Another thing I hate is our culture's obsession with health and wellness and weight. Taking it into consideration is a good thing. Hanging all of life, liberty and happiness on it is not.
Yet ANOTHER thing I hate is how this world has become even more divided into camps, so that the advice coming from one side cancels out the advice coming from the other and you can find yourself in an absolute schizophrenic frenzy whether you want to survive under the grasp of the evil "change of life," shed a few pounds, or even just grocery shop for your ravenous family.
The advice tends to come from two sides: the Experts and the experts. The Experts are those actually trained in the subjects of medicine, pharmacology, health, and nutrition. They have degrees from credentialed institutions of higher learning. The experts are everybody else. For some reason the experts seem to have the upper hand these days. The rebellion against the medical establishment is large and loud.
On the one side I see the problem. The overprescription of drugs. The overuse of pesticides. The lack of emphasis on "healthy" living (healthy being a rather elusive target).
On the other side I see a problem, too. The assumption that the that a "natural" supplement is always better than a manmade medication (note that I said always) and that the "healthy" living (i.e. the right diet) will cure all ills.
Now the right diet itself is up for such debate it makes your head spin: vegetarian, vegan, raw foods, whole foods (not the store), organic, gluten free, low fat, low carb, paleo, macrobiotic. Eat this. Don't eat that. And by all means, flee the high fructose corn syrup. It is mind boggling and maddening and if you listened to everybody you would be stuck living off of nothing but organic raw broccoli FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. Barf.
So, I'm sick of it all. I'm sick of this bizarre obsession with weight and health and doing it all "right." I'm sick of people telling me to entrust my body (and its raging and/or absent hormones) to a fellow in the back of Green Life instead of the doctor who has treated me for years and knows my rather complicated medical and (full disclosure here) mental health history.
So now it is MY turn to give advice. Hah! By the way, I'm one of the Experts. (B.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Tennessee, 1986) I haven't worked in the field in over two decades but I have tried to keep up with the comings and goings of trends and information. Much of what I am saying I said back then. Now I only say it with even more emphasis and perspective.
- There is no magic bullet. There is no supplement, substance or food that will cure you of everything. Only death will do that.
- Never trust health or nutrition advice from a company or website that has something to sell. There is an inherent conflict of interest. If it looks like good information, then find that confirmed somewhere else, preferably a scientific study done by an independent party, and not just from testimonials.
- Unless you have a specific medical issue (kidney failure, diabetes, food allergies, phenylketonuria, etc.) there really isn't a food that is going to hurt you as long as you consume it in moderation. Categorizing foods into "good" and "bad" categories sets you up for an unhealthy way to relate to food.
- If you are in pursuit of weight loss, make it a pursuit of healthier living. Make small, incremental changes that you can live with for the rest of your life. (I may do an entire blog post on what evil "diets" do to our physical and mental health.)
- Put relationships ahead of the pursuit of your ideal. They really are more important, after all. If you cannot accept a dinner invitation because your host may not cook the "right" foods for you, there's a problem. You can be organic or paleo or whatever you jolly well please at home, but if you can't enjoy the company of others around the table or your kid can't eat a pizza at the school party because of your nutritional ideals, you're too obsessed.
- Be careful with the indignation with which you express your views. You may be speaking to someone who does not or cannot share your lifestyle or convictions. Somebody may actually NEED medication, no matter how healthy of a life they lead.
- Remember that you are going to die. Some day. A healthy lifestyle can go a decent way in preventing certain types of diseases, but it can only do so much. One day SOMETHING will lay you low, whether the source is lifestyle, genetics, accidents or just old age. Don't be shocked. You will not live forever. (When Jackie Kennedy Onassis was diagnosed with lymphoma at the age of 64 she told her kids in "mock indignation" that she was "proud at being so fit. I swim and I jog...and walk around the reservoir -- and now this suddenly happens...Why in the world did I do all those push-ups?")
- And above all, don't make this your god. There is only one God. He made you for so much more than pursuing health and evading death. Yes, we are to be stewards of the bodies he gave us but we are also to enjoy life and the world he has made.