Sunday, 8 December 2013

Post #3- Here's to Your Health! (Plus Dealing With Calorie Shame)

One of the biggest dilemmas facing the Paleo student is alcohol; the liquid which permeates nearly every facet of university life. Alcohol is toxic and can severely dent your weight loss and health goals. It should be clear that alcohol isn't Paleo, but then again, ya'know, it’s fun :D . Paleo hasn't stopped me from consuming alcohol, just altered the type of drinks I have. So what we’re really doing is damage limitation by picking alcohols using the Paleo framework.

Every night for most students...
How much should I drink?

The question of how much to drink is entirely up to you, after all you know your body best, but there's no point in going all out if you're going to have just as much fun with less. If you get to know how much you need to be comfortably drunk (if that's what you're going for) and stick at that level it will limit the damage to your health and save you money.
Another thing to do is stay away from drinking for the sake of drinking. Save alcohol for nights out and when you really (really!) want some. Eventually your resistance should decrease, which will make getting to your "level" quicker and cheaper in the future, not to mention the health benefits of consuming less.

What should I drink?

This is the big question which we are here to address. Beer is out of the question due to a high probability of it containing gluten and the fact that it is grain based (one of Paleo's biggest no-no's). The same goes for grain based spirits such as bourbon, whiskey and some gins.

This leaves us with non-grain based spirits such as tequila or potato based vodkas. On top of these you could go for a low sugar content wine or dry cider. Beware of overconsumption though, as they can be high in calories.

Next up is mixers. Avoid fruit juices, tonic water and standard soft drinks such as lemonade or cola due to the high sugar content. In addition, stay away from "diet" or "zero" versions as they contain all manner of chemicals which will damage your health given time. Soda water is a good alternative or you could always try getting a taste for straight drinks.

It’s not all doom and gloom though! Here’s a recipe for Nor Cal Margaritas, made famous by Robb Wolf of "The Paleo Solution" fame. Just mix together the following and enjoy:

- 2 Shots of Tequila
- Soda Water
- Juice of One Lime

Not only is this Paleo friendly, but the lime should blunt your insulin response and maintain your
hard won insulin sensitivity.

Dealing with calorie shame

The last thing to look is how to deal with the burning desire to binge on greasy takeaway food once you return from your glorious night out on the town. Calorie Shame is a term coined by my flatmate and quite effectively describes that feeling of guilt you experience after waking up next to 2 large empty pizza boxes (Domino's BOGOF deal shall be the end of me....). Calorie Shame is something that should be avoided at all costs.

You can't trust your drunk self not to order food, but you can trust your drunk self to want food. Since this is the case, one tactic to skip Calorie Shame is to prepare something before you go out. That way you'll get your fix, stay relatively healthy, save money and feel genuinely relieved in the morning, trust me.

Basically just don't end up like this cat. Look at him he's so cute, he's definitely just like: "urghhh, I shouldn't have ate that kebab, urgh.........."
Summing Up

So let’s sum up the takeaways (or lack of):
  • Get to your "level" and be happy there
  • Stay away from grain based drinks and instead have dry ciders, wines or certain spirits
  • Prepare some food before going out

The above should help you reconcile alcohol and being a Paleo student. So all that's left is to raise a glass and toast:

Here's to your health!

Friday, 22 November 2013

Post #2- Catering for Catered Halls

“Hi^^ I'm thinking about giving paleo a go, but I'm stuck in catered halls. any ideas?”

The above question was posed to me and I thought I’d give answering it a shot. I lived in catered halls in my first year so I know how hard it is to eat healthily in an environment where burgers and chips are on offer everyday. I think that this is a problem which many potential paleo-ers might be facing. So without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you my guide to eating Paleo in catered halls!

My first course of action would be to make some investments, namely a George Foreman Grill (or something similar) and a slow cooker. A quick search on Amazon reveals that these cost a lot less than you might expect.

Now that you’ve got the tools it’s time to formulate a game plan. Consider the three standard meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Let’s start with breakfast and lunch.

The reason I’ve paired these two together is because once you’ve dropped toast, cereal and breakfast bars there isn’t a whole lot of breakfast food left according to conventional wisdom. What is left is bacon and eggs which the government and the media would have us eating sparingly (the fools!). What I’m getting at is that you need to stop considering certain foods as breakfast foods, lunch foods and dinner foods. It’s all just food. This fact is going to allow for much greater variety in your breakfasts.

This is your new best friend
My advice would be to make your own breakfast and lunch rather than buy it in the dining hall to alleviate temptation. It will also offer you more choice and let you get some vitamins and minerals which won’t be on offer in the dining hall. Most importantly you will know exactly what you’re putting into your body.

Using your shiny new tools you can prepare a wide array of foods. Crispen some bacon on your grill. Cook up some organic white rice in your slow cooker. Prepare a near infinite combination of salads! Taking five minutes out of your day to list the possible foods you could make reveals that living in a catered hall isn’t such a dietary dead end.

The same could be carried over to dinner, but if you choose to eat in the dining halls here’s my advice:

Much like eating at a restaurant whilst on Paleo, you’ve got to settle for the best on offer. This will normally mean opting for the steamed vegetables and non-breaded cuts of meat. Just because it’s not the perfect outcome (there might be sauces and it’s highly likely that the food was prepared using vegetable oil), doesn’t mean you need to revert to the most unhealthy option. You’re doing the best with the choice given to you. If all else fails, remember the hail mary of Paleo is always there: the salad bar. Something I would do in this case is to see what’s on the menu before queuing; there’s nothing worse than waiting ten minutes to be served only to find out that the only food available is something you don’t want to be eating. That way, if you don’t like the look of what’s for dinner, you can return to your room to make something quickly then scoot back to eat with your friends.

There are three big takeaways here which will help you to eat Paleo in catered halls:
  1. Break your connotations of some foods being “non-breakfast foods”
  2. Realise that there is a huge variety which can be prepared even without an oven and stove
  3. Always go for the best available options
I hope this helps if you’re living in catered halls and want to go Paleo. If so then please shoot me a message or comment below, I’d love to be able to get some success stories on here!

Monday, 18 November 2013

Post #1- Ode to the Fat Burning Man

Before making any choice which will change your life you’ve got to really think why you’re doing it. What’s the point in lying to yourself? No one else will ever know!

I thought as the first proper post of this blog I should get into what started me on Paleo and why I did it.

The biggest reason I changed my diet was for vanity reasons. I simply did not look like the version of myself that I wanted to look like. I have a mantra which I tend to think about quite often: “I am not content to live the best years of my life not being the person that I want to be”. I am still not finished with this goal, but I’ve made a hell of lot of progress by getting up off my butt and committing to some real change.

The second big reason why I went Paleo was because I love to eat food. And it gives you a framework within which you can eat absolutely tonnes!

So these reasons are why I went Paleo: Vanity and Gluttony. Not a pretty picture and not very noble at all.

Moving onto how, we can shed some light on the title of this post. I was recommended to the Fat Burning Man (FBM) podcast (pictured) and started listening to a few episodes. I cannot recommend Abel James’ show enough. His guests are always fascinating and he has the voice of Samuel L Jackson and Morgan Freeman’s love child. On top of this its a great way to find out about the food we eat, how hormones contribute to our health and well-being, and hear some success stories to boot. Back to the point: pretty soon I was contemplating Paleo. Soon after that I was exhausting my supplies of any unhealthy foods I owned. Then I was researching the hell out of the food that I was to be eating. In no time at all it was sweet potatoes, butter and double cream.

I think the reason why I succeeded was because I took the leap all by myself and really took ownership of it all. I hadn’t even heard of Paleo before listening to the FBM. It was up to me to really find out what was going on. For people like me, this is the best way to instigate change. You need to get on with it. Don’t shout it from the roof tops, crack on with the task at hand and when others see the results you’ve got then they’ll be asking you for your big secret.

On the other hand, if you’re someone who enjoys working with others, find a housemate or friend who will go on a Paleo trial run with you for 2-3 weeks. Talk to each other about what food you ate and how it’s making you feel. Are you feeling more energised? Is your skin clearer? How much weight have you effortlessly lost?

So here’s what this post means for you: if you want to be a catalyst for change in your own life, first choose why and then plan how. Stick to your plan, and the world’s your oyster. 

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Post #0A- Destigmatising the Word "Diet"

What do you think of when you say, hear or just think the word diet? Some people will imagine a fervent, near religious level of celery consumption. Some will picture a middle aged office worker stating just how good they've been eating recently before using this fact to justify the Boost bar they've been lustfully eyeing in their desk drawer. Some will imagine Emily Blunt's character from the Devil Wears Prada (yeh I like that film so sue me...), starving herself until she feels faint and then eating a cube of cheese.

But I digress...

There's a huge amount of stigma surrounding the word diet which needs to be broken. It is, after all, just a description of all the food we eat. A student who wakes up in the morning and eats cereal for breakfast, has a sandwich from the college shop for lunch and pasta for dinner is eating a diet which is carboyhydrate heavy. Everyone is on a diet. I'm on a diet, you're on a diet, it's not a big deal.

I've had a lot of people question me on my "crazy diet", why I don't eat certain things and why I do eat other things. Why I include a lot of fats, particularly saturated fats, seems to astound the many. But again, I'm digressing....

My point here is that if you choose to go Paleo, don't let the questioners and your own connotations deter you. You've chosen to take on an amazing new lifestyle which will leave the majority of your friends confused.

The takeaway here is that some people will try and dissuade you from your decisions; assuming once the weights gone then you'll be back to normal, just like them. But perservere, and let your results do the talking.

Post #0- Paleo Primer

Hello all, I just thought I'd post a link with a Paleo Diet primer so you could accustom yourself with it. It's not comprehensive but is great as a starting point for finding out about the subject:

Another great resource to ask questions is Paleo Hacks:

And if you're into podcasts give The Fat Burning Man and Robb Wolf a try: