When we were growing up, my 3 brothers and I ate horribly!
For breakfast, some of our favorites were:
- Lucky Charms or Captain Crunch cereal with whole cow’s milk
- “Instant breakfast” with whole milk (and often with ice cream for some “extra healthy” protein and calcium)
- Fried Bacon with barbecue sauce
- Dad’s famous Omelets -always with lots of butter, cheese and whatever sauces or leftovers he could find in the fridge…
For Lunch it was:
- Bologna or ham and cheese sandwiches on Wonder Bread
- Corn or potato chips with sour cream dip
- Tuna salad sandwiches with extra mayo
And dinner was always centered around some type of beef, chicken or pork (or if we were really lucky, a frozen Banquet Chicken, Turkey or Beef Pot Pie) plus a token vegetable and a big glass of whole milk.
Candy, Kool-Aid, ice cream and cookies were frequent desserts or snacks—Easter and Halloween were two of our favorite holidays!
Our favorite restaurant was McDonald’s for 2 double cheeseburgers, a large fry and a vanilla malt– and then of course Baskin-Robbins across the parking lot for a double scoop dessert cone!
Thanks to the amazing adaptability and resilience of our young human bodies we survived… but not without consequences. One brother suffered from recurrent ear infections and chronic tonsillitis requiring repeated antibiotics and eventually a tonsillectomy. Another brother suffered with recurrent constipation; and I had a hand rash called “dyshidrotic eczema” that caused severe peeling and cracking on my palms and fingers; as well as severe facial acne forcing me to borrow my girlfriend’s makeup to cover my pimples before heading over for my high school senior portrait.
In retrospect, it was quite amazing that we survived-- and yet the sad reality is that we actually ate better than many of our friends… To be clear, I am not blaming our parents for all of this. It was the 60s and fast, convenient processed food plus lots of animal protein to “grow up big and strong” were just the accepted norms for nutritional excellence. Our parents were simply taught wrong about how to eat and how to feed us. They actually thought we were eating quite healthy! I remember at one point my dad, who was a doctor, said to my brother: “if you’re not going to eat the whole cheeseburger at least take out the meat and eat it-- that’s your protein and the most important part if you want to grow up strong!”
One thing that helped us survive and thrive was our mutual desire to live and enjoy life to the fullest. We loved skiing, boating, hiking, traveling and adventuring out at our cottage on the lake or up north at our family cabin on the river. By 1977, when I was 21, all 4 of us were reading and learning all we could about health and vitality in order to support ourselves in our quest for vitality. By year’s end all 4 of us had become vegetarian. Our parents were a bit shocked at first, but they grew to accept this new reality -- and even started enjoying at least a few more veggie foods themselves. My skin conditions resolved, and the more I learned about health and nutrition, the more I committed to dedicate my career as a Family Physician to help others learn and appreciate the critical importance of whole food plant-based nutrition to stay free from chronic disease, avoid the need for medications and experience life to the fullest with all the vitality, stamina and endurance that come from providing our amazing bodies and minds with optimum real human foods.
Thank You Paul Chatlin for all that you do in your similar quest -- and for providing me with this new monthly forum to share what I have experienced and learned over these past 40 years as a “Plant Based Family Doc”. And to all of our PBNSG followers I also say a Huge Thank You!—Together we are inspiring our communities with a message of Hope, Empowerment and Vitality. Let’s spread new levels of Great Health Far and Wide!
Join me Next Month for: “From Vegetarian to Vegan in 1985…”