Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Eating out in Sydney - a Paleo guide

Exciting news! We are heading back to the land of the long white cloud (AKA New Zealand) at the end of the year! Very last minute (we only booked our tix on Sunday) and VERY unorganised (we don’t even know what we will be doing over there) but we are excited for the adventures that await us. So, as a bit of a “goodbye Sydney, it’s been fun” sort of jig, I thought I would share with you my favourite spots to eat. Now I apologise, most of these are in the Eastern suburbs of Sydney, so it goes against all of the blogging rules of “make your posts applicable to as many people as possible”. Actually, I’m not sure if that is a rule, but it sounds like it should be, right? Anyway, surely many people are going to visit Bondi Beach at some point in their lives. Why? Because it looks like this:

One of my favourite Aquabumps photos.
Go check them out. Amazing snaps of Bondi. 

I don’t eat out a whole lot. Why? Because I really like home cooked meals – they taste really good and they are much more affordable. And because I can’t eat gluten. And because I like to stick to a paleo-ish style of eating most of the time. Because it makes me feel good. And because I enjoy cooking.

Wow. How was the grammar in that last paragraph. Sorry ‘bout that. I just had a little verbal diarrhea.

Soooo, when I do eat out, it has to be REALLY good, and by good I mean tasty, healthy (mostly), have a nice atmosphere and use local/seasonal/sustainable produce. I’m not asking much, am I?

Lucky for me, Sydney has some pretty good eats. Here are my top picks (in no particular order of favourites):

See what they have done there with the name. Witty, eh? (I’m saying ‘eh instead of hey, ‘cos that’s what the kiwi’s do – trying to get a head-start on the language!) Sean’s have their own farm  in Bilpin from which they source their produce for the menus. Said produce ticks all the boxes – seasonal, sustainable, fresh, grass-fed meat, free-range chooks, wild-caught seafood (obviously not from their farm, silly!). My favourite dish here is the pate as an entrée (which I have with crudités instead of bread), followed by lamb shanks. The location (across from Bondi Beach) is not too shabby, either.

…..which means “beautiful friends”. I only just googled that now, and it makes me love the place even more! Bei Amici, like Sean’s is very focused on seasonal, organic, biodynamic produce, with their menu changing on a regular basis. All produce is from legit sources and the food tastes AMAZING!
Here’s what they say:

We use organic & bio dynamic products, because it tastes so much better

Touché, Bei Amici, touché. My favourite here has been the pate for entrée (I like pate, OK!) and the duck for main.

Image from beiamici.com.au

 3. Paleo Café, Bondi Junction

This one has only just opened in Sydney and was always going to be a winner in my books. It’s all paleo. It’s all delicious. ‘Nuff said.  A rather salient quote from the folks at Paleo Cafe:


Side note: Paleo Café are also in Cairns, Brisbane, Mornington Peninsula and, word on the street is, they’ll soon be opening in Albury.

For all of you pasta fiends, check out this recipe for Paleo Carbonara with Bacon and Mushrooms. Nom nom nom.

4. Henley’s Wholefoods, Bondi Junction

I tried this place for the first time this morning on a brekkie date with my husband. Yeah, we went on a date.

They are all paleo-friendly meals and use organic, seasonal and local produce. Very tasty and creative. Aaron had “Field mushrooms, Sicilian herb, chilli ‘n thyme pesto, black ox heart tomatoes and poached eggs”. I had “Maca protein-charge me up’ pancakes, banana, nutty crumble, coconut yoghurt and maple syrup”. I also had food envy. The pancakes were awesome, but the eggs were better. Learn from my mistakes – go for the eggs.

Henley's eggs. They look good, don't they?
We met the owner, Sophie, this morning. Very nice chick. Let’s help her out and spread the word about this one, tucked down behind and under Paleo Café in Bondi Junction.

Hurrah! Not a place in the East! I would tell you about this place, but they say it pretty well themselves. Check out their menu HERE.

They also provide FREE filtered water with chlorophyll, which is not only good for you (helps with detoxification), but it makes me chuckle every time because of this:

Image source

I know, I am miss maturity. Aah Adam Sandler, you were really funny once.

AKA "Heaven". Definitely not paleo. Not even close to being healthy. But it makes me happy. It’s a once every now and then kind of treat. And you can walk around the street singing and dancing like this:

If the video doesn't show up, go HERE. Trust me, it's worth it. But be warned - load of swearing. Much more than I usually swear!

So there you go! If you’re ever in my neck of the woods, and you have some extra cash to spend on meals (especially with the top 2 – a little exxie, but definitely worth it every now and then), check out these places. If you have some suggestions in other areas of Sydney, please let me know. Or, if you want more in-depth reviews of “paleo-kosher” (can I say that?) places to eat, check out my friend Soulla’s blog.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Period Party!

Image by Laura C George via pinterest

A few months ago, it was suggested that I undergo a procedure known as a “HyCoSy” to check for any structural problems with my lady garden, given I had not had a period in two years (which you can read more about HERE and HERE). They say that you may experience “mild discomfort” during the procedure and that you should consider taking pain-killers prior. Having had this done, sans pain-killers, all I can say is, don’t be a hero – take the drugs – the “discomfort” is more than “mild”. I’m not going to go into the gory details, but you can read more about HERE if you want. It was traumatic, to say the least. 

So anyway, post-procedure, I was lying on the bed/chair thingy, half-naked and wanting to throw up and/or pass out, and the doctor informed me that:

“You have PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). You aren’t going to get your period back and you probably won’t conceive naturally, so we’ll start you on injections and then you’ll probably need IVF”.

Here's a picture taken from that moment: 

Image via http://blogs.voanews.com
 Talk about bedside manner. What a douche!

As you can imagine, this wasn’t the easiest thing to hear. I got home and I lost my shit. Big time.

After a few days of feeling sorry for myself I thought I should take a look at the images of my baby-maker. What I discovered was that I did not have PCOS, but normal, healthy ovaries in the follicular phase, which was confirmed by my GP and naturopath. Woo hoo!

In other news, while I was in Broome, I got my period back! So it turns out that this trusted gynaecologist, in one of Sydney’s best ultrasound clinics, was wrong. And did I mention he was a douche?

It just goes to show that, when it comes to your body and your health, QUESTION EVERYTHING and don’t accept anything as gospel.

OK let’s back up – I got my period back – in outback Western Australia! I’m pretty sure my dietetics supervisor thought I was crazy when I exclaimed 

“You don’t understand how EXCITING this is!!!” 

And it was! I can’t explain the feeling, but it was like I felt like a woman again. I know all of you ladies out there with a regular period are scoffing at me right now, and all of you guys have either stopped reading or are thinking I’m a weirdo. By the way, kudos to you, boys, if you are still here!

It all suddenly made sense why I had completely devoured a whole block of Green & Black’s chocolate the night before. And why my skin was breaking out. And why I cried watching “How I met your mother”. Seriously?!

So what triggered the return of my lady-time that had been MIA for so long? Well, I think it was probably a combination of things, but I don’t think it was any coincidence that it came back while I was in Broome AKA “most relaxing, laid-back, picturesque getaway spot in Australia” (you can check out my pics from Broome, and a yummy recipe HERE). I embraced “Broome-time”, which involved……not much. Not much at all. And that’s the point. I said enough is enough, stopped trying to do everything all at once and calmed the f#@k down.

A typical day looked like this:

6am: Rise with the sun. Walk to Cable Beach. Do 15 minutes of yoga or a quick Tabata workout. Go for a swim in the ocean (this became a little less relaxing after a 4m salt-water croc was sighted on the beach). Meditate. Walk home
7:15am: Eat breakfast. Slowly.
8:10am: Go to work
4:30pm: Come home. Walk to beach. Swim. Watch sunset. Walk home.
6:30pm: Dinner.
7:30pm:Maybe a little work for Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar. Maybe nothing.
8:30pm: Bed
9pm: Sleep

I spent lots of time by myself. And I spent plenty of time with some of the most beautiful, generous people I have ever met.

I’m sure to some, this looks pretty boring, but it was clearly what I needed.

Now I’m under no disillusion that this is achievable for everyone. I’m back in Sydney now and it all seems like a distant memory and, unfortunately, so is my period – MIA again, but I’m confident it will return when the time is right.

So if, like me, you don’t live in Broome and are having some lady-problems, here are a few things I would suggest:
  1. Eat. And eat regularly. Every 3-4 hours have something small to eat.  And don’t cut out carbs. Why? If we leave it for too long, our blood sugar will drop. When this happens, cortisol, our stress hormone is released to bring blood sugar back up. This happens at the expense of our sex hormones (oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone). Eat!!
  2. Practice yoga. I highly recommend the “YogaStudio” app for iphone or ipad. Not only do I feel this has helped my body, but it has worked wonders for my head. As I have mentioned, I have put on ~7kg this year, all in the pursuit of fertility. I have struggled with this, having previously been quite athletic-looking. Yoga has helped me focus more on my body’s ability rather than its aesthetics. I know how this sounds – like I am one of those crazy yoga hippies. Maybe I am. Whatever.
  3. Walk around bare foot. Speaking of crazy hippies. It’s called “earthing”. It feels amazing. On that note – just get out and into nature more. Climb some trees, swim in the ocean, make sand angels, whatever floats your boat. Just don’t spend all of your time inside. It’s stifling, in more ways than one.
  4. Go to bed early. Stop playing with your phone/computer/ipad at least an hour before you go to bed to help your body wind down.
  5. Sleep in a pitch black room to allow adequate production of melatonin, our sleep hormone
  6. Enjoy social time. Drink a little red wine. Play – lots!
  7. Have sex. Often, if you can. Not only does this promote blood flow to our lady-bits, but also helps reduce stress. Winning!
  8. Exercise, but not too much.
  9. Cut out caffeine. Sorry, but this can really mess with your hormone regulation.
  10. Speak to yourself as if you were speaking to your best friend. Would you tell your best friend “you’re fat”, “you’re ugly”, “you’re not worthy”? No? Then why tell yourself that? Your body has done more for you than ANYONE else will ever do.
  11. Get help. I can’t thank the gorgeous naturopath Kate from Kore Wellbeing enough for all of her support.

My final word of advice would be this: don’t wait. Don’t wait until you decide you want to have babies to fix your period problems. If you do, it becomes all-consuming. And as much as you try to not let it, it can start to take over your life. It saddens me that so many girls accept menstrual irregularities as normal. It’s not! The time is right NOW to fix it. Not tomorrow. Not next year. NOW!

Oh, and just a little gratuitous shot to show that an extra 7kg isn't so scary:

Weird angle - my head looks very disproportionate, but you get the picture.