Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Let's Talk About Weight!

For the better part of 50 years, I have spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about... How do you say?... My weight? My body shape? My fatness/fat? Diet? Food? 
All those things!

I've eaten apples all day during the Israeli Army Diet, I learnt that you didn't have to cook broccoli and Brussels sprouts in the Scarsdale Diet, I begrudgingly avoided eating egg yolks in the Pritikin Diet. I've read books about raw foods, juice fasting, dieting and health. 

I thought I was fat!!!
I counted calories. Or, I should say, restricted calories. I used to eat about 500 calories a day, actually feeling good about a grumbling stomach because I knew that I would be losing weight. Or so I thought! Little did I know back then that I didn't actually need to lose weight, I was jiggering up my metabolism, and I was a long way off healthy eating, no matter which way you looked at it!

This was all before I was 20 years old!

In the early '90s I worked for a doctor whose fave topic was Candida. Sugar was eliminated. And wheat. Nilstat was the medication of the day along with Vit C powder (chcccchhhhhh - disgusting) and digestive enzymes. I felt a little bit better, lost a little bit of weight, and had some energy. My husband and I became the sugar police, reading labels for added sugar and confiscating lollies and other sugar-filled stuff that the kids brought home.

February 1996
I've even been a Weight Watchers leader advising fellow weight worriers about the ins and outs of whatever program was 'in' at the time. Deprivation and guilt, overwrought weigh-ins, weight-loss highs, weight-gain lows and obsession with every morsel that touched my lips - these were my emotional companions for 15 years.

During that time I cajoled and cried with my friend as we tried to work out a way to stay 'on track' with our dieting plans. I'm not sure that it worked but it gave me something to scrapbook about!

At the end of 2009 I had lost 16kg with Weight Watchers and joined in their Healthy Life Awards. I was invited to have a makeover and photo shoot to go in Weight Watchers Magazine. I looked and felt fabulous but still had to keep a tight rein on my eating - making decisions about everything I ate as well as how much exercise I did and how much sleep I had.

July 2009
I can't talk about diet, and food and health without mentioning the FAILSAFE diet. When I found out about salicylates and amines and MSG it seemed that everything I  knew about my health (and ill-health) clicked into place. I already avoided all preservatives, artificial colourings and flavourings, and other additives that I knew caused problems so just adding some naturally-occurring chemicals to the list was not that hard to do. I didn't lose weight like many followers of the FAILSAFE diet but I definitely enjoyed the freedom from many of my long-term ailments and a relief from many of my children's behavioural issues.

About 2 years ago I found out that I was suffering from auto-immune thyroiditis - a revelation that came as a complete surprise to me. I had been on a down-hill journey for nearly two years before that so it didn't take long to piece together all the symptoms - anxiety, extreme tiredness, low iron, rapid weight gain (18kg in 3 months), unexplained inflammations, and heart palpitations, to name a few. I immediately started taking thyroxine and I came alive! The most outstanding change for me was that for the first time, in all my life that I can remember, I didn't think about my weight and what I was eating in relation to my weight. What a relief! I didn't put on weight, I didn't lose weight. I didn't even weigh myself. I was overweight but without caring.

Ah! But my excess weight, and all the baggage that comes with it, was starting to take its toll. My thyroid was under control but other discomforts emerged - aching legs and feet, headaches, an impacted gallstone, fatty liver (discovered at the same time as the gallstone), sleep disturbances. 

Half-heartedly, I started thinking about how to lose weight. I asked my doctor what I should do and she suggested the hCG diet! I asked my other doctor and she mumbled something about me eating a lot of carbs, which reminded me that a naturopath had told me to eat four protein meals a day. I thought about applying my Weight Watchers knowledge but it was cumbersome and just another stress added to my stress-filled life.

For the last 15 years (almost) I have lived on the FAILSAFE diet. As the years have flown past I have increased my intake of sugar and carbs, decreased saturated fat and protein in my diet. The number of foods and other chemicals I, and my family, am intolerant to skyrocketed leaving me with a paltry diet of rice and rice products, sugar, chicken and a minimal selection of vegetables. 

When I heard about the low-carb-high-sat-fat diet I was convinced in a day - one seminar, nine speakers, one sudden revelation (and it was sudden!) = my whole family, including me, was suffering from malnutrition and disease. If my ailments were not directly related to weight they were most definitely related to my high-carb diet.

It is ten weeks since I heard about the 'fat revolution' - how saturated fat is not only good for me but is essential for health, how eating saturated fat will not hinder me but actually help me in losing weight, how avoiding saturated fat is detrimental to my well being. 

It is ten weeks since I heard about 'sweet poison' - how sugar is an addictive substance that is harder than cocaine to give up, how sugar is the cause of heart disease, diabetes and cancer, how sugar will not only hinder me in losing weight but will aid weight gain, how eating sugar is detrimental to my well being.

It is ten weeks since I heard about a low carb diet - how grains will damage my gut, how I can live without all carbohydrates in my diet, how carbs are detrimental to my well being.

It is ten weeks since I decided to increase my saturated fat intake, completely eliminate my sugar intake, and to significantly decrease my carb intake. I have not faltered, I have not regretted the choices that I have made.

I have lost 5 kg! I have not done any exercise (other than the movements of my normal daily life - get out of bed, walk downstairs, eat breakfast, walk upstairs, take a shower.... you get the picture!) and, as I said before, "I have added lashings of butter to my eggs each morning, consumed coconut oil by the teaspoonful, and enjoyed cream, sour cream and lots of avocado with every meal."

So, there you go.



Friday, January 25, 2013

What about my gallbladder?

This morning I was reading a blog post by Jimmy Moore - 12 Healthy High-Fat Foods... - and enjoying the list of fabulously yummy* high-fat foods that I have now incorporated into my diet. One of the commenters asked about the gallbladder and that got me thinking. Again.

Just prior to hearing Jimmy speak at the Low Carb Down Under Seminar I found out, the painful way, that I had a gallstone. I asked about the whole gallbladder/high-fat thing in the question time at the seminar - my gallbladder felt like it was about to have a conniption just hearing about all the fat that Jimmy consumed!

Afterwards, I spoke to Christine Cronau, another speaker at the seminar, and she told me that gallstones are produced because we do not have enough fat (saturated fat, that is) in our diet and that if I increased my saturated fat intake the stone would dissolve. She also told me that coconut oil doesn't require bile to digest - how cool is that?!

Recently, I changed my diet from high-carb-low-fat to low-carb-high-sat-fat. Since that time I have not had one gall bladder attack even though I have added lashings of butter to my eggs each morning, consumed coconut oil by the teaspoonful, and enjoyed cream, sour cream and lots of avocado with every meal for nearly 9 weeks. And, every meal has consisted of eggs or meat.

I am quietly hoping, even expecting, that my gallbladder is now very happy and the gallstone is slowly but surely disintegrating, never to be seen of again**.

And to top it all off, the cream on the strawberries so to speak, I have lost weight - right there where my gallbladder and liver reside! Ain't that grand?!

More on weight loss soon.


*Except fish oil - I don't think fish oil is yummy!

** A quote from Lano & Woodley - Starquest @ about 4:32min

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Cold Turkey

Strawberry Cheesecake (Low Carb High Sat Fat)

It has been just over 8 weeks since I went cold turkey on sugar (and carbs)! There was no question in my mind about whether or not to quit sugar or even how to do it. I didn't find it too hard - probably because I actually didn't eat a huge amount of it in the first place. That's not to say that I never have, though.

The rest of my family joined me immediately, except Master R, my 14 year old son who said, "If all my friends are gonna die early, then what would be the point of living longer than them?!"

The kids and I stayed up late one night talking about sugar and health, and addiction, and people we knew that suffered with diabetes. We even looked up pictures of gangrene! EW!!! That was enough for Miss C, 13yo, and Master M, 12yo, to be convinced to give quitting sugar a fair go!

Master D, 9yo (at the time), just quietly did it - it was not too hard from him, he was not really addicted to carbs anyway. But for Master H, 8yo - OH MY GIDDY AUNT! He had withdrawals! This was a child who used to get up before the sun, sneak downstairs and scour the cupboards for sugar and carbohydrates. Empty packets, crumbs and unusual product placings were commonplace in our kitchen/dining area.

Open jar of Nutella hidden in the cupbard with appliances!

Taking sugar and carbohydrates from Master H's diet was just a tad stressful. On Day 2 and Day 3 the lad would bellow "I WANT BREAD!" and he meant it! Only days before he would eat about 10 slices a day (without asking) along with rice crackers, plain potato chips, and breakfast cereals.
Somehow, we endured and slowly but surely a new child emerged - a (relatively) mild, good-natured child. A child who would eat eggs, and meat, and drink milk and didn't have melt-downs at the drop of a hat.

Miss S, 17yo, quit quietly - she just started making wise choices. She lost her voice (and a few kilograms) for about 5 days - that was the worst of her withdrawal symptoms. Miss S-L, 18yo, made a half-hearted attempt to quit at first, succumbing to temptation at social occasions and justifying finishing off the 'goodies' in the cupboards. Now she realises that wheat makes her feel unwell. She plans ahead and takes a stash of real food with her when she goes out to avoid the temptation (and the cost) of what's on offer.

My husband quit too, going from a see-food-cereal-eater to a planned-meal-meat-eater in a matter of days. He even fended for himself for nearly a month, making healthy* breakfasts, lunches and dinners for himself. DH just realised today that the psoriasis on his elbows is almost gone - it has been there for as long as he can remember (we're talking 50 years!!!).

Sugar! Master R sprinkled it on cereal, he spread it on bread! I told him that when we ran out of sugar, I wasn't buying any more. He changed from a wheat biscuit (not mentioning any names!) with sugar to a wheat biscuit without and then slowly reduced the number of teaspoonfuls of sugar he sprinkled on each wheat biscuit mouthful! He changed from rice milk to cow's milk and added cream to his cereal to help the changeover.

I asked Master R if he used stevia on his cereal now and he said, "Not really. It's a bit too sweet." **

So here we are 8 weeks on! The sugar is gone. The jam is gone. The chocolate drink beginning with "M" is gone. The bread is gone (well most of it - we still have rye bread in the house for those who haven't quite quit). But we still have a pantry cupboard full of cereal that is slowly, but surely, going stale! In fact, that is all the pantry was used for, really - carbohydrates and sugar!

There's a packet of chocolate lollies and two packets of marshmallows in the cupboard that were going to be brought out for a birthday party - they're still there. We've had three sugar-free birthday celebrations in the last couple of months without one pang of disappointment.

We shop around the outside of the supermarket nowadays, saving money and time, as well as avoiding huge amounts of processed foods, and plastic packaging. Plastic! Don't get me started!


I've quit sugar*** (even fruit, mostly) and pretty much all carbs - I still eat a bit of sweet potato and an even smaller bit of potato. Almost instantly, my hair felt stronger and healthier and my voice had clarity instead of being phlegmy and croaky.

I've lost 5kg - I'm sure my liver will thank me for that! I have increased my intake of saturated fat and my gall bladder hasn't complained once! My skin, my nails, my digestive system, my sleep... they all feel better too!

Now, I put my mind to converting recipes, thinking up new and exciting low-carb high-saturated fat meals, and feeling just a tiny bit guilty when I eat something sweetened with stevia!

That's all I can think of for now.


*By healthy, I mean no carbs, no sugar, protein and high saturated fat!

** He also said, "You're not going to use me on your no-sugar blogging stuff!"
"Indeed I am!" was my confident reply.

***I even sat in a room full of gingerbread, lollies and icing sugar and not one bit of it touched my lips! Miss S-L and Miss S could not say the same!!!

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Little Look At Fat, Sugar and Carbohydrates

Addicted to Carbs

Here is a selection of articles - long, but definitely worth the read - about fat, sugar and carbohydrates.
Note: The headings are links to the articles from which the quotes are taken.

What If It's All Been a Big Fat Lie?
"... researchers point out that there are plenty of reasons to suggest that the low-fat-is-good-health hypothesis has now effectively failed the test of time."

"If you work out the numbers, you come to the surreal conclusion that you can eat lard straight from the can and conceivably reduce your risk of heart disease."

Is Sugar Toxic?
"What are the chances that sugar is actually worse than Lustig says it is?"

"In animals, or at least in laboratory rats and mice, it’s clear that if the fructose hits the liver in sufficient quantity and with sufficient speed, the liver will convert much of it to fat. This apparently induces a condition known as insulin resistance, which is now considered the fundamental problem in obesity, and the underlying defect in heart disease and in the type of diabetes, type 2, that is common to obese and overweight individuals. It might also be the underlying defect in many cancers."

Absolute Scientific Proof Carbohydrates Are Pathogenic
Here's just the introductory sentence to whet your appetite (no pun intended!).
"Carbohydrates cause nearly all age-related diseases."

"All carbohydrates are bad, but simple carbohydrates like sugar and white flour are killers. Complex carbohydrates cause debilitating age-related disease also. It just takes longer. There are no healthy carbohydrates."

What a wonderful era we live in - information at our fingertips.
What did I ever do without the Internet, without Google?!

I'd love to know what you think about fat, sugar and carbohydrates.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Reducing Stress in a Stress-Filled Life

Christine Cronau talks about stress in her book, The Fat Revolution. She tells how chronic stress releases too much of our stress hormone, cortisol, in response to all the stresses of our lives. Having a permanently elevated level of cortisol is likely to do a great deal of damage to our bodies and our minds.

Christine says, "I actually don't like discomfort and I listen to my body. If something is super hard, I don't do it."

So, today, I am thinking how I can slow down, how I can enjoy the moments, how I can let things go.

I found this article to be a totally sensible outline for stress management.

I'm off to have a nanna-nap!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


It has been 9 days since I went to the Low Carb Nutrition Seminar - that's how long it has taken me to get my mind somewhat around all the amazing information that went into my head!

I heard Jimmy Moore talk excitedly about "ketones, baby!" and a diet comprised of 85% saturated fat. Sarah Wilson talked about quitting sugar and I particularly connected with her because she mentioned her thyroid! David Gillespie talk about the effects of 'sweet poison' and how it is not fat that makes us fat but sugar. Christine Cronau talked about the revolutionary idea of saturated fat helping us to lose weight and the health benefits of cholesterol.

There were others, too: Dr Ron Ehrlich talked about health care vs disease management ; Dr Simon Thornley, an epidemiologist, showed us, with data and graphs, the relationship of sugar and heart disease; and Dr Rod Tayler talked about whether or not fats, protein and carbohydrates are essential in our diet. Interesting stuff!

Aaron McKenzie from Origin of Energy gave an overview of how he takes a lifestyle approach to nutrition and fitness training to get sustainable results. Suzanne Crawt gave us a short, but sweet (in a good way) biography of her change from a Western Diet to a Paleo Diet and told us how we can hook up with others who live the same way.

Having lived in Uralla for 20 years, I was particularly excited to hear Rob Blomfield, from neighbouring Walcha, tell us about healthy soil, which leads to healthy pasture, which leads to healthy animals, which leads to healthy humans.  He also told us about Omega-6 and Omega-3 and the proportions they are in healthy meat. On a similar note, Vicki Poulter talked about holistic management, in tribute to Bruce Ward, rather than mono-culture. She proclaimed the beauties and benefits of pasture-fed animals and eating grass-fed (to finish) meat and the dangers and disastrous effects of growing and eating grain-fed animals.

Finally, although he was not last to speak, Costa Georgiadis inspired me to get back into my garden, to make compost and grow some food. He talked about produce vs product, intimate vs industrial, farming vs agribusiness. Costa challenged me to question what I put in my mouth and where it came from, and prompted me to ask, "Who are my role models for food?"

The question time at the end probably could have gone on for hours! Questions on a variety of subjects were raised and answered, it was like a comfortable chat with friends about all the things we had heard and was a nice way to finish off the day.

Soon I will start recording the nitty-gritty of sugar withdrawal and saturated fat consumption in my family. I bet you can't wait!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Woo Woo To Wow Wow

I did this layout for a scrapbooking challenge way back in 2006. At the time this slightly avant garde (for me, anyway) layout was a representation of my head exploding with creative ideas. In those days I did at least 2 layouts a week. Phew!

Today this layout could represent my head exploding with all the information busting from my brain and keeping me awake at night and in the early hours of the morning writing blog posts and emails and thinking about what to do and how to do it.

What has caused this sudden disruption to the unexciting, but highly sleep-conducive, brain waves I had before Saturday 25 November, 2012?

I'll tell you.

I went to the the Low Carb Nutrition Seminar presented by Low Carb Australia and Nourishing Australia. I went because my friend wanted someone to go with her and I have an interest in my health and my family’s health. I did, however, have a negative view (from ignorance rather than knowledge) of the Paleo Diet and thought I might be somewhat bored by the day.

How wrong was I?!?! And that is why my brain is busting!

I want to keep a record of my thoughts, findings, health and anything else related and I've decided to do that in this blog. This is where you can read about me and my family in our journey from healthlessness to healthfulness.*

"How did you come up with a name like that?" you may well ask. 

Again, I'll tell you. :)

One of the speakers at the Seminar, Sarah Wilson, used the term "woo woo" to describe how people might think about all this stuff about low carbs and high fat and thyroid and heart disease and so on. I like "woo woo" so I am going to take "woo woo" and show how "wow wow" will be the results. :)

So there you go!

*If you are interested in the creative exploits of me and my family then you can check out Creative Creatures.