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Byron Shire
April 22, 2021

Eat dirt and bless it

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irena_cookbookMatthew Michaelis

An app a day

‘Oh, Oh, Oh merry Christmas – weight… there’s more!’

If you’re anything like me, you’ll have some extra kilos on after the silly season – it’s inevitable, and even though I eat to work, December and January hold particularly dangerous times for my waist. This year, I did two things to research away the fat – I turned to the internet and I found an app to guide me and a paleo evangelist who knows a lot about the popular lifestyle diet.

First it was the app store that provided me with a kilojoule counter that’s about to make a difference in my losing the unwanted flab.

Myfitnesspal is the app to download. It’s free and a comprehensive knuckle slapper that keeps me muzzled and off the emotional eating roundabout (and that’s just my job). I’ve been using it now for two weeks and my goal weight is approaching rapidly.

With or without technology for help, the notion of using a special diet, a calorie/kilojoule counter or an eating philosophy, the likes of the 5:2 diet, to maintain weight, balance and health, is a popular one.

Personally I feel that most dietary neurosis is just that. To me, it’s consideration that’s vital – how you consider something will affect you – the premise of your belief. More information comes flying out of the internet than we need in any one day. We’re told by experts that this and that may cause this and that and the resulting knee-jerk reactions are, at times, bias, and unfounded.

One of the simplest philosophical statements I’ve heard in my lifetime is ‘eat dirt and bless it’; in a food sense, it means if you think it’s good for you – it will be. Conversely, if you think it’s evil, well… you get my drift. I apply this saying to many things in my life – after all if you’re creative then you can create and draw things to you that you don’t need just as easily as those things that benefit you.

irena_cafeHunting the good oil on paleo

The paleo diet is better known for a tilt toward protein intake. This is somewhat a skewed perception of this lifestyle diet as I found out recently.

It has a big following and, like all popular subjects, it has its critics. I went hunting, hoping to gather a little bit of extra knowledge on this diet.

Irena Macri is a full-time recipe developer, cookbook author, amateur food photographer and a self-proclaimed web geek.

When not travelling the world or hiking through the bush, she could be found in her small kitchen in London or Sydney or in a local cafe typing away the latest post. This is the introduction to Irey (as she likes to be known) that you’ll find in the opening paragraphs of her globally popular website, eatdrinkpaleo.com.au.

I had the pleasure of meeting with the champion of paleo foods in person recently in a local cafe in Brunswick Heads. She’s currently in Australia promoting her new book, the Eat Drink Paleo Cookbook.

Irey started her website Eat Drink Paleo in 2012 and has gone from strength to strength with the concept diet. ‘The website was my opportunity to provide inspiration and tools to people who want to achieve better health and wellbeing through paleo primal nutrition and lifestyle. I also wanted to showcase the diversity of the paleo diet, using fresh produce and flavours inspired by many cultures and cuisines; and to help unleash that magical passion in the kitchen,’ Irey said.

Paleo has recently received some damming press regarding its basic principles. Irey has the good oil from the pro side of the paleo debate on why she believes these detractors are getting the idea twisted a tad.

These are some of the common misconceptions paleo devotees are faced with:

That paleo people just eat meat

Irey: ‘I guess unlike this popular belief, paleo is about 70 per cent plant based: veggies, fruits, olive oils, nuts seeds etc. The protein that we do consume is always varied. A variety of meat – nose to tail, poultry, eggs, fish and seafood – involves a diversity of ingredients. Paleo isn’t just steaks for dinner; I cook vegetarian meals often and with gusto and flair.’

That the caveman died young

Irey: ‘We don’t know exactly how long the caveman lived. It’s more a case of environmental issues, death by accident, dangers of this time, etc. Paleo is not about mimicking the caveman.

The name, as a derivative of the term Palaeolithic, confuses the issues and people at times. It’s really about taking cues from our hunter-gatherer ancestors. It looks at the ways that we thrived during this period, what we ate and the lifestyle; that knowledge, combined with the latest research and studies, then forms the basis of the paleo diet.’

That paleo is a fad

Irey: ‘As a movement, it’s been around for the past ten years. People have been eating paleo for years – it’s a new nutritional pillar. Omnivore, vegetarian, vegan, raw food, and paleo – it’s lifestyle choice. People who learn about paleo generally are in it for the long haul. People adapt it and tailor it to suit their needs, as it is flexible.

In all dietary systems there are the purists, the police, and the extremists. It’s easier to follow the rules, the framework – but those folk that are smart take bits and pieces from the best things available in life.

That it’s always low or no carb

Irey: ‘Much of the time it is lower in carbohydrates but this is by default. There are still plenty of carbohydrates in the paleo diet. Active folk of course can eat more carbs rather than someone who may be sedentary and therefore require fewer carbs.

My partner and I don’t really worry that much about this; we have some occasional rice and other things that we think we would like to eat. it’s a no-brainer really.’

That paleo dishes are bland and boring

Irey: ‘I spend a lot of time creating fresh and beautiful recipes that are nothing like bland or boring, and if you don’t believe me then you can see for yourself – go to my website. I have more than one hundred creative colourful and tasty recipes waiting to correct this misconception.’

That paleo is nutritionally deficient

Irey: ‘Like the saturated-fat debate, misinformation regarding this primary dietary principal has been recently exposed as quite wrong – we need fats; paleo concentrates on nutrient-dense foods, foods that are less inflammatory. The result is that you end up absorbing more nutrients from your foods as your gut health improves and is in better condition.

‘Variety is the key to nutritional balance and any diet that’s heavy and one-sided will naturally be unbalanced. Too much of anything is not going to be great, while moderation and variety are the ticket.’ she added.

Local paleo cooking and information classes

For a local take on the paleo phenomenon, we have our very own paleo experts right under our noses in Stephen Mursa and fiancée Maddy Boud. They have created paleo information and cooking classes in the shire and are conducting them regularly for interested punters. Go to their website www.byronpaleocookingschool.com for further dates and information. Enquiries on 6685 4629, email: [email protected]

Eat Drink Paleo Cookbook

Irena Macri is the author of the Eat Drink Paleo Cookbook (www.eatdrinkpaleo.com.au) published by Penguin and available online at www.booktopia.com.au/eat-drink-paleo-cookbook-irena-macri/prod9780670078783.html and www.bookworld.com.au/promotions/eat-drink-paleo-cookbook-macri-irena-macri-irena/p/9780670078783.


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