I have a confession to make. It’s a hard one to admit, but yes, sometimes I eat unhealthy things I know I shouldn’t. It’s not often, but it happens. And here’s the kicker…I regret it every time.
One of the most memorable times was on a cruise ship just months after Kelli and I began eating the way we do now after we were exposed to Functional Medicine. Our ship actually had a cafe full or organic and healthy selections and that was where we normally ate when we were onboard. But on our final day of the cruise, a full day at sea as we were heading home, we decided to allow ourselves each one thing that we used to enjoy eating but had given up at the time of our food enlightenment.
Here’s where bad judgement reared it’s ugly head. I made the terrible mistake of choosing a poolside hot dog. You have to understand. I used to love hot dogs. One of my favorite meals back in the day was a gas station hot dog and a soda. Gives me itchy hives just thinking of it now, but there was a time that would have been my choice on a date night!
Sitting up on the top decks of the cruise ship eating my hot dog, I got only three bites in before it hit my gut with full force. My stomach felt terrible. I felt heavy and nauseous. I wanted that hot dog out of me in the worst way. My body had lost the ability to tolerate poor quality, artificial food.
The rest of the hot dog found itself floating on the sea, surely to become fish food. Poor fish.
I made Kelli promise to never let me do that to myself again. That was the last junk hot dog I’ve ever eaten, but not my last regrettable edible decision.
Last week for example. Lunch was unusually light, dinner was a couple hours away, I was feeling tired due to late nights and stressful decisions on my plate. I just really felt like I needed something to keep me going.
My mistake. I was caught unprepared. My usual stash of almonds or cashews had been depleted, and I had none of the familiar allies like a Raw Crunch bar or some veggies and hummus. To top it off, I was stuck in a place where the only food options came from a vending machine.
Staring at the machine in desperation, hoping a second or third look would reveal a decent option I had missed during initial inspection, I finally inserted my coins and dialed up a bag of chocolate covered peanut candy that doesn’t melt in your hand (starts with an M and has another M in the name. Ya with me?).
Why? I thought for sure there’d be less sugar in them the the other options, there was a thought of ‘at least I know the peanuts are real,’ and perhaps there was a large slice of nostalgia, being that these were a favorite snack of mine before I was made aware of the dangers in these types of foods.
I haven’t had this candy for over three years and I’ve never felt a craving for them. I admit to being happily surprised when I saw that Unreal had come out with a real-ingredients only version which I’ve tried and can recommend (as an occasional treat of course since it’s still candy). But even today, hungry and tired, there was no appeal for them. I ate out of a feeling of need.
And once again, as I’ve learned too many times, it’s just not worth it.
Within fifteen minutes of eating the first handful I could feel the reactions begin. My stomach tightened up in knots, my fingers and forearms felt itchy and tingly, I could feel the fog enveloping my brain, and my eyelids felt like they weighed ten pounds, trying to close my eye from all sides, not just the top and bottom!
I used to buy warehouse-store-size bags of these things every month and would feel ‘just fine.’ But now I eat a couple handfuls and my body goes into convulsions. What happened?
The strange truth is that once you stop eating garbage ingredients and let your body heal, you can never go back. I guess you could, but you’d have to force your way through multiple episodes of disgusting malaise before you could tolerate them like ‘normal’ people around us do. Similar to getting weaned onto them when we were kids, or in utero, I suppose.
We weren’t designed to eat processed foods and artificial ingredients. And we had to learn how to tolerate them before we could enjoy them. Then we go through life feeling ‘just fine’ until our bodies decide to fight back and send distress signals to us.
For most of us that’s mental decline, sexual dysfunction, and other diseases associated with aging. For some of us it’s autoimmune disease, intestinal issues, or other dreaded diseases that occur at any age.
Sometimes I hear people use the phrase ‘everything in moderation’ and I cringe because often the speaker is including poisonous foods in that definition of ‘everything.’ An accurate statement would be ‘moderation in all healthful, natural things.’
No ‘all things’ in moderation for me. I’m done. Never again will I let one of those chemical laden conventional ‘foods’ find it’s way into my body. There’s my public declaration and you can hold me to it.
I don’t believe in perfection and I certainly encourage all of us to allow room for treats. The Unreal candies for example would be a natural treat to be allowed in moderation and I can tell you right now I’m going to eat some of their chocolate covered peanuts this Halloween. But other things, like artificial dyes and flavors as well as harmful preservatives and other chemicals don’t have a safe ‘moderation’ amount. Refined sugars and flours aren’t to be moderated, they’re to be avoided.
I’m all for allowing cheat days, but cheat with foods made from real ingredients. A grass fed burger with sweet potatoes fried in a healthy oil? Go for it. Or snacks like Hail Merry or Living Intentions treats. Or a bar of quality dark chocolate like Amano’s. Those are options worth moderating.
I’m saying this to myself. I messed up and I paid the price. I knew from prior experience I would and I did it anyway (wasn’t expecting to be quite that bad!!). But nope, not happening again. I can deal with tired and hungry. I can’t deal with feeling poisoned.
How about you? Have you ever had a similar reaction to an old favorite that you hadn’t had for a while? Or, what do you think of the ‘all things in moderation’ line? Where do you draw the line?
Not gonna lie sometimes it makes me sad that I can’t eat some of the crap that I used to Kind if funny, no? But like you when I do it’s gross! Great article!