I have to say that I have pondered this question occasionally over the course of the past 2 1/2 years. The title I chose is paraphrased after the name of a country song from one of my favorite artists, but it fits accordingly. I don’t obsess over it or anything but it crosses my mind, though not for the reasons that you might think.
You see… 2+ years ago I switched to eating in a way that is completely contrary to all popular health, media, medical and government recommendations. I abruptly stopped consuming healthy whole – and not so whole – grains (all 11 servings per day) and most legumes and incorporated a ton more vegetables – Some of these were varieties that I had never even heard of before and others that I’d previously disliked that now are quite delectable. Almost everything is organic or locally grown. Additionally, 2 years ago I let go of dairy and all of its touted calcium and Vitamin D (okay, not all… I have the occasional ice cream, but it is a rare treat). I have kept my meat, fish & eggs but have switched over almost entirely to grass-fed, pasture-raised and wild-caught versions. I did give up soda after the prodding from my then 3 year old (possibly the hardest thing I have ever had to do… “not my Diet Pepsi”). I have various fruits and do enjoy my ultra-dark chocolate as a dessert.
Do you see now why I am concerned? If you listen to the popular media I am on a path to my grave. This way of eating was ranked dead last (again) when compared with every other popular diet imaginable. Worse than Nutrisystem or Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and Slim Fast… SLIM FAST? Even Atkins, with all of its processed meats and fats. Worst of course is that I am not following the recommendations from the USDA My Plate – the Uber-researched scientifically based recommendations that are in no way influenced by the meat and dairy industry and grain producers, as well as countless other lobbyists – NOT!
Who would ever imagine that eating an entire diet based on non-processed, organic, plant-heavy meals with meat from naturally-raised animals and the elimination of major contributors to leaky gut, inflammation, insulin resistance and food sensitivities could be so unhealthy? I certainly did not. I did my research and I made changes based on this. How could a way of eating that is based on our evolution and genetics be so bad?
Well, since I am so certain that I have done the right thing, why would I be concerned about dropping dead? It’s not really about the fear of dying. We all have to go sometime. I hope to either go out in a ball of fire or die in my sleep. Both would be perfectly fine with me. It’s the whole chronic, degenerative, slowly deteriorating death that really scares the heck out of me. That’s how my father went out. I don’t want to be begging to die for my last several years.
You see, the real problem for me is the last 43 years of my life. Those years that I spent consuming the “Standard American Diet”, the “Western Diet”, the “Western Civilization Diet”. It goes by many names. It’s that way of eating that is based on processed foods, industrial seed oils, grains, low-fat dairy and a paucity of quality vegetables (like the stringy lettuce and tomato on my fast-food cheeseburger). These diets, of course, are a way of eating. They are not those fancy weight loss plans. I have tried several of those as well (South Beach, Body-For-Life) but they are all based on the foundation of the same way of eating.
So, if I dropped dead today (which I am truly hoping is not the case), my concern would not be that I am dead. My real concern is what others would think: “He died because of all of that meat and fat that he ate. What was he thinking?“. Hopefully it would be with a pat of grass-fed butter and chicken liver smattered on my face. No one would focus on the previous 4 decades when I was eating the equivalent of pro-inflammatory sludge, slowly moving toward my demise. Clearly that would have nothing to do with it. I would hate for there to be a misrepresentation of how I really died.
For the record: I feel better now than I did when I was 30. I have more energy, more stamina, more strength and less aches and pains. I suffer from less headaches, less bathroom issues and sleep better than I did when I was a teen.
Let’s be clear, there are many reasons for me to drop dead at any moment, regardless of diet. Stress, for one. I am writing this post as I sit in the emergency department on a night shift – completely disrupting my circadian rhythm, messing with my cortisol levels and contributing to insulin resistance. One thing that I have going for me is that I now eat truly “cleaner” than I ever have in my entire life. I am still a work in progress. There are things that are just beyond my control, unless I am willing to give up a lot. I am not. That’s just not happening at this moment in my life.
If by chance I happen to drop dead of some non-traumatic event, in what is apparently a natural occurrence, it is not from my food choices over the past 2 1/2 years, I assure you. I encourage more people to focus on proper eating and lifestyle changes and the sooner the changes are made the better. It would be best for all of us if this weren’t even an issue.