Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Why is the whole family going Paleo?

Some people have asked me why I am inflicting the whole Paleo thing on the kids. I think the feeling is that it's OK to put yourself on fad diets, but you should let the kids eat 'normally'.

Well, first of all, of course there is no question of me putting the kids on a 'diet'. They are absolutely welcome to eat as much as they want. Actually they are loving it - the fruit bowl is overflowing in a way that it never has before, and they are welcome to hit it at any time. Also they both love meat and fish and always ask for more. My daughter, who is 6, has never liked carbs much, and even as a baby preferred cucumber to chips (she's a changeling!), although I think she's missing pasta. And I'm lucky in that they both like a wide variety of veg.

But the real motivation for going Paleo was the health of my son, who is nearly 3 and rejoices in the nickname of "The Lobster". He was diagnosed with coeliac disease around his 2nd birthday. That means he will have to have an entirely gluten-free diet for life. Because I have had a severe wheat intolerance for the last decade, that was no problem for me. I merrily switched him on to gluten-free pasta and bread, and bought him chips when we went out.

But then I started thinking a bit harder about what he was actually eating. He loved wheat-free bread and pasta, and I could see him growing up to make them the core of his diet. But when you look at what's in them, it's a bit horrific. This is the list of ingredients for the wheat-free bread sold by one of the leading supermarkets:

Water, Tapioca Starch, Rice Flour, Potato Starch, Sunflower Oil, Yeast, Dextrose, Psyllium Husk Powder, Humectant (Glycerine), Dried Egg White, Stabilisers (Hydroxypropyl Methyl Cellulose, Xanthan Gum), Calcium Carbonate, Maize Flour, Salt, Citric Acid, Emulsifiers (Polyglycerol Esters of Fatty Acids, Mono- and Di-Glycerides of Fatty Acids).

Pretty horrific, huh? Just nutritionally worthless, and can you imagine the processing that has to go on to turn tapioca into bread? I don't want the Lobster to be eating this stuff for the rest of his life. I want to show him another way. I think that way is Paleo.


The liver stroganoff was just horrible - it was so rich. A small amount would have been nice with rice maybe, but of course we don't eat rice! Having said that my husband liked it and finished off everyone else's. Tonight it's going to be oven-baked chicken with veggies, a much safer choice!

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Today's meals - Tues 28th Sept 2009

On work days I buy lunch from the fantastic fresh soup stall in the student union shop, but it means I'm a bit at their mercy as far as paleo goes. Today it was either courgette and cream cheese soup (not paleo) or vegetable tagine (probably paleo but sounded a bit yuk) so I went for the soup. Mmmm. Apple, banana; the shop had sold out of fruit and nut mix so I had an Eat Natural bar containing (gulp) puffed rice and chocolate. Oh well...

Tea tonight is a bit of an experiment. We are having lamb's liver. I think this is the first time since school that I've had it. I'm going to stroganoff it with mushrooms, onions, cream and white wine (Delia). Wish me luck. Got to get to grips with all this dairy though...

Let the sun shine in

I cycled in to work today - I do it once a week, about 35 mins each way. I have to cycle very, very slowly because there are no ladies showers in the physics dept so I have to make sure I don't break a sweat! Today it was a bit embarrassing because a runner overtook me...

Am trying to get outside more to boost my Vit D production - apparently it's a good way to ward off the Swine Flu. Used a handy calculator: to work out how much I need to be outside at this time of year in cloudy Lancaster, and it's about two hours a day. That's fine when I'm looking after the kids - then it feels natural to hang around in the park for ages - but might be harder when I'm by myself and especially when at work.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Today's meals - Mon 28th Sept 2009

I'm not doing paleo breakfasts yet. I'll talk about that another time.

Lunch today was the left-overs of last night's cauliflower cheese. Not really paleo - dairy plus a bit of wheat-free flour to thicken the sauce. At the moment I'm trying not to be too dogmatic and ease myself in gradually! I also had half a packet of nuts and raisins, and an apple and a banana. Also a cup of tea with milk - I can tell you right now I'm never going to give that up!

Monday nights are always tight for time so I've planned a really quick tea - grilled mackerel with the leftovers of last night's veggies. Hope there will be enough, if not it'll be extra carrot sticks, tomato and salad all round. For pudding we've got a fresh pineapple, they are really cheap in the market at the moment, 60p or something.

So what is Paleo?

For those of you who are new to the concept of paleo eating, here's a brief overview.

Prior to the agricultural revolution which took place about 10,000 years ago (that's ~500 generations) man only ate stuff that didn't need a lot of processing - meat, fish, fruit and veg. With the advent of farming, grains were cultivated and ground and assumed much greater importance in the diet. Moreover, with the domestication of animals, humans had much greater access to the milk of other animals than previously.

This was a huge shift in diet. However some geneticists suggest that our bodies have not had time so far to evolve and adapt to this shift. Moreover, the archeological record suggest that people got shorter and sicker as the quantity of grains in the diet increased.

Followers of the Paleo Diet try to eat as their paleolithic ancestors would have. That means no grains, potatoes, pulses, dairy, refined sugar and processed foods. It's not Atkins - you are encouraged to eat as much fruit and veg as you want. To me it just makes a lot of sense.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Sunday dinner

One of the nice things about going Paleo is that it means that we are all sitting down to a roast dinner every week. Previously I was always a bit unwilling to do roasts because roast potatoes are such a rat race if you want them to be really nice - they make the kitchen so hot, and you have to do them at the same time as the gravy.

Now it's much simpler. You just stick the lamb (generally my roast of choice) in and then use the hour's cooking to do any veg you want. This week we had mashed swede, carrots, runner beans, sprouts and cauliflower cheese (hmm, not paleo). Shown above is my 2-year-old son's plate. He finished every last drop!

The start of the journey

My husband and I have decided that our family should switch to eating the modern equivalent of the paleolithic diet. This blog will tell the story of how we, and our kids, get on with the change.

A bit about me: I am a 37-year-old physicist and mum of two kids aged 6 and nearly 3. I'm a bit overweight and very concerned about good nutrition. I've tried various different nutritional plans (and notably lost my 2.5 stone baby weight doing Weightwatchers) and recently flirted with the Omega Plan. However chance brought me to Loren Cordain's book "The Paleo Diet" and I was immediately converted.

We started to make the switch over about three weeks ago. I'll be posting details of what we eat, how we are getting on with switching over, how the kids get on with it etc. I'll also be talking more generally about Paleo and other ideas about nutrition.