I have always seen my dad as the “man who never ages.” He pretty much looks like the same Henry Rollins look-alike as always, just with a few gray hairs. In this 59th year of his life, however, he admitted for the first time that he felt his age and he didn’t like it. Then, what surprised me even more than that was he asked me to help him! After a year or so of skepticism about me making our own “different” meals, bringing along a cooler full of assorted veggies and pre-made primal snacks for long visits, and not partaking in conventional after dinner desserts or pre-dinner butter bread, my dad decided he wanted to try it for himself and that he was ready to take the primal plunge. I could have shed a tear (actually, I did!) as I had the distinct pleasure of spending an entire Sunday morning and afternoon talking to my dad about food choices, sharing articles and stories about why the primal diet works, and drafting up a fitness plan for him.
I think the chart that finally won him over was below. He kept saying, “that’s me, all day long THAT IS ME!” After eating toast for breakfast he‘d crash, he’d reach for a muffin or donut as a pick-me-up, and crash again. Lunch time would come and he’d eat a sandwich with chips and crash again. Then he’d reach for crackers or candy to pick him up around 3pm, and the vicious cycle just kept going and going. It probably sounds familiar to many, but familiar or not, it is a one way street to chronically high insulin levels, which will lead to insulin resistance, which can eventually lead to…drumroll….Type II diabetes, heart disease, and a whole host of things we’d rather not have to deal with in our lives or the lives of those we love.
I don’t know if you remember my post about Faschnaut Day, but I definitely grew up in a house where the deep fryer used to be on the counter, corn was the favorite “vegetable,” and Tastycakes were always in stock. They have come a long way from that, but the candy dishes are still always full and the carb based snacks are always convenient. However, my mom and dad decided on that day they were going to work together to get rid of the junk that was making them feel their age, so to speak. I left them with an abundant list of approved foods along with snack and meal ideas, and a list of foods to generally avoid. We agreed on a few transition items like a high protein Kashi cereal until they get used to the idea of eating more eggs in the morning, plenty of Larabars, and dried fruit, and their journey began.
Fast forward one week. The junk is out of the house (can’t wait to inspect on my next visit!), my dad is following his fitness plan daily and feeling good about it, and when I called at dinner time they were having roast beef hold the gravy and broccoli for dinner. They admitted to having pizza on Friday night and still packing a few sandwiches for lunches, but I encouraged them that 80/20 is perfectly acceptable and the primal pyramid wasn’t built in one day. For them, just by getting rid of toast for breakfast, most sandwich bread for lunch, and chips or cookies for afternoon pick-me-ups, they will see remarkable benefits and results. My dad already commented that he is starting to feel a difference in the severity of his carb roller coaster syndrome!
I think having grandkids does something to parents, at least it did for mine. They look at those innocent little faces and realize how badly they want to see them grow into college-bound adults, and not miss anything along the way. And, as parents ourselves, we want the same. That afternoon I felt like I was giving the greatest gift in the world to my Dad and I hope he feels the same way. If you can heal your body, prevent disease, burn fat naturally, and have more energy, why wouldn’t you? Why wouldn’t you encourage your loved ones to do the same? Go ahead, take a LEAP!
Here are some of the resources I shared with my Dad. Please, share the love!
Paleo in a Nutshell Part 1: Food
Paleo in a Nutshell Part 2: Exercise
Primal Blueprint Success Stories
Our post on cholesterol and disease
Our post on Alzheimer’s and the Primal diet
Glycemic Response Roller Coaster
A final important thing to note is that my Dad came to me for help, it wasn’t forced. There is a fine line between motivating your loved ones with something your passionate about, and appearing “holier-than-though.” I like to present the facts, share success stories, and then allow them to make the choice on their own and in their own, personalized way.
To you and yours,