I’m visiting with my Dad while he’s receiving dialysis, and I look around the room at the 20-or-so other patients having their blood cleaned, and wonder what our collective state of health has come to.
There’s a Maya Angelou quote that I love: “When you know better, you do better.” But what happens when you know better, but you still don’t do better?
Take my Dad, for example. He’s been told that the more he follows his low-sodium diet, the less fluid build-up he’ll experience, and, as a result, the less trauma his body will be put through by having that fluid removed by a machine. But he still wants that hamburger.
Being extremely hard of hearing, and with several health issues, he often feels at the mercy of others. I believe food is one of the few places where he can still feel in charge — a role he’s been used to his whole life.
He gets pretty agitated if anyone in the family tells him what he should and shouldn’t eat. He knows his restrictions, he just chooses to not always adhere to them. He knows better, but he doesn’t always do better. He is, after all, human.
With the more educated we, as a society, are about proper nutrition and clean eating, you’d think our average health status would be much better. But that’s not the case. Obesity levels continue to rise, food-related illnesses continue to skyrocket (allergies, diabetes, etc)., and the pharmaceutical industry (statins, etc) is booming.
Sure, some will say that eating healthy is too expensive. While that is a sad reality in our world right now, it’s up to us to let our voices be heard by how we spend our money. So while buying everything on your shopping list from the organic section may break the bank, you can begin introducing less toxic food into your kitchen by picking and choosing where you invest your grocery dollars.
This year’s “dirty dozen” – meaning the produce with the highest amounts of pesticide – are: apples, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, grapes, celery, spinach, sweet bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes.
Consider choosing the organic option of as many of those as possible to start with. Add that to choosing only grass-fed beef and humanely-treated pork and chicken, and you’ll have made huge strides on improving your health. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather pay the farmer now than the doctor later. (Click to tweet!)
Then there’s the issue of emotional eating — a large cause of not doing better, health-wise, even when you know better. If we’re truly hungry, any food will do. If we’re craving a particular food, there’s often an emotion at play. Using that as a general rule of thumb can help you to identify when you’re eating from your head instead of your body.
As for those of us who love and care for my Dad, it’s important that we strike a balance between encouraging him to do better and respecting his choice to periodically not. It’ll save us all, Dad included, a lot of aggravation, and allow us to spend more time enjoying each other’s company.
Here’s your challenge for this week:
Identify the area of your life, food-related or not, where you know better but aren’t doing better. Then, schedule one 25-minute Pomodoro round to free-write or journal about that area of your life and the choices you are and aren’t making. You might be surprised by what the resistant part of you has to say. In doing this, try to be loving as you excavate some truths. Be kind and compassionate so your wise self will feel safe to share again in the future.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this. Please join the conversation below.
Until next week, keep taking those small steps to Live Out Loud.