This is a reader story by Jana Snyder, a mom of two grown kids and wife of 30+ years. She lost 30 pounds, improved her brain fog and shoulder pain, and really learned to cook – in her 50s – all thanks to real food! She likes to help others get healthy through food on her blog. If you’d like to submit your own real food story, you can do so here.
In my 30’s and 40’s, I went through various ways of eating: no constraints, low carb, back to no constraints, then cutting out sugar and wheat. But nothing stuck for long. I continued to gain a few pounds every year, on average. At my heaviest, I had an excess 35 pounds on my small-boned 5’5” frame.
In my early 50’s, I watched my dad succumb to an autoimmune disease and lost my mom bit by bit to Alzheimer’s. Studying up on their diseases opened my eyes to the connection between food and health and completely changed my approach to food. I was too late to save them, but not too late to save me!
I was skeptical about the basis for the Paleo diet, but I kept reading from those who followed it about huge positive changes in their health. So I tried it for a while: no sugar, no grains, no dairy, no legumes, no alcohol! I think the thing that makes Paleo produce radical health results for so many people is that the extreme restrictions force you to break your dependence on processed foods. It is a little challenging to live with for the long-term though.
Over the last year, I’ve settled into a way of eating that works for me, for good. And by that, I mean that it’s easy to live with forever, keeps my weight at a steady healthy number, and keeps my body and mind feeling good!
In addition to losing weight, brain fog, and body aches, I learned a completely new way of cooking! I’d previously been a recipe-follower. But focusing on whole foods and learning how to do ingredient prep radically changed how I cook, and now I usually just make dishes up as I go. Cooking has gone from being a chore I have to get done to being a creative outlet – and a labor of love for the ones I feed!
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My Food Philosophy
Inspired by my hale and hardy farming grandparents, my guiding principle is avoiding food that’s been “messed with” in the last several decades – since the rapid rise in obesity and Type 2 Diabetes. And enjoying to the full the foods that are close to how nature makes them. That means cutting out processed foods completely at home and avoiding them as much as possible when eating out.
My formula is pretty simple. I aim to make sure every meal contains:
- A whole-food protein
- One or more healthy fats
- At least three different kinds of nutrient-dense vegetables
Low-glycemic high-nutrient fruits are sometimes swapped out for one of the veggies or treated like dessert. I allow grains, beans, and dairy in some meals, in small quantities, and try to stick to whole-food, chemistry-free options.
A New Way of Life
I really think I can live this way forever! I lost those 35 pounds in 2014 (combining my diet changes with moderate exercise), and I’ve kept them off (within a range of five pounds) for more than two years! My cholesterol and blood pressure improved. I love how I feel, and I love the food I enjoy.
Real food forever! :)