Here is John and his lovely family. He has made some big changes as a result of a scary diagnosis.
John was diagnosed and treated for tonsil cancer in 2009 and he is still here (and 40 pounds lighter). I would not suggest getting cancer as a means to weight loss (duh), but sometimes major events cause titanic shifts.
He lost 50 pounds as a result of the treatment and kept 40 pounds off and is at his ideal weight.
John was kind enough to share his story and his “before” photo:
Snack Girl: Before you were diagnosed with cancer, were you trying to change your eating habits because of your high blood pressure, etc.?
John: I wasn't really trying to change my eating habits. I thought they were fine. My doctor told me there was an overabundance of renin in my blood causing the high blood pressure.
He told me it was hereditary and that I should just take my medicine and accept it. This made me take the attitude that I couldn't really do anything about it, so why try?
Snack Girl: You lost 50 pounds because the cancer was in your tonsils and so it hurt to eat. When you could eat again, what was it that you wanted to eat?
John: Well quite honestly, it did a real number on my mentally too. I didn't really want to eat for several months. I would be OK with being hungry all the time. But I did eat eggs, mostly scrambled. They were easy to eat and helped me through while the sores in my mouth were healing.
Once I got over the mental block about eating, I would eat lots of juicy, non-dense foods, if that makes sense. I lost my taste for a while so I really had no interest in eating. Things that I did eat because I there was no other choice were, fruits, vegetables, soups, smoothies.
Foods that were out: All kinds of dense foods like meats, breads, potatoes, peanuts, anything crunchy and dry like any kind of chips.
Snack Girl: Why do you think it was so easy for you to give up processed foods with lots of salt and fat?
John: Here is where I feel like I got an easy way out. I never really had to fight the pull of the processed foods while trying to stop eating them.
Before my cancer, I ate lots of processed, convenience foods, salt, fats etc. When I was learning to eat again after my cancer, I ate juicier things like fruits, veggies etc.
Eventually, I ate the healthy stuff so much that the processed foods lost their hold on me. When my taste was coming back, I felt like a baby experiencing tastes for the first time again. I started to develop the taste for the healthy foods.
Snack Girl: You told me that your family is also healthier as a result of your diet choices. How did they come around to your way of eating?
John: My family eats well. My kids swore off fast food on their own (my wife and I did that a few years ago). They are actually grossed out by it. They have been in the cars with their friend’s families that stop at fast food and they actually say they don't want it. I'm really proud of them.
As a family we eat more home-cooked meals than ever before. Almost always, what we cook at home tastes better than most (and I stress most) restaurants anyway. We always push our kids to eat even healthier yet, but in reality I think they are going great.
Despite all this they still think I'm pretty extreme with my eating style. My wife and kids eat a lot of fish. I am a strict vegetarian, bordering on being a vegan. We all feel great too!!
Snack Girl: What would you say to your "40 pound heavier" self?
John: Wake up!! WAKE UP NOW!! Stop thinking you can get healthier and lose weight later. You've got to do it now. Your life depends on it.
We, as a nation, are not going to live as long as a lot of our parents did. The amount of processed foods out there compared to 20+ years ago is staggering, it is having an impact on our quality and length of life. If we were all honest with ourselves, I believe we'd all see it. It's not an easy realization or hold to break though. The companies who make these processed foods are counting on that.
Snack Girl: What is your favorite snack?
John: Hmm.... depends on the day. I can give a few... dates, apples, smoothies (more of a meal I know), fruit, sometimes a few nuts.
Thanks for sharing your story, John! You are inspiring and I know that many will relate to your shift.
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