Whenever I hear the phrase “food fight,” I am instantly transported back to the dining hall at Faber College. John Belushi, “Pluto,” is stuffing his face while being told that he is a “P-I-G pig.” In response he asks, “See if you can guess what I am now?” John stuffs a rounded ball of mashed potatoes in to his mouth and proceeds to smash his cheeks together with his two clenched fists. As white, clumpy matter explodes all over everyone, he yells, “I’m a zit. Get it?” Chaos erupts. John is chased all over the dining hall and in the end he yells, “Food Fight!” Without hesitation there is more food in the air than on the tables. Yes, a classic scene from the movie Animal House. But, this is not the type of food fight that I’m alluding to in the title. We are now in the fight of our lives against food, bad food; food that is making us fat and physically and psychologically troubled. This is our modern food fight.
For most of my life, I suffered with what doctors call IBS, Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I called it my defective, broken, piece of crap stomach. From a very early age, I was poked, prodded, and tested, while every doctor told me the same thing, “I can’t find anything wrong.” Yet, there was definitely a major problem. My stomach seemed to hate food. After 40 plus years, I finally figured it out; it’s not that my body does not like food; it’s that it doesn’t like certain foods; and not the foods that usually are thought of as problematic. In a glorious “Ah ah” moment, I realized what should have been obvious to all my doctors. All I have to do is avoid certain foods and I am symptom free. No more morning stomach aches, running to the bathroom, or my GI track feeling like it was hooked up to a car battery via jumper cables. Today, my stomach no longer feels defective. The foods I have to avoid are bread, (wheat gluten), sugar, and I have to limit my fruit intake.
As I began to do more and more research (thank God for the Internet), I realized that for hundreds of thousands of years, Man did not eat bread. In fact, Man did not eat beans, Beluschi’s potatoes, pasta, and a whole host of foods commonly consumed today. I realized that I had changed my diet to the diet of my ancestors. I had become a caveman! In the process I had an added benefit. I’m 5’10”. I went from weighing 185 lbs. down to 150 lbs. before settling at 160 lbs. I went from a 34 inch waist to a 31. Wow! Not only was my stomach fixed, I was in great shape.
When people talk about diet, it’s often as something they are doing on a temporary basis. They have a weight goal in mind. They struggle, often reaching their goal only to stop eating what caused them to lose weight, and return to business as usual. The result, they put the weight right back on, usually with a few bonus pounds to boot. For me, diet is what I eat; not just for the moment, but all the time. Even more so, it is what I don’t eat. Cavemen did not drink soda, bake bread, consume processed food, or stop off for “junk food.” I don’t either. Our ancestors were on to something; something that is now once again gaining momentum and popularity.
All around the world, Blogs are appearing regarding this rebellion against the junk that is being mass produced and marketed to us as food by huge corporations. One of my favorites is Cooking Caveman with Jeff Nimoy ( http://cookingcaveman.blogspot.com ). Here, Jeff shares his caveman recipes; all organic, no wheat, no sugar, no crap. More than anything, Jeff shares his food experiments, most successful, some, not so much, showing us that there are creative solutions to cooking without unhealthy modern day substances; and that cooking caveman style can be very tasty, as well as fun. Books such as the Evolutionary Diet: What and How We Were Designed to Eat and Lose Weight Fast with the Caveman Diet have found their way to bookshelves. We are being given the weapons and tools to wage war against the processed, fast, high carb, sugary, unhealthy food that is making our society, more and more, to resemble the characters who gave up walking a long time ago in the movie WALL-E.
When I share my thoughts on this concept, people look at me like I’m nuts. “Not eat bread. I love bread. How can I not eat bread,” is a typical response. And then when I say that I rarely eat sugar (I do allow myself some dark chocolate every once in a while) they start slowly backing up as if I am threatening their very existence. And, almost always, it is assumed that I ration my food intake. I don’t!
I eat huge meals. I love eating. For breakfast I eat eggs with sugar free chicken sausage or ground turkey. For lunch I eat a huge salad with a mix of healthy lettuces, bell peppers, avocado, cucumber, and top it with either chicken or ground turkey. I dress it with fresh squeezed lemon and extra virgin olive oil. For dinner, I eat another huge salad with a main course of chicken, fish, or beef and a side of vegetables. I also make pasta using white or brown rice pasta and make my own sauce (watch your labels on pasta sauce, many are full of sugar). In reality, I’m not making a huge sacrifice. No wheat, no fast food, no processed food, very little sugar and carbohydrates. After 3 years, no big deal. And, I still weigh 160 lbs as I near the big 5-0. While I’m not living 100% caveman, I am close; let’s face it, if caveman could have a killer California zinfandel or some dark chocolate they would in a heartbeat. Again, it’s about moderation.
As a therapist, I am all about working to create positive change; how can I help others (as well as myself) create insights that will allow them to transcend, to become empowered, and to attract happiness in to their lives. Do yourself a favor. Try eating caveman for a week. I think that you will find that after a few days of feeling a bit strange (your body will start ridding itself of all the toxins created by eating unhealthy foods) you’ll start to feel great. Don’t think or say I’m going on a diet. Instead, think about creating a new diet/way of living for yourself. The insight I’m hoping to create is that if you’re reading this, you’re probably feeling tired, have low energy, may be a bit depressed, and feel unmotivated. Why? Because you’re filling yourself up with contaminated fuel. Think about it. Would you put 50 octane in your car if there were such a thing? Of course not. Stop giving yourself tainted fuel. This will be hard at first. But, as I am fond of saying, “There is no great without hard.”
In closing, you are what you absorb, emotionally, psychologically, and physically. In order to be emotionally and psychologically happy, you need to avoid negative thoughts which create negative feelings (after all, a thought comes before a feeling-many people get this backwards) and, instead, connect to positive thoughts and embrace positive human values. In order to be physically fit, you need to avoid toxic foods which make you feel bad, and instead consume the foods that you were meant to eat that will cause you to feel good. The combination of positive thoughts and a healthy diet will open the door for happiness to enter into your life. So, start thinking like a caveman and start your fight against bad food today. The only thing that you have to lose is your belly!