For those of you that know a lot about me, or even for those of you that do not know a lot about me, I LOVE FOOD! And when we say food, I mean mostly anything-pizza, cheese, bagels, pasta, other carbs and more carbs, steak, burgers, chicken, fish, and the list can go on. In addition to loving food and eating, I also went to culinary school. Meaning, I can cook. And when I cook, I do cook healthy delicacies, but I also no stranger to rich sauces and food.
Over the years, my dietary habits weren’t the best. I really feel that the latter half of the title of this week’s article “NOT LIVE TO EAT,” really defined the person I used to be. I would indulge daily in Starbucks sausage breakfast sandwiches, have some other form of meat smacked between two pieces of bread, and then cap off the night with pizza or Chinese food. Oh, wait! Don’t forget to throw a cookie or two in the mix. Up until a few years ago, I was all about eating out. Forget my culinary education. I was not cooking much, and often I ate beyond the point of satiation. Needless to say, I now believe that I did damage to my body, my mind, and more specifically my overall health.
Being officially diagnosed with Scleroderma back in April of 2017 was a complete shock and wake up call. Scleroderma is a rare autoimmune connective tissue disease that can permeate internal organs leading to complications and in some patients can even cause death. Thankfully, according to my doctor, my fitness level has helped me substantially. While my skin is tight, I suffer from digital ulcers and fatigue, and I have been fortunate enough to have a clean bill of health when it comes to my internal organs (I still get various tests on them twice a year). So, why do I bring this up in a discussion on delectable goodness!? The reason is because my lifestyle choices, specifically the bad ones, have most definitely contributed to the autoimmune conditions that I live with daily.
Now, I am not saying if you eat a slice of pizza you are doomed to questionable mortality issues. Rather, I am saying too much and too frequent of those bad things can lead you down a destructive path. I thought because I was in fitness, I could eat anything and everything I wanted: Quite the contrary in fact. As a result of this diagnosis, I have worked aggressively to change my diet. Last year I did an AIP (autoimmune protocol diet) for 28 days that was extremely restrictive. It was Paleo in style and eliminated all grains, dairy, wheat, eggs, fruits and more. WOW, what an impact. At the completion of that month, I had lost about 10 pounds (my wife called me Skinny Minny) and most importantly; I did not have as much, nor feel as much inflammation in my body. My hands felt less tight and I was even able to almost make an entire closed fist.
Since that month I have incorporated various foods back in my diet, and yes I have for sure fallen “off the wagon.” However, what I have learned is that food can either make you feel better or it can make you feel worse. It can make you healthier or it can make you sick/er. When I cut out things like diary and gluten it makes a world of difference. So, where am I today?
My wife and I have watched numerous documentaries such as What The Health and Forks Over Knives. These movies, as well as the information I am learning in graduate school have opened my eyes to the world of plant-based nutrition. I am not the carnivore that I have been in the past. I have committed to dramatically cutting my meat consumption, though I do not intend to give up meat entirely. Not only am I confident based on the research that it will do well for me, but it certainly will help out our environment and ecosystem. My goal is to adopt a predominantly plant-based diet, and every so often (within reason) enjoy a burger, a slice of pizza, or try a new restaurant.
The old Greg of daily sausage sandwiches and weekly baked ziti are a thing of the past. My commitment is for a long and healthy life. Our planet has an abundance of food resources that were designed specifically to fuel us in the right way. There are ways to make vegetables and grains delicious without having to slather them in cheese, fatty sauces or put them on gluten containing breads. I am on a journey to reverse my illness through food, positivity and movement. I would love if you would join me on this quest to eat to live and not live to eat. As Hippocrates said, “let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food. Happy and healthy eating my friends.