I have to admit – I hesitated in writing this post for awhile. We aren't exactly a health blog here. Or, are we Three Thrifty Doctors. But after some deliberation and consternation (without constipation mind you), I figured if I could inspire or help someone else out with this post – so be it and may God bless him or her.
I guess I have to tell you at the onset to take what I'm about to say as my personal experience. I'm not trying to prescribe a diet or a way of life for you. Nor am I saying that going to a health professional or taking medicine is ultimately a bad thing. What I am hoping to accomplish here is to share my story and then also give you some food for thought before spending more money on doctors and drugs (which – I think – is our knee-jerk reaction in American life).
My life: Pre-healthy
To be honest, I've never eaten healthy. Add to that – I've never really been one to exercise or stay very active. Sure, I golf quite a bit and do the occasional walk – but I would (almost) rather go to the dentist than the gym.
No diss to the Mrs here – but after I got married, I gained about 40 lbs. Now, I wasn't a very large man (width-wise) to begin with – but with the added weight, I was fuller in the cheeks and most notably, the belly.
While I was enjoying the food the lady was cooking and we tended to hit up the fast-food joints more than necessary – I really didn't like the way my health was headed. At work, I would eat 6-8 of those fun-sized candy bars a day and might throw in a large-sized candy bar out of the vending machine for dessert. Needless to say, I have always been a sugar-junkie. Saying I love sweets is like saying monkeys like bananas.
Then, my wife's health took a turn for the worst and she needed to quit her job. She began a long search for answers to her condition and was ultimately recommended to a Naturopath. The lady soon led her on a journey to better health which began with her diet. She got off sweets, dairy, gluten and started to eat more raw foods and organics. Soon her constant headaches almost completely ceased. She began feeling healthier and had more energy. While her condition didn't completely dissipate, the changes in her health were enough for me to become inspired and want to give her new lifestyle a try.
But, I didn't do it overnight. It was a long, drawn-out process of trying things here and there, taking a bite of this food and that funky green leaf smoothie, participating in a detox here (to give my wife some company) and another detox there, visiting her naturopath for a “reading” to figure what I ought to be eating and what I should be staying away from (yes, chocolate was on that list – dangit!) – but I soon started to like the way I was feeling.
On some days, my wife packed a bag of veggies for me to take to work and snack on. Soon, these foods would take the place of my daily (overdose) servings of processed sugars. While they weren't as “fun” or “sweet” as my candy bars, I began taking note of a few changes in myself from eating better:
- My skin started to feel smoother. Now, I'm a male here – so skincare isn't something that I strive to maintain above all else. But after eating better, my skin really started to get healthier. It was as smooth as a baby's (no lie!). I also used to have some age spots on my hand. These are now gone.
- No more back acne. Okay, here's where things get a little awkward – but, hey, it's our bodies! I've always struggled with acne and pimples on my upper back. Ironically, most – if not all – have now cleared up.
- Constipation subsided. And, slightly more awkward (it's gonna get better – I promise!). Yes, I had some issues with getting plugged up. It was almost a bi-weekly (if not daily occurance) for me. After the changes in health, I hardly (if ever) get constipated.
- Lessened my depression symptoms. I've written before about my depression and how I've been able to manage it. Since taking care of myself by eating the right things and taking some supplements my depression symptoms have greatly subsided. To those who have never experienced depression, I can only really explain it as a “heaviness” in your soul. Pre-healthy, those periods of heaviness lingered on and could get fairly deep. But today, this heaviness is more shallow and has a shorter duration.
- Bye-bye belly fat. Lastly, one of the more favorable outcomes of eating better has been the shrinking of my belly. Like I said, I really don't like to hit the gym – so much of this shrinking has been due to my diet changes.
What I did
This is what seemed to have worked for me:
- Drastically lowered my sugar intake. I'm not a big proponent of stopping things cold-turkey. I think you need to be patient with yourself when you are trying to make changes. But, over a period of time, I completely stopped snacking on those candy bars at work. Today, I rarely eat sweets but for the occasional natural dark chocolate (which – some say – can be good for ya!) in my cereal.
- Started eating better foods. Fortunately for us, we live in an area that has many options for organic foods (Co-ops and Whole Foods). For over a year now, I've tried my best to eat organic fruits / vegetables, and have tried my best to drop the processed foods. Not only does the food taste better – it is better for the body.
- Lowered dairy intake. Instead of drinking milk or adding it to my cereal, I use rice milk. While it took a little getting used to – I now completely prefer it to milk. I've read that humans are a rare breed: most animals never drink dairy after birth (from their mother's milk). I also used to eat a lot of cheese and have really cut a lot of that out of my diet.
- Switched to chemical-free products. Along with eating better, this also could be a contributing factor to healthier skin and acne issues. I now use chemical-free shampoos and soaps.
- Take supplements as needed. While there has been a lot of hub-bub about the effectiveness of vitamins, I routinely take vitamin D in the morning and sometimes essential fatty acids (Omega 3). I believe these have helped contribute to my lessened depression symptoms.
- Lowered portion size. I used to eat and eat and eat. A few instances my wife even had to take food away from the table to get me to stop! We have focused on lower portion sizes and it seems to have paid off.
We spend a ton on health care in the US. I believe one of the main reasons for this is our poor diets: we eat like crap. And I did too.
I believe we can do a lot of good, preventative care on our own without doctors and medicine. It's time to put as much money away in our food budget as we do in our 401k, savings and other investments. As my mother always says, “you're very wealthy when you are healthy.”
Have you seen changes in your health after changing your diet?