Sometimes people object to eating organic, grass-fed, free-range or Paleo, giving up sugar, carbs, and caffeine, and to living environmentally friendly, because it is too expensive, it is too hard, it is too time consuming, it is inconvenient, they don’t have any support, etc., etc. Other complaints that I hear are that you can’t eat healthy if you’re living in the real world, or if you have a family, a real job, or what’s the point because we are surrounded by toxins anyhow. The list of excuses can go on and on.
For the most part, I see these types of statements as a cop out. The real issue in many cases is that a lot of people are just not willing to make the changes that are necessary to improve or protect their health, because change is difficult and uncomfortable. The truth of the matter is that they do not want to quit eating the unhealthy foods that they are eating; so they are looking for a short cut or an easy way out. They would like to eliminate the negative symptoms, health conditions and consequences they are experiencing without having to make any effort or changes. And/Or, they don’t have their priorities straight and are not willing to give anything up or do the work needed to get them in order. Ironically, many of the people who make the most noise about the cost of healthy food are people who have enough money to cover the cost with ease.
Just Give Me a Pill
Many people would rather take a pill (natural or pharmaceutical) than change their diet and lifestyle. When I tell people that the most important component for improving their health regardless of what health condition they are facing is the diet, the most common response I get is, “isn’t there something I can take.” Improving and maintaining mental and physical health is mostly about getting rid of food, toxins, and lifestyle habits that impair health; and less about something you take. You cannot fix a poor diet or toxic lifestyle with nutritional supplements. If you don’t change your diet and lifestyle, then you might as well through your supplements away, because they will do little good.
Swapping Good for Bad
Yes, real and healthy food and using environmentally friendly products are somewhat more expensive than sugar, grains, legumes, and other processed junk food or toxic household goods. However, if you add up all the money that is spent on things like alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, soft drinks, juices, coffee (espresso, lattes), chips, candy, pizza, pretzels, cakes, cookies, ice cream, cereals, pasta, bread, pastries, burrito wraps, whole grains, legumes, chocolate, air fresheners, disinfectants and other junk food and toxins that you will be eliminating, it all equals out in the end.
When you are eating as you should, your grocery list will consist of nothing but red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, low starch vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds and possibly some butter, ghee and heavy cream. You will be replacing the bad food with the good food and it doesn’t take as much good food to fill you up as it does bad food, so you aren’t really buying anything extra. Yes, the organic, grass-fed, cage-free, and hormone-free versions that you should be purchasing are more expensive than their counterparts, but again, since you have eliminated a very long list of unhealthy foods from your shopping list, this should make financial room for the healthier versions. Your shopping list is likely to be less expensive.
Additionally, one can make more money available for their food choices if they reduce the money that they spend on other non-essential items and activities in their life like entertainment, electronics, clothes, shoes, eating out, vacations, jewelry, fitness memberships and other clubs, etc. You can easily go without a few extra electronic gadgets and you can get by with one pair of shoes and less outfits, take a local vacation, reduce the frequency in which you eat out, go to the movies, dance clubs, etc. and get your exercise by taking a daily walk and a few push ups and squats in the back yard, and this will provide you with an abundance of extra money.
Cost vs Benefit
Furthermore, when you take into account the fact that most of the chronic health conditions we see in society today are a direct result of eating the wrong diet and being exposed to toxins,(like heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, cancer, obesity, depression, anxiety disorders, attention deficit, hyperactivity, violence, addiction, autoimmune disorders, insomnia, adrenal disorders, Candida overgrowth and other microbes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurological disorders and more), then you will also be saving money in the long run by reducing doctor visits, prescriptions, supplements, hospital stays, missed work days, etc. that would be needed to address these issues.
Yes, eating a healthy Paleo diet is also somewhat more time consuming and takes more planning and preparation. But, like most things in life, anything worth having takes work. You must make the time, go the extra mile and put in a little extra work if you want to have better mental and physical health. The old “you get what you pay for” analogy comes into play here. Additionally, you can make meal planning and preparation a family event and enjoy the quality time together that comes with making a home cooked meal; something most families could use more of that used to be valued, but has been lost along the way.
It really all boils down to one word – “Priorities”
The food that you put in your body should be your number one priority in life. Period. It should not be open for negotiation. Because none of this other stuff is going to matter if you lose your brain function, are too sick to enjoy your life, earn a living and meet your commitments or dead, which is where a poor diet and toxins always leads ultimately. Take all the energy you are investing in excuses and resistance and turn it into a passionate pursuit for healthy eating and living.
If you are not willing to buy organic, grass-fed, Paleo, green living products, give up the sugar, carbs, and caffeine, and invest the extra time and effort into meal planning and preparation, then you are going to pay the price eventually in symptoms, deterioration in health, doctor visits, nutritional supplements, prescriptions, pain and suffering, and maybe even premature loss of life. You are going to pay one way or another at some point. So why not pay for better food and less toxins and invest a little extra time in yourself now and have a better quality of life currently and in the future, and increase your life expectancy in the process.
The changes in diet that your health condition has demanded you to make will promote optimal physical, mental and spiritual health all around and it also provides protection from other more serious health conditions like heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurological disorders, autoimmune disorders, and much more. So, it is a long-term investment in your mental and physical health that is well worth your time, money and effort. You are much better off for being forced to change your diet.
What other intervention, remedy, or treatment approach can offer this much? I don’t know of any. Talk about getting the most bang for your buck. As a matter of fact, changing your diet and your lifestyle are really two of the most cost-effective health care remedies or treatments that can be used regardless of which health condition you are addressing. People are willing to spend thousands of dollars and endless hours on things like nutritional supplements, lab tests, the latest techniques, and going from one practitioner to another, but object to spending that money and time on meal preparation with sugar-free, organic, grass-fed, and free-range grocery products and green living. This doesn’t make sense.
The Gift of Awareness
You have been given a gift by learning the truth about the powerful impact that diet and toxins can have on your mental and physical health. Many people do not ever come in contact with this information, because it is not widely disseminated through the media or mainstream physicians. They don’t know any better and many will suffer great consequences. If you eat poorly because you don’t know any better, that is a completely different story. No one can fault you for that. If you are 18, 19 or 20 some years old, then we may cut you a little slack as well, because you are not in a place developmentally to fully appreciate the ramifications of your actions. But, if you are a mature adult living in a developed country and you have been given the facts and you know better, but you refuse to take action; or you turn a blind eye to the truth you have witnessed and go on as if nothing happened, then this inexcusable. It is reckless and irresponsible behavior. Recognize and appreciate the gift of awareness you have been given and use it to your full advantage.
No, it is not possible to avoid all the environmental toxins that can negatively affect our health, because they are so pervasive. But, that doesn’t mean that we should just throw in the towel. At the very least, you can significantly reduce your exposures, which can dramatically improve your mental and physical health and protect you from more serious conditions in the future. Furthermore, when you feed your body and mind the right foods, then it is more capable of dealing with the toxins that you do come in contact with.
Yes, having emotional support is important for any life change and you should make an effort to bring some like minded people into your life, but if you don’t have them, you can’t use that as an excuse not to make the necessary changes. People making the right choices in diet and lifestyle are far and few between, so you are not likely to find the support system that you desire in your local neighborhood. You must learn to stand strong on your own two feet in the face of sugar, grains, carbs, caffeine, etc. and that is achieved with practice and action; moving forward in spite of discomfort, fear, difficulty and uncertainty. Nobody can do this for you. You must march to the beat of your own drum. Not only that, you must value your drum. Be proud that you have a different drum.
Part of being a mature and responsible adult is that we make choices that are good for us even if they are not easy, comfortable or popular. We learn to delay instant gratification in exchange for the greater good and the bigger picture. Yes, change is difficult and uncomfortable, but it is a temporary state. Once you get through the transition, the worse is over and then you will reap the many benefits that are to be found in a healthier diet and lifestyle and this will motivate you to move forward. Yes, you will struggle to make the change, but that is a natural and normal part of the process. Struggling to change and finding excuses not to change are two very different things. I’m also not talking about an occasional slip, those are also a normal part of the process. Instead of putting all your energy and focus on the reasons you can’t change, put that energy and focus on what you can do that will enable you to make the change.
Given all the benefits that one can derive from simply changing the foods that they consume and the way they live, it just doesn’t make sense that anyone would say no or be resistant to making these changes. It really is a no brainer. When you look at the negative effects that the wrong foods have on our physical and mental health you wonder how anyone would even consider choosing the unhealthy foods. I mean if you say out loud it sounds absurd.
Develop a New Mindset
You must develop some self-discipline and divorce yourself from this destructive mindset pervading in our society that everything should be quick, easy, comfortable and convenient. We have become an addicted, self-indulgent society that values and encourages extravagant excess, gluttonous behavior, short-cuts and easy way outs. We are intolerant of discomfort, seek instant gratification in everything that we do and don’t want to invest much effort to make it happen and don’t take responsibility for our own lives.
To some extent, we can blame human nature. In The Primal Blueprint, Mark Sisson explains that “we have programmed into our genes a desire to manipulate and rule our environment for our benefit – to pursue a more advanced more comfortable life.” This programming has helped us achieve amazing things, but we have gone to far. We became too smart for our own good and the cost of all this comfort and convenience is our mental and physical health.
We must now recognize that our pursuit of comfort and convenience has become self-defeating and will literally lead to our demise as a species if we do not make changes. Due to our nutrient-depleted diet and toxic environment, the human brain is getting smaller; we seem to be de-evolving rather than evolving; our education system is failing; our society is permeated with addiction, violence and madness; mental health disorders are skyrocketing; our children are highly medicated, not sufficiently educated, and dealing with diseases that used to affect only the elderly; much of the population is obese and/or dealing with a serious health condition like heart disease or cancer; our economy is in the toilet; and our planet itself is endangered and all that is only the half of it. To top it all off, for the first time in recorded history, children being born in this day and age have a shorter life-expectancy than those who came before them.
It is painfully clear that we must go back to what worked for millions of years, which means eating and living in a manner that resembles our pre-agriculture ancestors. In the book Grain Brain, Dr. David Perlmutter states, “the truth is that we are living a life that’s not suited to what were genetically supposed to do. The diseases we see nowadays are largely brought on by our lifestyle not being in harmony with our genetic predisposition.”
Additionally, it’s important to become aware that the way you think is largely influenced by the foods that you eat. A mind that is being fed sugar, grains, caffeine, carbs, unhealthy fats, grain-fed meat and poultry that is pumped with hormones and antibiotics, is not thinking clearly and rationally in regard to what is best for you; it will be drawn to more of the same. Your neurons are not making strong and healthy connections. The food manufacturers are well aware of this and they design their foods with just the right proportions of fat, sugar and salt, and other mind-altering chemicals so that they can manipulate the neurotransmitters in your brain to compel you to eat their foods and keep buying more. They are literally controlling your thoughts and actions. Don’t give them this power over you. Excessive cynicism and pessimism are largely the result of impaired brain chemistry caused by a poor diet and environmental toxins.
You must make your brain do some things it doesn’t want to do to get the ball rolling in the right direction. Once you get the bad foods out and the good foods in, your brain will begin to work better and then making good choices will become easier. But, in the beginning, you may need to think of it as an unruly child that needs to be guided in the right direction. With kindness, but firmness.
I Did It and So Can You
When I first began my healthy eating journey more than 25 years ago, I was on disability, raising a child as a single mother, and going to college full time on grants and student loans, and we lived at or below the poverty level for many years, and yet I found a way to buy organic food, eat healthy and live environmentally friendly. Eventually I built my own business, was able to get off disability and clawed my way to a higher income bracket, but I am still not financially wealthy by any means.
We had baseball practice and games, guitar lessons, science fairs, an internship and business meetings, etc. So our lives were full and busy. Yet we stayed committed to our diet and lifestyle with no problem, because it was the number one priority in my life. There was no life if I did not remain on the diet. I couldn’t be a mother, go to college, etc., if I did not eat properly and keep my living environment toxin free, because I would feel so awful I couldn’t function. Additionally, I was so grateful for the discoveries I had made about diet and toxins and blown away by the truth and positive impact it made on my life that going backwards was just never considered. It was inconceivable to me that I would disregard this information and throw away the gift that was given to me. I felt like I had been let in on one of the best kept secrets in the world and taking action on these discoveries became my greatest passion.
During those years, the changes I made in diet and lifestyle enabled me to overcome drug and alcohol addiction, clinical depression, disabling anxiety attacks, sugar and carb addiction and much more. It also enabled my child to improve his ADHD by about 90 percent and literally gave us a new and happier life and a higher quality relationship.
I share all of this with you to demonstrate that I am not expecting anyone to do anything that I haven’t gone through myself and if you truly want to change your diet and lifestyle there is nothing that can get in the way. I struggled, went without, and made sacrifices just like everyone else. Nothing was handed to me or came easily. I didn’t have a family or husband for support. I overcame incredible odds and did a lot of things I didn’t want to do. I worked hard to get where I am and this was achieved because I was willing to do whatever was required to reach the goal. And still do; maintaining any level of health is an ongoing journey and a lifelong commitment.
Design a Life That Supports Health
You must “design” a life that supports health. It doesn’t just happen on its own. As a matter of fact, everything about modern day life fosters poor health. In order to promote health, you must go against the grain in every area. If the life you are living does not allow for the changes you need to make for better health, then it’s time to change your life. For example, I designed my life so that I am my own boss and work from home. That means I can sleep in until my body is ready to get up without the unhealthy and stressful use of an alarm clock, I can take breaks when I want to, I am not dealing with the stress of being stuck in traffic for 2 or 3 hours a day, and I am not exposed to environmental toxins found in the common workplace. I also chose to move to a beautiful somewhat remote area in the desert where I am surrounded by nature at all times to have clean air and a quiet, peaceful and serene existence.
I made a series of good choices – always choosing health over convenience. I would have walked on broken glass or hot coals if that’s what it would have taken to feel better, and that is the mindset that you need to adopt.
Eating the right foods and healthy living isn’t just something you do. It’s something you become. You change your values and beliefs and live in line with them.
So, I’m sorry folks, I just have very little tolerance for excuses. If eating and living healthy is a priority in your life, you will find a way. If it isn’t a priority, then it should be, and it is time to re-evaluate your priorities and get them in correct order.
Love and respect yourself enough to provide your mind and body with a nourishing diet and lifestyle.