Survival of the fittest; healing my body 8 week challenge 07/15-09/09

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The TV show ‘survivor man’ shows us that we, unlike carnivores and herbivores, can survive by eating what is available, both animal protein and vegetation. But I have learned that just because we can eat almost everything doesn’t mean that everything is good for us or that our eating habits are appropriate unless we are left alone in the wilderness or stranded for a short time…and we still have to know what is edible or not…

In other words; surviving in the wilderness may not be easy, but surviving in a fast paced world that is focused on artificiality seems to be even more tricky...we do not only need to learn what is edible or not but also what is real or not…and it can take quite a bit before we find out that we are following the wrong trail.

In the past 5 years I drank and ate more sugar, processed food and fat then I did in 30 years growing up in the Caribbean.

A zoo keeper once said that lions need extra vitamins because the meat (processed for human consumption) is stripped from all the nutrition they would normally get in the wild from a kill. What does this say about the quality of our meat? So we use vitamin supplements. But those contain fillers and artificial ingredients as well. I then used the ‘no sugar (aspartame) and no fat (Olestra)’ approach, allowing more processing and chemicals that cannot be digested nor absorbed by the body…All this time I was thinking I was doing the right thing…keeping calories low or even ZERO with these sugar and fat substitutes. However, my body was telling me a different story; cramps, heartburn, constipation and gas.

My body wasn’t used to sodas, fast food and high quantities of red meat and was not planning on getting used to it either. No matter how hard I tried by eating more hamburgers and drinking more soda, (this putting pressure tactic would have worked when I was younger), it just didn’t want to work with me. After every meal I felt nauseous, pain and just plain weird. The Gallbladder of my husband and most of his family members has been removed and I was afraid that I was facing this same fate. I worked in a hospital in Holland before I moved to the states, and I was astonished how certain surgeries in the states were just as common as pulling or filling a tooth.

In the end of august of 2007 my mother unexpectedly passed away and this caused a lot of tension between me and my brothers and stress on my body. Begin 2008 I was diagnosed with cancer. I believe that stress and my unhealthy eating habits, over the past 5 years had weakened my body’s natural resistance against disease. Tests showed that I was developing cancer cells and the surgeon told me that surgery was my only option to avoid the cancer from spreading (figures). Despite the well intended pressure of the doctors I denied their invasive help and decided to keep my body parts a little longer.

After doing research and a lot of reading my husband and I decided to help my stressed and sick body with the digestion process first. Why? Because I had been stressing and abusing my poor body with all that fake and unhealthy food for a long time. Another fact is that our intestines are not like the bowels of carnivores, which are short and smooth, enabling meat to pass through quickly. Our digestive tract, however, is long and bumpy with lots of pockets, just like large grazing herbivores. So actually our digestive system is built for plant foods. The food moves slowly for optimal nutrient absorption through our bowels. Just like herbivores we require dietary fiber to move the food through our long and bumpy bowels to prevent our intestines to become clogged with rotting food. So cleaning seemed to be the most logical first step.

By daily juicing a bag of 5 lb of carrots and other veggies, such as cabbage and beets, my body didn’t have to work as hard to digest. Since my body didn’t have to work so hard to digest it could work on healing and resisting illness. For a week we didn’t eat solid food and slowly started eating solid raw veggies like salad. The symptoms disappeared and I felt stronger physically and mentally clearer.

After 6 months of only consuming vegetables I started to crave meat and variety. This is when we slipped back into our old habits of consuming hamburgers and steaks with French fries on a daily basis. It just tastes better and makes me feel longer full than a bowl of salad. Needless to say, I am starting to feel miserable, weak, tired and sick again.

Moving back to the Caribbean is not yet an option (but in the future when we retire), I already said no to surgery, eating only meat (which is hard to digest) is a NO NO, eating only veggies is only fun to me if...

I were a deer and had the time to graze for many hours a day to keep me feeling full, but eating all these processed foods is not a choice either. So what to do?

The first step we took, beginning this year, is growing our own vegetables and catching our own fish. We are learning to be creative with pests without using chemicals. Spiders and some other insects are now our allies.

Girly is watching over our gardens

The second step is what this 8 week challenge is about.
Helping the digestive processes by getting in the habit of juicing and eating more plant food and protein, avoiding difficult to digest food (staying away from red meat, high fat, processed and fried food) and eating a lot of fiber.

Setting priorities; body first ( I cannot live without my body but I can live without KFC and I need to convince my mind to focus on what is good for my body)

Improving my survival skills, learning how and where to find cheap doable sources of nourishment (farmers markets, growing our own food, catching own fish) and avoiding dangerous or unhealthy ones (fast food, processed food with many preservatives, pre packed food and certain restaurants).

Keeping myself motivated by making this journey as comfortable as possible so that I don’t feel deprived, weak or hungry. Making lots of delicious soups to fill me up, healthy real fruit smoothies and eating a lot of plant protein (tofu) and healthy carbs (whole wheat pasta, rice etc).

Daily yoga practice again to strengthen my body and make it more resilient and flexible.

Sharing my weekly process in a blog.

I am ready to go to the next level on the journey of aging gracefully!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    We raise all of our own meat for this reason. I still try not to eat tons of meat, but when I do, I know what that animal ate during its life, how it lived, and how it died (sorry to gross anyone out, but that really is important!). Now, however, we have had to leave our Oregon farm for life on the East Coast due to a job transfer for my husband (USCG). So now we are eating the last of the meat we brought with us and it's kind of scary thinking of what we will do when it's gone! At least there are lots of farmer's markets to buy good quality produce. And posts like the one above to keep us focused on why choices are so important.
    4357 days ago
    Thanks for taking time to post this blog, I really needed to read it. I've been starting and stopping at being a vegetarian, but keep getting taken off track because no one else in the home wants to. So meats are still eaten in the home, which I have a better time avoiding if I'm not the cook BUT can't see to avoid 'tasting, then eating meats' when I'm the one cooking.

    I've actually purchased books about juicing, vegetarian meals and a yoga DVD but still haven't really used them...

    thank again for the post.
    4358 days ago
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