It has to taste good

I wrote briefly about the importance of food being delicious to be able to commit to a new lifestyle of eating. It’s something I mention here and there in passing, but yet have I dedicated an entire article to the subject. That changes today.

I traveled to Boston this past weekend to visit my second cousin who had a heart attack and subsequently had surgery to perform a quadruple bypass. His condition was brought about partly due to genetics but also partly due to his health. While he is not an unhealthy person, his diet tends to be high in carbs. When I arrived in Boston, he was already recovering from his surgery, and we had a chance to sit and talk for nearly two full days. It was glorious! I love my cousin, and we always have a great time just talking together. The subject of our conversation eventually turned to my recent weight loss, and he had many questions about how I succeeded. He wanted to know “The secret” to my success. I was more than happy to oblige him.

I told him about going through the Whole30 and then turning to Paleo, and then I went through the science of it all. None of it was really new to him, but he had one concern that I knew a lot about. It was the major concern I had when we entered this new lifestyle, and one that I could address with some truly positive news.

As Hungarians, our culture, like the vast majority, centers on its food. Hungarian food is varied and delicious, with quite a few unique dishes that are quite simply among the most delicious foods one can eat. I don’t say this as a Hungarian, but as a fan of delicious food everywhere. French, Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Filipino, and South American cuisines are all delicious, but Hungarian food, in my humble opinion, ranks with the best of these with amazing and delicate flavors and textures. This brings me to his major concern: how can someone accustomed to delicious foods give them up to eat healthy?

I was happy to give him the good news: you don’t have to. Not only has the majority of the foods Sherry found for us to eat been delicious and filling, but I have even found Hungarian alternatives that are Paleo compliant that are just as delicious with the same flavors and textures as their non-Paleo counterparts. This really caught his attention, and I could see that for the first time, eating healthy was something he was beginning to consider. I made sure to let him know that I don’t live on salads and chicken breasts alone, as a diet like that would drive me to chocolate cake and fried chicken faster than you can say, “Diabetes.” For people accustomed to eating delicious foods for over 60 years, giving it up in the name of good health can be too much to ask. Because yes, the flavor of our food is that important.

A neighbor three houses down from me, a former Marine and Vietnam veteran, asked me one day as I walked to the mailbox how I had lost all my weight. He was expected to hear I accomplished this great feat through serious exercise and a strict diet. He lamented the fact that he could never do what I did because he is unable to exercise due to physical limitations. When I told him I lost all my weight with diet alone, and that the foods I ate were delicious and filling, he became very interested and excited. We ended up talking for over an hour on his driveway with his wife eventually joining us to take notes and to ask questions of her own. When I bid them farewell that evening a month ago, I had sincerely hoped that he would at least try. If he did, I was certain he would find success.

And he did!

I was again going to get the mail last night, and I ran into his wife who was out for her evening walk. She excitedly told me that her husband not only tried Paleo, but had lost 15 lbs in his first month and is loving the food and feeling much better! She said he is exceptionally fond of his bacon in the mornings, and that he has cut out all sweetened drinks and sodas and now only drinks water and iced tea with no sweeteners. She said that while he misses corn, he’s been enjoying the other foods so much that it hasn’t been too big of a concern. Besides, I told her that a little corn every few weeks won’t derail him. As we hear a lot around Paleo circles, every now and then, you gotta live. Treats, in strict moderation, are allowable. Just don’t make them regular.

These conversations weren’t unique to these two individuals; it’s literally the same primary concern EVERY SINGLE PERSON I’ve ever spoken to about Paleo has had: is the food delicious? Fortunately, I can say that yes, there is delicious Paleo food out there! Are there Paleo foods that are not delicious? Well, taste is subjective, so something I find amazing my not be to someone else’s liking and vice-versa, but the beauty of Paleo is that there are literally hundreds of thousands of recipes available that allow one to truly customize their menu to their tastes. My wife has done a great job in posting recipes that we have tested and thoroughly enjoy for the benefit of others looking for delicious and healthy foods that are Paleo or Primal compliant.

As I said in an early article, regardless of the path you are taking to get healthy and/or lose weight, food is going to be a primary concern. The quality and satiety of the fuel you put into your body will directly affect the results you see on the scales, in the gym, or in your belt. It will also affect how you feel and how often you have cravings or get hungry. It’s not enough to eat “Good” foods; they also have to be foods that taste good that you can enjoy and that make you feel full afterward. Your path will be much easier when you’re happy with the meals you eat. Trust me on this one.

Current stats:
Weight: 198.9 lbs (Started 289.9 lbs on 9/1/15)
Body fat: 21.8% (Started 47% on 9/1/15)
BMI: 31.1 (Started 45.4 on 9/1/15)

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