Dear Husband and I have for some time now been involved in the active pursuit of health.
We are really those kind of folk that sit in the middle. We are neither largely overweight; nor are we super skinny. We are moderate exercisers; neither of us fanatical, neither one a couch potato. As you know there is a higher than usual per capita love of food in this house, but despite that we have always eaten pretty simply during the week. I would like to think we eat relatively healthily at that and we certainly leave our splurging for the weekend.
When we chose to be honest, we were forced to admit that in general we were feeling a little off. Without being too specific, one should always value one’s dignity after all, I will simply say that between the four of us we were experiencing fatigue, sluggishness, constipation, thrush, rampant allergies and slightly more mood swings than would become a small family unit of four.
The question was; where to begin? IT’S A MINEFIELD OUT THERE PEOPLE!!! Anyone who is anyone is the town crier of health and happiness. All we really wanted was to feel great, not brainwashed.
To begin, I read the books of Mary-Ann Shearer and I particularly loved this book and still refer to it often. For me personally though, Mary-Ann’s approach was just too hard to stick to. Mainly I think because I really don’t love fruit enough to eat that much of it.
And then Tim Noakes happened.
I think that it is fair to say that if you have not yet heard about Banting or LCHF you are clearly not a fan of social media or of any kind of hype in general. To catch you up really quickly; Banting or the Low Carb High Fat eating plan is the strongest dietary related thought realignment charge that I have seen in the last decade.
This ‘Real Meal Revolution’ has sparked fiery debate between dietitians, nutritionists and -dare I say it-the rather fanatical Revolution leader himself, Prof. Tim Noakes. But the advancement of Banting and its carbohydrate avoidant army continues unabated, like a tidal wave of Noakesism set on drowning us all in coconut milk, butter and cream.
On the home front Dear Husband was sold; after all Tim had promised that if he joined the revolution he too would run like the proverbial wind. So we bought the book and we dived in. Dear Husband managed to beat his long held diet record of a staggering 6 hours and here we are four weeks on, still Banting. Well, sort of.
In this short time of a more or less 80% Banting accuracy rate, we have experienced the following: a complete lack of allergy attacks all round. Score. A far greater consistent energy level throughout the day, indeed those afternoon slumps have all disappeared. Score. Much um…regularity. Score. An outstanding 0.00kg weight loss. Sads. Balanced, pleasant and even tempers. Score. Reduction in the constant desire to be eating something. Score.
Yes, I think it is fair to say that we have had some promising results. It must also be said however that if I was a person whose constitution was undeterred in life or in wellness by breads and other vicious carbohydrates, this revolution would be a particularly hard sell. Breakfasts are unimaginably hard on me – I miss my bowl of oats beyond measure. Also, most of the things I love to eat and certainly all of the things I love to bake can be found on Tim’s dreaded Red List. I do not foresee a day on which I would be willing to bid them all farewell for good.
Secondly, this eating plan comes at a cost. As Thomas’s mom correctly said; Banting is a rich man’s diet. Great vegetables, free range meat, almond flour, these things don’t come cheap; neither does butter at around R 30 / 500 g or cream or even full cream Greek yoghurt. It is also not for the faint hearted as much preparation and planning are key to avoid falling off the wagon. I can describe it as the diet where you pretty much lock up your pantry and only eat from the fridge.
I am loathe most of the time to run with a trend, more so when it comes to what I eat. And even something like Banting, in my opinion, needs to be measured against what we as a family are able to expend and assessed against the outcomes of we want.
For my family, what I have realized is that the pursuit of health and a feeling of wellness lies in purposeful mindful eating alone. In real terms that lies somewhere between Mary-Anne and Noakes, taking the best of both. It is in embracing that we have both the ability to re-look at what we eat; questioning all that we have been taught, as well as being in a position privileged enough to make any changes where those answers are found wanting.
This experience has made us so much more aware of what kind of foods we buy and more importantly what is actually in them. And this for one simple reason: eating only real food feels different.
If you are wondering about our kiddos, we have pretty much weaned them off all breakfast cereals, processed foods and unnecessary sugar. They eat mostly what we eat. Both still have sandwiches and on some evenings I will make them some pasta in addition to whatever we are eating. Pretty Girl has been easier to win over than our resident chocolate monster, but it’s a process. We are working at it enjoying where we are heading.
So that has been quite a healthy …ahem… mouthful. I leave you with a simple Banting friendly Bacon and Tomato Soup, with which you may most certainly eat some crusty bread if you are so inclined.
As for the rest of what you eat this week, make good choices.
- 15 ml (1 T) butter
- 15 ml (1 T) olive oil
- 250 g bacon, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 1 celery stick, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 4 x 410 g cans whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 liter (4 C) prepared chicken stock
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 15 ml (1 T) basil leaves, roughly chopped
- Heat the butter and oil, add the bacon and fry for a few minutes to seal.
- Add the onion, carrots and celery and fry until soft. Stir in the garlic, the tomatoes and stock.
- Bring to the boil then simmer for 30 minutes.
- Puree the soup and season to taste.
- Stir in the basil.
- Serve hot.