Wednesday, 15 August 2012

On the edge

In the last couple of weeks, I have made some decisions with regard to my fight against cancer. I have begun oil-pulling, introduced lemon and water to my morning, am confidently sculling apple cider vinegar and water in the afternoons and drinking bone broth as often as I can. There is a method to this absolute madness. 

I guess I should begin with the strangest thing of all, oil-pulling. This is the act of swishing (oh man, this sounds even worse when I try to explain it) coconut oil in your mouth, first thing in the morning, for 10-15 mins. The first time I did it, I gagged until I had to race to the bathroom sink and spit out the chunks of coconut. I was so disappointed in myself. But then, thanks to the internet, I found myself among many others who did the same the first time they tried the practice. Many said that the gagging disappeared by the third round. And so, it was true. I was able to crunch away at the solidified oil, the third time, without gagging. I swish before anyone else, in the house, is awake. I have a shower and get a few things done in order to get my mind off what I am actually doing, pushing the oil through my teeth over and over. I do this because I want to have better teeth. Even though I have always looked after my teeth, it seems that I was doomed to have trouble. All my back teeth are filled, I've had a few root canals and even as I type this I am aware of some more work that I need done. So, not only will my teeth supposedly get whiter but I should be able to eliminate some of the nasty bacteria that hangs about and creates plaque. I had read a few articles about oil-pulling but was finally convinced when I discovered just how many women found themselves with breast cancer not long after having had root canal. I would absolutely recommend you check it out. It's crazy. I am not keen, at all, to be having any major work on my teeth now; and I figure that I should at least give this a go. As you can imagine there are some pretty skeptical people out there. But, I'm going to do it for a while and see if I notice a difference in the coming months. 

After I've rinsed my mouth from the oil-pulling, I then head straight to the kitchen to drink the juice of half a lemon in a glass of water. This is to increase my body's pH. Apparently, cancer cells cannot survive in an alkaline environment. In order to achieve this, it is recommended that one should eat less meat and more soy products. I am not interested in lowering my meat consumption because I feel convicted that I am doing the right thing there; but, soy? Considering my cancer was oestrogen respondent, I really don't like the idea of ingesting something that mimics oestrogen. So, I have found two other ways in which I can raise my pH. I've already shared the first. The second, which I drink in the afternoon, is a tablespoon of unpasturised apple cider vinegar in a glass of water. I do not sit back and relax with a glass of either of these. I take it because I believe it's good for me. And, that's that. At some point, I would like to test my pH. I just haven't got around to that yet. I will mention though that the same week that I began this that I found myself really energised. I have no idea whether this was a coincidence or not. Actually, I have been trying to convince the husband to give it a go to see if he notices anything. 

Finally, bone broth. Last time, I made bone broth I was too disgusted at the thought of drinking it by itself that I resorted to using it as a stock in my cooking. This is quite ok. But, I realise that I can do better than that. I'm also going to give this a real good go. For a few months, I am going to try and drink a cup of this stuff a day. No one will deny the amazing benefits of bone broth. This mineral-rich liquid is just darn good for you. But, I have also found a few sites that reckon it makes you look younger, that it can get rid of your cellulite(!!!!) and so much more. 

Don't take my word for it though. I absolutely encourage you to check out these three practices. Whether you have had cancer or not, you never know what good health is waiting for you.

Let me know how you go.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

I eat fermented cabbage

When we cut out dairy, sadly it also meant that the good stuff in yogurt, the intestines-friendly bacterial cultures were cut out too. This was a concern. 

I soon discovered that there was this Polish recipe, sauerkraut, that had the healthy flora that was missing from our diet. I purchased bottled sauerkraut. The whole family found it tolerable but, I knew that I would have to eventually make my own.  There is one serious drawback though. Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage. Think about that for a minute or two. Do you think that you could swallow a forkfull of homemade cabbage that had fermented? I didn't mind the stuff when it came from the store. But, what would mine taste like? There were so many on-line people that pushed how easy the stuff was to make that I eventually took the plunge. 

The recipe from Balanced Bites just seemed too good to be true. I followed the directions. I placed my bottled cabbage on the kitchen bench for two weeks. I waited anxiously. Actually, I couldn't wait for the full 14 days. Today, marked day 13 and I was desperately keen to taste the fermented goods. Well, sort of keen. What was it going to taste like?

The whole family had a taste. It was pretty good. I could not stop smiling at my glass bottle of good bacteria. Anyway, tonight, I also found out that the good stuff in sauerkraut has been shown to be a wonderful preventative for breast cancer! This has made my night. Not only do we now have an easy little recipe that will see the reintroduction of healthy bacteria in our bellies, but it's another cancer fighter. It's a new way that I can actively prevent cancer recurrence for me and it ever touching my children. 

The next item on my "To do" list is bone broth. I'll keep you posted. 

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Do kids need dairy?

When the husband brought home the idea of us eating, "paleo", I was quickly convinced of the benefits of eating clean. That was until he mentioned that changing our foodstyle also meant eliminating all dairy. As a mother of two small children, I was very reluctant to be going down that path. The food pyramid came to mind, so did thirty-plus years of images of children drinking milk on advertisements to toughen their teeth and bones, and the thought of another food group leaving our house was all just too much. I was happy to give-up the grains, sugar, chemicals, legumes, pasta and rice, but milk was always going to have its place in my fridge.

Well, as you already know, I was eventually convinced of the evils of dairy. After reading Robb Wolf's The Paleo Solution and then a search around the internet, I saw that it wasn't necessarily dairy that child one and two required, rather, they needed to be getting calcium. And, surprisingly, they could actually absorb more calcium into their little bodies if we ditched the dairy and concentrated on calcium-rich vegetables. And besides, I was interested to see the children's reaction, and mine, to dairy once we reintroduced it after going without it for 30 days. 

But before I share the reaction to dairy once it was reintroduced, I'd like to share with you three very simple arguments that convinced me to eliminate dairy for 30 days initially. First of all, it has been found that dairy actually provokes an inflammatory response in the gut when consumed; this is no good. Secondly, consuming milk spikes insulin levels; this is no good. And finally, there seemed to be enough evidence that allergies disappeared with dairy; this is good. We had nothing to lose (perhaps a lower calcium count for 30 days at the worst), so I figured it was worth doing. Oh, and there's also the argument that cow's milk is for their babies, and not for humans. That's an interesting argument too. 

When the 30 days were over (actually I think we went longer than 30 days because we all felt so amazing) we treated ourselves to ice-cream. Aside from a sore belly that night, from the sugar, it seemed like the treat was fairly well handled. The next morning however, brought some interesting news. While child two showed no side effects from the indulgence (typical), child number one could be heard sniffing and sneezing in the early hours of the morning. The husband had the same. Coincidence? Did they have a bug the night before that only presented itself the next morning? I was happy to shrug that first incident off. But, since then, time and time again, both child one and the husband suffer with "hay fever" the morning after having dairy. It's pretty unbeleiable. It's a guarantee.

So to answer the question, "Do kids need dairy?" I would have to say no way. Children definitely need calcium. And from now on, their daily calcium intake will come from sources other than dairy. And, I'm absolutely satisfied with that. 

Monday, 9 April 2012

Treating cancer after treatment

Ok, so I lied. I am still somewhat under treatment. I am now six months into my five-year hormone treatment of tamoxifen. Thankfully, I have experienced only one side effect. It's a little embarrassing... My side burns are growing a little more hair than they should. It's not enough to warrant a shave or hair removal cream, but it's there. Oh well. No big deal, really. It's a good thing though because it's a sign, for me at least, that my oestrogen, which was feeding the cancer, is lower.

The tamoxifen is the official treatment. I thought I'd share though the other changes that I have made since going paleo and then going cancer-fighting-mode once discovering I had breast cancer.

This time last year, I was fighting the urge to check that my tumour hadn't gotten any bigger, I was looking into the mirror at the tumourous lump wishing that April 29 (lumpectomy date) would come quicker. I was also eating meat cooked rare, raw, organic vegetables and a diet that was high in fat and low in carbs. My very diligent husband was reading up on as much as he could about ways various individuals fought cancer naturally. Most of these people were in a position where they were not able to access medical treatment. And so, they were forced to do something on their own. For many, many people, cancer disappeared. It didn't come back either. I wasn't confident enough with all of that so I did what they did plus what the doctors recommended. Do I have regrets?

Well, I absolutely believe that I made the best decision with the information that I had at the time. I have a strong feeling though that years down the track I may have wished that I had not allowed the...mmm I have forgotten the two drugs... cyclophosphamide and taxotere into my system. I have freaked myself out a little with my googling of chemotherapy side effects; all of which I was aware of, but now they seem more real. Particularly when, I forget words, can't remember conversations that I have had, stop mid sentence because I have no idea what I was talking about, make commitments and forget about them and then just general vagueness. So, I get that this happens to the best of us. I get that this did happen to me before. But, it's a little too often. And the fact that other cancer survivors tell me that this is what they are experiencing led me to think about including foods that will help. Yep, food can help.

For the past few weeks we have deviated a little...gasp...from our paleo extremism. Our family indulged in a gluten-free pizza (it was funny to see child number two eat this because eating a triangle was a new experiene), chocolates over easter and an ice-cream or two. We even ate a gluten-free naan! Each treat tasted beautiful. But within minutes of them hitting our belly we knew it wasn't worth it. It was during such crazy behaviour that I broke a tooth! I couldn't believe it. But there it is. Another chemo side effect. Chemotherapy weakens your teeth. I don't have the best of teeth anyway, so to know that my teeth are weaker is not good.

I want to be healthy and strong. I want to be able to stop cancer with me. I want to reverse the side effects of chemotherapy. I want to turn my world upside down because ultimately, I don't know what it was in my body that allowed the growth to occur in the first place. So, what follows are some of the ways that I believe I can fight any future cancerours events. I am certainly not stopping here. But, I am making the changes slowly.

Well, you are already aware of my food lifestyle. Aside from booked in events I am gluten, sugar, legume, dairy and grain free. I prepare all of my food from scratch and spend hardly any money at the local supermarket. Rather, I make regular trips to my local butcher and organic farmer.

I have decided to slip in and out of a ketogenic diet. This is not how I eat all of the time. Every now and then I decide to do it for a few weeks. It's simply eating very low carbs. It puts your body in a ketogenic state and it has been proven to be a way in which to fight cancer. The state is not good to be in over long periods of time. For this reason, I dabble in this treatment.

I have elimiated chemicals in my laundry and now use a homemade laundry powder. It doesn't make the whites whiter or the colours brighter. It does clean them though. The pay off is that I am not wearing clothing that has chemicals sitting in the fibres. Am I a little paranoid?

This has been a tough one. Because a change in deodorant, or going without actually effects others. I was using a homemade "deodorant" but found that it wasn't cutting it. I am now going with the Moo Goo brand. It's alright. I also don't mind the edible (for real!) dedorants. They tend to need to be applied again in the day. But, again, using these products means that I am not dosing my skin with chemicals.

Our carpet was cleaned with natural products. This was a complete accident. It just happened to be the choice of the local business that we happened to employ for the job over the last two years. They did a great job with our carpets and I would definietly recommend looking for a company that will clean your carpets with completely natural products.

Another simple change has been in our soap. Honestly, in the past, I have always simply opted for the cheap stuff. Now, I'm looking for the natural soaps. They do smell really nice too.

Ok, so I might cop a bit of flack for this one. But, I'm sticking to it. Unless, I'm going to be in the sun for an extended amount of time (the whole day) I am not wearing sunscreen! The first reason is the amount of chemicals: that's a big turn off. But the other thing that I will miss out on is the vitamin D. Every day, I look to spend, at least, a half an hour in the sun without protection. Chemotherapy lowers vitamin D levels, I need it for my bones and let's face it we all feel so much better after being outdoors.

I am finding this one difficult but I do aim to have eight hours sleep each night. This is a way in which I can limit stress; who needs any more of that?

We all know that exercise is good for us. It's great for fighting cancer too. I avoid regimes that place too much stress on the body and opt for short workouts, nothing longer than 20 minutes and certainly only one session a day. I'd like to be doing this six days a week but as I still fight some of the fatigue (yep) I sometimes do less than I would like.

But that's a key too isn't it? Being sensitive to your own body; knowing when to rest, when to say no to a workout and just having a nap. When I can, I take a nap. And, I never feel guilty or lazy about it.

As a mother of a 2 and 4 year old there are plenty of opportunies for play. This is another way that I can be treating cancer. It relieves stress, it's fun and certainly builds loving bonds.

Finally, and perhaps my lastest addition to my treating cancer after treatment is fasting. There is some serious evidence that fasting is fantastic in keeping away cancer. A few weeks ago, I was skipping breakfast. I have now progressed to skipping two meals a day. So, I know what you're thinking. I have some serious food issues. Not true. Let me finish. If I fast I have to be eating well. In fact, if my insulin levels are doing well I will actually find that I am not craving food. And this has certainly been the case. I have been quite surprised at how I have been able to skip two meals. I assure you that I am not doing this to lose weight. It is purely medicinal. The fasting state is good for your body. Currently, I fast two meals, twice a week. I would love to be able to swap one for a 24 hour fast, but my head just isn't there yet.

Today's post, was accidentally a little longer than I had planned. And, as I read over it perhaps a little disjointed. I hope that I have included all of the ways that I am fighting cancer from returning. There is no doubt room for more ways in which I can fight cancer on a daily basis. And, a year from now, I bet I'll have quite a few more items to add to my list. I don't want a reoccurrence of 2011 and I don't want my children to face cancer. We're going to do everything different. At the age of 30 my body was prime for cancer. Now, as I approach 32 (cringe), there is no room for the c-word.

Take that, cancer!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Food Diary - Day 7

The final entry for my food diary. Well, this week has not been necessarily the best one to show off. I didn't get to include lamb rissoles, coconut chicken, mayo and whole lot of other meals that make up our paleo repertoire. I hope, though, that it has provided an insight into how paleo looks for a family of four. As you will have noticed, there's quite a bit of repetition, repetition, repetition. That is the result of bulk meat purchases and keeping the kitchen time as low as is actually possible.

Aside from peach and pecan scramble our hot nutty cereal is the children's next favourite breakfast. We enjoyed that with banana and local honey on top.

Up and until now, we didn't incorporate honey into any area of our cooking. I would cringe when child one and two would have honey. It has taken a year, but I am now ok with child one and two enjoying treats made with honey, honey in their rooibos and on a spoon by itself. The only condition is that it is local honey. Mark Sisson gave me permission to do this. (Check out his link here.)

Bacon, eggs, vegetables and avocado were on our table at lunch. We filled in the time between that meal and the next one doing yard work. We've become pretty insistent that we all get at least thirty minutes of sunlight (without sunscreen) each day (for vitamin D). And, you may have to try it for yourself, but the change in nutrition has meant that our skin doesn't burn like it used to. I am serious! If you are someone who burns easily, try this diet out and see how different your skin is.

The day finished with Thai red chicken curry and raw cabbage on the dinner plate.

Anyway, that's it for the food diary. I wish I had shown a week where we ate 21 different meals. But, the paleo reality is that, for us, we eat a lot of the same things. We love it though!

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Food Diary - Day 6

If there is ever a meal that we can eat out more or less successfully it's breakfast. While some question whether bacon is really paleo we tend to make allowances on occasion for it. So, Saturday we sat down, at a local cafe, for breakfast. I have to admit that we ate gluten free toast.

The last time I had gluten free toast (can't think when I last ate "normal" bread) was when I was in the middle of chemo. I remember that there were two instances where all I could imagine eating was bread. And, been convinced of the evils of gluten I went for the gluten free variety. Anyway, the point is we ate the toast. To be honest, both the husband and I were not convinced that we had really been missing out on anything.

It's funny, when we made the foodstyle change there were many times when we felt like we were missing out to not be having grain, sugar or dairy. But, seriously, whenever we eat the forbidden foods we are not impressed at all. I guess we have this romanticised view of these foods now. The reality is, is that we eat beautiful, healthy, filling meals that don't make us bloated. Perhaps that's the biggest turn-off with regard to eating the non-paleo foods. We have been avoiding them for so long now that they now make us sick. Our immunity to such foods has passed. Our bodies have had time to heal and kick up a stink when we shove anything that is unnatural in. The fact is, we ate the gluten free toast but regretted it straight away. We won't do it again.

By accident really, none of us ate lunch. Whoops! Believe me, I would never have my children do a fast. When they get older they may be keen to do what mum and dad do. I would love for child one and two to get onto the fasting wagon (there are so many health benefits, but more on that another time). Truly, it was an accident. We did not eat lunch! It was an involuntary, accidental fast.

For a good part of the afternoon, our lamb leg sat in the barbeque on low. My oven was still out of action and we were feeling for a roast. This was the first time that we had ever done this. The meat was beautiful. We enjoyed roast lamb with vegetables, egg and avocado that was mashed in the lamb roast's juices. Yum!

Friday, 16 March 2012

Food Diary - Day 5

Friday our family began the day with a big breakfast; bacon, eggs, sweet potato, avocado, spinach leaves and tomato. It was beautiful.

I did the standard lunch for child one and two. Sweet potato and coconut chicken for first break and a treat with two fruits for second break. When I don't have fruit I don't mind including some tinned or pureed fruit provided it is 100% fruit. These days, we always read the list of ingredients and it's been an eye opener for me to see how often sugar is added alongside colours and preservatives. We avoid such things.

I took my lunch to work. It was thai red curry with raw cabbage. While I enjoyed it I think I've had a bit too much of this meal... Will give it a rest for a bit.

For dinner the family enjoyed lamb chops, borewors, egg, vegetables and avocado. Three hearty meals made for a great day in paleo dining.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Food Diary - Day 4

I made it to noon! I didn't feel off today either. The trick was to keep busy.

Child one and two requested pumpkin soup for breakfast. I was very pleased with that, because all that I needed to do was warm their dishes of soup in the microwave. What a treat to not have to heat up the fry pan.

Child one was sent to school with the last of the pumpkin soup, a pear, apple puree and a brownie.

Before lunch, child two and I headed to "the farm" for some organic produce. We were lucky enough to get some free range, bug-eating-chicken eggs. Apparently, the less grain chickens are fed and the more bugs they eat the better their eggs are for you. So, for lunch we had lamb curry, (and the following are all from the farm), one fried egg, avocado, cabbage and tomato. It was the best meal ever! You can imagine how much I enjoyed that meal having not eating for 16 hours. I did a few pushpresses and "pullups" (still trying to the master these) just before I broke the fast.

This is where I get a little embarrassed about sharing my paleo food diary with those who may not do this. In fact, if I had to tell my 29 year old self what I would be eating at 31, I would think it was weird. Like, what is wrong with you? But here it is. I gave the children their dinner early (seems to be coming routine...) and was feeling a little peckish as I prepared it. Child number one decided that they only wanted half an egg, so I thought I'd just have the other half. It seemed silly just to eat an egg on its own. Let me tell you about silly. So, to the half fried egg on the plate I added some chilli tuna (an Aldi brand), avocado and tomato. I guess this meal is equivalent to having cheese and tomato crackers; it's quick, easy, not too filling. There. I said it. Paleo peeps may find this meal ok. To others, I get it if you think that perhaps we have just overstepped the mark on this food thing.

A big meal wasn't so necessary tonight, after having had that "snack". I warmed up some roast chicken in the fry pan. And then, fried an egg in the juices. Last week, there were no spinach leaves, at the farm, because flooding had destroyed the crops. This week I bought a decent sized bag. With dairy out the picture, we tend to eat a lot of spinach because it's a good source of calcium. Anyway, that, tomato, capsicum and avocado completed the meal.

The family have not made any complaints about the use of coconut oil in the cooking so it mustn't have an overpowering flavour. Good. Talking about coconut oil...there is some research that suggests that it can reverse or slow down Alzheimer's. I will need to read up a bit more on this. Those of you who have had chemo or know someone who has will understand "chemo brain". Some strange, and scary side effects, of chemotherapy are still being studied by the medical profession. And, one of these is the effect the drugs can have on the patient's memory. Anyway, this video I watched, which freaked me out a little, was saying that chemo can bring on alzheimer's. This is what I'm thinking. First of all, read more about it. Then, try and include foods that will counteract the disease.

Before bed, I'm going to finish the night off with a cup of rooibos tea. The end.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Food Diary - Day 3

Pancake mix was in the fridge. I had made so much batter, yesterday, that I had plenty for pancakes again this morning. I drizzled a little maple syrup on mine and enjoyed it with a long black.

I sent child number one to school with pumpkin soup in their thermo jar, this morning. I hadn't made the pumpkin soup. In fact, I have been told that my version of it is no good (thanks eldest). My mum supplied a rather large glass dish of the orange stuff. It's child number one's favourite. I chopped up some peach and put it in a container. And, purely because I was out of fruit, put some dried fruit in a second container. The mother-in-love provided the treat. It was a
flourless, paleo brownie. It is beautiful. She is being very secretive about the recipe, but it is definitely paleo and, what's more, it's a hit with the kiddies. (I forgot to get a photo...tomorrow?)

As soon as I got to work I found myself reaching for my small
container of almonds and macadamias. Actually, I'm pretty spoilt on Wednesdays because my mother-in-love makes me lunch. I enjoyed ham, eggs and salad.

Ever since Mark Sisson made the claim that dark chocolate (85%) is good for you, about a fortnight ago, we have been munching down the stuff. Previously, we had treated it as a treat. Something that we could eat to
celebrate or to have on our no-so-often cheat
nights. But now, we are enjoying a little everyday. And, what's more, and I'm excited about this, child number one asked for a piece and then some more. See, child number two really doesn't know any other way of eating; so is very compliant with the paleo way. So much so, that this little one loves dark chocolate. We decided that we would ease child number one, who has had a taste of the "good" life, onto the dark stuff by starting with 70%. It didn't take long. That was only a week a
go. And now, we may have two little dark chocolate eaters on our hands. Win! I enjoyed a few (let's be honest, several) pieces of dark chocolate with a cup of rooibos tea.

Because mummy (that's me) gets sick of cooking sometimes, I do tend to do big cook ups that provides meals for a couple of days. Paleo is no easy way out. If you chose to do it, be prepared to give your kitchen a serious workout. Well, I don't mind too much. But, anyway, the children don't complain if we have the same meal for a couple of days. So, it was no surprise that even though child number one had pumpkin soup for lunch, pumpkin soup was also the request for dinner. This made things easy for me. I served up soup for child one and two. And, again, I gave them their dinner early. Now that child one is at school, there is a huge appetite just waiting to be met.

The adults enjoyed chick-veggie heaven with (have a guess) fried eggs. I have to admit, that while we haven't had it for a while, it is a favourite of mine.

That's it. There really is nothing fancy about paleo. There is no magic trick. A lot of cooking that's for sure. But, when the food is good, it's worth all of the fuss in the kitchen.

Recently, I read how fasting has proven to make chemotherapy more effective. I'm sort of glad that I only heard that now. I would have really wanted to have given it a good go. In hindsight I also feel as though it may have just been another thing that I would have to do; and perhaps it would have just all been too much. Anyway. Actually, when one really gets into the paleo way, it is something that should become regular, fasting that is. So, the cancer link and the fact that it's probably the next step for me, got me doing a fast twice a week. I've done this for the past three weeks. For some of those fasts I haven't felt too good. Insulin levels, sleep and nutrition have to be sweet before it can be achieved without the moody behaviour and cloudy (thinking is mostly cloudy these days after having had chemo...) thinking. I didn't do a fast this past Monday, as you would know from my food diary. I will do one tomorrow though. So, I have stopped eating now. I will not eat again until midday. And, just to shake things up (this will give my body the impression that it was a longer fast) I will do a light workout before I eat. I'm looking forward to doing the IF (intermittent fast) tomorrow and I'm keen to see how my body reacts this time.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Food Diary - Day 2

I have decided to ditch the macadamia and olive oil for the real stuff. Coconut oil. I have dabbled in its usage but, honestly, it was its price tag that put me off. Well, I read about coconut oil benefits for the 100th time, and that final text convinced me. It has only taken a year... I bought some today from the local health food store and I am looking forward to the change in flavour.

This morning we had a bit of a feast. We had a two course breakfast. The first was peach and pecan scramble and then we followed that with pancakes with maple syrup. I've mentioned both of those breakfasts before, so I didn't grab a photo.

Child number two went to school with basically the same lunch as yesterday. I was so excited when returning from school my little "preppie" exclaimed, "I loved my lunch today".

I had two handfuls of almonds and macadamias before a lunch today of Thai chicken red curry (another one that I've already mentioned somewhere on this blog). I mashed an avocado over the top and it was beautiful; protein, fat and low on carbs.

I spent three hours waiting to see an oncologist and a member from the surgical team today. Yep, it was my six month check up. I can't believe so much time has passed. Actually, next month marks a year since the whole saga! And yes, just to make things more exciting I had child one and two. They loved having to sit in a chair and do nothing...

When we got home, I checked out my slow-cooked curry. It was beautiful. I found this Indian shop that sells prepackaged curry mixes (completely paleo friendly) which meant that all I needed to do to make this tasty meal was chuck in some stewing lamb, the spice mix and water. The absolute convenience of this meal lends itself to be paleo fast-food, slow-cooked. The meat came off the bones easy. I then served it with some tomato and the last of my sweet potato fries. Oh yeah, and an egg.

My shoulders and arms are in repair so I kept the workout simple today. Using the 21-15-9 framework I did squats, lunges and situps. For that, I rewarded myself with a mango smoothie (mango, ice and coconut milk). Sadly, I had to sit next to my work computer as I drank down the last "meal" for the day.

It's a late night tonight. I have been trying so hard to get my eight hours sleep and now it seems I've lost it. Oh well. Will get it tomorrow.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Food Diary - Day 1

If you don't mind, I'll walk you through each meal that my family ate today.

We began the morning eating Chicken Omelette with raw organic red cabbage and sweet potato chips. There are three points that I need to make here. First of all, none of us were keen on eggs at the beginning of all this. Once making the change though, it was very funny to notice how our taste buds changed. Before we knew it eggs were a staple. While they're not cheap (omega-3 eggs
are the most expensive) they represent a very quick and easy meal). So, the other thing that is worth mentioning is the chicken thing. Thanks to twitter I have been able to read loads of articles explaining recent studies in food and cancer. I have read repeatedly now that chicken and pork are high in omega-6; omega-6 (this is my very basic understanding of the matter) is not a bad thing as long as it is at a particular ratio to omega-3. For now we don't eat the skin. Anyway, while we have decided to limit our pork intake, I am yet to do the same with chicken. I think I'll cut down our chicken next shop. Finally, my oven stopped working on Friday, when I was in the middle of baking sweet potato chips. I had bought the purple variety and was devastated. As it turned out they had been in there long enough to soften. That was great. I divided up the sweet potato chips and have been frying them to get them a little brown. A terrific save.

I sent child number one to school with lamb shank pieces, sweet potato chips, a banana, an apple and three small almond biscuits. Once a week I buy meat. On that same day I cook it all up. Our large oven means that I can roast loads. This week lamb shanks were in. So, I cut up the meat into bite size portions and froze them with the sweet potato chips. All I needed to do then was "heat up" the thermos, warm the food in the microwave and the meal for first break was done. I then typically include two serves of fruit and a treat. To be honest, I did anticipate (when the school term started) food wastage. I remember not wanting to eat my sandwiches as a child. I guess the real test will be when child number two starts school, but for now, child number one's lunchbox is always empty at the end of the day. And, just in case you were wondering about the meat, the thermos does keep the meat warm and child number one understands that it must be eaten at first break, no later.

Today, I was so busy that I didn't bother to stop for any snacks. Lunch was one and a half lamb chops, one omega-3 egg, tomato (fried with organic, dried basil, salt and pepper) and sweet potato chips. When the barbeque was on on Saturday, I took the opportunity to cook, in bulk, lamb chops. For us, lamb is the most accessible grass-fed meat, at the moment. We tend to eat quite a lot of lamb. The meat was warmed in the fry pan and the sides were cooked in its juices. I think the meal needed some guacamole... I will buy some avocados when I next shop. And, just for the record, child number two got the same dish, minus the egg.

When child number two was down for a nap, I grabbed a handful of almonds and read Donald Woods' "Biko". Soon, I was relaxed enough to have a nap. The combination of chemo and radiation last year have certainly taken their toll. There is no way I can turn down an opportunity to sleep in the afternoon. I have been finding myself trying to do as much as I can in the morning before I crash. When child one and two had some afternoon tea I reached for a handful of macadamias.

My workout for the day was a seven minute session that included dead lifts, hang cleans and pushups. It wasn't too bad. I enjoyed a banana at the end of the session.

Dinner was pretty much a repeat of lunch. But, I served the children early and therefore something different only because both were hungry and I thought that I may as well get them fed and bathed if they were keen. So, for me, it was more lamb chops (warmed in the fry pan) alongside sweet potato chips. I included a side of raw, organic, red cabbage. The children had roast chicken (roasted on the weekend, packaged, defrosted this morning and warmed in the fry pan), an omega-3 egg, sweet potato chips and tomato.

I am now having my last item, a cup of rooibos tea. It's pretty good. Life's good.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

I have an idea

So, out of nowhere I got this idea. It's pretty simple. I'm going to keep a food diary for seven days.

As you know, our family adopted the paleo diet. This has meant that we no longer eat grains, dairy, sugar or legumes. Initially, as the family cook, this was a tough task. There were certainly times when we just swallowed what we were eating knowing that it was simply fuel for the body. I can still remember eating a slow-cooked, pork mince dish - it was absolutely disgusting! It lacked flavour, colour and had a texture that was never going to go down well with any palette. We have come a long way from those days. Whenever we sit down now to eat a meal (and these meals are literally sit down meals as you will see this week), more often than not, we savour the flavours, love the colours and enjoy the textures; and can't believe we hadn't changed camps long ago.

What motivated us in the beginning to make such a "radical" change in our foodstyle is what still motivates us now. We want to be healthy, fit, have energy to be active parents, avoid the top five common diseases and see our children reach their full potential. Can food really offer all of that? I reckon it can. My battle with breast cancer has given us the added enouragement. That together with keeping sugar away from the two-year-old cardi-kid. And then, there's the nearly-five-year old who has started school. What greater gift can be offered than a full belly, nutrition that will aid in the development of that young mind and body, and keep the focus on school work and not on food.

While we try to be inconspicuous about our eating habits, we often find ourselves having to explain what we actually eat. For many people, and it certainly was like this in the beginning for us, it is incredible that we find anything that we can eat.

And so, here is what my food diary hopes to achieve. Over the coming seven days, I will share every meal and snack here with you. I'm no Master Chef and I am certainly lacking in photography skills. So, please don't expect anything too glamourous. What I am is a 31 year old, married, mother of two, who works part-time. This is our paleo journey.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

For real

Well, I survived the first week of prep. And, while I know it was a big day for child number one to have started school, I really think that parents get left out. It was a huge day for the husband and I! Before the big day, I had to purchase a uniform, school books and lunch gear. Then, I had to cover books and pack the bag. Child number one "helped" but let's face it, I was the one doing everything.

Of course, the greatest test of any family's ability to be organised is doing the school run. And, to be honest, I was very nervous about the whole thing. So, what was I thinking would be so difficult about it all? Where do I start?

Lunch box packing; I knew that would be a challenge, especially when you throw paleo in the mix. Getting organised in the morning and leaving by a certain time was going to be another challenge. For too long, I had not had too many deadlines. And finally, I was concerned about the emotional side of things. Would I be upset? Would child number one be upset? Would this first week prove to be the most difficult week of my life, and then lead into a further twelve plus years of school kaos? No. No. No.

I wasn't teary when child number one was dressed for school and I didn't feel particularly emotional when I kissed my baby goodbye. And, strangely, each morning and afternoon went by without any hiccups. I am very happy with the running of this first school week.

As for doing a paleo lunchbox; I can't believe how easy it was! In fact, even if your child isn't a paleo kid, I would definietly recommend doing these lunchboxes. They were mega easy.

Before Christmas, I managed to find a food container, for children from Target, that keeps food warm. I had actually been searching the net for such an item because I was certain that they didn't exist. Well, I found one. Into that I popped meat. When I had veggies I included them in the thermo container. When I didn't have veggies I provided child number one with sticks of carrots. That made up the main meal. I then included a paleo muffin and fruit. It was so easy. And, what's more, it took me less than a minute to assemble the goods on the school morning.

Prior to the school week, I had made bite-sized meatballs and roast chicken. I divided the meat into lunch portions and put them in ziplock bags in the freezer. As you can imagine, I was able to make a stack of lunches this way; a fortnight's supply actually. The night before I needed it, I put a single portion in the fridge to defrost. I didn't spend anytime chained to the kitchen decorating sandwiches. In fact, child one and two helped me make the muffins, the weekend before, and those were also individually wrapped and frozen. With the prep done, all I needed to do was put the meat, veggies, fruit and treat into a lunchbox. Too easy!

I do tend to freak out about stuff so, a couple of months ago I was definietly nervous about how realistic it would be to do a paleo lunchbox. Wow, I can't believe it can be done. But also, how simple it was.

If child number one was a fan of boiled eggs, I would certainly have done that at least once this week as their protein source. That didn't happen. What I did do though was include some left over steak. One night, during the week, when we had steak, the husband fried a little extra for child number one's lunch. I cut the steak into small pieces and included some homemade tomato sauce for dipping. It was a hit.

So, week one of school is over. We passed. Forget about child number one, I made it. The parents got through it all.

Now, if we can just stay on top of all the paper work sent home from school...

Friday, 13 January 2012

Check up

Yesterday, I had my three month check up. It included a mammogram and an ultrasound. The latter was going to be nothing, although I must admit that I knew that I was going to be more than a little uncomfortable for the former.

Well, there I was. I was instructed to put my chest and butt out, look straight ahead and remain still (there was no way I could move even if I wanted to). As the plastic "flattener" came down I braced myself. In that moment, I started laughing. Believe me, nothing was funny. It was the kind of crazy laughter that came out of me when I went on the Giant Drop at Dreamworld. Then, as quickly as the laughter came I wanted to cry. But, I didn't. By then the machine was moving up and away. I was squashed another three more times and then the mammogram session was over. Out of the four, there was only one that I found particularly sore. The others were just the expected discomfort from having your breast slammed between two plates.

The ultrasound was a breeze. And, no new lumps were found. I wasn't surprised. I wasn't expecting anything like that.

Oh, and I know that I said that I was avoiding fruit for the month of January but I did have a skewer or two from this fruit rainbow. It was so easy to make. And, the four year old was able to help which made the process even more fun.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012


This month I'm doing 30 days of strict paleo. I am surprised at how easy I have found it so far. This time last year, I remember us madly searching the internet for paleo treats. This time around, giving up the treats has been no big deal. What I have found difficult has been giving up the fruit.

A few days before the new year, I read how sugar (and we've all heard this before) feeds cancer. So, unless it's a treat or after a workout, I'm going to stay away from ye ol' fructose. I have also had a good few new recipes in the rotation that I wish to share. But, another time.

I am excited to report that my state of menopause was only temporary. I'm outta there. Strangely enough, I felt so good at this. I thought that I was ok about being in menopause, but like so many things along this journey, you never know how you are going to feel or react at different points. So, I'm happy at this news. It also marks another step away from cancer and its treatment.

That hair. The hair is growing back curly. Yep. I thought I would always like to have curly hair. But you guessed it, now that I have it, I'm not quite sure. I have a feeling that I may be parading a Marge-style do, because the curls are just pushing my hair up higher and higher. Oh well, better that than nothing...

As I type I stop to admire my nails. Now, I've never had particularly beautiful nails but I think because they have looked so atrocious these past few months that now that they have grown (pink and white now) and they have a little clear nail polish they look amazing. Well, to me anyway.

Next week my youngest begins childcare for the first time. And, my oldest starts prep. I am so excited for both. In fact, just this week, the husband and I off-loaded the last of our baby stuff. Don't get me wrong, I have enjoyed absolutely every part of being the mother of babies but man, it's so exciting to be moving away from that too. I am very much looking forward to the new challenges that lie ahead.

I would like to take a vow that I won't complain about having to do the school run, that I will not regret signing the children up for Spanish lessons and I promise to commit to memory all of the information that the prep school provides. Actually...can I take any of that back?