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Our MEAT FREE month!

Posted by Olivia Johnstone on

So, those of you who already know me, you know that I am a self confessed fitness addict. I have always loved exercise since I was a young girl, and as I continued into woman/motherhood, that love never went. People who know me always say ‘Olivia you should slow down’ or ‘Olivia you never stop’ and I don’t, but that’s just me and I don’t think i’ll ever be any different.

Inevitably, that love slightly dwindled in my late teenage years as I discovered ‘clubbing’ and eating Buddies at three in the morning (those of you who are local to me will get the reference). However, I quickly noticed that my unhealthy lifestyle was increasing; my weight was creeping up and my mental health was definitely deteriorating. Shortly after noticing this, my health took a turn for the worst, I became very ill, not able to get off the toilet. I had crippling stomach pains and I began to drop weight, FAST! I was losing up to 11lbs in a week (at my worst).

After several months of tests and observations, most of which were extremely intrusive and degrading, I was diagnosed with coeliac disease and IBS.
Hurray! An answer meant no more pulling over on the side of the road doubled over with severe stomach pains, no more accidentally pooing on the floor when I couldn’t make it to the toilet and better still, no more pulling over on the side of the road and accidentally pooing on the floor! (yes that happened)
Anyway... I got a diagnosis, I moved on forward, I led a gluten free life and my love affair with exercise resumed.

What I am trying to get at, is that I have always been/ had to be very health conscious, during both of my pregnancies, between them and after. I am always looking for new tips and tricks to keep myself as healthy as possible both outside and in. I also do the same for my children.

I have been fortunate enough to bounce back pretty quickly from the birth of both of my children, but this time around, it was a little harder. My body has remained more bloated than it was previously and I seem to be carrying a lot more water then I was previously. On the advice of my PT I have upped my exercise and my diet has become a lot more strict, almost bordering on a ‘diet’ diet instead of my usual healthy eating. I am not a fan of 'dieting' as I don't believe that you can maintain a 'diet', healthy eating is a way of life and is much easier to maintain. Therefore, I have recently been exploring and researching if there may be anything else within my lifestyle and diet that could be contributing to the bloatedness and water retention, and if so, how can I eliminate that so I am not burning the candle at both ends and exercising/dieting too heavily (whilst being a mum of two).

A friend of mine who also happens to be my carpet cleaner, Steve, recommended I watch a documentary on Netflix called ‘What the Health’. The purpose of this post is not to discuss in detail what I learnt/discovered from this programme but just to provide a bit of background for my decision to turn MEAT FREE! The studies in the programme were carried out in the US, however when it comes to statistics of obesity and diabetes, we (the UK) are not far behind. The documentary was controversial and is not without conflicting reviews, but for me, it was an eye-opener.

I was particularly interested in the studies into what is really in poultry and ‘lean meat’. Those foods in particular are promoted within the fitness industry and as being fundamental to a healthy lifestyle. The studies in the programme found that eating meat contributed to diabetes, higher cholesterol, weight gain, coronary disease and in some circumstances, cancer. The studies explored the amount of sodium found in poultry, which was found to be the leading source of sodium in the American Diet. Scientists and nutritionists continued to explains that the toxins released from eating dead meat, even within minutes, the body gets a burst of inflammation, stiffening or paralysing of the arteries! Could this be the reason as to why my body seems to be holding more water and appearing to be more bloated?

I was under the impression that chicken and poultry were necessary when trying to lose weight/maintain a healthy weight, and that the benefits of eating chicken were solely beneficial. Another poultry linked finding was that relating to eggs, the effect that eggs had on your cholesterol was summarised as follows: 'Eating one egg per day is just as bad as smoking five cigarettes per day for life expectancy (Greger, M. D, Michael, ‘Eggs vs. Cigarettes in Artherosclerosis’, NutritionFacts.org video. Volume 12, March 11th 2013).

More worrying still was the negative effect it has on our children – meat was one of the main contributing factors causing most kids by the age of 10 to have fatty streaks in their arteries (McGill Jr, Henry, et al ‘Origin of artherosclerosis in childhood and adolescence’ American Journal of Clinical Nutrition) and this contributed to more children having diabetes (a growing problem within the UK) and as a result a reduced life span of around 19 years! Not only this, something very relevant to my son, having meat in your diet was proven to contribute to skin conditions! SO that was it, I’m SOLD!

Sid, has always suffered with eczema since shortly after he was born, we were always told, ‘It's OK he will grow out of it’ (great optimism but not very helpful). He was fortunate enough to not suffer with it on his face, however the patches of eczema he did (does) have are very itchy and irritable and he is yet to ‘grow out of it’. I have always clothed my babies in organic clothing because of the benefits it has on their sensitive skin, and they have always had a good, balanced diet. We have 'managed' the eczema with Epederm Ointment and Steroid cream when neccessary, but as someone myself who never takes medication, I want to avoid steroid creams for my children and find a natural and sustainable way of managing it.

I have included a few photos of Sidney's eczema, however it is hard to get a good one with a reluctant toddler:

For those of you who can't make out where the patches are, he gets them badly on the backs of his legs, very big and itchy patches. On his chin and neck and behind his ears, and the smaller patches all over his back and on his stomach.

He is 2 years old now, and recently these patches of eczema seemed to have worsened. Jesse my partner is a massive meat eater, and he will have meat in almost every meal and as a doting son does, Sid will always want to have what his Daddy is having, so I have let him. I am a cook who cooks to feed and fill, fill up the working man and the growing boy, and I have (naively) believed until now that by feeding Sidney meat was doing just that, building him up and making him strong. I feel I could be wrong.

So now I feel it is time for a little change for the pair of us (no matter how much persuasion/coercion Jesse will never give up meat) and time for a little experiment within our house. Sid and I are going Meat Free!

Studies suggest that you will start to see the positive effects of going meat free within two weeks of changing your diet, so with Sid, I am going to adjust his diet for a month, totally excluding meat and cows Milk (Soya Milk only), to see if this has any positive effect on his skin. And with me, I am going to do the same, a month totally meat and egg free (milk is not a problem for me, I hate it) to see if I notice any changes to my body.

NOTE: WE ARE NOT GOING VEGAN, we both love ‘normal cheese’ and yogurt made with dairy products, we are just trying to be more conscious, and exclude things that we can maintain for the month long period, potentially forever.

I will keep you updated over the next month of how things are going and if we have both noticed any improvements. In the mean time, we would LOVE some tips, experiences, recipes etc!

Wish me luck!

Lots of Love,
Olivia – Basic Baby Company


Link to the documentary on Netflix ‘What the Health’: https://www.netflix.com/gb/title/80174177

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