I recently had an alarming epiphany. Alarming for two reasons: 1. This realization is not new, it has been ongoing for years, and 2. It’s getting worse. Our culture does not value the truly important things, but instead, many of us value many of the wrong things, and at the expense of our health.
I recently had a conversation that really struck me, and prompted my epiphany. During a conversation with a friend of a friend, a statement was made that I did not understand. I must have looked like a confused dog with my head cocked and one ear lifted to listen for more information in hopes of a clue of what he was saying. When he realized my confusion, he quickly named a TV show, one I’d heard of, but never watched. When I realized what had just happened, I decided to explain my lack of understanding, as it was not the first time an event like that had happened to me. However, the conversation had an unexpected turn. It went something like this:
Me: Oh, I don’t watch TV. I’m sorry, I don’t know what you’re referring to.
Mutual Friend (MF): What do you mean you don’t watch TV?
Me: Exactly what I said, I don’t watch TV.
MF: Why not?
Me: I like to think for myself.
MF: TV doesn’t tell you what to think.
Me: Actually, it can. A lot of shows try to. But you can watch TV if you want to. I just don’t do it.
MF: So what? Your TV just sits there to collect dust?
Me: No, I don’t own a TV.
MF: What kind of person doesn’t own a TV?
Me: Well, I guess the type of person that I am. I’m sorry that my lack of television watching has offended you.
MF: What do you do for fun?
Me: Read books, take my dogs hiking, research and teach myself topics that interest me, garden, exercise, things like that.
MF: So you have Internet, but not TV?
Me: Well, yes, they’re two different things. Why does it matter that I don’t watch TV? I’d rather spend my time and money on more important things.
MF: I just don’t know what kind of person would not watch TV.
Me: A lot of people don’t. There are even countries where the majority of people don’t. I recall when I was in Nicaragua, most families took their kids to the park and didn’t own a TV. They seemed quite content.
MF: But this isn’t a third world country.
Me: I didn’t say it was. I’m just saying I don’t watch TV, a lot of people don’t. Why does that matter? Because I didn’t understand your reference to the TV show? Surely we can communicate without using excerpts from television can’t we?
MF: I don’t know if I can trust someone who doesn’t watch TV.
Me: You’re kidding right?
MF: Do you even own a cell phone?
Me: Yes, of course, it’s a useful tool. I use it a lot to look up ingredients I don’t know when I’m at the grocery store. I also use it for maps and translations.
MF: You use your phone to look up ingredients?
Me: Yeah, among other things. What am I supposed to use it for? Texting? Talking? I do those too sometimes. But I mainly got it for the portable computer purpose. I like having knowledge at my fingertips.
MF: You have a cell phone, and use the internet, but you don’t own a TV?
Me: Correct. What’s wrong with that?
MF: Do you live under a rock?
As if I was some savage cave-woman that insists on living in the dark ages, I couldn’t believe this person actually said he didn’t know if he could trust someone that didn’t watch television. The “logic” behind that is baffling, if not completely backwards.
Last time I checked, television is not inexpensive; a monthly expense actually. I can take this monthly expense, and put it towards organic food instead. A much better investment if you ask me. But this conversation bothered me a bit. Not because I care that someone knows I don’t watch television; that’s not a secret. What bothered me was that such value was placed on such a commodity. In thinking back, this person did have brand names very visible on his clothes, and I’m sure his shoes were also an expensive brand. I know the truck he was driving was off the lot shiny, and the haircut was quite precise. Now, there’s nothing wrong with those types of expenses – IF – you have taken care of your body from within first.
But that’s not our culture. Our culture is to show off nick knacks, brands of clothes, and the latest and greatest gadgets and television must be in your home. How many channels there are too watch, oh, and let’s not forget the greatest and latest cell phone. People are shocked to learn that I have owned my $37 generic cell phone going on year four. That’s just unheard of.
But ask those people what they had for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and it’s always the same answer. The cheapest “food” they can buy. When I mention I only eat healthy, quality, organic food made from whole ingredients, I get the evil eye as if I’m from another planet. And the response is always the same: “I can’t afford to eat organic”.
Sure you can. Cancel your cable, and sell your TV. Get rid of the ridiculous phone plan and get something practical. I’ve been using a prepaid service for four years without complaint. No contracts, no phones to pay off, simple and affordable. Get rid of the ridiculous car payment. I couldn’t believe the last time I was at a dealership and they tried to sell me a car with $700 a month car payments. Really? That’s a mortgage payment for some. Why would I waste that on something that is going to depreciate when I drive it off the lot? And $700 a month is a lot of organic food.
Stop going out to eat and cook at home. Stop buying coffee made by a barista and brew your own. Stop ordering take out or uber eats, and pack a lunch instead. Cancel prepaid subscriptions like Amazon prime and learn to wait for something to arrive. Better yet, if you don’t need it to live, don’t buy it. You don’t need a $1000 armoire, or an $800 dresser. You don’t need the latest fashions, latest gadgets, and latest ways to spend money you could otherwise use to invest in your health.
Stop wearing make up, coloring your hair, painting your nails, spraying yourself with perfume/cologne, and other body un-care practices. Not only are those products costing money that you could otherwise invest in your health, but you’re doing the exact opposite by putting toxic chemicals all over yourself (or your family) for the purpose of looking how television programs you to think you’re “supposed” to look. The irony of our culture is that we cover our bodies with cosmetics and brand names rather than nourishing them from the inside out. There’s nothing wrong with the all natural look. As I tell people all the time, no, I’m not going to wear make up. If you don’t like the way I look, then don’t look at me.
But… there’s one problem with all of this.
Eating organic isn’t necessarily always eating healthy. To eat healthy requires work, and requires a permanent lifestyle change. Eating healthy requires that you know how to eat healthy, how to cook, or at least know how to throw enough ingredients together to make a tasty meal. This information is not a secret and is easy to come by, but it takes work, practice, and time. And once you eat nothing but healthy nourishing foods made from whole ingredients, you’ll never want to go back to the pre-made stuff, because your body will feel so much better.
Eating healthy requires that you know that buying a protein fruit shake from a fast food place on your way to work doesn’t substitute for real food. That shake is likely filled with sugars, coloring, and preservatives. But knowing this would not only require finding the list of ingredients, but actually reading them. That takes too much work in our culture.
Eating healthy requires shopping at farmer’s markets, co-ops, and other unusual places. Sometimes I have to go to three or four different stores including the farmer’s market to get everything that I need – on a weekly basis. No, it’s not convenient. Yes, it uses up more gas, but it’s nowhere near the cost of television, or that extravagant cell phone plan. And since I don’t watch television, I actually have time to properly shop, prepare my meals with my insanely crazy schedule, and even work out. I have time to research nutrition information, read peer reviewed journals about recent scientific discoveries, and even play with my dogs, who are my kids, and also eat organic.
I’m not rich by any means, other than my body is healthy and well maintained, which is good, because I need my body to last until the end. There is no greater “wealth” than health, and all the wealth in the world doesn’t make up for being sickly and on your death bed. While some diseases are unavoidable, many are, and I don’t want to experience pain through terrible ways of dying such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other countless problems that can occur as a direct result of the poison that is sold through the process of convenience. Products which people happily and willingly put into their bodies as they watch their television.
But television helps to keep the mind distracted from reality. Television offers commercials to tell you where you want to order your next meal from. Television will remind you that you must prefer one brand over another, and that your house must be full of useless items to make it look a certain way. Television reminds you of the latest iphone, latest cars, and how owning such items will make you a better part of society, while never realizing that your children have trouble getting proper sleep as a result of this TV exposure.
Television will never tell you that what you put into your body is directly absorbed by your body. Things that you put on your skin are directly absorbed through the skin. Television will never tell you that what you put in and on your body is directly causally linked to your health, or that watching TV at meals was associated with unhealthier intake of some foods groups. Or that watching television over 3.5 hours a day in older individuals results in decline in verbal memory.
Studies show that children’s exposure to television food advertising results in building emotional attachments to brands. Or that your 4-5 year old is more at risk of obesity based on longer exposure of TV time. Television will NEVER tell you the cost of treatment for cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. It will never tell you that you can usually prevent these diseases through eating healthy, but instead will happily advertise pills to ask your doctor about. It also never tells you who the millionaires are as a result of you taking those pills. It will never tell you that eating certain “foods” (such as refined sugars and certain fats, among others) will cost you your health later.
And yet, as a society, we put more value on how we look, or a cell phone or clothing brand than we do on where our food comes from, how it was processed, or even what’s in processed food. We let that processed “food” feed our sense of hunger but it does not nourish us.
When I used to work in an emergency room with a large number of educated nurses and doctors, I cringed whenever we had a potluck. There we were treating emergent patients coming in for heart attacks, necessary amputations due to diabetes, and other deadly ills that are a direct result of what we put into our bodies. Yet the potluck was full of store bought, pre-made, pretend “food”, or meals prepared from boxes rather than fresh. They were made with added scents to make the “food” more appealing, fooling the pallet to think it was getting real food. Then the very people that tried to feed me the same poison that keeps their jobs secure, would be offended that I declined to have a bite of their fake scented, fake colored, fake food. As if the insult was on them for all the work they did buying it at the store, or mixing a box of ingredients in a pot of water. I could never help but notice that the only food left untouched was the organic fruit that I chopped just a few hours before the event. One doctor even dared to say “but I brought you a bag of organic chips, and you could use a little meat on those bones of yours”. Because somehow magically, “chips” become healthy simply by certifying them organic. And now, in our obese society, being of healthy weight is somehow a problem too? Nothing like peer pressure to make one feel like an outcast.
People don’t seem to like to have an honest conversation about this either. They don’t want to give up the convenience and short term savings of cheap food for the sake of health, so they find ways to rationalize their choices. I hear it all the time: “I can’t afford organic” and “you have to die of something”. To which my reply never changes: “but you can choose to avoid cancer as being the way to die. It’s painful. Painful not only to the person who has it, but also to their family to see their loved ones go that way. And, it’s expensive. Cancer treatment is expensive. Cardiovascular disease is expensive. Insulin is expensive. You can’t afford not to eat healthy.”
So yes you can afford to eat better. Why don’t you trade all those expensive luxury items for less expensive items, and then you too can afford to eat healthy and organic.
If you pay for higher quality food, supplements and personal care products now (ones that don’t poison you), your healthcare costs will be dramatically reduced later. And if you choose to buy the cheapest “food” and personal care products now, you will be paying a lot more for your very expensive health care later. As I said before, you can choose to pay for your health now, or you can choose to pay for it later.
You can’t make up for a poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle with cosmetics and personal care products that just cover things up. You can’t even do that with pills. Health starts from within. Did you consider that maybe the puffiness under your eyes is more than just a cosmetic issue? Covering up symptoms with makeup is not addressing the underlying problem, it’s just handing over hard earned money to marketers who showed you photo-shopped pictures to sell you their products. That’s money you could have otherwise spent on healthy food.
Taking care of your body with healthy food and healthy skin care products will make your body naturally beautiful. Healthy is beautiful. Fake is just fake.
And that’s just it, this is where our values have gone very wrong. We choose to buy expensive brand names made for pennies on the dollar by people who work in sweat shops in third world countries, but we skimp on the cost of food, substituting low cost for quality. We choose to drive luxurious vehicles that are ridiculously expensive and will never last as long as our bodies, yet we cheat our bodies that carry us through our lifetime. We immerse ourselves in expensive gadgets and lose our minds to the many apps, games, and social media sites, but we ignore the nourishment that our bodies need from us, such as exercise, nutrition, rest, and time to ourselves to be ourselves.
Then we perpetuate these bad habits by infecting this behavior into our children. We teach them that the cheapest and fastest food is the way to fuel their bodies, and then we buy them expensive clothing to make sure they fit in at school among all the other misled children. Children then learn that food options for lunch include french fries, pizza and hamburgers, and never learn that what they’re putting into their bodies now, will have consequences sooner later, possibly for the rest of their lives. Remember the old saying “you are what you eat”? This is literally true since what you eat often does become part of your body, and is particularly true of children who’s bodies are still developing.
Yet it is easier to have a doctor prescribe a pill for children than it is to switch their diet to see if what they are eating may be the cause of their problem(s). And people wonder why there is an epidemic of “learning disorders”. Maybe the real problem is they are not getting essential Omega 3 fats, phosopholipids, and certain amino acids required for proper brain development and function. It is well known that western diets are deficient in certain fatty acids and these deficiencies affect brain development even before birth. Here is a study that was very stringent in their selection of entry criteria and it still showed that restricted elimination diets, fatty acid supplementation, and reduction in artificial food coloring showed statistically significant reductions in symptoms of ADHD, and mirrored previous study results.
Our bodies need a wide range of nutrients, as they often work together as the building blocks of our physical foundation. Yet, the Western world is deficient in B vitamins which are essential for proper nerve development. Perhaps another contributor to our children’s behavioral issues? Here is a study on the Effects of Vitamin B12 and Folate Deficiency on Brain Development in Children. Another study was published way back in 1997 and compiled a ton of data in regards to nutritional deficiencies and their effects on brain development. You get the point. Nutrition can affect behavior as well as health.This information isn’t new; it’s decades old with more studies coming out regularly. Yet we choose to ignore it. It’s so much easier and cheaper to buy our meal at a drive-through, or pre-packaged ready to eat, then make it from scratch.
Perhaps because we have been mesmerized with amazing colors surrounding us, we feel that our food should come in bright colors as well. Maybe because nature produces naturally colorful food such as carrots, tomatoes, bell peppers, and a host of other colorful fruits and vegetables, we buy colored corn syrup snacks and pretend those are nutrients our bodies need rather than reaching for some blueberries, or strawberries instead.
These foods are not the same:
I’m not a savage cavewoman who has never watched TV. I just choose not to pay a monthly subscription that allows me to spend hours sitting in front of a screen sedating my mind when I could be using my mind instead. Movies, educational shows, cartoons, they all serve a purpose. But a person needs to be selective about what purpose television serves. Is it serving you, or is it serving someone else’s purpose?
While I do not own a TV, thanks to the internet I do watch a movie occasionally. I do watch documentaries and educational shows. I even occasionally watch movies for entertainment (excelsior! Thank you Stan Lee). But I’m selective about what I choose to expose myself too, and I’m very careful in moderating how much time I spend on such activities. I’m especially careful if I am required to spend any money on these activities – money that could otherwise be spent on a healthy food or personal care products instead.
Yet here I am, being told that a person doesn’t know if they can trust me because I don’t watch TV? This is why I don’t watch TV – so I don’t become like one of them. So I don’t ignore the amazing relationship between food and my body, and so that I don’t ever encourage anyone else to value the wrong things.
I may spend a lot on my food now, but this is because I choose to invest in myself, and not have to pay for my health later. There is no better investment than investing in yourself – whether it is in your health or learning useful knowledge and skills. “Things” come and go, but my body and my knowledge last a lifetime. It’s like putting myself in the shopping cart first, and you can do it too.
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