This past Saturday marked the last day of the 8 Weeks to a Better You! challenge and what a journey it has been. If you’ve been following me throughout the challenge, you know that I shifted things slightly in the beginning to make it a Mindful Living challenge for myself. I didn’t change the rules, I just changed my focus on them, and I’m so grateful that I did.
I started off with my sights set solely on living mindfully. My goal was to make sure I was present in every aspect of my life and every aspect of the challenge. Well, that became a challenge in and of itself. I started getting messages from the universe to focus on food, but that wasn’t my goal so I kept struggling, brushing it off and trying to guide myself in the direction that I wanted to go, follow the path that I wanted to learn. I felt like I was already eating a healthy diet and didn’t need to focus on food, didn’t need to listen. (For your information, this is not how mindful living goes. You don’t get to choose what you learn, you need to let go of your control, stop the power-struggles and learn what is brought to you. It took me a while to figure that out.)
A couple of weeks into this last challenge a lot of things came about that changed my focus. I found out that a dear friend of mine has been diagnosed with rectal Cancer, another friend from our old neighborhood has been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and my mother-in-law had to have angiogram and stents put in. Unfortunately, I’ve lost more family and friends to Cancer than I care to admit, but when your friends, people your age and younger, start getting Cancer, it’s downright scary. If that isn’t a message from the Universe, a wake-up call to check-in on your own health, I don’t know that is.
Around this same time, I was lucky enough to have a close friend of mine, who lives in Boston, visit not once, but twice. We started talking about our friend with Cancer. We started talking about the other people we know with Cancer and heart problems and allergies and ADD and ADHD and more. And when I asked “Why?” We started talking about food. And that’s where my journey shifted gears.
My friend and I talked and talked about food. And we talked about movies we’ve seen. Movies… about food. She recommended I watch The Gerson Miracle, Forks Over Knives and The Engine 2 Diet. I highly suggest everyone on this planet watch all of them. They are all available on Netflix and you can even watch The Gerson Miracle for free here. All three movies talk about what our food does to us and for us. Some of it is literally killing us (meat and dairy), some can heal us (plants). There is scientific research that backs up the information in all three movies and if we let go of our fear of change, acknowledge that nutrition that was taught in school in the 1950s and the food pyramid we were taught in grade school might be wrong and trust our intuition, we’ll find that plants just might be the key to our future.
Unfortunately, many of us focus our diets around meat, dairy and other animal products and add in plants like we would add salt and pepper. Unfortunately most of the health problems we face (Cancer, Diabetes, etc.) can be tied to eating animals and processed food. One of the films reported Cancer studies done in Norway over a period of a few decades around World War II. In the 1940s, during World War II, Hitler invaded Norway during that time the Nazi’s took all of the animals (beef cattle, pork, etc.) from Norway for themselves to eat and left the Norwegians with nothing to eat but plants. Ironically, prior to the invasion, Cancer was prevalent, during the time of the invasion and for a number of years after, Cancer rates dropped, significantly. But after the war, when the animals returned, so did the Cancer.
Now here’s where I get excited (where my plant-geekiness really comes through). In each of these films they talk about plant phytochemicals. I know, you’re saying, “Phyto-what?” Phytochemicals are the natural chemicals in plants that protect them from the elements, insects, etc. and they have found that these same phytochemicals have protection and healing properties for us when we eat them. (The more phytochemicals the darker the plant/fruit… think dark leafy greens, blueberries, etc.) And what’s even better is that eating plants can repair damage that has already been done, even Cancer. In 1928 Dr. Max Gerson discovered that by juicing and eating a plant-based diet that he could heal many chronic diseases, including Cancer. Now, believe me, it makes me a little nervous to put this in print because according to our society’s standards I don’t have the right credentials to say this. But what I can say is that it makes perfect sense to me.
I think of anything I’ve ever heard about food that was the best thing I could hear. We often hear that if we eat this or that it will help prevent Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, Heart Disease or Cancer, but in the back of my mind I wonder, “But what if it’s already there and I just don’t know it yet?” To learn that eating the right foods, a whole group of them, not just one or two, plants specifically, can repair damage that’s already done is incredible. Remember as a kid when you were playing and you goofed up, but you didn’t want to lose the game so as quickly as possible you’d yell, “Do over!”. Now we, as adults, can also yell “Do over!” to our bodies. And you can start the repair with your next snack or your next meal! How cool is that?!?
At one point someone told me I was trying to hit too many topics with this blog, that maybe I should just focus on one… say, gardening, or mindful living, or healthy eating. But to me, they are all intertwined, which is why the tagline is, “Living today for tomorrow’s generation.”
Eight weeks ago I started off on a mindful living journey. When I started paying attention to my health, the health of my friends and family, I discovered I really needed to take a harder look at our food. Then I realized that I need to limit my meat intake to just a few ounces a week. I need to incorporate more plants into my diet. And what’s the best place to get fresh food? Why our own garden of course! If we take care of the soil, don’t use herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers, then we are growing food in a sustainable manner. If we are being mindful of what we are doing to the earth, to the soil and what we are putting into our bodies, then we are living sustainably and mindfully. You see… all connected.
The final part of my food and plant journey includes the next steps in my life. I’m transitioning my diet to a primarily plant-based diet, which I will elaborate more on later. But on a business note, I have decided to begin the Urban Farming Certification Program in my area, which starts in January. What that means for you is that I’ll be adding more ammunition to my plant knowledge, specifically edibles, which will add more services to my business. More knowledge, more experience… more food!
Grow food! Eat Plants! Plants heal.