Interview with a Teen Nutritarian: David
David is your typical, 14-year-old teenager that was severely addicted to the standard American diet. In fact, he was resistant to have anything to do with eating for health, even though his parents and siblings had embraced nutritarian eating and radically improved their health and quality of life because of it. However, on Father’s Day weekend this past summer David had a wake-up call; a frightening experience with dangerously high blood pressure and the telltale symptom of a TIA (transient ischemic attack); aka mini stroke. Today, six months later and 27 lbs lighter, he’s a changed person as a result of eating high-nutrient foods. Welcome to Disease Proof, David.
June August December
What was your life like before Father’s Day weekend?
My parents and siblings were nutritarians so there was always plenty of healthy food to eat, but I refused to eat it. At every chance I could get away from home I ate whatever junk food I could find, and without my mom knowing it I bought donuts, candy, and other stuff. Because I wouldn’t eat “Fuhrman food’ as I called it, my mom didn’t force me to eat it because my dad didn’t think she should; after all, I wasn’t a little kid anymore. My mom wouldn’t prepare junk food so I learned to cook my own meals. I ate frozen pizzas and lasagna, macaroni and cheese, pot pies, and all kids of frozen processed meals. Even with that, there were many foods that she wouldn’t buy for me like processed cereals, milk, cheese, and butter.
How did you feel?
I didn’t feel well most of the time. It was hard for me to move around because I was tired and would get out of breath easily, so I didn’t exercise. I was always thirsty, and I couldn’t breathe through my nose; it was always stuffy. Plus, because I was tired a lot I just slept whenever I could.
What was your wake-up call?
During a family crisis my mom requested no junk food be brought to our house. However, some thought nutritarian eating was extreme and felt sorry for me so they asked me for a list of my favorite foods anyway. It was great! I loved it because I could eat anything I wanted. A week later, in the middle of the night, the entire right side of my body, including my leg, arm, and jaw was numb and tingly, and I was very scared. I woke my parents up, and my mom took my blood pressure and it was 158 / 108. The next day she contacted Dr. Fuhrman, and according to my symptoms he said that I had experienced a TIA (transient ischemic attack) or mini stroke that happens before a major stroke*. Immediately, on Father’s Day, I became a nutritarian. Within a week my blood pressure came down to a healthy range, but for several weeks I was scared to fall asleep at night, because I was afraid of having a stroke during the night.
* Dr. Fuhrman states that “Thousands of teens have strokes each year and the number is on the rise. According to a recent article in the Journal of Neurology, strokes in children, teens, and young adults are increasing at an alarming rate in the U.S. Strokes in teenagers - like the one that led to the death of Miss Teen Hawaii, Sheryl Wolfe – or Frankie Muniz of “Malcolm in the Middle” who recently suffered a mini-stroke ( transient Ischemic attack) – are not as rare as people think, and the devastating consequences of strokes have caused rehab facilities and nursing homes to cater to this young population. As the American diet gets worse we see these diseases of nutritional ignorance occur at younger and younger ages. National hospital discharge data from 42 states were examined in children, teens and young adults, comparing the rate of stroke in these groups from 1995-1996 to 2007-2008. The rate of strokes in young people was increasing before 1995, but in the ten years since then stroke hospitalization rate increased another 35 percent.”
How do you feel now?
I have a lot more energy. I’ve lost 27 lbs so far and my blood pressures are consistently around 113 / 72. I no longer have numbness or tingly feelings, and the best thing is I’m not afraid of falling asleep and having a stroke in the middle of the night. I’m no longer thirsty all the time, tired, or have shortness of breath, and because of that I like to run, workout at the Y, and lift weights. Plus, I can now breathe through my nose for the first time that I can ever remember; I always had a stuffy nose. According to a blood test in June I was pre-diabetic, and now with nutritarian eating I won’t have to worry about getting diabetes. I just feel better all over, and my mom says that I’m happier and not grumpy anymore.
What would you tell kids who love junk food and hate even the thought of eating healthy?
Try nutritarian eating all the way for just one week. Do it cold turkey, 100%; no cheating. After that week is over then re-assess your opinion and see if it changes. I gutted it out mentally for one week, and it was hard, but I knew it would be worth it to feel better and be healthier. Now I’m glad I did.
I still sometimes like eating junk food when I’m away from home, but I know nutritarian eating is healthier for me, and I always feel better when I stick to it.
What are your favorite foods now?
My favorite foods are tomatoes, cucumbers, Honey Crisp apples, green peppers, snap peas, sautéed onions, hummus, and my mom’s Oatmeal/Almond Bars.
Easy Oatmeal/Almond Bars
5-6 ripe bananas
4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2 cups raisins
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
2 cups unsalted sunflower seeds
2 cups chopped raw almonds
1 T. cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper. In a mixing bowl mash the bananas and then stir in remaining ingredients. Press mixture into the baking pan and bake for 40 min. Let cool. Cut into bars.
Congratulations David and keep up the great job!
image credit: bottom image by Yaro Photography