We live in a culture where so many people are privileged. We have so much stuff, way more than we’ll ever need. Life is not hard. Our power and possibilities are limitless. And completely underutilized.
We have so much at our fingertips: information, knowledge, support, friends, and news. We have as much access to tasty healthy food as we do abundant indulgent food. We also have solutions for every ailment under the sun.
Got yellow toenails? Body odor? Belly fat? We’ve got a pill for that! Can’t remember to take your pills? We’ve got a pill for that too!
It’s almost like you could have just about anything wrong with you, minor or major, and you could easily find a pill that claims to take it all away. Don’t bother reading the long list of side effects though. You’ll need an “upper” just to stay awake to the end of it!
Americans of all ages now have been trained to rely on pharmacology and modern medicine to fix whatever ails us. But the joke is on us. The truth is, we must own up to our own responsibility before it’s too late.
How many times have you decided to eat the pizza and ice cream now, knowing you can just start your diet on Monday? How many people on drugs for hypertension or high cholesterol still eat meat and dairy? The doc will just increase the dose if he or she feels it’s concerning, right?
How many diabetics eat high fat and high sugar meals knowing they can just take more insulin to counter the effect? You live with the consequences of your everyday choices, whether you like it or not.
My dear father-in-law was a meat-and-potatoes Pittsburgher like so many of us are! He was a die-hard Steelers fan, a manly man, and he looked forward to having an Iron City beer and a Primanti’s sandwich as much as any Philadelphian enjoys a good cheesesteak.
He had one important rule about food — If it’s green, don’t eat it!
When my husband and I adopted a plant-based diet, we knew it was powerful and we encouraged everyone who would listen to us to consider it for themselves. We knew he was a long-shot, but we encouraged him nonetheless. He laughed it off.
He lovingly admitted that he knew it was the healthiest way to be, but he also was firm in his belief that he couldn’t (and wouldn’t) do it himself. In my heart, I think he suspected that he may end up with a heart attack one day, or maybe diabetes. And then after that happened, he’d get on the right medication, maybe clean things up a little, and carry on. But that’s not how it happened.
I thank my lucky stars he got to meet our daughter, who was named after his late sister. If he had ever had his own little girl, he would have given her that name and we surprised him with our choice on the day she was born. I know that hearing her name was one of the happiest moments of his life and I’m so lucky to have been able to give him that.
Instead of the slow decline so many others suffer with, he became ill very suddenly. One day he was laughing with 40 of his best buddies leading his annual bowling tournament. The next week he was hospitalized for jaundice and merciless testing. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and 6 weeks later we were surrounded by those same stunned friends at his funeral.
Our daughter was only 3 months old when he passed, way too young to wave. Yet she somehow she looked right at his face, smiled, and waved her hand at him right before they closed the casket.
I think back to all of our interactions and I am left with a sinking feeling in my stomach. Could I have tried harder? Would he have done anything differently if he knew more? What if he really understood that his life was in the balance BEFORE it was in the balance? Would he really have chosen burgers and beer over more time with my daughter? More time with his wife? His kids and other grandchildren? I sure hope not.
My only conclusion is that he didn’t fully understand. He didn’t realize how truly detrimental his food choices were, nor how unsafe it was to rely on medication to save him. He had no idea that he had the chance to rewrite his own fate. That’s why I have made it my mission to make sure that no one else suffers needlessly nor dies ignorant to their own power.
So I ask you, when you laugh it off and jokingly say “I’d rather die than live without cheese.” or burgers, or pizza, or ice cream… Do you really mean that?
If you do, then I withdraw my judgement. You are free to do as you please and who am I to tell you otherwise? I just want to be sure you get the message that it’s not a great idea to rely on modern medicine to pull you out of the grave you’re digging with your fork.
Also, consider for a moment that it’s not all about you. Other people care about you, and other people will miss you when you’re gone. My father-in-law was an amazing friend, husband, father, and grandfather. There are lot of people missing him today. There are 3 little girls growing up without their grandfather and that stings.
Perhaps there are people in your life who are worth fighting for. If not for your own sake, then perhaps for theirs.
It’s not too late.
Grab hold of the power you have. Make healthy choices so that you can thoroughly enjoy the time you have here on this earth, and the people you share it with. I have yet to meet anyone who consciously chose love and life over food, and regretted the decision.