While most kids spent their summers mowing yards for a couple bucks, I spent my summers walking around with a box of tissues in my hand. Growing up, I was so deathly allergic to grass that not only were my eyes and nose streaming from Spring to Fall, but I would break out in hives just from touching the edge of a green lawn. Dogs and cats were both pets I dreamed of having while I stood at a safe distance—second only to grass were my allergies to pets. Even a flea bite, if that flea had previously dined on canine or feline fare—would leave me with a huge welt the size of a silver dollar.
My family was poor, but that didn’t stop my mother from trying to feed us as healthy as she knew how. Ground beef, whole wheat pasta, and skim milk were the staples of my early teen years. I grew to hate how I looked—like a man who was somehow nine months pregnant, somehow skinny yet with a huge belly—and dropped out of high school because I couldn’t think, couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t remember a fact after I turned the textbook page. Most of my day-to-day thoughts were centered around trying to breathe.
Fast forward over a decade to when I discovered I had Celiac Disease. This discovery resolved many mysteries, like why I looked pregnant, couldn’t think clearly, and had constant aches and pains. But it also opened up a rabbit hole of curiosity into which I happily fell.
For many years after my diagnosis of Celiac Disease I ate the typical gluten-free diet, happily replacing the glutened-filled pizzas and hamburgers and other junk food I often ate with their equally toxic but gluten-free equivalents. I lost inflammation, but not weight. My stomach changed shape but didn’t shrink as I put on pounds and pounds of fat. I could now think more clearly, but felt constantly lethargic. The sniffles, watery eyes, sneezing, and hives from pollens and pets continued unabated.
But it was my curiosity that ultimately saved me. I wasn’t content with the simplistic explanation of “avoid gluten and you’ll be fine” as I clearly was not fine! I was both better and sicker, just in different ways than before.
One day, standing in the shower (don’t we all sometimes have our best thoughts in the shower?) in March of 2013, I recalled an article I’d read which explained gluten was merely one of many proteins produced by wheat, barley, and rye. Oats, too, except nobody knew that back then. And what did wheat, barley, and rye all have in common? They’re all grasses. Whoa, I remember thinking. And what am I deathly allergic to? Grass. I’ve been eating it, breathing it in, getting it on my skin for half a lifetime. It all suddenly made a kind of sense.
I went looking for what a “grass free” diet would be, and almost immediately discovered the paleo diet. Now, you might be expecting me to now exclaim how it cured all my woes and I became a healthy, vibrant human being overnight—but no, years of accumulated damage don’t disappear instantly.
It was only after eating paleo mostly consistently for a year (hey, I’m only human after all) that my health really turned around. But along the way I discovered that it’s a lot of work—I mean, a LOT of work—to frequently and consistently shop for whole food ingredients, prepare them, cook them, store them, and eat them as compared to picking up the phone and ordering pizza. Don’t get me wrong, I love nothing more than a flame-grilled steak with roasted asparagus, but nobody will ever claim that food is less work than a hamburger from McDonalds.
Fortunately for me, I found Pete’s Paleo. By the time I did, I had tried a number of other paleo delivery places and all had various fatal drawbacks. One only shipped frozen food, which reheated into often unappetizing meals. Another had an extremely fixed menu, which I grew sick of within a few weeks. A third couldn’t keep their quality consistent and I gave up on them after one bone shard too many appeared in their food.
But Pete’s Paleo was a breath of fresh air. Aside from the taste, which is simply worthy of a Michelin Star, it is delivered fresh and the menu consistently changes with the seasons. No longer did I dread sinking half my weekend into shopping and meal prepping; no, now I’d excitedly get my week of amazing food handed to me every Friday by the delivery man.
This freed my time and energy to pursue the next level of health, above and beyond being merely free of my grass allergies. I’d figured out I was allergic to casein in milk back when I’d first become a paleo diet adherent, but after really sticking with Pete’s Paleo for about two years I lost over 100 lbs of weight and got into bodybuilding. And along the way I made the delightful discovery that I was also no longer allergic to animals, and was able to adopt a cat! His name is Pixel, and he’s been my fur baby and steadfast companion through plenty of life’s adventures, including job losses and a divorce.
But throughout it all, having Pete’s Paleo has made the biggest difference, as knowing I have a fridge full of nutritious, delicious, and safe food to eat makes every day a lot brighter. I’m in my forties now, and the healthiest I’ve ever been. I’m continuing to eat right and workout every day as I move towards competing on stage in men’s physique—and you better believe the meal I have right before, and the meals I eagerly eat right after the competition will be from Pete’s!