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Thursday, 6 November 2014

Where did my baby go?!

I'm one of those parents who takes a gazillion kid photos on my iPhone (aren't we all) and it's so full now that I need to delete old ones every time I want to capture the next too-cute toddler thing he's doing.

Inevitably, I become captivated by those old pictures, those fleeting moments of early motherhood with a squishy newborn in too-big jumpsuits; the first smile; the snuggles in bed with nowhere to be. I look wistfully at his teeny-ness, and feel where I was then; consumed by doing things 'right' while fumbling with my own sense of who I was on -647 hours sleep, like an adrenalin-charged deer in the headlights.

I came up for air at some point in the first year as I realised that to be the connected, conscious parent I wanted to be I'd have to work through some of my own stuff and take care of my own needs too. Fancy that!

This little spiritual teacher of mine is now a walking, talking person with a cheekiness and confidence that is irresistible. Sure, he pushes buttons, but they are MY buttons, not his, which I try to remember when he spits it because his banana is peeled too far down, or won't brush his teeth, or 'interrupts' me when I'm trying to do the dishes.

And so I take a breath and remind myself that just like those old photos show, these moments are fleeting too. I let go of the list, the dishes, and horsey ride around the house. And roar like a dinosaur. And maybe stick some undies on my head for good measure! (I'll do anything for a laugh)

What do you do to get out of your head and connect with your kids?

Friday, 31 October 2014

Easy dips to make in a flash

Many people say they feel stuck for snack options when it comes to real food - it can be so easy just to grab something on the run. But the perceived convenience of store-bought dips can overshadow what's inside - often, fake sugars, preservatives, hydrogenated vegetable oils and more. Not to mention the wasteful packaging.

If you have a high-powered mixing device of some kind, making your own dips is really quick and budget-friendly. You can also make extra and freeze it, ready to pull out if you have somewhere to go or people coming around (or hungry kids!).

This hommus recipe is one I used to whip up in the Thermomix before work and the beetroot and walnut dip is a current fave.


400g cooked chickpeas (if going canned, choose BPA-free if you can (see what I did there?!)
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons tahini
Juice of 1 lemon
Small handful fresh coriander (optional)

What to do

Add garlic cloves and coriander (if using) to blender and blitz up, then add chickpeas, tahini and half the lemon juice. Blend together until the chickpeas are the desired consistency. If it looks a little dry, add more lemon juice. 

If you have any leftover lemon juice, add it to a glass a water for a refreshing drink!

Beetroot and walnut dip

2 large beetroot, roasted (you can do this in advance when you're using the oven for something else, then refrigerate)
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 cup walnuts
Half a large brown onion
Half teaspoon dried cumin
Small handful fresh coriander
Juice of half a lemon 

What to do
Peel and chop roasted beetroot and set aside. Add garlic, onion and coriander to blender and blitz up, then add all remaining ingredients and blend to desired consistency.

Real, simple food made easy.

Friday, 24 October 2014

The problem with perfection

When we want to make changes in our lives, the gap between where we are now and where we want to be can often feel overwhelming. Commonly, we go in with grand plans, give it a red-hot go for a few days, and then life takes over and all your best intentions have fallen by the wayside. I’ve done this time and time again – in the quest for perfection, I’ve gone in too strong, set unrealistic expectations of myself, and failed.

Earlier this week a bunch of lovely people came along to my first film screening, of Overfed and Undernourished. Many were well on the path of eating whole foods and ‘ticking the boxes’ of living well, so to speak. Others were just embarking on their journey of cutting out junk and overhauling their lifestyle and one lady during the Q & A asked,  “Where do I start?” To this person I say: begin with the end in mind, but be gentle on yourself.

It’s so easy to get caught up in what we all ‘should’ be doing, Marketing hype about the latest super food products, and how everyone should go Paleo (I kid!). What we often forget when we dive straight into these things, is how sustainable they are long-term, because that’s what really matters. Start with your pantry, fridge and freezer and clear out anything that no longer serves you in your commitment to getting and staying well. Focus on buying real, whole foods and keep it simple by trying one or two new recipes each week. Can’t muster the energy or time to make your own version of LCM bars for the kids this week? Check out some ideas on Wholefood Simply but if you don’t get to it until next week or the week after, that’s okay. Just set the intention and follow through. Change doesn’t have to happen all at once – and in fact I’d argue it’s more sustainable long-term if it doesn’t.

What matters is progress. If I’d waited until I had 15 minutes of quiet time to myself each day to do yoga, I’d never have a daily practice. And so often, it’s just five minutes,  often with a toddler mimicking my moves, or climbing all over me! The same can be said for this website - it needs a lot of work, but i'm not going to stop writing and sharing just because it doesn't look or function as well as i'd like it to. 

Do what you can, with what you have and be kind to yourself! 

Monday, 13 October 2014

Wellness Family Summit: Free online event

Attending the Wellness Summit in Melbourne was a life-changing event for me. In the two months since, I've cut out gluten from my diet completely, I practice yoga every day, and I have a renewed sense of purpose and direction. This experience has demonstrated for me just how powerful knowledge and commitment can be in taking charge of our own health.
An event based in the US, The Wellness Family Summit brings together 30 experts in the field of health and wellness to deliver talks on autoimmune disease, thyroid and adrenal health, how food affects children's behaviour, reversing leaky gut and much, much more. A free event running October 13-20, this is an amazing opportunity to expand your knowledge and create change for yourself. Below is a snapshot of just some of the presentations that are going to be available. 
If you register for the event, you'll be able to stream any presentation you like for a 48 hour period. After that, you can purchase digital access for unlimited viewing if desired.
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The event has been organised by Katie from www.wellnessmama.com who says,  “I wanted to create a resource that would make the journey easier for other families than it was for me, and that would be a one-stop resource for switching to a healthier, more natural lifestyle without breaking the bank.”
I can't wait to get stuck into it! If you're interested too - register now

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Not so plastic fantastic

Eight broken 'clam' pools, three kid's potty's, and countless pieces of water-swelled furniture are just some of the things I noticed on the nature strips of my neighborhood while out walking this morning. Each day the piles grow larger in anticipation of the council hard-rubbish collection, which happens each Spring in metropolitan Melbourne. They grow smaller too, thanks to opportunistic folk like us who cast a discerning eye over other peoples castoffs in search of something worth nabbing (a potty has been on our shopping list!).

I find I'm equal parts horrified and excited when hard-rubbish season rolls around: it's the ugly underbelly of mindless consumption en masse, where the spoils of planned obsolescence are in plain sight for all to see. The trouble is, we don't really see it for what it is. The broken printers, cheap plastic, unfashionable gadgets which were once so shiny, new and coveted, are simply replaced by more shiny, new and coveted things and so the cycle continues. 

October is Buy Nothing New Month and i'm sure it's no accident that it coincides with hard rubbish collection in many municipal councils. Keeping things out of landfill and giving them a new life is one of the great joys of hard rubbish season, I'd just love to see more conscious awareness of our consumption habits in the first place - Australians spend over $10 billion each year on goods we never use, clothes we never wear and food we never eat.

Often, mindless consumption happens because we're looking to fill a void in our lives and so we plug that void with material things. Marketing tells us that our self-worth is tied to doing or having stuff. It's all around us, and even if we're aware, it's challenging to detach from this way of thinking because in Western culture today most of us have been inoculated into a materialist consumption mindset from early childhood. 

The 1999 film Fight Club is a confronting example of the excesses of materialist consumption and this quote from the film, while bleak, sums things up pretty well I think:

"Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes. working jobs we hate, so we can buy shit we don't need." Tyler Durden, Fight Club 
So what to do? Get in touch with your true values, ask yourself if you really need or desire that next thing on your wish list, bring awareness to your spending and look to buy secondhand or borrow from a friend. Most of us have too much stuff, cluttering our homes and our minds (me included!)
"I make purchasing decisions with conscious awareness, understanding that my happiness depends on the work I do on my internal Self, not on the things I acquire."

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Overfed and Undernourished Premiere Screenings

In our society today, we seem to have lost the art of nourishing our body and listening to its innate need for real food, movement and mindful interaction with the world around us.

Overfed and Undernourished is a powerful new film that looks at how we ended up here, following the journey of a young boy from Queensland who, at age 11, was well on the path to the lifestyle diseases so prolific today; obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune conditions, asthma and ASD. Sadly, his story is not unique. The Center for Disease Prevention in the USA is predicting that this generation may be the only generation in modern history where the kids may not outlive their parents. Dr. David Katz from Yale University predicts that if this trend continues, there will be more premature deaths from poor eating, obesity and lack of activity among our youth than from smoking, drugs and alcohol combined. It's pretty scary stuff. 

But there is hope - the simple changes we can make as parents, grandparents, relatives and friends will shape our children's health in the future. The village that raises a child can also empower the child to see beyond food marketing, to understand what truly fuels their body; to get off the computer and enjoying the outdoors; and to have fun learning about growing and cooking real food. 

Please join me for special Melbourne screenings of the film, with Dr Damian Kristof, co-founder of thewellnesscouch.com, and a Naturopath and Chiropractor, as MC. 

Mornington, Wednesday 22 October, 7.30pm
Tickets: www.overfedmornington.eventbrite.com.au

Brighton, Wednesday 29 October, 7pm
Tickets: www.overfedbrighton.eventbrite.com.au 

Brunswick, Wednesday 10 December, details TBC
Tickets: Email me at bridget@suburbansandcastles.com 

All proceeds raised from the Mornington and Brighton events will be donated to the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation to support the great work they do on food education in primary schools.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Gluten-free: everyone's doing it

It's been one month since we cut gluten from our diet, and I can't believe I'm saying this - I don't miss it at all. Not even a tiny bit. And I really, really, love bread.  

So what gives? I think the trick is to make the alternative so delicious that it doesn't feel like deprivation. But let me back-track a bit to the why, because based on the shelf-space and marketing claims devoted to gluten-free products these days, it seems like everyone's doing it.

The deal with gluten 
Consumption of gluten grains wheat (in particular), barley, rye and spelt (and oats) increase the production of zonulin, a protein that opens up the spaces between the cells of the intestinal wall. This allows nutrients and other molecules to enter the intestines, however if someone has a 'leaky gut' the spaces open up too much and this allows larger protein molecules to enter the bloodstream where an immunologic reaction can take place. Basically, gluten is strongly linked to poor gut health and autoimmune conditions. I have PCOS which is autoimmune in nature, and gut issues, so cutting out gluten is a no-brainer. Gut flora is passed onto babies via the birth canal, so the odds are good that Hugo's gut health isn't fantastic either, so he's on board too. And my husband? He's along for the ride, but still has bread here and there. 

So what are we eating?
Real food, much to the disappointment of food marketers keen for our gluten-free dollar. Nothing much has changed, we've just had to be a bit more organised and creative in the kitchen. For many of us, coming up with different breakfast options is a challenge when toast or cereal is just so easy, so here's a roundup of what's been on the menu instead.

(From left to right)

1. Bone broth -  As I'm working on healing my gut, this is becoming a staple in my diet (the gelatin helps to restore the lining of the digestive tract for better nutrient absorption). Served here with poached eggs, parsley and Pink salt.

2. Buckwheat Bircher muesli - buckwheat is a great substitute for oats if you're looking for breakfast cereal of sorts. I buy this one in bulk which also includes goji berries and sultanas. It's made with activated (soaked) buckwheat which is easier on the digestive system because the phytic acid in the grain has been broken down. I serve it with organic natural yoghurt, but if dairy doesn't sit well with you, coconut yoghurt/milk or almond milk (with no added sugar) are good alternatives.

3. Coconut apple crunch -This quick recipe is from an ebook called 'Rise and Shine' written by Georgia, a naturopath and blogger at Well Nourished. The book is my regular go-to, so many delicious recipes with lots of tips for substitutes for intolerances (and incidentally, empty cupboards!). This brekky features apple, almonds, shredded coconut, cinnamon and carrot. Served with natural yogurt and a choc-coconut granola also from the ebook. 

4. Kale and mushroom omelette - an omelette is a brilliant way to get some veggies in at breakfast time and provide sustained energy throughout the morning. I chop up onion and garlic and fry in coconut oil before adding some chopped kale, steamed pumpkin or sweet potato and/or sliced mushrooms. About five eggs whisked with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and poured onto the veggies that are simmering away and it's nearly done. I serve with some sauerkraut, fermented cucumber or fermented carrot.

5. Breakfast salsa - This one is a twist on a recipe from the Well Nourished 'Rise and Shine' ebook that involved pulling together what was in the fridge; eggs, coriander, tomatoes, pecans, mushrooms and fermented cucumber. Have fun and experiment!  
6. Asparagus and chicken with poached eggs - it's dishes like this that remind me why I married a chef. He might not cook much anymore, but when he does it's a taste sensation! The chicken breast was sliced thinly and the asparagus lightly blanched before being added to to chicken and coated in coconut oil and chicken-y goodness.  

7. Quinoa and chia porridge - this light and warming porridge made in the Thermomix is so good. As is everything created by the amazing Jo Whitton of Quirky Cooking fame. Recipe here.

8. Poached eggs with mushroom, avocado and sauerkraut - pretty self explanatory, really

9. Green (purple) smoothie - we've recently started boosting the goodness of our standard green smoothie (kale or spinach, banana, blueberries, maca powder, ice, water) by adding almonds and The Healthy Chef's organic super food and whey protein. It's a richer, smoother taste and keeps us full for ages, making it a good breakfast option, especially if you need to run out the door. 

Have you considered giving up gluten and if so, what are the biggest challenges for you?

Thursday, 11 September 2014

5 tips for living slow as a parent (or not)

If I’m not being mindful, I so easily feel the pull of more; of moving hurriedly from one moment to the next, to do more, acquire more, be more. Surrendering and accepting where I am right now in these intensive early years of parenting, as well as working on goals for the future is a constant balance. Do you feel that too?

We live in a society that constantly tells us we’re not enough, but we could be if we buy XYZ product.  And of course there’s the lure of the quick fix; “Don’t let pain or discomfort interfere with your busy life; take a pill or polish off this tub of ice cream; you deserve it”. 

It’s a world where busy-ness is almost a badge of honour; because busy = success. But the pace we move means that many of us are hurrying through our lives instead of actually living them.

In his books ‘In Praise of Slow’ and ‘Under Pressure’, Carl Honore examines how the world got stuck in fast-forward, and the rise of the Slow Movement in response.

“Slow” in this context does not mean doing everything at a snail’s pace. It means doing everything at the right speed. That implies quality over quantity; real and meaningful human connections; being present and in the moment. The Slow creed can be applied to everything we do: work, sports, medicine, food, sex, design…and, of course, child-rearing”

It’s no secret that childhood has become the latest casualty of the quick-fix, consumer society. The seemingly endless hours of unstructured, free play that characterised our parents’ childhoods is a mere blip in the average childhood of today that is governed by schedules, TV and extra-curricular activities. Cultured by the world of advertising, we want the best for our children, which usually translates into more ‘stuff’, not more meaningful time with their parents which is really what most children yearn for.

Here are 5 things that work to bring slowness into my day:

Get out of your head and bring awareness into what you're doing in the moment - It's pretty normal as a mum (and a woman!) to have fifteen things going through your head at once. Mindfulness techniques such as consciously observing yourself in what you're actually doing in the moment and how it feels in your body, are powerful ways to invite a sense of calm into a busy mind. When washing the dishes, pay attention of the feeling of the suds on your skin, and the rhythm of cleaning and stacking plates, for example. 

Look at your world through the eyes of your child, and move at their pace - When we have somewhere to be, it can be frustrating waiting for a toddler or young child who wants to explore. But if we can make the time, it's a perfect invitation to slow down and be mindful. To look at the tiny flower or piece of bark with the same sense of wonder and intrigue that they must feel in discovering something they've never seen before. 

Scale back the to-do list - It's a running joke in our house how much I think i'm going to get done in a day. It's great to have a goals and plans, but not if they're a source of anxiety. Look at what you really value getting done, and is realistic with the time you have, and ditch the rest. Most of the time, what we 'have' to do isn't really as important as we think it is. 

Brooke at Slow your home reckons that 'finding balance' every day is unrealistic and instead we should 'tilt' towards activities and commitments we find meaningful while being aware of the changing pressures of life and being flexible. I wholeheartedly agree. There's freedom in tilting.

Breathe properly - when your mind is going at a crazy pace or sending you down the rabbit hole of worry or anger or fear, do you ever notice how this affects your breath? It's probably quick and shallow and may not feel like you're breathing at all. Bringing your awareness to the breath through conscious, deep breathing, gives you focus, calms the nervous system and lowers the body's stress response. 

Play outside - fresh air and nature are the perfect antidote to feeling anxious or in a funk. Whenever I notice my patience level is waning, or i'm too caught up in my thoughts, I saddle up the dog, Hugo hops in the pram and we head out for a brisk walk. If there's no time for a walk, we play some laughter games in the backyard. Laughter and sunlight are like soul food.

I'd love to hear what works for you?

Sunday, 24 August 2014

The Wellness Summit 2014

The importance of real, whole food, movement and mindset in the quest for optimal health was the theme of The Wellness Summit this year and it did not disappoint. I'm still buzzing from the inspiring speakers, who helped me find clarity in my own journey and purpose, and filled my mind with the knowledge and energy to make change happen. Here are my notes and highlights. 

Dr Lawrence Tham, Chiropractor and mindset specialist opened the conference with a checklist for 'Climbing the summit' and a challenge for all of us - knowledge is only useful if you do something with it, so take action. He outlined the path as follows:

1. Pack accordingly - you only need the information that's relevant to you and the changes you want to make to your life. Don't try to take on everything. 

2. Get in the ring - Have an active mind rather than an open mind. Filter what's for you. There are going to be challenges on your path - are you mentally prepared?

3. Own the control - Who you are today is made up of all the decisions you've made up until this point. Who you will become is based on all the decisions you choose to make in the future. Even inaction is a decision.

4. Find local guidance - For your health, family, self, who is your sherpa? You don't have to know it all, just who to call. Don't try to change anyone else, be congruent with yourself and be that change. There are SO many choices we have in front of us, so many options. Don't waste it.

5. All in - your health is your duty, your obligation. No one elses. The body is designed for health and strives for health every day. This was the life you were given to do something amazing. Don't be mediocre. The world needs you, you just don't know it yet. 

Kim Morrison, World Record Holder, owner of Twenty8 Essential Oils was next and demonstrated her warmth and sheer determination with her story of physical and mental perseverance as she found herself in a 24 hour running event, which she went on to win and set a new world record. Her inspiration was 'Cliffy' a man in his late 60s who was a veteran of the event and talked her back onto the track when her mental commitment waned. He taught her that endurance is 90% mental and only 10% physical. Her path in sport and business wasn't clearly defined - she illustrated that sometimes we just need to trust that the path will show up before us

The business of Twenty8 and the power of aromatherapy weaved in and out of her story as an athlete and the passion she has for ethical, chemical-free personal care was so great to see. I knew perfume couldn't be good for me, but I didn't know it has 600 chemicals per spray! She emphasised that no-one knows the biocumulative effect and there are 62,000 side effects unknown from personal care and cosmetics products - it's a largely unregulated industry. For future reference, when you see "fragrance" in the ingredients list, it means 'pthalates' - avoid it!

Dr Brett Hill, Chiropractor, explained that our current lifestyle has our body in a state of constant stress response and emphasised the importance of movement, mindset and the food we eat for managing stress. The average office worker sits for 16 hours a day - the sedentary nature of our lifestyle is affecting our health. We need to recreate the hunter-gatherer lifestyle as much as practical in modern life to develop and maintain functional strength, which positively affects our entire health. Short, high intensity interval activity like 'Tabatas' are great. 

Brett emphasised that there is something clearly wrong with our Western lifestyles, when in some traditional societies, tribe members must be 100 before they can govern the group. There is a difference between what is 'common' and what is 'normal' ageing. Common ageing is accelerated ageing. Most of the benefits of exercise are neurological and metabolical. Standing up on stage in bare feet, Brett explained that we should go barefoot as regularly as is practical, because it changes our entire posture and allows us to walk naturally. The way we walk on gravel is how we're meant to walk. 'Minimalist' shoes like barefoot runners are a great alternative. 
On implementing exercise into daily life, Brett said that the key is do a little bit more today than yesterday - don't set yourself unrealistic goals, tackle your goal of optimal health 'One bite at a time'. He noted that you can't exercise your way out of a bad diet and people underestimate the impact of food - it's 80% food, 20% exercise, and of course, mindset. Nutrition, movement and mindset must be in alignment for optimal health. His recommendation is to make it so easy on yourself you couldn't possibly fail!

Cyndi O'Meara, Nutritionist, spoke passionately about the problem with our diets today compared to forty years ago as a result of the business-driven nature of the food industry, convenience, and toxins in our environment. We are so far removed from the production of food  - we're no longer taught by culture and tradition, but by science and technology, which is wreaking havoc on our health, evidenced by the obesity epidemic and the huge rise in Autoimmune conditions and childhood cases of autism and ADHD. She also spoke of the 'wilful blindness' of the consumer and the advances in science that is not translating through to medical care (ie. cholesterol, butter). The key to our health is ensuring our gut function is healthy, as the gut is the home of the immune system. Key steps for healing the gut are:
1. Consume bone broths
2. Have natural probiotics and fermented foods
3. Proper hydration (salt and water)
4. Natural foods (non-inflammatory)
5. Avoid antibiotics
6. Avoid preservatives in food
7. Avoid wheat and gluten products
It's also important to look to how we eat from an evolutionary perspective - it's not natural to have all fruits and vegetables all throughout the year, or eat comfort foods all through winter. Eat for the seasons.

Carren Smith, Bali Bombing survivor and mindset specialist talked about the importance of a healthy attitude and working with the body to achieve wellness, and the impact of emotional eating and food addiction. How we do one thing in our life shows up everywhere in some shape or form, and 'what we resist, persists'. We need to end the war within and dive into the uncomfortable feelings and reverse the thinking. For example, instead of thinking 'I hate my thighs', change your perspective to 'I love my legs, I can do squats with them'. Focus on the opportunities before you, not the limitations. 
Carren explained that the reward centres of the brain crave certain foods and the food industry knows this, with 90% of the Western world considered emotional eaters. The concept of foods as 'treats' has been handed down from parents, and reinforces the emotional eating. 

Jo Whitton, author of Quirky Cooking, shared her inspirational journey as a homeschooling mum of four who decided to set up a blog after more and more friends asked about her 'quirky' recipes, which has culminated in a sellout cookbook and 160,000 Facebook followers. Jo grew up in the kitchen, helping her mother with preserving and cooking real food, but when tired and busy, found herself losing touch with what she knew, and her family's health suffered. She went off wheat and dairy to learn what made her feel good. She had some great tips for healthy family food habits:

- Avoid the instant food mentality to encourage mindful eating and sitting down to eat (I find this a challenge with a toddler who wants to eat constantly!)
- Get kids in the kitchen helping out as early as you can, and teach them to prepare their own food, with a list of things on the fridge that they know how to make themselves 
- Eat meals together as much as possible 
- Help kids tune into how food makes them feel and empower their choices (I thought this was a great one, as I believe the sooner they can own their own choices rather than having food rules imposed on them, the more likely they are to carry good habits into teenagehood and beyond)
- On creating healthy changes: do what you can, where you are, with what you've got. "It doesn't have to be perfect, but it does need to be purposeful".

Dr Damian Kristof, Chiropractor and Naturopath began with a fascinating explanation of the role of the nervous system in our health, and how a spinal adjustment instructs the cerebellum in the brain to switch off the stress response. Picking up on the latest social media backlash against Pete Evans, Damian said that nutrition has almost become a religion. Choosing to follow a vegan/paleo/McDonalds etc diet is based on values - you either value health or you don't value it, and rely on someone else to fix it later. He explained that we live in a society dominated by the dogma of conventional Medicine which says that doctor knows all (It was this point in his talk that I realised i've been unwittingly living within the constraints of that dogma - mindblown!).

There were so many fantastic soundbites and lots of information to ponder from his talk so i'm just going to list some of the key ones:
- There is pain in change, and that the journey of wellness takes patience. 
- Resist the temptation to become an evangelist.
- Often the most dangerous place in your house is your pantry. If you have those 'treats' there, you're rewarding yourself with bad foods in moments of weakness. If there's something that's poisonous to your philosophy, remove that temptation. 
- Advocates the blood type diet, but not dogmatic about any one approach
- Research doesn't show that all grains are bad. Quinoa, amaranth, rice, buckwheat and millet are all good options to try
- Research does say that gluten is very, very tough on every human body and there is some suggestion that it's responsible for triggering 200 autoimmune conditions 
- 20 years ago soy was considered a health food, 10 years ago research said otherwise, but there's still conflicting views, noting that the pro-soy research is industry-based (as is the idea that if you avoid gluten grains 'you could die' (Dietitians' Association of Australia))
- 25 years of research has been telling us the importance of a water filter
- Microbiome: there are more cells in your gut than your whole body. They're not our bacteria, we're their human.
- Where you want to be, 10 year from now, you can decide right now. 

On climbing the summit, Lawrence had some more sage words:

"The death zone isn't about being at 8,000 metres. It's sitting on the couch doing nothing and thinking you'll live forever"

"When we get pushed, we autocorrect to our safe comfort zone. Remember that the human blueprint is to play safe and be comfortable".

Pete Evans, chef, author and health coach was hotly anticipated at the event after being an eleventh-hour addition to the lineup. His heart, honesty and integrity had us all at hello! (and okay, his particularly pleasing aesthetic helped as well). Where was a man who had been the target of so much media and public vitriol to begin?! He explained that he has done an enormous amount of work on himself through therapists and healers, letting go of self-limiting beliefs and peeling off layers so that he is immune from the attacks on his character. "I'm proud to be weak and to find people to help me" he said.  To the Dietitians' Association and naysayers in the media: "I'll choose a cave any day over a hospital"
Pete sees his 'strange' celebrity as an opportunity to do something meaningful and create change, which is why he continues to do My Kitchen Rules as it's good for his profile (plus agreeing to do it again helped convince Channel 7 to screen his new series The Paleo Way). The energy in the room rose as Pete spoke of the 'health revolution' that is underway, and that we're all at the forefront of that change with what we're doing in our families and communities. Pete sees the move away from the conventional dietary pyramid and preference for real, unprocessed food as a grassroots, community driven movement . The guidelines won't change in the next six years, but he hopes to have a better representation of true health in the dietary guidelines by 2020. He spoke with such passion that at one point he said, "I'm doing this for free, no one can get me off the stage"; the audience was in no hurry, we were hanging on every word. 
He called bullshit on the 'everything in moderation' theory: "Everything is fine in moderation until it isn't. This theory is not working - over our lifetime this theory accumulates to over 90,000 meals"
And on alcohol, he said "If we don't let our kids have it, and we don't let pregnant women have it, then why is it okay for us to drink?" (most of the speakers drink very little, or not at all).

So...what changes am I making?
A common theme coming through from all the speakers was this "The truth is that what we eat is a dialogue about who we believe we are to ourselves and to the world...more than often this dialogue reflects emotional issues - fears and insecurities we do not know how to deal with or overcome" (Pete Evans)

Many of the changes i've made to how I eat over the past five years have been driven by my values of ethical, sustainable production and consumption, not simply nutrition. What I learned over the two days has given me the impetus to make further changes to my diet and lifestyle for optimum health. I've cut out gluten and refined sugar completely, I'm committed to 15 minutes yoga practice every morning (often with my son climbing all over me - you do what you can!) to get my body moving and set my intentions for the day, and I have plans to further my education in health and nutrition in 2015. I'm excited!

If you went to the Wellness Summit, what were the key takeouts that you're applying in your own life? If you didn't go, as you can see I highly recommend you pencil it in for next year!

*I had to leave early on day 1 so I missed the Careers Unplugged guys, however i've ordered the DVD of the event so i'll catch up on what they had to say soon!