Let Food Be Thy Medicine

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As a nurse, I should know a thing or two about health, but what’s that oft quoted phrase “do as I say, not as I do”? I educate my patients about the perils of uncontrolled diabetes and how daily food choices have such a huge long-term impact on their quality of life, but proper nutrition isn’t just for the sick. Eating right to prevent disease in the first place is just as important if not more so than eating right to prevent the progression of a disease that has already taken hold. We all know what’s good for us: whole grains, fruits and vegetables, etc. Even Hippocrates knew the importance of a healthy diet. So what makes us so cavalier about our health 2,000+ years later when we have so much more information on health and wellness? Why do we spend inordinate amounts of money on pills when deep down we know the real solution to our health problems lies in our diet?

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I recently watched a documentary championing a whole grain, plant-based approach to diet which many people consider “extreme” but heart surgeon Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn responds by saying, “Now, with the western diet, this guarantees there’s going to be what, a half a million people in this country this year who will have to have the front half of their body divided, their heart exposed, then veins will be taken from their leg and sewn on their heart. Some people would call that extreme.”

I never really thought about operative procedures as being “extreme” as they’ve become so commonplace. I give out Lipitor and metoprolol like candy at the hospital and everyone knows what a “triple bypass” is. But radically changing your diet to better your health always felt a little extreme as our culture focuses so much on instant gratification, and to be honest healthy food just doesn’t taste very good when you’re so used to overwhelming your senses with sugar calorie bombs like soda. The symptom I notice most due to my poor diet is becoming easily fatigued and having a low level of energy throughout the day. I’m tired of living like this (tired of being tired!) and have already made steps to change my eating habits, even if right now that only consists of adding a couple fruits and vegetables a day and cutting out soda and Oreos. I cannot neglect my diet any longer because I want to have the energy today and the health tomorrow to live my life to the fullest!

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