How Sick Does Your Food Make You??
Upon every patient’s dietary assessment, I commonly receive the “deer in headlights” look after I’ve told them their diet is making them sick. It’s the look that correlates with frightening thoughts like, “Lord help me! She’s going to make me give up coffee!!!!” We are creatures of habit. Oftentimes, we don’t even realize how sick our habits make us. We ignore small signals, like puffy eyes, headaches, digestive or sleep problems, brain fog, lack of libido, etc. We rationalize by saying, “moderation is the key” or “I only have 1 soda (or some other form of poison) each day.”
Our food system today is so broken that even “food like substances” are considered actual food by many. It’s hard to believe that food can make you sick…like really sick…like diabetes sick, autoimmune sick, or cancer sick. A recent study out of UC San Francisco showed that just 150 calories of sugar per person per day increased the prevalence of diabetes in the population by 1%. This is just one can of soda or bottle of juice. In contrast, the researchers found that 150 additional calories of anything other than sugar only caused a 0.1% increase in diabetes.
It’s imperative to get people to realize that all their seemingly innocent little daily moderations add up to one giant health disaster waiting to happen. Often, after we put someone on a nutritional plan for their specific needs, within just a few days they begin to feel more alert, they sleep better, they are thinking better, they are no longer bloated, their headaches go away, and the list goes on. Your body wants nutrient dense food!
My favorite food success story in 15 years of practice happened just recently. It involved a young 16 year old, James. His mother brought him in with concerns of depression and lack of sleep. James is “healthy” according to traditional medical standards but only because five years of extensive testing searching for ways to help him feel better brought no answers.
When I first looked at James, I could tell he was sick even though he’d been told he was healthy. He was emaciated. His skin was very pale, almost yellow. He had bags under his sunken eyes which appeared to be lined with red eyeliner. His lack of confidence was apparent by his slumped posture.
After a thorough evaluation, it was determined that James had severe food allergies. Not the kind of allergies that make you sick immediately or even give you hives. His food allergies are causing him to not absorb his food properly causing malnourishment. I advised him to eliminate soda, gluten/bread, and dairy. He then told me he works at a very popular fast food restaurant and he eats there daily, sometimes many times throughout the day and he drinks a lot of pop. Uh-oh…I said, “well James, it’s time to find a new job because this one is making you sick!” He said he wanted to feel better so he would make his best effort.
Ten days went by and James and his mother came back to see me. He had been soda, gluten, and dairy free for a week when he “caved” and ate dinner at the restaurant where he works. Within 10 minutes after eating he become extremely nauseous and puked his brains out!!!! Some other patients and my staff overheard him telling this story. As if by reflex I screamed, “THAT’S AWESOME!!!” The office erupted in laughter! (James laughed as well.) I certainly wasn’t trying to be mean or make light of his situation. My reaction was solely happiness for him! In just a few days of eliminating allergenic foods, his health had shifted so much that his body was telling him it no longer wanted toxic food!! That is a life changing impact for a 16 year old kid!
He admitted for years he always had a little bit of a stomach ache after eating foods containing gluten and dairy but he just ignored it. There was NO way James was ignoring this signal from his body!! He was astounded at how after just a few days he learned the hard (but quick) way how damaging his daily habits were. He said he had much more energy and was sleeping better and is committed to feeling better. He also said he was feeling happier and less anxious. His eyes had brightened up, the bags under his eyes were disappearing, and he was confidently standing taller.
James is being taught how to use food as fuel and as medicine. Just as your food choices can make you sick, they can just as easily make you well. If a 16 year old can do it, you can too! If it was made in a plant, don’t eat it. If it comes from a plant, indulge!