In 1989 I began a personal journey of healing without drugs, by changing my diet and – almost importantly – my way of thinking about food, and changing my way of thinking about the world. Thankfully neither my diet nor my thinking has stopped changing since that time, as that could arguably make me a rigidly stuck person without the capacity for further growth. Well, couldn’t it?
The author and friends, circa 1987
The first important discovery that I made at the tender age of 17, after getting sick from a poor diet coupled with prescribed drugs, was that your diet might be the most important medicine of all. Quotes from Thomas Alva Edison to Mahatma Gandhi to the ancient Greek Hippocrates all led me to understand we have a timeless connection with food as medicine. With plants as medicine. With breathing as medicine. With sunshine and fresh air as medicine. With recognition and knowledge of an inherent need for essential vitamins, minerals and other nutritional compounds.
A lecture I attended by John Robbins, the heir to the Baskin-Robbins ice cream fortune turned vegan, sealed the deal – and I switched to a strictly plant-based diet for the next 10 years. In truth, I still eat a largely plant-based diet today. I started taking a high potency food based multivitamin and juicing vegetables whenever I could.
But it wasn’t just that my diet was plant-based, or even that I based many of my meals on the principles of George Ohsawa’s approach to macriobiotics (by way of Michio and Aveline Kushi). (This system of achieving acid-alkaline balance was based largely on Japanese eating traditions, from miso to brown rice to tofu and other nourishing legumes and vegetables, to help achieve systemic balance).
I don’t think either of these dietary approaches is the ‘only way’, in fact I don’t believe that there is a ‘one size fits all’ approach to health. We all have biochemical individuality and we all have to have our own code to live by, I believe, including what we eat and what our standards and principles are.
For me, more than what I ate specifically, it was that as a young man in America, I had broken the cycle of eating bad and feeling bad, and made a connection between making better choices in my eating and seeing great results in the way I felt. I made a connection between eating better and thinking better, too. The positive mind, after all, wins all.
My diet today isn’t perfect, nor is my thinking. But I have made one of the most valuable connections – a conscious connection between the way I eat and the way I feel. Some people go to their grave without making this connection, and many of them live their lives feeling not as well as they could. Garbage in, garbage out.
The reason I bring all of this up is that I have worked in the health food business (the ‘natural products industry’ if you will) almost my entire adult life for a reason. Yes, partially because I want to share the positive benefits I have found for myself – but also because I (admittedly, somewhat selfishly) want to make the world a better place.
Why is that selfish? Well for sure I want to make the world a better place to leave to my two children, not to mention future generations. But I have seen firsthand that people are nicer, kinder, gentler and generally easier to deal with when they feel well. And more often than not they feel better when they eat better. So why do I want to make the world a better place? In part because I have to live in it.
Don’t get me wrong. I want the world to be healthier and happier just because. When I think about all this God-given natural beauty around us, and potential great health, going to waste because of ignorance – or worse yet, marketing-induced ignorance, it just seems like an affront
“MY PEOPLE ARE DESTROYED FOR LACK OF KNOWLEDGE”
Of course I don’t know if we’ll ever achieve peace on a global scale. Maybe, just maybe, we can find peace inside ourselves, in part by eating better. By making choices that help the planet to prosper and thrive. And helping others to learn about what it means to feel better by eating better, and by discovering nature’s pharmacy of healing plants and other elements. I am grateful for this health food movement that has changed my world for the better.
In case you want to hear more of my personal story and my take on this health food movement, here’s a link to an interview I did with Steve Lankford at Health Quest podcast recently covering some of the same ideas. I thank you for your time and energy.
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