This blog is intended to be a guide for Dr Michael Mosley’s The Clever Guts Diet. You’ll need a copy of this book to fully appreciate and follow what I’m talking about. I’m not going to supply the recipes or meal plans because I don’t want to get sued. And also, you should buy the book, it’s pretty good reading.
What’s it all about then?
If you don’t know who Micheal Mosley is, you should. He’s so hot right now. I saw him on Insight a few weeks ago and his segment left me fascinated by the science of the gut. In summary:
“Your gut is astonishingly clever. It contains millions of neurons – as many as you would find in the brain of a cat – and is home to the microbiome, an army of microbes that influences your mood, weight and immune system.
In this groundbreaking book, Dr Mosley takes us on a revelatory journey through the gut, showing how junk food and overuse of antibiotics have wiped out many “good” gut bacteria, leading to a modern plague of allergies, food intolerances and obesity.
Setting the record straight on everything from prebiotics to probiotics, fermented foods to fasting, Dr Mosley provides scientifically proven ways to control your appetite and boost your mood.“
The book explains the science of the gut, and how it’s linked to our health and well being. That part convinces you that it’s a very good idea to adopt a gut- friendly lifestyle. It then provides a two phase meal plan with recipes. Phase 1 – Remove and Repair is about eliminating common irritants to allow your guts to heal. Phase 2 – Reintroduction brings in prebiotic and probiotic foods to increase the diversity of your gut bacteria, your Biome. The meal plans look delicious, but I want to test them out to see just how achievable it is to follow them and integrate the shift in lifestyle into ‘real life’.
Why am I doing The Clever Guts Diet?
IBS like symptoms. I’m not going to go into any detail, but fair to say that regular and comfortable are not words I would use to describe my digestive system;
Endometriosis like symptoms. I’ve been having problems for a while and I’m facing surgery to check what’s going on. I’ve noticed that when I eat better my symptoms are typically better. I’d like to explore this more;
Mental health. I’ve struggled with the cliched old anxiety and depression since I was 9. I’m getting better, but I’m curious to see how much a gut-friendly diet affects my state of mind;
It’s Dry July! I’m sober for a month. This is no easy feat for me, I hate to admit that I may have an unhealthy dependence on booze. But I’ve had an amazing amount of support from friends and family and raised over $500 for a great cause. This has been incredibly motivating and one week in I feel great. So why not go the whole hog and sort my diet out while I’m at it?!
Ethics. I’m a greenie at heart. I feel good making conscious decisions to buy organic, limit meat consumption, avoid packaging and not consume excessively. I find it motivating to be true to my ethics, and this plan is well suited to support them.
Weight loss. I’m a serial yoyo dieter. I’ve tried pretty much everything. By counting calories and cutting out fat I’ve managed to shift my weight to plateau at 3kgs lighter than when I’m not ‘dieting’, which is a good thing but… I seriously hate counting calories. Thankfully Mosley has convinced me that it’s not the way to go. I’m hanging around at 69kgs, which not only gives me a BMI in the ‘over weight’ range, but I feel unhealthy, squishy and sore. I’d like to be fit, and I’d like my health to reflect my ethics. I’m not ruled by the scales but I know that I look and feel my best when I’m around 62kgs, so that is my goal.
Why am I doing a blog?
I really want to explore just how realistic this Diet is. I’m convinced that it’s one I need and want to do, and will kick start the healthy eating lifestyle I’ve been craving for years. Do I need a little extra motivation? Yep. Do I want to share my experience of how it changes my life? Sure, it might help someone out. Do I want to put the plan to the test and see just how well it fits in with a family of four with two working parents? Hell yes. This needs to work for us. I want to work out how I can make it.
What will I do?
I’ll work through each day and review the recipes, make suggestions and provide tips. I’ll provide guides when I see fit to try and streamline the plan and make it work with ‘real life’ so that I’m not spending every waking moment meal prepping. And of course I’ll share any results I see and feel.
Hey all. I know I’ve completely dropped the ball on the meal plans and shopping lists. It’s been a tough year.
But guess what happened in the meantime? Mosley pretty much did what I was planning to do… his new ifast12 program combines gut friendly meals, fasting and HIIT. Complete with recipes, shopping lists, meal plans and workout guides. I’ve just signed up, I’ll drop in with the occasional review but it looks to me like the perfect partner for The Clever Guts Diet… https://www.facebook.com/IFast12Australia/
Told you I’d be back. Here I am with my little buddy, Mosley. Serious business.
So yes… sorry I let you all down before. I’m sure there are hundreds of you out there cursing me right now for completely ruining your life. I’m convinced of it.
For those of you who are new… I’m prone to sarcasm.
A quick recap, because it is relevant to my journey, and thus this blog and it’s resources…
I moved house. I am now a single working mum with two young Things living in a tiny terrace house. We love it. We are close to everything including my much loved job, the art gallery, the beach, the park, the library, the Grinch (who is decidedly less Grinchy in his new lifestyle also), awesome bars and restaurants…. oh…. wait…… that last part doesn’t really help my cause. But I’ll work it out. I’ve adopted a philosophy (after many months of angst) to live life as simply as possible, in the belief that a simple life will follow. Actually I stole that from a friend, who enlightened me in a particularly chaotic and guilt ridden moment by asking me these questions…
1. What do you need to keep you going? Where do you get your strength from that is not reliant on anyone else? Protect that.
2. Design the life you want. Within the context of your life right now, how can you get the basics as simply as possible? Live in a house near a school and work, a park and food supplies… you just need to survive this.
3. Don’t think long term…. unfortunately no one gets to live the ‘ideal’ life all the time.
4. Live where you need to live because it’s your turn to be the parent and you can only do what you can do. Who the fuck needs to try for mother of the year?
Thanks Kylie, I owe you one.
For the last few months the Things stayed at their old school which meant I was commuting 2-3 hours a day. That’s a lot of time sitting in traffic belting out tunes and not much time living a healthy lifestyle. I know what you are all thinking… what’s the point in this whole clever healthy gut diet thing if it doesn’t fit in with a busy lifestyle? I’m glad you thought it, because the point is THIS BLOG.
It’s difficult to maintain a healthy eating program when your life is busy. No one has time for that, right? I don’t have time to discover fancy new meals and count calories and shop at organic wholefood stores and cook on multiple burners at once. I don’t have time to be that organised.
But you know what else I don’t have time for? Being unhealthy. I can’t waste my life getting by in a state of day to day chaos because it seems easier. It’s not easier.
It’s been six months since I followed this program religiously for about six weeks. I’ve made a few observations in that time. I was pleasantly surprised to find that even when I stopped following the book word for word, I maintained a level of health for some months. I put this down to a few things. The first being that the ‘program’ had obviously worked. I felt healthier and stronger and that comes from somewhere pretty damn obvious. So I think my body and guts were better equipped to withstand my revert back to, well…. lets face it… booze and fries, for some time.
I did also stick to the INTERMITTENT FASTING somewhat and I’m pretty confident that played a big part. Eating poor or eating well, if you are not eating as much, and not eating at the wrong times, it’s obviously going to help. Doing this made me get used to being hungry. In fact, hungry is the wrong word. It made me get used to not being over fed. That feeling that I associate with hunger is not really a need to eat. It’s often simply a need to drink water. Or move. When I focus instead on the other things that come with a slight tummy rumble then my mind is put at ease. I’m more aware of my thoughts, I have more energy, I’m more motivated.
A long story short however is that I’m back to where I was before I fell in love with this book. I stopped fasting, I gave in to the ‘hunger’, and then the weight came back, the bad guts came back, the low immunity came back. The feeling like shit came back.
So it’s time to start again, it’s the NEW YEAR after all, and that’s when people like me do stuff like this. And I’m going to take you with me, because what I won’t be doing is Phase 1. I’m just going straight into Phase 2 with a view of making it Phase LIFE.
If you are new here, I hope you got my jokes. But also, go back and read the earlier stuff because Phase 1 may be worth doing for you. For me, right now, it’s not. But when I first did it, it was. And I’ll probably go and do it again in a few weeks. Just to prove that it can be done, with a job, and two little kids. And who knows…. maybe I’ll need to. Maybe it’s kinda the point. We shall see.
Next post will be Phase 2’s shopping list and meal plan… so exciting!
So before you all completely write me off as a useless resource, I want to reassure you that I’m not done with this.
Have I broken promises… well yes. Oh the shame.
However, in my defence life has been particularly challenging of late. The Grinch and I have parted ways. We both saw it coming but it has been difficult. It’s difficult on me, on him, on The Things and on our families. But… bigger picture thinking, we are good. We’re good at being mates. And co-parents. So it’s ok. And it will get better.
Fair to say that with the logistics of moving, and the emotions that come with it, blogging has been pretty much impossible. That said, Mosley has never been far from my mind. I have a lot of material that I intend to share with you all. As well as all that stuff I promised before.
So sit tight, again. It IS worth it. I’m not counting calories, I’m not religiously following a meal plan, but my habits have changed and I still feel good for the most part. The weight has snuck on a little bit, but no where near as much as I would have expected given my current emotional state. I’m pretty convinced that I reset my system by following the meal plan, and that the benefits of that time are ongoing. And I have every intention to do it all over again soon….
Pride: that I could maintain the optional health I was feeling, without trying too hard;
Gluttony: in the form of red wine and dark chocolate. And pasta. And bread;
Sloth: for I have not blogged recipes, meal plans or shopping lists, as promised.
So here’s how it looks. I’m still following the meal plan that I developed from Phase two, for the most part. Sure the meals are simple and nutritious, but I have not been mindful enough to ensure that I get a sufficient amount of diverse nutrition every day, and I feel I’m missing some essential gut-supporting foods. My kombucha has been brewing away unattended for over a week. Not a single lemon has been cut. The only turmeric I’ve encountered has been in the form of a latte at a friends house. Accompanied by red wine. And white bread. And blue cheese. Bloody delicious.
And what does it all mean? My gut symptoms are bad again. My weight has plateaued, again- albeit 4 kg lighter than it was before I started. I’ve been fighting a cold that has plagued our household and I’d managed to completely avoid for two months. Before I embarked on this journey I would have a cold about once a month. Coincidence? Maybe. Probably not. At the moment I feel tired, and drained. It could be the cold, it could be that my immune system is not being properly supported, it could be that I’ve been drinking too much wine. It’s a little too easy for me to take the ‘red wine is good for you’ mind set. It’s a little too easy to think that ‘good’ food alone is enough, and doesn’t need additional support. This, my friends, is where the gut diet holds it’s own. This is not about a quick fix. It’s about ongoing support for my body, to see long term results- for my mind as well as my health.
Today I’m in for surgery and I’m nervous and anxious, and my body is feeling the strain. I wish I’d given it more support in the last week. I intend to give it optimal support in the recovery period. I intend to get back on the gut wagon, and embrace some virtues instead:
Humility: I shall accept Mosley’s advice and embrace the ‘diet’ again;
So this is Phase two, or as I like to refer to it: My life now. Welcome.
A few people have asked me how the whole "gut thing" is going, and I probably look more surprised than I should. Because things have changed, and I've gotten used the fact that this is just the way it is now. It's no longer a "gut thing". It's my life.
I eat a lot of salad. A lot of veggies. I'm down to 64kgs (or at least I was before the weekend…), which is just 2kgs from my original target weight. I've reached that target before, but I didn't do it like this. I did it by living on red wine, coffee, and an awful lot of stress. This time I'm heading for that target on a different, better, more enjoyable and more sustainable path.
So here's what I've learnt:
Phase one was a good thing to do. Mostly because it kick started my mental state enough to change my perspective. Could you just go straight to Phase two and avoid all of that scary Green Flax Bread etc? Well, probably yes. My symptoms improved during Phase one, but they improved a lot more during Phase two. It really would depend on how bad your gut is and how much of an 'all or nothing' kinda person you are. I'm striving to be a 'little of this and a little of that' kinda person, but going through Phase one helped me to get there;
I feel good, emotionally, but I'm not "fixed". It's been helpful to discover that healthy eating has improved my mental state, but it's also been helpful to discover that it doesn't change everything. This means that it's not just what I'm eating or not eating, there's more going on that I need to address. That's probably an entirely new blog. I'm sure you are all very exited by the prospect;
My endo-like symptoms have improved significantly. This is really interesting and it warrants further investigation. I'm still going to have the investigative surgery (which is basically to have a look and see if there is endometriosis, and if so burn the shit off), but I'm not going to have any hormonal intervention, which I was planning to do before things improved, to try and prevent it returning. I'm very happy about this. It is very motivating to continue eating well and see if that alone can prevent it returning. If it is even there. Maybe I've just had a bad gut all this time. We shall see;
Healthy eating is habitual. I now feel wrong if I haven't had enough veggies in a day. I crave them like never before;
Healthy eating doesn't have to be awful. Phase one was difficult. Many of the recipes lacked fundamental… what's the word… oh yes- taste. Phase two has been easy, the meals are delicious and diverse. That said, it would be easy to over- eat in Phase two. I have had to go back to counting calories;
Fasting makes the world of difference. My fasting days are essential. Without them my weight would increase, I am sure of it. This is something that I'm going to have to accept and stick to;
I'd really like to say that drinking is okay. The thing is, it all depends on what you personally are willing to compromise on. I like drinking. I like to go out and relax and have fun, and drinking helps me do that. That said, I don't need to drink as much as I thought I did. Especially being dry for a month, a very small amount does the trick pretty quickly. A large amount does a little more than the trick, but geez it's fun. So really, it's about maintenance. I need to be able to enjoy a few. It's part of my life. And what I've learnt is that there is a way I can do that without it being too unhealthy. Mosley drinks. I'm pretty sure I shouldn't use that as a free pass to get wasted, but here is what he has to say about it:
People who have at least one alcoholic drink a week have a more diverse microbiome than those who don't drink at all (I figured I should start on a positive);
Obviously we all know that large amounts of booze isn't great for us. Sad. However, there are studies that support the claim that modest amounts are actually good for us. Happy. The theory is that around 12 units a week is the number to lower the risk of heart failure. What's a unit? They say equivalent to 6 glasses of wine. I'm pretty sure they are referring to a "typical" glass of wine, 100-150ml, and not the kind of glass of wine that my family likes to pour;
Furthermore, wine is particularly helpful because it doesn't just contain alcohol which, in theory, our gut should hate. Wine, especially red wine, contains a very helpful little chemical has been shown to drop blood pressure, reduce inflammation and increase healthy gut bacteria- specifically Bacteroidetes, which- wait for is- is associated with slimness. Woah. So that's what Mosely drinks, and that's what Mosley recommends. And that's why I consider Mosley a god. It is of course important if you are trying to lose weight to also consider the caloritic value of wine and adjust your daily eating to allow for a cheeky little glass in the evening if you so desire. It is also important, if you are trying to lose weight, to not consume a ludicrous number of pints in one sitting. Followed by a pizza. That said, it is also important to live a little.
So where to from here? I've developed a nice little weekly meal plan that seems to provide an appropriate balance. I need to stick to it, and that will be my next challenge. This week I'm going to blog it- yay! I'm also going to link this in with the recipe reviews page for quick reference for you all, because I'm sure it's being used extensively. Stay tuned for my weekly meal plan, with accompanying shopping list. "Epic", as my seven year old Thing would say. "It means cool".
I haven't given up. On the contrary… I'm actually getting somewhere, which is both satisfying and encouraging.
This week just gone I followed the Phase two meal plan again, more or less. I'm certainly starting to customise it to suit our family and lifestyle. Compared to Phase one, Phase two really is quite straight forward.
As planned I did fast for 1 1/2 days. How do you fast for 1/2 a day you ask? Well, you intend to fast all day, make it to about 6pm then throw in the towel, eat a steak and enjoy a glass of red. It was great, but it was not planned.
My mistake was having fasting days too close together. My first day was Tuesday and I found it pretty easy. One boiled egg got me through to 1pm when I had another egg with a colourful salad, healthy fats, nuts and seeds. This filled me up quickly and easily got me through to 6pm when I had turkey burgers and salad. On Wednesday I followed the Phase two meal plan and stuck to 1200 calories. Then I attempted to fast again on Thursday. It just wasn't enough food between fasting days. I got tired, and hangry. People got scared.
This week I will fast tomorrow and Thursday. It obviously helps, because I managed to shift my weight another 1.5kgs, so I think I've given my metabolism a bit of a kick again.
The other thing that I planned to do was the HIT. I planned it, and I did it. It's too early to tell if there are any serious results. Stay tuned.
My guts are pretty good too, I think a little yoghurt, a daily shot of kombucha and lots of colourful veggies is really helping.
Week one of phase two is over and it zoomed along. The meals are fantastic, I felt like I’m eating really well. Sometimes maybe even a little too well. I feel good and my guts are the happiest they have been in a long long time. I was pretty grumpy this week, but I suspect that’s hormonal rather than diet related. In fact, I was probably much better than I would be if I wasn’t eating well (The Grinch may beg to differ). I’m also not losing weight anymore, but more on that weighter (see what I did there?).
I’ve been following the meal plan pretty much bang on. I’ll review each recipe in the Recipe Review section for quick reference. I’ll even do some next. Promise.
Firstly however, there are a few things that I’m going to do this week to try and up the ante.
SLEEP. Sleep sleep sleep. Sleep is really really important. I can’t tell you how important sleep is. Okay I’ll tell you. It’s really important. You have little chance of being healthy without sufficient sleep. Not enough sleep makes you HANGRY (hungry angry) which makes you (or at least me) more likely to over eat, over stress and over grump. Also, studies have shown that too little sleep slows your metabolism and makes it much harder to lose weight. So make sure you are getting at least 7 hours a night. It’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity. New Mum’s- ignore what I just said. You do what you have to do. There is time to sleep later, when your children are over the age of four. If you are lucky. This is probably the fist time in 8 years that I’ve actually been able to achieve the required amount of sleep. Scratch that, the first time in 17 years… uni was worse than having a newborn. My ideal sleep window is 10.30pm -6.30am. But…. I’m not very good at achieving this. I like to have a couple of hours peace and quiet after everyone else is asleep, which can often take me to midnight. This week, I will be asleep by 10.30pm, at least four nights. I’m curious to see if this improves my mood and my weight.
FASTING. Like I mentioned above, I’ve stopped losing weight. I’m also not gaining weight though- this is good. I’ve plateaued at around 67kgs, which is 2kgs lighter than before I started this. That’s not bad, but I want more. My goal is 62kgs, and being able to maintain 62kgs is a priority. So I need to mix things up a bit. The meals in Phase 2 are satisfying so I think it’s time I switched to a 5:2 model. I’m sure most if you have heard of this. Mosely wrote the book on it (literally) so I’ll be following his recommendation. 1200 calories (uh-oh here comes the counting again) 5 days a week and 500-800 calories for the other 2 days. This is my aim for this week. Wish me luck. I’ll still be following the Phase 2 meal plan, I’ll just be looking at dropping a meal tor two. You can read more about the 5:2 plan here: https://thefastdiet.co.uk/ and find some examples of 800 calorie days here: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/52
HIT: So this is an interesting thing- Mosley encourages High Intensity Training (HIT)- short hard bursts of exercise followed by active rest. Studies show that this kind of exercise stimulates our mitochondria- which turns out to actually be our body’s main power plant, and not a magic vest from Lord of The Rings. The great thing about HIT is that studies show that even a few minutes every other day makes a difference to your health and fitness. How easy is that to achieve, huh? I’ll be doing this every morning this week: 2 mins slow warm up; 30 seconds flat our high intensity exercise (run, skip, jump, anything) followed by 30 seconds active rest- x 3, then a 2 minute cool down. 7 minute total workout. Sounds like nothing doesn’t it? I’ll be interested to see if it affects my fitness level. I’ll do a fitness test tomorrow, and then another a week later. I will also continue to work out at my current rate. Think I’m talking rubbish? Read more here: https://www.fast-exercises.com/what-is-fast-exercise/
Alright folks, that’s all for tonight, but I am going to head over to the Recipe Reviews page and start getting it sorted. Over and out.
Aha! You all thought I’d given up, didn’t you?! “That’s it”, you said to yourselves and anyone that might listen (which in my house would be no one),”She’s given up! It’s too hard! It’s not possible to stick to this meal plan, work and look after a family. She’s FAIIILLLLED!”
I didn’t fail. It IS possible. It’s just not possible to blog every day as well.
I’m sure you’ve all missed me terribly. Actually a few people have apologised for not reading my blog lately. It’s ok… I forgive you.
Week two is over and my oh my did it go quickly. I was greatly relieved to survive the week with minimal shopping and cooking due to most meals being ready to go from the freezer. There were a few re-makes and I will cover them in the Recipe reviews section. By the end of the week I was dead set exhausted, but really that’s the same every week. If anything, I held it together for longer than I usually would. I think I was also more productive at work. My boss may beg to differ. All in all it was a good week. I even made some people try to cake.
Oh and my Kombucha is ready! Boy do I love it. I will also cover that in the recipe section.
So what’s the verdict, and where to from here?
I was a little disheartened at first because I am still having IBS-like symptoms. I was really hoping these would have improved a little more by now. I spent a few days debating, mostly with myself but sometimes with others, about what to do about it.
The way I saw it I had four options:
1. Re-do Phase one in the hope that another week or two of eliminating most classic culprit foods (gluten, lactose, fruit) would make things improve some more;
2. Quit The Clever Guts Diet and go to a low FODMAP diet to try and pinpoint exactly which foods specifically are causing me issues (a slow and arduous process and one that historically I have not been very good at seeing through);
3. Head straight on in the Phase two, which is all about feeding the good bacteria in my gut and trying to improve the diversity and strength of my microbiome so that they can fight ant intolerance’s that I might have; or
4. Quit all together, order a pizza and crack a bottle of red.
And the winner is….. *drumroll*…… true to the purpose of this blog and in the interest of things being a bit more interesting- I’ve chosen to dive head first in to PHASE TWO- YAY!
So just a brief wrap up and a few tips from Phase one:
I lost 3-4 kilos in 2 weeks. I’m pretty happy with that. Even though I am still having some IBS-like symptoms, I feel really good. I have a lot more energy;
The meals were pretty satisfying and it didn’t take too long to get used to feeling just a little bit hungry a fair bit of the time. Now it feels normal. It feels right;
I love love LOVE knowing what we are eating each day. For the bit of preparation required, this is actually a great meal plan to follow. I rest easy knowing that I am well nourished;
I’m enjoying full fat foods- they are satisfying and tasty. AND I’ve lost weight… so….
If, like me, you aren’t a huge fan of lemon in your meals then you could take my approach (and that of one of my adoring fans) to halve the amount called for in a recipe and supplement your intake by having a wedge/squeeze in a cup of warm water every morning;
Get yourself a big tin of olive oil- you will need it!
A squishy (silicon) bottom ice cube tray is your friend. You can get them from Woolies. I made big lots of dressings so that I wasn’t having to make them every couple of days. Freeze them in one of these trays then run some hot water over the bottom and push them out. I think you would struggle to do this with a traditional hard ice cube tray as the dressings are quite thick and sticky. Then pop them in a labelled zip lock bag in the freezer ready for when you are. Also do this with left over puree and stock;
If you are happy to chop, grate, crush garlic and ginger every day- good for you. If you get sick of that pretty quickly, like me, grab a jar or tube of them to keep in the fridge;
Allow the turkey mince to come to room temperature before you get your hands in to it. It’s cold;
If you can manage it, make or prep a few meals at the same time, whilst the kitchen is a mess and you are in the zone;
Cook double batches ready for the following week;
Stay hydrated and make sure you get plenty of sleep- it’s just as important as eating well.
A food processor, or blender;
A nutribullet or cheap Kmart version. I just have a cheap one that came with a couple of extra bottles, and I use it at least once a day:
A decent freezer. This one is annoying. I’ve had to turn on our party fridge just for the freezer space, which I hate doing. But it won’t always be this way, already I am managing to get a rhythm going so that I’m not inundated with frozen goods. We also have a pretty small fridge, so a well organised decent sized freezer will do the trick. Get in there and throw out all that stuff you are never going to eat. Or eat it;
Bathroom scales (no not really, just if you like to see progress);
A stash of ‘kid friendly’ foods to supplement meals and make your life a little easier.
Alright folks, that’s in for tonight I’m afraid. I will blog a summary of today tomorrow. And tomorrow tomorrow. And I will get those shopping lists done!
Now if you will please excuse me, I have a very important date with Jon Snow, so goodnight.
Alright peeps, I wasn’t planning to blog today because, well, frankly I needed a break. Also, as you know, I’ve completed week one and week two is pretty much the same, so what on earth could I have to talk about?! I’ll tell you… cake. Cake!
When I was in high school one of my mates lived a few minutes walk away and we would always end up hanging out at her place after school. Ok, sometimes during school too. Shhh.
Anyway, I was amazed that her mum always had two containers of cake on the bench for the kids to snack on after school. I was more amazed that the kids would come home, have a slice of their chosen cake, and then get on with their afternoons. I couldn’t believe it. I was obsessed with those cakes. I would have a slice of both of them, every time.
I often wonder why it was that they were not consumed by thoughts of cake when I was. Was it because it was available to them every day? Did they have a good solid understanding about the importance of balancing their diet? Was I just a cake addict?
The cakes were healthy, as far as cakes go, and I’m inclined to try and follow suit with my kids. Sensible, home made snacks made available to avoid binging on chocolate bars obtained by any means necessary.
I often make banana bread for Thing 2’s school lunches. Thing 1 doesn’t like banana bread so I’ll make her a cocao nut slice. It’s ok, calm down, her school allows nuts. I love that her school allows nuts. It’s only a small school so everyone is aware of allergies. Nuts are such a fantastic source of protein, they should be in a child’s diet if they can be. I digress….
Who wants to make two cakes/slices each week? That’s just silliness. So I went looking for something that would keep both Things, and both schools, happy (Thing 2’s preschool does NOT allow nuts, which is fair enough when the kids are that age).
I was pretty happy to find a recipe that not only suits both Things, but is dairy and gluten free. In fact it is completely gut friendly. I cut out all snacks last week- I only ate exactly what was on the plan, but tonight (cue dramatic music)… I ate the cake! Never fear, it is ok. Everything that is in this cake is on the list of allowed foods for Phase one. Although it says to avoid snacking between meals, I don’t think one little sneaky piece of gut- friendly cake straight after dinner is going to kill me.
I modified the original recipe a bit, so here is mine- and folks it’s freaking amazing!
1 medium-large raw beetroot peeled and grated (stay with me!)
1/2 an avocado
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup raw cacao
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup raw honey
100g dark chocolate, melted
1/2 tsp bi-carb soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinammon
pinch of salt
Put the beetroot and avocado into a food processor or NutriBullet/rip off NutriBullet like mine and whiz until combined.
Add in the rest of the ingredients and process until mixed.
That’s all! Then just pour the batter into a lined loaf tin.
Bake at 160°C for 45-50 minutes until it is firm to touch and a skewer comes out clean.
I’ve cooked and eaten every. single. meal on the Phase one meal plan (except for that run in with smoked salmon on Breakfast Bread *shudder*).
So how am I travelling? I’ve lost 1.5kg but more importantly I am feeling strong and healthy, I have more energy than I knew was possible, my mind is clear and busy, I’m regulating my emotions much better, and on the digestive front (because this is about guts after all) things are improving. I’m also a little bit proud of myself because I put my mind to something and I stuck to it.
Where to from here? At least another week of the same is in order to fully give my gut a chance to heal and also to iron out a couple of things that I think are still causing issues (maybe broccoli and that cursed beetroot?!). I’m going to follow the meal plan again and this time I will follow it as recommended to see if it makes much of a difference which meals are matched across breakfast/lunch/dinner each day. I have my head around it now so it should flow relatively smoothly. It will be a test for sure- especially tying in with returning to work and making school lunches. At the end of the week I plan to be equipped with an easy to follow cooking plan and shopping lists.
But first- a review of today. Eggs were on the menu- YAY! The meal plan calls for: 2 eggs scrambled with wilted spinach and tomatoes. Slice of Green Flaxseed Bread spread with coconut oil. I’d made the bread on Monday, sliced it as thinly as I could and popped it in the freezer to use as needed. Considering it’s only called upon for one meal in the week this is the only way to go.
So what’s it like? Well, I’m not gonna lie to you. But if you forget about the fact that it’s called bread and let go of any preconceived notions that you may have about it resembling bread at all think then you might be ok. Look it’s not bad, I just wouldn’t want to eat it every day. I got through it, and it’s really really healthy (ground almonds, ground flaxseed, spinach, chia, pumpkin seeds etc), and I could maybe get used to it. That smoked salmon from yesterday probably could have worked on this.
I was willing to overlook the bread in my excitement to have eggs. I’ve missed eggs. I gave these a quick scramble and then poured them into the pan and voilà! An unintentional omelette (not the best time to put a load of washing on as it turns out). I was pretty happy with the omelette though, I mean, who doesn’t love a good omelette right? I popped the ‘bread’ into to the toaster to defrost and then gave it a bit longer to try and get soft and crunchy all at the same time like ‘real’ bread does. It didn’t work. Still, it was ok with a spread of coconut oil (I love this stuff, more on that later), the omelette and some quickly wilted spinach and baby roma’s in the same pan as the egg. A bit of salt and pepper and it wasn’t at all a bad cooked breakfast for a Saturday morning.
I ate late so just rolled in to prepping lunch whilst I was in the kitchen. That sneaky Enzyne-stimulating Green Salad was back on the menu (see previous post https://biomedome.wordpress.com/2017/07/12/phase-one-day-four/). As per day four, I just had regular mixed lettuce leaves but I really need to look into this more to try and figure out what they are going for here- I think I’m missing a piece of the puzzle. Today the salad was paired with Carrot & Turmeric Soup and Flaxseed, Chia & Red Capsicum crackers with Hummus (also previously reviewed on Day four).
The soup was pretty good. I modified it a little because I’d only had two carrots left (The Things are rabbits) and I still had some sweet potato leftover from the Rainbow Ratatouille. I think they added a nice sweetness to it, but I would really like to try it with pumpkin instead. I’m not sure that carrot on it’s own would be that appetising. We shall see. Oh! Watch your bench tops- Turmeric stains things easily. I feel a beetroot/turmeric tie dye session coming up.
We got out to visit some friends this afternoon, to lend them our coffee grinder in exchange for a little lesson on blogging. This is worth mentioning because if it weren’t for these friends, I wouldn’t be doing this. Also, they are great company. Let’s call them the Fuddnuddlers. Why? Because it’s a great name. The Fuddnuddlers all stand on top of each other and if the one at the bottom sneezes, they all come tumbling down to the ground as a dog standing on a mushroom watches them. I like the imagery. It doesn’t actually have anything to do with my Fuddnuddlers, except that they have a dog. ANYWAY… Mrs Fuddnuddler is the person who introduced me to the whole concept of gut health and steered me to my new found hero Dr Micheal Mosley. Mr Fuddnuddler is super clever and great at names. He came up with the name for this blog, that’s how great he is. And little Miss Fuddnuddler is really cute and was very good at keeping The Things amused while we talked about tags and washing detergent.
Everyone was hungry on the way home so they got to eat sushi while I ran into the shops to grab some prawns for dinner. Tonight’s meal was Prawn and Seaweed in Tomato Sauce with Spiralised Zucchini. The recipe uses frozen green prawns, which I couldn’t find anywhere during the week so I had planned to get them ‘fresh’ today anyway. I say ‘fresh’ because from the Deli at Coles/Woolies they are frozen and thawed.
Turns out I should have sourced actual fresh prawns. They weren’t great and they contributed to the meal being a dismal failure. The Things wouldn’t eat it at all and The Grinch grimaced his way through it. He said it “tastes like being dumped at the beach”.
One saving grace was that I’ve been keen to try spiralised Zucchini and I loved it (the others had, or at least were offered, spaghetti) but the problem, aside from the prawns, was the seaweed. Now I was ready to go on a rant about the inappropriate amount used in the recipe, but the truth is I made a mistake here. The recipe says (and now that I read it properly I am laughing out loud at myself) to use 10g of nori sushi sheets, cut in to 1cm squares. 10 GRAMS dammit. Not 10 SHEETS. Gosh, no wonder it was bloody awful. My notes say to modify it down to 3-4 sheets, which, incidentally is about 10g. Good one me. I’m actually pretty impressed that I ate it. Here’s why I did:
Seaweed is really good for you. “seaweeds are excellent prebiotics, packed with vitamins and minerals, as well as fibre and omega 3 fatty acids” (Mosley). It is also a powerful anti- inflammatory* and potentially very effective in the treatment of psoriasis. This is a real breakthrough and the study (by Dr Pia Winberg, University of Wollongong) is due to be released soon.
The other thing about this recipe (or perhaps I should just the “the thing” because the seaweed thing had nothing to do with the recipe and everything to do with me being a twit) is that it uses two tins of chopped tomatoes. Remember how I had heaps of tomato sauce left over from the Baked Rainbow Ratatouille which I chucked in the freezer yesterday? Well, on the meal plan the Prawn and Seaweed in Tomato Sauce dish is actually scheduled as lunch for the same day as the Ratatouille. So why wouldn’t you just use the same sauce and save on onion and garlic chopping/frying time? Also, that’s a lot of tomato based sauciness on one day. I’ll be interested to see how that goes next week.
Figure out exactly what the book means by Enzyne-stimulating Green Salad;
Carrot & Turmeric Soup: It’s a keeper, I’d like to play around with it a little though. Good for the freezer and work lunches.
Prawn and Seaweed in Tomato Sauce: Use fresh prawns and read the damn recipe right. I’ll give this meal another go, it could well end up on our ongoing meal plan because personally I love prawn dishes.
*Ahh asterisk, there you are. So why do I keep going on about foods being anti- inflammatory? Inflammation is bad. Chronic inflammation is the root cause of many serious illnesses such as heart disease, many types of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. It’s also linked to depression. What causes it? Stress, lack of exercise and dietary choices (and a few things that are out of your control such as genetic predisposition** and exposure to toxins). What fixes it? Sleep, exercise and eating foods that reduce it: here is a little recap for you: Oily fish, wholegrains, leafy greens, nuts, tomatoes, beetroot, ginger, garlic, onions, turmeric, olive oil, berries and seaweed).
**Ohh another one. Genetic predisposition. Now, this is really interesting. Mosley talks about it a bit in his book. Why is is that two people can have a very similar diet and lifestyle but their bodies react in different ways? Genetic predisposition you say! Well yes… but there’s actually more to it. It really comes down to your individual microbiome. Your microbiome is formed in the first couple of years of your life, and can depend greatly on if you were born via C-section, if you were breastfed and if you were exposed to antibiotics. That’s not to say that you can’t change it or modify your diet to suit your particular microbiome. It is potentially within our control- it’s not just down to bad luck that you have a “slow metabolism”. This is a fascinating area, and one that I will write more on later.