Here’s a little food for thought, or more appropriately, a little thought for food. “Contrary to the popular notion that ‘ignorance is bliss,’ where your health is concerned, ignorance can be costly at best and deadly at worst.” — Jordan Rubin
Do you give consideration to the foods you eat in order to live a healthy, and therefore likely longer, life? Or do you first satisfy your cravings and give in to the demands of your taste buds at the expense of your health? Perhaps the bigger question is: can you not have it both ways? The more I read in The Maker’s Diet by Jordan Rubin, the more I believe you can, but it requires a bit of knowledge, discipline, and willingness to change. Just think of this triad as a delicious pre-fixe meal, and prepare to dig in.
The First Course: Knowledge
I have but little knowledge to share myself. Luckily, I have resources and the smarts to use them. Below are a few excerpts from The Maker’s Diet, Chapter 3, “Life and Death in a Long Hollow Tube: The Importance of the GI Tract” that will arm you with some surprising information on digestion, guaranteed to make you think twice about what you feed your body.
Dr. C. Everett Koop, former U.S. Surgeon General, indicated two out of three Americans suffer fatal health problems because of poor dietary choices. That means their problems are centered in their “gut”.
According to scriptures common to the Judeo-Christian tradition, the “bowels,” or the “belly,” are described as the seat of the emotions.
Fully one-half of your nerve cells are located in the gut, so your capacity for feeling and for emotional expression depends primarily on the gut (and only to a lesser extent on your brain). …There are more nerve cells in the overall digestive system than there are in the peripheral nervous system. …It seems the gut is equipped to be your body’s anxiety and pain reliever!
Serotonin makes you feel good. It is crucial for emotional health and balance, and it directly affects the well-being and function of your digestive system. [Drugs like Prozac or similar antidepressants] “divert” serotonin from the body to the brain. Unfortunately, this leaves less serotonin for the cells of the gastrointestinal tract.
Sleep may very well be the single most important ingredient for digestive health.
Autointoxication occurs when, due to poor elimination, certain toxins escape from the bowel into the blood stream and poison the body, causing a silent form of self-poisoning. …This explains why it is good to eliminate waste daily rather than have it languish for days in the digestive tract, generating potentially harmful toxins all the while.
The Second Course: Discipline
Now that you’ve had a little appetizer of digestive health facts, it’s time for the main course. If you’ve ever dieted before, you know it involves sacrifice of more than just your favorite foods; it requires planning, preparation, and commitment. Until you were willing to put in the time–the time it takes to pack your lunch, or research a restaurant’s menu before choosing to dine there, or add an exercise routine to your already busy life–you probably had little success.
I believe that everything comes down to choice. We choose to hide behind the excuse of “I’m too busy” or we suck it up and make time for the things that matter. We choose to sacrifice that greasy hamburger (okay, for me, it’s a bowl–or two–of potato chips) for the feeling of waking up lean, or we give ourselves an “out” and treat ourselves to a cheating session. We choose to be faithful or we dishonor our spouse. We choose to love or hate. We choose to extol or put down. We choose to persevere or quit. I’ve caught myself saying “I had to…” or “I had no choice but to…” on a few occasions and do my best to immediately correct my sentence with, “I chose…” Often, it completely changes the way I feel about my decision when I take ownership.
Discipline is a choice.
Do I make the wrong choices sometimes? Sure. More than I’d like to admit. But typically, I own them as my choices, learn from them, and move on. I try not to place the blame on others (notice I said try) and certainly not to feel entitled to anything I haven’t earned. As for my health choices, they are changing. I’m buying more organic foods. I’m introducing more green, leafy vegetables like kale and more fresh fruits into my diet. And yes, I’ve avoided Taco Bell–my old stomping ground and guilty pleasure–like the plague. Am I feeling better physically? Of course. More importantly, I am learning to eat to live so that I’ll be around to live to eat for a lot longer. And that takes discipline.
The Third Course: Willingness to Change
We’ve already covered this. I snuck in the dessert during the main course like my mom used to sneak lima beans into her homemade vegetable soup hoping I wouldn’t notice. Change is nothing more than a choice. Having a master’s degree in change management, I get it. People are naturally resistant to change. Think you’re the only one? Hardly. Read “Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson, M.D.; change is hard for everyone. But isn’t that what life is about? Life is just a series of choices made, and the consequences–good and bad–that follow. Choose to educate yourself as to how your diet affects every aspect of your health. Choose to discipline yourself to adhere to the choices you make. Choose to change your diet, and you will grant yourself the ability to live to eat.
The Maker’s Diet, Jordan S. Rubin, Copyright 2004, 2005 by Jordan S. Rubin, Published by Siloam, A Strang Company, Chapter 3.