Friday, March 6, 2009

Nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels

I've seen that quote attributed to a few different nutrition or raw food experts. I'm not sure who said it first. But the idea is compelling. "Nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels." Do you agree with that statement?

Since I've changed my eating over the past few years, I've had many friends or relatives say "Well, I couldn't live without eating . . . " or "If I had as many health problems as you do, maybe I'd change how I eat, but . . . " I probably would have said similar things 5+ years ago. It's hard to give up certain foods that we love, even if we know they are doing our bodies damage. Often we don't even see the damage it's doing until it's too late. It's also hard to know what being healthy feels like when we get used to our ailments, even as simple as fatigue or headaches. When I'm feeling my best, I never need a nap and am full of energy all day long.

I haven't written on here for a few weeks because I've been really sick, sicker than I've ever been in my life. My children all took turns being sick for a few weeks and I cared for each one of them. I held off on being sick myself by eating the best I could and resting whenever I felt run down. Then Valentines Day hit and I thought I was doing well by eating "good" chocolate from the health food store, but I ate far too great of quantities to ever do my body any good. (First I bought my husband a big bar for Valentine's Day -- bought an extra for myself so I wouldn' steal from his after giving it to him. Not only did I eat mine before Valentine's Day, but I ate his too. Then I had to go back and buy him another -- bought myself another too -- ate that until I was sick of chocolate. It just didn't taste good anymore). I started getting sick the next day. I was in bed for 2 weeks not long afterwards, feeling absolutely miserable.

Lessons learned?

1) Too much of a seemingly good thing is still too much.

2) My health is fragile -- I need to be more careful.

3) Eating "healthier" versions of junk from the health food store still isn't as good for me as whole foods. Dr. Fuhrman talks about this in his Eat for Health book. He talks about how a nutritarian (someone who eats for nutritional excellence primarily from high nutrient plant foods) is different than a vegan or vegetarian. Many vegans or vegetarians are not much better off health-wise than those on the Standard American Diet if they are eating processed foods (soy products and cereals included), sugar and flour.

I remember a few summers ago when I went to a Raw Food Expo with my cousin (who wasn't even interested in being a raw foodist, but wanted to spend time with me and thought the event would be fun. She was cute -- she skipped a class mid-day to go eat an omelette across the street). I remember something she said to me in the hotel room the night before. She talked about a friend of hers who had decided to clean up her eating and to eat much healthier. Her friend started shopping at the health food store, but would come home with bags of junk food -- just the healthier versions. Sure, if you want a Ritz cracker, it's better to buy the Classic Rounds by Back to Nature or the Late July version. (They don't have any hydrogenated fat and use organic ingredients). But that shouldn't be the norm of what you eat. Those crackers provide little nutritional value. I saw myself in her statement. It wasn't uncommon for me to walk into the health food store to get some groceries and to come out with chocolate bars, a variety of Clif bars, potato chips, cookies, soy ice cream, etc. -- all very low on the nutrient density scale.

So, yes, I've gotten away from many refined foods. I'm still working on moderation with the health food versions too. I'd say I'm doing better than a year ago on this. But hopefully next year will be even better because I'd rather feel the full effects of good health than spend another day of my life sick. I'd love to say goodbye to my asthma problems forever. I've learned to avoid asthma much more than I used to, but once I get it, it gets severe pretty fast.

I'm still not completely better and I don't enjoy writing as much when I'm not feeling well for some reason. But I'm on my way back and I'm more determined now than ever to feed my body well and to give myself optimal health.

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