Cereal, How I (Used To) Love Thee…

I find myself ‘reminiscing’ about things I no longer eat.  Like cereal.

I haven’t eaten cereal since climbing aboard the Primal wagon almost 2 years ago.  We’d tried a ‘low-carb’ diet several years before, when Atkins / South Beach / (insert name of other low-carb diets here) were all the rage – in fact we went with Barry Groves‘ approach from his ‘Eat Fat Get Thin’ book and stuck with it for over a year.  Being ‘true carnivores we found it worked well for us, but went back to the Red/Green approach from a Slimming World diet we’d done on and off over they years, when we wanted to re-introduce baked potatoes, pasta and rice back into our daily food choices – we missed them…

However, Mike was finding his tolerance for rice worsened as he got older, giving him VERY unpleasant side effects that escalated to the point where he’d not be able to breathe due to the amount of swelling in his stomach after eating it.  The swelling was literally giving organs such as his LUNGS no room to expand… :(.  Mint tea was an absolute god-send.  (I must add, rice also makes me feel uncomfortably bloated but nowhere near as bad as Mike).  As is usually the case with intolerances, it’s a food he adores, having been brought up on it as a toddler in Singapore.  His ‘last meal’ would happily be  plain boiled white rice with a soft fried egg on top and soy sauce .  I use the present tense rather than past tense on purpose – the craving hasn’t gone away – just the memory of the pain – and terror the side effects caused –  hasn’t completely disappeared.

First we cut out American long grain rice, as that was particularly nasty on the side-effect front,  changing instead to white basmati.  Then that started causing a really bad reaction, so we moved to wholegrain (brown) basmati.  A funny thing happened at that point – we decided we weren’t that fussed about rice anymore – we just felt like we had a brick in our tummies as well as still feeling bloated.  Oh and tired…!

Weetabix logo

Image via Wikipedia

On the cereal front, I’m a true Weetabix girl…when I was 5 I was VERY ill (I managed to get chickenpox and whooping cough at the same time and nearly died).  I lost ALOT of weight and had to be started on solids from scratch again – Weetabix played a big part in getting me eating again.  I love Readybrek as well… and cornflakes, bran flakes…I also got rather fond of some of the muesli’s with lots of nuts and fruit in them along with the bran, wheat, oats in there….you get the picture… However, I’m also a long-time IBS suffer from being very young, and whilst I love them, cereals are NOT good for me.  Cereals plus my IBS do not good bedfellows make…of course health professionals were always telling me to ‘increase my fibre intake’ to help with my IBS…ow ow ow ow ow ow…

So, back in April 2010 we started talking about cutting out starchy carbohydrates again – cereals, rice, bread, potatoes, pulses and pasta.  Our pasta consumption was becoming ridiculous.  I’d pretty much always cook a 500g pack of spaghetti for the two of us, but I’d started to increase it to a pack and a half… We could eat an awful lot of it at one sitting – it would take a fair amount to feel ‘full’ and I always used the ‘if we don’t eat it all it makes great leftovers for a cold lunch the next day’ excuse – it very rarely made leftovers though.   Oh and it was ‘free’ on a Green Day on Slimming World if I just made my chopped fresh tomato and basil topping for it… we literally were ‘allowed’  (encouraged) to eat as much as we wanted / until we were full!.

Cover of "The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram...

Cover via Amazon

We did our usual thing of researching on the internet and stumbled upon the Paleo / Primal principles.  Mark Sisson’s site – ‘Mark’s Daily Apple‘  and specifically his ‘Primal Blueprint‘ was an absolute mine of information and a great starting point for us.   We dove right in, with a lot of the primal aspects making sense.  Unlike the low-carb approaches we’d looked at in the past, it went with the eating clean approach – lots of meat, veggies, berries, fats – anything that hasn’t been messed around with – no additives, no chemicals – that kind of thing.   (Unlike Paleo it’s also tolerant of dairy if your body is tolerant of it!)

Let me get one thing straight though – we’re not purists when it comes to Primal.  We eat some processed meats – bacon, salami, cured hams.  We eat dairy – butter, small amounts of cheese (mainly sheep’s milk based ones unless it’s Cheddar as we don’t digest cow’s milk cheeses very well – we found that out the hard way when we overdid it a bit…), cream (again, in moderation…) and Greek yoghurt.   Occasionally, for special occasions, I bake with unrefined sugars. We’re also very lucky in that we’re not 100% gluten-intolerant – we can occasionally eat small amounts of wheat flour in cakes and bread without too many side effects.  (We don’t handle large amounts well at all…)

I think the best way to describe us and our Primal approach is that we use the 80/20 principle.  We’ve found a way of eating that works really REALLY well for us and we feel so much ‘healthier’! (Another website / author we love is Matt Madeiro – Matt’s really down to earth about lots of stuff, including Primal, and helps me ‘keep it real’.  Here’s a link to his site ‘Three New Leaves‘  🙂  I love one of his posts – ‘Make it Count‘ – it is SO on the nose!  I don’t WANT to reintroduce bread, rice, pasta, potatoes as part of my daily diet!  If I have it occasionally, then that’s me applying the 80/20 principle!  I ‘make it count’!

We both lost around 15% of our body weight in the first year  (around 6 stone – that’s 84 lbs – between us) and have pretty much kept it off   (Ok – we may have put few pounds back on since November – too many ‘good things’ happened 🙂 – but they’ll come off again now we’re ‘back on the wagon‘).  We’ve  felt a lot better for it – unlike our bank account – we had to buy a lot of new clothes…and shoes…shame :).  We’ve ‘stuck’ though – we just don’t ‘move’ enough – in fact were both TERRIBLE at it – exercise has never been something either of us has liked or enjoyed – and let’s be honest, we’re just plain LAZY.   We know we need to though.  We’ve got bikes waiting for slightly spring-like weather.  (I won’t mention the weights, step bench, stretch bands and kettle bells we have in our spare room that look at us accusingly when we venture in there…told you – LAZY)

When I find myself ‘reminiscing’, all I need to do is include in there those memories of how awful it was seeing Mike not able to breathe, or how much pain I had in my stomach from my IBS (I still get it but it’s stress related not food related) or remember how upset I got when I had to ask for an seatbelt extension for a flight to Barcelona (I wasn’t too big for a ‘standard’ seatbelt – the seat I was in had a smaller belt for some strange reason – I had no problems on the flight back!) It was an enormous shock to my system though and I swore to myself I would NOT let myself get big enough to REALLY need one…  (I now like to see the amount of ‘spare’ webbing I have when I wear one since getting smaller and how much room I have between my tummy and the tray table when it’s down 🙂 )

So, onwards and upwards – or should that be downwards! 🙂

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2 Comments on “Cereal, How I (Used To) Love Thee…”

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