Building a healthy relationship with food – Post 2 ‘Calorie Counting’

Welcome to my second post on building a healthy relationship with food! Previously I spoke about ‘Guilty Eating’ and how indulging in a large piece of cake or a drunken stop at Maccas drive-through can potentially end up sending you into a vicious downward spiral of emotion that turns into a continuous cycle of bad behaviour and feelings of worthlessness. I also talked about why it doesn’t necessarily need to be that way.

While I’m no mental health expert and certainly do not claim to have any nutrition-related qualifications, I believe my own experiences, research, attempts at dieting (which have been A LOT) and watching those around me endeavour to find what works best for them, have helped me to gather an understanding of the basic principles which do NOT seem to support a healthy mental relationship with food.

Food is my bestfriend

Extreme calorie counting, I believe, is one of these. Now I understand that calorie counting works for some people and is the best way they can maintain portion control but my god it is a tedious process! I’m currently in week 3 of the Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation which is very focused on counting the calories of the food you consume as you are given a daily allowance (determined by what program you choose).

As part of this program, today I weighed out 40g of baby spinach for a pita pocket sandwich with 125g of chicken breast, 60g of low-fat ricotta cheese and half a grilled zucchini . . . WHO AM I?! By counting all the calories of my snacks, cups of tea, morning coffee and even my treat meals I’ve pretty much taken the joy out of eating! Now don’t get me wrong the 12WBT program is a nice, achievable and well-balanced option for those trying to achieve a particular goal, but can we focus less on how many calories are in the food we are consuming and more on the quality and nutritious value of it?

This brings me to my next point, not all calories are equal. I Quit Sugar gives some brief great examples of this in the following article https://iquitsugar.com/dont-count-calories-2/. Also, Damon Gameau talks about his experience in That Sugar Film where he discovered that the diet he adopted to have 40 teaspoons of sugar a day for 60 days actually matched his previous sugar free and whole-foods diet in terms of the amount of calories he consumed per day here http://www.thatsugarfilm.com/my-calorie-results/. Despite the fact he wasn’t eating any more calories than he was previously, the quality of the food he was consuming still resulted in him gaining weight and developing fatty liver disease!

Not-all-calories-are-created-equal

Another factor to consider is that when counting calories it’s far easier to reach for the pre-packaged foods which have the amount of Kilojoules or calories listed on them rather than opting for the fresh produce and weighing it all individually, therefore creating bad choices and habits. We also tend to opt for low-fat dairy options when calorie counting which quite often have sugar added to them in order to make up for the lack of taste from the removed fat, therefore upping our sugar consumption each day.

Now I can preach on and on to you about how adopting a (mostly) sugar-free lifestyle and eating real, wholesome food and plenty of it is the true path to happy eating, but the truth is that it really is the case for me! I’ve never been happier with my diet than when I am enjoying delicious slow-cooked lamb shanks or a home-made chicken soup where I know exactly what has gone in it and the ingredients are measured via rough handfuls as opposed to grams on a set of scales, or when I have a huge salad with avocado, cheese AND nuts in it. Sure, when I eat like this I’m not at my absolute skinniest (which is probably technically underweight) but by participating in regular exercise (even if only going for a walk) I still like to think I’ve got a body good enough to make a few heads turn hehe. The important thing is mentally I’m guilt-free, satisfied, nourished, less stressed and therefore healthy overall . . . and I ENJOY FOOD!

So there you have it, my reasons for why calorie counting is not the pathway to building a healthy relationship with food. In summary:

  • It’s takes the fun out of eating and turns food consumption into a chore
  • Not all calories are equal
  • Opting for lower calorie low-fat dairy options can increase daily sugar consumption
  • It can create bad habits in terms of reaching for easily measurable pre-packaged foods as opposed to fresh produce

And lastly,

  • It’s tedious, boring and I hate it!

Here’s hoping I haven’t offended anyone too much,

Sinead xx

My two cents’ worth on the paleo debate

Holy guacamole! There’s been a lot of heated discussion of late regarding the paleo lifestyle and it’s current Australian poster boy, Pete Evans. Poor Paleo Pete has really copped it from the media after his attempted release of a Paleo cookbook designed for very young children that contains a recipe for a DIY formula that experts claimed could kill a baby. Unfortunately all this negative media coverage has resulted in the Paleo lifestyle getting a bad rap, which doesn’t need to be the case if it is researched and understood properly.

I am neither for or against the Paleo approach. This is because I love bread and I love cheese. Actually scratch that, I ADORE cheese! However, I am also very aware of how my body feels after consuming too much of these things. That is I feel clogged up, sluggish and bloated. It’s following these moments, as I’m sipping my warm water with lemon or apple cider vinegar to get the digestive system working properly again, that I can understand why people follow and love the Paleo lifestyle.

There are so many different opinions on Paleo and whether or not it’s the right way to go. Personally I’ve made my own opinion on Paleo and it’s potential benefits/obstacles by reading the views of the following people who have the biggest influence on my cooking, eating and general healthy lifestyle:

Sarah Wilson - I Quit Sugar

Sarah Wilson – I Quit Sugar

  • Sarah Wilson and the I Quit Sugar team address the key concepts and benefits of Paleo on these pages:

https://iquitsugar.com/a-bluffers-guide-to-paleo/?nonce=9f24063ccf

https://iquitsugar.com/24-paleo-facts-you-need-to-know/?nonce=185ff36e97

Michelle Bridges - 12WBT

Michelle Bridges – 12WBT

  • Rachel Sadler represents Michelle Bridges’ and the 12 Week Body Transformation team’s point of view on Paleo here:

https://www.12wbt.com/blog/nutrition/is-paleo-the-right-way-to-go/

Pete Evans - Healthy Every Day

Pete Evans – Healthy Every Day

  • Pete Evans gives information regarding the principles of The Paleo Way using this PDF:

https://d2x6ttyazlxoaj.cloudfront.net/wp-content/themes/paleoway/images/what-is-paleo.pdf?13

Daniel Churchill - The Healthy Cook

Daniel Churchill – The Healthy Cook

  • And Daniel Churchill discusses his philosophy and reasons for living the Paleo lifestyle on his website:

http://www.danielchurchill.com.au/about/my-philosophy/

By sifting through the overwhelming amount of information it’s clear to me that Paleo is often perceived incorrectly as just being all about meat and eating lots of it. This is far from the truth, in fact many of the recipes found within Dan & Pete’s books contain more vegetables than meat and there are plenty of vegetarian friendly options. The key principles are eating wholesome and healthy food that’s un-processed and could have been ‘gathered’ or ‘hunted’ back when we were cave-men. Reducing added sugar, keeping active, avoiding caffeine and restricting alcohol are all recommended traits of the Paleo lifestyle on which I think everyone can agree are sound and healthy principles to live by.

I think it’s ridiculous when people claim that the Paleo lifestyle is dangerous. How can living by the principles mentioned above be detrimental to your health? And when people use the example of ‘the cavemen didn’t live as long as we do now’ as a reason against Paleo, this is easily explained by the huge advances in medicine and technology we have now.

On the other hand I don’t agree with completely cutting out dairy, grains, legumes and all starchy vegetables. This is partly because I enjoy all these things, and also because I believe everything in moderation and at safe levels is ok (although added sugar is something I attempt to avoid altogether). Furthermore by adopting a less restrictive approach to things I find my healthy lifestyle easier to maintain and adhere to in the long run.

One thing we need to remember is everyone is different and no single diet or lifestyle is going to suit everyone. I’m lucky in that my body is able to handle dairy with no problem and that medium levels of gluten are ok but some other others are not so fortunate. Experiment and discover what suits you best and before long you’ll be able to turn that ‘diet’ into a healthy, happy and sustainable lifestyle.

Sinead xx

Coconut & Mango Sweet Green Smoothie

Here’s another combination I tried recently and loved. There is nothing better than using up the contents of one’s fridge and freezer and creating something delicious in the process!

Ingredients:

  • Flesh of one mango – frozen
  • Flesh of one small coconut – frozen (4 frozen coconut cream cubes would work perfectly with this as well)
  • 1 cup Pure Harvest Coco Quench (or whatever milk alternative you prefer. Regular Full Cream, Almond, Oat or Coconut & Almond milk would work as well)
  • 1 large handful baby spinach
  • 1 small handful mint leaves
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Chia seeds for topping (optional)

Method:

I let the frozen coconut flesh and mango thaw a little bit and then added all ingredients and blended together to create a lovely, thick and almost sorbet-textured smoothie. Top with some chia seeds if you like.

Coconut & Mango Sweet Green Smoothie

Coconut & Mango Sweet Green Smoothie

Sinead xx

4 easy and nutritious ways to jazz up your toast

If you’re like me and used to enjoy your toast with jam nearly every morning but now want to avoid the sugary hit then this post is perfect for you. Toast sometimes gets a bad rap for being boring but these recipes are proof it doesn’t have to be. Furthermore I can vouch for their tastiness having tried and tested all four.

Please note that I always strive to use good quality seeded or wholegrain sourdough bread (the fresh stuff from the bakery at Woolworths is actually really good) as it is a fermented dough that is beneficial to blood sugar levels. Alternatively if all the sourdough is gone I use good quality Rye or Wholegrain breads.

Vegemite, Avocado & Cheese Toasties

I was first exposed to this little gem of a combination in the I Quit Sugar 8 Week Program and now eat it nearly once a week for breakfast or as a ‘naughty’ snack. The melted cheese and the gooiness of the avocado just absolutely make it for me! Salty goodness too.

Vegemite, Avocado and Cheese Toastie

Vegemite, Avocado and Cheese Toastie

  • 2 pieces of sourdough lightly toasted on one side under the grill
  • Spread vegemite on the un-toasted side of the of the bread
  • Slice a 1/4 of a large avocado and divide between the slices of the bread
  • Slice enough cheddar cheese to cover both pieces of bread
  • Put under the grill until cheese has melted and started to bubble slightly – you want the avocado to be heated through

‘Peanut Butter & Banana’ and ‘Chocolate & Strawberry’ Toast

I tried both of these for this first time the other day and whilst I think the peanut butter combination was a clear winner, the chocolate and strawberry was also delicious. I think next time I might try adding some cacao nibs on top for extra crunch and a slightly bitter contrast to the sweetness of the strawberries and chocolate spread.

Ingredients for Peanut Butter, Banana, Coco2 and Strawberry Toast

Left - Peanut Butter, Banana & Chia Seeds. Right - Coco2 Spread, Strawberries & Mint.

Left – Peanut Butter, Banana & Chia Seeds. Right – Coco2 Spread, Strawberries & Mint.

  • On one piece of toast is 100% natural crunchy peanut butter (make sure it is ONLY made with peanuts), slices from half a banana and a sprinkle of chia seeds
  • On the other piece is Pureharvest Coco2 Chocolate Spread (this is fructose-free and made with rice malt syrup, coconut oil and cacao and pretty much the best thing ever), a couple of small strawberries sliced and a sprinkling of torn mint leaves

Strawberry & Avocado Toast

I feel like I’m definitely saving the best for last here. I absolutely adore this combination on toast and eat it regularly. For an extra touch of salty/creamy goodness you can add feta on top too. I just don’t normally have feta in the fridge as I nearly always let it go off! For this recipe I recommend slicing the avocado and strawberries either before or while the bread is in the toaster to make sure you don’t eat it cold (I’m speaking from experience).

Avocado & Strawberry Toast

Avocado & Strawberry Toast

  • Toast two pieces of sourdough
  • Divide a 1/4 of a large avocado (1/2 a small one) between the pieces
  • Divide 3 sliced strawberries between the pieces
  • Drizzle a little good quality olive oil over the slices
  • Sprinkle with freshly ground salt and pepper

Enjoy your toast eating!

Sinead xx

When it tastes better than it looks . . .

I don’t know about you but I definitely have not perfected the art of making pretty food. Good, wholesome, tasty food I can produce easily but I’ve found it very rarely looks as appetising as other people’s concoctions. Maybe I need a better app on my phone, maybe I lack creative flair or maybe I’m just an everyday home-cook like everyone else!

The problem is that so many of the food blogs we are exposed to create unrealistic expectations. Again it’s that thing where we compare ourselves to everyone else, but the introduction of social media means we are comparing ourselves to the ‘highlight reel’ of other people’s lives and not necessarily their reality.

We must keep in mind that a majority of food bloggers probably have a good quality camera (or some whiz-bang phone app that wasn’t in the “Top 25 Free Apps” list), spent a good 10mins cleaning the specks off their plate and presenting their food, sprinkled it with pretty herbs that they had to chop separately just for the purpose of presentation and then would have had to sit down and eat their now cold, but attractive dish. I’ve been there and tried it and let me tell you, it’s just not worth eating the food cold or wilted.

The purpose of this post is to embrace ugly, but tasty, food! Here’s a few of my failed attempts or less attractive dishes that still tasted pretty darn good if I say so myself:

  • That time I tried to make Daniel Churchill’s Ricotta, Beetroot and Zucchini slice and it came out fluorescent pink and sloppy . . . maybe I’ll use a smaller beetroot next time.
Ricotta, Beetroot and Zucchini Slice Sinead Style

Ricotta, Beetroot and Zucchini Slice Sinead Style

  • When I attempted my first smoothie bowl . . .
Berry Coco Oaty Smoothie Bowl Comparison - mine is obviously on the right.

Berry Coco Oaty Smoothie Bowl Comparison – mine is obviously on the right.

  • When I tried to make the ‘I Quit Sugar for Life’ Sustainable Fish and Chips recipe and I ended up with soggy chips and my cheese congealed to make some pretty ugly looking fish fingers. Tasted SO good though . . . .
Sustainable Fish n Chips Sinead Style

Sustainable Fish n Chips Sinead Style

What it’s meant to look like . . . .

Sustainable Fish n Chips I Quit Sugar Style

Sustainable Fish n Chips I Quit Sugar Style

  • When I tried to make the Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake but got a bit excited with the dollop and swirl process and then didn’t have any fresh raspberries for decoration . . .
Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake Sinead Style

Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake Sinead Style

Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake I Quit Sugar Style

Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake I Quit Sugar Style

  • And last, but certainly not least, that time I bought a fresh coconut to drink and feel fancy and exotic but struggled to get it open with the drill and then didn’t have any straws in the house except for a hideous one my boyfriend bought years ago when he was obsessed with the movie ‘Cars’ . . . .
The only straw I could find . . .

The only straw I could find . . .

You’re welcome,

Sinead xx

Two paleo bread recipes that actually taste good and are easy to make!

I don’t know about you but when I see the words ‘paleo’ and ‘bread’ in the same sentence I get pretty sceptical. I mean, what’s with all the bizarre flour substitutes and types you have to put in them? No I am not going to buy a $15 bag of buckwheat or arrowroot flour just to use 2 tablespoons for one particular recipe and then leave it in my pantry for 9 months. Give me easy, simple and tasty any day of the week!

Having tried and tested the following two recipes I can safely say that they are pretty much fool-proof (I am a hopeless baker and both of these turned out perfect!) and delicious just lightly toasted with some full-fat butter at any time of the day.

My only word of warning with these recipes is that they are quite moist due to the high amount of vegetables in them and therefore do not keep for long even in an air-tight container (I was so devastated when I discovered the mould on my sweet-potato paleo bread!). The best way to make these last is to slice up and freeze into two-slice portions with a piece of baking paper in between.

Paleo Inside-Out Bread

This recipe is from the I Quit Sugar for Life book and actually calls for the dreaded Arrowroot flour mentioned above. As I obviously did not have this on hand I just substituted for some good old Woolworths brand Gluten-Free flour from the health food section and it turned out perfect!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups almond meal
  • 3/4 cups arrowroot (Woolworths gluten-free flour is fine!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/3 cup pitted olives, halved
  • 3/4 cup grated zucchini
  • 1/3 cup finely diced ham
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons pepitas

Method:

Preheat the oven to 160C and line a loaf tin with baking paper. In a large bowl, mix together the almond meal, arrowroot (or gluten-free flower), salt and bicarbonate of soda. In a separate bowl and using a fork, whisk the eggs lightly with the apple cider vinegar. Add the parsley, olives, zucchini, ham and cheese and whisk well, then add the egg mix to the dry ingredients. Mix well to combine, then pour the dough into the prepared loaf tin and sprinkle with pepitas.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top starts turning golden and a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack. Allow to cool for five minutes before slicing. Freeze leftover slices between sheets of baking paper in a ziplock bag.

Paleo Inside Out Bread courtesy of Sarah Wilson, absolute favourite!

Paleo Inside Out Bread courtesy of Sarah Wilson, absolute favourite!

Sweet Potato Paleo Bread

With only 6 ingredients, it doesn’t get much easier than this recipe! I love the fact that the sweet-potato adds a bit of sweetness. Pumpkin would work great with this too, in fact I think I might try it this weekend!

Ingredients:

  • 400 g steamed and pureed sweet potato.
  • 4 free range eggs.
  • pinch of sea salt.
  • 50 g coconut oil or butter.
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder.
  • 300 g almond meal.

Method:

Preheat your oven to 160 degrees. In a food processor, mix the eggs, oil and sweet potato. Spoon this mixture into a bowl and add the ground almonds, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Pour into a paper lined baking tray and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes. Leave this to cool for an hour before slicing it with a sharp knife to serve.

Sweet Potato Paleo Bread

Sweet Potato Paleo Bread

Hope you enjoy these as much as I did!

Sinead xx

‘That Sugar Film’ . . . brilliant!

If you do just one thing to improve your and your family’s health then watch ‘That Sugar Film’ by Damon Gameau. Full stop. Point emphasised. I promise it will leave a lasting impression on you!

I was lucky enough to be able to see this film at Alice Springs Cinema on Friday night with a friend as part of the Travelling Film Festival and Damon was actually present to be able to answer questions following the screening. By ‘lucky enough’ I mean that two cinemas were booked out for the screening of the film (basically unheard of in Alice Springs). For those who don’t know, Damon Gameau is an Australian actor that you may have seen in Love My WayUnderbelly: A Tale of Two Cities or the Australian film The Tracker.

That Sugar Film

I have to say that I was genuinely surprised at how much of the information in the film I knew already through my journey through the I Quit Sugar 8-week Program and my continuing subscription to the IQS blog, however there was so much fascinating additional information in regards to the effects that sugar has on the brain that I was left re-motivated and enlightened.

Basically Damon is sugar-free before he starts the film. He has a very whole-foods approach to his eating (partly due to trying to impress his new health-nut girlfriend) and as the sugar debate began to reach the news more and more he decided to undertake an experiment on himself. He sets out to eat 40 teaspoons of sugar a day for 60 days. Yep, 40 TEASPOONS?! You might be thinking this is a ludicrous amount, but I assure you that he does not even eat junk food or lollies during his experiment. He eats food we have conventionally viewed as ‘healthy’ and has absolutely no problem at all reaching his determined level of sugar. Scary huh? Actually, the really scary part is the effects that his new diet has on his body and yet he is eating the same amount (or sometimes less) of calories as his previous diet.

Low-Fat Yoghurt to Kit Kat

The film is funny, witty and just plain brilliant. It puts all of the complicated information into such a simple and easy to understand format that you won’t be left going “Glucose? Fructose? Lactose? . . . Oh blah blah blah it’s all the same crap. This is way too hard”. I have no doubt at all that this film will change your life. In fact, it’s been picked up by the same people who distributed ‘Supersize Me’, is going to be played through Europe and has proved so popular that it will be given regular screening times in cinemas across the country. Not bad for a low-budget Aussie film hey?

For further information about the film, screenings, campaigns and the associated book go to:

http://www.thatsugarfilm.com

Oh, and go see the film!

Sinead xx