Please rest assured that I’m fully aware that thousands of health blogs and sites similar to mine flood the internet every day. “Why even bother” you might think but my mother’s story proves that fighting for the right cause will pay off eventually, even with heartbreaking ridiculing.
Born at the end of World War II, the very fact she defied her father’s belief that women were not fit for education and still aimed to become the first woman in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree is remarkable. When she studied to become a dietitian, doctors would still smoke in their offices with patients. The general understanding of nutrition was almost nonexistent back in the ’80s in the region I was born in. I grew up watching my uncles and aunts making fun of my mom for recommending non-hydrogenated margarine and promoting the consumption of vegetables and fruits. Those very same family members came back 2 decades later begging for her advice after their first major health issue that led them to the hospital. She was a pioneer, the first person to open a weight loss clinic in my small hometown and a fierce advocate for nutritional education. She worked most of her career in hospitals helping terrified patients to overcome severe afflictions by teaching them simple food choices.
You might think that it was easy for me because I was raised eating well but when I came to live on my own, working long hours ending up exhausted at the end of a draining week, I didn’t make the proper dietary choices at first. The screaming need to reward myself after enduring the torture of soul-sucking jobs led me to the fast-food restaurants that sold the junk that would make my brain light up like a Christmas tree. It didn’t take long till extra pounds piled up and sugar imbalances took over. What woke me up from my growing vicious cycle was not the loss of my silhouette as much as the terrifying experience I had while walking up a staircase and becoming prey to uncontrollable trembling and sweats. I knew I had neglected myself too much and that it was time to grow up. I was in my mid-twenties when that happened and it’s only then that I really applied myself in implementing the knowledge my mother had passed down to me.
It wasn’t a steady road, there have been many twists and turns, fallbacks and excesses but what made me succeed was the simple act of getting back at it no matter how many setbacks. Our self-criticism for having wandered off or not being good enough at dieting is much more painful than the actual work of making the right decision. Eating healthy food is not hard, it’s ignoring the instant gratification of fast food and pre-packaged goods that requires effort. Those temptations that used to take so much energy for me to avoid are now invisible to my sight when searching for something to munch on. The ecstasy of feeling replenished, light and vibrant has overcome the short-term dopamine rush of my unhealthy binges. If I do decide to indulge in something less recommendable, I can be fully present to that experience and surprisingly, the memory often tastes better than the real thing which makes me stop before I overdo it. Tastes grow and change; you just have to give it time till it takes effect. You probably heard it before, and even may have tumbled on to some scientific data about that phenomenon of taste rehabilitation. You can train yourself to appreciate any food and it’s much more a matter of stubbornness than an experience of the senses. Our bodies are incredible at adapting, our minds, however, struggle with this task.
I’m not on the journey of reinventing the wheel, but I do care about the global effort to bring health back into our kitchens and our activities. Throughout my life, earning good revenues and climbing the social scale has been tremendously harder than implementing simple health changes. Even in meticulously tracking everything that I eat, it’s still way more simple and less stressful of a process than to be confronted by the judgment of bosses, clients and peers. Making our way in this world is, in my experience, incredibly complex compared to following a few dietary rules. All you have to lose is your well-being by not choosing beneficial habits. Preaching to my choir here though, I’m fascinated by the mental gymnastics of those on the fence of taking action. Regardless of the crippling weight of scientific evidence on the importance of taking care of our bodies, many still back down.
Resistance is futile in my opinion. As more people embrace healthier lifestyles and the norm is taking a turn for the better, you will come to embrace the exponential positive outcomes of wise eating habits. I’m just one among many who will keep inviting those who are hesitant to try because we all gain from feeling well. Like my mother, I will persevere till the world around me gets with the program.