourself that over working leaves you tired no matter how much sleep you get. You’re body uses up all its stores to do what it normally does but continual use means continual using up. Something’s gotta give!
– Eat meals with whole food paleo principals. Meals that are nutrient dense, have a good balance of fats and fat soluble vitamins, proteins and carbs. Avoiding potentially allergenic or sensitive foods which behave as toxins in the body like grains and dairy, is crucial to making life easy for your digestion.
– A paleo meal delivery service can also be a great choice even if only for ‘cheat’ night to give yourself as well as your digestion a night off. Your digestive system really is one of the most important components of your health and happiness. Give it the rest and care it deserves.

Ways My Toddler is Teaching Me to Eat Well

This article appeared for Paleo on the Go

Who wouldn’t want to give their kids the best nutritional start in life? It’s our job as parents to offer the best foods and their job as our kids to eat it (in most cases). Enjoying our toddlers own forays into food, is definitely a chance to set them up for healthy eating behaviors, and reset yours. 

1. DON’T EAT THE SAME THING EACH DAY

I’ll pretty much put anything into my mouth. I don’t really know what I like so keep trying me on different foods. Chances are I’ll like things you never imagined.

‘Explore food each season’, all of which are new to your kids, just sounds like something people with all the time on their hands do. But how can you even contemplate it when we just get so excited when our kids will actually eat something that we quickly declare it a favorite and give it to them all the time, satisfied we’re filling them with calories.

But just stop for a second: how can they have a favorite when then haven’t tried very much in the world of food? Just because they’re eating something doesn’t mean they should all the time. Take sugar! Calories aren’t the goal; nutrition and good eating behaviors are. Though sweet potato at every meal seems both nutritious and easy for little fingers to handle themselves, you can make equally simple mashed cauliflower into finger sized balls or mini sliders from ground beef.

If you find yourself buying the same things at the grocery store, or if the same things keep running out, you’re eating too much of them. It’s time to mix things up. 

2. THINGS THAT CRUNCH ARE PRETTY FUNNY

When I bite into crunchy things I can hear it inside my mouth and it makes me laugh. And it’s even funnier when you do it too. 

Adding a bit of texture at each meal, a dip, salad, soup, can make it more satisfying, and not just because of the laughs. But that doesn’t have to mean stale bread croutons, weird oily chips or even expecting a toddler to dig into every carrot stick you serve with relish. Try guacamole and chips  or beef tacos. Chips are great sprinkled on soup or a salad or make your own veggie chips!

3. EAT YOUR GREENS AT EACH MEAL

I don’t know what greens are, let alone oranges or purples. Try me on all my veggies. I might even like some before my terrible twos!

Everyone knows toddlers don’t like their greens but put them alongside other parts of their meal and they might even try them. All veggies go better with butter and sauces made of healthy fats – they’ve chock full of fat soluble vitamins so serving them this way makes them useful! 

Try zucchini noodles, sweet potato gnocchi or yummy cauliflower rice bowls.

4. IF YOU DON’T EAT IT, HE WON’T EITHER.

When you eat those little fishies you screw up your nose, so I will too. I’m gonna look like you mummy. 

Ok, so for me it’s sardines. They gross me out. I would probably add heart, brain, liver and any other organ meats to my list. Do you have a food that you so don’t like but have tried to fed to your little one thinking you should all have more of it for a healthier diet? Bone broth is delicious and luckily now readily available in great unprocessed good for you forms so you don’t have to handle the bones or cook for ages. I will cook liver to make pate, oh and I whizzed my sardines with garlic, eggs, olive oil, lemon juice and zest and salt and pepper and voila, sardine pate. It’s great on tortillas and the quickest, healthiest and ‘one up to me’ lunch on the go.

5. LIVE 80:20

I am pretty good with my fork, especially when it comes to getting my share of ice cream, daddy. 

So there’s ice cream and there’s ice cream but I’m a firm believer that if i’m having it, he can. But he has to serve himself. This isn’t a ‘get the calories’ down kind of meal ever! But that said, it would appear my toddler is rather dexterous when it comes to ice cream! Make sure you’ve eaten something first so the sugar rush, organic or not, is not as harsh on his little body. Oh, and at least he’s learning something.

6. EATING IS A SOCIAL AFFAIR.

I want your iPhone not lunch. I want your iPhone not lunch. 

What if, over lunch, you told a story and half way through the story your baby stopped listening. They looked away, yawned, replied to an email on their iPhone? It would be pretty funny actually. Initially. But imagine if it was your partner. Ummm yep rude. Ok phone goes away at meal time and just talk, even to your babe, even if they can’t talk back yet. Eating is a social affair and sets up healthy eating behaviors we want our kids to thrive in as much as the choice of the foods.

My toddler is teaching me to eat well by helping me realize I need to slow down and explore all that’s in front of me, with him. Here’s to embracing the perfectly imperfect reality of raising kids!

Encouraging Digestive Strength in Kids  

This article appeared for Paleo on the Go

Increasingly, children are developing digestive problems that were once reserved for adults. The underlying cause of these problems including bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, and even inflammatory bowel disease is often inappropriate eating habits.

DIGESTION

Digestion is how your body takes food and makes it usable in the form of energy and nutrients. In many healing modalities, it is believed that problems with digestion are at the heart of all other health conditions. If digestion is impaired, the food we eat will not be broken down and absorbed properly.

NUTRITION

Nutrition is about what and how we teach our kids to eat. So, to help improve your child’s digestion and their body’s access to nutrients, modifying some of the harmful habits that overwhelm their system can bring about change.

A lot of the principles of paleo eating are actually more about what we choose NOT to eat and the space this choice leaves for what we need to eat. Perhaps the same could be said for paleo meal nutrients and digestion which are perhaps disguised as ‘what’ to eat.

BUILD YOUR KIDS DIGESTIVE HEALTH

1. AVOID PROCESSED FOODS

By following paleo guidelines and choosing nutrient dense foods you’re automatically avoiding weird sugars, fats and chemicals your body wasn’t designed to break down. These cost the body more than they provide. When you eat this type of food it leaves your body operating below par. Processed foods, packaged and fast foods should be removed from all kids’ diets but particularly children with digestive problems.

SAY NO TO PROCESSED FOODS

Processed food tends to contain many harmful substances such as trans fats and preservatives that can interfere with digestion. Kids’ bodies in particular, are not sure what to do with them, complicating digestion. In addition, processed foods contain very few nutrients, using up the body’s nutrients as they are digested. Children should stick to natural, whole foods that the body recognizes and can readily use.

2. DON’T OVER-EAT (OR OVER-SNACK)

Choosing paleo approved meals (& even snacks which could almost be seen as smaller meals), you’re not only satisfying your tummy but also your body’s needs to repair and rebuild the new you each day. Overeating puts a lot of pressure on the digestive system and should be avoided. When too much food is eaten, it taxes the body’s ability to properly break down and assimilate nutrients.

WE ARE IN CONTROL

As parents we are in control of food preparation. Give smaller portions with a larger amount in sight. Place a small amount of on their plate so that rather than feeling overwhelmed by too much food, your baby or child has the opportunity to signal for more. We want to trust our kids to be in charge of their appetites to indicate a desire for foods by opening their mouths when we present food to them. Playing airplane or saying “one more bite” turns into something babies do to please us, encouraging over eating or power struggle. Slow down to your child’s eating pace, which is another factor in digestive problems.

3. DON’T DRINK WITH MEALS

You’ll not only dilute nutrients but also your stomach acid and digestive enzymes, leaving you full of liquid and undigested foods and their subsequent discomforts. When most children sit down to eat, they expect to drink something. The combination of food and liquid can lead to slower digestion as the digestive juices are diluted by the liquids consumed. It is best to keep the amount of fluids around mealtime to a minimum. Have children drink their water before meals – up to 15 minutes prior or about 30 to 45 minutes after meals.

4. AVOID GRAINS

Most of us are sensitive to grains. They’re job in life is to germinate, not to be eaten, so they resist digestion, binding nutrients through their phytic acids. A lot of the time it’s only their absence then reintroduction that can show us just how much they’re harming us. Kids don’t have the enzymes to digest carbohydrates let alone grains until the emergence of their third molar. Grains are also often fillers on our plate, instead start with the veggies your mom harped on you to eat. Lather vegetables in healthy fats like butter, coconut or olive oil so your body can harness their fat soluble vitamins.

5. AVOID CONVENTIONAL-FARMED PRODUCE AND ANIMAL PRODUCTS

Paleo principles are also about choosing, meaning you’ll be mindful of what you’re eating and that’s one of the biggest aids to digestion, called the body’s cephalic response. Choose organic produce and pastured animals, grown as close to their natural requirements as possible for maximum nutrition for you. We are what we eat but also what we eat eats and avoiding toxins from as many sources as possible can make digestion in your body as easy as it should be, unimpeded by extras.

6. MODEL HEALTHY EATING

Walk the walk for your kids. Not just in the what but also in the how you eat. While we may like eating while standing this is an area where hectic parents need to improve. Don’t encourage your kids to play and gobble, running around after them as you try and get them to eat. Even snacks should be done separately from play. So, no toys or books at the table. Make meal time, a family meal that’s a sit down event. They’re a social occasion no matter what kids’ ages.

8. BEWARE OF USING FOOD FOR COMFORT OR REWARD

Nursing or eating other than for hunger (as a reward, even soothing) can create dependencies. It’s safest to give kids food when they’re hungry or thirsty only.

NUTRIENT DENSITY

Paleo nutrient density means kids eat less in quantity but more quality and more of what they need (before what they ‘want’ ) so their digestive system gets some rest between meals. Only our kids can truly know their own appetite. We as parents can encourage them to stay attuned, listening and trusting their tummy. Sure the what to eat is as much about what they’ll actually eat. But what (& how) we as parents offer our kids is how we can establish healthy eating in these early years.

Goodbye Cheerios, Hello Tasty Snacks for Healthy Kids

This article appeared for Paleo on the Go
As an Aussie in America, it seems American parents go to great lengths to make sure their kids are never hungry by giving them a never ending amount of snacks. By doing this, are we teaching our kids that constant eating is normal? I know that some people claim the healthiest way to eat is to eat often. But the jury is still out on this. There’s plenty of research that shows that eating frequently throughout the day reduces your chances of becoming overweight, however, there’s also plenty of research that counters this, too. The French, for instance, believe that hunger between meals is a good thing. It produces good eaters, teaches kids self-control and produces discipline around eating. What about you, for you personally: how we’re you brought up, what do you think about hunger? No matter how you feel about the subject there’s a lot suggesting we change the way we currently teach our children to eat.

GOODBYE CHEERIOS, HELLO TASTY SNACKS FOR HEALTHY KIDS

It’s ok to be hungry. The truth is a lot of us don’t just get hungry, we get “hangry.” We result to binging on sugary foods and snacks. The truth is, many of us are slaves to food we eat. Often wondering where our next meal is coming from, saving ourselves for a meal or just getting a quick snack to ease the “hangriness” for now. Let’s look at those snacks, specifically at cheerios. What are they? Well they were once oats, subjected to high heat and extruded into something resembling a crunchy something else. Their once nutrient content (incidentally grains contain phytic acid which blocks a lot of the other nutrients in our body from being used) is stripped away by high heat and pressure to resemble something our body’s no longer recognize as food. Cheerios actually cost our bodies more than they provide! No wonder we’re hangry from cheerios and other highly processed foods.
Eating whole foods, at snacks and meals, not only increases your nutrient intake but also your nutrient absorption giving your digestive system a break. Eating healthy whole foods will eliminate your “hangry” mood. This goes for your kids too. If you’re looking to eliminate their moodiness and tantrums try real food. We’re not just here to survive (to the next meal!) but thrive. Feed your kids (& yourself) in a way that coincides with how their body works considering their unique nutrient needs as their growing.

tasty snacks

ARE WE SAYING TO SAY NO TO SNACKING?

Well, no. Yet feeding kids as we currently do isn’t good enough. Improve their nutrition by including healthy snacking! Just add a few new twists…

1. EAT NUTRIENT DENSE WHOLE FOODS

Avoiding processed or packaged foods doesn’t have to be an inconvenience to your schedule. Healthy snacks are actually the opposite. They’re snack food for our body as nature intended.  Purchase foods with no ingredients like bananas or strawberries and eat them separately or combine them as you’d like. It’s not rocket science, just plain old home science. Keep at it. You’ll get better at it, especially as your taste buds yearn for the deliciousness you’re now serving up.

2. GET EACH MACRONUTRIENT AT EACH MEAL: CARBS, FATS, PROTEINS

Why do we snack? Answer: to get us through to the next meal. We’re hungrier earlier than that next meal, meaning the last meal didn’t provide all it should for a growing body. Each macronutrient – carbs, proteins, fats – are important to consume at each meal because it helps the other digest. Each have roles in healing and building our body, and all science aside, each tastes great for different reasons!

3. FOUR SNACKS A DAY CAN VERY EASILY TRANSITION INTO FOUR MEALS.

Why not halve a boiled egg and mix some yolk with almond butter for sweet deviled eggs? Serve the same almond butter with a carrot cut in half and spot it with raisins for fun. All the macronutrients are represented, each will help the other digest, protein for building our bodies, carbs for energy and fats for slowing things down and satiety. That sweet deviled egg, almond butter and carrot can easily become carrot (with eg, banana and raisins) pancakes with almond butter. Serve with a bit of maple syrup and bacon! Having all macronutrients means our kids’s bodies are getting what they need so “hangriness” begone. With that comes more patience from kids with better long term energy.

4. IT TURNS OUT GIVING YOUR BABY SMALLER PORTIONS OF WHAT YOU’RE EATING MIGHT NOT BE WHAT THEY NEED…

However eating larger portions of what you’re feeding your baby is exactly what your body probably needs! But don’t reach for the rice cereal and grains! Baby’s are  grain intolerant, and grains are nutrient blockers which have become massive fillers on our plates. Choose to get more veggies, a side of protein and maybe a few of those fillers at the end on the side but mostly as a last thought. We need other stuff first.

5. OVEREATING AND UNDER RESTING YOUR DIGESTION WEARS YOUR INSIDES OUT

An alarming amount of kids are being born with low stomach acid, in fact a lot of us adults have low acid too. Yes low, in fact only 0.01% of us high stomach acid but that’s another story. Snacking over uses our supplies and cells have to continuously make more. So it’s not just that our food is nutrient deficient from the soil or nutrient devoid from non organic agriculture, or our plates macronutrient deficient but our bodies are being made nutrient deficient through excessive overuse: we need more supplies to make more to digest more!

6. SO WHAT’S ENOUGH?

Let your baby and children be the guide in what they want to eat and how much is enough. When they turn away or are no longer interested the meal is over. Seriously. Studies have been done that show how effective this is.

7. SNACK IDEAS THAT COULD TURN TO MEALS

Paleo Pancakes-Plantain Cakes

  • Deviled eggs – sweet style – with bacon and maple syrup
  • Mashed sweet potato ground minced beef balls (sneak some broccoli in too)
  • Plantain Cakes with smoked salmon, a spread of cauliflower mash and lime
  • Plantain Cakes with avocado mousse and crushed bacon bits
Nourishing our kids to safeguard them from modern day illness is actually preserving their chance for genuine health – most conditions begin in childhood and they’re caused or made worse by nutrient deficiencies and/or toxic overload. To be the smartest, happiest and healthiest our kids can possibly be is this simple.
Maybe thinking about snacks for your kids might change how and what you snack on too.

Eating for More Than One is Not the Same as Eating for Two!

This article appeared for Paleo on the Go

Intuitively, most moms know that what they eat will have a significant impact on their developing fetus. Researchers agree those 9 months of pregnancy are the most consequential months of our lives, permanently influencing the wiring of our brain and the functions of our heart and liver. Special preconception and pregnancy diets especially in traditional cultures have always emphasized eating foods that are particularly rich in certain nutrients known to promote healthy growth and development.

No mom wants to do anything that might risk the health of her future child. But when the information you get from well-meaning doctors and nutritionists isn’t up to date, that’s what’s happening. We’re seeing childhood obesity, diabetes, allergies and asthma. Not to mention a growing society of children with behavioral issues.

Not surprisingly, during pregnancy your body has increased nutritional needs. This makes sense because you’re now eating for more than one. It’s probably what led us to the old adage “eating for two”. However, the old saying isn’t entirely correct. Your body does need more quality macronutrients (carbs, fats, proteins and water) and micronutrients (calcium, folate, and iron) during pregnancy. Except the ones you actually need might not be what you’ve heard.

NUTRITION MYTHS EVERY EXPECTING MOTHER SHOULD KNOW ABOUT

Here’s five nutrition myths that every expecting mother should know. The take home message is simply to trust that real food is optimal in pregnancy. Any “expert” who tries to convince you that you need fortified cereal, must avoid some of nature’s most nutrient-dense foods and should go low fat while you watch your weight during pregnancy, hasn’t dug deep enough into the research.

1. A LOW-FAT DIET CANNOT BE (SCIENTIFICALLY) HEALTHY

A baby’s brain is 70% fat so limiting mom’s dietary fat means limiting baby brain development. In fact high-fat foods (especially of animal origin) have always been central to reproductive health in traditional cultures. Examples of these foods include foods eggs, organ meats, tallow, and fatty fish. They provide an abundance of vitamins A, D, E, and K and omega-3, DHA, that are needed in higher amounts during pregnancy.

Restricting fat limits your (and more importantly your baby’s) access to these nutrients. The classic advice to “eat lean meat” ends up limiting the quantity of glycine in the diet, an amino acid that is critical for normal cardiovascular development and tissue development in a growing baby. The primary sources of glycine are the skin, bones, and connective tissue of meat, poultry, and fish. So, enjoy the crisp skin on your chicken, relish some yummy pulled pork, and don’t trim the fat off your steak.

Clearly, the whole idea of eating a low-fat diet, pregnant or not, is not founded on solid scientific evidence.

2. EATING HIGH CARB IS ACTUALLY PHYSICALLY CHALLENGING

Eating for two is physically impossible. With an ever-increasing sized baby on board, all of your organs are being squashed under your ribs. There’s simply not the room to eat more than you normally would. Eating nutrient dense food is really the only way to get the energetic nutrients you and the baby need during pregnancy.

However, this doesn’t mean cutting carbs either! The truth is that nothing is good or bad just in or out of balance and too many carbs or calories is going to make things out of balance whether you’re pregnant or not.

If you’re going to count anything while pregnant count nutrients! As parents we become, if not already, conscious of lowering our sugar intake more than ever during pregnancy. Leveling out our macronutrient intake instead of going high carb during pregnancy means lowering your sugar intake.

3. BONE BROTH AND LIVER ARE THE SUPER FOODS OF PRENATAL VITAMINS

A few decades ago, doctors actually encouraged mothers to consume liver throughout pregnancy. Nowadays we’re often warned against it because liver is high in vitamin A. Studies on synthetic vitamin A (from supplements) show that too much can lead to birth defects. So, following that simple logic, liver should be avoided. Unless considering the one third of pregnant women don’t consume enough vitamin A. So, eating liver for them would actually be hugely beneficial. What’s the right way to go?

It turns out that food-sourced vitamin A does not have the same toxicity as synthetic vitamin A supplements, especially when it’s consumed with adequate vitamin D and vitamin K, both of which happen to be found in liver. Liver is also rich in choline, which is necessary for normal brain and eye development and the prevention of neural tube defects. In addition, liver boasts high levels of folate, all the B vitamins, iron, zinc, and more. It’s quite literally like eating your prenatal vitamins!

4. SUNSHINE AND HAPPINESS: WHEN DO WE NOT NEED THEM?

Thinking it’s best to stay out of the sun while pregnant? Think again.  It’s hard not to consider the importance of sunlight when you’re thinking about the importance of vitamin D. The nutritional therapist in me immediately thinks about the importance of vitamin D for normalizing your cholesterol levels. Considering the link between your cholesterol levels and breast milk, the milk from a healthy mother has about 50 to 60 percent of its energy (kilocalories) as fat. The cholesterol in human milk supplies an infant with close to six times the amount most adults consume from their food. Vitamin D plays a role in lung development, protecting the newborn and probably a much larger role in fetal development than currently understood due to its interaction with vitamin A.

5. FISH AND FATS ARE NON-NEGOTIABLE 

One of the main dietary recommendations accompanying a low fat diet when pregnant concerns the avoidance of fish. Honestly, I’d probably agree for fish higher up the food chain who are more likely to contain mercury like shark, orange roughy, swordfish and ling. Unborn babies are most sensitive to the effects of mercury, particularly during the third and fourth months of gestation. So, mom’s avoiding eating fish that contain high levels of mercury makes sense. But complete avoidance of fish makes no sense, especially during pregnancy.

Fish are especially nutrient dense in essential omega 3 fatty acids. These are essential because our bodies cannot make these fats although we need them in our diet. It turns out the conversion of ALA to DHA in humans is incredibly poor. Plus, if your diet is high in omega-6 (which happens to be concentrated in seeds, nuts, and vegetable oils where you obtain ALA which a lot of us have been adhering to following advice toward these oils), this conversion rate drops.

Interestingly a diet high in saturated fat, however, improves this conversion rate, but the truth is… no matter what, you cannot provide enough DHA for your growing baby if you do not eat DHA directly. The best source of DHA, by far, is fish as described above. If you do not eat fish, you can take fish oil, cod liver oil, or algae oil to obtain DHA. You’ll also find smaller amounts of DHA in eggs from pastured chickens and meat from pasture-raised or grass-fed animals (but only if you eat the yolks and fattier cuts of meat).

eating

So, if you feel good basing your diet on pasture-raised meats (including organ meat), eggs, wild-caught fish, a variety of vegetables, nuts, seeds, some fruit (and maybe some grass-fed dairy if that works with your body), rest assured, you are providing your baby with optimal nutrition! You’ll also ensure the quality of your breast milk and while baby gets first dibs on your nutrient supply, you’ll be looking after the both of you.