Diabetes was taking its toll on my feet. Neuropathy was a bad problem for me; pain, numbness, tingling, arthritis and very jagged and rough bones at the top of my feet.
It was not a good situation, and one that I never though could be reversed. Talking to several diabetics since going plant-based, who are also plant-based, I knew that neuropathy and damage is something that can indeed be helped even healed with a healthy plant-based diet. I knew my feet were doing better, no more pain (well except this recent injury), no more numbness, tingling or severe cramping. Yet not till yesterday did I know how much my feet had healed. A detailed look at my foot shows that there are no more rough bones at the tops of my feet – they are completely smooth. The doctor was really encouraging, telling me that my feet don’t show any signs that I have/had diabetes. This all in a year.
It’s fantastic news. News that should be celebrated. Yet, in the past few weeks, it seems that I have been getting a big influx of people who just don’t want to believe any of the healthy plant-based talk at all. They say it’s ridiculous, that it can’t work, that diabetics can’t eat carbs, that it’s dangerous, that it can’t work, that it’s not a cure.
It’s funny, most people, when I ask what their personal experience was with a healthy plant based diet, they usually tell me that they have not tried it, or if they did – they explain a way of trying it that would even drive me insane. People who expect it to work overnight, not be a challenge in anyway, or people who want it to be as easy as popping a pill.
I have had a hard time with all of it – people who have high blood sugar numbers who not just eat an unhealthy animal protein diet – but an unhealthy – highly processed foods diet – just in general. I have had people e-mail telling me that a cure is not a cure unless we can eat and drink anything we want with out it having an impact on us at all. Excuse me, but really? That’s bull.
I would highly doubt that if someone gets lung cancer as a result of smoking that we would tell that person “HELL! Keep smoking, you shouldn’t have to give that up just to help cure yourself! Medicine will find something – someday – ummm I hope?” Or better yet – just smoke, because we should not have to refrain from things we love to do. We should just find a cure for it, so we can do whatever the hell we want.
This is the trouble with Type 2 diabetes. It is a lifestyle disease, it is caused by the unhealthy lives we live, yet we don’t want to really talk about that. We don’t want to think that we did it to ourselves, that there is a cure, but we missed it – because we really didn’t want to hear that it could possibly have something to do with the way we eat and drink.
Honestly, it’s the trouble with a lot of preventable disease. People want to consume whatever they like with no consequence, but when the consequence happens, they do not want to change their lifestyle, because it’s just too (fill in the excuse). Of course, as someone who used to take part in this kind of lifestyle, I would have never said “I want to eat whatever I want with no consequence.” Instead I would make excuses, say that it’s not fair, that other people don’t gain weight or get diabetes from eating the way I do. I’d play this never-ending game with myself, trying to convince myself that things in moderation were just fine, or things that were unhealthy were even okay every so often. I feel the same way about bad food as I do cigarettes – I would not tell someone to smoke in moderation, nor eat bad food in moderation.
The only reason we think we have a right to bad foods is because we’ve been marketed to in such a way that we believe we have the right to eat bad food, and then we have the right to medication that will fix our bad food and non working out ways. I know this, because I used to think the same way, even if I didn’t admit to it.
We are constantly marketed to. Constantly told things are not our fault. We have the highest rates of disease in this country, diabetes, obesity, heart disease and cancer – yet we don’t want to look and ask what is it that we are doing and why isn’t anyone looking at the obvious? We eat A LOT. We eat a lot of processed foods, we eat a lot of animal products, we eat so many things that are made in a factory somewhere. We are not eating food anymore, we are eating manufactured tastes.
Somehow, a lot don’t make the connection. And I don’t blame most people. Honestly, the way we are marketed to, the way most doctors are taught – no wonder why we have the troubles we do. We’re told over and over, not only can we not change it, but it’s ok, keep eating the way you want, surely medications will catch up, surely there will be a pill that prevents you from having high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, surely, there is an answer that is not found by changing the lifestyle you have become accustomed to.
I’m not sure why eating a healthy plant-based diet has so much negative response. Why people react the way they do to eating things like vegetables and fruit. And I think this is when we have to stop and ask ourselves, have we let ourselves become programmed by programming? Have we watched one to many commercials about something quick and easy? Have we been told by too many morning talk shows that losing weight and preventing disease is “easy” and you can still “eat anything you want to”.
Maybe it’s time for a wake up call. A call to really do research to really understand about the body and the way it works. Maybe it’s time to become your own doctor, and not rely on the medical industry to come up with a cure for our bad habits. We have lost the sense of responsibility when it comes to our bodies, as a society. We are constantly looking for a cure, when the answer is in front of us, the answer is not out of reach, and does not cost billions of dollars.
Until there is a magic pill that will instantly cure every major disease, maybe it’s time to do the next best thing? Get your health in order so you don’t have to take any medication, so you are in control of your body again, so you understand every thing that goes into your body, and the impact that it will have. Food is medicine and medicine is food – what you put into your body either heals it or hurts it, and it is up to us to figure out, and finally be honest with ourselves on which is which. I think most of know the truth about it, most of us know what is bad and what is good. For that matter I think any five year old could tell you that McDonald’s is bad food and a piece of fruit is good for you – food. Yet a lot of us actively choose things that only make us more sick.
Perhaps the problem is deeper. Perhaps, like myself at one point of my life, I ate the way I felt – I felt like crap, I ate crap. I didn’t care about myself or my body, and deep down I didn’t want to get healthy, I just wanted to get that temporary high I got and satisfaction from eating bad food – and screw the rest.
Even when I became a diabetic I looked at all of these other answers that would allow me to continue eating things like cheeseburgers, I just wanted to do what I wanted and I didn’t want anyone to tell me otherwise.
Thankfully, I finally got an almost too late wake-up call, in the form of hearing the words “partial amputation”. It was at that moment that I had to stop every thing and ask myself not only did I want to live, but did I want to thrive. Did I want to suffer or did I want to live life? I had been told over and over that I should not have to alter my behaviors that much, that I should still be able to eat a lot, and indulge from time to time. But that got me nowhere – except in a doctor office, sobbing over the fact that I was not getting any better, just worse.
I remember three weeks after I went plant-based. I hated the first three weeks – I thought it was impossible. I went through withdrawal like a drug addict, I acted like a child. I wanted to eat certain things more than I wanted to lose the diabetes. I complained a lot, said it wouldn’t work – looked at ‘unhealthy vegans’ who ate too much carbs or sugar and said that it wasn’t healthy. I didn’t want to accept that there was a healthy way of eating and curing myself, and no longer being on medications. I wanted an easier answer.
Low and behold, going plant-based? That was my easy answer. After the tantrum I threw, I realized that it was the easiest thing I could do. Eat simply. Eat foods that came from the Earth, don’t eat things that were made in a factory. How much more simple could I get. The answer wasn’t in a medical lab, wasn’t in my doctor office, wasn’t in a morning talk show, it was simple – the thing I put the most of in my body (food) was causing the problems I was having. Simple. Once I stopped the kicking and screaming tantrum, and calmed down, I realized that I was just trying to find ways to not eat healthy. I kept telling myself that a cure meant I would someday be able to eat whatever I wanted without consequence. I was wrong.
A cure is that moment in which you realize that you are in control of your health. A cure is when you realize there is hope, and it is in your hands. A cure is when you realize that you have more power than any pill. A cure is when you don’t have a pharmacy bill every month. A cure is when you don’t have to go further than the produce aisle or the farmers market to shop. A cure is when you don’t cause other major issues in your body from different medications or ways of eating that cause things like high cholesterol (like low carb, high animal protein diets). A cure is when it works on your entire body. A cure is when you can go off pain medications for problems you once had that left you crying after a few steps on a treadmill. A cure is deciding that your life is worth working for, that your life is worth changing a few bad habits. A cure won’t be advertised on television or at the doctor’s office, but will be right there for you when you are ready. The truth is, that there is a cure for many preventable disease, we just have to accept that they are there.
Prevent and cure – don’t wait, don’t expect a lab to fix you – expect YOU to fix YOU. Take the power back into your own hands and find out every thing you can about your health and the way you live your life. If you started by simply being honest with yourself, and asking before you ate something “is this going to heal or hurt my body” you would do yourself a world of good. Because, as I said, I believe most of us know the truth, it’s just a matter of accepting it, and getting over ourselves long enough to make the changes and find happiness and joy in those changes.
P.S: Medicalnewstoday.com says “While diabetes cannot technically be cured, it can go into remission.” Tell me, if your diabetes is not impacting your new healthy lifestyle, then really what is the difference between permanent remission and a cure?