Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Paleo Changes You: Junk Food Has Little to No Appeal

     I have a confession. I was a junk food junky. If you read my short story here, you already know that about me. I could put away some candy. My mom likes to tell the story about when I was little, and I would ask for a cookie. She was give me permission, and I would always say, "Can I have 'twofum'?" It's cute. I was cute, but it really shows my mentality when it came to junk. I needed more. "Twofum" cookies were the highlight of my day.

    And don't get me started on my fishing trips with my dad. I was not what you would call a fisherperson. The whole baiting hooks and taking fish off of said hook was nasty to me, but I loved being on the lake just before the sun rose, being with my dad while he participated in something he loved, watching other people fish, and eating junk food all day long. And we would be on the boat all day long, so I would get massive amounts of junk food: sodas, a couple of waters to keep hydrated, Gatorade, chocolate milk to go with my cinnamon bun breakfast, cakes, candies, and crackers. And I would obsess about them all day long. I would ration them. And I would sort them from my least favorite to my most favorite (this can be done even when you like it all; you just have to have a system).

     I learned my lesson with sodas. I learned it the hard way. I was 15, and I had a pretty serious soda habit. I remember coming home every day, and seeing the cola in the kitchen. At first, it had no real influence on me. I bypassed it, preferring sweet tea instead. If I got soda back then, it was usually one of the yellow or clear ones. Then one day, I couldn't take just walking by it. I had to try it with my favorite snack. I made myself four peanut butter crackers with a cup of cola. Man, the combination was a taste sensation! This would be my new after school snack. After a couple of weeks, it wasn't enough. So I would make eight crackers and have two cups of cola. After a month, I was calling my mom every day or two to tell her to bring home a new 2 liter bottle. And then the inevitable happened. I got a bladder infection to end all bladder infections. My urine was the color of cola. I had to take Macrobid, something for the pain, and another medication that I soon found I had a horrible allergic reaction to. Thus ended my cola habit. I quit cold turkey.

     Then I got married, and I had less restrictions to my access of junk food. Ray and I lived in town instead of in the country where I'd grown up, so the junk food was within five minutes of me. I didn't have a curfew, so if I wanted to go out at midnight and pick up some cookies and peanut butter or cheese to go on my cookies, I could just hop in the truck and go. Ray and I would often get a pack of cookies that were similar in taste to Girl Scout Tagalongs®. In fact, we did this on our wedding night after learning the his cousins had eaten all of the chocolate covered strawberries a friend of ours had made for us to take on our honeymoon. Together we could eat the entire package in one sitting.

     And speaking of Ray's addictions: he's the kind of guy who after watching Super Size Me, didn't go "That's disgusting!" He looked at me and said, "Let's go to Wendy's. I really want a hamburger and fries after that."

     After years of trying different diet lifestyles (the difference between a fad diet and a diet lifestyle is that a fad diet is meant to take weight off quickly, but is not sustainable; while a lifestyle diet is something you do every day, a way of life, sustainable), Ray and I stumbled upon Paleo. Let me tell you, the detox period was hard. No sugar! No bread! No dairy! I didn't know if I could do it. I was an addict in a very real sense, especially when it came to sugar. Ray was an addict, too, but more for bread and especially dairy. The first three days were the worst. We experienced flu-like symptoms. We were grouchy, but we kept on going. We would get out and walk, and to keep from thinking about what we were giving up, we spent our walks talking about how good we would feel and the kind of things we could eat like vegetables drizzled with ghee or whole eggs (not just the whites) or sweet potato salad with homemade mayonnaise. And we made it through, and then we fell in love. The vibrancy of the food, the taste, the healing that we experienced has been so amazing.

     And junk food? Well, have you ever noticed that (with the exception of brightly artificially colored candy) junk food is BROWN? Now I have nothing against the color brown, but everything you put in you mouth should not be brown, not when there is a whole rainbow of food out there to experience: beets, cranberries, apples, pumpkin, carrots, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, peppers, spaghetti squash, bananas, plantains, broccoli, collards, kale, spinach, cucumber, zucchini, cabbage, blueberries, eggplant, cauliflower, turnips, and parsnips, just to name a few. (List provided by my two sons.)