Tuesday, September 23, 2014

I was sitting next to Mum in Dr Mora's office - a progressive, yet dauntingly fanatical holistic medicine doctor in suburban Melbourne [Not his real name]. What Mora lacked in emotional intelligence he made up for in passion and fear-instilling intensity. 

As a naive, pudgy 12 year old mummy’s boy complaining of mild lethargy, allergies and irritability I wasn’t prepared for his recommendation of the strictest of dietary regimens: no wheat, no yeast, no dairy, no sugar, no fun. Then there was the extensive daily routine of vitamins, supplements and gag-inducing Chinese herb concoctions so awful smelling that I still avoid traditional Chinese markets to this day. 

And the sell? Well apparently if I didn’t stick to this sadistic routine of dietary deprivation and supplemental torture I would succumb to a lifetime of illness, obesity and misery. Talk about using the stick for motivation! (I prefer carrots).

Clearly this is not something a pre-pubescent boy with a penchant for Burger King and Kit Kats wants to hear. 

In hindsight, Dr. Mora was a medical visionary - completely unorthodox. Some of his treatments bordered on quackery but his incredible success rate and devoted following made him somewhat of a cult leader. But at that time I was not willing to drink the Kool Aid. 

As we drove home across the eastern suburbs in our late 1980s Volvo 240 GL I clearly remember sinking into the cheesy sheep-skin seat cover and sobbing. I felt utterly hopeless. There was no way I could abide such a strict routine at that age. I didn’t have the impetus nor the discipline.

So I put this holistic medicine experiment in the 'too hard' basket along with The Australian Boys Choir, club basketball, guitar practice and all the other things my spoilt little highness deemed unpleasant at the time. 

Flash forward three years to Y2K (what an anti-climax that was!) and besides growing a foot taller and getting a pretty decent physique through my new obsession with the gym I was still eating like crap and, therefore, still feeling like crap. 

My symptoms from the years prior had worsened. Generally lethargy had manifest into borderline chronic-fatigue syndrome. I would get colds constantly and always felt like sleeping after eating. My brain fog was severe and I was turning into a bad student for the first time in my life. 

I’m sure raging hormones and the typical “I’m a ninth-grade know-it-all and you can all get stuffed” attitude didn’t help but physically I was not in a good place. I’d had enough. I wanted to feel healthy. 

With my newfound motivation and a dash of teenage recklessness I went back to Dr. Mora. The prescription was the same - a strict anti-candida diet: no wheat, yeast, dairy, or sugar. No processed junk, lots of vegetables, meat, some rice, not too much fruit. Actually it was very similar to a Paleo diet but with more leniency on legumes and some processed carbs like yeast-free rye-sode bread and rice pasta. The Chinese herbs were still wretched. 

This time I embarked on the protocol valiantly. I embraced it 100 per cent. I built it into my teenage life.

At cadet camp my rucksack would be bulging with tins of tuna and loaves of rye-soda-bread so I could avoid the sugar-and-salt laden ration pack junk. At house parties while my friends drank beers and pre-mixed spirits I’d be on the vodka, neat. No yeast, no sugar. 

I stubbornly maintained this staunch discipline throughout the rest of my high school years and it did wonders for my health and performance.

I credit Dr Mora’s diet for my successes at school - both curricular and co-curricular. There is no way I would have been School Captain or made it into a prestigious double degree at Melbourne University if I’d kept eating the rubbish of my early teenage years. 

Looking back, my second visit to Dr Mora was a pivotal point in my life. A game-changer. I am so grateful to be able to reflect now, more than 15 years later, on the following life lessons I learnt from adopting the crazy Dr. Mora diet.

  1. Forget moderation or balance, a healthy lifestyle is about discipline.
I am so sick of hearing the cop-out phrases, “everything in moderation” or eat a “balanced diet.” What the heck does “balance” mean anyway? 

‘Balance’, like ‘moderation’ is an arbitrary term. It doesn't mean anything. Balance is not practical or actionable advice. 

Should a person with celiac disease eat a balanced diet including "healthy whole grains"? Can an alcoholic enjoy a few beers in moderation? What a ridiculous notion. 

Often it is easier to practice total abstinence than moderation. The Mora diet was very restrictive but it was easy to follow. No yeast. Easy. No added sugar. Done. 

It takes discipline and willpower to cut out certain foods, especially addictive ones like sugar and wheat. But it is a lot easier to completely avoid them than try to eat them in moderation. 

And while some dietitians will tell you that cutting out entire food groups is unhealthy, this is simply not true. Wheat, for example, is not serving you at all. Eliminate it completely and you will be healthier, especially if you replace it with nutrient-dense vegetables.

If, like me, you aren’t someone who can just eat one Oreo or drink one beer - you lack the 'moderation’ capability - then don’t even bother with the concept of moderation. Discipline is the only legitimate route to a healthy lifestyle. 

This does not mean you can never have an Oreo or a beer, it just means that you live your life by concrete rules that you set for yourself (e.g. “I choose not to eat wheat”) rather than by some vague notion of “everything in moderation”. Then when you break a rule and eat a pizza at the NFL Fantasy draft last weekend it’s not through lack of discipline but because you chose to let loose one night and you got back to your usual routine the next day.  (That was my first real pizza in about two years). 

  1. You need to find genuine self-motivation to achieve a healthy lifestyle.
At 12 I lacked the impetus to improve my health. It took some eye-opening revelations at the age of 15 - like barely being able to make it up the stairs to class without needing to lie down - to find the internal motivation it would require to turn my health around. 

Fear is often a good motivation when it manifests in your own brain and doesn’t come from someone else’s mouth. Seeing most of my older Italian relatives in Australia suffering from obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and even dementia (i.e. preventable metabolic diseases) is motivation enough for me to continue my health kick. This is far better than a Doctor telling you to eat less saturated fat to prevent heart disease - which is complete bullshit by the way. 

Lifestyle intervention is no easy feat. Going from someone who hates exercise to someone who can’t wait to get to the gym takes years of emotional conditioning. 

Wanting to lose 10 pounds or get a six-pack is not a genuine enough motivation for most people. Getting a gym membership or workout DVDs is certainly not. 

Embarking on a diet or exercise routine without having the genuine, internal motivation to do so is like going on a low-fat, calorie restrictive diet. All the willpower in the world will not enable you to sustain it for any length of time. 

So before you start and fail on yet another weight-loss diet I give you permission to take a break. Take a break and do some soul searching until you find your real motivation - a real impetus to change your life. Without this you’re setting yourself up for failure. 

  1. Action first, questions later. 
To get the most from your iPhone you don’t need to know how it works. In some sense, understanding all the internal machinations of a system will only confuse you and cloud your ability to use the system effectively. 

I didn’t have a clue what Dr Mora was talking about. Why was rice pasta okay but normal pasta wasn’t? I certainly didn’t know what those herbs were all about, except perhaps for making our kitchen pantry as stinky as possible to deter me from the cereal. 

It didn’t matter. I did what I was told and the positive effects were immediate and apparent and real. 

Human health is incredibly complex. We still don’t understand much of it. Cancer is really just a label we slap on illnesses that we don’t fully understand. What we do know is that our mind is incredibly potent at healing our body and that placebo is real. 

Some of those supplements may have been just a means to extract a few more dollars from Mum, but I took them religiously and it helped me form a habit that I perceived to be beneficial. Habits like these helped me form my lifestyle around dietary choices and discipline. A positive feedback loop was set in place. 

So do whatever works and don’t question it too much. Give up wheat and you will feel better. You might choose to read the scientific literature one day to understand the role of gliadin on zonulin production and intestinal permeability but you don’t need to. Just know that it works and that if you stick to it your life will be better. 

Have a little faith in the system and the positive results will enable you to build faith in yourself. In the end that’s all that matters - that you care about yourself enough to strive for constant improvement. 

I am grateful to my Mum for taking me to that crazy quack, not once but twice. After high school I went off the Dr Mora diet. It had served its purpose and I had a lot of beer drinking to catch up on! But I can appreciate now that it was of pivotal importance to my health for the rest of my life. I’m so glad that I got back in that Volvo with Mum and drove across the suburbs to Dr Mora's office. I gave myself a second chance. 

4. Always give yourself a second chance. 

“Form a habit. Forge a lifestyle.” 

The Paleo Model. 

PS - If you liked this story you will probably enjoy this (actionable) guest post I did for an Adelaide gym: ‘Find your it' 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Low Carb High Fat Paleo Super Smoothie

This is the full, unedited version of a recipe post I wrote for MindBodyGreen:

I am generally not a big fan of drinking my calories with the following three exceptions:
  1. As a post-workout recovery shake after a high intensity workout
  2. As an occasional meal replacement for convenience sake
  3. Drinking some nice wine or even tequila while socializing 
For the first two exceptions, I’ve devised a Paleo-friendly smoothie that is brimming with nutrition from healthy fats, probiotics, omega-3s, complete protein, natural electrolytes, antioxidants, fiber and a minimal amount of low glycemic carbohydrates. Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? 

Let me first give you the recipe and then I’ll explain why I’ve selected each of the ingredients and also some vegan alternatives. 

120mL (1/2 cup) of organic coconut water
120mL (1/2 cup) of goat milk kefir
70g (1/2 cup) of frozen organic blueberries
1 whole pastured raw egg
1 scoop (23g) of grass-fed unflavored natural whey protein
1 tbsp (15g) of Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) oil
2 tsp (10g) of raw organic cocoa powder
1 scoop (7g) of collagen powder type 1 & 3 (optional)

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend for around 10-15 seconds. Add some water if you prefer a thinner consistency.

Nutrition Numbers:
462 calories
30g protein
30g fat
18g carb

270 cal from fat (58%)
120 cal from protein (26%)
72 cal from carbs (16%)

Nutrition rationale:
I believe that healthy fats from whole foods are the optimal source of nutrition for humans. Our requirement for protein is often overstated and our body is incredibly capable at self-regulating protein consumption according to our need for it. Carbohydrates play a role in human nutrition but are generally grossly over-consumed in our modern society and we require far less than conventional wisdom would have you believe.

For this reason almost 60 per cent of the nutrition from this super smoothie consists of healthy fats from kefir, MCT oil, raw egg yolk and cocoa powder. 

Protein is important for satiety and also for post workout recovery, which is why I incorporate a high quality natural grass-fed whey protein. 

Let’s look in detail at each ingredient, and some vegetarian/vegan alternatives. 

Coconut water is an excellent source of five electrolytes - potassium, magnesium, sodium, calcium and phosphorus. It is relatively low in fructose and half a cup contains less than six grams of sugar. It also tastes great and adds some sweetness. 

Alternatives - unsweetened almond milk or water

Kefir is a form of fermented dairy. It is a very rich source of probiotics and live cultures, containing over 20 billion per serve. Goat milk is preferable to cows milk as it tends to be less allergenic, more easily digested and is generally well tolerated. Goat milk is more nutritious than cow milk in many ways - with twice the short chain fatty acids and the highest level of L-glutamine of any dairy.

Alternatives - greek style cow milk kefir, coconut kefir, coconut cream or coconut milk

Blueberries are an excellent source of antioxidants. They are also fibrous and relatively low in fructose and total sugar. Frozen blueberries are more convenient than fresh ones and add a nice chill to the smoothie. Always opt for organic berries if you can. 

Alternatives - fresh blueberries, fresh or frozen raspberries

Egg yolks are one of the most nutrient dense foods available. The big caveat to this is that the quality of store bought eggs varies greatly and is often poor. Your best option is to find a local farmer (at a farmers’ market) who raises pastured happy hens or even better, raise your own! Healthy pastured eggs are an excellent source of vitamins A, B, D, and E, omega-3 and iodine. 

Alternative - half a small avocado

Whey protein is considered the most complete and most efficient source of supplemental protein. Once again quality is the key here. The whey protein should be grass-fed, ensuring that it is rBGH, antibiotic and pesticide free. It should be 100 per cent whey protein from milk, not cheese bi-products, with no additional ingredients such as sweeteners or flavoring.

Alternatives - hemp protein or another high quality vegan protein alternative

Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) are a unique source of fat because they are burned almost immediately for instant energy and are not easily stored as fat. You can think of MCT oil as a more concentrated form of coconut oil, which acts like rocket fuel for your body. Other cited benefits of MCT include improved fat metabolism, blood sugar regulation and brain function, by enhancing ketone production. 

Alternative - organic extra virgin coconut oil

Raw cocoa powder contains healthy fats, polyphenols and magnesium, and has been shown to reduce blood pressure. It also adds a great flavor and texture to the smoothie without adding any sugar.

Collagen is a vital nutrient that is lacking in most modern diets. Collagen protein is crucial to tissue repair, bone renewal and recovery after exercise or surgery. It is also vital to our skin and joints and can help to prevent premature aging. If you are vegetarian or vegan feel free to omit this supplement from your smoothie. 

This smoothie is an energy and nutrient dense meal. At just 16 per cent carbohydrate by calories it is very low carb and will provide sustained energy for several hours. It is incredibly satiating. If you find this recipe too “grown up” (not sweet enough) you could potentially add some Stevia, some more coconut water or half a banana if you require additional carbohydrates. 

With a bit of tinkering and substitutions this Power Smoothie can be a valuable addition to any diet from low carb Paleo to raw vegan. I hope you give it a try! 

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

My Interview on Whole Healthy Glow

My friend and holistic health coach, Dorit Jaffe, interviewed me on her awesome lifestyle and food blog Whole Healthy Glow. In the interview I talk about how modeling led me down the nutrition path, why I don't like cheat days, my current workout routine and why you should eat more fat... 


Friday, August 29, 2014

This week I had the privilege of interviewing the charming and talented Dorit Jaffe - Holistic Health Coach and creator of food and lifestyle blog WholeHealthyGlow.com. Dorit, like me, has a passion for helping people forge a healthier lifestyle through optimal nutrition, exercise and stress management, among other things. She also has an amazing talent for coming up with innovative recipes and presenting them in beautiful ways. Her food blog and Instagram account are incredible. I think you'll enjoy her holistic approach. Let's get to it...

Occupation and location?
I am a holistic health and lifestyle coach based in New York City. I work with clients to achieve their personal health goals and help motivate them through a six-month program and specialize in managing stress and healing digestive issues.

Did you grow up in a healthy family? What was your nutrition like as a kid?
My definition of “healthy” has changed over the years, but in retrospect yes I believe that I grew up in a “healthy” family. My parents didn’t allow me to eat foods with artificial colors/flavors, soda, lots of snacks or candy, and cooked at home a lot. I wasn’t a big fan of vegetables and because all my friends got to eat Fruity Pebbles and fun colored yogurts I would snack on these unhealthy foods whenever I could. For the most part I ate home-cooked meals, ate cereal for breakfast, played all the time outside and participated in sports.

What made you want to become a health coach?
After graduating college with a BA in advertising and marketing communications I realized a corporate desk job wasn’t for me. I learned that my passion for helping and motivating others paired with my love for cooking and fitness could be a career. I love working with people and motivating others to be more healthy in ways that work best for them - because everyone is different and as such requires a different diet with different needs.

What frustrates you the most about our current food system? 
So much! The fact that society has strayed so far from our roots and is now eating food that are harmful to our health. Now food has become marketable poison that contains pesticides, chemical additives, and man-made junk. 

Secondly, society’s addiction to sugar and getting children addicted to it at a young age. In America they allow for baby formula to contain high amounts of sugar. Advertising directed towards children portrays a colorful “happy” experience. What kid wouldn’t want that experience? Or to have candy, cereal, and fast food with cartoon characters all over them? Sugar is more addictive than cocaine. If it’s not acceptable to be addicted to cocaine in our society, why is it ok to allow our children to become addicted to sugar?

Thirdly, that we are allowing mass-production of animals in inhumane and unnatural ways to be consumed in glutinous amounts. I’m not against people eating meat, I just believe that the animals need to eat their natural diet, to be grass-fed and not caged in, fed hormones, grains, GMO corn and injected with antibiotics.

Finally, the overfishing of our oceans, which is wiping out entire species of fish, and ultimately killing precious underwater ecosystems.

You obviously have a healthy glow yourself, your skin is flawless. What does your skincare routine look like?
Why thank you! It’s been a struggle over the years but eliminating dairy, processed sugars and caffeine from my diet definitely have helped. I use all natural vegan beauty products. I wash my face with a Clarisonic brush and use Naturopathica aloe cleansing gel at night and Origins Clean Energy gentle cleansing oil in the morning. To prevent and heal breakouts my favorite product is Eco Modern Essentials Pimple, which is a blend of lavender and tea tree oils. I use this every night after cleaning my face. For eye makeup remover I use pure coconut oil. For details about my beauty regimen, check out my blog post here.

Favorite vegetable?
There’s so many! But if I have to choose one... Sweet potato!

Best fat for cooking?
Organic cold-pressed coconut oil or olive oil.

What do you think is the biggest obstacle holding women back from achieving their optimal body composition?
Stress. Stress is more harmful than a Snickers bar. If you stress and over-analyze everything you eat and aren’t happy you release cortisol. Cortisol can be a very harmful hormone in your body when out of balance, causing you to gain and retain weight in your mid-section while also making it almost impossible to lose weight. Relax and be proud of every step you take towards your new lifestyle. If you eat something “bad” move on and don’t stress about it.

Have you ever had body image issues? What do think is the best way to cultivate a healthy body image?
Yes, and I think society plays a big role in this issue. From a young age now people are exposed to gossip magazines, celebrity news, and the never-ending topic of “that person is too fat or skinny.” I never worried about my body image as a kid but as I grew up and moved to cities like Los Angeles and New York the pressure grew. I think the best way to have a healthy body image is to do things that make you happy and surround yourself with supportive and loving people, who see the beauty in you always and are there to support you no matter what. Also, to just love the imperfections that make you you!

What do you think is the most effective form of exercise for women trying to lose weight?
Exercise does play a role in losing weight but I think diet comprises 70% of reaching your body's natural weight. Exercise makes up the other 30%. I recommend cardio and strength training to tone your muscles. I personally like to try different classes, video workouts and outdoor activities to switch things up.

For the following foods, state whether they should be a) avoided completely, b) consumed only occasionally, or c) can be consumed regularly, for the average otherwise healthy person:

Peanut butter - Can be consumed occasionally. Only eat organic pure peanut butter, not the fake stuff.
Conventional whole milk - Avoid completely.
Pastured Eggs - Can be consumed regularly.
Grass-fed beef - Can be consumed regularly.
Farmed tilapia - Avoid completely.
Ice cream - If dairy, then I would avoid completely.
Canola oil - Avoid completely.
Coconut oil - Can be consumed regularly.
Fresh pineapple - Consumed occasionally.
Grass-fed butter - Can be consumed regularly.
Tofu -  Eat occasionally but only organic.
Margarine – Avoid completely.
85% cacao dark chocolate - eat occasionally, make sure it's good quality.

Finally, your top three pieces of advice for leading a more kick-ass, healthy existence?
1) Set achievable and maintainable goals for yourself. 
2) Enjoy eating and living healthy. Make it fun, not a task. 
3) Don’t stress. Love yourself and know you are capable of anything.

Thanks so much for sharing. What is the best way for people to see what you're up to and get hold of you?
My website: www.wholehealthyglow.com where I post health and lifestyle advice and tips, as well as healthy plant-based vegan and vegetarian recipes.

Follow me on Instagram: @wholehealthyglow and Twitter: @Dorit_Jaffe

Best way to contact me is via email: Dorit@wholehealthyglow.com

Monday, August 18, 2014

Many of my American readers probably assume that Australians are generally pretty fit and healthy. They've seen Home and Away and Crocodile Dundee and beautiful images of white sand beaches and tanned bikini bodies. You’d be forgiven for thinking that Lara Bingle was referring to fat people in that iconic tourism ad, “where the bloody hell are ya?” 

Well, apparently fat Australians are here in droves. According to a recent study published in the renowned medical journal The Lancet, Australia's obesity rates are growing faster than anywhere else in the world (ABC, 2014). 

63 per cent of Australian adults are overweight or obese; so are one quarter of our children.

According to some measures Australia is the fattest nation in the world, with a higher percentage of obese people than America (The Age, 2008).

Now I'm not a big fan of using the crude measurement of Body Mass Index (BMI) to define who is overweight or obese but either way the trend in those numbers is pretty horrifying. 

So what's the deal? Are us Aussies just too wealthy, greedy and lazy these days? Are we eating too much and exercising too little? Are we drinking too much, working too much and not taking advantage of the great outdoors? Too many meat pies and not enough kicking the footy?

Well, yes, this is all part of the problem but let me explain another piece of the puzzle... Food quality. 

As I've explained ad nauseum in posts covering dietary myths such as as ‘calories in, calories out’ and ‘eat low fat to lose weight', it isn't always a matter of quantity of food or quantity of exercise. It is also the quality of nutrition (and quality of exercise) that really counts when it comes to being healthy and lean. 

My understanding, informed by years of research into ancestral health and evolutionary biology, can be summarized by a few (still unconventional) health wisdoms that I believe to be the underpinnings of a healthy body composition:

1. Avoid grains and grain derivative foods such as cereal, bread and pasta. Avoid wheat, corn and potato based products including snacks and processed packaged foods. Especially avoid wheat, which is addictive and contains gluten - an often problematic protein that no human can properly digest (Fasano, 2011). 

2. Avoid eating excess carbohydrates, especially added sugar. Eat only enough carbohydrates for your activity levels, from whole plant foods. Research is increasingly confirming that it is the excess of carbohydrate in the diet that leads to insulin resistance, fat storage, obesity and ultimately diabetes. 

3. Eat more fat. Since we only require a small amount of carbohydrate (10-30% of total calories) and a moderate amount of protein (10-30% of total calories) the remaining 40-80% of calories must come from healthy dietary fats from whole animal and plant foods. Fat is the preferred fuel of the body when functioning in a healthy state (Mercola, 2012). We are born in ketosis (a fat burning state) and we wake up in the mornings in ketosis. Glucose is only required in tiny quantities for very specific metabolic functions. Running on glucose (sugar) like most people do most of the time is a surefire path to systemic inflammation and pathology. 

The unwarranted bureaucratic pressure in the last few decades to restrict fat in our diet and replace it with carbohydrates (from grains) was based on flawed science and self interest. 

When junk food like Cheerios can pay for a heart healthy tick of approval on their cereal boxes you have to question the real motivations behind such "health" advocating groups. 

This advice, championed by Governments and dietary associations around the Western world has been devastating to our health and a major cause of our current obesity epidemic. 

Without getting bogged down with politics and economics, let’s take a look at the latest Australian Dietary Guidelines with the above three pieces of health wisdom in mind and see where they go wrong. Spoiler alert: basically everywhere. 

I’ve copied and pasted in magenta the following bullet points directly from the summary of the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines. My comments are italicized below each bullet point in black. 


Enjoy a wide variety of these foods every day: 

- Plenty of vegetables of different types and colours, and legumes/beans [Five to six servings per day]

Avoid legumes. They are high in carbohydrates and lower in nutrition than other whole plant foods. Eat more non-starchy vegetables instead or if you require starch eat roots and tubers such as sweet potato, parsnip, taro, etc. Some beans here and there won’t hurt but don’t they should not be a staple.

• Fruit [At least two servings per day]

Eating some fruit is good in terms of vitamin, antioxidant and fiber content. However, you should limit fruit intake and only eat whole fruit, not juice. Fruit contains a lot of sugar. Focus on lower sugar content and higher nutrient-density fruits such as berries and try not to over consume high fructose fruits such as pineapple, mango, watermelon, etc. 

• Grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties, such as breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, oats, quinoa and barley (At least six servings per day; at least nine servings for pregnant women)

Avoid grains. Grains are inferior foods and basically a cheap source of calories in the form of refined carbohydrate. There is nothing healthy about ‘whole grains'. Steer clear of all of the above foods! Recommending at least six servings of grains per day is ludicrous. This is the biggest issue I have with the dietary guidelines. Having said that, I think eating some non-gluten grains on occasion such as white rice or corn should not be a problem for most healthy people at a healthy weight.

• Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans

Your meat does not have to be lean. Eat fatty cuts of (preferably wild/grass-fed/organic) meat, including organs where possible. Much of the nutrition in animal products is in the fat and organs - not the muscle meat - and eating too much lean protein without adequate fat can be problematic. 

Choose wild caught fish where possible, with a preference for oily cold water fish such as salmon and mackerel for their excellent omega-3 content. Try to avoid farm raised fish and don’t eat fish that has been fried in vegetable oil or battered. Eggs are great, particularly pastured eggs. Eat the whole damn egg and don’t worry about cholesterol in egg yolks or other foods for that matter. Dietary cholesterol does not affect serum cholesterol in most people. 

Avoid tofu. Unfermented soy is estrogenic and contains a substantial amount of anti-nutrients. Avoid unfermented soy products such as soy milk and edamame. In contrast, fermented soy such as nato or miso can be beneficial.

Eat some raw nuts and seeds but avoid over-consuming these energy-dense and hyper-palatable foods as the high amount of polyunsaturated omega-6 fats can be inflammatory. 

• Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or their alternatives, mostly reduced fat

Avoid milk. Avoid reduced fat dairy. Eat some full fat (grass-fed/fermented) dairy such as butter, sour cream and kefir if tolerated. If you choose to eat dairy, always favour full fat dairy as it has more nutrition and less of an insulinogenic (insulin spiking) effect. 


• Replace high fat foods which contain predominately saturated fats such as butter, cream, cooking margarine, coconut and palm oil with foods which contain predominately polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats such as oils, spreads, nut butters/pastes and avocado.

Don't avoid saturated fat! Eat saturated fat to satiety from healthy sources such as grass-fed beef, coconut products or full fat dairy. 

Avoid polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) from vegetable oils, spreads and nut butters. Stay away from canola/sunflower/safflower/cottonseed/rapeseed/corn/soybean oil and all other cheap industrial vegetable and seed oils and spreads, which have very high levels of pro-inflammatory omega-6 PUFAs and no redeeming qualities. Replace these refined vegetable fats and oils with natural sources of saturated fat from butter, coconut oil, MCT oil and even ethically sourced palm oil. Monounsaturated fats such as olive/avocado/macadamia nut oil should be used as a condiment or dressing, not as a cooking oil. These fats are not stable at high temperatures. 


The Australian Dietary Guidelines may be well intended but they offer too much bad advice in my opinion. 

They are greatly at odds with any respectable real/whole food diet such as Paleo or Weston A. Price. They also vastly differ from much of the latest research showing the benefits of high fat / low carbohydrate diets and the about-face on the vilification of saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. 

It astounds me that Governmental bodies continue to regurgitate the same old incorrect assumptions from the 1970s and 1980s that were based on poor science and often funded by grain-centric food corporations. i.e. saturated fat is bad, grains are good. Eat lean protein, low-fat dairy, vegetable oils and up to NINE SERVINGS of grains per day. 

Clearly this Standard American Diet - now Standard Australian Diet - does not work. 

I am not here to bad-mouth the Australian Government on it’s health agenda. Bless them for trying. But I urge you to take their recommendations with a hessian sack full of salt. (And then do some overhead walking lunges with it). 


Your health is completely and utterly your own responsibility and no one else’s. You need to take control of your health if you want to avoid being in the 63 per cent of fat and obese Australians. 

This means doing your own research and coming to your own conclusions. It means self experimentation, trial and error, tracking your health markers and becoming a bio-hacker of sorts. It means being honest with yourself about how you look, feel and function and what you can do to improve your mental, physical and emotional health. 

Not to sound like a contrived yogi but we cannot partition segments of our lives and disassociate them from our health. Mind and body are fused together like a DNA double helix. 

Mental agility, mood, compassion, relationships, sexual drive, success, happiness - these are all affected by your health, which is affected by what you put in your mouth every single day. If you eat crap and treat your body like shit you will be a fraction of your full potential as a human being. 

The Government can tell you to eat cereal grains for breakfast, lunch and dinner but you don’t have to. I say it's your choice. 

I say, let them eat butter.

Thanks for reading and please do share!

David Sciola.


ABC News, 2014: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-29/australian-obesity-rates-climbing-fastest-in-the-world/5485724

Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council, 2013: https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/guidelines/publications/n55

Fasano, 2011: http://www.tenderfoodie.com/blog/2011/12/19/interview-w-dr-alessio-fasano-part-1-should-anyone-eat-glute.html

Mercola, 2012: http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2012/08/10/fat-not-glucose.aspx

The Age, 2008: http://www.theage.com.au/national/nine-million-australians-are-a-ticking-fat-bomb-20080619-2tjv.html

Image 1: www.theage.com.au
Image 2: www.nhmrc.gov.au
Image 3: www.gadling.com

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

If I mentioned the word ‘Paleo’ to you back in 2010 you almost certainly wouldn’t have had a clue what I was talking about. Yet today you can barely go a day without running into some Paleo die-hard at the gym or stumbling across an article about this new diet ‘fad’ in the mainstream media.

So what’s with all the hype? Well, it seems that hundreds of thousands of people across the world are seeing amazing results after adopting a lifestyle informed by ancestral health - whether you call this a ‘Paleo', ‘Primal' or ‘Wild' diet. And they can't shut up about it.

A Paleo-style diet seems to work incredibly well at improving all manner of health outcomes - especially those related to metabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes as well as autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or Hashimoto's thyroiditis. 

Moreover, it seems to help people look good naked by improving body composition in a sustainable way that still lets you eat plenty of butter, bacon and dark chocolate. 

Scientific research - a costly, lengthy and often biased undertaking - typically lags current real-world results experienced by the health community at large by many, many years. I don’t expect to see solid scientific consensus on the benefits of a Paleo diet for another decade at least. 

Just because Paleo isn't backed by peer-reviewed scientific literature at the moment doesn't mean it doesn't work. It clearly does work. We just need for the science to catch up.

Interestingly the new tide of research coming out now is already debunking many of the dietary myths that have led our health astray since cholesterol and saturated fat were vilified in the latter half of the twentieth century. 

We are starting to see all the health repercussions from the previous decades of terrible dietary recommendations from Governmental bodies recommending low fat diets and eight to eleven servings of whole grains a day.

Either way, science or no science, if you believe all the amazing testimonials from your CrossFit mates, Gary Abblet or the LA Lakers and the idea of a Paleo lifestyle makes sense to you then there should be nothing stopping you from trying it, right? But there often is. 

Here are five excuses I hear all the time from people trying to talk themselves out of Paleo - and why they are lame and easily overcome.

Excuse One: I just couldn’t live without my toast/museli/yoghurt/milk in my coffee.

We precious humans like our little rituals. We get in a big huff when our favorite local cafe decides to close for three weeks over summer to renovate. 'Oh no! Now where will I get my bircher muesli and cappuccino fix?' Sob sob.

We get accustomed to eating certain things day in, day out - especially for breakfast. The thought of giving up our favorite muesli with yoghurt is positively horrifying. 

I went through the same initial resistance when I started eating in a more primal fashion. I refused to give up oats at first. 

Eventually I weaned myself off oats, muesli, yoghurt and milk in my coffee. And to my surprise it was very easy. In fact, not only was it easy but I started feeling a whole lot better when I stopped eating all those empty carbs for breakfast and insulin-spiking milk in my coffee. Within a few months I didn’t miss those things at all. I’ve never looked back.

Humans are incredibly adaptable and so are our palates. If you love oysters, wasabi, kimchi or beer I bet that you didn't like it the first time you tried it. No, you acquired the taste. 

Same goes for adopting a Paleo diet. You’d be amazed how many people tell me they could never stomach eggs for breakfast. Yet six months later and they are smashing omelets and salad in the morning and the thought of a bagel or Corn Flakes is revolting to them. 

So go ahead and give up bread for a month or two and I guarantee the benefits from going wheat-free will far outweigh whatever psychological comfort you used to get from your morning toast ritual.

Excuse Two: I can’t afford to eat this way.

Yes, grass-fed beef is more expensive than corn-fed beef in this country and coconut oil is more expensive than canola oil but it is entirely possible to eat Paleo on a strict budget. I do it myself. I’d love to be able to afford all organic produce and fresh wild-caught salmon three times a week but I can’t so I make some sacrifices that still enable me to eat Paleo without bankrupting myself. 

For example, I buy frozen grass-fed ground beef and frozen wild Alaskan salmon from Trader Joe’s, which is less than half the price of the fresh stuff from Whole Foods. I go to the farmers’ market for local, conventionally grown produce, which may not be certified organic but it is surely far more nutritious and cheaper than most supermarket fare. 

There are many ways you can be thrifty on a Paleo diet - from going in on a third of a cow with mates to growing your own veggies at home. But even if this isn’t practical to you and you do end up spending a little bit more at the supermarket you will end up saving in other ways. 

Most packaged foods, take away and convenience foods are marked up exorbitantly compared to fresh produce that you prepare yourself. Avoiding breakfast cereal, snacks, packaged beverages and ready-made meals and simply cooking more of your own meals will help mitigate the extra cost of eating Paleo. 

Additionally, being chronically ill is extremely expensive. Doctors, medication and sick leave are a huge financial burden, not to factor in the non-financial costs of disease to wellbeing and happiness. 

Taking control of your health and preventing disease through smart lifestyle choices is the best way to save money in the long term. Spend the extra now and you’ll be better off financially in the future.

Excuse Three: 'Paleo is unsustainable and inequitable'.

I’m not going to try and convince you that Paleo is sustainable in our current broken system of mono-crop agriculture and concentrated animal feeding operations. The sad truth is that our food system is set up in a perverse misallocation of resources that makes processed junk foods from cereal grains cheap and accessible while healthy produce is more expensive and inaccessible to the average person. 

It baffles me that a factory produced packet of Skittles with tens of ingredients, inputs and chemicals shipped and trucked from all over the world costs less than an organic local apple that literally grows on a tree, naturally. 

It is true that us Paleo folk are consuming more than our fair share of resources to be able to eat coconuts from the Philippines, bananas from Ecuador and lamb from New Zealand. 

It is also true that developing countries do not have access to many Paleo staples and that billions of people subsist on grains and legumes for survival. As I’ve said before, Paleo is an elitist diet - not everyone can afford it. (Ironically, as hunter-gathers we used to all eat this way but now only the wealthy can). 

But should the fact that Paleo isn’t equitable or sustainable stop you and I from eating an optimal diet if we have the means to do so? This is a philosophical and moral issue that is far beyond the realm of this blog. It is up to you if you want to take the moral high ground - but you won't get much encouragement from me.

I would hazard a guess that if you’re reading this blog post then you would be a massive hypocrite to avoid a Paleo diet for ethical reasons of sustainability or equality. 

Why? Because I guarantee that, assuming you are a relatively wealthy Westerner like nearly all of my readers, your current lifestyle is NOT sustainable. 

Your flights to holiday destinations, your iPhone, your air-conditioning units, driving through traffic to your parents house for dinner, the hundreds of take away coffee cups you dispose of annually, the machines that wash and dry your clothes for you... None of these things are sustainable or equitable when you consider the seven billion person population of the world today and how our scarce resources are unfairly divided up among them.

Call me cynical if you want, but unless you are willing to go off the grid, make your own hemp footwear, build yourself a mud hut out in the wilderness and hunt game with crude tools then please don’t use sustainability issues to avoid eating a Paleo diet. I won't have it.

Excuse Four: 'I like beer too much'.

I posit that you are better off eating Paleo and still drinking beer than not eating Paleo and still drinking beer. Paleo doesn’t have to be 100% strict. Any improvements in your lifestyle are worthwhile, so don’t let perfection get in the way of improvement. 

Excuse Five: 'I’m worried what Nonna/mum/my friends/partner will think of me'. 

If your diet gets in the way of your social life then you are doing something wrong. I think some people can get so obsessive and neurotic about food and dieting that they allow it to impinge upon their lives and detract from their happiness. If this happens to you it is likely a sign of deeper emotional issues, insecurities or a desire for control in your life. That I can't help you with.

A normal, healthy Paleoista should be able to go to restaurants, work functions or family gatherings without an ounce of anxiety knowing that you can wholeheartedly participate and enjoy yourself with some minor tweaks to what you put in your mouth. 

Yes, you may have to make some annoying requests like ‘can I get my burger with no bun and wrapped in lettuce’ or explain to dear Nan that, ‘your sponge cake looks lovely but I choose not to eat wheat anymore so I’m going to pass, thank you’. 

Hey, you may even choose to bend the rules once in a while to try some of Nan’s sponge if you think it’s worth it and it may be one of your last opportunities to do so. 

There is no such thing as ‘cheating’ in Paleo if you ask me. Cheating involves dishonesty so if you are honest with yourself then there is nothing wrong with eating non-Paleo foods on special occasions. 

Have some fun and get back to being healthy the next day. Given that you aren’t just trying Paleo as a temporary weight-loss diet and you’ve committed to the long term then you have the rest of your life to eat healthy. 

Consequently, I simply cannot accept societal pressure as an excuse not to live a healthier lifestyle. If friends or even your partner cut you down when you lose a bunch of weight and are suddenly a leaner, more energetic, more productive, better version of yourself because this makes them feel inadequate or threatened then alarm bells should sound. 

If people close to you can see your success but are not willing to participate, support or encourage you then you should consider getting rid of such toxic people from your life. I truly believe you end up being like the five people you spend most of your time with. If they are unhealthy, lazy slobs with a defeatist attitude you better watch out. 

So don’t let a few negative people stop you from achieving your health, fitness or weight loss goals. Worse still, don’t blame others for being a bad influence, tempting you to eat crap or dragging you down with them. 

Your health is your own responsibility and no one else’s. You’re not a foie gras duck - no one can force you to eat a bad diet. 

The best way to counter the negative talk from others or from yourself is to take control and take action. When you start to look, feel and perform better than ever your doubts will subside and it will become easy to put up with some odd looks from waiters and friends alike. 

Success is a self-fulfilling outcome: it will enable you to see that you are worthy of taking care of yourself by taking control of your health. 

Ultimately, if the premise of the Paleo diet doesn’t sit well with you or you honestly don’t want to try it then that is completely fine with me. Each to their own.

However, if you are interested in a Paleo lifestyle but you are letting lame excuses like those above stop you then I am giving you permission to stop sabotaging yourself and give it a crack. 

It may seem like you're climbing up a rocky hill in bare feet at first, but keep going. The view from up there is pretty damn sweet. 

'Form a habit, forge a lifestyle.’ - The Paleo Model. 

If you want some actionable resources to get your started with Paleo I recommend Robb Wolf’s guides

Thanks for reading and please share.

Related Articles:

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Please note that these are my personal opinions and not advice. Click links for more information:

1. Is quinoa Paleo? 


2. Which is healthier, fresh farmed fish or canned wild-caught fish?

3. Honey or Agave?

4. Organic corn-fed beef or non-organic pastured beef?


5. Carbs pre or post workout?

6. If you were to use a protein powder supplement, which is better out of whey, soy, hemp, pea, casein, egg albumin, etc?


7. Which is more important, exercise or sleep?


8. Do you cook with olive oil?


9. Do you cook with coconut oil?


10. Do you cook with butter or ghee?


11. What is your alcohol of choice?

12. Most important supplement?


13. What’s more important on food packaging, ingredient list or nutrition information?


14. Which food you are most strict on avoiding?


15. Do you actively try to minimize your salt intake?


16. Is it true you use coconut oil as moisturizer?


17. Is it better to eat carbs in the morning or evening?

18. Best take away cuisine for Paleo?


19. Second best take away cuisine for Paleo?


20. Which grain is less problematic, rice or corn? 


21. Brown rice or white rice?

22. Favorite gluten-free beer?

23. Healthiest fruit?


24. Healthiest nut?


25. Best vitamin-D supplement?


26. Best sweetener for coffee?


27. Best resource for Paleo beginners

Thanks for reading folks! Feel free to send your questions, concerns, stories or testimonials to thepaleomodel@gmail.com