Never feeling satisfied

I saw this and I can so relate to it. Even now I’m out the other side almost, I still get this feeling from time to time. It gets easier to fight but it’s still there. It makes me feel sad reading this but I think a lot of people who are into bodyshaming fat people just don’t get it, they have no idea.

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Searching for Gold

I read a story the other day, a true life survival story about a guy who went into the Aussie Outback searching for gold. This is a modern day story, not some settler tale of yesteryear. Anyway the guy managed to get separated from his buddies and lost his way. He had no radio (stupid of him he admitted) and his usual ability to rely on the sun was thwarted as the sun was blocked out by unusual dense cloud. As he tried to retrace his steps he became more and more lost, he was unknowingly moving further and further away from the friends who were searching for him. He spent the first night lying down on the red sandy earth trying to sleep in snatches and walking around trying to keep himself warm. He spotted search planes a few times the next day but for some reason no matter how much he waved and jumped and shouted they didn’t see him. He hadn’t realised that as he’d laid down on the red earth it had stuck to the sweat on his shirt and skin and so from the air he looked as red as the ground around him.

He tried to put all his instincts to use but there was little he could do, knowing he could not survive without water in the intense heat of the day and that the plummeting night time temperatures put him at another risk as did the night time animals that stalked the area looking for prey. Finally on the third night, after he should have been dead from dehydration, sun exposure, hypothermia or an animal attack he settled down to sleep, knowing and accepting that he would not wake up again. Suddenly he spotted some lights in the distance, he mustered all his strength to get to the lights which were miles away but glowing from a hill top across the wide expanse of flat desert.

Eventually, no one knows how, he made it to the lights laid out by a local Aboriginal group who had been helping in the search for the guy to hopefully guide him home. Trackers had lost the trail but they were certain that if they lit the fires on higher ground in the area they did that he would see them, they were confident that he was in that area, as he was.

When he staggered to the guys on watch, sitting on a jeep the first thing they gave him was a bottle of water which he drank down like the man dying of thirst that he was.

He said “To think, there I had been searching for riches, searching for gold, risking my life when all the time I had something worth more than gold, I had riches beyond measure at home, flowing out of a tap in my kitchen. Never again did I feel I wanted more in life than what I already had, I knew that without that precious resource that flowed into my home there would be no life and yet I often ignored it and had taken it for granted. Nothing else mattered, as long as I had that I was a wealthy man already. Every morning when I wake up I head straight to my kitchen for a drink of water and every morning I thank God for life and water and I remind myself of the fortunate man that I am”.

Water… drink it, don’t take it for granted, we need it for life.

Is hitting a weight loss plateau something to get worked up about?

plateauI’ve hit one, 17lbs from my ultimate goal of being in a normal weight for my height. This is the first time I have not seen a decrease in weight on the scale or a downward shift in inches since I started out on my journey just over a year ago as an over 300lb unhappy lady.

I’m amazed that I’ve got this far for this long without having hit a plateau before and I really think that has been down to changing my activity and my diet a lot throughout the past year or so, experimenting with this and that and never really letting my body settle into a comfort zone. I don’t know if that would work for everyone but it seems to have worked for me.

Even cave men chilled out

I also have to tell myself that as I lost weight just moving about was going to be using up less and less calories and it was impossible to imagine increasing my activity to accommodate for this. I was on pretty intensive activity quite early on and I don’t think I can fit more activity into my days if I tried. Besides I don’t want to try because there was a point where I became obsessed with activity and I was in danger of blowing myself out. Whilst the human body was made to move it was also made to rest and to know its limits, we were never designed to spend all of our waking hours thrashing ourselves into a sweaty breathless mess. Yes we were built to be able to do that if we really had to for a short time… think walking or running long distances now and then for food/water/shelter/communication or throwing ourselves into a physical challenge like climbing a tree/a battle/protecting children from lions by launching into hand to hand combat with one… but really we were made to take it easy now and then too.

Besides all of that, flippancy aside, I recently posted about the impact of exercise on fat loss and ultimately scientists and other professionals concur that  diet is the key to losing the fat and should be the real focus. Exercise is great for so many many reasons and should be engaged in but it’s not going to make you skinny alone… if skinny is what you want to be of course.

But anyway, all that aside, I have to tell myself that reaching a plateau is not a bad thing. It’s not something after all of the progress I’ve made to beat myself up over or to need to find an answer to. I’ve been the same now for about three weeks, after the second week I got angry with myself for weighing myself each week. I’d promised to only weigh once a month but as the end grew closer I got addicted to the scales. That was a big mistake and I have now learned from that. This week was my weigh in with my trainer and so I couldn’t avoid it and was disappointed to see that same figure staring back at me.

Then I thought about it in the whole scheme of things and realised I’m an absolute imbecile and got angry with myself for undoing in a couple of weeks all of that work I’ve done over the past year of gaining perspective, learning to look at things in positive ways, not getting down on myself, not having feelings of failure in my repertoire of emotions. I’d let myself down not by reaching a plateau but by allowing all of those horrid, fat person on a diet, negative emotions back in. In a way it was good, it reminded me of what I’d always feared, those feelings will always lurk around me, I may have expelled them but they’ve not gone far, they’re just waiting around for moments when I become weak stupid and then they pounce. So to some extent I’ve lost that complacency I was maybe beginning to feel and that’s a good thing that plateauing has taught me.

I can live with this

I also got to thinking, I remembered when I really believed my ideal weight for me was around 15 stones, I thought this because I always had trouble getting below it, when I made a determined effort to lose weight I mean, not when I was starved by the psycho I lived with. I had done it but it had never been in a healthy way. So for me to be way below that now and to have achieved it in the most healthy way I can imagine is a huge achievement and maybe this is my real ideal for me weight. What if I am 17lbs overweight? It’s better than 180lbs isn’t it? Why can’t I be happy to be 17lbs over weight? So I started thinking like that and it made me feel better, I gained perspective as well as having realised I was an imbecile for even feeling bad about it in the first place and as well as having learned that I really would always struggle with the emotional and mental issues of a fat person or of a compulsive over eater or of an emotional eater… whichever label sticks best.

Then I started to think about time. I thought, what if I carry on doing what I enjoy in terms of my movement and exercise and fitness, what if I carry on eating healthily with a treat now and then but making good choices for myself and eating foods I’ve come to love, cooked in ways I’ve come to really enjoy and find easy to fit into my day… those 17lbs might gradually vanish and if they do that will be fabulous but there is no time frame for them to do so, they go or they don’t either way I’m safe in the knowledge that I’m healthy and fit and doing the best by me. I’m giving myself the best shot of a longer life, a healthier life, a more active life and a happier life, how could 17lbs threaten that? If those 17lbs want to stick along for the ride then so be it, if they want to slowly slip away then so be it but I’m not going to stress about them. I’m stupid if I do.

I thought about what I could do to make those 17lbs shift. I realised very quickly thankfully that I can’t do any more and remain healthy. Yes I could go on a liquid only ridiculously low calorie fad diet for a month and probably see those 17lbs off especially if I upped my PT sessions from 3 a week to 5 but would that be healthy? Would that be sustainable? Not in a million years. I’m doing the best for me now and that’s that. Those 17lbs are not significant to me and I’m not changing for them. I’ve spent a life time letting fat dictate who I am and what I do and don’t do and those days are gone, I’m free from being dictated to by invisible layers of gloop under my skin.

downloadThen I thought about goals and I spoke to Nick about it and he said to me “You’re at your goal honey” and I said “I’m not, my ultimate goal was to be a normal weight” and he said “No, your absolute ultimate goal was to be happy and healthy, you were there ages ago”.

17lbs? What 17lbs? He’s right, I’ve already done it, I have what I wanted and those 17lbs are not going to take it away from me, they are insignificant, just numbers and stay or go they are not going to take away my joy at having done this, at having made it to where I wanted to be.

I’ve transformed my life, everything about my life screams happy and new and free… my career, the way I dress, the colour of my  hair, the design of my home, the way I have fun, the way I love, the way I parent, the type of friend I am, my role in my community and so much more, it’s all better and it suits who I am, who I always was under that fat. It really has been a total and complete unwrapping process, not a transformation but an unveiling of who I was always supposed to be before fat took a hold, before I used food as my go to healer, food as my shield, food as my comfort. I’m never going back again and this plateau is pretty cool, I can see for miles from up here and it’s all looking bright.

What I hate in the fitness and weight loss world this week…

It’s the photos doing the rounds of super ‘fit’ pregnant ladies who are at various stages of pregnancy, usually close to the end with barely a bump showing between their still toned abs. (I put fit in speech marks because we all know that looking fit, is not always indicative of being fit or healthy for that matter.)

I worry so much that this is the next big thing, for pregnant women to feel pressured to gain as little weight as possible during pregnancy and to lose as little of their pre-baby figure as possible while they are still pregnant.  I worry that women are going to feel that the only way to keep the bump small and the weight gain low is to near starve themselves and exercise themselves to an  unhealthy level and actually do some harm to the growing baby or themselves.

I feel sorry that those who try and fail to keep their bump under control feel like a fat failure and they get depressed about the baby and pregnancy when they should be enjoying that special time.

Babies grow inside of us, they need space, they make a bump and sometimes that can be a big bump or a small bump, we can’t control the size or shape of our bump, we have to leave it to nature. If we starve or over exercise, guess what happens? Our body let’s us know it. The body does this neat little thing when you’re pregnant, it keeps you alive and then puts the baby’s nutritional needs above yours, the good stuff will go to the baby so if you stop eating enough, your body will put your baby first and if there is nothing to give the baby bad things may happen. If you don’t eat enough to nourish yourself and sustain the life that’s growing inside of you, you will fast become unwell and you will not be able to sustain it. Your body will not let  you work out to extremes with no food to fuel your body or to grow your baby. Your body hopes that you will care enough about your baby to put the fuel in that you need to grow and develop him or her, but if you don’t do that it takes over, does the best with what you’ve given it and gives you a telling off in the process.

Keeping fit and healthy during pregnancy is good, going to extremes to keep your bump small is not

If we have good posture and strong muscle tone in our core then our bump may look smaller OR bigger as we hold ourselves differently to those with poorer posture. Good posture and a strong core will help reduce or lessen the severity of back pain and hip pain but there are some conditions which cause pain which nothing is going to prevent, no posture, no exercise, no diet nothing.

Also when we are pregnant we lay down FAT, this fat is vital in milk production and is typically laid down around the hips, waist and shoulder/chest area and our boobs get bigger as milk ducts go through changes. We can’t stop this happening, some people get bigger than others, some put lots of fat down on their thighs, some on their bum and lower back. Breast feeding helps to use up this fat and so some people appear to regain their figure more quickly if they breast feed but I know people who bottle fed and were back in size 10 jeans 10 days after birth.

Nearly every pregnant woman i have ever known has had some form of swelling during pregnancy to some degree or another at some point or another, in the legs, feet, hands. Faces get rounder and plumper and there really is nothing you can do to stop it other than I guess, starve yourself, but then you’re starving your baby, which is not good. Your baby is supposed to be born with a bit of fat on it, it’s nature, we don’t want to be birthing skinny babies they have a whole lifetime to feel crap about their bodies, let them be chubby once in their life and not care.

So I just hope this doesn’t become a new craze, these women don’t have small bumps because they are super women they have small bumps because of the way nature deals with their body during pregnancy or because they are starving themselves, or because they are photoshopping, or because they are lying. I saw one picture where it said that the woman was due any day next to a photo of her naked with a neat tiny bump nestled between abs but in smaller print in the rest of the story it said that the photo above was taken at 6 months and further down the article was a picture of her now and that bump was a whopper, not surprisingly covered by a huge tee shirt and leggings and not on display at all. Pregnant women looking at the article and not bothering to read it all or not scrolling down would believe that the naked photo was taken at 9 months. Some women are huge at 6 months, some don’t even start to show until then. We’re all different.

What isn’t different is that babies need to be well nourished so a pregnant woman needs to be well nourished, well hydrated and to take exercise during pregnancy to keep her healthy, to keep her energised, to keep her mentally well, to resist avoidable painful postural conditions and to adjust better to ligament softening and other physical changes to her body. The extent and nature of that exercise is a personal choice, some women might still feel like running 10 miles a morning before work up to the day they give birth, some might prefer to drop cross fit and go for something non weight bearing like swimming, some might switch running for a fast walk, some might stop cycling later on and take up yoga, it’s up to you just don’t go bat shit crazy trying to stop your bump from growing because you will not do it.

Baby bumps are wonderful and the size of the bump used to be seen as a thing of pride, the bigger the better, just like somehow if you have a big baby you have achieved a feat worthy of a higher position in the realms of motherhood hall of fame than if you have a small baby. Ridiculous of course but one of those things.

Those who naturally see little change in their body during pregnancy… well good on them but I pity them in a way, I loved watching my body change and my belly grow (my bum as well with my daughter but not with my son), I loved (like most women do) having nice big firm boobs and a great cleavage for a while, I loved the opportunity to rest my hands on my belly and feel my little ones moving around all cocooned in there, I loved getting given seats and the way people would spark up conversation in public when they normally sat on the tube looking into space all because of my massive baby lumps. It was a fabulous time and I loved what was happening to my body, it fascinated me and reminded me how much was going on to make me ready to have a healthy baby.

A healthy balance with diet and exercise is good all of the time especially when pregnant

However, I did lose weight during both of my pregnancies. I gained weight while I was pregnant but a week after the births I was 28lbs lighter with the first one and 21lbs lighter with the second than when I’d fallen pregnant but that was simply down to me finding it so much easier to make healthy choices when pregnant and my diet being filled with only things which would do my babies good. Breastfeeding the two hungriest babies in the world probably helped too.

I just hope people don’t forget that’s their baby growing in there and no matter what it does to their body it’s beautiful, the body that made another person is just as perfect as the body that didn’t. In time, nature helps to get you back to normal if you eat sensibly and move. Eating sensibly and moving during pregnancy is best for you and your baby and stops you piling on unnecessary unhealthy weight and after the baby is born eating sensibly and moving helps your body to get back to normal gradually and helps you cope with the stresses of motherhood. Extremes are never good, no matter if you’re pregnant or not but especially when you are pregnant. Just as living off mars bars is no good for you and your baby, living off lettuce isn’t either. Balance and capacity, it’s all about balance and capacity, always. If you can still lift weights and plank when you are 9 months pregnant and you feel comfortable do it but don’t force yourself to do something you’re not used to hoping that it will keep your bump small.. it won’t. Keep your mind on your health and your baby’s health not the size of your belly.

Your baby bump is not FAT it is a LIFE.

Following on from this is another thing, the pressure to get back into shape within minutes after having a baby… that pisses me off too, I’ll talk about that some other time.

Do It Like a Marine – Ready made fitness plan

One of my son’s friends wants to go into the Royal Navy when he is 18 and they were chatting today about what the fitness requirements may be, so I went online and did a bit of research and we found out. Not only did we find all of the info we needed we found this fab Get Fit To Join The Royal Navy booklet with a fab fitness plan all laid out.

So the boys have decided to make this their ‘get buff for summer’ approach starting tomorrow. I’m hoping they take it beyond the summer and either use this as their fitness benchmark or they continue to develop their fitness in a healthy and purposeful way after completing this. I’m sure it will do the boy who wants to go into the forces good to have a few friends on the programme with him and the team spiritedness of the approach and no doubt a bit of competition won’t do any harm in helping him achieve his fitness goals. We’ve suggested they get sponsors and raise a bit of money for a forces related charity like Help the Heroes or such while they are at it as that may ensure that they endure to the end.  They’re going to get on with sorting that out tomorrow too.

I’m tempted to have a go myself and join them even if not actually with them as such but alongside them hidden away somewhere at different times of the day. I just thought this is a good idea for anyone who is trying to energise a teen or get them fitter and taking more care of themselves or as a family project even and especially for someone who wants to or may want to join a profession where physical fitness is going to be an assessed must.

It’s also a fun way to just build fitness and stamina, strength and ability really and if you’re lost as to where to start, or looking for a progressive programme which takes in cardio and strength, fitness and endurance and a range of exercise including swimming, running/walking, resistance training then this might be an idea for you, or an adaptation of this maybe.

Sometimes Always I find that making exercise fun, making it a social activity, making it just for fun competitive, making it about improvement and progression, giving it a goal, time limiting it, making it about raising money or awareness for a good cause… all of those things make it more fun and the more fun it is the more likely we are to do it.

Is Being Overweight Actually More Healthy Than Being Slim?

I read this article today in The Guardian which suggests so. But when you read do bear in mind that it is written by a fat is fine activist who believes that some of us are just designed in a way that we naturally carry fat and that doesn’t mean we are not fit and healthy, it’s just a body shape thing.

I’ve long suspected that some of us are just naturally fat. Just like we accept that some people are naturally thin, those who can not gain weight, but we are less accepting of the concept of people being naturally fat.  I even came out with a theory that within primitive society some of the village folk would have been naturally fat so that in the event of famine or a longer than anticipated hunt, those people would be able to last longer, feed the village babies for longer and just keep things ticking along long after the skinnies had flagged.

A couple of things sprung to mind as I read this article and the first was excuses. I know it’s going to be seen as harsh but I know that I’ve used all of the excuses in the book for remaining fat… and I was what could be termed a healthy fattie. I have never had the usual weight related health issues that we hear of in the news, in fact I have a few friends who have not had them either and so we do have to question if they really exist. Yet the research suggests they do. The problem is, I don’t think the health risks with fat lie in the here and now while we are young I think they lie in the future and whatever we want to say to dress it up, if the only thing affected by fat is our mobility then that’s enough to worry about. Mobility becomes a major issue in later life for many and fat doesn’t do a lot to make us more mobile. It’s a struggle to get up from lying to sitting and sitting to standing for most fat people, even the fit healthy ones like me and the young ones. I know when I’ve really regretted being fat the most is when I’ve had surgery and I have undoubtedly struggled with recovery more than a slim person would have,  mobility being one of the biggest issues. I’ve worried that in older age my weight would impact on my enjoyment of life due to this issue alone. That’s without even going into the data on cancer and diabetes and high blood pressure.

But we are good at making excuses and fat people, like smokers and drinkers and gamblers are guilty (I am guilty) of finding reasons not to change and of convincing ourselves that we are happy and healthy and I really do envy those who are truly happy and who do not have concerns for their future health and mobility but I wasn’t one of them. I wasn’t ever motivated to lose weight to look good, for me it really all has been about health and mobility, it’s been about feel good, emotional and physical. As the author of this piece implies that I’m in denial and I’m just a victim of media induced stereotypes regarding body shape and I don’t really want to lose weight for health reasons because I’m already healthy, I’d have to take exception with her opinion. I am not doing what I am doing to conform to a physical stereotype at all, I want to feel ‘right’ and I don’t feel right just yet and certainly didn’t feel right when I was 150lbs heavier than this.

I take exception to fat bashing, I really do and do feel that it is the last permissible discrimination but we shouldn’t be bashing each other. Fat people who can’t lose weight down treading the efforts of those who are doing it and questioning the motives and those of us who can lose weight making sweeping judgements about those who say they are happy to be fat. Yet we do. We take sides in the fat debate even though we are fat. I’m guilty and I don’t want to be but when my motives are attacked I go on the defensive, I’m a human being after all, fat or not.

Anyone following me knows I have a rough final goal of hitting a higher end normal BMI and maintaining around there. I’m almost there and I know I can get there I know that even though I have kidded myself I’m naturally fat and that I can’t ever be slim as excuses in the past along with the ‘happy as I am’ mantra… although if I’m honest I don’t believe I’ve ever said I was happy as I was when I was fat, I’ve probably said I’m just going to accept that this is who I am but I don’t even think I’ve believed that. I’ve always been aware of the potential impact on my health. I may not have diabetes or cancer or heart disease but I did have heart burn and indigestion and IBS and anxiety and depression and irregular painful periods and a whole list of other ailments which are not so readily associated with being overweight. I know lots of overweight people who are happy with their weight but complain of all or some of those same conditions while stating they are healthy and I know that those conditions can be cured with a good diet, weight loss and improved fitness. I know this because I don’t suffer from them anymore.

Anyone who follows me also knows that I don’t like BMI for the very reason that it doesn’t take into account everything, especially people who have stronger, dense more heavy muscles and those who just weigh heavy. I come from a family which weighs heavy, tall, skinny size 8 ladies weighing 11 stone are not unusual in my family so I know that BMI is not ideal as a measure. BUT, this is where I have complied with ‘the norm’ and sold my fat soul to the devil in that it IS the measure used by doctors, by life insurers and health insurers and as such if I want a good deal I have to comply. That’s not necessarily a good thing but I need to be out of that obese zone for more reasons than health and appearance, I don’t want to be obese and here we lead into another issue… when does fat stop and obese start?

At the moment I’m in the overweight category on the BMI scale and anyone following me knows how much I wanted to get into this category more so even than the normal band. No longer being obese, morbidly obese or super morbidly obese was to me a really big deal for my health and happiness not for my appearance. At this point I am super fit, super healthy and super happy so I guess I should stop and just content myself with being overweight yes? The problem with that is I don’t want to stop living healthy and eating healthy. I want to do it for life and the consequence of that is that I lose weight because I am overweight in spite of the fact that I’m happy and healthy and fit and I don’t have any health problems whatsoever.

There will come a point when I don’t lose weight anymore, it’s not like I am starving myself, I eat a lot and some of that is fat, I’m a butter, eggs, full fat dairy consumer, hard cheese is a staple for me yet I’m losing weight because I am carrying excess fat that is not natural for me at all, it’s entirely unnatural and that’s why even though I am not calorie counting I am losing weight. I can’t kid myself any longer, the proof is happening to me every day. Will I have a breakdown if I stop losing weight and am not within a normal BMI? No of course not, I’ll accept that’s my ideal weight and I’ll settle there, I’ll accept that I’m meant to have a thicker waist and slightly chubby cheeks and I’ll be happy with that knowing that I’m healthy. I won’t care that I can’t wear a size 6 dress, that doesn’t bother me at all, I’ll know that I’m where I’m meant to be and I’ll be satisfied.

People who are overweight and happy with their size and who are convinced that their weight is having no detrimental effect on their health are possibly correct but obese people telling themselves the same thing are maybe not being totally honest with themselves. As much as people like me are challenged as being deluded by the author of the piece, I’d say obese people who think that their weight is not going to have an impact on their physical health are deluded. I think that’s fair, we’re entitled to a bit of retaliation when under attack especially when broad sweeping accusations about our motivations are made.

Overweight and obese are not one and the same thing. It might be healthy to be a little overweight and my fat person in the village theory would hold with that, but to be obese is not to be healthy, I really don’t believe that and I think we need to differentiate between the two. I know you can be obese and not have the big nasty life enders that we hear about as I’ve done it but I also know that being obese is not being healthy, there are a whole host of health issues, physical and mental which accompany it which only get talked about when the weight starts to come down. That to me is denial.

We all want to be normal, the problem is we don’t know what normal is. Overweight people who are happy with their size feel normal, slim people who are within a normal BMI feel normal, obese people who are struggling with weight loss say they feel normal… as long as we are honest with ourselves about what our idea of normal is then we’re all happy and shouldn’t be judging one another or making assumptions about motivations to lose weight or to stay fat. The choice is ours. Happiness is the most important thing in life and if some people are happy being fat then that is wonderful, I was never happy being fat, I experienced happiness as a fat person but I was never happy with me, not deep down. I felt I was missing something, cheating myself of something, endangering my life and that’s why I lost weight, not because I wanted to look good in a bikini or to attract a man.

The article reports findings which support the ‘fact’ that being overweight can help you live longer and is actually a healthy state and if that’s really the case then I’m going to be a happy bunny to reach my normal a little sooner than I planned. This kind of research definitely will help me to be satisfied if I settle ten pounds or so above the dictated normal for my height and will confirm what I already know, that being healthy, being happy, being fit and well is possible if you are a few pounds over weight and you might even be the village saviour if the food all runs out. What I worry about is that this article will encourage people to be happily obese and unhealthy, maybe not now but in the future and that it will detract from their quality of life.

High quality on a low budget

I’ve written before about ways to eat healthy on a low budget, growing your own veggies, sharing meals with a fellow healthy eater, shopping with a buddy to maximise the two for one offers that otherwise go bad before you can use them, frozen fruits and veg, batch cooking and so on.

For this new low carb diet I’m following from tomorrow I read so much (mainly from One Small Change At A Time Blog and links provided) about the nutritional value of grass fed livestock and how it is best to eat meat reared traditionally for maximum food chain delivered nutritional benefits. In short working on the idealistic premise that animal eats lush healthy natural untainted fodder in a field, the nutrients become an intrinsic part of the animal and when we consume the meat we absorb those nutrients in turn and our bodies become nourished by them. Makes sense when you think about it to not just think of meat as protein but as a conduit through which we can ingest other valuable nutrients.

But meat doesn’t come cheap in the UK not sure about everywhere else in the world. We are a little island with sixty or more million people living on it. Most of whom are financially able to buy meat on a daily basis and so many do. We don’t make enough to meet broad consumer demand and so lots of it is imported. Some of what is imported is, for the purposes of this discussion, ‘factory farmed’ as is some of what is home produced, but some is traditionally field reared and it is possible to track down some grass fed, former open field dwelling, free running meat and meat products.

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Tracking it down is easier with the internet, a Google search will bring up a ton of farms who butcher and sell direct to consumer or to wholesale. They do this by vacuum packing, flash freezing and home delivering. You don’t have to hike into the countryside to do your shopping although if like me you are lucky enough to be within a stone’s throw of some lush agricultural land and farms aplenty, then it’s not such a bad idea to go and have a nosey around these places yourself.

Some online butchers offer excellent bulk buying value packs too which can offer you a variety of cuts at more affordable prices but these affordable prices are nothing like the affordable prices the supermarkets will offer you for non organic produce so don’t be too taken aback when you see the price of your pork chops double or triple.

Keeping costs down can also be achieved by buying some nice cuts of meat but also mixing with lower cost cuts and being inventive with the cooking. Ox tail for instance is delicious and cheap if you know what to do with it. Lots of these farms produce sausages and burgers and meat for stewing and casseroling which can also be impaled on skewers and grilled. So don’t only think of the more expensive cuts. If you’re following this low carb eating plan then you can eat sausages and burgers just not with half a ton of bread wrapped around them.

Again buddying up to take advantage of bulk buying offers is an option to reduce costs but get good quality produce.

Mixing this high quality meat in with cheaper mass produced and imported stuff is another way to get some good stuff into your diet which is better than none. If you can’t afford to swap everything for organic, try swapping one or two things.

That all said however this is the real world remember so do check authenticity of claims as much as you are able to. There are no doubt unscrupulous traders out there packaging imported mass produced chickens in fancy wrappers with a glossy

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website complete with pictures of the happy chooks running around a field who are making a lot of money under false pretences so do your research, visit a seller if you can, examine their claims, contact them by phone and ask questions, research industry standards and the stamps of approval they claim to have. Some online sellers boast 100% traceability of the products they sell so don’t be afraid to ask for this evidence.

The way I looked at this is that there are a lot of items which are currently on my shopping list which are going to vanish…mostly the copious amounts of fruit and ready made juices and smoothies and cereal that we eat. The higher cost of the better quality meats will absorb this saving and we shouldn’t notice too much of a fluctuation in spending on food.

I watched a programme that’s been running on UK BBC TV lately called Eat Well For Less and one family were spending sixteen thousand pounds a year on food for four people. That was without considering dining out. I thought that was ludicrous but when you tot it up we do spend a huge amount of what we earn on food. If we’re going to do that it may as well be good stuff.

I’m also still mindful of the ‘alleged’ links between some meats and some cancers, specifically red meat and bowel cancer (read here it’s not as scary as it’s often made out to be) and even though I’m seeing another side of the argument now I do

Image from this fab article about sustainability and my favourite little fishy Mackerel
Image from this fab article about sustainability and my favourite little fishy Mackerel,

intend to make the meat I consume more heavily in favour of white meat and there is no doubt that a healthy free range organic chicken or turkey is going to cost less than a side of equal quality beef, pork or lamb. I’m also planning in lots of fishy protein and am at the moment having two meat free days per week where protein will come from eggs and dairy and those days will be very vegetable rich. So I’m not going to be straying right away from my current habits and the cost of good quality meat and fish will not be prohibitive. I’m also super lucky in that I live by the sea so I can access great quality fresh fish from merchants really close by which saves me a lot of hassle and I get to ask lots of questions about where and how it’s caught, how it’s been stored and so on.

It goes without saying that I’ll also be sticking with free range eggs, organic milk and dairy products which I have found only run a few pence more expensive than the other kinds and which I use already. I have ordered a batch of whole raw milk

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from a local farm which I get to pick up at a local farmer’s market each week so no doubt I’ll also buy a few cheesy and meaty treats at the same time. Oh, before I forget, that’s another top tip for saving money, farmers markets and visiting continental food markets where you can often cut a deal with a bit of haggling and if you linger around at the end of the day there are always fab bargains to be had as they try to clear the day’s stock. We have a lot of continental food markets in my area and they provide a fantastic opportunity to pick up some bargain delicious French and Italian cheeses and delicious Bavarian cold cuts as well as umpteen varieties of wurst. I’m quite looking forward to this new approach, I can taste it already.

As for money saving on the veggies, I grow my own kale, spinach and lettuce and believe me that home grown organic flavour is something else and these three crops are so easy to grow it is unreal. I don’t harvest as such I just pull off what I need that day that way the plant keeps on giving and stays fresh. Of course there comes a time when you have to pull it but if you start eating those baby leaves when they are ready and at their best a plant can last a long time. I plant in weekly rotations of five so I always have fresh stock coming up and lots to go at for a

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week. Once you get into a routine it’s so easy to do. I don’t usually have any waste and if I do get a stockpile I give it to someone. This winter of course I’ve grown under cover and there has been success with that so I’ve managed just about to get year round supplies. I also experiment with planting different varieties and my next thing is to grow myself some lovely deep green Savoy cabbage.

You really don’t need tons of space to grow enough for one or two people or a small family, you can do it in containers even if you don’t have a big garden or a garden at all, a couple of planters on a balcony would suffice. Trial and error the planting so you have a plant or two ready to eat with the next ready in a couple of days and the next a couple of days later and just keep going. Even if you only manage to grow enough to eat for half of the month and spend the other half waiting it is still better than nothing, it’s better for you and it costs less. OK laying out for organic soils and pesticides and such can cost depending on the size of the project but that is like a capital investment, you will yield much from that in time.

So lots of ways to cut costs of eating high quality produce and make sure that what you eat is doing your body good. If you have space of course you could have chickens and get fab fresh eggs and if you have more space you could rear your own meat but I’m not sure I could have that too close a relationship with my food. Also look into dairy cow sharing and having fresh whole raw cow milk as part of your diet and help support dairy farming in your area.

It’s not possible for everyone to get back to the roots of how we used to eat but a few steps in that direction may be more within our reach than we thought.