The Destructive Path to Poor Health, Sadness, and Obesity.
I grew up eating a SAD diet. (standard American Diet) As a kid, my Mom would give us “healthy” dinners. We enjoyed things like Hamburger Helper, pasta with premade sauces, and frozen fish sticks or chicken fingers, which was always served with corn, peas, or other type of canned vegetable. My Mom was feeding her family what she, and many other parents, believed
was a nutritious meal. After all, it was in line with the food pyramid. We did, however, enjoy our fair of treats and ate a reasonable amount of fast food. Then, in high school and college, I worked at McDonalds. For about 5 years, I ate McDonalds at least once a day, and I did indeed “Love It”. However, as you would imagine, years of eating this way took its toll on my body. I ended up with a general state of poor health, 100+ pounds overweight, and I had to contend with frequent bouts of depression. After getting married, my poor wife was sucked into my poor eating habits. She joined me in the fast food and Friday night bingeing on doughnuts and ice cream. We both ended up obese and quite unhealthy. We switched from fad diet to fad diet. Of course we just tried to eat a reasonable diet and follow the food pyramid, so we ate an abundance of chicken breast, low fat this and that, and 100-calorie snack packs. But we never got any thinner, healthier, or happier.
In 2009, our first son, Ethan, was diagnosed with autism. We immediately switched him to a gluten free, dairy free, and soy free diet. From that point on, my wife and I became active members in the autism community. We began to research, read, and learn more and more about how external factors such as environmental toxins, diet, and lifestyle affect our bodies, specifically our immune system.
We implemented many changes for our son Ethan. We removed toxins in our home, improved his diet, and supplemented when needed. Through these efforts we dramatically improved his sleep patterns, reduced the severity of his tantrums, and improved or eliminated a variety of health issues that often accompany autism. During this time, we also had another son, Gavin. The 3 of us continued to eat a modified, healthier version of the SAD diet while Ethan a more restrictive diet. For years, my wife and I had been reading about the effects of gluten and diary on health, but we kept our diets the same. Sure, we ate better than we did before autism, but we also had our share of treats. After all, we deserved a break. (that was our excuse anyway) So we just kept going, and we got bigger and unhealthier. We’d always say we should give up gluten/dairy, but we’d make excuses. My wife would often say, “I’m too stressed to give up gluten.” We’d also say, “It’s too hard. I can’t ever give up eating cheese and GF pasta tastes like cardboard. No thanks. Besides, I don’t think I have a problem with gluten.”
Finally, I was fed up with an increasing amount of my own health challenges. Constant bloating, fatig
ue, body aches, joint pain, shortness of breath, poor sleep, depression, frequent illnesses, and so on. I believed I was on the path to getting a full blown autoimmune disease. I had to do something, so I decided to take the leap and give up dairy and gluten. This was the critical step that I had to take in order to see the light. Going GFCF led to going soy free, which eventually led me to the paleo diet. I went strict paleo for about 6 months and I have been paleo”ish” for 2 years now. The first year, I lost nearly 100 pounds. My health improved. My state of mind improved, and people began referring to me as the small guy. I destroyed my body for years, so it’s going to take some time to fully heal. I haven’t conquered all my health demons just yet, but I know I’m on the right path to better health.
My wife is thriving! Her asthma is nearly gone. Her allergies are significantly improved. She is beautiful, vibrant, and actually feels less stressed after giving up gluten. She recently gave birth to our little baby girl with no drugs, no doctors. We had planned on delivering at a birthing center with our midwife, but Kaitlyn decided that being born in a birthing center was not natural enough. She opted for the fresh open air of the parking lot.
So, I’ve told you about 2 of my 3 kiddos, and I wouldn’t be a good Dad if I left Gavin out. Let me tell you, he is one of a kind! He is our little helper. He helps take care of his baby sister. He plays with her all the time. He makes sure his big brother stays safe and of course makes sure he follows the rules (like no sneaking food from the fridge). He even cooks. That’s right. Our 7 year-old cooks many dinners for his busy parents, and he loves it. His signature dish is sloppy joes.
Our family refuses to accept the mainstream low-fat, high-toxin lifestyle. We will never go back to that life. We have fully crossed over and adopted this healthy way of life and it has helped us become a tight-knit family. There’s a lot of love in our house, and we invite you in.