Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Should we eat more fat? Time Mag says yes!

I’m sure, by now, many of you have seen the recent time magazine cover telling us to “Eat Butter”. In case you missed it, here it is:

You’re probably expecting me to jump around and say “Haha! I told you so!”, while I do a little Irish jig, because, well, I did tell you so a couple of years ago in this post. However, I’m not going to do that. Oh wait, did I just do it? Oops!

What I actually want to do in this post is cover off the key points from the Time article and see how we can apply this and that perhaps we do not need to eat MORE butter. Yes, I am going to play the Devil’s advocate!

OK, let’s dive in. Here are the salient point from the article:

  • In the 1980’s, dodgy science reported that high intakes of saturated fat increased your risk of heart disease. The USDA took note, created dietary guidelines that recommended avoiding fat, and subsequently a whole realm of low fat foods were produced
  • Fat intake decreased, junky grain-based carb consumption increased, the prevalence of chronic disease (heart disease, diabetes, obesity) was on the rise
  • In the mid-1990s, Dr Walter Willet found that if people replaced foods high in saturated fat with carbohydrates, there was no reduction in heart disease. Go figure! More people then started to question the role of fat
  • The Mediterranean Diet began to take flight as the heart-healthy diet, with its preponderance of poly and monounsaturated fats (note – these were from nuts, seeds, fish, olives and olive oil NOT refined vegetable/seed oils)
  • Arrogant wanker quote of the year** from Dr Robert Eckel, past president of the American Heart Association (AHA) – “When you replace saturated fats with polyunsaturated  and monounsaturated fats, you lower cholesterol. That’s all I need to know”. This kind of closed-minded, egotistical view is what is stifling the health of the world. We need to put our egos aside and be open to new evidence and admitting when we were wrong. This is the nature of science!
  • A 2010 meta-analysis (a study of many relevant studies) found that there was no significant evidence of an association between saturated fat and increased risk of heart disease. These findings were further supported by another study this year
  • Saturated fat increase LDL cholesterol AND HDL cholesterol, which negates the heart disease risk
  • Refined carbs stimulate the production of insulin, which drives fat storage
  • Low-carb diets have shown potential in helping with diabetes and obesity
  • Increasing meat may have environmental consequences. Read why I disagree HERE (the Allan Savory vid)
  • Some experts are concerned that if we spread the message that saturated fat is fine, this may increase unhealthy habits and instead, we should focus on whole, real foods

**Time Magazine did not call this dude an arrogant wanker. That was me being on my soap box 

Now for my thoughts on the situation.

First off, I think it is awesome, and long overdue, that this information is out in mainstream media. And it is only fitting that Time Magazine publish this, considering they were the catalyst for everyone freaking out in the first place with this cover in 1984:

I whole-heartedly agree that we should not avoid saturated fat. The research clearly does not support the thinking that this nutrient increases the risk of heart disease. HOWEVER I think there are a few things we need to be wary of

1. Healthy, “risk-free” saturated fat does not mean party pies, sausage rolls and pop-tarts.

Saturated fat from REAL FOOD is what we are talking about here, peeps, so do not use this research as a license to go and feast at McDonald’s or your local 7/11! Instead, enjoy real-food sources of saturated fat, such as:
  • Meat and organs (choose grass-fed, which is also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids)
  • Chicken (again, free range and organic is best)
  • Egg yolks
  • Fish (31% of the fatty acids in salmon are saturated)
  • Olives (YES they are actually 13% saturated fat!)
  • Nuts (macadamias are highest in saturated fat of all nuts)
  • Coconut and coconut products (the main fatty acid, lauric acid, has been shown to increase HDL/”good” cholesterol, and is also the predominant fatty acid in breast milk)
  • Dairy products
  • Avocado (23.5% of fats are saturated)

Note that those foods that we often associate with being good sources of poly- or mono-unsaturated fats (e.g. salmon, nuts, avocado, olives) are actually also good sources of saturated fat? That is because these fatty acids never exist in isolation! We need to start thinking of WHOLE foods, rather than their individual constituents.

2. Carbohydrates are not the devil

Image by Fonda LaShay, via pinterest
When the original research came out regarding fat causing heart disease and making us fat, we all went gung-ho and took the stance of “the less fat we can have in our diet, the better”.  We know this is not true. We need fats for the optimal functioning of a number of bodily processes, such as hormone production, health bone metabolism, cell membrane integrity, satiety, immune health and more.

What concerns me is that people will take the “low-fat=no-fat” attitude and apply it to carbohydrates, going extremely low carb, or cutting them out altogether. While this may be beneficial for some (such as those suffering from epilepsy, pre-diabetes or un-medicated diabetes, or even obesity), this does not mean it is the best choice for everyone. I made the mistake of going too low-carb for too long. Learn from my mistakes and be mindful that you need carbs for a few things:
  • Carbohydrates feed the good bacteria in our digestive system. If we go too low carb, they can be starved, creating dysbiosis and digestive problems
  • Carbohydrates provide bulk to the stool to help with passing a bowel motion, and we are all aiming for the perfect poop, right?
  • Carbohydrates help with the conversion of the inactive (T4) to the active (T3) form of thyroid hormone, thus helping fuel metabolism. Go too low carb and you may find yourself in a bit of a weight pickle as your thyroid stops working as it should
  • Carbohydrates prevent the body from relying on the adrenal glands and cortisol to keep blood sugar levels in balance, thereby limiting the likelihood of adrenal fatigue
  • Carbohydrates help to refuel muscle glycogen stores after an intense workout, and prevent the breakdown if muscle

There are more, but I think you get the point. Carbs can be useful. How much you need is dependent on your lifestyle and individual situation. If you are active and/or stressed, you may need slightly more. If you are sedentary and/or chilled out, maybe a little less will suit. Play around with it and see how you feel!

All in all, I recommend that you avoid low-fat junky “foods” and not fear fat, while also being mindful that some carbohydrate-rich foods (such as sweet potato, potato, parsnip, beetroot, rice, a little fruit and even quinoa or legumes, if tolerated) are also great sources of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and can help our body to function at its peak. Do I think they should be the bulk of our diet? No. But they should not be demonised, either.

Moral to the story – eat real food. If it needs an ingredients label, or if you don’t know what all of the ingredients are, don’t eat it. Simple. Don’t get caught up in the minutia – life is too short!

What are your thoughts on this whole dealio?

Monday, 16 June 2014

Paleo Pumpkin-Pie Pancakes

Yes, I like alliteration. Rolls of the tongue, doesn’t it?

PANCAKES! Who doesn’t love them, seriously? You say Sunday morning. I say pancakes. They just work. Any day, any time, really. But unfortunately, most pancakes are full of sugar, and gluten and junk. Especially the Shake ‘n’ Bake kind and yes, even the gluten free variety. (Note to self gluten-free processed foods are not healthy, just because they do not have gluten in them).

I like to experiment with recipes. Sometimes they are complete failure. Other times a huge success. The recipe I am going to share with you, my lovely friends, was a huge success. Otherwise I wouldn’t share it, would I? It probably wouldn’t even go on Instagram because, as everyone knows, you only put the highlights of your life on Instagram.

Anyway, enough jibber jabber (that didn't even get spell-checks. Seriously?).  Give these yummy Paleo pumpkin (yes there is a vegetable hiding in there) pie pancakes a whirl. I am pretty sure even the little ones (meaning kids) would like these. Handy tip: roast the pumpkin the night before in coconut oil.  Roast some other veggies for your dinner that night, while you’re at it. Why not?

Paleo Pumpkin Pie Pancakes

They taste better than they look. Promise.
  • ½ cup mashed pumpkin (roast the night before)
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • ½-1tsp cinnamon (I have super strong cinnamon at them moment)
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼-1/2 tsp all spice
  • ¼ tsp ginger powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • Coconut oil/butter to cook in
  • Splash coconut water (or plain water, but coconut will be sweeter)

How to
  1. Heat oil/butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat
  2. Mix all ingredients, except coconut water, in a mixing bowl until smooth
  3. Add a splash of coconut water to thin out the consistency a little
  4. Add dollops of mixture to the pan once it is hot, allowing to cook lightly (2-3mins) on one side, then flip and repeat
  5. Serve with whatever your heart desires. Mine desired sunflower seeds and coconut flakes. A little full fat yoghurt and some berries would probably be quite nice, too
  6. ENJOY!
PS. Have you checked out the AHSNZ conference yet? 

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

How I got the body I've always wanted

This past weekend, I turned 30. Officially in the dirty thirties now. And I feel great. Fantastic, in fact.

My awesome hubby took me on a helicopter flight for my b'day!
It has been 1 year since I wrote my postabout putting on weight to restore my fertility. It has been 3 years since I lost my period due to under-eating, over-exercising, taking the birth control pill and being a stressed-out, maniacal perfectionist. It has been an interesting 30-year journey of progressing from someone who was constantly trying to change her body to meet some unrealistic ideal, to someone who actually loves the skin she is in. And I am not just saying that. For the first time in my life, I actually really love my body.

I have been wanting to write this post for a while, but putting it off. Not sure why. I guess we all have a fear of being judged in a negative light. So I ask you to please, if you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all. OK here goes...

For reference purposes, here is my before and after pic to show my progress. Please excuse the hair in both shots – one was scraggly beach hair and the other sweaty post-workout hair. But it’s not about the hair (although it is thicker and more lustrous nowadays). Let’s take an objective view here, simply looking at the change in body shape.

On the left, you will see “Check out my 8-pack, you think I'm healthy and fit , but my fertility is in the shitter” Kate. I showed this to a friend the other day and she said “Oh wow! What were you training for?”. Nothing. I was training for my illusive “dream body”. Pfft.

On the right, you will see “Check out my boobs, I look healthy and feminine and my internal state reflects this” Kate. There are just two things that I do not like about this pic – 
1)My lack of tan (although I have that many layers on here in Wanaka that a tan would not even get noticed) and 
2)The selfie pose. I hate bathroom-half-naked selfies. It makes you look like such a wanker. I apologise. I am doing this for reference purposes, not to show off or entice more Instagram followers.

OK, so aside from having boobs (seriously, I’m still obsessed with them), what is so great about my new body? Probably best if I list out the reasons, as I tend to do. As always, feel free to just read the bolded text to get a general gist:
  1. I have unbelievable energy. I used to have to take regular naps throughout the day, just to make it through. Now, I can soldier through, completely sans-caffeine. Funny what happens when you start to eat enough
  2. The whites of my eyes are crystal clear. They used to be constantly bloodshot and my vision was blurry. I relied on ClearEyes, and I wasn’t even getting stoned!
  3. My skin is clear and wrinkle free. Previously, it would look kind of dry and lackluster
  4. My nails are thick and strong. For the first time in my life, my nails are not snapping off as soon as a little bit of white appears. I used to have vertical ridges (signs of adrenal fatigue) and horizontal ridges (signs of thyroid issues). These ridges are almost non-existent now
  5. My gray hairs have disappeared. Now this one I find quite odd, and did not think it possible. I used to have quite a few gray hairs, and my hairdresser can vouch for this – she kindly pointed out a patch of grays on my head that I would have otherwise been unaware of. Thanks Leigh. Those grays – all gone! Bizarre, right?
  6. My cycle is getting back on track. Thank God, because that’s the whole reason I headed down this road. It’s not perfect – about 40 day cycles, but compared to the nothingness of about 6mths ago, this is a pretty significant improvement
  7. I can do crazy yoga shit. Seriously – handstands and backbends and balances and all sorts of awesome stuff. I am loving it! I would never have gone down the yoga path if I wasn’t forced to sort out my stress and pull back on the chronic cardio that I was doing
  8. I am so much more in tune with my body now. I listen to how it feels and I respond with understanding and respect, rather than saying “Harden up! It’ll be worth it”, because more often than not, it won’t be worth it.
  9. My hubby thinks I am sexy and tells me this all the time. I know what you are thinking – he has to say that. Maybe, but he could just say nothing at all. I asked him if he preferred me the way I used to be and he said “Honestly, you were almost too skinny for me”. Interesting. I find the male response to this whole thing very intriguing. Any males out there who want to chime in on this, please do – obviously not telling me I’m sexy (unless you want to), but just commenting on the whole female body thang.
  10. I am now in the position to be a positive role model for other females, both young and old. My previous body was unrealistic and unattainable for most. It took a lot of hard training and strict eating, and wasn’t even healthy. I was practically a male! No boobs, no period, no hips. Sounds pretty masculine to me!

So how did I do it? How did I go from hating my body at 57kg (172cm tall, 'cos I know you were wondering) to loving it at around 62-64kg (not exactly sure what my weight is – I broke up with the scales a while ago)? Well, it wasn’t easy. I didn’t just suddenly wake up and go “Hurrah! I am woman, hear me roar!”. These are the things that were invaluable to complete body image backflip:

  1. Support. Lots and lots of it. From loved ones, and from you folks through the interwebs – thank you!
  2. The knowledge that I might be helping others in a similar situation – this was a massive driver! I truly hope I can help others, even if it is just one person
  3. The realisation that menstruation is a sign of fertility. Fertility is a sign of health. Body fat is needed for menstruation. Ergo body fat is healthy.
  4. Self-love. I know this sounds really woo-woo, but it truly helped me understand the underlying thoughts I had about my body and how to change them. Gabrielle Bernstein’s May Cause Miracles, and Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life are invaluable resources. Get them both. NOW!
  5. Yoga. Yes, I am well and truly a hippy now. I even have crystals throughout my house. Candles too. But back to yoga. Aside from being able to bend and balance my way into poses that I was once only dreamed of doing, yoga taught me how to focus on my body’s ability, rather than it’s aesthetics.
  6. The realisation that those who really matter in your life could not give a flying fuck (sorry - I was overdue for a swear word) if you are a size 8 or a size 14
Image via
This is my body. In your eyes, it may not be perfect. I have cellulite. I have stretch marks (in fact, I had cellulite and stretch marks before putting on weight). I don’t have abs. Or a thigh gap. But in my eyes, what I see and how I feel, for the first time in my life, I am completely and unashamedly happy. This is 100% me. I am not a replica of someone else, nor am I trying to be. I am confident and I am healthy, and I hope that I have sparked the desire in you to love, accept and appreciate your body exactly as it is. xx

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Paleo Coco-Apple Cookies

Have I told you that I have an apple tree? It lives on my front yard. Small children come and steal apples from it as I stare out at them in excitement that I can provide fresh food for the neighbourhood. I try not to look creepy, but something tells me that peering out from behind a curtain inside the house is not the way to go about this.

Don't leave now! I have something yummy to share!
Apples from my apple tree
As winter sets in, the fruits of my labour someone else’s hard work are falling to the ground and dwindling in supplies. As I am a bit of a stickler for not wasting food, I realised that I had to make something with all of these fallen apples and I had to do it quick. I also did not want a lot of fuss. And I did not want it to be an overly expensive production (like my $50 paleo no-bake mixed berry cheesecake, which was worth every penny). Having a look at the ingredients in my cupboard, I decided I would attempt to make cookies.

I’m not much of a cookie person. I find they are never as good as expected (unless you have the triple choc cookies from Subway in Tamworth. I have no idea what they did to those cookies, but damn they were good!). So I was pleasantly surprised when these cookies turned out as delicious as they did! So delicious that I have trouble stopping at 1! I hope you enjoy these little morsels of goodness as much as I do.

Coco-Apple Cookies (makes 15 cookies)

  • 2 cups red apple, chopped (skin on)
  • 1 cup dessicated coconut
  • 1 cup raw almonds (activated, if you wish)
  • 1T coconut oil, melted
  • 1-3 tsp cinnamon (I have abnormally intense cinnamon at the moment, so only used 1tsp, but feel free to use more)
  • A few grinds of vanilla bean powder (or ¼- ½ tsp vanilla powder; more if using vanilla extract)
  • 3 eggs 

  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees C
  2. Prepare a baking/cookie tray with baking paper
  3. Add all ingredients, except eggs, to a food processor and blend for a few seconds until ingredients are combined (they do not have to be smooth – lumps and chunks are fun, if you’re a texture-lover like me!)
  4. Combine this mixture with the eggs in a mixing bowl and mix well
  5. Spoon out dollops of mixture (about 1T each) and place on cookie tray. Use the back of a fork to spread the mixture out into more of a “pattie” shape
  6. Bake until set – about 20-30mins (check at 20 – dry cookies suck)
And in case you can't figure out whether or not to eat the cookies….
Image via Alex Hayward, Pinterest

That's all today. Nice and short! Be kind to yourself, and others (hint hint – share your cookies!). x