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How To Diet: Emma’s Paleo Journey

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Emma Now - Leaner, happier and in optimal health

A Life Changing Experience:

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Before Paleo

I started the Paleo way of eating/life February 2011, 9 months ago. My health wasn’t good, I was exhausted and felt bloated and sick most of the time. I had followed many of the so-called ‘healthy’ diets in my life, and had been particularly seduced by a well-known low fat diet in the mid 90s, which in resulted in me eating tons of carbs such as cereal, bagels, bread and beans that I ended up desperately trying to burn off through long runs each day.

I started to put on weight on this diet, and found it almost impossible to control the amount of food I was eating. I became addicted to eating breakfast cereal, and it started to form the basis of nearly all of my meals during my first year at university. I developed IBS after several months on this low fat diet, which was so bad, it affected my attendance at university. I became so exhausted and depressed, I eventually went to a specialist, who diagnosed me with ME.

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Before Paleo

Although I achieved some remission from ME after seeing a nutritionist who advised me to cut out sugar and junk for a while, my real health breakthroughs have come through following a paleo/primal way of eating. I was sceptical when my brother-in-law fitness instructor discussed some of the benefits of following a way of eating that included animal fats and coconut oil. Like many people, I had been fully brainwashed into thinking that these foods were unhealthy as they contained saturated fats.  However, after hitting yet another brick wall with my health, where I was having problems conceiving, had polycystic ovaries, and was gaining weight rapidly, I felt I was running out of options. I went to a ‘functional nutritionist’ who ran some tests showing me the extent of my health problems. I remember being shocked when he said that my body was having a ‘health crisis’, and if I had carried on eating what I was eating, I could end up with some serious health problems. The tests showed I had a parasite in my gut, my hormones were out of sync (estradiol and testosterone too high, progesterone too low). He also suspected that I had become insulin resistant. He explained that my hormones had probably been affected by my years of following a low fat diet, as they need fat to remain balanced. He put me on an eating programme that was in line with the Paleo/Primal guidelines.  Although it’s not hard to follow, it took me a while to re-programme my thinking and allow myself to eat fat again without guilt. I also had to get used to not eating sugar, grains and cereals; the foods I have been consuming in huge quantities all of my adult life.

So, 9 months into the Paleolifestyle change, I have lost 2 ½ stone, am no longer bloated after eating, no longer have a parasite, my progesterone is now within  the normal range and I have so much more energy to do things I’ve wanted to do for years in my life. I come back from work in the evenings with plenty of energy to work and play in the evenings. I feel fuller than I have for years, and enjoy the most delicious, rich food that is full of fat to help my body keep my hormones balanced.

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Loving Life

People at work can’t believe I’ve lost weight eating the amount of fat I have in my food! I lost the weight at a slow, steady pace and reached an equilibrium for several months, but I wasn’t bothered; this was not just about my figure, this was about me reclaiming my life back and supporting my body to heal itself from the damage I had caused it through poor lifestyle choices. Anyway, my body has started shedding excess fat again and I’ve recently lost another 4 pounds. I never thought it was possible to have vibrant, optimal health without feeling deprived, but now I do:

Paleo Rocks!

Vegetarianism v The Worlds Healthiest Foods

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Why Vegetarianism?

Vegetarianism and more so Veganism is based on a diet very high in total carbohydrate and low to none existent in saturated animal fats and animal protein, this immediately starts to raise alarm bells because of what we know about digestion and how the body responds to high levels of carbohydrate. So for this reason we are indeed right to ask why vegetarianism? However carbohydrate is actually the bodies preferred fuel, though this is only because it’s easier for it to process, more like a higher grade fuel and for this reason one must consider not just the volume but also the type of carbohydrate you consume. Refined carbohydrate is akin to high octane rocket fuel…and we’re not machines.

Carbohydrate is the only macronutrient that is ‘none’ essential…we can not just do without it but we can thrive without it.  The root cause of all obesity epidemics around the world is without any question…carbohydrate.  In addition it is carbohydrate (sugar) that is responsible for destabilising the brain function and development, couple this with a low-fat and second-rate protein from carbohydrate sources, and you’re in big trouble as nothing is more stabilising to the brain than natural dietary fat, sadly lacking in these type of diets.  Carbohydrate rich diets (sugar) damage the brain. So our initial question…Why Vegetarianism? is looking increasingly justified.

A new study out claims vegetarians have smaller brains linked to a deficiency of B vitamins found in meat and fish which would seem to fit knowing what we know about the damaging effects of sugar and a lack of natural dietary fat.  However vegetarians (vegans aside) are quick to make a counter-claim that they get vitamin B from eggs and that Americans having meat as a high proportion of their diet also suffer this deficiency.  Of course the more likely reason Americans suffer vitamin B deficiency is down to the high levels of refined carbohydrate.  This depletes serotonin and greatly depletes B vitamins needed to convert amino acids to the neurotransmitters.  Americans have a high ‘carb’ loading due to the processed foods they consume. So

Vegetarianism is not a natural choice for us humans, whom after a quick check of the skeletal and dental evidence suggests, are indeed omnivores (animals & plants).  We simply do not have physiology to process high levels of carbohydrate in our diet and stay healthy…think Insulin pancreatic cancer etc.  It is only in the developed world where we see un-natural diets of a high carbohydrate loading, where we find people consuming a diet of this type we find..obesity, heart, disease, metabolic syndrome + many more.  In cultures not exposed to processed foods (sugar) obesity is almost unheard of, but noticeable by their absence are the autoimmune and degenerative diseases mentioned before.  The case against carbohydrate but in particular refined carbohydrates is overwhelming.

The Worlds Healthiest Foods

What is the worlds healthiest food? Well having studied nutrition for many years now and having hands on experience both personally and professionally, I along with all my family only consume a natural diet free of refined carbohydrate having a high percentage of saturated (animal) fat together with a protein intake of around 20-25%. We only eat real foods, these are the nutritionally dense foods your grandmother and her mother alike new as food, these of course are the foods us humans evolved on. These are the foods we are designed to eat and our bodies know how to process efficiently, these are the foods we thrive on.

Though this was not always the case as there was a time before my studies when my our diet was as most others in the developed world. However I was 45lbs heavier and in pretty poor health on a collision course with one of those modern diseases, my wife was overweight, my youngest son had been overweight for most of his life.  Thankfully that was then and this is now, we are all lean and fit in optimal health with no medical complaints whatsoever.  In addition to this many of our clients are former Vegetarians or Vegans so we see at first hand the damaging effects this kind diet does to the bodies chemistry.

So What is the worlds healthiest food? The answer is a simple one, it is the food our caveman ancestors would recognise as food. This is natural food high in saturated animal fat, moderate animal protein and supplemented with plant carbohydrate.

Next time in the supermarket you find yourself looking at the fancy boxes enticing you to buy, ask yourself…Would a caveman know it was food?

I would also like to make one last point and that is this:  No human culture in our evolutionary history has ever adopted vegetarianism by choice.

Therefore vegetarianism is nothing more than fashionable trend and an unhealthy one at that. Why Vegetarianism? I think we may have covered that one now.

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