It’s been about a year and a half since I wrote my first health post, which gives you an idea of how often I want to write about health versus fiction. But lots of thoughts percolating lately, and I figure I’ll give a stab to the second part I alluded to, the whole ‘what is happening to the world’ aspect of our current health crisis, of which I am just a teeny one-person sample.
But first, quick health update. On the bright side, lots of things are better. On the murkier side, a few pernicious issues refuse to budge, but that’s mostly my fault for backsliding on AIP every time I think I’m doing better. I’ve come pretty far psychologically, especially in dealing with the social and emotional elements of restricted eating – that said, it’s still hard to accept that this is and probably has to be my new normal for the rest of my life. There will likely never be a return to the careless, pizza-filled days of yore, and I have to be okay with that. And mostly I am. It’s worth it for the beauty of feeling normal, even if I have to eat like a crazy person with ten different alternative health regimens to achieve this. It’s worth it, and a minimal sacrifice if it means I can spend more (and better quality) time on this earth. Without my health I can’t produce as well and achieve as much as I’d like to in this life (novels, eh-hem), and that really matters more than a big fat piece of cheesecake.
So I’m still committed to the life and the process, but it would be much easier if the rest of society would play ball and stop making it so goshdarn hard not to poison myself. I had this feeling the other day in an airport, and before that in a 7-Eleven, ruling out one option after another not just for having ingredients that would make me personally sick, but that are bad for everybody, period, and are so close to toxic substances that it still befuddles me that they’re allowed in our food supply. We all know about the industrialization of food, but still, something just seems so odd about looking around a room of food and realizing ALL of it will make you less healthy than if you just didn’t eat anything. That’s almost an impressive achievement of human interference with the natural order of things.
Of course, it’s still possible to find lots of good healthy things to eat and I regularly do – but I’m looking forward to the day when the global order swings into line and makes it easier, not harder, to make healthy choices. When food providers don’t seem out to get us, but rather, support us and optimize our health. And when we don’t have to fight governments and companies to stop promoting and hiding things that make us sick. It doesn’t seem like it should be that hard. A system that promotes well-being instead of profiting off of sickness – certainly better for the species and our prospects of intergalactic dominion.
Instead, we’re fighting an uphill battle against all the vested interests that benefit from the current system and don’t want to see change. And the most frustrating part of that is seeing how successful those forces have been at co-opting the discourse at every level, from news outlets and academia to the thinking of most of my social circle. As a storyteller, I know that narrative is 90% of the battle – so I’m caught in a constant daily struggle of whether to debate and go up against the dominant discourse, or wait until enough of the system is exposed for the tide to turn on its own without me trying to push back with my one pitiful fin. In short, until the blinders come off there doesn’t seem to be much point in pointing out the gaping holes.
Still, if I had one wish in all this, it would be for people to apply a critical eye to everything – but especially to every claim voiced by an entity with self-interested ulterior motives. I wish people would examine those motives, and consider every statement as suspect until those entities prove that their single most important priority is human well-being.
Until that day, unfortunately I think things (in lots of areas, but especially health) will get worse before they get better. Maybe it’s a lesson we have to learn, as a species, but it’s sad because so many preventable deaths and illnesses will occur. I see this acceleration of the debilitation of health everywhere, but especially this year for some reason, as everyone and their mother seems to be sick and going to the doctor every other week. This was never the old normal, people. As much as I appreciate allergen labeling on restaurant menus, it startles me to see it in every country I’ve visited over the past five years, from Norway to Myanmar, because it means that there is something global going on with respect to food allergy and whatever it is that motivates a tiny pizzeria in rural Scotland and a ceviche restaurant in Peru to offer GF choices.
At the same time, it’s worth noting that people in the developing world tend to have lower rates of chronic illness, autoimmune disease, and allergy, and that rates vary by country in relation to specific policies and other measurable indicators (and also that those rates tend to go up when people from the developing world then move to places like the US). So someone, please, do some rigorous studies and cross-country analyses to illuminate why that is the case (something more compelling than low diagnosis rates and/or the hygiene hypothesis, please). And do it before our modern lifestyles, paradigms, toxins, and immune disruptors have so thoroughly permeated the world that these places join us in unraveling health (as many already have in obesity…and bad eyesight…).
Until we get to the bottom of all of this, the best and most infallible logic for me remains the ancestral approach. Traditional knowledge, indigenous practices, and a lot of what has been arrogantly dismissed by modern modes of thinking still has the most in common with common sense, if you ask me. It boils down to living simply, eating whole, untarnished foods in line with our natural omnivore diet, as sustainably as possible, and otherwise minimizing the negative interferences of modern life – everything from invasive technology, meaningless consumerism (cluttery goods, fast fashion, etc.), harmful medications, angry mean people, and all else that is slowly strangling us and the planet. Minimalism is my new m.o., and it’s already made my life that much better, and that much closer to achieving my ideal of a house in the woods (with no Facebook, greater being willing! And ideally no Netflix, and maybe even no internet (still working myself up to that one)…but lots of books, music, and food…and Scrabble. And some puzzles). Meditation, compassion training, and spiritual peace have been integral parts of the equation.
These answers have been in the fabric of our evolution and species for a really long time. In fact, I’m convinced that each generation is more or less born with all of these answers. But I also believe that our current world is expert at obscuring these most obvious and time-tested solutions to our ills – one of the best smokescreens in human history, rife with red herrings (I wish they were actual herrings…then we could just eat them). Let’s not let the professional confusion-makers win, eh? Time to wrest back control over the narrative and remember what’s important – how to be human, and how to reclaim our lives for all they can be. If that’s all I’ve learned and managed to pass on throughout this struggle, it will have been worth it.
(and yes that’s a Hamilton quote…couldn’t resist :).