Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Never Stop Learning

I've been thinking lately about the need to surround myself in nutrition information in order to eat well. I ate a very unhealthy diet for nearly 40 years of my life and was only able to change it because I kept reading and reading until I found some nutritional truths that finally sunk in. You probably know that I esteem Dr. Furhman quite highly for my nutritional information and I first discovered his writings in a newsletter called "Healthy Times." There were articles written by several doctors, but Dr. Furhman's name showed up repeatedly. My eating wasn't anywhere close to what they were recommending, but I liked the whole concept of eating nutritious foods in order to have excellent health. I learned so much each time I read.

A friend loaned me about 20 of these newsletters and I'd read them every time I had a chance over a period of months. The more I read them, the better I ate. At first I was thinking things like "How could anyone live without dairy?" or "The last thing I could give up is milk." Then I'd read more and would wonder if that would help ME like it had helped others with allergies and asthma. I'd read about all the health-promoting phytonutrients in vegetables and would first think, "But I don't like vegetables!" Then I'd read more and would remember a few salads or soups I'd had that were good -- perhaps I could try eating more vegetables -- perhaps I could even center my diet around vegetables.

I continue to need to surround myself with sound nutritional information. I read the same books and articles over and over. Why? Do I forget? Well, kind of. I don't remember things nearly as well as I once did. But I think the bigger issue is that I have soooooooo many years of habits ground into my brain and body that I need to keep reminding my body of a healthier way. I also live in a world where most people don't value nutritional truths. They may say "I probably shouldn't be eating this" or "I know I need to eat more healthy foods," but more than anything I see people who simply don't care what they eat. They don't want to change and don't want to hear about the need to change. So the eating events I go to (and there are many) fall more in line with my previous eating habits and in order for me to step away from those, I need to feed my brain with good information.

I continually read Dr. Furhman's books. I re-read other nutrition books I have too. I grab the magazines at the dentist office that have articles about eating and usually end up seeing what they have right and where they need to learn more. I think some experts know the full picture of what's needed for health, but only state certain guidelines because they know that most people will only change so much and will give up or turn back before taking (what they think are) drastic measures.

My dad could have very easily had a heart attack on Christmas day. (I think I mentioned this a bit in an earlier post -- sorry!) He went to a cardiologist a few days before Christmas because he was feeling compression and was told an artery was 99% closed. 99%! Many people would hope to be so lucky to be in the doctor's office at that point instead of finding out afterwards of their problems. Anyway, when I saw my parents last weekend, my dad was thumbing through a Reader's Digest at my grandma's house and said, "These are the things they say you should eat for a healthy heart" and started reading them aloud. I added my editorials to a few of the foods listed (like olive oil -- better to eat an olive, walnuts, or flax seed than to add oil to your food). But overall, it would be an improvement to how my parents eat. I told him, "That's just what that one book you have says" (that my mom ordered for them a few years before). My mom nodded her head and mouthed, "But he discovered THIS on his own." My dad looked up and caught a glimpse of what was going on, but it hit me that most people do have to seek out the knowledge on their own to really be able to absorb it and use it to better their lives. I know I did. And I still do.

Businesses know that it's vital to spend a chunk of their money on advertisement because we will be influenced by what we see. It's much like our family does with reading the scriptures. We know when we're reading them daily, we feel closer to God and the way he would have us live. If you want to improve your eating, continue to surround yourself with good nutritional information. Let it marinate in your mind a bit until it really sinks in and becomes a part of you. Do it over and over throughout your life in order to align yourself with healthier habits.

The best books on eating I've read so far are Dr. Fuhrman's Eat for Health books. Eat to Live comes in a close second. I also like Dr. Andrew Weil's books. I used to get his newsletter. (I like Dr. Furhman's newsletter better though). Dr. Mehmet Oz has good information too, but I think he's one who holds back a bit for the public interest. He wrote the foreward to Dr. Fuhrman's Eat to Live book. That made me think if Dr. Oz understood Dr. Fuhrman's information and agreed with it, why he didn't write a similar book -- why he advises or allows some foods on his program that aren't that great for your body. But it's fun to read and compare -- to learn as I go.

You can also browse websites, watch experts on YouTube or read my old posts on my blog. I'm trying to figure out how to list my posts by subject so you can find them easier. I've added labels to them all, but can't find the way to get them on my side bar. If you know how, let me know. There are also come great podcasts online that interview authors of these books or experts in the field. You can listen to them on your computer while you work. One I used to listen to often was RawVeganRadio.com . There's some conflicting information out there in the raw food world, but some are excellent. I particularly liked the podcasts from Victoria Boutenko (I need to write a whole post about her to explain her background -- her whole family went raw after coming to America and adopting our ways of eating and our severe health problems that go with it) and John Robbins (heir to Baskin-Robbins, but turned it down once he learned what ice cream does to our bodies).

I've got to stop writing. I'm teaching yoga to some friends in 25 minutes and it will take me 15 minutes to get there. I guess I don't get to shower first. I just want to end by saying I didn't write this to preach and tell you to do exactly what I'm doing. I wrote it to show you that if you're struggling with eating better, just surround yourself with good information and you'll eventually eat healthier than you ever thought possible. TTFN!

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