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My Health Journey and the Importance of Real Food

You know that very quotable movie from the 80's, The Princess Bride? One of the less hilarious lines from it, but one that I repeat all the time, is: "If you haven't got your health, you haven't got anything."

You only get one body, so you'd better take care of it. If you treat it like garbage, it's going to become just that. Garbage.

Like you, probably, I grew up eating junk food. I remember begging my dad to get me happy meals from McDonald's. I loved Little Debby snack cakes and Hostess chocolate cupcakes. We used margarine rather than butter, and pasteurized milk (which I was allergic to).

By my early 30's, I was getting sick constantly, I had no immune system. My teeth were soft. I had a sore throat that lasted for 10 years, no joke. I felt like I was dying. Eating a diet of processed food was not working for me. Leaky gut was my acute problem, but it had far reaching effects.

You are Free to Choose What You Eat, But You are Not Free to Choose How It Will Affect Your Body

If food tasted like what it does to your body, would you eat differently?

  • For instance, if candy tasted like arthritis, would you eat it?

The foods most Americans eat are filled with chemicals like artificial sweeteners, emulsifiers, preservatives, dyes, artificial flavors, refined sugars, and more. These chemicals are killing us, but we eat them either because they taste "good", or they are convenient.

Your body is an amazing creation capable of healing and overcoming much. But when you feed it a steady diet of poison, eventually, the poison will win.

Before you put that box of food in your shopping cart, stop and think about what it is going to do to you. Ask yourself if it's really worth it.

Personally, I will not accept the diseases that have become common in our society like diabetes, heart disease, obesity, arthritis, and so many more, just because I'm hungry and convenience food is easy. Or because it's sweet. (I almost typed, "or because it tastes good", but the reality is, that kind of food is no longer appealing to me. It actually grosses me out after years of not eating it.)

There is a direct correlation between what you eat and how healthy you are. Don't pretend that you can eat garbage and enjoy good health. That will not happen. It will catch up with you.

Read the Ingredients!

The flip side is, it is totally possible to have good health, even if you started life eating poorly! If you pay attention to what you eat starting now, you can still be healthy into your 70's and beyond.

Get in the habit of reading the ingredients lists of everything that you buy. If it has long lists of things that you can't pronounce, put it back. If you are tempted to buy it anyway, just imagine that it tastes like irritable bowel syndrome. Yuck.

Almost all whole foods are nourishing and not harmful. Make up your mind to only put whole food into your body. Worry less about how many grams of fat, protein, or carbs it has, and worry more about how clean its ingredients are.

It is impossible to make complete lists of every food that is good for you, or every food that is bad for you. But I am going to make abbreviated lists here as a starting place.

Good ingredients include:

  • raw milk, especially if it has been cultured into kefir or yogurt, or made into cheese

  • meat from animals raised on pasture

  • organic fruits and veggies

  • lard, butter, extra virgin olive oil

  • pasture raised eggs, including the yolks

  • raw honey and maple syrup

  • naturally leavened sourdough bread

  • fermented sauerkraut and kimchi

  • sea salt or himalayan salt

  • ginger, garlic, and herbs

  • a little bit of dark chocolate

If you are buying whole, fresh ingredients and cooking them into meals, then you are in a good place.

If you buy food that was made in a factory and comes ready to eat, or needs very little to be done to make it ready to eat, scrutinize those ingredients because in most cases, it is bad for you.

A good rule of thumb is that if you can't pronounce an ingredient, it should be avoided. Also, if it is not something that you can start with the raw ingredients from nature, and create it in your kitchen, you should avoid it.

Bad ingredients:

  • refined sugars including high fructose corn syrup

  • vegetable oils including soybean oil, corn oil, rapeseed oil, canola oil

  • anything listed "to preserve freshness", because those are preservatives

  • dyes, artificial flavors, and "natural flavors" which can include so many bad things

  • emulsifiers

  • artificial sweeteners, which are actually worse for you than refined sugars

  • msg

  • potassium bromate

These nasty food chemicals destroy your gut, which is the center of good health. They cause neurological diseases, tumors, diabetes, cancer, dementia and alzheimers, hormone imbalances, kidney disfunction, reproductive malfunction (including dangerous births for mothers and babies)... The list goes on and on. Is it worth it? Really??

Avoid these, too:

  • pasteurized milk and processed dairy foods

  • meat raised in a factory (which it was, if you don't know for sure that it was raised ON PASTURE, just being "cage free" or "free range" does not mean what it sounds like)

  • margarine

  • most foods that come in boxes

  • most breads and pastries from a grocery store

  • most sauces and dressings

Take Your Health into Your Own Hands

If you eat a steady diet of processed foods, no matter how regularly you go to your doctor, and how many medications they put you on, you are going to be falling apart by the time you reach middle age. Doctors and meds can't make up for what you eat every day.

I am happy to say that after about 10 years of eating a very clean, whole diet, I AM SO MUCH HEALTHIER. I may never achieve perfect health in this life, but I changed the course that I was on and even made good come backs.

A gift I gave to my kids was teaching them the importance of eating well.

I prioritize good food in my budget, because my health is important to me.

I wish that I had made these changes a long time before I did. As the saying goes, the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is today.

Start eating healthy today. You will be healthier tomorrow.

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