About this time nearly seven years ago I found myself in the office of a surgeon, discussing an upcoming day surgery to take care of an embarrassing issue; stemming from years of eating poorly, dysfunctional digestion and constipation. I’ll save you the TMI, don’t worry. Anyway, I was nervous, embarrassed, but also determined to not have to deal with this again, and was in full prevention mode.
“So, obviously I don’t ever want to deal with this again, so should I be doing some kind of cleanse or detox periodically to clean out my gut?” I asked.
The Lemonade Diet/Maple Syrup cleanse or whatever was all the rage at this time. I also was working at Shoppers Drug Mart and part of my job was to merchandise the shelves, finding expired products, and putting new product on the shelves. My favourite was the Vitamin section because I liked reading the backs of all the medicines to see what was really in them. It was kind of like one long bathroom break when you forgot reading material, in a time before smart phones. It got me through some rough shifts. Anyway. Herbal Cleanses and Chili detoxes lined the shelves (lets face it, still do) and I was genuinely interested as well as enticed to try them.
The surgeon breathed out deeply running his hand over his cheek. He folded his hands on his desk and looked directly at me.
What he told me was the most important piece of information I think I have ever received from anyone, let alone someone in the medical field, and one that has changed my life forever.
“Don’t bother with the detoxes, the cleanses….its all just,” he waved his hand in the air. “You don’t need pills. You need food.” he cleared his throat. “The only thing you need to do is to Eat from the Earth. You do that, and all of your digestive problems will disappear. Eat as close to the Earth as possible.”
I sat there staring at him, both a bit surprised but mostly confused. Did he just prescribe me plants? A surgeon?
I shook his hand, thanked him and left. I also put the idea of pills to bed.
I went home and began looking at all the things I ate. Everything I merchandised at work I read the back before I put it on the shelf. Was this from the Earth? How did this product become this? How much did it have to go through and change in order to be in this form? What the hell is high-fructose-corn-syrup? Why was there dye in this? How was that even a necessary ingredient? Is dye bad for you? What the hell is this? What the hell is that?
Google became my friend.
His advice also dawned on me more and more.
Calories no longer mattered to me anymore. What mattered was how long the ingredients list was. I was both terrified and angry at the food in my cupboard, the food that was available in stores that bragged to be a HEALTH PRODUCT or LOW IN FAT, that in all honesty belonged in the chip aisle. And slowly, over the next few weeks it all disappeared or was thrown away and I began asking myself, can I make this myself?
Turns out, yeah, a lot of stuff you can buy in the store is very easily and might I add cheaply made at home. Things like broth and crackers and yogurt. Things that from a store are laced with toxins, dyes, sugar and aspartame.
The snacks foods I ate, such as chocolate covered rice cakes (lets be honest its basically sugared cardboard) for a “Low cal treat” slim fast/whey protein shakes, and Fibre One bars left my cupboards. I ate apples, nuts, or vegetables for snacks instead. Ants on a log, cinnamon covered apples, trail mix and homemade granola became my staple. And the weird thing? The ten pounds I had enticed with slim fast for a time that never budged just melted off me. Despite eating loads more than I had been. It didn’t really matter the amount I ate, it matter what I ate.
Its been a seven year journey for me, but I feel I am finally where I wish to be with how I eat. I’m sure it will evolve over time too, everything does, but my diet is a far cry from how I used to eat.
So as the New Year looms and the dreaded resolutions and shitty pills, commercials and health vultures come out to play, I’d like you to maybe pause for a moment. Pause and ask yourself, Is this from the Earth?
I can promise you, and assure you, that what you need is not a gym membership, or a shake, whey protein, or an herbacleanse. You need a prescription for plants, a pair of boots and the willingness to see whats in your backyard. Be in nature. Its much more exciting that plugging away on a treadmill in a room that smells like onions and probably full of coughed on doorknobs.
And if you don’t believe me, Dear Reader, then ask my surgeon. Or my intestines, which will give you the thumbs up.
Happy New Year and much love.