Saturday, 28 February 2015

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and How Diet Changes CAN Help

What is IBS?

IBS is a disorder of the large bowel in which the bowel overreacts to small stimulus such as eating by going into spasms characterised by alternating bouts of diarrhoea and constipation. It is usually a generic diagnoses by doctors when unable to identify the true cause of abdominal discomfort. A frustrating diagnosis for many as they are told there is nothing which can be done.
Affects 1 in 5 in population

Image result for IBS


·         Abdominal pain, varies in severity

·         Unusual bowel movements – alternating diarrhoea and constipation

·         Bloating

·         Excessive flatulence and belching which may be alleviated by a bowel movement.

·         Mucus in stool


Not fully understood – appears to be due to abnormal response of the muscles.

Aggravated by diet, hormonal, genetic, stress and psychological factors.

How to control it

IBS symptoms can be greatly improved by changing diet habits and managing stress.

IBS and Gut Flora

Your gut is made up of it’s own colony of bacteria. Roughly 70% of your immunity is housed in your gut with healthy levels of gut flora helping to protect against foreign bacteria and viruses. A large proportion of inflammatory bowel conditions such as IBS are thought to be related to a shortage of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Including fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchee and kefir will help increase this good bacteria and prevent the development of other opportunistic bacteria, viruses and yeasts. If you are unable to make your own you could include a good quality probiotic supplement.

IBS and Food Intolerances

IBS has shown strong links to food allergens. In one study, 50% of participants experienced marked improvement in symptoms while following an elimination diet. Of those experiencing improvements, 50% identified 2 or more foods as allergens with dairy and grains being the most common allergens identified. (Nanda et al 1989)

A strict elimination diet may be a good way to identify possible allergens or food intolerance test which I can arrange for you. 

Dietary Recommendations

·         Focus on well cooked, nutrient dense foods to help replenish depleted nutrients lost through diarrhoea. Include soups, stews ad slow cooked foods which are easier to digest.

·         Make and eat/drink bone broth regularly for it’s gut healing properties. It also contains glycine, an amino acid which has an important role in aiding digestion and regulating the synthesis of bile acids and gastric secretions.

·         Increase soluble fibre such as butternut squash, sweet potato, carrots, orange, mangos, turnip and flaxseed – this type of fibre helps proper stool mobility and helps to feed your good gut bacteria too.


·         Gluten containing foods such as wheat, spelt, rye, pasta (see gluten free hand-out provided). Gluten is a very common allergen and may contribute to gut issues such as IBS.

  • Any known triggers or allergens. A strict Paleo diet may be helpful to help identify allergens.

·         Large quantities of insoluble fibre such as cabbage, brussel sprouts, potato skins, bran and legumes such as kidney beans, whole beans and lentils as these may flair up the small intestine.

·         Raspberries, strawberries, nuts especially almonds, pistachios and walnuts as these tend to aggravate the symptoms of IBS. Ground nuts and seeds such as flaxseed, chia may be better tolerated

·         Alcohol, chocolate and caffeine – these foods can contribute to leaky gut (where the walls of the bowel lining become too permeable and allow proteins into the bloodstream. These undigested proteins are then viewed by the bodies as foreign invaders and it launches an attack on these foods causing intolerances) and IBS symptoms.

Relaxation Techniques

Stress levels have a huge impact on IBS symptoms:

·         Take up Yoga or Breathing Techniques to help to counteract the effects of daily stress.

·         Take regular walks to alleviate stress and wellbeing.

If you have issues with IBS and need some help with changing your diet, contact me on for a consultation.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Paleo Pregnancy Diary: My First 12 Weeks of Pregnancy

I thought I would do a blog post on my pregnancy so far for those of you who may be interested in my journey. I have had so many messages of congratulations and well wishes since I made the announcements on my blog recently - it has been so nice to have such support from all the readers.
I found out I was expecting in early December at around 5 weeks. We were very excited as we had been planning on adding to our family and it was such a lovely feeling knowing we had been successful. In hindsight the signs were there - my poor husband claims I was a little, ahem, moody for a few weeks leading up to the discovery but I reckon he was clearly imagining it! ( :) )
As Christmas was just around the corner I knew there was very little chance of me being able to keep it from family so we decided to tell my son Nathan (11) and he was SO excited to be the first the know. I think he actually exclaimed something along the lines of "FINALLY" hinting that he had been a long time waiting for the news! We told close family at Christmas and decided to keep it to ourselves until after the 12 week scan.
Paleo Pregnancy
Overall I have been very lucky and have no sickness at all. Sometimes I feel a little nauseous in the morning but only a tiny bit and it is usually if I have veered off plan the day before. I know that keeping my diet clean is the reason I have stayed so well. If I go off plan at all I really feel it the next day - I am exhausted, irritable and thirsty. So I have been trying to keep as good as possible while still not being obsessed with every single thing I eat. I figure if I want a small treat and keep within the 80/20 rules I will be fine. Prior to pregnancy I was super disciplined but I find that I am definitely craving bad foods more.
My Tips To Overcoming Sugar Cravings:
  • Ensuring a protein rich breakfast such as eggs within an hour of waking
  • Always having protein with every meal and snack
  • Having a piece of fruit when I feel like a sweet treat (with nut butter or nuts/seeds)
  • Ensuring adequate fat intake to keep me fuller longer as well as being very important for babies nervous system development.
  • Try a good quality dark chocolate of at least 75% cocoa solids
  • Treat myself to Paleo treats instead of refined sugar treats.
Pregnancy SuperFoods
I am also being very good about making sure I am eating adequate pregnancy super foods. Some people may find some of these decisions to be controversial as many of them go against conventional advice such as liver and raw cheese but I feel that these foods are forgotten superfoods which would have been eaten by fertile members of traditional societies for their fertility boosting properties. I plan on doing a full blog post on the foods I have been ensuring I include so stay tuned.
For me it is important that I stay active throughout pregnancy. Sometimes I feel people get a little obsessed with taking it easy during pregnancy and entirely stop all physical exercise. Of course it can be tough if you are suffering extreme morning sickness or fatigue but in most cases pregnant ladies should continue to stay active. I once heard someone say "Pregnancy is like a 9 month training for a 24 endurance event" - you wouldn't totally cut out all physical exercise and do a massive endurance event and labour is no different. Staying active reduces the chances of gaining to much weight during pregnancy (too much weight gain can increase risk of premature labour and large birth weight in baby) as well making it easier to lose baby weight afterwards. It also helps keeps you fit for labour which requires a lot of energy and stamina.
I started going to Crossfit last November and have been going throughout my pregnancy. The key for me was to ensure my coaches knew from the off and were therefore able to ensure I always used proper technique when lifting which is obviously so important to prevent injury. I have also been very aware of my limitations and listening to my body. If I feel something does not feel right or if I feel too tired to make it to a session I will always ensure I do what I feel is right. For me, although I am still hitting PBs, this is not about taking it all too far but rather about keeping strong and in shape for as long as I feel it is suitable for me. Right now I feel fine to continue but will review it at each session to see what is the best decision for me. I have also been getting in some walks and plan on taking up pregnancy yoga in the coming weeks.
Bump Watch
There has definitely been some bumpage appearing in the past week or so. It is at that tricky stage where is still sort of looks like I ate all the pies rather than being a bump but I am trying to embrace it! I think it feels a little strange as I am used to being slim and I find it funny to see this bulge but I know it is my little baba growing in there rather than a muffin top!
I hope to make these posts a regular part of my blog for the remaining 6 months. I hope you enjoy them and continue to come back to read them!
Talk soon

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Paleo Celebration Chocolate Cake

As the weekend of love looms ahead of us I thought I would share the recipe for a delicious grain, dairy and refined sugar free chocolate cake which will satisfy even the biggest chocoholic in your life! If you are not lucky enough to have a significant other in your life, why not make this for you and your mates and eat it while tucked up watching a chick flick? Nothing spells sisterly solidarity better than a slice of chocolate cake! And this one is guilt free!

This recipe is actually not my own. I came across it on a website called and it was a huge hit in our house so I thought why mess with it!? It is even nicer the following day and it so rich and yummy.

Here is the recipe guys! Happy Valentines!

  • 3 cups blanched almond flour
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ¾ cup raw cacao powder
  • ½ cup raw coconut palm sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup coconut milk, full fat
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons raw honey
Middle Layer Chocolate Ganache*:
  • 1 can (13.5 ounces) full fat coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons raw honey
  • 4 tablespoons raw cacao powder
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Chocolate Frosting:
  • 6 tablespoons coconut milk, full fat
  • ¾ cup 75% chocolate chips (use chopped if you cannot find it)
  1. Preheat oven at 175C
  2. Grease the bottom and sides of a 7-inch springform pan with coconut oil and line the bottom with parchment paper
  3. In a large bowl mix together the almond flour, coconut flour, raw cacao powder, raw coconut palm sugar, baking soda and salt
  4. In a separate bowl whisk together the coconut oil, coconut milk, eggs, vanilla and honey
  5. Using a rubber spatula, gently mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients to form a batter. Do not over mix.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, approximately 45-50 minutes. If you feel you need to cook it longer, cover cake with aluminum foil to prevent burning the top and lower the heat to 160C. Cook until toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Let cake cool completely then cut horizontally in the middle
  8. Spread the chocolate ganache over the bottom half of the cake and refrigerate for 30 minutes
  9. Top with other half of cake, then spread the chocolate frosting over the top and sides of the cake
  10. Sprinkle top with shaved dark chocolate if desired
Middle Layer Chocolate Ganache:
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the coconut milk and honey to a light boil
  2. Simmer on low heat for two hours, stirring occasionally. Do not cover the pan. You will know you cooked it long enough when the coconut milk is reduced to half and has a thicker consistency and darker color, similar to sweetened condensed milk.
  3. Mix in the raw cacao powder and vanilla extract and stir until all is combined and smooth
  4. Let it cool and refrigerate until cake is ready
Chocolate Frosting:
  1. melt the chocolate chips in a bowl over simmering water (double boiler)
  2. mix coconut milk with melted chocolate until all is combined and smooth
  3. let cool for 5 minutes before icing the cake
The middle layer chocolate ganache takes a long time to make. Make it well ahead of time.

Recipe serves about 10 people.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

My biggest Paleo Project to Date!

It has been a busy few months here in Irish Paleo Girl HQ! I have been super busy since Christmas with lots of projects in January and plenty to keep me occupied. I am really happy at where my business is going and its growth to date and am loving the variety of my clinics and teaching people the benefits of good nutrition via workshops and talks.

I have been busy working on a VERY important project over the past few months one which I am really excited about but haven't been able to share up to now. Intrigued?!

It isn't actually work related at all! It is more of a personal project....... my very own Paleo Baby!! :)

We are really happy to be welcoming our newest addition to the family in August!

I am not going to lie, it has been VERY hard to keep it Paleo over the past couple of weeks. I done a Whole30 in January which was very good for me. I always wanted to know how it would feel to do a Whole30 while pregnant but I done it with no difficulty and I think it really helped prevent morning sickness as I had very balanced blood sugars and very little nausea.

I have been really lucky as I have been very well up to now. I finished my Whole30 last Friday and I have been having MAJOR cravings for bread of all things since! I decided to make my own bread the other day to help me overcome the cravings and it definitely helped. I will probably add in more Paleo baked foods to help with my sweet tooth but to also limit me reaching for the wrong foods.

I am usually very disciplined with my eating but I am finding it pretty tough over the past few days. Damn hormones!

I will be adding more pregnancy related topics to my blog if anyone is interested and will be taking you through my journey of Paleo Nutrition in Pregnancy!