I love sharing stories of friends and clients who have adopted a healthier approach to eating and have seen some real benefits. Jane McClurg, a massage therapist at Balance Massage Clinic (where I consult from) is a good friend of mine who was happy to share her (and her husband’s) story.
I always considered myself a foodie with a tendency for healthy food, but perhaps with a little weakness for sweet baked goods, but who doesn’t right? My diet would typically include homemade muesli with low fat yoghurt for breakfast, a trim latte, a wholegrain sandwich or roll with homemade soup for lunch and dinner could be anything from Thai laksa with brown rice, salad and steak, to casserole with mashed potatoes or homemade burgers. I’ve also never actually been on a “diet”; I’ve never needed to. At 5’8’’ (171cm) tall and about 63kg, I have been told I’m one of those annoying people who can eat whatever she likes and doesn’t put on weight….so why did I decide to try this “new” whole food thing?
I am a massage therapist but this year is my first year studying to be a naturopath as well, so my level of consciousness around food has been heightened and I seem to be devouring any information on it that I can (excuse the pun). In particular, I have developed an interest in an all too common occurrence in many of our lives: inflammation. I see it in my clients who’s injuries are slow to heal, and a couple of people close to me being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and Lupus, both auto-immune disorders that have high inflammatory markers. The more I read about the relationship between diet and inflammation, the more I was intrigued with the stories of how making changes to the diet can have such a dramatic affect on improving symptoms in people with these conditions. I’m lucky that Mikki is a client of mine and so when she’s on my massage table we discuss food, swap recipes and of course talk paleo.
So I asked myself…further down the track (when I am a qualified naturopath) am I going to prescribe an eating plan such as paleo/primal/whole foods if I haven’t tried it? No. So the challenge was set. Further, a particularly big ‘birthday blowout’ month left me feeling lethargic and (some may say) a little moody, so I sent a desperate email to Mikki asking where to start. She advised me to check out the Whole 30….and the rest (as they say) is history. I bought their book It Starts with Food and couldn’t put it down… July 8th was Day 1 of our 30 days to “go clean”. My husband decided to come along for the ride, so we cleaned out the pantry and fridge of all dairy, grains and sugar and set about making our own beef and chicken stock (how easy when you have a slow cooker!) and prepared a few other essentials.
The first week was a bit of a struggle to adjust to how much to eat, especially for hubby who still wanted to train hard at the gym but felt tired and lacking in energy, so ended up only going a few days in the first 2 weeks. The Whole 30 recommends taking it easy while your body adjusts from burning sugar to burning fat (and this can help heal the gut lining too). But by the end of week two we were away…kumara, scrambled eggs and avocado for breakfast, salads with chicken breast and pumpkin for lunch, nuts and seeds for snacks and fruit with nut butter (yum!), and homemade Rogan Josh curry with cauliflower rice for dinner. Rather than feeling deprived of my usual foods that I couldn’t have, my head was spinning from all the new recipes I wanted to try.
Interestingly, by Day 10 hubby had lost what I liked to call the Bloaty Bread Belly and the six pack that was hiding underneath was back! I noticed I wasn’t hungry for morning tea ( I gave up coffee too but hubby changed his latte to black coffee) and my meals were seeing me through to the next meal. The combination of protein, vegetables and good fats were keeping me going (and I have a physical job as a massage therapist), and my craving for sweet things disappeared!
Day 30 came and went and we have continued on with our new “life eating plan”…the more nutrient dense foods we eat in each meal are so much more sustaining and satisfying than the zombie* foods we used to occasionally eat. We’ve reintroduced some dairy, a bit of feta or parmesan and yogurt but the good stuff: full fat and organic if we can get it. A few treats here and there but generally we eat the same as what we did on the Whole 30. My mood is much more even and energy levels are back up too…I’m not gonna say that I spring out of bed at 5am and run a half marathon every day but I don’t get the afternoon crashes I used to have. I also have more energy in the evenings for my study (and for cooking!) And hubby? His training is going well and he’s had a lot of questions from people asking what he’s been doing …he’s spreading the whole food word too.
For us it wasn’t about losing a heap of weight, it was about adopting a healthier way to eat, getting the nourishment we need to sustain our energy levels and boost immunity…basically stay healthy. And yes, as a future naturopath I would recommend this style of eating. In fact, I recommend it to everyone now!
One of our favourite meals is this slow cooked beef recipe (with some small adaptions) with watercress, avocado and tomato salsa, served in egg burrito wraps.
Avocado and tomato salsa: Small chunks of avocados and tomatoes (de-seeded) toss with hot sauce and lime juice, S&P
Egg burrito wraps: one egg whisked then poured into a hot pan that contains melted clarified butter…swirl around and wait for it to bubble up, flip and cook on the other side. When done flip onto a plate, keep warm in oven while you make more, then load up your meat, salsa and watercress and wrap! Yum!