Real Food Rocks!

Think of these NOT as food

Always, and as soon as possible, abstain from these foods.

  • Sugar Eating sugar releases dopamine in our bodies. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is a key part of the “reward circuit” associated with addictive behavior.
  • Sweeteners These can lead to cravings and keep the ‘sweet tooth’ going. If you need them as a transition from sugar that’s ok but keep in mind that you need to quit them eventually.
  • Flour Bread cakes or biscuits.
  • Breakfast cereals Cereals are loaded with refined grains, sugar, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, and other ingredients.
  • Junk Food Nearly always a combination of refined carbohydrates, fat and salt (pizza, burgers, doughnuts) not to mention a host of weird chemicals.
  • Alcohol Many alcoholic drinks are sugar-based and alcohol acts in the same area of the brain as sugar, making it easier to relapse.
  • Dairy Milk, cream, cheese are commonly craved by food addicts.
  • Nuts and Seeds Commonly overeaten and craved by food addicts.
  • Higher sugar fruits Modern fruits like bananas have much more sugar in them. (6 teaspoons on average!)
  • Caffeine Some food addicts do better cutting out caffeine.

What is left is our proper ancestral human diet

Real, whole-foods: meat, fish, eggs, fats, low-sugar fruits and green vegetables. Things that don’t come in packages. Think about these foods. In my experience these ‘whole foods’ are never the source of cravings or addiction. You may really enjoy a big steak and salad but it will quickly fill you up quite unlike ice-cream, biscuits or trifle! Study the food lists on page 54 for more details.

Low carb gives you food freedom!

GEORGIA A typical day for me might include salmon, duck breast, chicken broth, seltzer, one small cup of coffee or tea, and occasionally a few low-carb plant foods that don’t seem to bother me such as cucumber, zucchini, olives, or mushrooms. I usually eat between noon and 6 pm.

Starchy carbohydrate foods like rice, potatoes or bread are actually high-sugar foods when they are dealt with in the body by digestion. In fact, the starch molecule is glucose molecules joined together that your digestion will split back down into sugar again. So just because it isn’t sweet doesn’t mean it won’t set off cravings. Look at just how much sugar is in some common foods. This isn’t just a problem from a carb addiction point of view. Excess carbohydrate leads to high insulin which causes fat storage and ultimately metabolic problems leading to serious long-term conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Alzheimer’s, several cancers and other serious conditions have also been linked to poor metabolic health and obesity — common in those with a poor diet.

I know some of you will already be thinking that it isn’t possible to live only on the green list foods
I would have thought that once too. But now I know the freedom that comes with this lifestyle far outweighs the momentary pleasure of a cupcake or choc- olate bar. The kind of food plan you are aiming for is often referred to as low carbohydrate or keto. Many of you will have tried such plans before and even- tually ‘failed’. I did Atkins for a few years and did really well until I started eating more processed meats and snacks and eventually relapsed. Many keto and low carb plans allow high levels of dairy or have whole books on recreating breads, cakes and ‘junk food’. I’m not certain of many things, but I know our ancestors were not eating cupcakes made with nut flours and sweetener! I have made these things in the past but it always ended badly. You are aiming for a very clean keto or low carbohydrate plan.

There are two ways to transition to a new food plan

Either ‘cold turkey’ or step wise. Both require a great deal of planning and determination. Go with what is right for you and if it doesn’t work try another way. I went cold turkey initially but have also worked hard on a range of habits

The Problem and The Remedy

Over the years like sticking to black decaf coffee, giving up the idea of dark chocolate and nuts, eating less frequently and finally quitting alcohol this year. Think of it as lifelong self-improvement. The advantage of cold turkey is that it takes the complexity out of transition and after a few days you will get to feel the glorious benefits of being free of drug foods. My husband, David, did it in a more stepwise way but he isn’t really a full-blown carb addict. He had a bad biscuit habit, it sounds ridiculous but they were part of how he coped with being senior partner at the practice. To make giving them up possible, he transitioned from Jaffa Cakes to plain oat biscuits and then onto almonds, after a year he was able to stop snacking all together. However, the downside for anyone ‘transitioning’ is that they are vulnerable to slipping back during the process.

Preparing for your successful new way of eating

In the early days of recovery, you will be very vulnerable to cravings and temp- tation. Be prepared by doing everything you can to maximise your chances of getting at least two weeks of sugar-, flour- and grain-free eating under your belt. By that stage the majority of people will be noticing the upsides of giving up these foods. Brighter mood, more energy, better sleep and so on. Noticing these benefits will help you to keep going and get you back on track if you sway.

  1. Set a date to start. Choose a time without too many big commitments, socialising or disruption but not a two-week holiday as its actually good to keep your mind busy.
  2. Go through your cupboards, fridge and freezer in advance and get rid of all your ‘drug’ foods. From now on you are eating for health, not for amusement. Give stuff away, donate to the food bank or bin it. The bin is where that stuff belongs, not in you. You are not a dustbin. I do get that people hate food waste though, so give it away if you can’t bin it.
  3. Re-stock your fridge, freezer and cupboards with recovery foods from the green list. Some tins and jars are fine but ALWAYS read the label to check for SUGAR. Its everywhere. Find local sources of quality fresh vegetables, meat and fish. You will be saving the planet as well as yourself by not eating food flown around the planet and it works out cheaper. Consider shopping online for bulk items so you don’t need to be tempted at the supermarket.
  4. Have your own cupboard, fridge shelf and freezer section if other people in the house are not going to follow the same nutrition plan as you. The idea is to look as little as possible at trigger foods in the first few weeks. I can now happily go to buffets and walk straight past the chips, sandwiches, cakes and deserts. In the early days I would have been unable to do that.
  5. Discuss with house mates and family what you are doing and why. It will depend on your circumstances whether you will be cooking
  6. for yourself or still catering for others. I used to make the main meal e.g., chicken curry and green beans then add microwave rice for my son who was still having carbs at that point. Keep it simple.
  7. Plan your eating, particularly at first. Make sure you have plenty of tasty and nutritious real food so as not to be hungry. Fat is allowed and necessary for recovery. This is not a DIET. It’s a way of life.
  8. Start with three good meals a day based on protein, veg/salad and good fats. Have breakfast when you get hungry, if you never ate it, no need to start now, just have two good meals a day. Don’t eat after 6pm. This is much better for your metabolism.
  9. Try not to snack, but if you need to, choose something high in protein/fat.
  10. Some people who cut back hard on carbs get a thing called ‘keto-flu’ for a few days. This may include; headaches, mild nausea, poor concentration and muscle cramps. It is due to the body changing over to
  11. fat burning as described earlier. It helps to stay hydrated, avoid strenuous exercise, and increase dietary salt (the lower insulin levels cause you to wee out a lot of salt).
  12. If you are on prescribed medication particularly for diabetes your plan will need checking with the doctor or nurse responsible in case doses need to change. I’ve given an example day of eating just as a loose guide. It’s important that you eat the foods you like. Also notice when you are truly hungry rather than eating out of habit. Many of us on low carbohydrate diets find that after a few weeks we are much less hungry and drop snacks and sometimes meals. I never eat breakfast now. I never snack. I have a big lunch. Find what works best for you and your schedule.

Food Guide to get you started

(Click to download this except ‘Chapter 3: The Problem and The Remedy’ from ‘Fork in the Road’ by Dr Jen Unwin)

A Typical Day

JEN People will not always understand or want to understand. Have the conviction to stand your ground and leave if you have to. Have an exit strategy. Always have a back up plan. Eating out is something I’ve always loved. I’ve just adapted how I order. If bread is brought to the table, say you don’t want it. It’s hard to resist once it’s there. We ask to keep the butter to add to our food! Choose your meal to be as compliant as you can. Prawn salad, pate, charcuterie to start for example. Meat or fish with vegetables for main course. Steak is perfect. If you aren’t full after that we have been known to have another starter instead of the pudding!

Or have the cheese course if it doesn’t kick off cravings for you.

We have never had an issue with special requests. Of course, certain places are more of a challenge and we don’t go to Chinese restaurants now because many of the sauces have sugar in. In an Indian restaurant choose the mixed tandoori with vegetable sides. Most of all, learn to love your kitchen and get cooking!

ANNA I eat beef, seafood, poultry, pork, eggs, bone marrow, cod liver, butter, some cheeses, yogurt, cottage cheese etc. I use mostly animal fats for eating and cooking. I have fermented veggies like pickles and kraut occasionally, and a serving of veggies once in a while. I have five auto-immune conditions, and my RA (rheumatoid arthritis) is in complete remission right now, so it is easy for me to eat this way, not a punishment. Each bite I eat, I enjoy. I know I am providing my body with deep nutrition. I don’t worry about what others think or about what they eat. This is my food plan and it works for me. I eat to satiety, and do not weigh or measure. I do not think everyone has to eat “my way”. Each person must find a food plan that works for them.

GEORGIA While low glycaemic index diets, low-carbo-hydrate diets, exercise, and portion control all helped
with recovery efforts to some extent over the years, I credit a lecture by Dr. Ron Rosedale for opening my eyes
to the benefits of protein moderation. It was really the discovery of the concept of ketosis (which was harder for me to achieve with carbohydrate restriction alone) that allowed me to experience significant and sustainable relief from cravings for the first time.

BITTEN My typical day is: 56 am Bulletproof Coffee, water, midday protein (meat any kind, eggs, fish), fat (usually butter or ghee) and sometimes above ground veggies, such as cooked broccoli. Mid-afternoon, water and one cup decaf, sometimes with MCT oil and collagen. 56 pm the same as lunch.

DAVE My food plan is simple: primarily meat and low carbohydrate vegetables. Fat for cooking. Drinks: decaffeinated tea and black coffee. Nothing complex about it. I love to cook, but even more I love to keep it simple. I have been known to eat a big ground beef patty, seasoned with salt and a splash of sugar-free hot sauce or to eat six eggs cooked in grass-fed butter.