Tag Archives: Lifestyle

Lifestyle vs. Diet

Today I want to ramble on a bit about what it really feels like to change your lifestyle from whatever it was before to a LC one. Please note that I use the term ‘lifestyle’ here; I know I’ve called this a ‘diet’ in the past, but I’m not comfortable with the connotations behind that word so I’m going to elaborate somewhat. For me, the word ‘diet’ infers either a temporary change of what you eat, or, to follow the literal definition, simply ‘what you eat’.

So what’s the difference then between a LC diet and a LC lifestyle?

Simply put: an LC diet is a temporary diet change that will – in theory – let you lose weight over a set amount of time before you go back to eating whatever it was that you were eating before. Like most ‘diets’, doing this is likely to cause you to regain the weight you’ve lost over time, but we don’t judge, so if you’re aiming to lose those 10kg before your wedding next year, by all means go for your life. A lifestyle change – no matter if it’s dietary, physical, whatever – is permanent. And by permanent I mean, ongoing for the foreseeable future. I’ve made a lifestyle change, as I know most of you have too. For me this means reducing the amount of carbs – especially processed ones! – that I consume for the rest of my life. It’s not just a passing fad for us ‘LC lifestylers’, but before any of you start to pity us, it’s okay. Just because we’re in this with both feet, we’re also in it with both eyes open, and if that means we’re going to need a cheat week once every six months, hell, let’s do it! It means that we’ve committed to a dietary lifestyle that aims to keep our blood sugar level by eating low carb and/or low gi. We – mostly – avoid caffeine, fight off cravings by dealing with their chemical and psychological sources, manage our constipation with high-fibre foods, and above all, aim to maintain a healthy weight – this is after we’ve lost the excess! It’s not a constant battle, per se, but rather, it’s something that we’ve chosen. It’s a way of life, just as say, vegetarianism, veganism, or halal choices are a lifestyle/cultural/religious choice, low-carbing can be a choice as well.

Some of us have made the switch for health reasons – like me, with the PCOS and the no-gallbladder thing – while others want to avoid certain processed foods and have made the decision to eat ‘cleaner’. Whatever the reason, it’s an acknowledgement that some things just don’t have quick or easy fixes and require a complete change of living.

When you start out, it’s important that you keep that in mind: what are you doing? Is this a lifestyle change or a diet? Are you going to be in it for the long haul or just the short term? No judging, just make sure you know what you’re going to be doing: this is a commitment thing. If you’re going to do this, make a plan for it. For example, last year in November (2013) I weighed in at 82.2kg. I set myself the rather steep goal of losing 30kg in a year. As I progressed, I realised this wasn’t going to be that easy, given the pitfalls and curve balls that life throws, so I extended that to a year and a half. It’s November 2014 and currently weigh 60.8kg. That’s a 21.4kg loss and that’s bloody awesome, but yes, it’s around 9kg short of what I’d aimed for in the beginning. I realised about half way through the year that I was losing weight too fast; I admit I kind of freaked out when I realised one week that I’d lost 3.4kg. That’s too fast, and not sustainable, so I readdressed the weight loss and now I’m more comfortable. Keep in mind that I’m not in a rush, sure, I’ve set myself a timeframe in which to lose the weight, but I’m more concerned about maintaining it when I get there than getting there as fast as I can.

So what does it feel like? I feel better! I feel awesome. It’s not just the clear headedness that comes from removing processed junk out of my system, but also from losing all that weight. I look at pictures of myself from a year ago and wonder how I didn’t notice that I was lugging all that extra around. At the time I didn’t think it made much of a difference, but golly gee wiz, it makes a difference! I feel more energetic, and yes, occasionally when I slip up some I feel dizzy or nauseous, but I know how to fix it now. I’ve become more in tune with my body, and I know what to listen to and what to ignore. I know that dizzy means I need some protein, nauseous means I need a low gi hit of ‘good’ carbs – usually a carrot or a tomato with some salt! – and I know that headachey means I need to eat now. I also know that I need to eat every 2-3 hours or those symptoms start. This means I now carry snacks around in my bag to avoid me turning to easy available things that might lose me my carb count. I’m being overly cautious at the moment, obviously, because I’m still in the losing weight part of this lifestyle. I’ll tackle the ‘maintaining weight’ bridge when I get there…

Clear skies,

Vee

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Acid vs. Alkaline

I often find that comparing our bodies to cars works really well: we’ve got intake systems, and output systems, and we require fuel to keep ourselves going. Fuel intake depends on the size of the model, and different fuels have different effects, etc. I’m not really very good at the mechanics or the engineering side of cars, though, so I’m going to have to find another analogy for this particular post.

Our bodies are a little bit like water…and given that we’re made up largely of water, that shouldn’t really be too far left field. Water has pH levels, dictating its acidity of alkaline levels – acid, sour; alkaline, er…not-sour? Help me out here, chemistry majors – and so do our bodies. One of the most acidic materials we produce as human beings is bile and stomach acid, which help us digest our food by breaking the substances we consume down into absorbable bits. Fairly straight forward.

For most healthy people, that’s a simple fact of life: you eat, your body digests, you go to the bathroom. Simple. For those of us struggling with health issues – whether it’s migraines, diabetes, PCOS, gall/kidney issues – this gets a little trickier. We might be on a variety of medications that can upset our digestion, or we might be on a particular diet that isn’t necessarily easy to digest, or both. For example: I’ve written about how I had my gallbladder removed in 2012 here, and have subsequently gone on to talk about the agonizing ‘phantom gallbladder attacks’ – a.k.a. bile-dumping – which still occasionally cause me great discomfort and pain. No fun. Lately, I’ve had very few issues with it, a fact which I attribute to switching to this LC diet I’m on: less processed food/sugar to digest has made it a lot easier for my body to regulate its bile production.

Every now and then, however, I do get an attack. They usually happen when I’ve consumed a particularly fatty meal for dinner – not exactly unheard of in an LCHF (Low-Carb High-Fat) diet! – and gone to bed before it’s had a good chance to digest. It starts off like heartburn and escalates to the feeling of someone driving a red hot knife up through my ribcage. Agony. For you girls who, like me, suffer(ed) from menstrual pain, this is worse. Usually rolling over to lie on my left side – not my preferred side – helps, otherwise I need to reach for the Quick-Eze or antacid meds, which usually knock me out of ketosis >.<.

A week ago, this was happening more and more, and I was getting more and more confused. After all, I’d had no trouble since I’d switched my eating habits, so what was the problem now? Turns out all the protein I’d been eating that week – primarily red meat and yes, cheese – was raising the acidity levels in my system to the point where the bile that my body produced to deal with the protein I’d consumed was so highly acidic that it was just agonizing in even small amounts.

Once I’d figured that out – thanks to Google and my GP – I immediately took action. This meant adding hot-water with lemon to my morning regime, and drinking water with apple cider vinegar in it throughout the day. For whatever reason, drinking these diluted acid compounds will raise your alkaline levels. Go figure. I’m sure there’s some sort of sciencey math in about it, but I haven’t got a head for that sort of thing… It’s meant to be really good for your overall health too, not just digestive.

What I’m getting at is that it’s important to maintain your body’s internal balances, especially when you’ve changed your eating habits or had some sort of digestive intervention.

If anyone finds any good sources for this, let me know? I’m keen to add to my reading list!

Clear skies,

Vee

What’s in a name?

Someone asked me the other day why I called my blog an ‘odyssey’. There’s a straightforward answer and a slightly more roundabout one to that question.

So let’s start with the straightforward one and save those of us with lives the much mumbling of the longer version. Short answer: I called it an ‘odyssey’ because it’s a journey, a fairly long journey, with plenty of ups and downs. As most of us know, weight loss is not – and should never be! – an overnight thing; healthy weight loss takes time, patience and perseverance. I knew that going in, and thus the ‘odyssey’ name.

The second, longer-winded answer goes back to my love for classical mythology. Some of us may know what I mean when I refer to the great poetic saga ‘The Odyssey‘ by Homer; others may be frowning and wondering why I think that Homer Simpson is capable of writing anything, let alone poetry; I’ll forgive you, mostly. For those of you not in the know, the Odyssey tracks Odysseus on his journey home from war-torn Troy to Ithaca, a journey which takes many years – even though it really shouldn’t – and throws countless obstacles at him and his crew – sirens, rough seas/winds, sorceresses with a tendency to turn people into animals, that sort of thing.

This is why I call weight loss an odyssey: because it’s a journey, often long, and there’s always unexpected things along the way some of which try to drive you from your path and others which reinforce why you’re on it in the first place. The most important thing in Homer’s poem, however, is the theme of perseverance and courage; when any of us embark on a weight loss journey, we’ve got to be prepared to face ourselves and all our fears, so basically we’ve got to stand up, swallow the panic, and deal with whatever gets swung our way.

It’s never as easy as it sounds, but guess what, the point is that we fight for it right?

Clear Skies,

Vee

Opinions and Judgements

There’s a lot to be said about words, in words, for words; but I think we can all agree on the fact that talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words…etc.

“Where did this ridiculous insight come from?” you wonder?

From overhearing various people talking, on the bus, at the Cafe, on the street, in the check-out line at the IGA or Woolworths, you know, just regular places people talk freely. Now, don’t get me wrong, everyone – and I really do mean everyone – is entitled to their opinion – provided they’re not trying to shove it down your throat: I’m looking at you would-be-converters! But nevermind that right now! Without our opinions we can’t really call ourselves human; and let’s be honest, most of us have opinions about pretty much everything; whether it’s the food we are served in a restaurant, the car our neighbours just bought, the state of politics in our country – I’m not even going to try and touch that one with a barge pole – and yes, we’ve all got an opinion about our weight and the weight of the person sitting next to us on the train or in the cubicle two seats down at work. We might be envious of Sally’s ability to roll out of bed and look like a movie star, or we might be a little judgmental of Marshall’s inability to regulate his eating even though he’s morbidly obese. Let’s face it, as humans we tend – largely – to be a judgmental and opinionated lot.

On the whole that’s okay, we’ll keep most of the negative opinions to ourselves or air them in the appropriate arenas – having a little giggle with your partner about how fat that woman was in the supermarket and would you just look at what she was buying! Well, we all do that. It’s not exactly the nicest thing to be doing, but let’s face it, the woman in the supermarket won’t have heard us and as a result she won’t be hurt by our commentary. Likely enough, she knows she’s got a weight problem and has enough on her plate dealing with it.

I know I’ve written a little bit about this before in Weigh your Words, but I think it’s an important issue so I’d like to touch on it again. The reason why this has come up again is because I just got abused by a woman in the street for ‘not understanding what it’s like to be fat’. Here’s what happened, so you have the full context: I was walking down the street back to the Cafe, minding my own business, when this woman, rather large but nothing particularly massive or anything – I mean, I’ve seen worse! – steps out of her car into the street in front of me and begins to make her way up the hill. She’s breathing fairly heavily, and she’s carrying what looks like a rather heavy bag full of who knows what. I felt for her; I mean, a few months ago that was me! But I needed to get back to the Cafe, so I murmured a polite ‘excuse me’ and slipped by her with a bright smile. I am not  a confrontational person in the least, and I believe in respect for everyone without exception. As I slipped by her, I may have accidentally bumped in to her a little bit – no harm done, but the footpath is narrow enough as it is and she…well, you get the picture. I apologised, of course, and instead of the usual ‘that’s okay’ I was expecting I got this tirade about how slim people should really pay more attention to their surroundings and be more spacially aware. I won’t go into the details, but the gist of the argument went along the lines of: because a slim person is slim they have no understanding of the spacial requirements that a large person needs to get around. Or something. I stood there, more than a little dumbfounded, but before I could apologise again – as is my nature – she went off again with how I had no idea what it was like to be her size and the hardship she went through and, again, in essence, how ‘pretty people had no troubles in life’ and ‘doors just open for them’. Funny thing is, I don’t necessarily disagree with her – we do  live in a world where slim ‘beautiful’ people seem to get ahead more easily than others. It’s kind of like a backhanded slap to the face: obviously she thought I was ‘pretty’, which is very flattering, but the weird thing is, I never really considered myself pretty, let alone ‘slim and pretty’. So backhanded self-esteem boost coupled with a full slap to the face of ‘you made someone feel bad’. Now, obviously – I picked up on this fairly fast – she was having an awful day and the last thing she needed was me to say something about the fact that I’d lost 20kg in the last 9 months so I knew exactly how she felt – when you’re feeling down you don’t really need to hear about the you who’s been successful at the weight loss game. So instead I waited until she’d stopped shouting and I apologised again, asked her I’d hurt her, and when she seemed slightly surprised at my calm rejoinder I told her I understood exactly what she meant and that I had had to fight to get to this shape and weight and I didn’t mean to make her feel bad. Then she apologised, realising that she’d been out of line…and, well, that was it.

Much fun.

What this raised in me was an interest in the psychology behind the perception of weight loss. I don’t see myself as slim. I should, clearly, since I have lost all that weight and I now have a waist that could be defined as ‘slim’. I’m happy with my body for the first time in decades; sure I have a few problem patches that I’m working on, but clearly I need to take a look at myself in the mirror and redefine how I see myself. This probably means thinking about how other people see me too, and that’s always tricky. End result? A stranger on the street isn’t going to know the uphill battles we’ve fought to get to our target weights, they’re just going to see the final result and hold their opinions and judgements about that. It’s silly, and yes, it can be petty and even hurtful, but it’s important to remember that you and I were both there at that point. Next time you see a ‘slim’ person walking down the street, don’t just assume they were born that way, because they might not have been and might be in the same boat you are.

Food for thought.

Then that happened…

I’ve had a weird week, well, fortnight really filled with my birthday, money stress, and many nights with little to no sleep. I blame my birthday indulgences and make a variety of excuses for my inability to deal with the minor bout of carb flu. And while I’m sill low carbing, I know I’m not in keto; also not the end of the world, and wholly my own doing. The trouble when any of us get into this sort of state, is that we end up fighting temptation while also combating exhaustion and stress. Truth is, something has got to give and some days are better than others. I’m not writing a self winging my life sucks entry, I don’t do those. But everyone goes through tough times, it’s all part of life, especially in this day and age with shifting economies and global chaos. So you just roll with the punches and redo your personal budget accordingly; so what if your clothes don’t git anymore because you’ve lost heaps of weight…that’s kind of the point! And if we can’t stick with our program every day of every week, fine, we can work through that.

The important this is to persevere, and not just write off your healthy future because your present isn’t where you want it to be. And yes I may just have eaten an entire block of chocolate, but guilt isn’t going to get me anywhere. Sticking to your guns day in and out can get tiring, sure, exhausting even; but at the end of that rough day – or week – you’ll remember that the guns are in your holsters for a reason and you’ll cowboy up and get back on your horse because guess what? You’re an awesome, strong person and you’re not about to let yourself down.

You’re number one. Don’t ever forget it.

Clear skies,
Vee

Clothes and Fashion

Many of us have discovered that weight loss, while awesome and self-confidence boosting, comes with a bit of a fashion drama. In a good way! Mostly.

I used to have a pair of jeans that I kept in the bottom drawer. These were my ‘skinny jeans’ (AU16) that I hoped to one day get into. They were that beautiful deep navy blue that some denim can be, hipsters with boot flares. I loved them and one day, just a few weeks after being on LC I found out I could wear them! I was absolutely thrilled to bits. Here was pure proof that my new lifestyle and all my hard work were finally paying off. So I kept going, and after a month I realised these jeans were a little loose around the waist. Bot just that, they were becoming a little baggy around the thighs. They still looked alright but I realised that wasn’t going to last for too much longer. Sure enough, another month later and they were unwearable: to loose, too baggy, and just wrong. Luckily, my mother-in-law had just gone through her wardrobe and I got a whole range of jeans from her, all in great condition and all a good fit. By now I was wearing AU14, a full size down from what I’d been wearing. That was three months ago… And now I’m faced with the same ‘problem’.

This brings us to the issue of transition clothing. Now, ove personally sworn off buying new clothes until I reach my target weight, I just don’t see the point otherwise: my body is changing every week at the moment.

The same goes for underwear – and lingere. Ladies, you’ll probably find that your bust measurements will change – probably not your cup size, but remember that you’re losing fat from your shoulders, back anf sides and that will factor in too. You might also discover that certain cuts of briefs and panties will look more flattering than before. That goes for pantyhoses too! Guys, you might find you need to adjust the sizes of your briefs and boxers – you might notice more erm… ‘showing’ now that your fat has disipated around your thighs and abdomen.

I’ve also noticed that I could suddenly wear long socks, another achievement, and especially for someone for whom casual wear often includes a bit of goth. Random, but an achievement of sorts.

Now, I’ve decided not to go down the road of ‘transition’ clothing; frankly, I haven’t got the money to afford a new wardrobe, especially one that’s likely to change in the next two months when I lose more weight. So I’m just going to wait until I’ve hit my target weight and then I’ll see what I can find – provided it’s in the budget at that point, otherwise I’ll have to make do with what I’ve got. Second-hand clothing shops are fantastic…

What’s your approach? Are you going to go through each stage as it hits you or are you just going to wait and see? Let me know, I’d love to hear about some tactics!

Clear skies,

Vee

Birthday Plans with Psyllium

It’s my birthday today, and I’m determined to not blow myself out of the water completely – so to speak. So far so good, with the support of my husband and my adopted sisters – yes, you know who you are – I haven’t stuffed my face yet with the chocolate cake that I made yesterday for the Cafe, and this despite every opportunity presenting itself. Nor have I eaten a single piece of the amazing rocky road I made – stuffed full of dates, prunes, walnuts, and yes, marshmallows – so, in other words, I believe I’m doing pretty darned good. But it’s only 11:30 in the morning and it’s going to be a long day. In an effort to be mostly good, I’ve just made myself eat psyllium porridge, which tends to keep my hunger and cravings at bay.

2 Tbsp Psyllium Husks
2 Tbsp Thick Cream (make sure it’s not wheat thickened, people!)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract (I always use the organic pure, real stuff, not the fake stuff!)
2 tablets of Stevia (or whatever sweetener you’re comfortable with)
Add hot water to your taste, mix, and endure – I mean, enjoy.

If I’d had a little more headspace and foresight, I’d have made Chocolate Psyllium Puddings instead, but silly me didn’t, so porridge it was. The Chocolate Psyllium Puddings – I think I mentioned them in the previous post – are a tasty treat, completely sugar-free and fill you up while satisfying your brain with the idea that you’ve just had something bad, especially if you add whipped cream to your treat.

2 Tbs Psyllium
1 Tbs Thick Cream
1 Tbs Cocoa Powder (I use Cadbury’s Bourneville)
2 tablets of Stevia
~ 200ml boiling water

That should make around two serves – I split them across two little ramekins so I can fridge them and eat them individually. They do need a little while to set, unless you like them runny, but they are well worth the sit! If you’re throwing a party, they’ll make for tasty desserts that you can enjoy right alongside your guests without feeling guilty!

Psyllium also regularly makes it into my eggs – scrambled, omletted, or otherwise – and after a while you get so used to them you don’t even remember that they’re there. Much awesomeness. Just always remember to drink enough water or you’ll give yourself a stomache-ache from hell, if not worse.

Clear skies,
Vee

A Word About: The Dangers of Boredom and Cookies

So I’ve noticed that I have a tendency to get bored. Not just with what I can eat but just in general: I get bored. The boredom really hits home when there’s nothing going on at the Cafe and I’m surrounded by food that I shouldn’t be eating. No fun really. The troubling thing is, the boredom tries to translate itself into eating. This might also be because I tend to start baking when I get bored and there’s nothing going on. For example, the other day the Cafe was dead and I really do mean ‘dead’; a handful of customers, nothing to do, all the cleaning done, nothing to tidy up…so. bored. So, to alleviate said boredom, I decided to bake cookies. In this case, Chocolate-Marbled Shortbread. I can’t eat it on my current carb count, but they sell quite well and I was out so hey, what the hell.

Hurdle 1: do not eat the cookie dough. Easy enough with a little bit of stubborness. Hurdle 2: do not ‘accidentally’ make a tiny cookie that you can’t sell so you need to eat it. Also done. Hurdle 3: don’t eat the batter while you’re making the cookies! Harder, but done. Into the oven they went. Awesome, twenty whole minutes of not being able to eat a cookie even if I could! I busied myself tidying up the mess I’d made while getting the cookies together; boredom alleviated for ten minutes.

Made some Cocoa-Pysllium Pudding for tomorrow – that’s another five minutes gone, and at least I’ll have a guilt-free treat for tomorrow if I feel the need for something sweet (yay for stevia!). And then the oven timer goes off, and the cookies are ready.

Nothing in the world is harder to resist than freshly baked, straight out of the oven, shortbread chocolate cookies. At least for me. They are my nemesis right alongside cranberry-chocolate scones. That nemesis-status gets amplified tenfold when I’ve got nothing to keep myself occupied: boredom is evil! So they were sitting their cooling on the rack while I wrote a little bit, mulled over the wording of a poem, got bored with that and scrubbed some dishes instead. They’re still cooling in the background, spreading their delicious, decadent perfume through the Cafe – hopefully inducing customers to come in, but no such luck. Just me, the husband, and these damned cookies.

Hurdle 4: do not eat the cookies. 

That’s it. Just don’t. Don’t let the boredom win. Find something else to do, even if you’ve already done it: polish a window, scrub the floor, take out the trash, go for a run, make up a game using chopsticks and a hairdryer (safely!) but whatever you do: do not let the boredom make you eat those cookies!

Clear skies,

Vee

A Word About: Falling off the Wagon

I’ve had a very naughty week. September is a hard month for me, full of birthdays (including my own) and Father’s Day all of which tend to involve either eating out and cake or just high carb meals at hone….and cake. Usually I make the cake, and usually I’ve got the willpower to withstand the temptation. This last week, however, started with our little holiday. I behaved mostly, save for on our last night when I ate that bloody cake. It was awesome cake and you’ve got to be able to indulge yourself every once in a while or you’re bound to go crazy. Unfortunately for me, it also broke down my willpower for the next few days: my brother-in-law’s birthday was on Friday and I made the most awesome cake. I was actually extremely impressed with myself; so impressed I had two pieces. Again, I felt I needed to let off some steam, and in all honesty I didn’t/don’t feel guilty about it at all, but the physical reaction was quite impressive as well.

I could barely sleep that night: too much caffeine from the chocolate frosting and way too much sugar. Basically, I’d overloaded my system with carbs that it was no longer really equipped to handle. The next morning, my skin was gross – okay, not ‘gross’ but definitely not as pretty as it has been since I started LCing – and my hair was having a bad day. I also noticed that my lymphnodes were swollen and actually quite painful. In other words, all that bloody sugar had instantly compromised my immune system and my body was doing its best to fight off whatever I’d picked up from the Cafe that week. Yay, much fun.

Next problem: birthday cakes tend not to get completely eaten at parties right? And you can only send so much home with your guests. So that meant that there was left over cake in the fridge just begging to be eaten. And guess what? I did. Not all of it, luckily it was such good cake that my non-sweet-tooth husband ate most of it! Phew!

My point is, there’s going to be a week here or there where you fall off the LC wagon. I’ve done it before and I’ve done it again; I’m back on it now, but I know I’ll fall off again. This isn’t always an easy lifestyle decision we’ve made, and I think we all know that by now. We’re going to face temptation, whether it’s at a private birthday party or just at work when someone’s bought everyone coffee with cream and sugar just because. You’re not going to be able to plan the unforeseeable. The only thing we can do, as humans, is navigate those temptations as best as we can and if you fail once or twice that’s okay. I’ve been saying it a lot lately, and I’m not just trying to justify my week of bad eating here; we’re not just looking after our bodies here, people, but we’ve got to look after our minds too and if that means that once in a while you’ve got to eat that cookie: then eat the damned cookie. Just try to hold back and not devour the whole pack okay? And once we’ve had our little day(s) off, we have to climb back on that horse and get back to where we we were heading. Yes, it means you’ll likely have to face a little bit of carb flu again, and yes it means you’ll have cravings, but ask yourself this: isn’t it worth it? Remember where you’re going, not where you fell off your pony.

Clear Skies,

Vee

Fibre Is Your Friend

First off, a remembrance to those who lost their lives on the 11th of September. Thoughts, wishes, and hopes to all the families and loved ones.


Most of us don’t get enough fibre in our diet, whether we’re LCing or not. Fibre is a vital part of anyone’s diet, nutrition and yes, overall health.

“…it seems everything at the moment is ‘vital to overall health’,” you might grumbled sarcastically.

You’re not wrong, a lot of things in the weight loss scene tend to go through phases where they are the most important, bestest thing you can do or your body. And in truth, a lot of them are important, just not to the exclusion of all other things. That goes for fibre as well: it is important, very even, but not in place of everything else thats good for you.

So first up, what the hell is fibre really? Must of us assume that it’s ‘ruffage’, the stuff that’s physically fibrous and helps clean out our intestines as it passes through. You’re not wrong. Basically, fibre is stuff that the body doesn’t conpletely digest – certain seeds, husks, grains and certain vegetable fibres that the body has trouble dealing with. These ‘pesky’ things work their way through your digestive system as a goop that clears everything out. Think of it like a scrubbing brush that cleans out your insides.

“Sure, whatever…why is it important then?”

It’s important because if you’re not getting enough fibre in, you’re going to get stopped up. And by ‘stopped up’ I mean constipated like hell.

Constipation isn’t just irritating, its unhealthy. Think about it, you end up with waste just stocking up in your bowel where it’s not just sitting, by the way, but decomposing, fermenting and going through all manner of chemical changes that are causing gas, bloating and stomach aches. Worse, you leave it there long enough and certain bacteria and other elements can sneak back up into your digestive system and cause all sorts of havoc. In serious cases, some studies have shown that repeated constipation can lead to Irritable Bowel Syndrome and/or cancer.

So what is the recommended amount of fibre a day? I’m sure there’s a whole lot of data put there that gives out a specific number, but I’m of the firm belief that if you’re having bowel movements daily or every other day and they are smooth and easy to pass, you’re getting enough fibre. If you’re struggling with regularity, you’re going to need to add in some more fibre and likely up your water intake as well.

Regular exercise also helps. Myself I go for a good combination of insoluble and soluble fibre, just to make sure I’m covered. That means I eat a lot of green leafy veggies and I have two table spoons of psyllium husk every day – in some form or another. Psyllium husk is cool because you can do all sorts of things with it like eat it as a porridge – with dairy alternatives or cream and hot water – or you can mix it in with some egg and make a faux pancake. Just be careful to go slow if you start taking it! I had the misfortune a few months back to go a little crazy with it. The result was not pretty, and trust me, you do not want to lose 2kg in a day by puking and er…flushing your guts out. It’s not fun and it’s not good for you! My advice is: yes, lots of exciting recipes about ‘psyllium bread’ and the like but remember that this stuff turns into a gel-like substance that absorbs liquids! This means that if you’re not drinking enough water, you’re eating too much of it, or both you’re going to get a serious bowel obstruction and that is not fun. So go slow! Most people advice that you start off with one tablespoon and plenty of water and do that for a few days before upping your intake. Pay attention to how your body reacts. You can buy psyllium husk (and flaxseed meal, which has a similar effect and a slightly different taste!) in most health food shops and some supermarkets; for those of you in the area, I do have a stockpile here at the Magpie Cafe (48 Main St., Upwey VICTORIA) for a reasonable price. If you’re looking for recipes, a quick Google search will yield plenty of results, just keep my advice in mind and go slow to start with.

And I think that’s all I’ve got for you today. I hope it helped some!

Clear Skies,

Vee