The last few days, I've been pondering all of the different things people give up or believe in giving up for better health. I've done it myself. I gave up fast food two years ago. I gave up soda this month. Those are permanent changes I have been willing to make. But how much should, or will, I give up in order to achieve better health?
Is there ANY food worth being sick and tired over?
Apparently, there is. I mean, we all keep eating things that make us stay fat or feel icky. Well, not all of us, but a heck of a lot of people truly struggle to give up eating foods they KNOW make them miserable. Perhaps they are addictive. Perhaps there are other reasons. What is it about Heath bars that made them worth a diabetic literally dying over them, leaving a little boy behind motherless? I wrote about that story before on my blog, and it's true. What is it that would make a mother sit down and eat candy bars *knowing* they could kill her? Maybe we just don't believe it could happen to *us.* But it does happen, it can happen to any of us. Bad idea to push the luck that way.
But the problem for some of us is we don't have diabetes, we don't have a peanut allergy, we don't have some urgent medical condition that could cause our death if we eat xyz. Well, I do, actually. Let me tell you about it.
When I was a kid, we used to go out to eat a lot. Often. Like twice a week at least, and I don't mean fast food (although we did that too). We went to nice restaurants and I was allowed to order whatever I liked from the menu. And my very favorite things were deep fried butterflied jumbo shrimp, crab legs, and lobster tails. Oh, I'd throw in the filet mignon once in awhile or have a piece of lasagna or some fettuccine here and there, but 90% of the time I was ordering shellfish. I loved it! Then one day, we were sitting in a restaurant and I was eating my lobster tail as I'd been doing for at least 9 years. I was 14 years old. All of a sudden, my face started swelling up. My eyes swelled and my throat swelled. My Dad, who had allergies of his own, gave me some Benedryl and told me to stop eating the lobster. It sucked. A week later, I ordered shrimp. I had a similar reaction and had to stop after a couple of bites. Turns out I'd developed a very severe shellfish allergy. No more lobster, crab, or shrimp for me, ever. Even into my 20's and 30's it got worse. If I even TASTED something (accidentally) with shrimp in it, my throat would begin to swell shut and I'd have to take Benedryl. And now it is worse still: if someone ELSE eats shellfish and then touches a surface and I touch that surface and then rub my eyes, they swell shut. Once, I walked into a restaurant on the coast and they were boiling fresh crabs and my throat started to swell shut from the steam. I carry Epipens on me at all times, along with Benedryl.
I remember the delicious taste of crispy fried shrimp and fresh crab legs dipped in melted butter. I would love to have some! But I know darned well that if I ate that it would likely kill me. Do you think I eat it anyway? NO. Do you think I want just a little bite here and there? NO! Do I dream about shellfish and wish I could have it and pine for it? NO!!! I have ZERO desire to eat something that I know can kill me, even though I remember how good it tastes.
I hope to get to that point with sugar. With hot dogs. With fried foods.
I am there with sodas and McDonalds and stuff that has trans fats in it. I was able to give those things up when I thought it was impossible, because *something* finally clicked in my brain that made those things literally undesirable to me. I finally internalized the VERY REAL FACT that those things are truly harmful... not just 'bad' but HARMFUL... to my health, to my life. So they have no appeal anymore. They are no longer a battle for me.
I do think I will get there with the sugary, refined crap too. Already, I sometimes will be wandering the grocery store and look at some food I used to love and crave and I think, "no, I really do not want that in my body." Some things really *have* lost their appeal. Maybe hot dogs are getting there... I have started looking at them as well as other processed meats and realizing how unhealthy they are for my body. I mean, I know in my head what is good and not, for the most part, but there is a point when it clicks and you really, truly BELIEVE that eating that food will HURT you. And then you don't want it anymore.
It's a process, a slow one for me. but now that I *understand* the process, I can keep educating myself and making decisions about my food based on how they will truly affect my health.
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