Home business, home education and health challenges: what makes us tic?

Posts tagged ‘diet’

Paleo on a Shoestring

Paleo: because bacon

Paleo: because bacon

This July it will be two full years since we embarked on our starch-free eating plan. The results have been worth the effort, and the effort has turned out to be negligible: a simple reframing of priorities and updating of perspectives. Some of the benefits we’ve seen include:

  • Weight loss
  • Energy
  • Focus and concentration
  • No more bloating
  • Reduction in head aches
  • Less stress and anxiety
  • Easier breathing
  • Better sleep
  • Bacon

A lot of people have commented on the transformations they’ve seen, asking for our secret. When we explain that we simply don’t eat starch, the question is always the same:

How do you stay full?

No one can comprehend how we manage to fill five tummies without starch – and with very little money, to boot.

To tell the truth, it’s not as hard as it sounds. We shop the sales, we hunt down bargains on organic food (especially meat), and we fill up on veggies. The vegetables we buy really do go far, and they’re surprisingly affordable.

The Paleo-on-a-Shoestring basics

It helps to have your menu planned and filed in your mind, so that you don’t have too many surprises to cater for – especially when you’re just getting started.

Breakfast

We have eggs for breakfast virtually every day. This may sound expensive, until you take into account that eggs are one of the cheapest forms of protein available to man. We also have no milk at all, so the money we save on both carb-loaded, toxin-stuffed cereal and hormone-filled milk is now rerouted into yummy fried eggs. With butter or olive oil. So good.

Once in a while we treat ourselves to sugar-free organic bacon from our local butcher.

Lunch

Almost every day of the week, lunch is a great big salad*. Which is AWESOME. Our salads include every yummy thing we can think of in the veggie kingdom, and a protein. Veggies include lettuce, spinach, cilantro (coriander/dhania), parsley, kale, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, spring onions, celery, beetroot (raw or roasted), roasted butternut – and even apples. Proteins vary, from salmon to mussels to tuna to chicken to chickpeas to eggs.  You could include cheese and/or nuts if you’re not allergic.

We usually include a wide range of herbs, some salt, and whichever seeds we have in the house (especially pumpkin seeds). Over time, we’ve found the best spots to get the cheapest quality ingredients in town. It’s a process, to be sure, but it’s a fun adventure, and so worth it in the end.

As often as possible our salads are doused in home-made mayonnaise (which is easy and affordable to make). This is because our mayonnaise is a) a source of protein, b) a source of GOOD fats, c) a source of calories (which we need nowadays), and d) delicious. If we’re out of mayonnaise for any reason, or just looking for a change, we’ll drizzle the salad with olive oil and either lemon juice or balsamic vinegar.

Supper

Our suppers really haven’t changed much, except that we no longer have a starch on the side of the plate. We make up the difference in veggies, and a good rule of thumb is to have 1/3 protein to every 2/3 vegetables.Options for protein range from chicken and fish (which is rare in our house because a) it costs so much, and b) none of us knows how to cook it), to beef, pork, and lamb, to beans and lentils.

We’ll have roast chicken, and use the left overs for the next day’s salad. Then we’ll use the carcass for bone broth, fill up the pot with vegetables, and have soup.

Or we might make shepherd’s pie from minced beef sautéed with veggies and filled out with lentils, topped with butternut (and/or sweet potato) mash. This is a good one as it goes far and keeps well in the freezer.

Sometimes we’ll have stew or curry, and we just eat these as they are, with no rice to sop them up. Or we might serve them on a bed of squash (or sweet potato on a cheat night).

Dessert

At first we thought this would be a challenge, but we have more ideas for desserts than anything else. We have meringues, chocolate, chocolate mousse, pumpkin pie, marshmallows, smoothies, sorbets, brownies and more. I’ll start posting recipes as some point.

We spend no more on groceries than we did before – which in many cases is much less than many of our friends do. And I have the peace of mind of knowing that everyone I feed is getting a healthy, balanced, whole food diet, without any of the bad stuff.

*We’re busy switching lunch and supper around, but it’s a process. More on that to follow.
Have you tried Paleo or SCD, but found it too expensive? Or are you just thinking about getting started, and not sure if you can afford it? I’d love to hear your experiences – and your questions.

Confessions of a self-loathing couch potato

lazy couch potato

lazy couch potato

Alright, I admit, self-loathing is a little strong. Let’s rather call it mildly dissatisfied and slightly guilt-ridden. That’s more like it.

Here’s the story:
When I was little, I was a bean pole. Straight up and down, I never battled to lose weight. (Of course, I was a child. Weight loss was far from my mind, just as it should be at that age – and now, but that’s a post for anther day). At some point in high school things started to change and even though I was far from fat when I got married, it wasn’t long before I fixed that. By the time I had Goldilocks I was a buxom 92kg! And let’s face it, no new born can be held responsible for ALL 38kg of her mother’s excess weight.

I lost the weight quickly after Goldilocks was born through the simple use of a lifestyle trick: cutting out gluten, lactose and sugar. (It turns out casein is the culprit rather than lactose, but again that story is not part of this one). When Red Riding Hood made her appearance, I’d hardly gained 10kg, and I lost it all pretty quickly.

Since then my weight has hovered around a mark roughly 5-10kg above my goal weight. It’s hardly been affected by how much I’ve eaten, and no amount of exercise seemed to change anything on the scale or my proportions. In fact, I was completely resigned to be a pear-shaped blimp with gradually expanding thighs and derrière. My favourite “chill protocol” was lying in front of the TV on the couch with a bag of potato or corn crisps (no wheat, please!), watching a movie with my man.

I really didn’t see the point of exercise since:

a – I always got sick as soon as I started a work out programme.

b – I was always far too tired to move a muscle.

c – No change occurred to my weight or shape.

d – I was close enough to my goal weight to be “comfortable”.

One day, quite by accident and without looking for anything on the topic at all, I stumbled across the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). I was intrigued and after lots of research, I decided to give it a go.

Almost at once, I was hooked. I was amazed at how my body changed shape. My skin started to clear up. My breathing and concentration improved. My tics diminished and, for the first time in my entire life, I had a flat stomach. (Not permanently, but I’ve never had a flat stomach at all, so I’ll take temporary flatness, thank you very much). I shed the 4kg I had to go at that time to reach my goal weight, and since then my body keeps changing (slimmer and slimmer thighs and behind) while my weight stays stable. My girls and I started having regular bowel movements, which I’m sorry to share, but seriously, if you only go every 8-10 days and then you start going every day, it makes a significant impact on your quality of life!

An unexpected side effect was energy. I was feeling drained at first on the intro diet, and my sister suggested I start doing Pilates. I did, and the next thing I knew I’d started training for a half marathon. I started doing Body for Life in my “spare time”, while I was making supper, running a bath, watching TV – that kind of thing.

I’m now seriously considering investing in Running Shoes (note the caps), and I can no longer sleep in at all. If I do (like I did today, only getting up at 6am), I am less productive and aching to strap on my trainers and hit the tarmac. I’m addicted! I feel great and I want to keep moving all the time.

Here’s the thing, though: I’m scared to stop. I remember my old ways, my lethargy and exhaustion. My low-grade depression and lack of motivation. I don’t want to go back. I’m so worried about turning back into that person that I’ll sometimes run, do Pilates AND train weights in one day, just to stay focused and energised. When I was sick a little while back as a result of a mould allergy, it took a force of will not to go for a jog and make things worse.

So, here’s my confession:

Hi. I’m Mama Bear, and I’m an addict. I love running (and weight training, and Pilates) – and I never want to stop! My couch is a den of vice and iniquity and I fear to touch it lest I become reinfected with sloth!

Our first SCD birthday

This week, Goldilocks hit double digits! I can’t believe we now share a house with a TWEEN – and I really can’t believe that I’ve been a parent for so long. It’s been an amazing journey so far, and a wonderful privilege.

Her Ladyship had a whole day of activities planned. For one thing, she was very specific about the kinds of food we should have: fudge, birthday cake (WITH frosting!) and, of all things, lasagne. How could I achieve all of this on SCD? And would there ever be enough for all of us?

I was worried.

I had thought to use the food preparation part of the day as a substitute for school, since we would surely all be learning a lot from the process. However, this idea was thoroughly vetoed by Goldilocks, who was determined to wake up to a surprise birthday cake, as is our family tradition.

As a result, I was up till 2am making meringues, fudge, birthday cake (with frosting), and chocolate. On the day, I made cheese crackers and lasagne. All of it was a resounding success, with left overs to last nearly a week! We had such fun: playing scrabble and monopoly (I was thoroughly trounced in both!), then hosting an elaborate tea party for Grandpa, followed by delicious lasagne and The Hunchback of Notre Dame II.

Everyone was satisfied and, in fact, full for the first time since we started this nutritional adventure. And three days later, none of us has yet had an adverse reaction.

Recipes to follow.

What an amazing milestone, Goldilocks. I’m so proud of you!

SCD updates

We have officially been on the Specific Carohydrate Diet (SCD) for two weeks today. We haven’t been as strict as we should have been , but I’m working towards that as I get to know and understand the diet better.

Highlights

We all have more energy. Goldilocks can concentrate better. Red Riding Hood has made peace with the eating plan and is startign to like some of the food. Her tummy is far less bloated and she has only complained of a sore tummy once in two weeks. Goldilocks’ bowel movements are far more regular, as are mine. Papa Bear has noticeably more energy, and has only had a couple of naps in two weeks (as opposed to at least one a day). He also has had much better moods , which is saying something since this has been a particularly tough week in other ways. My skin improved dramatically, until we introduced the yoghurt they recommend. I will admit to buying it, not making it, but it is thick, organic stuff straight from a farm, which I think counts. I sure hope so.

Concerns

It is so much work. I feel like all I do is cook and wash dishes, and my business is taking strain. It’s worth it, of course, but not sustainable and this week I will try to prepare all the food in advance. My skin (and Goldilocks’) started to break out a little bit two or three days ago. I am waiting to see if it clears up, in which case we can put it down to die off. If not, the milk allergy is a problem and we’ll have to find different yoghurt.

Over all, it’s not as difficult as I thought it would be to implement now that I’m getting the hang of it. I expected that not having starch would make us hungry but it hasn’t – except for Goldilocks, who is eating more than her dad! Everyone has lost a little bit of weight. The girls have (thankfully) picked some of it back up, but Papa Bear and I are losing gradually, which is all good. We are also saving a little bit of money, rather than spending more, which is a blessing and a surprise.

Curiouser and curiouser: interesting theories on ADD, migraines and digestive issues.

Goldilocks and Papa Bear both have ADD, apparently. It not much of a surprise – there are long lines of it on both sides of both families, after all. When Papa Bear was in school, there was no such thing as ADD, of course. In those days he was simply told to “apply himself”, and that was that. Nowadays, between research, technology, advanced medication, overcrowded classrooms and curricula that seem to expect way too much from teachers and pupils alike, we have a different solution: medication.

I must admit that before we had the option of home education, we did go the route of medicating the problem. The results were marked and mixed, and not the subject of this post. However, the final result of all of that was to find a different solution. As you know, a large part of the drive behind creating this blog was to document the pathway to that solution, so that I wouldn’t forget it.

First of all, I can say unequivocally that home education is the best possible solution for my little family. It is ideal for our temperaments and thought patterns, as well as (surprisingly) our hectic lifestyles.

But there’s more to education and a lifestyle of learning than simply how you get your basic facts into your head. What with innumerable allergies and intolerances, and a family history of epilepsy, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, cancer and chronic migraines, I’ve always been interested in what we eat and how that affects us. I may have mentioned the wonderful supplements we take, which have done wonders for our health and energy. But even with a completely gluten-free/dairy-free lifestyle, and the world’s best nutritional supplements, we still have ailments. The girls and I all battle with gastric cramps and the attendant pleasures that go with that. We get headaches and blurry vision. Sometimes it’s hard to concentrate, and Papa Bear has the added distraction of being very, very tired all the time.

Furthermore, Goldilocks and I both twitch. In both of us, it started out as chronic, though barely noticeable, blinking. It progressed from there to forehead and cheek twitching and has gained an added dimension: vocal tics. I won’t bore you with the details but, simple put, we make sounds. I’ve been doing it for years so when Goldilocks started I knew what it was. I was disappointed for her as I’d hoped it was a stress-acquired thing in me and in no way genetic, but I could fully understand what she was going through. The sounds she makes resemble throat-clearing, and have become more and more obvious. Eventually one evening Papa Bear lost his temper with her and insisted she stop. Not understanding how she could control it for brief periods, only to be driven to do it even more prominently later, he assumed she was doing it on purpose, albeit subconsciously.

Shocked at his dramatic reaction, I realised it was time to act. I spent most of that night researching “chronic compulsive throat clearing in children“. The results were astounding. I discovered that tics of all sorts, from minor to major motor tics and a wide range of vocal tics which essentially comprise passing air through the nose or mouth in different ways, were all related. These are more prevalent in people with OCD or ADD of even degree. If two or more motor tics and a vocal tic are present, and if these present before 18 years of age, the correct term for the condition, no matter how mild, is Tourettes.

Huh.

I had actually been told this before, but since I didn’t think much of that particular doctor, I’d dismissed it out of hand. Now, however, I was faced with rather more concrete evidence.

Having already booked a doctor’s appointment to investigate my permanent thirst and frequent visits to the bathroom, I decided to bring this issue up there and settle it once and for all. And whaddya know. Tourettes. Both of us. So that was interesting. (The other symptoms appear to be linked to an overdose of coffee rather than anything more sinister, since I am in perfect health in every other way (besides gastric issues) – apparently two to three pots of filter coffee each day is not an acceptable average. Go figure.)

Since then I have been researching the various treatment options for Tourettes. (In short: none). It’s not serious or life threatening. Mild cases don’t even impact your quality of life in any significant way, bar teasing at school – enter Home Education! And of course it has no impact on intellect since the majority of Tourette’s sufferers have above average IQs. Well, I could have told you that :).

I have also been researching ways to perfect the gluten free lifestyle since I do still have a lot of complications with this. For instance, my weight has plateaued and nothing shifts the slightest gram. I have chronically bad skin, which is frustrating given my advanced years. I cramp and bloat and all those other lovely dinner-table topics we don’t like to discuss in huge anonymous fora like these. I stumbled across something called the SCD diet – have you heard of it? Now, that is the topic of a whole post on its own, and this one is already rather long winded, so no more on that here. What fascinated me about it, however, was the link between SCD and autism, with a huge number of parents of autistic children recording amazing results in their children’s health on this diet.

Hmm.

The lady who works for us is a genius and bona fide genetic scientist. She is also dyslexic and mildly OCD, so when she was studying genetics at university, she did a lot of research into the link between OCD, dyslexia, ADD (which her brother has) and genetics. Turns out: there’s a big link. Apparently any damage to chromosome 21 cause these neurological (not psychological) problems. Mild damage causes mild problems (very minor OCD, manageable migraines, etc), while the more damaged the chromosome is, the worse the results, until you get severe autism. This can be caused by birth complications, genetics or vaccines. (I am not a scientist, I’m simply repeating the results of a LOT of reading. Obviously, I may well be wrong here. I’m just saying it’s interesting). But with a family history of ADD, ADHD, OCD, epilepsy, dyslexia, migraines and now Tourettes, it certainly gives one pause for thought. Surely there must be a link?

Even more curious: how can a diet developed specifically for managing digestive issues have such a significant impact on both autism and ADD? I can’t wait to dig deeper and find more because it really is fascinating stuff. I’ll share what I find as I go along (this might be a good time to suspend your membership if this is too dull!).

 

 

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