By Chris Bunton
(I’m not a doctor. This is my opinion and my journey. I cannot prove some of my statements, and feel compelled to put this disclaimer, in order to protect myself from the Disinformation Police.)
I was born and raised in the 70’s and 80’s. Like the “Brady Bunch” said “Pork Chops and Apple Sauce” was probably the standard dinner item.
I was a latchkey kid, and ate boxes of Little Debbie snack cakes after school, because I had the munchies.
I remember eating tator tots on TV stands while watching reruns of “Star Trek”.
Going to family cookouts, and drinking Cokes till I had a sugar high was the norm.
The Standard American Diet or S.A.D. for short, was my diet up until my late 20’s. I never ate a salad. But, I had a metabolism to die for, and never gained weight.
My Grandfather suffered from heart disease most of his life. My father and uncles died of various cancers, mostly colon.
Booze was consumed by the gallon, and Cigarettes were everywhere.
One day, in the 90’s, I was listening to a preacher on some random radio program while I was doing construction work. He was talking about a very simple idea for dietary health.
Consume God-made, not Man-made.
He discussed all the diseases that had developed over the years since more and more foods had become manufactured in factories, rather than being what God intended.
Something struck a chord in me and I changed my eating habits. I stopped eating refined flour, and started eating only 100% whole wheat. I stopped eating Margarine, and only ate real butter. I started using olive oil only. I ran everything I ate through a sieve of whether it was God-Made or man-made.
Now I just had to convince my ex-wife that she in fact was poisoning us with her cooking.
I tried to be soft and subtle, but it became an argument; one of many in those days.
Eating healthy when you have someone else shopping and cooking and making decisions based upon what they learned from their mother, is a tough task.
Yes, I could have shopped and cooked for myself, which would have created its own set of arguments. But to be honest, in those days I never really considered it. The changes came slowly, but they did come.
Actually trying to talk to anyone about healthy diets was difficult (And still is). I remember seeing my grandfather going through several open heart surgeries. So many, that he was about to be put into the record books, and they had trouble finding doctors who had performed that many on a single patient.
I remember trying to get him to stop eating margarine. But, his doctor had told him margarine was better, and the labels on the plastic tubs confirmed it. Low cholesterol this, and low fat that. Yet, nothing changed. They blamed his genetics, rather than the junk he consumed.
The next phase in my journey came when I decided to go organic, or as close as possible. I could avoid a horrifying death by cancer if I ate all organic, because I’m totally convinced that most cancer comes from chemicals we are exposed to in various forms, including our food and water. It’s my opinion.
You can’t tell me that genetics is the only reason why modern Americans have rampant cancers compared to the world, and compared to history. Sorry. If our food and water supply was not laced with all kinds of chemicals, I might be willing to listen. But, until you totally eliminate the chemicals as a possibility, by removing them, you will not convince me.
In those days of the mid 2000’s, it was not easy to find organic. And when you did find it, it was very expensive and not much selection. I would read labels to avoid certain chemicals like High Fructose Corn Syrup, or try to get as few chemicals as possible.
I had to find specialty grocery stores, like my neighborhood co-op that sold all kinds of organic items. This opened up a new world to me. I could eat a normal diet without any of the poisons.
I have tried to remain mostly organic my whole life. It’s hard when you go out to eat, or get invited to other people’s homes. But, I figure it all comes out in the wash.
Then, I started trying various special diets. I became Vegetarian, and have been most of my life. I do cheat on my diet, when I go out to eat or someone invites me to eat their food. I don’t think the desire to stick with a diet, is important enough to ruin a friendship or be viewed as weird. I’m not going to wake up dead tomorrow because I ate something non-organic. I think it’s something that builds up in the system, and likewise takes time to remove.
After a while, I decided to become Vegan. I did very well. I lost tons of weight, and felt great. But, it was difficult to be strictly Vegan when eating at other people’s homes or eating out at restaurants was involved.
I got remarried, and she was more than willing to go with me on this dietary journey. She developed an allergy to red meat from a tick bite. So, she was not able to eat mammalian type meat. This was fine for me, because I was Vegan at the time.
I can tell you that having a partner who is at least willing to eat a healthy diet, takes a lot of stress out of the situation. I’m not saying we are perfect. But, it’s definitely better than having to fight over everything you eat, just because you don’t want Cancer, or Heart Disease or Diabetes.
It’s so strange to go to a restaurant with people and refuse to eat what they are eating, but instead get something different, like a salad, or an alternative meat, or just eat a side for your meal. Who could imagine that you would have to justify what you eat, or explain it to people? I have had folks get mad at me over it. I’m not preaching at them or anything, but they just get mad when you do not conform to the herd.
I have backed off being vegan. My current health diet is of my own concoction. It is an 80/20 diet. 80 percent plants, 20 percent animal based, mostly cheese which was the biggest problem with being Vegan. We try to eat only organic as much as possible. Our meat intake is fish, seafood, chicken, turkey, and other poultry; I have not eaten pork of any kind in years and try to stick to meats that are “clean”.
We do eat some of the meat substitutes, which resemble hamburger or sausages. But, we are careful because some of these are nothing more than laboratory created concoctions.
I have gained weight. I miss the health and feeling of wellness I had with my vegan diet. But, getting back to that requires a level of determination, I no longer possess.
I feel that my current diet is very healthy, although I cheat by eating junk food on occasion. But, it’s organic junk food. (Mostly)
I believe God created humans to eat veggies, fruits and nuts. Then, because of the Fall and being pushed out of Paradise, He told us to eat grains. Then, after the Great Flood of Noah, He allowed us to eat meat. I think this biblical progression shows the level of importance these things should have in our life.
The changes in our environment in the past, and our need for survival required us to adjust our diets. I think that a healthy diet is mostly veggies, fruits and nuts, supplemented with grains.
Meat should be eaten for celebration. Currently the Standard American Diet, because of propaganda has people eating meat and dairy for every meal, three times a day. This could be cut in half without any harm being done, and would save a family tons of money. I know it’s hard to avoid meat and cheese in our culture; although it is getting easier.
Humans need to make a change to what we consume. There should be laws passed that prevent chemicals from being put into our food, and drink, starting at the farm.
We are destroying the planet with our agriculture, and with our shipping of items including food, globally.
Whether a person believes anything I say here or not; even if you do not believe that chemicals in our food make us sick. Even if you do not believe the environment is being destroyed by our practices. Even if you do not believe that certain foods are healthier than others. It doesn’t matter, because changes are coming. Folks need to just start making the changes as well, before we are forced to change.
The environment is a major concern and changes will come that will cause us to have to consume differently. That includes our food. It’s coming. As we move toward Universal Healthcare in the United States, changes in health including diet must come or it will bankrupt the system. It’s better to just make some changes by choice, rather than having your doctor tell you that you have to change or you’ll die. Yes, everybody dies. But, when you watch someone die of cancer, you might realize that an agonizing death can be avoided.
It’s time for people to realize the direction we are headed in, not only in our own health journey but as a world.
Change is coming, and it is more controlled than you think. Regardless of your political, spiritual or religious beliefs, the people who rule this world are making changes. It would be better to be ready when they come rather than fighting a battle that doesn’t really matter. There are more important things.
Having a good life is more than what we put into our belly. The food we eat comes out and is flushed away. But, the loves we have, and the time we share with each other is what really matters. I want to make it last as long as possible.
Chris Bunton is a Writer, Poet and Blogger from Southern Illinois.