Reality Check

This video was a much needed reminder, and I really really hope that someone besides me will watch it. Dr. Terry Wahls was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis years ago. After undergoing many years of the best new treatment for MS, she was still pretty much a sinking ship.  Unable to walk without two canes.  Unable to sit upright.  Unable to live a normal life.  Until she cut out processed foods, grains (yes all grains), sugar, and dairy… and until she started to eat grass-fed meat, wild caught fish, and emphasize seasonal plants, she was going downhill.  But then, within three months of essentially “going paleo” her health made a rapid turn for the better.  Watching her speech is amazing.

And I needed the reminder.  Nearly 11 months ago, Oatmeal and I went “primal.”  Not quite paleo – we were still eating a bit of dairy – but it was dramatic nonetheless.  We started to appreciate grocery shopping and cooking together, we discovered vegetables we’d never eaten at home before (bok choy and brussell sprouts to name a few), and we stopped eating anything we knew contained gluten.  No more cookies, crackers, cereal, bread, etc.

Now, given, Oatmeal took this to the extreme.  Lola is just not much on being extreme.  So if you’ve seen me on a vacation or at a family dinner, you’ve probably seen me eat processed food.  But nonetheless, it was a drastic shift in our diet, and for the most part, it has really stuck.  I can tell you that I cook breakfast and dinner at our home at least 6 of 7 nights a week on average, and I cannot remember the last time I used anything processed in the past 10.5 months when doing so.  For lunch, we either pack primal/paleo lunches or do the best we can on the road.

But then came the pregnancy… and the questions… and the reprimands.  “But Lola you are SKINNY why are you on a diet?”  “Lola if you want a bagel then just eat the bagel!  Listen to your body, your body NEEDS the bagel!”  “But Lola you need CARBS for the baby, just eat a sandwich, why are you just ordering a salad?”  No one ever questioned Oatmeal.  Oatmeal could always reference his psoriasis as motivation to eat so strictly, and people immediately backed off.  But me?  No, a woman on a strict eating plan must have a body image complex, or be obsessed with her weight, or have an eating disorder, or be a hippie health nut.  ESPECIALLY a pregnant woman who won’t eat a bagel, right?  There has to be something wrong with her if all she wants to eat are fruits, veggies, meats, fish, nuts and otherwise non-processed foods.  The baby NEEDS that bagel, right???  The bagel has fiber!  (So do veggies and fruit… for the record…)

And we’ll show her!  Just wait until she has that baby!  She only thinks she won’t feed it processed foods!  What about when the baby is in daycare?  What about when the baby grows up and goes to a birthday party and all the other kids are eating oreos and cupcakes?

I get it.  I do.  And again, I’ve never been much of an extremist.  If I’m in Louisiana visiting my dad, and he makes gumbo (made with flour and thus gluten), I will eat it because he is just never going to stop making delicious gumbo and one bowl of gumbo every 2-3 months is just NOT the end of the world.  If you invite me to your house and serve apple pie for dessert, I’ll probably have a slice.  On the holidays, you may see me eat chips because every now and then, I will admit, especially in social settings, I just go with the flow.  I’ll go with the flow with my kids, too, to an extent.  I’ll pack their healthy, unprocessed, fresh snacks and lunches for daycare and school, talk with their teachers, and hope that they eat the healthy food that I supply and not steal goldfish and graham crackers from their friends.  I’m not going to flip out and make them gag themselves if they eat a cracker when my back is turned.  But at home, there will be no goldfish, graham crackers, or cereal.  We will eat meat, fish, veggies, fruit, and otherwise NATURAL foods.

Because, it’s just too important to not try.  I may not be 100% primal/paleo, and my family may not be 100% primal/paleo.  But this video sums it up.  This lady nails it on the head.  Eating natural foods and feeding them to your family is just plain better for you than not.  My mom got Multiple Sclerosis before I was born.  By her mid-30s she was using a cane, by 40 she had to use a walker.  I watched her have 2 strokes and rode in 2 ambulances with her before I was 14 years old.  She spent months at a time in a rehabilitation center attempting to recover from both strokes and exacerbations of the MS.  By the time I was in high school, she had lost function of her arms and legs and could not accompany me into a dress store to help me select a homecoming gown.  I vividly remember asking the store owner for permission to try on a formal dress and walk outside into the parking lot, where my mom was sitting in her wheelchair accessible handicap van, so that I could spin around and show her the dress I picked before we bought it.  I still remember her smile and how much she loved it.  And I remember feeling like I wish she could just come in the store as all the other girls’ mothers could.  I wished she could come visit me in college.  Now, at not even 60 years old, she is unable to move from her bed and suffers from various other health problems that seem not only irreversible, but unbearable.

My mom is a positive, incredible woman.  She tried all the drugs, all the herbal remedies, all the old wives tails, all the praying.  She tried everything out there.  Her MS got worse.  It crippled her entire body before her youngest child graduated from high school.  It does not stop.  MS is a horrible disease that sinks its teeth in slowly, not just for years but for decades.

What if she’d been raised on a paleo diet?

What if she’d discovered it in her mid-20s as I did?

Or even in her 40s?  Maybe she’d have never gotten to the point where she couldn’t use her arms or legs.  Maybe she would be able to come and help me when my first baby is born.  We’ll never know.

What if I, or my unborn kids, have a predisposition to this disease or something similar, and I can somewhat prevent its onset by eating real food as opposed to quick, easy, cheap, convenient food?

It’s worth a try.  It makes sense.

The pediatricians may tell me I need to feed my kid Pediasure if he/she is slightly underweight.  And the mother of the birthday boy will pass out cupcakes to the entire class.  And on Halloween, my kid will go to school and come home with a bag full of candy.

And I may have to be the bad guy.  I may have to be the mom who doesn’t always follow doctors orders.  Hell, I actually heard a doctor tell a patient today that she needed to STOP drinking so much water and START drinking diet gatorade because her cells were TOO FULL OF WATER.  Stop drinking water and start drinking gatorade made with chemical sugar substitutes?  I have faith in medicine and doctors, otherwise I’d never be in this industry, but c’mon.  At some point, common sense on the part of the individual needs to come into play.  Pediasure vs real natural sources of protein, carbs, and good fat?  Easy choice.

I may have to be “that mom” who doesn’t make her kid’s entire classroom cupcakes for a birthday and instead sends bubbles or crafts in place of sugar.

I may have to be “that mom” who takes away the Halloween candy and tosses it in the trash.

I may never drive a Lexus because I’m spending the money on a few organic fruits and vegetables where I can.  I already know how much healthcare costs when you have a debilitating disease and are paying a nurse around the clock to care for you.  Just ask my mom.  The extra money spent on food and nourishment could have saved her thousands of dollars and hours of pain and frustration.  It could have given her years of health in which she could travel to see her grandkids.  Again, if she had been lucky as I have been and found this knowledge years ago.

So fine.  So be it.  I’ll be the health nut, the hypocrite, or the mean mom who won’t just go with the flow all the time and let the kids eat goldfish.

So I just need to get over it.  I’ll never be perfect.  I’ll never have a totally gluten-free diet, or go 6 months without having a “cheat” meal.  And my kids probably won’t either, unless they grow up like their dad.

But dang it, I’m going to try.  I’m glad I saw that video.  It was a really, really great reminder.

Remember that video up there?  You should really watch it.  🙂

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  1. Aunt Fran says:

    I threw up for practically 9 months. The only thing I could keep down was fresh potatoes, apple juice & crunchy apples. Matt was born at almost 9#’s & two weeks early. The baby will steal what it needs from you no matter what you eat. There is nothing wrong with a healthy diet free of processed foods. I think it makes sense. Just make sure you get labs every year to verify that your chemistry is right and you aren’t anemic. I eat primarily soy protein and vegetables. I tend to stay a little anemic. This is a change from when I ate meat. Do be careful with the water. Too much can cause cerebral edema. My first patient in Neuro was a young girl who drank too much and went into a coma. You are a smart gal, you make good decisions. Don’t worry about people judging you. I don’t think they are actually doing that, people just tend to debate what they don’t understand. It’s a learning process. As far as when they get in school. My mother-in-law thought it was downright abusive that I didn’t keep candy, chips, cake, hotdogs, etc. in the house or give it to the kids during holidays. The kids survived. Later I found out they were just stuffing themselves full of the stuff at their friends houses! I did follow the cupcake ritual at school parties though. You can make them healthier!

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