I would like to share our journey – as it was printed in the latest edition of Lose It Magazine (Inspiration).
When we started this lifestyle, we never thought that it would turn into such an amazing journey. We just wanted to follow the best lifestyle for Little M. We are so blessed to have received the opportunity to share our story with the greater LCHF community in South Africa (LOSE-IT-The-low-carb-way_Volume-19_preview).
How did you hear about banting or low-carb? We heard about paleo (low-carb) from a work colleague back in 2011. We did some research about it and it seemed to be the best “diet” for us as it excluded gluten, which I have serious problems with. Mark’s Daily Apple was the very first blog I read about this lifestyle. I must admit I thought it was a little bit extreme – only because I didn’t actually understood the science.
What inspired you to try it? Since 2011 we tried to follow a more gluten free than true Paleo diet but in 2014 everything changed. Our daughter was born pre-maturely and with an infection count of over 100. We just brushed it off and tried our best to enjoy our new bundle of joy. December 2014 we introduced solids and it seemed that she was constantly sick. At the time pediatricians could not really pin point what could be causing it. She had constant fever paired with diarrhea, vomiting, constipation and skin rashes. After several hospital stays and trips to the theatre for biopsies, she was diagnosed with EoE (Eosinophilic Esophagitis), severe food and environmental allergies and auto immune problems. We had to make a real change in our lifestyle to ensure she stays healthy and grow up strong. She is our true inspiration to not just change our diet, but our lifestyle.
Tell me a bit more about Hirschsprung’s disease – what does this mean for your every day life? In simple terms Hirschprung’s disease occurs when the nerve cells in the colon doesn’t form completely resulting in limited peristalsis. I would suffer from chronic constipation, bloating, fatigue, weight gain and severe acid reflux. Before our lifestyle change, I would drink laxatives and anti-acid medication daily. My weight kept on increasing and it seemed that I was destined to struggle with weight gain and associated problems. Since July 2016 I completely stopped taking anti-acid medication. I still suffer from the occasional constipation but it is nothing compare to before. My weight has since stabilised and I have managed to control weight gain with our low-carb diet.
When you tried to cut gluten and sugar out and tried to go paleo, why do you think it wasn’t successful? What were the challenges? When we first attempted to change our diet it was very overwhelming, everybody around us was still eating all those carb dense food and it was very hard to say no. We started buying gluten free products but never bothered to check the actual ingredients. And as we all know gluten free does not mean low carb. We also excluded white sugar in our coffee and meals, but never checked ingredients in shop bought products, and enjoyed our daily fruit (apples, banana etc.) which resulted in additional sugar being consumed.
When you started, what was your step by step approach? In July 2016 we decided that it is now or never and we completely changed our lifestyle. As our previous attempts failed we decided to join Merle Westcott’s online course to help us succeed and maintain our low-carb lifestyle. We developed our own meal plan with options for breakfast, lunch, supper and a snacks for a week, all from the green list. We stocked up on fresh veggies and cleared our cupboards from all the nasties. Meal prep ensured that we always had something in the fridge to snack on if we felt like it. Egg muffins and home-made mayo turned into an anytime snack or quick breakfast meal. After the first week we made a few LCHF freezer meals that we could just heat up in the evenings if we were too busy to cook.
What did you eat for the first two weeks? The first two weeks were tough to say the least. Our meal plan helped us to say on track and we had no problems with trying to figure out what to eat. We tried to keep our meals interesting but simple. Read our post about our take on ….Meal plans and ….Meal Prep, the way to start
|Day 1||Egg/veggie/meat scramble||Green salad/ Leftovers||Veggie sticks/ avo/ cheese/ biltong/ mayo||Pork with veg/salad|
|Day 2||Chicken livers||Mixed veg with protein||Veggie sticks/ avo/ cheese/ biltong/ mayo||Lamb with veg/salad|
|Day 3||Coconut smoothie/ banana pancakes||Soup||Veggie sticks/ avo/ cheese/ biltong/ mayo||Fish with veg/salad|
|Day 4||Boiled egg with veg||Lettuce wrap||Veggie sticks/ avo/ cheese/ biltong/ mayo||Chicken with veg/salad|
|Day 5||Egg/bacon/veg||Seed crackers with pate, cucumber||Veggie sticks/ avo/ cheese/ biltong/ mayo||Venison with veg/salad|
|Day 6||Omelette/Frittata||Tuna salad||Veggie sticks/ avo/ cheese/ biltong/ mayo||Bun less burger|
|Day 7||Chia porridge||Chicken with veg/salad||Veggie sticks/ avo/ cheese/ biltong/ mayo||Chicken with veg/salad|
Did you have to make adjustments for her to follow the lifestyle? Our daughter also follows a LCHF (Banting) lifestyle with some adjustments. She is allergic to eggs, dairy, tomatoes, bovine protein and nuts, so most of the banting treats and meals are not always suitable for her. With her still being very young (turning 3 in May), we allow her food items from the orange list (sweet potato, butternut, carrots) regularly. We also do not limit her meal sizes and allow her fruit (mainly strawberries) when she wants.
Was it difficult at first? What were the challenges? Since we introduced solids to our daughter we avoided all sugar and processed food (before her food allergies were identified). We prepared all her food from scratch so she was use to real food. As she got older and got exposed to ordinary food it became more challenging. We always try to explain to her why she cannot eat a certain type of food, whether it is due to allergies or just bad for your body, like sugar. The most challenging part of raising a child on a LCHF diet is criticism from other parents who believe we are depriving our child from a “normal” childhood.
Did you experience withdrawals from sugar and junk? Even though we thought we were already following a healthy lifestyle we did suffer from carb flu in the beginning. Major headaches, lack of energy and brain fog was some of the symptoms we suffered from.
When did you and your family start to feel healthier? What started happening? It is very hard to pin point the exact moment when we realized we felt healthier. We did notice that we could get up earlier in the mornings without feeling tired, concentration at work increased and we had more energy in the evening to run around and play with our daughter or even start working out in the evening. Overall our mood also improved and we felt less irritated after a long day at the office. I knew I was getting healthier when the constant hunger feeling I was so used to disappeared and we could go for 12 hours without eating and still have enough energy to be active after a day’s work. Currently I am also training to become a Banting Buddy coach as we believe this lifestyle is not just for people with weight issues. Kids can benefit greatly from this lifestyle and we are hoping to share our experience and knowledge with other families alike.
What does a typical day’s meals look like for you now? And for your daughter? We tend to only eat two meals a day. Our daughter still eats 3 meals a day. She will eat protein, veggies and fat with every meal. I pack her own food for school so we can completely control what she eats. She is also allowed to eat fruit (mainly strawberries) when she feels like it. We are lucky that she absolutely loves avocado and cucumber and her favourite meal will be chicken served with avocado and cucumber slices. Most days we will have brunch – consisting of left over from the night before, or some boiled eggs with home-made mayo and veggies (cucumber, tomatoes, mushrooms). Chicken livers and chia porridge is also a favourite in our household. Supper will be protein (chicken, fish, lamb or venison) with veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, etc.). Sometimes we do eat beef, but we substitute the beef with lamb or venison for our daughter. We try to avoid nuts (due to her allergies) and dairy but do enjoy our cream coffee from time to time.
What’s your favourite LCHF recipe or dish? There are too many just to name one – Salmon fish cakes – we have them often. Coconut tacos is another family favourite as you can fill them with whatever you have in the fridge. You can find the recipes here. Please follow our Facebook page (4-the-love-of) and Instagram (@bantingfamily) for daily updates on what we eat.
Do you miss carbs? And sugar? The easy answer – NO. We have learned to make some delicious low-carb treats (mug cakes, pancakes, cheese cake, coconut fudge) that we can snack on when we do feel like something sweet.
Do you ever ‘cheat’? We never plan to cheat. LCHF is a lifestyle and not a death sentence (Thank you Merle). We will not deliberately eat something off plan, but when we are visiting friend or family, away from home, we will try to choose the best option available. If I do eat something off plan (“cheat”) I suffer from severe headaches, bloating, stomach cramps and constipation – so it’s not an option for me. My husband on the other hand does have a roosterkoek or slice of bread sometimes.
How do you deal with cravings? What are your craving-beating-hacks? Cravings are real and with winter approaching it will get even more intense. Bone broth and biltong is my favourite “anti-craving” tools. Most of the times we only crave something because we are bored.
What are your go-to low carb foods that you always have in the house? I love meal prep and preparing our own freezer meals so we always have a selection of meals ready (zucchini lasagna, meatballs, coconut chicken and curry). We also love bone broth and make big batches that we freeze into individual portions. We enjoy it as a snack or meal.
How much weight did you lose? And your husband? Our weight loss has been slow and steady, but the amazing thing is we are keeping it off. Since July 2016 I have lost a total of 8.5kg, 10 cm around my waist, 9 cm around my hips and 7 cm around chest, hubby has lost a total of 6 kg, 6 cm around his waist, 6 cm around his hips and 4 cm around his chest. Little M managed to pick up 1,5 kg over the last year which is a great achievement.
Tell me a bit more about how it helped with your daughter’s health? LCHF truly helped our daughter grow into the active toddler she is today. After she was diagnosed, a dietician assisted us in developing a balanced menu for her. Her immune system was very weak and she was underweight due to her health problems. After adjusting her diet to LCHF she showed improvement almost immediately. She slowly started to gain weight, her constant battle with candida infection (due to sugar – even from fruit) cleared up, and her immune system is slowly recovering. The greatest achievement was that we could keep her off all her medication for an entire year without any major setbacks.