Thursday, June 13, 2013

Life without bacon

Did you eat bacon for breakfast? 

If you are into paleo, chances are pretty good the answer is "yes!" Paleo people love their bacon. And why wouldn't they? Bacon is delicious. At least that is how I remember it ... I actually haven't tasted in bacon in almost eight years. Or is it nine? I can't even remember.

Earlier this week I posted a list of the foods my paleo toddler eats, and I happened to mention that we are pork- and shellfish-free household. That sparked the question "why no pork or shellfish?" I've been contemplating writing this post for two whole years, because life without bacon is a very important part of our family's journey. I suppose it is time to finally share this information.

The story is long so I may or may not break it up into two parts. I'll just have to see where it takes me. Also, please keep in mind that this is what works for us. I am in no way suggesting that everyone give up bacon or that bacon is not paleo. Like I said yesterday, use your common sense and decide what works for you. What works for us is no bacon. Or shellfish.

So anyway, here is the story ...

My husband Carl has had some extremely significant and very scary health issues throughout his life, including ulcerative colitis and primary sclerosing cholangitis. I think we had been married less than two years when he hit a really, really bad point with the UC. Tons of weight loss, medical leave from work, hospital stays, etc. It was stressful and we often felt desperate, trying to figure out what to do. Nothing helped. At times he would sort of bounce back, but it was always lingering.

If you've had serious health issues, you'll probably relate to what I am about to say. People always want to help, so it seems like every time you turn around someone has some advice for you. Read this book, take this supplement, see this doctor. After a while, it gets tiring. Especially when you feel like you've tried everything already. We reached this point not longer after we tried the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (which failed to help him). We just didn't want any more advice. We were done trying everything under the sun.

That's when a friend walked up to us at church and handed us a book called The Maker's Diet. Like so many other books of this nature, it claimed to have the secret to health, longevity and relief from disease/pain. Except the diet this book recommend was supposedly the one God himself designed for us. Um, OK.

We just smiled, thanked her and took the book home. I tucked it away on a shelf to collect dust, with no intention of reading it. Ever. Except that a couple of weeks later I was bored. I saw the book on the shelf, picked it up and started reading. At first, it seemed ridiculous.

But then, I got to a section of the book that discussed clean and unclean animals. The author quoted God's dietary laws (in the book of Leviticus) and explained how He gave us a very specific list of foods we should eat and foods we should not eat. The part that explained why we aren't supposed to eat these foods. I was intrigued, and it started to make sense. Over the course of a few days, I read the entire book and told Carl about what I was learning. We believe that the Bible is God's word and true to the core, so how could we overlook this stuff? We couldn't, so we decided to eliminate pork and shellfish from our diets. Just as an experiment. Some of the other things the book recommended still seemed like a joke to me, so we tossed them aside (ironically, I know better now) but the bacon in our fridge and the shrimp in our freezer immediately went into the trash can.

Well, guess what happened? Two weeks later, Carl's UC symptoms were gone. GONE. Not even just better. Totally gone. He had a colonoscopy a few months later, and his doctor said it looked like he had never even had UC. And all of these years later, he's still doing great. He'll always have some ups and downs ... that is just the nature of a colon that has experienced years of torture. But in terms of flare-ups, they seem to be thing of the past. This one little change helped him more than anything else he has ever tried. We'll never go back to eating bacon again.

So, did we eat a ton of bacon before? Was he just suffering from bacon overload? No, not all all! We liked Hawaiian pizza, and we liked to eat crab dipped in butter. We ate bacon when we went out to breakfast and I had a thing for shrimp salad, but it was not an all-the-time thing for us. That is part of the reason it was so amazing to me ... it seems like the small amount of pork and shellfish he was consuming at the time just wrecked havoc on his system. Of course, for many years I questioned whether it was the elimination of these foods that healed him or something different altogether ... like an act of faith/obedience to God (I know this isn't going to resonate with all of you, and that is cool -- just please respect my right to state my beliefs)? Now, I know it is a bit of both.

And with that, I think I'll conclude this post. This really just scratches the surfaces of the whole bacon thing, to be honest. It started out as a way to heal Carl's health but has turned into so much more. So, I might write more about it later on. Or maybe not. Meanwhile, please let me know if you have any specific questions on the topic. I'm also curious as to whether anyone out there has had a similar experience. Anyone??!


  1. I've been following your blog for about 10 months. Since that time, I have been working on eating Paleo. It is truly not easy and some what depressing when one fails. But, my whole life I have been following the Biblical diet outlined in Leviticus. My father, when he was a young pastor in training, came to the conclusion the the Old Testament laws were not done away with. He came to this conclusion based off of many verses but the one that comes to mind is Rom. 3:31. So, I was very encouraged to read this post. My husband has only recently started eating Biblical foods and he noticed that a lot of his fatigue and anxiety went away when he stopped eating Pork especially. God really knew what he was talking about!

    1. Thank you for your comment. I so agree, God knows what he's talking about. So far the pork and shellfish are the only dietary restrictions we have purposely chosen to follow for Biblical reasons, but we have been starting to look into it even further. I agree with your dad about the laws. :-)

  2. This post is so interesting to me; as you know, I was raised Jewish, with all of the accompanying dietary restrictions. Yet in adulthood, one of the parts of my religion that I felt wasn't meaningful to me was following the laws of kashruth. I came to the conclusion that the laws were outdated and irrelevant; written for a time when hygiene and food storage was different, and people were mainly illiterate (so the rules had to be very broad and easy for everyone to follow). But perhaps there is still value to these ideas. I would be super curious to read more about Carl's and your experiences. Also, have you come across anything in the scientific/nutrition literature about specific problems with pork or shellfish, as they relate to the human body?

    1. Thanks, Carli! I will definitely expand on this further at some point. I do believe Carl came across some scientific/nutrition literature early on, but I cannot remember exactly what it was. If he remembers I will let you know. Maybe if I have time I will sleuth it out.

  3. I love reading other paleo- Christians. For some reason, we are the minority out there! I haven't looked much into the pork/shellfish thing, but I've never enjoyed pork. I did eat a bit of real bacon when we first went paleo (because for the first time ever I could stomach it) and my kids enjoy it here and there, but it's never been a biggie for us. Shrimp will be hard for me to part with. . . I've looked at the Makers Diet many times but have yet to pick it up. . . guess it's my next read. It's amazing to hear about your husbands healing and I don't doubt that faith and following God had a part in his healing!

    1. Thank you! There is definitely some stuff in the Maker's Diet that doesn't work for me and honestly does not seem all the biblical. And now, the author has a line of raw vegan supplements and all sorts of other products, so it is totally a proceed with caution thing. I am so glad we found this information though. And yes, it does seem like it is pretty rare to find paleo Christians ... although as paleo gets to be more mainstream this is changing. Unfortunately, I think poor eating habits are a real problem in many church circles.


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