I’d like to talk about something that upsets me very deeply. This isn’t an upper-kinda-topic, but I think it’s an important one to talk about.
It makes me almost uncontrollably angry to see people wasting their lives through unhealthy habits when they either a) know better, or b) have the resources to learn better.
Let me go back to where I think this all started:
My dad died when I was 19 from liver cirrhosis caused by alcoholism. Growing up with an addict in your home is a whole different topic for a different day, but the 7 years since his death reconciling what coulda, woulda, shoulda happened is I think what drives me to take such control over my life.
What irks me the most is knowing full-well what his body did to try to survive what he was doing to it, and how he wouldn’t allow it (or himself, mentally/emotionally) to heal. This should be a crime because believe it or not, our bodies WANT to heal. He paid the ultimate price for it, of course, and it’s not that I don’t miss him—on the contrary, I miss him terribly and don’t understand how somebody so ridiculously intelligent (and knowledgeable about the human body!) could knowingly destroy himself.
Here’s the thing, though: we are all probably guilty of doing the same, but because we don’t have a perceived addiction or sometimes label our health problems as “diseases” or even “genetic,” we are absolved of what it is WE did to bring it on.
I’m speaking in particular of our obesity and diabetes epidemic (they go hand in hand, and often doctors refer to it as the “diabesity” epidemic), something that is completely an utterly controllable—genetics be damned.
Look, it’s not that I don’t understand being in a position of cluelessness in terms of how to change one’s condition. But, you have to start somewhere… even if your starting point is out in left field, because at least you’re DOING SOMETHING (active, not passive!).
The truth is, I perceive my dad’s demise through alcoholism no differently than I perceive the diabesity epidemic, which leads to a myriad of other health problems. If you’ve had a heart attack, it is likely that it is more the fault of your habits than it is a genetic predisposition—this is because we can effectively turn on and off our genetic expressions. Mark Hyman speaks of this in his book The Blood Sugar Solution (I’ll speak more about this later, and the challenge I’ll take in the book starting in a few weeks), and details that we can heal our bodies through our food (actually not a foreign or new concept), and conversely, destroy our bodies with what we eat.
I know that not everyone knows this and it is not fair to be angry at those who are simply ignorant. But, with the internet and easy access to all types of information (good, bad, and in between), you can easily find your way to several resources that can at least make you think. And, it’s no secret that processed foods (read: sugar), are no good for us. What is lesser known, is that the FDA doesn’t put forth the best information and isn’t funded properly to do so (or is funded by large companies with very specific interests, none of which are to promote good health and nutrition). But just because you don’t like a fact, doesn’t mean that it’s not a fact… even if you can’t imagine living without this food or that. You will live. And most likely, live better.
The thing is, at the end of the day, someone may live to their 90s without ever examining their diet closely, never eating a vegetable, and subsisting on red meat and bread and sugar… it is possible; the issue lies in the quality of life, and the burden that our society (or just your family) has to carry in order to take care of people who are ailing who, frankly, don’t have to be.
Side Note: In terms of America’s shitty health care, this is an even bigger problem, simply because those who need help don’t have access to it. I don’t have health care and haven’t had consistent health care insurance since I was 20, but since then I’ve overhauled my diet significantly and have only gone to the doctor twice in 6 years. For those of you doing the math here, even with health insurance, buying more produce, less to eventually no meat, and purchasing organically and locally whenever possible has cost me hundreds—maybe even thousands—less than consistently going to the doctor and paying a copay each time. Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. — Hippocrates, father of medicine, 431 B.C. (This dude knew a hell of a lot, and in 431 B.C.E.–that’s before common era, ya’ll!)
Anyway, I take it extremely personally (which is a waste of energy, in a lot of ways), when people say to me “Yeah, I would eat like that but I figure: it’s my life and I’ve only got one, so I’m just gonna eat whatever the hell I want.” Okay. Never mind what that does to the earth’s resources (let’s talk carbon footprint of our food, shall we?), but that’s not very good logic, especially when you factor in the whole QUALITY of life issue that we’ve already talked about.
On a purely selfish level, if I have to watch a friend or family member die again from something COMPLETELY and utterly preventable just because you HAD to have a steak dinner multiple times a week or Twinkies are your favorite snack of all time, then I’ll be eternally heartbroken—and it’s all your fault. It’s suicide. My dad’s death was a slow, nasty suicide, and he knew EXACTLY what he was doing. I’m well aware that there are emotional catalysts (emotional eater, party of 1 right here!), but particularly if you are lucky enough to exist in this time period (which I assume you are if you’re reading this…), and in a 1st world country (chances are you do live in one if you’re reading this also), then you have the resources to live better! It can be as simple as speaking to someone. I can’t tell you how many times word of mouth has increased my health awareness. AND that “self-help” section of the bookstore may be great fodder for jokes, but it is also great material for those who want help, and kudos for seeking it yourSELF.
No, it’s not healthy to just sit back and say, “I’m fat, and it’s all my fault,” and have that be that. That was my dad’s mentality, and he never had any hope that he could get better, nor did he believe he deserved it; but for all those who love you and who will miss you when you’re gone, it is deserved (and there’s ALWAYS at least one person who DOES love you, should you be doubtful).
Just acknowledge that you need to change. Don’t choose to be ignorant. If you know you need to change, just do it. It’ll hurt a lot less than dialysis (I’m assuming).
PS, this whole album is just incredible. One of the best albums to come out in AT LEAST the last 10 years.
For more of your listening pleasure: