Growing up my family ate fairly healthy. Eating out was a treat. My mom made us 3 meals a day, and we ate together as a family every day. Most of my grandparents and great-grandparents were from Oklahoma so hearty country meals were the norm. Dinner with the extended family was usually roast beef or fried chicken, 8 kinds of vegetables, bread and plenty of butter on everything. We would have mac n cheese and spaghetti often. Simple pasta dishes. I think jarred tomato sauce and kraft mac n cheese was the extent of our processed foods minus the occasional (maybe once a month) trip through a drive through. My great-grandma was our after school spot and she would make everything from scratch and canned her own peaches. Lord, I miss her biscuits!
I grew into a young adult and turned into a lazy eater. There’s no other excuse. I have the skills and knowledge to prepare good meals and I choose the fast and cheap way. I was being lazy. Lucky Charms for breakfast, dollar meals at any drive thru for lunch and Hamburger Helper or other no-fuss boxed meal for dinner. I washed it all down with 6-8 Pepsi’s per day. Starting off every day with a minimum 32oz Super Big Gulp. Throw in a couple of candy bars, cookies or a piece of cake and you have a pretty good picture of my eating standards. I remember posting pictures of an Entenmann’s pound cake and a Pepsi as my “breakfast of champions.” Thanks to an auto-immune thyroid disease, that developed shortly after high school, I rarely put on weight, but I got to the point where I just didn’t feel good anymore. My teeth started sprouting cavities like weeds after a week of rain. I developed crippling IBS.. to the extent that my husband sent champagne and Immodium to me on our wedding day, because he knew the stress would cause an episode.
Within the last 5 years, I had started cooking more with my husband, but every meal still included a starch, and usually bread of some kind. Then we found Anna, our nutritionist, in our search for anything that would help with our son’s behavioral issues. When she recommended the GAPS diet she asked me to read Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Natasha Campbell-McBride. It was an eye opener for me. Not only were my health issues related to my poor nutrient-deficient diet, but my son’s issues were because of my diet before and during my pregnancy. When we decided to try GAPS for Cullen, we decided to do it together as a family, not just because it would be cruel and unusual punishment to make a 7-year-old watch you eat the foods he loves in front of him, but also because we knew it would only improve our own health.
I tried to hold on to my Pepsi. I tried to just cut it back to one or two per day. I quickly realized that even holding on to that little bit made my cravings for sweets too strong to resist, so I slowly transferred to iced tea, making weaker and weaker batches to wean myself off caffeine. Now I might have very weak iced tea once a day, and I’m drinking my suggested daily intake of water. I have devoted hours more of my time to working in my kitchen. I make our yogurt, applesauce, salad dressings, condiments, nut butter, beef jerky, sauerkraut, ice cream and bone broth. Lots and lots of bone broth. Everything is from scratch with no additives, no preservatives and no pesticides. I’m hunting down sales and the cheapest place to find groceries. Trying to find soy-free eggs or chicken has been a battle and a half.
I was standing in front of my stove sautéing liver tonight, and I thought, “How did I get here?!?” I bought LIVER and I’m cooking it with the intent of eating it! And I am secretly hoping I will enjoy it! I have done a 180, dragging my carb-loving family with me into the world of grain-free and probiotics. I was talking to a friend today and she asked if I ever wanted to just give up. Absolutely, without a doubt there were moments I wanted to throw all of my pots out the window and never enter my kitchen again. But I kept trucking, because I truly believe in how much better I feel. Because my husband doesn’t have asthma attacks anymore. Because my son is finally making friends, and showing emotions. Because I get hugs from him at any time of day; not just when I tuck him in at night.
I went from a junk food addict to certifiable health nut. And I’m never going back.