The Primal Challenge Day 28

Last night I was poisoned. I’m not sure if it was deliberate or just a miss communication, but it happened. And I paid for it. All night, and most of the next morning.

My nervousness over going out for dinner seemed to have been warranted, perhaps it was my sixth sense or my third eye or perhaps it was just because we are so close to the end of the challenge I am more worried than normal about things going wrong.

The menu was different. That was the first thing. I had looked and planned and prepared and thought I knew exactly what I would change and what I could keep, but then it was different and my choice wasn’t there and sides I had googled to see what they meant were no longer an option and I was thrown into panic.

A specials menu was put under my nose and when the waiter came to take our orders it was so loud from the other side of the bar I could hardly hear what he was offering. It must have been the same for him because I had to repeat twice that I was no gluten, no dairy, and no grains.

He ran off to check with his superiors in the kitchen, like they all do. And I waited patiently, looking at the menu again. There were two options that from what I could tell would not cause much trouble.

  • Option 1 – beef shin with pumpkin, carrot and black cabbage (aka kale).
  • Option 2 – grass fed Black Angus with potato, salsa verde and something else I had no idea what it was.

There were pros and cons for each.

Option 1 –

Pros – looked like it was relatively straightforward and not much to change. Plus it was something different than the standard steak I had been ordering as the safe option when dining out.  I was assured it was both gluten and diary free.

Cons– when I asked the waiter if it came with a sauce, there was a flicker of uncertainty on his face before he had to run off and check again. When he returned, he said only what the meat is cooked in, its own sauces for braising.

Option 2 –

Pros – it was steak, which means you generally can’t go wrong with a steak. You can tell them how to cook it and what you don’t want on it.

Cons – would have to substitute the potato, put the salsa verde on the side and find out what the last part of the puzzle was. Plus I had steak all the time. ALL the time.

I chose Option 1. I took the risk. The sauce was a worry on my mind, but I again repeated to the waiter no grain, no gluten, no dairy and he assured me that all was good.

I ignored the comments from my fellow dinners as they apologized to the waiter for me being so difficult, told me I should just eat air (did they not remember their own diets and meal plans before they got married?!) and drank my standard mineral water.

There was that buzzing in the back of my head that continued to worry me about my food choice, and at one stage I thought about asking to change to the steak. Something felt wrong. But it was too late, and before I knew it our meals had arrived.

The plate was put in front of me and I straightaway knew I was in trouble.

Two large bits of beef. Great.

Some squares of roasted pumpkin. Fantastic.

Both resting on a bed of kale. Very happy.

But then, smothering, almost drooling off the entire dish, was the sauce.

And no, not just a sauce, a gravy if you will. A thick, onion based gravy.

This was not merely a meat sauce. This was not even just a stock. This, my friends was a guaranteed to be not on the challenge list of approved substances, sugar full sauce.

The waiter must have seen the worry on my face as he came rushing over straight away.

What’s your concern.

The sauce.

Don’t touch it, ill just double check it has no gluten and dairy.

He was off before I could mention anything about sugar levels and just as quickly rushing back to my side.

Defiantly no gluten and dairy.

Ok, but about sugar.

His eyes narrowed.

What exactly is it you can’t eat or your allergic to?

Um… I’m not meant to be having sugar either…

There was a pause. It was uncomfortable. Not just for me, not just for the waiter but also for my friends at the table and the rest of the diners who were by now obviously staring at us.

Is this a choice?

The once friendly waiter asked.

Um yes.

So you are not going to die if you eat it.

Not yet! I wanted to tell him. Maybe later, when my body is so clogged up with artificial sweeteners my heart cant pump anymore. But instead I shook my head.

No, I won’t die.

Stare down. The waiter versus embarrassed diner.

The waiter won.

 I’ll just scape it off.

And so I did. Full of humiliation, not enjoying one bite of the meal I scraped the sauce off the meat the best I could. I ate the carrots, the pumpkin, the kale and most of my meat.

I had made my choice. It was a failed one, and now I had to live with it.

Sure, I could have sent it back, asked and paid for another meal, made everyone wait for me to get it and most of me desperately wanted to. But the other part of me realised the mistake was mine, and not the poor waiter who took the order and scurried back to and from the kitchen.

I thought I had been clear.

When he took our entrée I said the only thing I could eat were the olives.

When we were offered a free round of drinks I said I was only on the mineral water, and when he asked if I wanted a soft drink instead I said no thanks, I cant have sugar. And when he offered me a pepsi-max instead, I simply smiled and said no thank you, no sugar, even fake sugar.

So why did he think sugar was ok in my meal, that sauce was ok, THICK sauce and how was it thick if no flour had been added to it?

After our semi-embarrassing stare down when taking coffee orders – actually taking my coffee order as the others continued to drink wine – he bought it not only with a chocolate biscuit on the side of the plate, but a small jar full of brown sugar.

I know it was loud in that place, and he had other tables but HAD HE NOT BEEN LISTENING TO ME SAY NO TO SUGAR ALL NIGHT!!!???

I almost forgave him because we sat there so long, talking over wine and mineral water that he finished his shift and clocked off before a bill was paid and a potential tip.

Not that I was planning to give one.

That night I woke up four times. I was restless, uncomfortable and unable to sleep. My stomach flip flopped all night and when my alarm went off at 8:30am rather than springing out of bed like I normally would have, my head throbbed, my mouth was dry and my stomach killing me.

I felt as though I had a hang over.

I had drunk 1.5 litres of mineral water over dinner so there was no way I should have had a thirst, or a headache, but I did.

I hadn’t touched a wine all night, but I was bound to the loo as if I had drunk the bar dry for most of the morning (sorry I know this is too much information but it is required).

I could hardly keep food down, and felt like I hadn’t slept at all.

Even my paleo breakfast at Palate couldn’t pep me up.

I’m not sure if it was just the sugar I know must have been in that gravy/sauce/poison, or if they had put corn flour in it and forgot that it is a grain and still a flour, or if there was something else, but my poor old stomach did not like it.

28 day’s of detox and my stomach can’t handle the slightest hiccup. Or maybe it never did and I just looked past it.  Or maybe I just guilted myself into being sick after not sending my meal back.

Just in case it was the meat, I text my friend who had the same meal, but of course she was fine. No stomach pains, no dehydration, no headache, no need to remain close to the toilet and buy an extra 12 rolls of loo paper from Coles. And she as the one who drank the bottle of wine.

If that gravy means I failed this challenge, then I failed myself and I have well and truly paid the price.  I don’t need anyone else to tell me, my body has said it all.

And if that reaction is just from sugar I know was in that sauce, although quantity unknown, then what will it do when I bust open the container in the fridge that holds a Tim Tam and the ears of an Easter bunny I have been saving for the end of next week? Or the drink I know I am going to have with friends on Friday night as they celebrate end of dry July? Or the yoghurt I am going to introduce next week to go with my clean muesli I had just made? Or the piece of full fat double Brie cheese I can’t wait to remove from the plastic wrap in the fridge and devour, because I cant seem to stop thinking about what I am going to have to eat post this challenge that I probably still shouldn’t have.

Day 28 and when I should be close to celebrating, I’m well and truly panicking.

The Primal Challenge Day 23

As many of us know, some more than others, eating food is often an emotional thing. It can bring comfort during stress or sadness, to those both eating it and those making it, and celebrations often revolve around it.

During exams I used to stock up on energy drinks and packets of lollies and chocolate. All the things I thought I needed to wash down the multiple cups of coffee between studying. In the romantic comedies we love to hate, during the epic post break up scene the lead female is generally pictured tucking into ice cream, or chocolate, eating peanut butter or jelly straight from the jar. How many times have we said we are only eating it because ‘we are having a bad day’? The moment something we want to celebrate happens in our lives, we arrange to go out for dinner, or drinks.

We over eat to compensate for something, we eat the wrong types of food because we are too mentally drained to think about what we should be eating, or we forget to eat because our mind is simply elsewhere.  Or on the flip side, we eat that extra piece of cake because it’s a special occasion, or because we ‘deserve it’ and that extra bottle of champagne is popped because we have worked hard, and now its time to celebrate.

When someone dies, food is often the easiest way people can communicate and show they care. Fridges and freezers are full of home cooked meals, many of which will never get eaten by those left behind to grieve.

What we put into our mouths is often the result of the way we are feeling, and can also impact the way we continue to feel.

Today was an emotional day for my family as we said goodbye to one of our own, and if there was any day I was tempted to break the challenge it was today.

But I didn’t.

I over compensated and packed not only my breakfast, but also those making the four-hour car trip with me. My bacon & egg muffins 3.0 went in one container, my sister’s vegetarian version (3.1) went into another. A (small) container of almonds and macadamia nuts to share with my sister-in-law who has kept dairy but is otherwise desperately trying to eat primal. One green apple for me. A bottle of water for each of us.

We set off early.  The muffins were gone before we had even reached the freeway, so Colac was our first stop for breakfast. I put up with more ridicule from my brother, who this time also thought it hysterical to pile a teaspoon full of white grain sugar and wave it in front of me chanting ‘take your medicine’. I might point out at this stage he is 30 years old. I managed to find a smashed pumpkin with poached eggs and rocket breakfast – hold the feta thank you.

Probably one too many coffees – two long blacks before 10am and another at 2pm. It was the only thing (apart from water) I sought out during the post service gathering. Party pies and packaged hot food was waved before me, white bread sandwiches stacked high on tables were a popular favorite.  I’m sure there were other items but I never went over to the table to see just exactly what was there. I didn’t quite trust myself.

Then the cakes.  Larger than I have ever seen before lamingtons with extra cream in the middle. Lemon slice, caramel slice and my sister-in-laws favourite, jelly slice.

I could see her eyes light up when she saw that red topped sweet being unpacked by the church ladies behind the counter, the jelly glistening in the light, its slight wobble throwing teasing shadows in our direction.

me – Don’t do it.

her – But it’s my favourite.

me – It’s not worth it.

youngest sister pipping in – I’m going to have some

me – Not helping.

I lost sight of her for a moment as my grandmother bought over a stranger who had at one time babysat me when I was two and visiting Warrnambool with my family. No sorry, I didn’t remember I was muttering, eyes searching the crowd for Heidi.

I found her, not one piece of jelly slice in hand. Still I was not confident in her determination, her sweet tooth would give most of the elderly that were around us that day who used to bake for a living a run for their money – and we were in the country so that was saying something.

I bet it’s not even homemade.

I assured her when I eventually made my way through the crowd and was able to take my post as bodyguard once again.

You reckon?

Nope, look at it, its all the same size. Look at the base.

In truth, I wasn’t that sure of its roots. It could have been homemade, I was just looking for excuses.

Ill just go have a look at it.

I kept my eye on her again, but I need not have worried. Again she returned empty handed, and for the next few hours the jelly slice, along with all the other food types on our banned substance list (which was everything available) remained uneaten.

Which meant by the time 3:30 came, we were positively starving.

I shared the nuts, well really she took one handful and I had the rest (we were in separate cars) and when they were gone I downed the green apple. Heidi had told me a recent trick of hers was to eat protein just before the fruit. It would mean the sugar levels in fruit would not just spike your insulin, so you felt fuller, and it would also mean I didn’t binge on nuts as much.

I followed the advice, and I’m not sure if it was because I had run out of nuts or because I had no other food with me and still a three hour drive ahead before we stopped in Geelong for dinner, but I didn’t feel hungry anymore.

On the way to dinner Heidi sent me a text –

My self control today deserves a mention

For sure! By passing the jelly slice in a tough emotional situation… Big mention.

And she did! Not one rule broken today. Not one sweet, not one sandwhich. Not one piece of toast  – even the gluten free toast – at breakfast.

Dinner in Geelong meant more ridicule from my brother. I was ready to eat my arm off but instead ordered crispy skin salmon with the green beans, no butter, and hold the lentils but can I please have a green salad instead no dressing?

The food came and was quickly eaten. I always leave the salad for last and the first forkful revealed it was not naked as I required but fully dressed with what I thought was vinegar and olive oil – but couldn’t be sure.

But I was emotional, and hungry. And so I ate the salad and thought if there was any sugar in that vinegar dressing then too bad. I had made my choice, eat it and be full. Heath (my ridiculing brother) took great delight in taking a photo of me eating said salad and promising to put it on his blog, which was all about failed challenges….

I ignored him (again) and was just thankful I had not spent the entire eight hour car ride up and back today listening to his jeers, jokes and jibes over my eating behavior.

A BIG shout out however to his better half over her refusal of the jelly slice, and an even bigger one to all my family, both here and in Warrnambool as we remember beloved Sandi.

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The Primal Challenge Day 21

Apparently I am no fun when I am off the sugar and off the drink. Or so I was told on Saturday night when I refused cocktail after cocktail, champagne, punch, chocolates, cheesecake, gingerbread men and many other loveable naughty’s my Christmas in July offered.

I think I was a bit offended.

Actually I was.

Especially given I had wasted 12 hours on a Christmas pudding that managed to get water into it during the transfer between houses and ruin.  Yeah don’t get me started, epic fail. Its back hanging in my laundry hoping it can be saved but knowing it probably cant be, and who would eat it anyway…

But I digress – Christmas in July with the girls, Saturday night.

I still managed to last until 2am, completely sober and relatively sugar free – I ate some a bit too much fruit and as far as I could tell was still semi engaging in my conversation attempts and interactions. I still leapt to the challenge of Pictionary and Celebrity Heads and laughed over excitedly when those who were tipsy and those who were just blind drunk couldn’t hold the pen or draw a simple image.

No, I didn’t stand on a dining room chair and try to get everyone dancing. Nor did I spill red wine on the floor or dive into the chocolate cheesecake spoon in hand without waiting for it to be cut. Although I was the only one who broke a glass (of mineral water) all night.

But, as I was also told, I was no longer the life of the party. And who was going to play that role now?  I admit neither Pictionary nor Celebrity Heads would have come out on my watch.

Oh the pressure! The guilt! But I had carried the load of over excited behavior for too long and had paid the price with pounding next day headaches, a cramping stomach and often a cheeky next morning (most likely afternoon) spew.

Not tonight!

I picked my way through the meal, skipping the prawns with the Cajun spice, knowing sugar is a hidden ingredient on the list, eating a spoonful of the bruschetta mix without the bread, swallowed a few oysters, ignored the grilled halloumi and the smoked salmon and cream cheese wraps, and waited patiently for the main.

Roast pork with no gravy or apple sauce, steamed greens with almonds, roast chicken without the stuffing and roast vegetables minus the dressing and potatoes. Of course I knew and had to accept the fact that the oil was probably rancid and not the ideal choice for the challenge, but I did have to give a little.

Overall however, it wasn’t even that hard.

Nor was sticking to the mineral water. Not as hard as I thought it would be probably as there were a few others in the sober boat with me thanks to a) Run Melbourne the following day, b) the sacrifices of breast feeding c) knowing with three kids at home it just isn’t worth it the following day and d) a ‘most often’ paleo diet.

The hardest part of the night (apart from trying to guess my celebrity head Nigella Lawson and drawing an image that represented the world ‘gargle’) was accepting the change in my social tag from ‘party starter’ to ‘party pooper’.

And while one friend commended me on my effort, another said a bit of her rice bran oil wouldn’t hurt me, nor would one drink, a few stayed silent and the host pointed at me and slurred how boring I was. Lucky my ‘generally’ paleo friend had my back the entire night. Although she did take a tiny sliver of the chocolate cheesecake when I desperately wanted to and most likely would have if I was not on this challenge, making it that little bit harder.

I did get some great advice however during the meal of many choices by my ‘almost always’ paleo friend. Once you make your own choice, deal with it, own it, and then move on. If you want to eat the vegetables cooked in rice bran oil because you are hungry and there is no other alternative, just do it. If you have been clean eating all week and trained all month and really like the look of the cheesecake, eat it. But don’t go on about it all night. And don’t beat yourself up about it or let others beat you up about it. Make your choice, and live with it.

I think I needed it on day 21.

Not because I am struggling, but because there is not long left and now I’m at the stage of working out what I would keep and what I was add and what I would change of this clean eating plan. And if I want to eat a slice of the chocolate cheesecake that looks amazing (I took a giant piece home for my husband just so I could look at it) once my challenge is up then I can.

But if I want my skin fold tests to be better than when I went in, I need to stop eating the nuts hidden in my draw by the bucket load, stop thinking about what I would add back in my diet, and start thinking about what I still need to cut out.  At least for the next nine days.

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The Primal Challenge Day 19

Two new learning’s over the past few days. The first, even if your husband reads your sms wrong and when you asked to turn the lamb shanks off he turns them (literally) instead, and they remain in the slow cooker for almost 20 hours – they still taste amazing.

Honestly, amazing. I was a little angry when I found out they had been left on (ok maybe more than a little, my ‘flashes’ of anger may have had a mob like mentality in this case) and was pleasantly surprised when the meat still fell off the bone and was not the ‘old boot’ I thought it would taste like.

Amazing. We ate with pleasure and even incorrect sms reading husband loved the entire clean eating meal, with the cauliflower and carrot puree replacing the mash staple that normally comes with shanks.  It was possibly my favorite clean dinner to date. And so easy!

Because I was feeling like I was on a roll, and I had almond butter, I whipped up the frosty fruit smash for dessert and put it in the freezer next to the low fat ‘light’ sugar filled ice-cream my husband would have for his dessert. It actually was pretty good frozen too and took me longer to eat which I think might come in handy at times when I’m craving something sweet and need my hungry mind and full body to synchronize.

I’m still excited over the lamb shanks because I kept two for tonight to eat before racing to the football. As a last minute request I got offered a few tickets in a corporate box for North V Blues and given I won’t be making use of the free food and drink almost declined. But by then I had forgiven said husband, and he is a Carlton supporter, and it means ill get to eat both leftover lamb shanks while he eats the gourmet finger food….

My second learning was that left over lamb shank sauce also assists to make amazing baked eggs. The pleasure of a new breakfast treat when you work from home and have the benefit of an oven! I took inspiration from the Primal Junction recipe but replaced the chorizo for Cannings new primal paleo bacon, added half a green capsicum, and along with the tinned tomatoes added in a decent amount of the lamb shank stew – tomato, carrots, garlic, zucchini, basil and oregano. Topped with two eggs it went into the oven and I was ever so excited.

The bowl was pretty big.

Actually it was enormous.

And I ate it all.

And loved it.

I could have had the bacon a little more crispy, and if I was on the dairy a bit of feta on top would have been a nice extra, but I loved it all the same. I’m not sure if it was the oversized bowl meant for two consumed by one, or because my trail mix was safety in the office filing cabinet but I did not need to snack once until lunch. I was full the brim (just like the baked eggs bowl).

I didn’t even think of nuts or sugar or fruit once. I drank water and my belly was full and I had another realization – maybe I just need to eat more for breakfast! Maybe my hands can hold more eggs and I just need to fill up a bit more in the morning!

To prove my point I made a baby spinach salad for lunch with tuna, avocado, capsicum and two boiled eggs bringing my daily total to four. I even boiled another one, he was the last in the carton and I felt sorry for him with no friends even though he was still smiling, so I prepped him for a snack later on.

My food wins today mixed with my recent massage at Revive Holistic Health, returning to CFHE and my physio treatment at Evolutio have helped me to lift my form and look at the second half of this challenge with a renewed focus and determination.

I know that sounds all Brady Bunch like and full of false bravado, but it has!

AND my constant sugar and primal eating talk continues to have a positive effect on others.

My previously mentioned sister in law sent me an inspiring message of her day 2 clean tasty monkfish red curry promising me there was no hidden sugar inside and that she even bought the coconut oil – I’m still waiting on the recipe and won’t mention the day 3.5 text you sent SOS style.

A college from work thanked me for breaking the “it’s inappropriate to eat eggs at desk rule” so she could follow suit and while wine was still a challenge as was the chocolate box she had to walk past every trip to the bathroom, her clean sugar free breakfast and lunches are going well.

Everyone is winning!

However, I do have to make a slight apology to my non-clean eating friends who will be attending Christmas in July tomorrow night.

Why you give someone on a no sugar and no gluten challenge a traditional Christmas pudding to make (apart from my fantastic recipe and baking skills) is beyond me. The care I provided to this ball of calico now hanging in my laundry before being boiled for six hours tomorrow was not what it should have been.

I ran short of currents, so just added more sultanas. I ran out golden syrup so opted for the honey. I ran out of brandy so used brandy essence. I ran out of mixed peel so just dealt with it.

Clearly I was not prepared or pumped for this wonder which is very uncharacteristically like me.

Apart from the fact I could not face another supermarket visit (almost every day this week is enough), I of course cannot eat nor taste the Christmas pudding. And while I would love everyone to love it, I figured by the time it is served tomorrow night a)everyone will be too full of food b)everyone will be too drunk to taste c)only half of the people going can eat it anyway and d)it will be drowned in brandy cream or ice-cream anyway.

Which (latest light bulb moment) means more than half of this big pudding will come back with me….

And I put nuts in it which means husband, nor brother in law nor sister in law can eat it when I see them on Sunday…

There is only 11 days to go, and pudding lasts for a long time…..

Shit.

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The Primal Challenge Day 17

Just over halfway there, and I am well and truly in a mid season slump. Today I ate three pieces of fruit and wanted more. I’m stuffing nuts down my throat like it is my last day on earth and despite having a piece of frittata and a cup of smoothie for breakfast, my mind tells me I am hungry by 11. Which there is no way I should be – I’m not even training and getting up an hour later!!

Now some of you might be rolling your eyes thinking wow, three pieces of fruit… but the recommendation is two per day and I gauged, and I’m not sure if it classifies as a challenge fail, so I’m overly disgusted and upset with myself.

Ok so the pieces were small, watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew. It was a shared fruit platter, so not like I ate the entire lot, but I did feel guilty.

Ok so I’m leaving out the 10 red grapes I also ate.

See – mid season slump.

I only had my lunch three hours ago and I’m hungry again.

Plus –only a few days ago I was walking around promoting my clean skin thanks to my clean eating and almost throwing away the dry shampoo. As if to prove a point, or perhaps in protest, my chin is riddled with blackheads and teenage acne and my hair on day two is in a high ponytail and heavily sprayed.

I know I was a late bloomer in high school, but this is ridiculous! Are my cravings and withdrawal symptoms coming so much later than first prescribed? Or am I a victim of some other bout of hormone tampering!?

Either way, day 17 is no fun.

Not that I am ready to throw in the clean eating towel, it’s just damp on the rack, hanging loosely and not really smelling the best.

I’ve decided I need a pick me up to get my mind off the fact I have to spend hours making a Christmas pudding full of things I can’t eat for our Christmas in July dinner this Saturday night, by making lots of things that I can.  And because I am still struggling with my sweet tooth, tonight it will be frosty fruit smash (if I can find almond butter) and the holy-moly banana pancakes (again if I can find almond butter).

I also had my meat delivered today to work by Canning’s – including the paleo bacon. Score.  I couldn’t wait for the weekend and their birthday discount celebration and knew I would get more stuff then anyway, so stocked up – and by the weight in the bag (I had to take the lift) I might have again gone a little overboard.

Time to re-calibrate the grocery bill budget.

But I know that bag of goodness holds my lamb shanks and ribs ready for two new primal recipes just in time for Thursday and Friday night and the cold weather we are meant to be expecting.  I’ll even prep the slow cooker tonight ready for the ribs tomorrow.

Tomorrow I can FINALLY go back to some sort of training and exercise (thank the thighs) which should also peck me up a little.

Actually as I am writing this and thinking about all the great things I can make and then eat, my mood is somewhat increasing to almost positive and I think I can feel the first shakings of my slump.

Don’t get too excited, my skin is still saw and red from when I tried to push the puss out of it in front of the work bathroom mirror.

Maybe I’ll even make my own almond butter….

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