Tag Archives: heart disease

the universe told me to do it

In the past week or so the word “paleo” has been popping up. Mostly through searches I’ve done on-line for other things, on TV and also in articles I’ve read. I think I generally like the way the word sounds too because I have this weird thing where a word will just stay in my head for a while and it repeats over and over. It’s annoying so eventually I have to find out what it is, or what it means. So, today while I was watching “Food researchers” on my break from work, one of the segments focussed on following a couple for a month while they subjected themselves to the paleolithic diet.

Tests were done at the start to measure blood pressure, cholesterol, fat and muscle mass as well as body measurements. Basically, if you didn’t click the link on paleolithic just before, the diet means you cast yourself back to the stone age – when man was a hunter gatherer. Back when we didn’t know about the magical world of farming; we caught and ate whatever we could to stay alive, as well as eating the fruits, vegetable and nuts that grew around us.

The basis behind why this diet works is genetics. For 150,000 we’ve existed and for 140,000 of those years we ate like hunter-gatherers. Now, after the industrialisation of farming and the harvesting of grains, the production of dairy etc, our genetic build up has not had time to catch up. Hence why gluten intolerance and caeliac disease is more and more prominent in our lives, and also intolerances to dairy. Now, I know it could be argued that people are allergic to nuts so why are they OK in the diet? I can’t answer this, I’m not a scientist… sorry.

After a month, the couple had each lost about 5kgs by eating bacon and eggs every day for breakfast (Scott’s dream), a (grass fed) meat protein of their choosing with salad or other vegetables and dinner the same. This is essentially a very healthy diet so it’s no wonder they lost weight.

Being that I am on a quest to trim down and get healthier, this spoke to me for a few reasons. I have a gluten intolerance but for some reason I also have an aversion to chick peas, lentils, peas and pumpkin seeds – to name a few. Why? Because they contain lectins. Bloody lectins! What’s a lectin you ask? It’s this: Lectins are carbohydrate-binding proteins that are found in most plants, particularly seeds and tubers such as cereal crops, potatoes, and beans (legumes). And why do they cause you discomfort Jenna? Because: click here.

I didn’t know that lectins were something I should avoid. Well, no, I knew the foods that make me feel funny were foods I should avoid. But I was ignoring it because I didn’t know the science behind it…until I read this article (which I thought was genuis!): http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2010/10/04/the-beginners-guide-to-the-paleo-diet/ it’s mostly about the paleolithic diet but mentioned the lectins thing as well which got me thinking…could they be in that pea flour that makes that tasty, tasty bhuja mix I love so much?! Sadly, yes.

He, the fitness nerd, answers all those little doubtful questions you’d have about why you shouldn’t start on this diet. I’m not pushing it and saying it should be for everyone, because we don’t all have aversions to wheat, dairy, lentils etc, I’m just sharing it because it’s something I think makes such sense to me personally. And with the universe putting it subtly in front of me for about 9 days now, I thought I’d follow my nose and see what I found. I won’t claim to be an expert after reading one article, just an advocate in waiting.

I’d already agreed to start a “no sugar” buzz with my friend Melissa. That started today; Halloween of all the days! Haha! But I live on an industrial street and no kids would dare come this far out of suburbia – where all the good candy is anyway. No temptation here.

Paleolithic is no sugar so this works out perfectly. Now to get Scott to follow along… More meat dear? Shouldn’t be too hard… 🙂

Things I will struggle with: adding more meat into my diet. I already eat pretty much pescatarian except that we have meat about three nights a week for dinner, fish once and vegetarian the other nights, otherwise, my breakfast and lunches are vegetarian or pescatarian. It’ll be a bit of an adjustment, but I think I like the fitness nerd’s suggestion to have a cheat day. One day to indulge in lentils, peas, foccacia, brie, blue cheese, pasta…drooool…
I’ll also struggle with the cost as well. BUT, fitness nerd made such a good point: “why not spend a little extra now to avoid costly medical bills in the future?” I’d much rather spend the money for happy, grass fed beef, pork and chicken than be paying through the nose for heart surgery and be on a waiting list for several years while I pop a pill every day to keep me alive. Blerk!

Wait, wait, wait…what did you say? Sorry, speak louder? You in the back there! Oh? Eggs? Cholesterol? Bad to eat every day?! No, no, NO my friend!! You CAN eat eggs every day because we don’t get cholesterol FROM our food (well, a little bit – about a quarter. But…), it’s a product the body produces anyway. Mr Liver is best at it. But when we eat too many refined carbs – things our bodies aren’t quite genetically used to dealing with as efficiently as the paleolithic suggestions – it produces too much of the bad cholesterol and that’s when we get sticky arteries and have heart attacks and die.

An egg a day? A OK!

I feel ridiculously positive about this new change I’m about to embark on because as much as I was like “vegetarian is better for the environment and the animals and my colon” I’ve found that eating vegetarian hasn’t really offered me the benefits I assumed it would. It actually makes my colon very unhappy 😦 This is due to the fact that protein replacements come in the form of legumes and grains which don’t agree with me. I know, no quinoa! So fun to say and so delicious but hates me! How can this be?! Oh yeah…lectins. For the record, in case you think I’m going to become a meat eating, animal killing, green house gas advocating nazi, I won’t go out and buy battery hens and grain fed cows and pigs to satisfy my paleo needs. I’ll be researching further the vegetarian/paleo diet hybrid if such a thing even exists.

Where I live, there is no organic butchery. There is a farmers market though which I might, nay… I will go and check out this Saturday. It’ll be a fairly slow adjustment while I source good, hearty, happy animal proteins but I’ll do this paleo thing and see what happens. One can only try!

I hope you learned something today 🙂 if it’s not for you, it could just be a good talking point at your next dinner party when someone comes up with “gluten free – it’s just a fad” and sparks an almost political like discussion.


“I am obese”: Tales from the fat keeper

According to the NZ Heart Foundation website, I am obese. I am 166cm tall and I weigh about 84kgs (185 lbs). Not my ideal weight by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m certainly NOT obese!!!

Back when I was 19years old, I was heavier than I am now, and a nutritionist in training I worked with had recorded my food intake and calculated my BMI for me. The next day she broke the news that I was “obese”. A bit stunned, I finished work, drove home and announced to my flatmates that I was obese and that if they didn’t want to be friends with a really fat person any more that I would understand. I was joking, of course. Not about the “obese” thing – that was a FACT. A “fact”.

I knew I was heavy and that was probably a bit of a wake up call to hear the word obese being hurled at me. Obese was bad. Obese was too big. Obese was really big! But I wasn’t that big…or was I? I could still tie my shoes, I could still see my toes, there was no mould growing in the folds of my skin, chaffing was a bit of an issue in the thigh area but I wasn’t losing skin there, as far as I knew I smelled fresh and clean and didn’t yawn a lot or waddle…I was confused.

I know the BMI is only an indicator and that many other factors have to be taken into account – body type, muscle mass, pregnancy etc. , but it seems a bit too strict. I am an hourglass lady with boobs, a bum and hips, I am not pregnant and I am active. I have pretty thick calves and sizeable thigh muscles and I could definitely use some toning up and trimming down, but OBESE? Really?! That is a strong word; not to be bandied around willy nilly!

There was a time, once, when I was 20kgs lighter than I am today. I was 21, depressed, not exercising apart from the walk too and from work and didn’t love cooking. I fit into size 10 jeans and still thought I was a heifer. My friend Stacey told me later, after I’d gained a bit of weight, that I’d looked “gaunt” back then. I didn’t think I did, but then I’m maybe not the best person to judge – I didn’t think I was obese once upon a time but apparently I was. Yet, at 65kgs I was considered to be a “healthy weight”. How does “gaunt” fit in with “healthy”?

Right now, to be a “healthy weight” according to the NZ Heart Foundation site, I would have to drop 16kilos, to lower my risk of “obesity related diseases”. I don’t smoke, I eat a balanced diet and I exercise on a regular basis. Still, I remain obese. My current target is to get into the mid 70kg range where I’d still be considered “over-weight”. An improvement on obese but still a little bit of a negative connotation surrounds that phrase. I can’t win!

I know that as long as I feel good about the way that I look, regardless of my BMI, then I think I’m OK. I love food too much to be super skinny and I love my health enough to not be a drain on the healthcare system.

I do think the BMI is a useful indicator for those who do not exercise, smoke, gorge themselves on salty/sugary/fatty treats every day etc. , but for a lass that doesn’t, the BMI seems a little bit dinosaur for my liking. We should all be striving to avoid obesity related heart diseases for so many reasons but is the BMI the most effective way to calculate this?