It’s that time of year when most of us strive to make meaningful changes in our lives and these often revolve around improving our health, eating better and exercising more. Often the driving force behind these changes is losing weight, looking and feeling better. These are great reasons to make changes but all too often people quickly fall off the ‘health horse’ due to life stresses and lack of motivation. In this blog I want to try to convince you that the reasons for making healthy changes that become sustainable habits go far deeper than most people realise. I want to shock you in the hope that you might just stay on that pony.
It has never been more important to take ownership of our own health, with healthy eating at its core. In the UK the NHS do wonderful work and I feel lucky to live in a country where most of my healthcare is freely available, provided by dedicated, caring doctors and nurses. If family or I needed an operation or was in a serious accident it gives me great peace of mind to know that the NHS is there to help. However, the belief that we can continue to eat poorly, drink too much and do little or no exercise, then just turn to the doctor for a magic pill is leading to an explosion of diseases which were not around 50 or even 30 years ago. We need to wake up to the fact that the NHS is in crisis and in all likelihood won’t exist in its present state for too much longer. We need to take ownership of our own health. Make positive (and sustainable) health and lifestyle changes that will help to keep us out of the doctors’ surgery and enable us to enjoy healthier, happier, more fulfilling lives.
The average western diet is far too narrow (including only a handful of key ingredients), it invariably is high in sugar and processed food, low in fresh fruit and vegetables and unbalanced in fats. Our priorities over what food we eat have become warped. Nowadays, all too often we are more concerned with cost over nutrition, convenience rather than home cooked wholesome food. Most of our diets are highly acidic, inflammatory and provide wholly inadequate amounts of nutrients to support our bodies during our busy, toxic lives. The result is an explosion in non-communicable diseases such as asthma, chronic lung and kidney disease, diabetes, fibromyalgia, heart disease, hypertension, obesity, osteoporosis, strokes and cancer. More and more of us have mental health conditions and far too many of us are just existing (propped up by habitual pharmaceutical use) rather than flourishing. These diseases and conditions are making people’s lives a misery, killing thousands every year.
The really sad thing is most of these diseases are what I consider to be ‘lifestyle diseases’. In other words; the choices people make day in day out (diet, alcohol, exercise, smoking and stress) are resulting in these modern day epidemics. The damage is not done overnight and it can take decades for poor lifestyle choices to manifest themselves into a serious condition, but the threat is very real. Your body may be giving you warning signs, which you may have been ignoring for years, masking them with over the counter drugs or frequent trips to the doctor. Maybe your bowels are giving you grief, you’re always tired these days or your headaches are getting worse (to mention but a few). The point is that these low level conditions invariably come from some kind of imbalance and your body is screaming at you to do something about it. If you don’t listen then the symptoms will only get worse. Modern medicine’s approach is to view these conditions in isolation and more than likely treatment revolves around masking symptoms rather than addressing the root cause. Alternative therapists attempt to address the underlying cause of your symptoms and take a holistic, whole body approach to helping people find truly sustainable health and vitality.
Many alternative health practises are becoming accepted now but others are still considered to be quackery by a great majority of people. Nutritional therapy is classed as an alternative therapy but to me this seems ridiculous. After all ‘you are what you eat’, you are an organism entirely made up of the nutrients you swallow. Nutrition should be the main stay of medicine and food decisions should be taken with great care and consideration. If you are reading this blog then the likelihood is you intuitively know that something isn’t quite right with your body, that the warning signs are there and that changes need to be made.
The road to a healthier lifestyle is generally a long one, with lots of highs and lows along the way. However, once you begin to take control of your own destiny, educate yourself, make life-defining changes and begin to feel healthier, energised and empowered you will realise just how rewarding and fun nutrition can be.
So don’t wait until the weekend, or the end of the month, or after your mates’ birthday party. Begin now! In fact, if you’ve taken the time to read this blog then you’ve already begun and the possibilities are endless.