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May Ly

What is this blog about?
This space is where I share my own recipes where I focus on ingredients that heal and nourish as I believe everything we put in our bodies should benefit us in some way. My go to superfoods are Bone BrothKombucha tea & fermented foods. My recipes use only real ingredients without any grains or processed sugar. Sharing my love for food that nourishes & heals, my travel & life adventures as an expat living in Vietnam with 3 children and hoping to inspire others to follow a real food diet and living a healthier lifestyle. I hope you enjoy :)
What is the Paleo Lifestyle?

I mostly can identify with the Paleo lifestyle, but we have our own version, we take what works for us. Many people consider Paleo being all about meat, but we don't eat that much meat and we do not freely substitute meat for carbs. Dr Mercola has a great article which I feel I can identify with, you can read it here. He talks about his nutrition plan, which includes dairy, fermented foods, healthy fats & intermittent fasting. Dr Hyman also has named this as Pegan (Paleo Vegan).

The Paleo Lifestyle to me, isn't about replicating caveman days. I have a computer, an iPhone, I love my gadgets and the convenience of going to the store to find my food. 

The Paleo Lifestyle for me is about eating real unprocessed foods, some grass fed pastured meats, organic produce, eliminating foods that can cause damage to the body like processed packaged foods, some grains, non organic fermented soy, non organic dairy, vegetable/seed/canola oils, processed sugar & sweeteners. 

Some of the things we avoid and why:
  • Many grains, legumes (including soy) contain damaging lectins & phytates that can cause inflammation in the body and damage the gut wall
  • Gluten is a protein that has been increased in a lot of grains due to genetic modifications, it can cause a host of issues, even minor ones that you might dismiss and not realise that you can be free from by eliminating grains
  • Grains/Bread provide carbohydrates that are processed too quickly by the body causing a rise in blood sugar levels
  • They are highly addictive and make you come back for more
  • Real Fat has been given a bad wrap for many years, it is now being recognised publicly that our body and brain needs fat to function. Highly processed unnatural hydrolyzed vegetable oils are now been shown to be the possible culprit for the rising number of heart disease. Read about it here
  • Vegetable oils & Margarine contain polyunsaturated fats are unstable and become rancid easily, they can cause inflammation in the body, cell mutation and a link to many other diseases. Read more here.
  • Processed Sugar
It's not a meat, meat & more meat diet either. Some of the things we do eat:
  • A rainbow of vegetables, fruit & berries mostly organic when possible. I have compiled a list of the most contaminated and least contaminated fruit & veggies in my organic's directory here.
  • Organic free range pasture raised Meat & Poultry, eggs (chicken, duck, quail etc) as a side portion
  • Some Nuts & Seeds
  • Some occasional processed/refined sugar free treats
  • Some organic grass fed dairy (we eat some dairy, whilst other Paleo followers may not. In the end, choose what your body can tolerate and enjoy. Everyone is different)
  • Nutritious bone broths rich in gut healing gelatin, vitamins & minerals
  • Fermented foods & beverages (like sauerkraut, cultured vegetables, kombucha & kefir)
  • Water
It's also about living healthier with good quality sleep and exercise. 

This is just a quick overview, The Paleo Mom did a great post on what her view of the Paleo diet is. I also have a list of my favourite sites on the right hand side for further reading
Why are you following the Paleo Diet / Lifestyle?
After my second child was born, and all the complications we had with his health and the failure of mainstream medical care, I found an amazing Holistic GP who practices Traditional Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture, Nutrition as well as Western Medicine when needed. How perfect and lucky I am to have found her. She has helped me in the process of healing my son and myself, of which I didn't realise I needed healing.

She diagnosed me with hypoglycemia which meant my blood sugar levels would drop really low and I would feel incredibly sick. I never knew why I would feel so violently ill so quickly if I didn't eat frequently. I accepted that it was just the way my body became as I got older. I also didn't realise that the choices of food I made when I did eat made it worse (I didn't have a bad diet to begin with, it's not like I lived on packets of chips & donuts. I ate fruit, veggies, meat & wholegrains - lots of it, its healthy right? it's the biggest portion in the 'food pyramid' - it was taught to us in school, in any mainstream nutritional pamphlets etc - so so wrong it was for me).

Feeling hungry to me was feeling sick. I knew I should eat real quick if I started feeling sick - headache, nausea, dizziness. If I left it too late, I would end up laying down for about half an hour where ever I was and having to eat whatever was available really quick, usually something sugary or carby. 

I fell pregnant for the third time under her care. With all my pregnancies I was insulin resistant, gaining 24kgs each pregnancy, sick the entire time. I had a real risk of developing diabetes. 

My Doctor told me to get Dr Loren Cordain's The Paleo Diet book. I did, and I haven't looked back.

This is what happened for me (and my son) after we started the Paleo lifestyle:
  • I felt true hunger. It was really strange to feel hungry and not sick. No headache, nausea or dizziness. I could delay the hunger, sometimes it would even go away. I realise now that I hadn't felt hungry for years. I only felt sick and that was the signal to eat. This was due to my blood sugar levels dropping, causing me to feel sick and knowing the only way to fix this was eat, and I ate the wrong things that caused my blood sugar levels to spike. I had to eat every 2hrs or so. Now I can skip breakfast altogether, and before anyone tells me skipping meals especially breakky is the worst thing you can do, I also discovered Intermittent Fasting. You can read more about it here from The Paleo Mom.
  • Motion sickness especially in the car was dramatically reduced. I can actually read an email or text (obviously as a passenger, not the driver) without feeling sick (headache & nausea) - how does this work? I have no clue, but I was amazed as I never thought anything could ever make that go away. I always got motion sickness in the car even as a child. It was one symptom never listed anywhere as a benefit of the Paleo diet!
  • Reduced bloating and uncomfortable feeling after eating
  • Feeling incredibly tired and sometimes sick after eating. Especially all the yummy Vietnamese food my mum would prepare with all the hidden sugars in the dressings, dips, marinades, high GI jasmine rice & noodles. Good news is that I got mum onto the Paleo diet and we have paleofied many of her traditional dishes
  • I rarely have cravings now and can walk past a bakery or sweets store without any desire to eat it (it did not happen over night though! this is probably after a year of starting as I took the gradual approach). Wheat & processed sweeteners are addictive, it makes you want more. At first it was more of a conscious decision, but after feeling so good removing all the wheat, grains & sugar, then going back for a 'treat', I realised I didn't need it, that it was more habit or a social need. In social situations, I still eat what everyone else is eating or serving. I have no guilt doing that, I know I'll be eating healthy the way my body should eat every other time. I also don't feel great afterwards and that's a great incentive to stay clear.
  • I noticed real food started tasting better in it's natural state. I needed less salt, less flavourings, no sugar. Some treats are now just way too sweet for me to enjoy, not to mention I usually feel sick afterwards.
  • My weight is pretty stable, I'm the same as I was prior, although my husband lost 20kgs (he had a little to spare hehe) and my mum lost 4kgs 
  • My children are not 100% Paleo, but including fermented foods and removing most grains especially gluten for my 5 yo made a huge difference to his health. He battled Clostridium Difficile (C.diff) 3 times, listed as one of the 18 most dangerous pathogens for 2013 by Dr Mercola. My son's over-prescription of antibiotics for other reasons left him with a weakened immune system. C.diff does not affect healthy individuals and can be present in many of us. For him, it was over a 1 year battle starting when he was about 3 years old. With 2-3 courses of Flagyl each time to clear it. After the last course, we decided to deal with it naturally through diet. After a few months with a change of diet and the introduction fermented veggies, his test came back all clear, and has stayed that way.
  • He also has a complex motor tic disorder, a repetitive unvoluntarily physical movement, that changes every now and then. It may be the opening of his mouth repetitively, dropping his toy taking 3 steps then going backwards to pick it up, lining up his feet then opening his mouth before he takes a run or straightening his arms in front of him like a robot a few times. Although this has not disappeared the severity and frequency has been notably reduced once his diet changed and fermented vegetables were introduced. It is so clear to me how important gut health is and how the gut affects so many other things, and why it really is considered the second brain.
  • He frequently suffered tummy aches and would complain daily. With the introduction of Kombucha tea, this has pretty much disappeared.
May Ly
My 3 beautiful boys (2016)

UPDATE: 2016
I was recently diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder. Due to chronic fatigue and still working out how to best correct my body, my blog has not been updated as regularly so thanks for checking it out. I am focusing on bone broth meals 3 times a day with lots of juices, raw foods and supplements in between. You can follow me on Instagram or Facebook for daily pictures of what I'm eating. I have been finding great progress and hope to bounce back very soon with more regular posts

What tips do you have for starting the Paleo Diet?

Different people respond to different approaches, for me I took the gradual approach as my family were not on board when I started.
  • Replace one meal a day for the first month or so. Breakfast worked the best for me. That seemed the easiest and I usually went for bacon, eggs, 2 ingredient pancakes, fruit salad, sauteed vegetables, leftover meat from dinner or left over roast vegetables. Eating meat might seem strange for breakky especially if you are used to cereal, so go for what you are comfortable with. 
  • Gradually replace another meal like lunch or dinner for the following month and finally replace the last meal.
  • Prepare snacks the night before to take with you in case you get caught out, letting yourself get too hungry can cause you to not make the best food choice. A small bag of nuts & seeds, vegetable sticks, hard boiled egg & dried seasoning of your preference for dipping, a piece of fruit, a small tub of almond butter for dipping veggie sticks or apple slices. 
  • Get the whole family on board, especially if you are the main cook of the house. When my husband joined in, it made it so much easier and motivating as we both spent time sharing new found recipes and sites together.
  • Bone broth makes very quick and easy meals if you can make a large batch and store in the freezer. You can simply reheat the broth with any vegetables you have on hand or left over meat for a very nutritious convenient meal.
Some people might just prefer to go in hard, all the way.
  • Go all or nothing and try it for a month, but plan ahead - do lots of reading, bookmarking your favourite sites and collect lots of paleo friendly recipes. 
  • Set the month you plan to start and have all the above ready. 
  • Prep your food over the weekend and portion them into individual containers (glass containers would be best :)
  • If you don't stick to it 100% throughout the month, don't worry about it. It's not cheating, it's not failing, it's living in a modern lifestyle. Just try it again the next meal.
  • There are alot of sites, with programs and meal plans to help you along the way
Some General Tips:
  • Avoid the middle lanes at the supermarket, shop along the edges where you will find your fruit & veg, meat & poultry, eggs, dairy (if you include it) and toiletries and cleaning products. The middle aisles are filled with packaged processed goods, soft drinks, lollies, chips etc. (Unless your allowing yourself a free treat without guilt :)
  • Find a local farmers market, buy locally grown and organic produce when possible, it's more sustainable and also will be cheaper. You can help the environment and your pocket too!
  • Follow the old rule of never shopping when you are hungry, pull out your emergency snack bag that you prepped the night or weekend before and snack on that before or during your shop.
  • Keep some healthy snacks at your desk / work place and in your car. (Don't forget your car can heat up dramatically in summer so avoid leaving nuts etc that can spoil in the heat during the hotter days)
  • Love your leftovers! I used to really dislike leftovers. I always gave them away. Now, I am so thankful to have leftovers, and usually cook more than I need in order to have leftovers. If you are roasting a chicken and your oven can fit an extra, why not utilise the energy your oven is already using to roast an extra one? You can slice it up cold to have with a salad the next day for lunch, add it to some zoodles (zucchini noodles) & pesto for a Chicken Pesto Zoodle meal. Save the bones to make broth or stock.
  • Don't feel guilty if you 'choose' to have a food you used to have that's not on the Paleo approved list. It's been a lifetime of eating a certain way believing it was the best for you. It will take time to change your brain & body's preference for food.
  • Stay hydrated with clean filtered water, flavour your water with slices of lemon, mint, berries and try coconut water. Its very refreshing and satisfying in replacement of juice and soft drinks.
  • I found following people who are on the Paleo diet inspiring. Especially on Instagram, seeing all the deliciously wonderful grain & processed junk free creations, it is very motivating.

What kitchen equipment do I use?

This is what I have in my kitchen:
  • A Pressure Cooker (Soft, fork tender meat in no time at all. Bone broths, stock - A must have)
  • A slow cooker (prep your meals, set it in the morning and come home to a ready to eat hot meal. Keep your kitchen cool in summer without the use of the oven)
  • Or you can get both of the above in one. That's what I have.
  • The Magic Bullet (grind your own spice mix, nut flour/meal, marinades, mix batters like 2 ingredient pancakes, make smoothies, it's so so handy and I love that it takes less room than a conventional blender so it's great to just leave out on the bench top as I use it daily). A new one is now available with an ice shaver!! Get it here.
  • A Spirooli or vegetable spiralizer to make zoodles and other raw dishes, you can buy one here.
  • A mandolin is also handy and can be used instead of the spiralizer 
  • A food processor to shred veggies for fermenting, making sweet potato hash etc
  • Since moving to Vietnam, we chose not to have a microwave in the house and do not miss it at all.
What kitchen staples do I stock up on?

This is what I have in my kitchen:
  • Good Fats for cooking like Ghee, Butter, Lard, Coconut Oil (replaces margarine, canola oil, vegetable oil)
  • Good Fats for dressings and no heat like EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive oil) & Avocado oil
  • Coconut Flour, Almond Flour/Meal, Tapioca Starch (replaces wheat flour, rice flour, corn starch)
  • Full Fat Coconut Milk / Cream (I keep half my cans in the fridge and half in the pantry. The refrigerated ones will separate with the cream on top so you can whip for sweet treats). I have read Aroy D Coconut Cream brand does not contain BPA. I found these at Woollies not Coles. (Replaces milk, eg in omelettes, batters)
  • In the fridge - Eggs, Sweet Potato, assorted veggies in season (Kale, Carrots, Cucumber, Beetroot, Radish, Cabbage which can be easily thrown together for a quick salad. You can add seasonal fruit like Ruby Red Grapefruit, Pomegranate & nuts to vary the salads)
  • In the freezer - Grass fed beef bones & joints, Chicken, Beef, Lamb, organic sausages. I am don't plan my meals that often until the night before, so having lots of frozen protein helps. I just take it out the night before and let it thaw in the fridge. I also always have bolagnese frozen in portions, easy to thaw and throw over zoodles for the kids.
  • Bone Broth - lots of it!
  • Jars of fermented cultured vegetables (a great addition to your plate as side or mixed through salads). Learn to make fermented carrots here, a great intro to fermented foods.
  • Bottles of home made Kombucha Tea, cartons of coconut water (replaces soft drinks!) - now that I am living in Vietnam, we have fresh young coconuts in our fridge, sorry cocobella ;)
Tip: I always buy full fat, never reduced fat or light versions. I try and have things as nature intended them to be. Fat, nutritious & delicious - and it doesn't make you fat! (but obviously everything in moderation hehe)

Does this site contain Affiliate Links?

Yes, it does. In order to support my blogging activities and recipe development I do have affiliate links through my site of which I may earn a percentage of any sales generated here. I do only post things I use or love personally. So if you click on anything on this site to purchase, you will be supporting me and the products I love.

Most of the items I have listed throughout my posts were used by me before setting up this blog. I was excited to learn that a lot of the items I use have some sort of affiliation program, BUT I am not limited to only posting items with affiliations. I write posts of things I love and neat things or recipes I find, regardless of whether an affiliation program is available or not. If there is an affiliate program BONUS, if not, I just want to share my findings!
Can I take the information I find on here as medical advice?
No. I want to share what we have learnt along the way to healing ourselves, so I will write and post about our findings to help others possibly recognise how they can help themselves and benefit from living a healthier lifestyle. I may write about our medical journey, with our medical results. But should you need advice or assistance on any health issues, please seek out professional medical advice. All I can say is ask questions, lots of them. Your medical professional should make you feel comfortable to do this.

May Ly

To good health! 
May xx :)

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