I was joking with a patient the other day, when asked about health and nutrition. She was asking for advice but maintaining that she always eats healthy. It came to me in a flash that we all believe that we eat healthy. Why would we purposely do anything to harm our body? I shared with her, that so did I, ever since I can remember having the freedom to choose my own food in 7th grade.
My “healthy” diet was Diet Coke for breakfast and a slice of pizza at the local pizza place for lunch. Of course, I had a mom who packed me a lunch everyday (THANKFULLY!!) that contained fruits and vegetables. But when left to my own choosing it was Diet Coke and Pizza. I lost almost 20 pounds from 6th Grade to 8th Grade. Retrospectively, I was going thru puberty and my hormones and my growth shed the extra pounds naturally, as it often does for teenage girls; but I attributed this to my new “healthy” diet.
This continued into High School where pizza was exchanged for McDonald’s or Hardee’s and still the Diet Coke remained a staple. No one was teaching us about nutrition; well, except for the one week unit in health class that reminded us to eat mostly grains and to add some fruits and vegetables for good measure. This is where I added in Ramen noodles with canned peas or corn for a “well rounded” meal.
Once I graduated and went off to college, I really had a handle on healthy eating. I followed the latest food “guidelines”. Any of you who experienced the 90’s as a young adult know what I am talking about: avoid fat at all costs, eat carbs, eat less and exercise more. I thankfully still enjoyed fruits and vegetables because this is what I was raised on (when my mom was in charged of feeding me). I followed this to the letter: pasta, canned corn, canned beans, meat of any kind on occasion (when I felt the need) and don’t forget the Snack Well Cookies – no fat and only 100 calories. Diet Coke still prevailed and now that I was “grown up”, add a splash of booze when needed! I ran and worked out all the time!! By my last year in school, I was down to an “acceptable” weight, after gaining the obligatory 15 pounds at the beginning of college. Again, thanks to my “healthy” lifestyle.
Out into the real world I went! A job, an apartment, a car, a new stereo and money I hadn’t had in college. Now I could go out for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This started to catch up to me and I naturally migrated back to cooking and adding in more whole food (thankfully) but still unconsciously.
It wasn’t until I was planning to get pregnant with my first child that I really started researching healthy eating. Not for me necessarily, but to give my baby the best start possible in life. I quit coffee cold turkey (what a miserable couple of weeks of headaches and nausea), I gave up Diet Coke and switched to the occasional “Real” Coke. I added more fruits and vegetables at every meal and started taking a multivitamin. This is were my journey really started, with my concern for the health of my daughters at the forefront and eventually for my own health.
Again, in retrospect, I am amazed that I emerged from that experience unaffected, or so I thought! It was just a few extra pounds, a little fatigue, and sprinkled with a bit (or a lot) of postpartum depression.
Then, over time, the real effects started to show up. The fatigue got worse; I didn’t have the energy to exercise so the weight remained a bit elevated. Then the sluggish thyroid turned into Hashimoto’s and finally the rheumatoid arthritis was revealed!!
I no longer focus on why this happened, other than to move me toward a healthier place. There is a whole world of epigenetics to explore. In a nutshell, this is looking at what external factors trigger modification of your gene expression. I just began to focus on what external factors I could control to modify this again.
The point of this story is that we need to reflect on what we believe to be healthy and what we could do to improve upon this. We are only able to welcome change if we first change our mindset. Once we allow this paradigm shift, change will begin.
The good news is that our bodies are amazingly designed to detoxify and excrete toxins.
“Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live.” ― Jim Rohn.
The bad news is that our bodies are not equipped to handle the sheer volume of modern environmental and other toxins we are exposed to today; and some of us are less equipped than others.
We have so many toxin exposures every single day!
COMMON TOXINS: Food toxins, air pollutants, water pollutants: pesticide residue, pharmaceuticals residue, hormone disruptors, nitrates from fertilizers, heavy metals (mercury from fish), GMOs from factory farmed animals, PCBs, dioxin from paper products and tampons, pesticides on non-organic produce, cleaning supplies, cosmetics and grooming products, plastics, detergents and soaps, carpet.
We should incorporate detox regularly, not just ONE AND DONE.
I have started looking at it like cleaning my house. I like to keep up on the mess and the laundry to prevent it from building up, but every month or two I need to do a cleanse and clean up and clear out the things that are cluttering up and interfering with my space. Sometimes this gets away from me and it will be 6 months or a year before I address some of these things. This is a direct parallel to our bodies. We will do ourselves a wonderful service by cleaning up our diet and eliminating as many toxins as possible, but we still need to neutralize and clear out the toxins that have gotten in.
Questions to Ponder:
- Where am I at today?
- What can I do right now?
- Will I allow myself to be paralyzed by fear?
- Will I allow this to empower me to seek solutions?
Where do I start?