Paleo Interventions

Paleo Interventions

Like me, I’m sure you frequently hear people discussing their ill health.  Sometimes it’s so glaringly obvious that they would likely benefit from a 30-day Paleo trial.  So what do you do? Are you in favour of an Intervention?

Last week I was preparing my lunch in the shared kitchen in my office, when I was joined by a lady complaining to another colleague about her terrible stomach problems.  She’d seen so many doctors and specialists, had so many tests – but nothing was found and none of their suggestions helped.  She went “low-gluten” and “almost dairy free” a few days ago and was feeling a bit better, which she put down to avoiding pasta in the evenings.  She wasn’t feeling great, so was just preparing some toast (wholegrain bread, obviously) with margarine, to settle her stomach.  I spent ages in the kitchen, waiting for a chance to intervene, looking for a chance to tell her about Paleo and suggest she just tries it for 30 days.  But no chances arose and I’m always really unsure whether or not it’s wise to intervene.

I generally take the stance that if I’m asked anything about what I do, that’s an opportunity for me to tell someone about it.  But in a situation like this, where I’m not asked – and don’t even know the persons name, I normally don’t intervene.

Hopefully another opportunity will arise.

What do you do in situations like this? Have you ever performed a Paleo Intervention?

PaleoConnect

Introducing… PaleoConnect

We have a great local Paleo meet-up group here in Sydney, but I know there are many, many areas in Australia and around the world without such groups.

The meet-up groups are a great way to meet a lot of other people together who are interested in a similar Paleo lifestyle.  I love the meet-ups and am so glad I found out about them – I get to talk about Paleo all night and learn so much from the other attendees.

I’ve long felt there was a gap between the thriving online Paleo communities and the few Paleo meet-up groups that are currently in existence.  As great as online communities are, I think there is often no substitute for meeting people in real life.  I’ve spent the last few months working hard on PaleoConnect, which is a site that I hope will close this gap and enable you to find and meet with people who have the same Paleo/ Primal interests as you do – and happen to live in your neighbourhood!

Perhaps you want to meet up with someone to do some Primal exercise at lunchtimes?  Maybe you don’t know of any other Paleo families, but would love to meet some.  Travelling for business and interested in going out for a Paleo meal with a local?  Or you might be trying to lose weight and like the support of someone doing the same – through Paleo rather than the latest fad diet.  I’m keen to use the site to try out local restaurants that have Paleo options – whilst meeting new friends!  Of course, if you’re a member of the single Paleo community, you may be keen to go on a date with someone like minded, instead of the unhealthy potentials who plague online dating sites!  I hope PaleoConnect will address all of these needs and more.

This is very much an international site, with members from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Europe and Asia – and many new people joining every day.  The site is, and will remain completely free to sign up to and use.

So what are you waiting for?  Have a look at PaleoConnect, sign up and spread the word!

I’m looking forward to hearing your feedback!

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Does Drinking Alcohol Fit With Paleo?

So, yesterday was my Birthday and I had a fabulous time. I hadn’t drunk for a long time, but as it was my Birthday, it seemed only right to have a few drinks at my Halloween party last night! Alcohol and Paleo? Do they mix?

I think there are two main problems with drinking whilst adhering to a Paleo lifestyle. Clearly the ingredients in alcohol are often far from Primal. Alcohol can contain a lot of sugar and gluten in grain based drinks, such as beer. I think the other big issue with drinking is that you may start off with good intentions, but after a few drinks you may become less cautious with drink choice, and more prone to eat un-Paleo food when you inevitably get hungry later on.

Alcohol clearly is not Paleo, and I think it’s a best kept as an occasional treat. There, of course, are times that you want to enjoy a few drinks. At these times, by making good choices along with a degree of planning, you can minimise the damage from a night out.

Before Going Out

  • Think about where you’re going and what you’ll be drinking before you go. This way it will be a lot easier to stick to your plans, instead of trying to work it out at the bar and ending up with a beer in your hand.
  • Are you going to be eating at a Paleo friendly restaurant during the evening? If not, I think it’s very wise to eat just before you go out. Make sure you don’t shy away from fat and protein in your pre-drink meal.
  • Also, I think it’s very wise to prepare some delicious Paleo food for when you get home! If you come in hungry with nothing ready, you might find non-Paleo food a more attractive proposition than you would usually!

At the bar

So, what are the least-bad drink options? And which drinks should you avoid at all costs?

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BETTER CHOICES

  • Many Paleo people swear by Robb Wolf’s NorCal Margarita. This is made with 100% agave tequila, juice and pulp of a fresh lime, ice and soda water. The tequila is made from fermented agave juice, so it is gluten and starch free. The lime is said to dull the insulin response to the alcohol sugars and provide a net alkaline load in the blood stream. The CO2 from the soda water is said to help the alcohol reach the blood stream sooner, meaning you need to drink less.
  • Other than Tequila, vodka can be a reasonable choice. Look for vodkas distilled from grapes or potatoes.
  • Gin can be an option too, but avoid those distilled from sugar and other grains (look for juniper berries)
  • Red wine has the benefit of containing anti-oxidants; another fair choice. • Cider, especially if you can find a good, organic brand, is a far better choice than beer, though still high in sugar.
  • Generally dry wines and spirits are the best choices in terms of low-carb content, but be careful with those ingredients!

AVOID

  • Beers are generally going to be heavily grain based. Some barley based beers (such as Belgium beers) may be rendered gluten free by secondary fermentation. You can also get gluten free beers, however they are likely to still contain grains, and other undesirable ingredients. Gluten aside, beer is also very carb heavy; another reason to make a different choice.
  • Many drinks are extremely high in sugars. Avoid drinks with fruit juices (these are almost never made with real, fresh fruit juice anyway.
  • Premixed drinks often have very un-Paleo ingredients as well as lots of sugars; avoid!
  • Mixers such as fizzy soft drinks should be avoided as they are full of sugar and all sorts of artificial ingredients. Have your spirits with soda water, or on ice.

Afterwards

When you get home eat some good Paleo food containing good fat and protein and drink water.  Even if it was a late night, try to get up at your usual time the next morning to avoid disrupting your routine for the next few days.

I stuck to vodka, fresh lime and soda water and had a great night. However, I probably won’t drink again for a long time as it doesn’t fit in too well with my Paleo lifestyle!

What are your drinking strategies? Am I missing some good tips? What is your favourite drink? Or perhaps you don’t drink at all?

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Paleo Barbeque

Yesterday was the Sydney Paleo meet-up group’s Paleo Barbeque.  We met at beautiful Tamarama beach, where there are a couple of public barbecues, which were in hot demand yesterday!  The weather couldn’t have been more perfect for the barbecue, with sunshine and beautiful blue skies!

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I spent yesterday morning making a few dishes from the new “Make it Paleo” cookbook, to take along to the barbecue with me.

I made the guacamole to go with some raw vegetables I cut up.

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I made the barbecue sauce, which went beautifully with the organic grass fed streak I took along.  This had a bit of a kick to it with the mustard and paprika and proved very popular.  I’ll definitely be making this one again over the summer.

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I was really excited to try the Fennel & Orange salad.  The combination of the anise flavour of the fennel and the peppery flavour of the radishes made for an unusual, but very enjoyable salad.

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I grated up some carrot, which I mixed with shredded coconut (I love the combination)

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Finally, I roasted some seasonal vegetables which were colourful and delicious!

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It was great to see such a good turn out to the barbecue – Paleo in Sydney seems to be well and truly gaining momentum.  Despite a few people attending for the first time, we were an easy group to spot; as the only party at the beach without bread, crisps and junk food!

I hope we’ll be able to have a few more outdoor Paleo meet-ups this summer – it seems so much more Primal!

PrimalCon

7,497 Miles to PrimalCon

One of the highlights of 2011 so far was the weekend I went to PrimalCon 2011 in California in April.  I enjoyed it so much, that I booked my ticket for the 2012 event as soon as the tickets went on sale this morning.

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Sunset at PrimalCon

I hadn’t realised quite how far America was from Australia when I booked this year.  I went at quite short notice and used my air miles, so didn’t pay too much attention to minor details like flight times.  I was trying to minimise time off work, so I left Australia on the Friday and flew back on the Sunday night.  This was a big mistake!  I now know very well that Los Angeles is a very long 14 hour 7,497 mile flight from Sydney.  To make matters worse, as I used my air miles, I was assigned a very impressive route of Sydney to Brisbane, a night in Brisbane, a flight from Brisbane to Melbourne, then finally I got on my international flight at Melbourne!

It was all for the best however, as I met a wonderful new friend on the flight to LA, who was also attending PrimalCon (with just two people going from Australia, what were the chances of us being on the same flight?)

I’m planning to make PrimalCon 2012 into a much more sensible length America trip, especially as it falls the weekend after Easter.

I made some lifelong Primal friends in April, in fact, I spent a wonderful week in Texas with two of my PrimalCon friends, and met up with some others at the AHS in August.  I’m really looking forward to catching up with them and making some more Primal friends.

Over the whole weekend, the food was incredible.  So much was local Californian produce and it was great to have things like Kale and Turkey, which I find so difficult to find here in Australia (if you know of any good sources here, please let me know in the comments!)

One of my highlights from the weekend was the running workshop with Barefoot Ted.   I learnt so much from him and my running style has changed forever.  In fact, it was his workshop that inspired me to buy my Vibrams!  I’m thrilled to see Barefoot Ted is back again for next year’s event – hopefully I can refine my technique further still.
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Erwan Le Corre is a new presenter for the 2012 event.  I really enjoyed his talk and demonstration on MovNat at the AHS this year, and to have the opportunity to have a small group workshop with the guy who does this is incredibly exciting!

I just received my latest Amazon book order of Exuberant Animal by Frank Forencich yesterday – so couldn’t believe it when I read Frank Forencich is also a presenter at PrimalCon!  I’d better get started on his book…

Hopefully we’ll be able to get Mark Sisson over to Australia/ New Zealand in the near future, but in the meantime…  anyone else coming to PrimalCon with me?

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Handling Social Gatherings Whilst Remaining Paleo

Throughout my “official” Whole-30 period, I found it really easy to keep on the Paleo-straight & narrow, without a single cheat.  I think I’m especially fortunate living in Sydney, where many restaurants pride themselves on fairly whole, local (and often organic) food.  I eat out fairly often, and continued to do so during the 30-day challenge.  I’ve always avoided certain types of restaurant, so that wasn’t a problem.  In the restaurants I did eat in, without exception there have always been a few meals on the menu that are Paleo (for example fish and vegetables) and even more meals that I can “tweak” to make them Paleo (swapping the fries for a salad for example, and asking for no sauce/ dressing).

Last weekend however, I encountered my first Paleo difficulty.  I was invited out for a friend’s Birthday as a Moroccan restaurant in the Sydney.  However, as we were such a large group, we had to have the set menu.   I’d been quite busy, so just had a cursory glance at the menu a few weeks ago.  I saw “beef” and “chicken” and assumed I’d be able to make it work, and left it there.  Had I looked properly, I would have called the restaurant ahead as often, with notice, they can be very accommodating.  Fortunately I played it safe and had a late lunch on the day, a tactic I often employ before social events.  I’ve found there is nothing worse and more challenging than being ravenously hungry, surrounded by less than optimal food options.

We started with bread and dips.  One of the dips seemed to be egg plant, but with nothing to “dip” in it, I gave that a miss.

We were then presented with a Tabouli Salad, which after asking about the ingredients I dived into.  It contained parsley, mint, onion, olive oil, lemon & something called Bulgar.  After the first two mouthfuls I found out Bulgar is basically wheat, so didn’t have any more of that.  Why put wheat into a lovely salad?

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With the salad came Halloumi Cheese (I’m avoiding dairy, as I’ve felt so good since I eliminated it for my Whole30), Fried Cauliflower with Eggplant jam (sugar!), pinenuts and yoghurt (more dairy).  I was starting to get a bit embarrassed by this stage that I hadn’t eaten more than two mouthfuls, so I was very relieved when the next dish was BBQ Garlic & Harissa Octopus & Skordalia.  Octopus – perfect.  One of the things I love about eating out is having things like Octopus that I would never have at home.  Octopus is supposed to have a good amount of Omega 3, calcium, potassium, phosphorus and selenium, so a good option.  I’ve since found out that sometimes Skordalia is made stale bread in the puree; or potatoes, walnuts or almonds in olive oil; but I guess you can’t win them all.  The other dish in this course was the Moroccan equivalent to Spring Rolls; spicy lamb & pinenut boreks, with yoghurt sauce.  Didn’t have any of that either.

I was sat with lots of people I’d not met before, who were very interested in my “unusual” diet and why I was quizzing the waiting staff about what was in every dish.  I love talking about Paleo, and it definitely helps to be upfront about what you’re doing.  I always find it interesting to hear how others perceive Paleo – the main response I get time after time is how impossible they would find it to give up bread.

The main dishes would have to be more Paleo, surely!  Fortunately they were, we had: –

  • Lemon Pepper Chicken Shish Kebab with Tomato Caraway Sauce, Served with Chickpea & Nut Pilaf Lamb Kafta Shish Kebab with Pomegranate Glaze, Served with Chickpea & Nut Pilaf
  • Beef Cheek Tagine with Sweet Potato & Caramelised Onions, Served with Carrot Steamed Couscous

Served with

  • Fattoush Salad Sumac and fries
The Chicken and Beef Tagine were great, and better still my fellow dinners were so full up on the bread, pastry and beer that there was plenty left for me.  Luckily I realised the Fattoush salad contained pita bread pieces (why?) before I took any.Dessert was a beautifully presented sugar laden meringue with ice cream and lots of miniature sweets and cakes.  I used to have such a sweet tooth, but I noticed my attitude towards food like this has completely changed. I wasn’t even remotely tempted by these items.  When I look at food like this, instead of the enjoyment and taste I used to see, I now see the unwanted insulin spike it will give me, the less than par feeling I’d get an hour later and the Gluten, Phytates & Lectins in the grains creating all sorts of problems I just don’t want.

I left the meal $57 lighter, but feeling great – which certainly wouldn’t have been the case had I indulged as I would have pre-Paleo.

Going to a social event with non-Paleo friends soon?  Here are my top three tips to make the occasion as Paleo friendly as possible: –

1.       Find out what food will be offered in advance – call the restaurant several days in advance to explain your requirements and see if they can help you out

2.       Be open with the people you’re with about what you’re doing & why

3.       Don’t go to the event hungry, this will make it much harder for you to find your way through the maze of SAD food to the best Paleo choices

How do you manage social situations with SAD food?  Are your friends supportive?  Do you find particular social events better than others?  Let me know in the comments!