Working in a public library, I am surrounded by books, people, and the exchange of information all day. I am interested in many subjects, but healthy living, a balanced lifestyle, spirituality and philosophy are among the primary themes of my quest for living in balance with nature.
As I read and watch documentaries about the state of nutrition, agriculture, corporate domination of the American economy, how our government interacts with big business to run a global economy…as well as a multitude of books, films, and articles about diet, nutrition, ecology, it comes to mind that it is very difficult to live a balanced life in the current context of this contemporary post-industrial age.
Everywhere we hear about the detrimental effects of obesity, and there is often the sense that people who are overweight are somehow faulty in their will-power, that they need only reduce calorie intake or do more exercise to bring their lives into balance.
What I have learned is that the chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides, perfumes and additives to beauty products as well as foods), plastics, genetically modified organisms, excessive consumption of highly processed foods, flours, and meats, as well as fifty common food additives (such as MSG) also contribute to obesity. The equation of eating less fats and exercising more does not cause weight loss. Diets and deprivation don’t work. Sugar substitutes, even natural ones, trick the brain to crave sugar and carbs and cause weight gain.
On top of that, a lifestyle in which direct human interaction, satisfying work and relationships are rare or too superficial, causes life to often feel empty. Many people feel lonely and without purpose. And our corporate food, pharmaceutical and farming industries try to pump us full of addictive foods and substances which we crave. The system wants us to be ill, because we will then spend lots of money trying to heal the myriad of diseases created by living out of balance.
Our bodies contain the wisdom to keep our systems in balance and healthy, but there are just too many factors working against health and a satisfying life. Our culture teaches us to not love ourselves, our bodies, and not to trust our desires or our innate talents. We must be constantly dissatisfied so we are driven to buy more products to “feel better”.
So are most overweight Americans entirely responsible for their obesity?
I think not. You really have to delve into a lot of literature to find out what makes sense, but it is very important to make this information available to everyone. We need to stop using plastics to package our foods. We need to be able to purchase fresh, local food that contains the nutrients our bodies need to restore and maintain health without medications. Our soils need time to regenerate once we stop pumping our ground and water full of pesticides and fertilizers. We can stop feeding the animals we eat with unnatural methods, and we can stop giving them antibiotics to prevent disease caused by improper living conditions.
We can also start being kind to all of the animals who provide us with milk, meat, eggs, treating them with respect and love. We can choose to stop buying processed foods that are full of obesity-inducing additives and preservatives. We can choose to pay more for organic products, natural beauty products, lotions, soaps, grass fed meats, products produced with love and care. Eventually, with increased demand, the prices will go down and stores providing organic and local foods will open in lower income neighborhoods. We need to understand that a fulfilling life is about not deferring our dreams and desires, but by creating a life for ourselves that shows reverence for our unique being and talents.
Our bodies contain all of the wisdom of nature. Fat encapsulates toxins that would otherwise enter our bloodstream if we were to lose weight without detoxing our bodies. Cilantro or coriander removes mercury and other heavy metals from the body. Foods with a gel-like consistency such as sea weeds, aloe vera juices, and chia seeds also help to cleanse our intestines of toxins. We also need fats to keep our brains healthy and to nourish our infants, neo-natal and post-natal. Because we try to diet, our bodies are starved for proper nutrition. Also, as women age in particular, we need to store extra fats in order to maintain hormonal balance and and to even our emotional keel. Eating healthier fats can be useful (contained in nuts, fish, avocados, flax and chia seeds, among other foods.)
If we start to love and care for ourselves better, we will build a better society for our children and for future generations. The government and corporate entities who are making money off of our misery cannot continue to thrive if we choose to no longer be ignorant of their money-making schemes. Globalization is not in the best interest of our health, of our communities, of our planet. I feel compelled to help people to sort out the information from the misinformation. I also feel sure that a much simpler lifestyle with less activities, less stuff, and more warmth, affection, good food with nutritious ingredients, and satisfying work would help resolve the American problem of obesity quite quickly.
Remember: our bodies love us dearly and are working for us and for our health at each moment. All we have to do is listen to ourselves and just love ourselves a little more each day!