Book Review – ‘Paleo: 12 Weeks to Change Your Life’

I want to tell you all about an e-book I was sent recently, but before I do I have something to confess…

“Hi, my name’s Becky and I have never read an e-book before.”

Yep, that’s right I’m that person who just can’t bear to part with her trusty paperbacks and dust jacketed hardbacks, that person who’s shelves are literally bowing in the middle from the weight of piled high books, that person who is just not willing to move into the 21st century and give into the peer pressure that is the kindle.

Well as of today all that has changed, because I can stand tall and loudly declare that I am now no longer an e-book virgin.  Let me tell you about the book that popped my e-book cherry.

Paleo: 12 Weeks to Change Your Life’ is Rebecca Field’s second Paleo inspired book (following on from the success of her first book ‘Introduction to Paleo‘) and includes over 200 of Rebecca’s own Paleo friendly recipes. From delicious sounding Breakfasts, Lunches, Dinners, Sides, Desserts and Snacks, Rebecca manages to completely dispel the myth that if you eat Paleo you must only eat meat, meat and more meat!

The book starts with an introduction that explains the purpose of the 12 week plan – Rebecca believes that it takes 12 weeks to break old habits and to replace them with new healthier ones. And this is ultimately the ethos of book, that there is arguably no such thing as a diet per se, but more about establishing a series of tweaks and changes to your current eating habits in order to form the basis of a sustainable lifestyle choice.

With in depth details of which key nutrients our bodies need and which ones we have come to depend on, the book literally answers every question you could possibly have about going Paleo.

Everyone loves a list right?

Well, this book is perfect for list lovers, as there is a list of Paleo friendly foods, weekly shopping lists, weekly meal plans; it is literally lists galore!

Foodie highlights for me include:

  • Breakfast Salad
  • Ice Cream Milkshake
  • Sesame Chicken Cakes
  • Cocoa Steak
  • Chicken Fajita Bowl
  • Flax Crackers
  • Courgette Hummus
  • Rhubarb, Rose and Raspberry Compote

As you can see from this selection alone, there is a truly diverse selection of healthy, yet delicious recipes to suit every taste, budget and fusspot!

One key thing that stands this book apart from others is the holistic approach it takes when it comes to wellbeing. Using case studies as examples of how eating Paleo has helped improve, for example, skin conditions, relieve stress, become more mindful of eating etc., this book is a definitive guide to help you on your way to a healthier you. And where other recipe books can sometimes languish on shelves, forgotten and unused, this one is sure to be well thumbed, covered in food stains and referred back to time and time again.

But hang on, you’ve caught me…aren’t I meant to be reviewing an e-book? Well yes, but old habits, as we know, die hard and fortunately for me and others who still love turning the pages of an ‘actual’ book, ‘Paleo: 12 Weeks to Change your Life’ is available both as a paperback from Amazon for £34.99 or as a downloadable e-version for £24.99 from www.paleodietandfitness.co.uk, where you’ll also find more information on the book and further information about the Paleo diet.


Interview with Rebecca Field

The Art of Healthy Living loves nothing more than finding out about the people behind a brand, a product or in this case a book, to discover what makes them tick and motivates them to do what they do. Here we chat to author of ‘Paleo: 12 Weeks to Change Your Life’, Rebecca Field and learn how she incorporates a Paleo diet into a busy lifestyle.

rebecca field

How long have you been following a Paleo diet?

“I have been following a Paleo lifestyle for about 8 years now. In terms of my background I was a City lawyer for the best part of a decade. I always knew it was not what I wanted to do long term and was always trying to find my true calling in life. As an enthusiastic food lover with a natural flair for cooking, a love of writing and a passion for clean living I dedicated myself to creating a Paleo resource that would help to inspire, inform and educate followers of the Paleo lifestyle in the UK.”

What was the trigger for you to go Paleo?

“I was a textbook serial dieter and just got to the point where I could not continue with the cycle of weight loss followed by weight gain. I was horrified with the harm I was potentially doing to my body and I just needed to stop and take control.

I started to see a personal trainer who introduced me to the Paleo diet and within a couple of weeks I was hooked; I had never felt so good. I was full of energy and had lost all my usual cravings for processed carbohydrates and sugar, which I never thought would be possible. I was also able to think much clearer and my ‘head fogs’ cleared. Since then I have never looked back and it has completely changed my life.”

Do any of your family members also follow the Paleo diet?

“My husband will happily eat everything I cook at home and does enjoy following a Paleo diet, but he does occasionally have non-Paleo foods during the week when he is out and about. I have been giving my mum lots of tips and advice and she is slowly adjusting the way she eats and loves the impact that it is having on her health and energy levels.”

Have you faced any hurdles along the way?

“As with everything in life it becomes more difficult to follow a Paleo lifestyle in times of stress and when under pressure. My previous career as a litigator in a City law firm meant I experienced both of these things regularly!

Making sure I stayed focused, prepared and on track was not always easy. I had to remember to keep in mind just how much better I felt when I followed a Paleo lifestyle.

Until a couple of years ago it was also much harder to eat out when following a Paleo lifestyle. Restaurants have recently really stepped up when it comes to allergies and intolerances and it makes it so much easier. Previously you would often have faced a blank look with any question about the food such as where it had come from and what it was cooked in. Things are much easier these days.”

What benefits have you noticed?

“Goodness where do I start!

I would say the most noticeable benefit has to be my energy levels. As a teenager I suffered from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and have always just lacked that feeling of energy. After switching to Paleo I just came alive. I had so much energy and my mind became so clear and I was truly jumping out of bed in the morning. I always used to have what I referred to as ‘brain fogs’ where I struggled to think clearly. They lifted leaving me with a real clarity of mind.

Other benefits have been clearer skin, no bloating and generally becoming more positive and energetic about life.”

Are there any foods you miss?

goats cheese“I have always been a huge fan of cheese. I find that eliminating cow’s milk from my diet really helps with my eczema, but I do include some goat and sheep’s milk cheese in my diet occasionally. I try to use raw milk options where I can.

I have to say I don’t really miss anything else. I know I feel so much better without those foods in my diet and don’t get any cravings for them. If I did really want something I would just eat it and enjoy it then move on.

I don’t think the Paleo approach is about depriving yourself and think a balanced approach works best.”

What are your 3 favourite ingredients and why?

Herbs – before I began a Paleo diet I never really used herbs. I simply did not know what to do with them. Now I include a variety of herbs in pretty much every meal. Not only do they add a whole new dimension to a dish, they are packed full of essential micronutrients to make you feel great.

Lemons – this might sound like a strange one but I am always using lemons in my Paleo cooking. Again, I would never have used lemons before I started on a Paleo lifestyle and short of putting it in a G&T would not have had a clue what to do with it! Now I use it all the time for livening up sauces and dressings and generally adding flavour to a variety of dishes, such as curries and pan-fried chicken and I cannot imagine cooking without them now.

Cauliflower – this is such a versatile ingredient when it comes to Paleo cooking. You can use it for cauliflower rice or mash, plus it works beautifully roasted whole and cut into chunks or sliced into steaks. You can even use it to create a Paleo friendly pizza base or grain-free tortillas.”

What would be your ultimate 3 course Paleo dinner party menu?

Starter – I like to include offal in my diet as much as I can (packed full of nutrients) and I do love a chicken liver pate. I would serve this with my thyme and nutmeg crackers or some lightly toasted homemade Paleo bread.

Main –It would have to be grass-fed steak with béarnaise sauce, pan-fried mushrooms, parsnip fries and an heirloom tomato and onion salad. I know it can be a bit of a cliché when it comes to Paleo, but I do love a good steak!

Dessert – I would say either my recipe for dairy-free chocolate cheesecake or the banana, almond and coconut ice cream recipe from my first book ‘Introduction to Paleo‘.

I would then finish off the evening with a fresh mint tea and a Paleo friendly macaron from the blog.”

Do you find it difficult eating out at restaurants?

“I used to find it really difficult, but now I really don’t mind. I can always find something which is suitable. Especially now that so many restaurants are taking pride in using fresh local produce. I am really pleased to see that many places are becoming much more open about where they source their food from and are willing to answer any questions about this. I do think that taking control and asking questions to get a meal that suits you is key.”

What exercise do you do?

“I see a personal trainer three times a week where we do a mixture of sprint training, plyometrics, boxing, skipping and battle ropes. It is all outdoor training and I really enjoy it. I also like to relax with swimming and yoga. If I am not seeing my personal trainer or just need a good workout when short on time I will use my Tabata Transformation programme which is available on the website.”

What other things do you do to ensure good health?

mindfulness“I am a big believer in taking a holistic approach to health and wellbeing. It is much more than just the food we eat and there are many parts to achieving optimal health. I believe in looking at all aspects of life, such as sleep and stress as they incredibly important to achieving good health.

I have previously suffered with anxiety (especially during my time as a lawyer) and it would have a huge impact on my health. I now spend time working on how I cope with issues through reflection and other self-improvement techniques. I am also interested in mindfulness. I think we could all spend a bit more time focusing on ourselves and making sure we are better equipped to handle the issues that everyday life throws at us.”

What’s your best piece of health advice?

“Learn to love your body and be in it for the long haul. We are so used to expecting instant results and wanting quick fixes without putting in the hard work. I would say listen to your body and treat it well; a long term healthy and sustainable lifestyle means that you need to constantly evolve and work with your body and not against it.”

What would you say to the cynics who think Paleo is just another one of ‘those faddy diets’?

“I think with Paleo in general there is a huge amount of mis-information as to what it actually involves. Ironically losing weight is not the primary purpose of the Paleo lifestyle – it is based around achieving optimal health and wellbeing by eliminating foods which could cause harm to your body. By healing your body from within you reap the benefits; one of which will be weight loss.

I would encourage those people to really take a look at what the Paleo lifestyle entails. They will find that it is not a rigid dogma within which there is a strict set of rules that everyone must follow; far from it. I like to think of the Paleo lifestyle as providing a framework within which you can find your own path to optimal health and functioning. Every one of us is different and will make different choices along the way and that is why there can be a huge variation of what people choose to include as part of their Paleo lifestyle. It is individual and unique and promotes a long lasting and sustainable approach to a healthy lifestyle.”

What are your plans for the future?

“I am currently in the process of putting together my third Paleo cookery book. I am also looking into some exciting options for the website, which will enable more options for my readers to access the benefits of the Paleo diet.”

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