Paleo Before and After: 5 Confessions of a S.A.D. Dad

“I could never do that.”   “What do you even eat?”  “I don’t know how you do it.”  These are common things I hear from people regarding my diet, but what they don’t understand is that I used to feel the exact same way before I made the leap to paleo. The thought of eating a vegetable used to repulse me. My paleo transformation did not happen overnight. It took time, work, and lots of willpower. Take a look at my paleo before and after photos below and you can get a better idea of where I came from and what is possible with paleo.

Paleo Before and After: To prove ANYONE is able to improve their health, I admit to 5 shameful eating habits before paleo. If I can change, so can you.

Paleo Before and After: My sad, fat, and sick 20’s.

I grew up on the standard American diet (SAD Diet). Plenty of convenient packaged foods that were low in fat, but high in carbs and sugar. I spent my 20’s eating the worst that the SAD diet had to offer. My wife and I ate fast food several times a week and sometimes multiple times a day. We would finish each night with a sugar filled dessert. Donuts and ice cream were our favorites, but some nights, we’d even have both. As a result, I entered my 30’s on an upward trend. However, it wasn’t the good kind of upward trend. I was experiencing more and more health problems, increased stress, increased depression, and of course, a bigger and bigger belly. 

Paleo Before and After: Time to Fess Up

The reason I am sharing this is because I want people to know exactly where I started. I was the guy who would rather be hungry and not eat, than try something new. I was the guy who hated vegetables of any kind. People that knew me 5 or 10 years ago could have never even imagined I would have changed so drastically. To help you better understand just how radical this change was, I’ve decided to confess my old & quite ridiculous eating habits. 

Paleo Before and After:

5 Confessions of a S.A.D. Dad

#1 Nightly Binges
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I set my day up in order to be able to binge at night. Even when I was on a diet like weight watchers, I would restrict calories all day in order to binge in the evening. A good night for my wife and I was eating a “delicious” fast food meal atop a TV tray while we watched our recorded shows on Tivo. My wife would put the boys to bed, and I would head out to the McDonalds drive thru. Does that sound harmless to you? Wait until you hear what we ate.

It drove us crazy how unreliable McDonalds was with filling the Large Fries. I started ordering an extra large fry so we could be sufficiently filled to the brim after we were done. The real kicker though is no matter how full the fries were, we still ate all 3 orders in additional to our 2 cheeseburgers each and of course our large Diet Cokes.

But then, we would still need a dessert, so I started getting hot fudge sundaes to boot. Of course, we couldn’t just eat the regular sundae. I had to get double extra hot fudge with mine. We would both go to bed feeling so full we could barely wobble our way to bed.

Pizza Night

Sunday was pizza night. Dominos used to have a deal 3 pizzas for $15, so we’d have to order 3 because paying the same price for 2 pizzas was just stupid. We would both choose our own pizza and then get one we both wanted. We nearly ate all 3 pizzas with only a few pieces left over.

But wait there’s more. Dominos had these chocolate lava cakes that were my absolute favorite. We started off just eating one each, but I started to take a bite out of my wife’s before giving it to her. Eventually, it became 2, 3, or 4 bites. This led her to tell me “just order another one so you stop stealing mine”, which I was happy to do. Problem is they came in 2’s, which meant there were 4 lava cakes and 3 pizzas. We still ate almost 3 pizzas, but then I ended up eating 3 lava cakes as well. Ridiculous right?Paleo Before and After: To prove ANYONE is able to improve their health, I admit to 5 shameful eating habits before paleo. If I can change, so can you.

Quicktrip Donut Run

As if you needed more proof that our old nightly binges were insane, here’s one more. Some days after we actually ate dinner at home, we would still be craving something sweet, so I would make the short drive to QT to pick up 3 bags of Hostess donuts one of each flavor. You guessed it; we ate through most of the 3 bags in one sitting while washing it down with nonfat milk.

Paleo Before and After: 5 Confessions of a S.A.D. Dad
#2 Public Restraint

I knew I was fat, but I didn’t want other people to know just how unhealthy I was. I took salads to work with me for lunch everyday. Even after our pizza nights, I would not bring in leftovers for lunch because I wanted to appear healthy. Whenever there was a birthday at work, I would pass on cake. If someone brought in Krispy Kreme, I’d only have one and pretend I had willpower. In reality, I went back into the break room when no one was there and took another and sometimes a third.

I also showed restraint in front of my kids. I didn’t want them to know that their Dad was fat and out of control, so I never let them see that part of me. Ethan was on his restricted gluten free diet for his autism, so I didn’t eat in front of him. Gavin was old enough to see me eating bad food, but I would only eat a little when he was around.

Paleo Before and After: 5 Confessions of a S.A.D. Dad
#3 Eating in Secret

I’ve already discussed how our nightly binges would take place after the kids went to bed and how I would sneak into the break room for an extra Krispy Kreme, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. After Ethan started going to school, I would drive thru McDonalds for breakfast several times a week. Most times, I would tell Gavin (who was 2 at the time) I was getting a drink and sneakily eat my 2 bacon egg and cheese biscuits on the way home.

Some days after running errands in the morning, I would rush back to McDonalds just before breakfast ended at 10:30. I’d order 2 meals with 2 large Diet Cokes. At home, I’d leave the evidence in the car, and put Gavin down for nap before enjoying my lunch in front of the TV. Still full hours later, I’d start to feel guilty. This is the last time! I would say to myself only to do it again the next day.

To make matters worse, I never told my wife about these breakfast trips. It was something I knew I really should not do, but I couldn’t resist the smell of McDonalds breakfast when I drove by every morning.

Speaking of hiding things from my wife, remember those 3 bags of Hostess donuts I talked about earlier? I would hide those from my wife, so she couldn’t get to them before I could. She would ask where they were, and I would lie, oh I finished them after you went to bed. How sad was that?

Paleo Before and After: To prove ANYONE is able to improve their health, I admit to 5 shameful eating habits before paleo. If I can change, so can you.Paleo Before and After: 5 Confessions of a S.A.D. Dad
#4 Eating from the Trash

This may be one the most embarrassing things to confess, but sometimes I would take things out of our trash and eat them. You see, the theory was always, “this is the last time.” Whenever we were super full from our one last binge, I would throw away the leftovers in order to prevent us from eating any more the next day. Only, I made sure to throw them away where they wouldn’t actually be touching the rest of the trash. After my wife went to bed, they would start to call for me. The nighttime cravings were really hard to beat. I would head over to the trashcan, and pull out the pizza box with the 3 leftover pieces and eat one or two of them.

Paleo Before and After: 5 Confessions of a S.A.D. Dad
#5 I’ve Lost My Way

Over the past 6 months, I have let stress get the better of me, and I have strayed a little from my healthy habits. I have NOT slipped so far where I am eating 3 bags of donuts again. There are just some things I will never go back to, such as eating gluten or anything from any fast food restaurant. However, I’ve eaten more processed gluten-free convenience foods & desserts. Not near as bad as my once insane eating habits, but certainly not healthy. The increased consumption of these convenience foods has led my energy level to plummet and my waste to start expanding again.

Paleo Before and After: 
Confessions of a Paleo Dad

It’s time I admit that certain foods have begun to take ahold of me, and I need to step back and squash them. While admitting to eating from the trashcan is super embarrassing, this final confession is probably the hardest one to admit. I’ve started a blog in order to show people that it’s possible to go from a picky S.A.D. eater to a healthy paleo lifer. This makes it that much harder to admit that I have regressed into some of my past bad habits.

All of these confessions are in the past. They are the past behaviors of an entirely different person. One who has almost become a stranger to me. Despite my recent slips, I am proud of the person I have become, and I am proud that I now have the ability to course correct with relative ease.

Paleo Before and After: To prove ANYONE is able to improve their health, I admit to 5 shameful eating habits before paleo. If I can change, so can you.
Moving Forward
I don’t know how you do it.”

When people say this to me, I always say, “it’s really not that hard.” I firmly believe that it is not difficult, but in times of high stress or lack of sleep it is easy to rely on premade packaged foods. I’m not paleo 100% of the time, and there are times when I slip. The important thing is that I get back up and always find my way back.

What do you even eat?

In the coming days, weeks, and months, I am refocusing on my own personal health specifically through food. Likewise, I will be writing a series of new posts on paleo living featuring many of my favorite grain free recipes. This should help answer the frequently asked question, “what do you eat?”

“I could never do that.”

Do you think you could never go Paleo? So did I! Remember, I used to be a vegetable-hating, binge-eating, trashcan-digging maniac.

Do you think you could never give up this food or that food? For me it was cheese and bread. Anyone can make the changes I made. If someone who was once addicted to sugar and fast food, like me, can make a complete lifestyle, then anyone can.

Ever Considered Going Paleo?

Do you think you could benefit from having more energy, better sleep, & a smaller belly? I will be sharing recipes, ideas, & tips in the coming weeks that I am using to get back to my healthy habits.  Join me on Facebook & Instagram where I will be sharing small, but impactful tidbits everyday. Subscribe below and receive 10 easy recipes to get started now.


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  • Thank you for sharing this story. I think when you are blogging about diet, especially diets that are so far from the SAD, you feel like people find it unattainable but if you admit to any cheats you feel like people who are strictly on a similar diet will think you are a fraud. It’s a fine line but I think you are being very brave and that will be inspiring to anyone who wants to start living healthier.

  • What a story and transformation! So glad you are sharing and empowering people so they have the confidence to change one day at a time!

  • It is a really fine line Joanna. You’re right. I was hesitant to include that last confession for that reason. Ultimately, I’m not trying to help the people already following a strict dietary protocol, so I am okay with them feeling negatively. If I can help others change their health the way I did, I’ll take the fraud accusations all day.

  • Becky Jo

    I’m interested. I’m following you on fb & Insta… my downfall is sweets & chocolates. Late at night. I always go to bed first before my husband so I can stuff summit from my bedside cabinet. I keep a stash of anything sweet there so I can munch in peace. Like u used to do – i keep all my ‘treats’ for the evening and sit with a mound of stuff around me …. I need help to change my habits and my life… I’m borderline diabetic and I want to live to see my granddaughter grow up!!! Following u for some great tips. Well done on what u have achieved 😁😁

  • Welcome Becky Jo! I’m so happy to have as a new follower. I will do my best to serve you well. Good news is there’s always time to turn things around. Please feel free to contact me via social media or if you’re a subscriber just, reply to your next email from me.

  • Linda S

    I have been diagnosed with Fatty Liver. I need to cut sugar, carbs and red meat. This sounds like a good life-changing food style. Would you agree?

  • Cutting sugar and carbs is certain to have amazing beneficial health effects. As far as the red meat, I’d say it depends. How much you eat and what is the source. If you’re eating a reasonable portion, and the beef is from a local farmer or someone you know to take good care of their animals, then I’d say red meat is okay. BUT-I’m Simply a Dad, so I’d trust your body and do your due diligence on that. Perhaps check out Chris Kresser or Chris Masterjohn.

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