I had an unexpected realisation today. A friend has been taken ill and it struck me that a pretty good detox would probably handle much of the issue. This person is a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy who has only lately begun to eat a few vegies. He’s dealing with a case of severe inflammation.
A mutual friend asked me what I’d recommend for him, and while I’m no health practitioner, I know from experience the cleansing effects of a plant-based diet - and getting those old offenders out, at least for a period. (I.e. meat, dairy, sugar and soft drinks, alcohol, coffee, refined carbohydrates…)
My friend exclaimed that she couldn’t see said person on a diet like that - much too restrictive. And it struck me that the heavy, toxic diet many partake in - i.e. the offenders listed above - is a form of self-harming. The irony is that it’s unconscious.
Most people who cut or burn themselves seem to be quite aware that they are doing so to ease their pain. It’s a conscious choice, albeit a harmful one. But people who overeat and indulge in nutrient-poor, calorie-rich foods like the list above are eating that way because it’s the way they eat and so does everyone else and stop making such a big deal about it!
What they don’t consider is the damage they are doing to their bodies, and the years they are stripping from their lives. For some reason it’s okay for us to abuse ourselves when we can’t see the damage, but not okay to self-harm when the effects are visible. Okay, that’s not entirely true: we do see the effects of weight gain and various other ills but the body provides us with such a generous margin for error that we can abuse ourselves via a poor diet for years and years before the cracks begin to show.
Little details like those few extra pounds and stiffness and pain are things we can turn a blind eye to because right now our soft drink and meat and ice cream tastes good. If each troublesome food caused a burn or cut on the back of our hand - like the ones Harry Potter experiences when his evil teacher Dolores Umbridge punishes him - we might pay more attention.
I get it. I’ve got my own weaknesses: a recurring rash on my shin, for instance, that often has me scratching reactively, which naturally makes it worse. It’s effectively the same dynamic. Seems easy to me for people to change their diets to more life-enhancing plant-based ones but I daresay it’s just as difficult as me resisting the itch. Which is a pity. Because that unconscious eating of ‘the offenders’ is a quite sinister habit, in a way.
One of the problems is that so many of those people are surrounded by enablers: parents and partners and friends who serve up the foods that cause us to gain weight or grow ill (albeit slowly, over time). Once again, the irony is that the intention is so innocent and loving (we socialise and celebrate over shared meals) and the body has such a generous margin of error (we can abuse ourselves for quire a long time before we experience the effects) that it’s easy to turn a blind eye to the dynamic. But those habits are simultaneously bringing us undone.
I’ve often had people comment to me that I look great and younger than my years, but no one asks me what I’m doing. I find that intriguing. Is it because they know they will have to change what they’re doing if they want to arrest the ageing process, and they would rather keep up the tasty old habits (and push out of consciousness their awareness of where this path is leading) than take responsibility for their health and deal with the discomfort of giving up certain foods and drinks?
I’ve experienced such physical freedom and pleasure the more plant-based my diet has become that I would love to be able to convince others that it’s worth the initial discomfort.
Perhaps, instead of listening to me, they’ll be inspired by The Boy Who Found His Pulse - my story about health revolutionary Don Tolman. You can now pick this book up (and The Boy Who Barked about Dr Demartini) from our store at almost half the price.
Photo credits: LauraLewis23onVisualhunt.com/ CC BY for self-harming pic and TojosanonVisual Hunt/ CC BY-NC-SA for overeating pic.