It’s hard to know where to start…what did I learn first? What would you want to know if you were just beginning to delve into your family’s health and eating habits? As Mia Angelo says, “If you know better, you do better.” So that is where I shall begin.
Knowledge can help us see the error of our ways and give us a compass to guide our journey through life. After all, the Earth is indeed round! Once you start that voyage to a healthy self, there is so much out there that it is hard to know what to believe.
I’m not going to tell you exactly what I believe is most healthy for you and exactly how many cups of raw, organic produce you should consume in a day. I am not an expert and what I think is really just my opinion, based on many other people’s opinions. Instead, I want to allow you to go on the journey, too. (Of course, if you have specific questions, I would be happy to tell you my opinion about it and why I have come to that particular conclusion….)
My knowledge gathering began in January 2012. My sister-in-law recommended that I watch a documentary called Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (available currently on Hulu, Netflix, iTunes and Amazon), which might possibly help with my chronically swollen knees. In this documentary, Joe Cross completes a 60 day juicing fast to help rid his body of toxins and help to reboot his system. He was suffering from a chronic autoimmune disease that caused his body to break out in a severe, painful rash, and he wondered if eliminating junk food and nourishing his body with fruits and vegetables would help him restore balance in his body. It was an eye opening film that led me to want to know more, and of course, to run to Costco and buy a juicer! So, we started juicing and making smoothies, using more produce in a week than had been in our kitchen in an entire month prior!
Some other documentaries that we watched over the next few months included: Food Matters, Forks Over Knives, King Corn, Food, Inc. and Super Size Me. While you can certainly say what you want about the bias of documentary film makers, watching these films should at least make you question the way that you are currently eating. Do you eat enough fruits and vegetables to reboot your system? Do you think twice when you buy meat at the supermarket? What does ‘organic’ really mean? What does fast-food do to my body? How does my food effect my mood and health?
Since I couldn’t rely entirely on film makers to direct my eating habits for the rest of my life, I had to see what some of the current medical literature was saying. My first read was Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. To me, this was the real game-changer. While the book is geared to helping people lose weight, it finally got the message across to me that we have to nourish our bodies with the food we put into them. The intention behind food is to replenish our bodies with the vitamins and minerals we need to live our lives. Somewhere along the way, we got so lost in the emotions around food, that we have forgotten to remember that we should eat to live, not live to eat! Dr. Fuhrman particularly questions the medical establishment’s food pyramid, designing one himself that is nearly reversed.
Other books followed on healing with foods, including:
The Ultramind Solution by Dr. Mark Hyman, MD – How to heal your “broken brain” by healing your body first.
Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD – The body, brain, gut connection and how to heal your gut to heal your body and brain. Emphasizes the roll of dairy and gluten in certain illnesses.
Spontaneous Healing by Dr. Andrew Weil, MD – How to discover and embrace your body’s natural ability to maintain and heal itself.
Next? Well, you could say that I became a convert. I had completely transformed my thinking regarding foods. I started to eat what I wanted to give my body, instead of what ‘sounded good’ at the time. I started to rethink what I fed my family and cut down on animal product meals. During this time, through process of elimination, I also discovered that I would get migraines whenever I would eat gluten. By eliminating it, my frequent headaches and sensitivity to light that I had developed went away. I also lost the hunger cravings and the afternoon sleepiness I had always experienced. I have since been ‘gluten-free’ and know, almost immediately, after I have eaten something containing gluten. What follows is a half-day “close your eyes and let the kids do whatever they want” kind of headache…
Recently, the book Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis, MD, caught my attention. Since I obviously have issues with wheat, I was interested to hear his take on why so many people are developing these allergies and why wheat is in so many of the foods that are sold on store shelves. He doesn’t hold back in giving his position on what he calls Frankenwheat, and how the wheat we eat today is barely the same wheat we ate just 50 years ago. On December 3, 2012, Dr. Davis appeared on The Dr. Oz Show in an episode called Are You Addicted to Wheat?, where he challenged Dr. Oz on his recommendation for Americans to eat lots of whole grains in their diets. As a result of reading his research, my family is now working to cut out wheat entirely, eating other grains periodically, including: brown rice and quinoa, and baking with teff, amaranth, buckwheat, almond flour, chia seeds, and flaxseed.
Now…..what can you learn from all of this information? It is up to you. There is research out there to support almost anything these days. You can eat only candy bars and probably lose weight over time, but I am done dealing with fad diets and eating plans. My family and I are on a path to living a healthy life and food is going to help keep us on that path. I wish the same for you and yours.