Two Deadly Assumptions

Writing a blog is no easy task. There are times I wonder about what to write. What do you want to read? How can I best serve you in the precious few minutes you have to read this? Today started out to be one of those wondering days ... then it hit me!

I recently learned a technique to overcome obstacles to my creative work called “What P***** Me Off!” What to write about today was staring me right in the face ... a Facebook post written by a young woman was just begging for me to reply – gently, yet informatively. Her post contained the two most dangerous, yet commonly held assumptions about medications and food.

The post that begged me to respond

The young woman’s post was a response to a picture of the T-shirt above. It tells the story of many people’s approach to their health care ... a story of reliance on pharmaceutical medications for every ill. The result of it all: side effects galore and the need to take more and more pills to deal with it all. So one pill begets another pill.

That T-shirt pinpoints these two common but false beliefs:

  1. Medications are safe.
  2. Food has no impact on health.

Nothing could be further from the truth! These very notions are part of what drove me out of the nursing profession. Every day I saw the devastating results of a lifestyle that valued medications more than food. About 8 out of 10 patients I met had one or more diseases that were a result of their food choices … obesity, diabetes and cancer were the most common.

Many diabetic patients I cared for would wake up after surgery and ask for sugary sodas and cookies to eat … and I had just given them a boatload of intravenous insulin for their crazy high post-surgical blood sugar! Why would they ask for sugary treats? They know not to eat sugar … or do they? I think I was the only nurse on the unit that wouldn’t grant them their unhealthy requests. I sidestepped their outlandish requests by saying there wasn’t any left and offer them a better choice instead. They always accepted.

The reality of medicines

Back to the false beliefs. Medications, while sometimes necessary, can have some really serious side-effects. Did you know that every 19 minutes an American dies of an adverse effect from a prescription medication? And the rates keep going up every time new government data is released.

Most of the clients I see these days are not even aware of the possible common side-effects of their medication, let alone the less common, but often deadliest ones. Sadly, many don’t seem interested until I show them the list associated with their medication. And then their jaws drop as they read the list and exclaim, “Oh my gosh, I think I have about 80% of those side effects!”

Information on medication side effects is not hard to find. It just requires a few moments of your time ... time that could save your life or that of a loved one. The app works well and can conveniently be installed on your smartphone. However, my all-time favorite print resource is The Nursing Drug Handbook. I think everyone should have it on their bookshelf at home. It’s that good!

Food as medicine

Hippocrates said “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.”

With all the new and astounding scientific evidence about food that’s coming out almost daily, why is this notion still neglected by so many people today? Maybe it’s because our culture is out of touch with nature and where food comes from. Cooking and gardening are foreign to many. I even meet women in their 50’s and 60’s who don’t really know how to cook.

Learning to cook from scratch with high quality organic, local and seasonal foods is the goal if you value your health. There are so many resources out there ... cookbooks, cooking shows, foodie blogs, on-line courses, etc. Think of cooking as art and an expression of your creativity!

How much more effort and expense is it to be more mindful about your food, when the alternative is pharmacy, doctor, surgeon, anesthesia and chemotherapy bills and a loss of quality of life?

There’s so much more for me to share about “food as medicine”, but I’ll stop here for today!

Leave me a comment below about your biggest question that you need answered about “food as medicine” and I'll cover it in an upcoming post!