Around this time last year, I thought I was going crazy. I had wild mood swings, cried for absolutely no reason, the smallest disappointments amounted to the end of the world, and it all was happening way too often, about 3 times a month. On top of that, when I got hungry, I got HUNGRY, along the lines of Chris Farley’s “Lay off me, I’m starving!!!” If I didn’t eat something within an hour, I’d get very nauseated, weak, clammy, and completely out of sorts. So I was starting to get scared – scared that my irrational crying spells would drive my honey away, and scared that I was becoming hypoglycemic with the weird blood sugar crashes. Nothing’s as dull as reading about other peoples’ health problems, but maybe, especially if you identify with the depression and crashes, you’ll be interested in how they were all made better, simply through some tasty, real food…
Luckily, around the same time last year, we were heavily researching grass-fed beef as an option for our new farm. When we read about it, nutrition was nearly always mentioned too. I got turned on to a lot of nutrition websites, like the Weston A Price foundation. After a couple of months, I was convinced that my health was on my plate, and that years of eating junk and confusing entertainment for food had caught up with me. My body was starving for nutrients.
Eliminating the Worst
I realized I’d been eating a lot of empty calories like white bread. Even worse than the empty calories were the detrimental calories: pop, diet pop, loads of sweets, chips, etc. I decided first to just get rid of all trans fats (hydrogenated anything on the ingredients label) and all high fructose corn syrup, and just see what would happen. I was amazed! Within only two days, I could feel a swift uptick in my moods. My mood (now I only had one) became stable and normal! I was happy when I was supposed to be happy, and sad when I was supposed to be sad. No more irrational crying spells.
A couple weeks of normal living felt soooo good, so I decided to keep going. I started eating breakfast every day, even if I wasn’t hungry. We started buying pastured, chemical-free meat from Polyface Farm. I’ll never forget the first time I had Polyface eggs for breakfast. I got to work, sat down at my desk, and felt this wave of well-being wash over me. It was a natural high. My brain was finally getting the nourishment it needed – it could apparently make some good serotonin again. I also learned how traditional saturated fats (beef fat, butter, coconut oil) had been framed and how the newer polyunsaturated oils (corn oil, soy oil, canola, etc) were probably responsible for declining health. We’ve been eating animal fat for thousands of years, and soy oil just came on the market about 60 years ago (along with heart disease). Made sense to me, so I switched and started eating loads of butter and coconut oil. I felt great and didn’t gain any weight.
So by this time, I was eating nutritious proteins and lots of veggies swimming in butter. I was still feasting on sugar though, so blood sugar crashes were still happening, just not as severely. Having forgone trans fat and HFCS, I made a lot of brownies (butter!) at home and bought expensive ice cream. Amazingly, my body told me to stop. Every time I scarfed some sugar, my mood would crash. I’d get teary and edgy, and I’d even wake up with joint pain in the morning! I’ve had a monster sweet tooth all my life, so I didn’t have much confidence in my ability to stop. But, I read that if you nourish yourself well, sugar cravings will stop on their own over time. This is exactly what happened. I started seeing every meal as a chance to load up on real food and nutrients – pastured eggs, grass-fed beef, quality veggies and fats, good cheeses, plain whole yogurt, real carbs like taters, even grass-fed liver. It’s taken about 8 months, but now I can even TURN DOWN sugar with ease. This was hopelessly impossible before.
Here are other minor health issues that have disappeared since I started eating real food:
- Bloating: “growl-ly in my bowel-ly” – gone
- Headaches/Migraines: gone! I no longer carry Excedrin with me.
- Heart Palpitations: gone
- Seasonal Allergies: much better
- Colds/Flu: Sick only once this past year, and after traveling and eating lots of sugar.
- Joint aches: none
- Scaly bumps on backs of my arms: gone! (and they come back when I eat crap)
- 3 pm snack cravings: gone too, as long as I have a big, nutritious lunch.
- Insomnia: gone! I fall asleep very easily now.
I can’t scientifically explain how all of this improved. I simply believe my body is now getting the nutrients it needs to work properly. Something that helped in making the transition is realizing that processed foods like ho ho’s and cheetos aren’t food. They’re entertainment. Our bodies get nil from them, and in most cases, are hurt by them. Based on my real food experiment, I’m convinced that many of our nation’s health problems would go away if we all rejected these “foods”. If it’s advertised in slick commercials, don’t eat it. Nourishing food isn’t advertised. Entertainment is. Before our health gets any worse, we need to recognize the difference. Your health is on your plate!
This post is part of Real Food Wednesdays.