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Saturday, February 2nd, 2013
2 years, 2 months.
Having kept off the 25 pounds I lost in 2009, it’s weird to look back and see a “beefier” version of myself.
That picture you see is from September 2008; just a few months after Mommy and I got married; back in the days before I had to change my lifestyle to combat and eventually get rid of my dyshidrotic eczema.
Those were the days before I ate actual fruit; instead I was drinking fruit juice, which increased my intake of processed sugar and stripped the fruit of its crucial fiber content.
Those were the days I was still drinking low-fat milk, which actually promotes weight gain; instead of exclusively drinking whole milk like our family does now. (I tested this out on myself and documented it online for any doubting Thomases.)
I wasn’t drinking 3 liters of water a day to help wash out the toxins I’m exposed to on a daily basis.
I wasn’t taking walks during my breaks at work or finding some other way to be physically active for at least 25 minutes a day, minimum.
I was eating more than 4 to 6 ounces of meat a day; which slowed down my digestion.
Only a few people said anything about it to me, back in 2009: “Hey, you’ve gained some weight since getting married, haven’t you?”
But as a guy, I wasn’t really concerned about gaining weight. Honestly, I wouldn’t have changed anything if it weren’t for the constant headaches, digestion problems, rashes all over my body, noticeable acne, and blistered, swollen hands.
It wasn’t until I lost 25 pounds and got down to the proper weight, that my health problems seemed to just magically disappear.
If I could narrow it down to one main thing I started doing differently that made the biggest difference in improving my health, and as a side effect, losing excess weight, it was that I started doing everything I could to avoid processed foods.
In other words, I stopped counting calories and started reading ingredients.
Most popular diet programs seem to be based on the idea that once you run out of your calories for the day, you have to stop eating. That means that it’s okay to eat a fast food burger, fries, and a soda for lunch, but you may not be able to “afford” a healthy banana with dinner.
Interestingly, our family never counts calories, nor do we refrain from eating when we’re hungry. The secret is, there are a lot of ingredients we won’t eat.
When we’re buying groceries, the first thing we look for on the front of the package is “No artificial flavors, artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, or high fructose corn syrup.”
All of those ingredients make the product a red flag for it being a highly processed food.
That would explain why finding a good yogurt brand for you is a bit problematic. I’ll be writing to you about that tomorrow…
We also check out the daily percentage for the sugar content and sodium content, which explains why we avoid granola bars and soup.
Another red flag is any food that has the word “diet” or “light” in it. We just say no to mysterious chemicals.
While a diet soda doesn’t contain the sugar content a normal soda does, if nothing else, it distracts us from the drinking enough water for the day.
Why are we not constantly craving foods full of fat and sugar? Why are we not constantly hungry?
Here’s the secret: We capitalize on the good fats, good proteins, and good sugars.
Good fats and proteins include nuts, avocados, seeds and minimally processed dairy products; as opposed to consuming more than 4 to 6 ounces of meat per day, depending on body weight.
Good sugars include whole fruits and whole grains; as opposed to sweet tea, soft drinks, sugary coffees, cake, candy, and white bread.
Because we build our snacks and meals around the good foods, not their evil counterparts, we are able to give our bodies the natural nutrients they need and crave.
This is the life you were born into, Jack. You have Mommy and I as parents. As you get older, it may seem we are depriving you of the good stuff.
Just remember, we learned when you were an infant that you have inherited the eczema from me. So if we don’t keep you on the straight and narrow, it will lead to a life of pain, discomfort, and frustration for you.
We live this way because we care about you.
P.S. I’m not a doctor or nutritionist, nor do I have a product or program to sell here. I am just a dad who happened to learn this stuff through trial and error; using myself as a Guinea pig.
Everything I have shared with you today was simply what I taught myself from the process of trying to figure out the cure to eczema.
Again, I have been eczema-free since 2009. I am very eager and willing to respond with any other readers of this letter who have more questions about anything I have mentioned here today or want to learn about more additional ways to cure eczema.
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Wednesday, July 11th, 2012
“Jewish?” asks my son Jack every Saturday and Sunday morning. His pronunciation of the word “juice” is still a little off.
Be glad you’re not my kid. In the economy of food at our house, juice is just one notch down from holy and sanctified.
When can Jack have juice? Only on the weekends, in the kitchen. And it’s 100% organic juice, which we water down greatly.
(He can drink a little bit of juice when he’s sick, like right now.)
Why am I so weird about my letting my kid drink juice? At least it’s not soda, right? Or some sugary, food-dyed cocktail.
People across the world and throughout time have wondered why we’re all here; as in, what’s the meaning of life?
Similarly, everyday thousands of people are looking for an answer to help get rid of their kid’s eczema.
Well, I have an answer.
For nearly a decade, I suffered from excruciating eczema; in particular, dyshidrosis.
Mine is completely in remission now, but only because I radically changed my diet and lifestyle. About three years ago when I starting experimenting with ways to get my “Freddy Krueger hands” to stop oozing, I discovered that if I stopped drinking juice for a couple of days, my skin condition improved.
So I stopped drinking juice all together.
While my son may look nothing like me, he did inherit my sensitive skin condition and he is prone to eczema.
And sure enough, if he drinks more than one serving of juice for more than one day in a row, the back of his neck and his thighs break out.
This didn’t happen just one time. It happens every time. In fact, I’m pretty sure his eczema will bad tomorrow with how much juice I’ve let him drink since he got sick a few days ago.
But why does 100% organic juice make eczema worse?
Because it’s a processed food.
The vitamin-packed juice of the fruit is separated from the healthy fiber of the fruit. Together, the juice and fiber digest properly in our bodies.
But apart, it’s messin’ with nature and stuff.
That’s why we feed Jack actual fruits and veggies, even if we have to puree them and mix them together. So he gets all the nutrition he needs from the whole fruit or veggie.
And that’s why he thinks prunes and broccoli taste good.
Jack’s dentist, Dr. Snodgrass, even warns against giving kids juice regularly, in his brochures. The high consistency of sugar in juice, especially when the child sleeps with a sippy cup full of juice, can lead to cavities.
This is taken from the guidelines of The American Academy of Pediatrics in regards to the subject:
- Babies and toddlers should not drink fruit juice at bedtime.
- For children ages 1 to 6, intake of fruit juice should be limited to 4 to 6 ounces per day (about a half to three-quarters of a cup).
- Drinking too much juice can lead to poor nutrition, diarrhea, gas, abdominal pain, bloating, and tooth decay.
- All children should be encouraged to eat whole fruits.
So am I really that weird after all when it comes to being extremely conservative about my kid drinking juice?
I invite you to read a blog by Lisa Leake, who is not okay with juice either. Her blog is 100 Days of Real Food.
Here’s what she had to say today on her Facebook wall:
“A few readers have asked what my kids drink besides milk and water…and I hate to say it, but the answer is not much! They occasionally have juice (which is usually store-bought 1-ingredient organic apple juice) and by occasional I mean 1 – 2 cups per week on average and it’s diluted with water.”
The way I see it, a kid drinking juice is like an adult drinking alcohol. It is to be consumed in moderation.
So that’s how it’s treated in our house:
Juice is “baby booze.”
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eczema, food, fruit juice, Health, healthy, kids drinking juice, parenting, toddler, vegetarian | Categories:
Health, Must Read, The Dadabase
Thursday, December 1st, 2011
Because my son Jack decided to take on the rare and formerly forgotten genes of his Norwegian great-grandfather on my wife’s side, it is pretty much expected now when people meet him that they half-jokingly respond with some form of, “Are you sure he’s your kid?”
Trust me; my wife and I both have almost wondered if there was some kind of mix-up at the hospital, but we know we never took our eyes of him the entire time we were there. Yes, we actually had to convince ourselves!
My kid is the poster child for what foreigners think the typical American kid should look like: Blonde hair, blue eyes, and porcelain skin. (I learned this back when I was a teacher in Thailand; I was once confused for another teacher who had these traits.)
So while everyday I try to squint hard enough to see how he resembles me at all, I keep in mind that not all of the traits he takes on present themselves in the form of physical resemblance. In fact, all I had to do was grab a pen and a yellow sticky note to come up with 5 ways my son reminds me of myself:
1) He loves being outside; getting deep in thought. When Jack gets antsy, I simply take him for a walk. I carry him in my arms around the neighborhood. He loves to feel the wind on his face. When I take him on these walks of solitude, he gets quiet and just takes it all in. So do I.
2) He thrives on meeting new people. Jack never meets a stranger. Last weekend we went to my new favorite restaurant in Nashville, an authentic Italian place called PortaVia. As we were waiting on our food, we let him walk around to nearby tables. Everyone who saw him pop into their frame just laughed with adoration, as if a cute little cartoon puppy had just appeared.
3) He gets angry when he’s hungry or needs a nap. Don’t try to make him laugh. Just feed him or get that kid a nap. He’s hard-wired just like me in those ways. My wife and I are always prepared with a bag of Cheerios and the new Red Hot Chili Peppers album for either event.
4) He can never eat enough bananas or pasta. Jack refuses to eat meat; mainly dining on some form of whole wheat grains or a banana. It’s almost eery how we both have the same food staples in our diets. The truth is, I’m actually a vegetarian who just hasn’t come out of the closet yet. (More on that in days to come…) Jack, however, is more confident in his identity.
5) He has very sensitive skin. Just like me, neither his soap nor shampoo can contain sodium laurel sulfate- we break out in rashes if we use the normal stuff. And I’m sure that just like me, the same thing would happen if he ate shellfish or too much sugar. Jack inherited the eczema gene through our Mexican bloodline.
Yes, the outdoors-loving, people-person, angry-when-he’s-hungry-or-sleepy, pasta addicted, Burt’s-Bees-soap-using kid is my son. Just remember, though, he is the white sheep of the family.
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Saturday, August 27th, 2011
It’s weird, but true: There are more non-Jewish Americans who are kosher-abiding than those who are actually Jewish. Last October, a book by Sue Fishkoff came out that I would love to read. It’s called Kosher Nation and it explains why America has gone kosher. Fishkoff shares:
“More than 11.2 million Americans regularly buy kosher food, 13 percent of the adult consumer population… There are about six million Jews in this country. Even if they all bought only kosher food, which is not the case, they would not be enough to sustain such growth. In fact, just 14 percent of consumers who regularly buy kosher food do so because they follow the rules of kashrut. That means at least 86 percent of the nation’s 11.2 million kosher consumers are not religious Jews.”
My wife and I, along with our nine-month old son, are among that 86 percent. We are not Jewish, or even Seventh Day Adventists (who also do not consume pork or shellfish). But we are adamant about our kosher diet.
So is it a religious thing for us at all? Not really, but sort of. We just kind of stumbled into it.
Through the Mexican bloodline in my family, I have adopted eczema- a vicious skin disease. My mom has it on her neck. One of my uncles has it on his knuckles. And I had it on the palms of my hands; in particular, I had dyshidrosis, where tiny clear blisters form, then pop, and dry out the skin- basically burning it.
For several years during my 20′s, I had what I call “Freddy Kruger hands.” It was embarrassing, overpowering, and even depressing to live with. I was desperate to figure out what exactly it was and more importantly, how to cure the “incurable” disease.
And so began my journey into the world of natural cures and holistic living.
My skin problems peaked shortly after getting married. My wife and I took our honeymoon in New England, eating pretty much nothing but shrimp, scallops, and lobster the entire time. It was good eatin’.
When the week ended, I got back and realized that my entire body had broken out. I found myself in a cloud of despairing depression for no good reason.
I learned that the bottom-feeder shellfish that I consumed were full of heavy metals, including nickel. On top of that, my tungsten wedding ring also contained slightly toxic metals.
Eventually, I remembered that somewhere in the Old Testament of the Bible (Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14) God instructed the Jews not to eat certain animals. I was always under the misconception that those food laws were simply there for a certain group of people to show their obedience to God. Now I realize that those random food laws were God’s way of helping people to know what foods to eat- even as a way of avoiding cancer and disease.
By not eating the animals that are lowest on the food chain, along with all carnivores, the human body is exposed to much less toxins.
And the whole thing about not mixing dairy products with meat? Simply put, that combination prevents food from digesting through the body too slowly. Otherwise, the undigested food remains in the body for too long, potentially causing health problems.
Needless to say, as I converted to a kosher diet, my eczema gradually disappeared; as a side effect, I also lost 25 pounds in the process. So I became inspired to invent The Shell Diet, which is basically the kosher version Mediterranean Food Pyramid.
And that’s how we became a kosher, Gentile family.
Granted, I’m not saying it was an easy transition. It’s still tempting to smell crispy bacon that a co-worker is heating up in the microave or dine at a seafood restaurant where I lust for buttery scallops. But for me, it had to be all or nothing. Anything was worth getting rid of my eczema.
Even for our son, it’s not necessarily easy to keep him kosher. For example, most infants’ pain relievers contain Red Dye 40, which is derived from petroleum; while others may contain Crimson Lake, which is made from scale insects. (The only insect permitted to eat by kosher law is the locust.) When I was a kid, I had a lot of stomach problems, as well as, anxiety attacks- that is, until my parents stopped allowing me to have foods with red dye in them.
It’s strange that I would become the least bit of an expert on being kosher; especially for the fact that I don’t really have any Jewish friends.
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bacon, Bible, diet, eczema, food dye, Gentile, Health, Jewish, kashrut, kosher, Kosher Nation, Mediterranean food pyramid, Mexican, Nashville, New England, Red Dye 40, seafood, shellfish | Categories:
Deep Thoughts, Health, Must Read, People, Storytelling
Friday, August 19th, 2011
I consider myself a “good movie connoisseur.” Because I know the criteria for what makes for a good movie, I have cleverly avoided dozens of lame movies during my lifetime. If I’m going to invest 90 minutes or more of my life to a movie, it better be worth it.
When I watch a movie, it’s not simply a passive event. For me, it’s a deeply involved event where I am eager to mentally bookmark subtle symbolism, look for nostalgic familiarity, and decide what deep message about life the movie is trying to convey. A few prime examples of flawless movies that fit this criteria are Garden State, (500) Days of Summer, Away We Go and Sideways.
Combine my passion for good movies with my love for writing and that means it’s only natural for me to see different stages of my life as their own movie in which I am the narrator. Never has my life been more of its own movie since I found out I was going to be a dad. Since April 2009, my life really has been documented on a nearly daily basis, as it pertains to parenthood.
I view this Dadabase of my life as a movie and I imagine how that movie would play out.
As far as who would play me, I have to think back to all the actors that people have told me I remind them of. Coincidentally, my doppledangers all happen to be Jewish and right around the same frame and height (5′ 9″) as me: Paul Rudd, David Arquette, Don Adams/Inspector Gadget, Bronson Pinchot (played Balki on “Perfect Strangers,”) Shia LaBeouf, and brothers Fred and Ben Savage. But I would ultimately cast the role to Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the best overall and most relevant fit.
Whereas I evidently resemble a plethora of 5’9″ Jewish actors, I can’t say that my wife has an obvious look-alike. But in the likeness of how Richard Gere and Julia Roberts, as well as, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, have co-starred in multiple movies, I would cast Zooey Deschanel as my wife; reuniting the main characters of (500) Days of Summer. (Pictured below.)
Think of how every recent comic book-turned-movie starts out; as the opening credits are super-imposed over pages of the actual comic book. For The Dadabase movie, “Sheep Go to Heaven” by Cake would play as the opening song, as you would see just my hands typing on a MacBook; overshadowed by actual shots of older blogs I have written.
This opening scene would span from April 2009 (when I first decided that I officially wanted to “become a writer”) until a year later (when we found out we were going to have a baby). It was during that time that I was trying to find my niche, as a writer. I tried specializing in health blogs (I found the cure for eczema, being healed of my own); writing a series on manhood and marriage, recaps of The Bachelor, and even a series which questioned why marijuana is an illegal drug, from the perspective of a guy who has never himself used it, but believes it should be legalized.
But it wasn’t until I decided to become the first guy in history to regularly and publicly document my thoughts as a dad, starting from the moment my wife and I went public with the pregnancy, that my writings gained a broad and consistent following.
That idea itself would be the whole “point” of the movie: that I found my purpose and my niche, simply by becoming a dad.
All the hundreds of blog posts I had written (nearly 500) before fatherhood had simply prepared me to find my voice as a writer and as a dude.
The Dadabase movie would include several subplots, like the move to Alabama, but ultimately, it would sort of be like The Social Network meets Marley and Me meets Mr. Belvedere.
Oh, and here’s one of my favorite parts about planning this imaginary movie: the movie poster. A story I never shared before on The Dadabase is that when my son Jack was a newborn and my wife and I were unemployed, at the house all day with him, when my wife was asleep I often found myself in the predicament of a full bladder but little time or opportunity to relieve myself because my arms were literally full as I held my son.
So I learned that I was able to carefully hold him in one arm while taking care of business with the other. Therefore, the movie poster would simply show Joseph Gordon-Levitt from the back, in front of a toilet, holding a baby who is watching the water splash down below.
The Dadabase. The movie. Coming Fall 2012.
(Or easily, never.)
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500 Days of Summer, blogs, daddy blog, eczema, fatherhood, Garden States, Jewish, marijuana, marriage, movies, parenthood, pregnancy | Categories:
Deep Thoughts, Home Life, Nostalgia, Recaps, Storytelling, The Dadabase, Writing