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Which diet personality are you?

Our delicious weekend chicken and prawn salad!

Our delicious weekend chicken and prawn salad!

The past week has been a really informative one for me as it’s helped me understand exactly what you’re after in terms of downloadable Primal guides, shopping lists and online resources.

After all the emails, whatsapp’s (and picture’s of your food with the caption “can I eat this?”) I received, I’ve identified 3 different types of Primal wannabe’s. By the way some beautiful, colourful food selfies coming through, you ladies are talented!

So to help me make the right creative choices going forward, please leave a comment below this post and let me know which one of the 3 diet personalities below are you.

1. The sexy body seeker:

With every year that passes, you seem to be putting on a couple extra kilo’s. You’re eating “healthy” at the moment, well okay you have the occasional treat here and there (what’s life without a couple guilty pleasures?) but you’re finding it very difficult to lose weight and keep it off.

You don’t have the time (or the want!) to exercize very much, but you know you probably should because most of the people around you who are eating a similar diet to yours combined with a slightly crazy exercize regime, are skinnier than you.

This group of people are commonly referred to as “the skinny bitches”. But fk it, you’d rather be chubby and happy than skinny and constantly exercizing and feeling bad about eating a slice of chocolate cake.

However, you want to lose weight badly and you know that if you do, things are gonna change for you. In the back of your mind there’s that lingering thought of “is my health suffering?” but that’s a problem you’ll deal with if and when it arrives.

If someone could just give you a simple guide that’s easy to follow and guarantee’s that you’ll lose weight (without having to become an exercize freak), you’d be more than happy to commit for a period of time. After all, you’ve tried every other diet on the block, what’s the harm in trying another.

“What can’t I eat and how long will it take to lose weight?” are your burning questions.

2. The healthy body seeker:

Losing weight is a secondary concern of yours and an added advantage to this lifestyle.

You’ve heard about this new way of eating more consciously or more ‘cleanly’. You’ve heard about others who’ve healed certain issues in their bodies naturally by going this route and you’re determined to educate yourself on this subject and adopt this lifestyle change sooner than later.

You are 100% ready for this – “how and where do I start?” is your burning question.

3. The easy diet seeker:

You’ve been skinny all your life and have never really had to worry about what you eat but lately you’ve noticed some cellulite popping up here and there and your skin doesn’t seem to have that healthy glow that it used to.

You know this would be a great ‘diet’ to adopt for yourself and your family. You’ve heard that Coke is really bad for you and you really should include more fruit into your diet. Your next shopping trip is going to be a lot healthier.

You don’t have time to learn about why you can’t eat this or why you should eat that (but you are mildly interested), you mainly just need a shopping list with some healthier packaged alternatives.

You haven’t quite realized that this isn’t just a “stock your cupboards differently” type of diet as much as it is a complete lifestyle overhaul. Even if it is, there must be some simple tips you can adopt to become a little healthier starting today?

“Where do I download the shopping list?” is your burning question.

So which diet personality are you?

Please leave a comment below and let me know which one of the above groups you fall into, or perhaps you fall into a different group that I’m not aware of yet. If so, please let me know so I can make a decision on what I should be placing the most importance on moving forward.

And let me tell you, you ladies (and men) are feisty individuals! I never quite expected you to be so open with me with regards to your health issues and how you like to do things. Apparently there’s no such thing as TMI…! It’s been an interesting week so thank you for being so open and honest, I know that’s not always easy.

So thanks again for all your feedback and don’t forget to leave a comment and let me know if you’re a sexy body, healthy body or easy diet seeker?

Kisses, Shannon

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How the pill ruined my eyesight and how I managed to heal it

the pillIt was Std 8. Cigarettes and the pill were in fashion. Everyone was doing it…

My group of friends and I decided to march ourselves off to the local clinic to pick up our first dose of this miracle pill, that apparently cleared up your skin, lowered your risk of cancer, regulated your periods and made them lighter and less painful. Plus – they were giving it away for free! Of course the added benefit was that when we did decide to ‘go all the way’, we wouldn’t fall pregnant.

So by the tender age of 15, myself and most of the girls I knew were on the pill. The best part about the pill was that you could skip your periods. School camp coming up? Skip your periods. Friends pool party, skip your periods. And I had many friends who did this month after month.

At that age you don’t care about how healthy you are or what possible side effects the pill could have, all you care about is how cool you look.

So how does the pill actually work?

Was a question not one of us thought to ask at that age. And frankly we didn’t really care.

The pill basically prevents ovulation and if you don’t ovulate, you don’t produce an egg, so you can’t fall pregnant. PS – did anyone ever tell you that there are actually only 3-5 days in each menstrual cycle where you can fall pregnant? No? Thought so.

I always had this underlying feeling that preventing our bodies from going through a natural monthly process like ovulating, might be harmful to one’s health. But then I thought well this pill has obviously been created by doctors and scientists who know what they’re doing and I’m sure they’ve thought about this stuff.

Only a few months in and the eye problems started.

A couple months after I began the pill, my eyes started to become extremely dry and itchy and I started using EyeGene eyedrops on a daily basis.

Me on my 21st birthday - at the height of my eye problems. Some might argue that I look drunk in this photo, but I swear this was only my 2nd beer. I'm too embaressed to even put the drunk ones up!

Me on my 21st birthday – at the height of my eye problems. Some might argue that I look drunk in this photo, but I swear this was only my 2nd beer. My eyes looked like this permanently. And no, I wasn’t stoned.

By my 21st birthday, my eyesight was so bad that I couldn’t recognize people’s faces from more than 10 metres away. My eyes were super red all the time and extremely sensitive to light. I couldn’t even think about walking outside without a pair of sunnies on. If I did, my eyes would immediately start watering.

I went to 3 different eye doctors over the next year, all who put me on a heavy dose of cortisone, a steroid hormone which wreaks havoc on your body. Every time it worked like a charm and after a couple weeks my eyes would be beautiful and white again, however it never helped to improve my eyesight. As soon as I stopped the cortisone, my eyes would return to their normal red, itchy, light sensitive state.

The diagnosis

Eventually I found Dr Chris Stander (the best eye specialist in Cape Town in my opinion) and he diagnosed me with Blepharitis. This condition causes the eyes and eyelids to become red, sensitive to light and due to a poor tear film, one may experience blurred vision. There were other symptoms as well, which I thankfully wasn’t experiencing but he said he was sure this condition was my problem.

He told me that because I had lived with such dry eyes for so many years now my cornea’s were scarred and I’d always struggle with slightly blurred vision. He said it was a condition I’d have to learn to live with now and I’d need to use Celluvisc eye drops for the rest of my life, every hour, on the hour. At R100 for a box of 30. Fucking awesome.

I questioned whether I could have laser eye surgery or wear glasses and he said both would be very risky as depending on the moisture level of my eyes, my eyesight would probably change slightly on a daily basis. Just brilliant.

The Celluvisc eyedrops became my best friends and they really did help to lubricate my eyes and improve my eyesight. After about 5 years of using these eyedrops about 5-10 times a day, depending on how I felt and when I remembered, I decided to get my eyes tested and I opted for prescription spectacles and sunnies – because I was struggling to drive with normal sunnies and driving at night was becoming hazardous.

The glasses were miraculous – when I put them on for the first time I couldn’t believe all the detail I had been missing – it was a crazy feeling! I’ve lived with prescription glasses ever since and never leave the house without them or my Celluvisc.

Healing phase 1: Stop the pill

I never made the connection to the pill being the culprit that ruined my eyesight until I decided to stop taking it. My gynae had me on Yasmin at the time and as the obsessive compulsive Googler that I am, I’d started to come across numerous horror stories of what the Pill is actually doing to our bodies and how it’s really screwing us up for the long term.

I found out that 2 of the side effects of the pill, specifically Yasmin, are ‘temporary vision loss and chest pain’ (Ref: alvandilawgroup.wordpress.com) – I already suffered from extremely painful heartburn and now wondered if Yasmin was heightening this pain as it seemed to be getting worse. I stopped my pill immediately.

And if you’re feeling a little worried about the side effects of the pill you’re on at the moment, wait until you stop taking it… hello hormonal shit storm for the next 3 months! (Warn your boyfriend…!)

Healing phase 2: Removing wheat, sugar and grains from my diet (eg: going Primal)

I went Primal exactly 11 months ago, and it took about 6 months until I noticed a change in my eyesight.

Not only am I now using Celluvisc once a day, sometimes every second day, I’ve just made an appointment to see my eye specialist for a new prescription as I’m finding my old one a little too strong.

So what can you learn from my experience?

Firstly, the pill is really, really bad for you.

As woman, our bodies are designed to ovulate on a monthly basis. Stopping that natural process now seems like a ridiculous solution to me and I don’t for 1 second believe the medical industries rubbish story about the pill decreasing your risk of cancer. That is nothing but marketing crap.

Secondly, eating a ‘balanced diet’ and following the food pyramid is bad for my system and probably yours too.

Eliminating wheat, grains and sugar from my diet has improved my eyesight and my dry eyes, helped me to lose weight in all the right places and I no longer suffer from the excruciating heartburn I’ve dealt with all my life.

I’m not saying this is the perfect end all solution to all your problems, but it could definitely be a starting point.

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How to choose coconut milk that your body will love

My old best friends

I’ve mentioned that I’ve always sucked at cooking. So before I went fully primal, Ina Paarman was my best friend.

For example I was using the ‘lemon & herb coat & cook sauce’ on my oven chicken dishes. Buy some chicken, cover it in sauce, chuck in oven. Tada! There you go boyfriend, gourmet meal!

But I had a love/hate relationship with these sauces. I loved them for the taste and convenience, but I suffered with heartburn almost everytime I ate them. I had put it down to bad genes before I knew what I know now.

My Dad has also suffered with heartburn so I thought that it was just something I’d have to deal with for the rest of my life. Until I realised that there are ingredients in her sauces that my body doesn’t agree with.

Here are the ingredients from the Ina Paarman Lemon & Herb sauce:

(and high five to Ina Paarman for always being extremely transparent as to what actually goes into her products, she even has an allergens list on her website under the product info tab.)

Purified water, Canola oil (aaaaah!!!), Apple concentrate, Cider vinegar, Glucose, Olive oil, Salt, Sugar (aaaaah!!!), Spirit vinegar, Modified cornstarch (aaaaah!!!), Garlic puree, Lemon concentrate, Herbs, Spices, Citric acid (aaaaah!!!), Lactic acid (aaaaah!!!), Stabiliser: Xanthan gum (aaaaah!!!), Lime concentrate, Flavours (natural and nature identical), Yeast extract, Natural colour: Beta Carotene.

Most of the above ingredients freaked me out! I had never thought to check the ingredients list before.

So after going Primal, I had to come up with another sauce solution.

And I found that solution to be Coconut Milk. Even on it’s own, Coconut milk can make a tasty sauce (depending on your tastebuds), but it just takes a little creativity to turn it into something spectacular.

You could fry up some onions and mushrooms (in butter or coconut oil), add some salt and pepper and mix it together with the coconut milk. Or you could mix it up with a bit of coriander. Or you could roast some red peppers in the oven and then chuck them in a mixer with the coconut milk for a colourful sauce.

Warning: Don’t just select any coconut milk off the shelf:

coconut-milk

Out of all the available coconut milk options at Pick n Pay, I only found 1 – the Mayfair brand, that was actually pure coconut milk. The rest are full of stabilisers, emulsifiers and preservatives.

If you’re going to choose the healthier alternative, make sure it’s exactly that!

Always check the ingredients when shopping, even if it says ‘no added preservatives‘ – doesn’t mean it’s so.

UPDATE: 27 March 2014

I’ve recently discovered that somehow Mayfair have managed to get away with selling their Coconut Milk without listing all the ingredients. It seems that it is next to impossible to find a truly pure Coconut Milk in this country. Mayfair actually contains corn starch, and even though they have ‘preservative free’ listed on their packaging, in actual fact they add citric acid, which is a preservative. (see certificate below).

So what do we do about this? Well if you have the time, patience and resources you could try making your own. I however am one for convenience and would like to be able to just purchase my coconut milk off the shelf… so if anyone hears of an ethical brand who we can trust, please let me know.

Mayfair

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How Flora are gambling with your health

floraWith a turnover of £75 million a year and more than 50 per cent of the market, Flora pro-activ is the UK’s leading cholesterol-lowering spread. It contains a high percentage of plant-based fats known as plant sterols, which medical research shows can reduce levels of ‘bad’ or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol – the kind that clogs arteries.

You mean to say there is such a thing as good cholesterol?

Yes. HDL cholesterol, which is high-density lipoprotein, is the densest because it contains the highest proportion of protein to cholesterol.

Because of the high cost of directly measuring HDL and LDL protein particles, blood tests are commonly performed for the surrogate value, meaning your cholesterol results don’t really mean much until you know the different levels of HDL and LDL.

Back to plant sterols… the “miracle ingredient” in Flora Pro-Activ

Their benefits seem impressive at first glance. Approximately 3g daily can reduce LDL cholesterol levels by an average of 14 per cent within a few weeks. But by focusing solely on the cholesterol-lowering ability of plant sterols, we may have overlooked some of the potential problems associated with their use.

The sterols in your spread are not in their natural state. Because they are not freely soluble in oils and fats, the sterol is first hydrogenated and then compounded, or esterified, with other fatty acids in order to make them mix better in the spread.

Not long before the US FDA first approved the use of sterols in foods, a Swedish review in 1998 made the chilling and largely ignored observation that “further studies are required of their phyto-oestrogenic and endocrine effects, and their effects on growing children, particularly regarding subsequent fertility in boys.”

Both in the laboratory and in the wild, plant sterols have been shown to provoke the growth of breast cancer cells and alter sex hormone levels in animals.

According to Dr Tim Noakes, professor of exercize and sports science… (watch the video below)

Which leads me to believe that there is some truth to the big yellow circles in this advert becoming small yellow circles:

flora-activ

Flora unashamedly proclaims: “No other food lowers cholesterol more”

If you open up the summer 2013 issue of the Discovery Health magazine, you will see a big advert from Flora Pro-Activ headed by the words: “No other food lowers cholesterol more“.

Firstly, margarine is not a food.

Did you know that in 1869 Emperor Napoleon III of France offered a prize to anyone who could make a satisfactory alternative for butter, suitable for use by the lower classes? A French chemist invented a substance he called oleomargarine, the name of which became shortened to the trade name “margarine”.

Unlike butter or coconut oil, margarine is made from vegetable oils which can’t be extracted just by pressing or separating naturally. They must be chemically removed, deodorized, and altered from seeds like the rapeseed, soybean, corn and sunflower. Vegetable oils were practically non-existent in our diets until the early 1900’s when new chemical processes allowed them to be extracted and today they are manufactured in a factory, usually from genetically modified crops that have been heavily treated with pesticides.

These are some of the most chemically altered foods in our diets, yet they get promoted as healthy.

Another important and quantifiable concern about the plant sterols that Flora claim to be healthy is that they reduce the absorption of some essential fat-soluble vitamins, especially beta carotene. Eating more fruit and vegetables would counter the decreased absorption of these vital nutrients – however, eating more fruit and vegetables in the first place would also lower your cholesterol levels, negating the need for a functional spread.

Flora are also legally required to carry this warning:

Flora pro-activ may not be nutritionally suitable for pregnant and breastfeeding women, or children under five.

I can’t imagine why? Can you?

My advice:

All margarines are poisonous.

Stick with grass-fed organic butter.

And when you see someone you love putting margarine into their body, warn them about the deadly risks involved.

Ref: The Ecologist, The Wellness Mama, Wikipedia

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Healthy energy-fueled breakfast in a rush

The one thing I miss from my old diet was being able to pop 2 slices of bread in the toaster, add some marmite and cheese and gobble it up in a rush. Breakfast took 5 minutes tops. These days, when I have the time I often spend 20 minutes preparing a healthy breaky, but sometimes that’s just not possible.

So today I’m sharing my breakfast in a rush recipe. And… shock horror… I am going to use… the microwave!

banana-pancake

Ingredients:

1 small banana (organic if possible)
1 free range egg
1 tsp of nut butter (almond / macadamia ) – this stuff is pricey and I just ran out so I left it out this morning, you can get it at Dischem or health shops

Topping:

Double Cream (yes I said double cream!) Greek Yoghurt – PnP brand is by far the yummiest, Dairybelle’s tastes like water
Any fruit, I usually use strawberries or blueberries, but today is shopping day and kiwi was all I had in the fridge

Method:

Use your blender to mix up your banana and egg in a jug (or use a fork to mash it together in a bowl if you don’t have a blender). Pop it in the microwave for 2 mins. Add 3-4 heaped tablespoons of yoghurt and fruit of your choice. Gobble it up, enjoy and have a lekker day!

11

Cosmopolitan: making you fat 1 grain of sugar at a time

sugar

This has got to be one of my favourite “articles” in one of the recent Cosmopolitan magazines entitled:

Myths Busted – is sugar bad for you?

If you look on the top left hand corner it says “Advertisement Promotion” and if you look in the bottom right corner the ad has been sponsored by the South African Sugar Association.

Maybe sugar sales are down?

They seem to be trying very hard to make eating sugar look sexy. A more accurate advertisement for sugar would be a victim of type 2 diabetes injecting insulin. But that wouldn’t be very sexy now would it?

If you click on my photo of their advert it will pop up in another window and you can hit the little button on the top right to enlarge the image and read the article in detail, but here is the summary of their absolute lies, backed up by scientific truth:

Myth 1: There’s no place for sugar in a healthy diet

SASA are trying to make you believe that their refined sugar is just as health as the natural sugar found in fruit and vegetables.

They actually use these words:

“Whether they come from fruit, starchy bread or your sugar bowl, they’re all broken down in the same way.” <– This is a blatant lie.

Fruit sugar and refined sugar are metabolized completely differently by your body.

Refined sugar is a sweetener and that contains two different types of sugar molecules, fructose and glucose. Your body digests it by breaking up the link between the two sugars. Refined sugar takes longer for your body to digest, absorb and process than a mixture of unbound fructose and glucose molecules.

Fruit sugar is a nutrient that is a natural part of the human diet. Eating fruits enables you to control your blood sugar way better than eating refined sugar and sweeteners containing fructose.

The glycemic index indicates how quickly glucose enters the blood and increases blood sugar after you eat a particular carbohydrate-containing food. The higher the glycemic index, the more likely the food will spike blood sugar levels and increase your risk of insulin resistance and diabetes.

Grapefruit, peaches, pears and apples have a significantly lower glycemic index than refined sugar meaning they don’t spike your blood sugar levels anywhere near as much as refined sugar does, therefore decreasing your risk of diabetes on the whole.

Ref: http://www.livestrong.com/

Myth 2: Eating sugar leads to weight gain

This one gets my blood boiling.

To quote SASA:

“Weight gain occurs when you’re taking in more kilojoules than you burn. Fat contains more kilojoules than sugar, so be wary of high-fat, low-carb food. The South African Sugar Association (aka the people paying for this advert) reports that studies (what studies exactly?) have shown that following a diet low in fat and high in carbohydrates while increasing levels of physical activity (see how they covered themselves there?) will have a positive effect on your waistline.”

Lies, lies and more lies.

SASA – where exactly are these studies you speak of?

Here’s an accurate representation of what happens inside your body when you eat sugar over time and how it influences your weight gain and raises your insulin levels:

Myth 3: I have to cut out sugar if I want to lose weight

Well firstly the above would be totally counter-productive to SASA’s profits now wouldn’t it?

Once again I quote: “According to the South African Sugar Association, researches have found that, far from making you pile on the kilos, a little sugar in your diet might help you keep them off.”

Well that sounds like rock solid evidence to me. “A little sugar might help.”

What researchers SASA? Your employees perhaps?

The Truth: Eating a high-carb low-fat diet as SASA recommends is extremely dangerous

In the last 130 years of increased grain consumption, chronic disease rates have skyrocketed, fertility has fallen and the average weight of the population has steadily risen.

We have found that grains can deplete nutrients, cause weight gain and infertility, but don’t they still have nutrients? Unfortunately, grains do not have the nutritional profile that all the granola-pushing commercials of late make them out to have. It makes much more sense to get your nutrients from foods like vegetables, fruits, proteins and healthy fats, which offer much higher nutrient profiles without the drawbacks.

If the corresponding rates of disease and weight gain with grain consumption over the last 130 years aren’t enough to convince you, consider this: when ground into flour, the surface area of a grain is increased to 10,000 times the surface area of the grain itself. The resulting high-starch food is biologically similar to consuming pure table sugar. Consider the fact that flour is often mixed with sugar to create recipes (or used to make wall-paper paste, your choice) and you have a virtual diabetic coma in a bowl (or can).

Ref: The Wellness Mama

So you mean, I have to give up all grains and sugar?

Was the exact question I asked my friend Louise in January 2013.

“That’s crazy.” I told her. “I can’t live without pasta, my mother is Italian for f***sakes!”

But all the other “weight loss” programmes I tried required loads of exercize and counting calories which is just way too much effort for me.

On this Primal Blueprint, I was allowed to consume meat, chicken, fish, fruit, veg, nuts, dark chocolate and red wine. Although just a warning: when you aren’t consuming carbs, red wine klaps you harder than white wine ever did! So watch out. I was pretty happy with this compromise as it meant I could still enjoy my braai’s.

I committed to doing this for 3 months and re-evaluating from there. I’m not going to lie, it was tough. And expensive to begin with, because I didn’t know how to shop correctly.

And after 3 months, I had experienced many weird changes in my body, oily skin, pimples, greasy hair, as well as higher energy levels, better eye sight and no heartburn (which I’ve suffered with every single day for the past 15 years), but still no weight loss.

I felt that my skin was starting to settle down and I was really starting to feel a lot better, so I decided to give it another month.

It was as if my body was saying thank you to me and the weight started to melt away.

Over the next 6 months I lost 6 kilograms WITHOUT any exercize. I’ve recently started walking 3km’s 3 x a week and I’ve lost another kilo.

I honestly believe that my body took those 3 months to heal from all the junk I had been feeding it with for the past 30 years eg: loads of pasta, breads, cakes and fruit juices.

So to end off this article:

Please don’t believe everything you read – ESPECIALLY from “trusted sources” like Cosmopolitan who seem to endorse this type of advertising. When you read someting that’s too good to be true – ask questions before you take it to be the truth.

Because it honestly could save your life and help you to “drop dead healthy” – as Cereal Killer’s Donal O’Neill likes to put it.

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