Or the way of the deep fried do-do
I am often confronted (yes nearly confrontational at times) with questions regarding the way I eat or why I choose to disregard a fluffy sugar-laden piece of cake or some fabulous crusty bread that is offered to me. I simply smile and say I don't eat that. It's not that I can not or would not; I just do not. I have chosen to only take in what I deem as beneficial to my system. People over the years have neglected the purpose of food. It is a fuel and only items worthy of being fuel should be acceptable for your body to run optimally.
I didn't begin this way magically, nor was I raised to consider this thinking toward food. I ate because I was hungry and I tended to eat what tasted good to me. I cared not what was actually going in me as long as that little nagging notion in my belly was satisfied with what I put in there and my mouth was happy for that nanosecond of pleasure for tasting good! This is where we all go downhill and quite quickly I might add.
Once we stop thinking about what we're eating then we no longer consider food as a fuel. It's just something you do to keep from feeling hungry. It's often a mundane task or it could be a rewarding treat. This is the disconnect from the brain and the tummy. The brain, once given a tasty treat, begins begging for the next dopamine hit of quick sugar. It simply becomes an addict and you keep eating those pizza rolls over and over again, never mind the fact that you're not getting any nutrients or a reasonable amount of fuel. A handful of hours later you're scraping yourself from the floor from a carb overload and needing that next hit. Just like any drug addict, some of us have less discipline for that next hit and we end up obese, feeling unwell, or having inflammatory reactions.
So how did I stop it? How did I become a guru on food? First of all, I am no guru but I do like to read and I do like to figure things out; typically on my own. I have always been a skinny guy but I started to add weight as I aged. My face was puffy, my gut was fluffy, and I had little to no energy unless consuming large amounts of alcohol. Every single time I ate any meal I was on the toilet quickly afterward. I thought nothing of it and flatulence jokes were common but then as I read I realized that I actually had a problem and it needed to be resolved. Gluten became my target and I wanted to eradicate it to see if my problems abated. They did ease back but there was something else still not quite right in my body. I had to figure out my own body, my machine, and how it worked. I've always been inquisitive about how things worked and this was my own body and it needed some maintenance. The more I researched the more I found about this weird thing called the Paleo diet. Diet?! I was not fat so I didn't need a diet did I? And what's a Paleo anyway?
As it turns out diet didn't really mean what I thought it meant. It essentially meant adjusting my eating habits and I had to deprogram myself from what I was taught throughout my life, from the USDA, and even in school health programs. The Paleo diet esteems that you should eat as our ice age ancestors did (Paleo = Paleolithic for short) as that is the way that our bodies are programmed to handle. We're not cattle, so we cannot handle grains (wheat, flours, etc.), since we only have one stomach and lack the enzymes necessary for processing. Legumes pretty much fell into that category as well. We all know what happens to most people when eating beans! Need I say more? Ok, so beans/legumes are gone as well. Paleo also meant I had to give up all processed items including sugars and I need to increase fat intake because my body was meant to run on fat and not carb-o-suagr-cinna-bon. Oh dear fat, the thing I used to gag on while eating a steak because I've been told all my life that you're evil and will lead me to an early grave with explosive crud filled arteries. Sirens in my head began to wail and I think a small nuclear explosion went off.
The more I researched the more I understood that the above items were causing inflammation in my body, wreaking havoc in unsavory ways (leaky gut) in my GI, stealing my energy, and making my skin do fun tricks (cystic acne) only to name a few things. So I began to remove these items from my meals systematically. My girlfriend wasn't so keen at joining me in elimination diets as she had a penchant for Krispy Kremes that couldn't be easily beaten. I had my own evils, beer, pizza, and just about anything that went into a deep fryer. However, I wanted to have control over my machine so I did what was needed and I dropped gluten first. Once my girlfriend finally got on board with me we went full Paleo and my bodily repairs began. My digestion improved, I lost unwanted fat from my body, muscle began to form with minimal work, I could think clearly for the first time in many years, I regained lost energy, and I felt good for doing what I was doing.
I did struggle as will anyone with changing something so routine as eating. It's tough to say goodbye to certain things in your life but as a food addict we all must learn to treat our meals as fuel. If it is not beneficial to our body in some way, then what is the point in consuming it? Sometimes there are black and white statements and this is one of those. If it's not helping you then it is hurting you, plain and simple. If there is no benefit in the meals you consumed then your body has to work extra hard for NOTHING. You just spent a bunch of your money on something that did no good, only pleasing your mouth/brain for a temporary period. Once you get past this, you're able to accept the challenges ahead and take control of your body as it needs to be.