For years we have been lead to believe that saturated fat was a major contribution to heart disease and obesity, leading to a move away from natural fat sources such as butter and lard. Replaced by "healthy" vegetable fats and margarines, the average Joe Soap followed doctors orders and threw away these "disease causing" fats in an attempt to avoid statins.
Today's evidence shows us that despite this move, never before has there been such a prevalence in heart disease and obesity with those on cholesterol medications at an all time high. What are Saturated Fats?
Fatty acids are made up of the elements carbon, nitrogen and oxygen. The carbon elements can "bond" to other other carbon atoms by single, double or triple bonds. The more bonds, the less stable meaning a fat is more reactive or prone to oxidation or damage.
Saturated fats are made up of single bonds, they tend to take on a straighter shape chemically and are usually solid at room temperature.
Benefits of Saturated Fats:
Structurally saturated fats are more stable than other fats. They are therefore ideal for cooking and less likely to become damaged due to overheating.
Short and medium chain saturated fats such as coconut oil provide a quick source of energy. They are easily processed by the intestine meaning they are used quickly, meaning minimal storage as "fat". They also provide satiety and keep you fuller for longer than other energy sources.
Saturated fats provide a source of fat soluble vitamins A,D,E,K. It is also required for absorption of these vitamins.
Some saturated fats provide immunity promoting properties. Fats like those found in coconut oil have also been shown to provide anti-bacterial processes.
Could the move away from saturated fats towards man made hydrogenated spreads and vegetable oils have contributed to, rather than reduced the risks of heart disease?
Modern research has shown that saturated fat may not cause heart disease at all and in fact the so called "heart healthy" vegetable oils we have been recommended have been the true coronary disease culprits.
While saturated fat continues to be vilified by many, nothing is being done to recognise the fact that a diet high in processed grains and carbohydrates is contributing to growing obesity problems.
With the low fat diet slow to decline, a day when people no longer utter their dismay at "artery clogging" saturated fats still seems a long way off.
We all have them - days where we struggle to embrace our healthy lifestyles. Everything seems to go against us and sometimes even the most devoted of us feels like we want to just pack it all in.
It doesn't have to be so daunting - check out these 7 easy ways to avoid slip ups.
1. Eat Breakfast! Not only will this kick start your metabolism and get you ready for the day ahead, it also ensures you balance your blood sugars and avoid cravings later in the day.
2. Prepare a packed lunch: You are much more likely to stick to the plan if you bring your own food. It is much too tempting in these early days to eat out with others not on the plan. You will only be tempted into eating wrong foods.
3. Make Extras: Make extra food at dinner to eat the next day. Whether it is as an easy breakfast or a packed lunch, make extra and spend less time cooking the next day.
4. Include protein or fat in every meal. Protein and fat both help to slow down the absorption of sugars and carbohydrates meaning that they help to stop peaks in blood sugar levels. This has the knock on effect of reducing fat storage and eliminating sugar cravings. Add nuts to your fruit snack and add oil dressings or avocados to your salads.
5. Do not try to explain your "diet". If we try to pigeon hole our way of eating into an acceptable way of eating for others we will either completely alienate ourselves from those around us or we presuade ourselves that what we are doing is completely wrong. Do not try to explain yourself to others. You are merely eating healthy, and no, you wont be hungry not eating bread. (Trust me in my experience people will eventually want to know what you are doing, for now don't even try to explain!)
6. Do not eat too many nuts. Nuts are a great source of protein and are a great portable snack which also tastes good. But they can be too good sometimes! Many times people go overboard on the nuts eating kilos of the things just because they can. While I would never be one to focus on calories, the sad fact is that eating large quantities of nuts is not good either. They will halt your weight loss (if that is an aim for you) and will only take the place of other foods which may be more nourishing. Keep a nut snack to a handful!
7. Don't try to substitute Paleo versions of bad foods. Once you start to go down the road of creating paleo versions of brownies, muffins, pancakes, donuts, cakes etc on a DAILY basis you have officially lost the point in my view. Firstly, a 100% percent challenge is, amongst other things, a chance to change bad eating habits and to move away from the bad eating culture towards more nourishing food. If you are merely changing your cupcakes to coconut flour versions laced in honey you are still eating bad food. Yes I am partial to a paleo treat (I even have recipes on here) but do I eat them EVERY day? No. Even most days? No. They are still treats and are reserved for now and again rewards rather than the norm.
Meet Jane Nolan. After struggling with yo-yo dieting for years she embraced the Paleo diet and has fantastic results with it.
Here is her inspiring story:
"I have struggled with my weight pretty much all my adult life. My parents opened a newsagents when I was 15 and I’ve had a sweet tooth ever since. In the last 8 years I have had two big weight losses and then put even more weight back on. When I’m ignoring the problem I eat & drink what I like when I like – when I’m happy & celebrating and when I’m bored & tired. Complete mindless eating.
I was quite often get into "food ruts" as I call them – eating the same thing for ages. So I was probably on a porridge & juice for breakfast, shop bought wrap or sambo with crisps & a diet coke for lunch and then for dinner it would have been a chicken and a jar of some sauce with rice or pasta for dinner. The funny thing is I always felt that wasn’t tooooooo bad. Could have been worse eh? Add on top of that regular meals out. Wine on Fri & Sat nights (possibly a bottle both nights...!) and of course “treats” – cos sure didn’t I deserve it after a busy day/week/weekend whatever the reason I always deserved it! Sweets in the office on a Friday, cake & a coffee on a Saturday – every day was a treat day!
It Was Affecting Me In More Ways Than Weight.....
A couple of people asked me was I asthmatic as I would be wheezy when playing golf or cycling. I suppose my body was working hard to lug my 18 plus stone around. I’d also have a fair bit of heartburn and burping. My mum is on reflux tablets (as was her Dad) and I could see myself heading that way too. And my feet would be so achy after playing a round of golf.
Something Had To Change.....
I just knew I couldn’t keep going the way I was. I was moving up a dress size and more clothes in my wardrobe didn't fit me then did.Friends were encouraging me to do something but I knew I would need help. A friend recommend No 17 Personal Training on Merrion Sq and I started with Sophie there on July 1st this year. They recommend Paleo eating and that's when it all fell into place. Three 30min sessions a week and eating clean - to date I’ve lost 3stone in almost four months. I have always loved exercising but I would often go for a swim and then have a large hot chocolate and muffin afterwards.... Pointless really. The penny has finally dropped that's it’s all about the food. I can’t exercise my way out of a bad diet.
My Diet & Lifestyle Changes
Breakfast now is usually a 3 egg (1 full & 2 egg whites) scrambled egg with veggies. Sometimes I will have something different - I had 2 mackerel & half an avocado this morning. I bring in my own lunch and that has been key for me. A lunchbox full of chopped veggies – the usual, cucumber, courgettes, celery, white cabbage, broccoli, mushrooms, tomatoes, rocket etc etc with a either a pork chop, steak, chicken breast, lamb steak. And dinner is kinda similar – lots of veggies with protein. I vary the veggies by cooking them different ways and also make sure I have different proteins sources during the week so it doesn’t turn into another food rut. Lots of water and a couple of coffees (have to have a drop of milk in them) and that's about it. I don’t weigh or measure out anything – I can’t cope with being hungry so I just eat loads of good stuff.
My diet has changed and while I’m doing this for weight loss at the moment I have significantly reduced alcohol – really only special occasions until I am nearer my goal.
I have also been working out with Sophie in No17 Personal Training 30mins three times a week before work and love that - we really work up a sweat in a very short space of time. It is great to be at the desk at 9am with your workout done. She pushes me hard but is very encouraging and she gives me a proper talking to (read as ass kicking!) when I confess to having had a glass of something or a slice of something else.
I cycle 3miles in and out to work just cos its so much quicker then the bus. I’ve recently plucked up the courage to join Dublin Wheelers which I know I couldn’t have done before I started Paleo. Early days yet but hoping I can keep up.
This Is My Life Now.....
My mam asked me recently how long was I going to have to stay on Paleo – I said till I’m 80! It works for me and I really really like it. You feel healthy, sleep great and it’s just good regular food. When I first heard about Paleo I focused too much on what you can’t have. As soon as I figured out the tasty variety you can have with food that works on Paleo it was so much easier to wrap my head around.
Update 20/3/2014 -
Had a great January thanks to signing up for the Irish Paleo Giirl Facebook group - and I'm not just saying that. I went to Lanzarote for chrimbo and thoroughly enjoyed it so was having a drink most nights.. Made a pact that my last drink & chocolate was just before midnight on Dec 31st and had my food shoppping done so hit the ground running come Jan 1st. Thanks to that group, the support and encouragment and eating really clean and being back in the gym I lost 13lbs during January. Chuffed.
Have continued my PT sessions in No 17 with Sophie - lots of weights and kettlebells. Been trying to keep up with the Dublin Wheelers - something i couldn't have considered last year. Have signed up for a 4mile fun run in Dunboyne next week and the 10k Great Run in April - and persuaded my sister to join me for the fun run.
Food has been the biggest part without a doubt.My guidelines for myself are:
- Protein at every meal
- Good variety of veggies
- Never go hungry - snacks in the bag at all times
As I said this is me for life – I’ve found a way of eating that suits me, I enjoy and makes sense to me."
If you have a success story you would like to share please email me firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those of us who eat Paleo know how difficult it can be to find treats which fit in with our food philosophy. Sure treat foods should not make up a large part of our diets, whether they are Paleo or not, but wouldn't life be very dull if we never had treats?!
The past few weeks have been pretty hectic for me. I had a big exam on Saturday last so the past few weeks have been taken up with studies at every spare minute. This left very little time for cooking - my husband pretty much took over all the cooking - so I have not had much time to spend making myself tasty treats.
When Una of Paleo Crunch offered to send me some samples of her baked foods I jumped at the chance! We all know that studying usually leads to a little more comfort eating than usual and the odd treat is very much appreciated in between the constant stream of revision. It just makes things a little easier and more enjoyable to have a little something nice to eat when we are working hard.
The package arrived and I ripped it open with anticipation! I had expected to get a couple of slices of her selection but was thrilled to find full cakes of a variety of baked foods - a banana bread, an almond and linseed bread, a multi-seed loaf, a carrot cake and a chocolate brownie.
The food was delicious! My son (who is Type 1 diabetic and who I try to keep as close to paleo as possible) loved the food too. He brought the bread to school for his lunch and also enjoyed sharing the cakes! I also brought some carrot cake and banana bread into work to share and the girls really enjoyed it. So it will definitely be well received in any home - Paleo or not. It was such a treat to have healthy bread and cake available for me when I was short on time and it was equally nice to have them fit in with my food philosophy.
The banana bread (pictured above) was moist and delicious with the right level of sweetness. The carrot cake was amazing - fruity, moist and so moreish. But the brownie was FAB! It was easily the nicest brownie I have EVER had, hands down. It was moist, chocolatey and just delicious. I was just sad it wasn't bigger!
I knew I would not be able to eat everything so I sliced the breads up and froze them on a baking sheet and then once frozen I put them into freezer bags. This was great as it meant I could take a slice or two out as I needed them.
Una kindly sent me a list of ingredients for the foods I received: