Friday, October 07, 2005

The Real Cost of Poor Nutrition

Every piece impacts the whole……..of your Life Puzzle. (

We take for granted our nutrition. We are grossly under educated about how food works in our body…and our minds. We generally assume—whatever I eat…my body will deal with it. And, yes, once you swallow it…it will have to deal with it! But taking our nutrition for granted impacts our lives in so many other ways than just what happens after you swallow it. In truth…the “real cost” of poor nutrition has an impact on you, your family, the community and the world!

When we eat low quality, highly processed foods instead of nutrient dense, high quality, organic foods—all pieces of our Life Puzzle are impacted.

Poor nutrition leaves our bodies and minds depleted. The consequences are numerous—
Exercise: we tend to exercise less when we eat poorly. Together these two areas of our Life Puzzle set the stage for much of what happens in the rest of our lives. (if you want to solve the health care crisis—you can do it right here. If Americans changed their diets and started exercising—a grand majority of the primary illnesses of our day would go away!)

Feelings: when we eat poorly, energy goes down, we often end up unable to proactively manage our feelings. Depression, anxiety, and an inability to manage daily stress take a toll on our feelings. Food has a powerful impact on our moods.

Thinking: our brains need high quality food to think! Eating a junk food, highly processed diet will reduce your ability to think effectively—and do well in your school, work…life!

Communication: is dependent on how we manage our feeling and thinking. When we eat poorly, we tend to be less capable communicators! And our ‘self-talk’ tends to become quite negative.

Relationships: add up inability to manage feelings, be high level thinkers and good communicators—and you can see how building a healthy relationship becomes much more difficult.

Parenting: your children depend on you to be the model for healthy eating. Also, when you are eating a junk food diet—you end up more irritable, less able to manage the high stress of raising a child (which is a lot of work!)

Sexuality: well, let’s just say…we perform better when we eat well!

Community: imagine a world where everyone ate high quality foods. Would we get a long better? Yes, we would! But another area is the impact on health/disease. When we eat poorly, we increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer—this requires massive amounts of the community’s time, energy and financial resources to help sick people—yet many of these people could’ve avoided becoming sick if they’d eaten better!

Environment: the impact of high industrial farming to produce so much of the highly processed foods today has resulted in depleted nutrition, ruined farmlands (topsoil loss each year is tremendous). It’s also leading to increased rates of cancer as well. Industrial farming impacts our water—of rivers, bays, ground water etc. through run-off of pesticides.

Work: poor nutrition impacts productivity, increases insurance premiums for the increased illnesses. This pulls money out of ‘profit centers’ and reduces your raises, benefits etc. as it funnels into insurance companies coffers to compensate for the illnesses resulting from poor nutrition!

Financial responsibility: ex: diabetes. If you are diagnosed with diabetes at age much will you spend from 45-80 on meters, testing strips, insulin, doctor’s visits etc. (conservative estimate is $3,000 per year out of pocket—if you’re insured, totaling $105,000!) If you could’ve prevented your diabetes through a low fat, high complex carbohydrate, healthy diet—where would you have put this money to work in your life instead of on this?

Special challenges: poor nutrition leads to many illnesses which ‘challenge’ our lives. Diabetes, cancer, heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome…on and on it goes!
Finding meaning: living life in relationship to death. Yes, we will all die—whether we eat a nutrient dense, organic diet or a fast food only diet. But what about the quality of life vs. quantity. If two people live for 80 years—one spending half their life fighting illnesses due to poor nutrition, the other living vibrantly, doesn’t it make sense to choose good foods?

The Medical Profession resigned?

This week I was the guest speaker for a colleague's Nutrition course at the College. I was sharing the Life Puzzle model--and discussing how the nutrition piece of one's Life Puzzle impacts all the other pieces (see following blog--Every piece impacts the whole.).

Most of the people in the room were either already working in the medical profession--or were in the process of entering the field with the completion of their degrees. As I talked about the Choosing Continuum--one woman, dressed in 'medical scrubs', raised her hand and said, "Well, how do we tell a client that they have to take responsibility and change their lifestyle, when all they really want is for us to give them a pill and send them on their way? If the doctor I work for doesn't do this, they'll trot down the street to someone who will!!!!!

As she said this, many other students were shaking their heads in agreement. They described clients as by and large desiring to relinquish their health care to the system instead of taking responsibility for their own lives. And I know they're right as I've heard this very same lament for the last 25 years...."but patients won't do it'.

It reinforces the reality that most people...and our medical profession as well, operate from the 0-5, reactive, unconscious, victim model. People create the system, system reinforces the people and we stay locked in a vicious, victim cycle.

I know you and I can't change that system. All you can do is change your SELF. But also remember this...when you enter the medical profession to seek help, don't expect to get 6-10 proactive, conscious help! For the medical profession has resigned! With the rare exception, they have abandoned standing up to the 0-5, reactive client and resigned themselves to the quick fix--even though they know this isn't good health care and leaves us all in a downward spiral.

I concurred with these students that changing the system is not going to be easy but that after this evening's class--from here on out they are going to have to ask themselves--am I truly a helping professional who takes responsibility for how I work in my field--proactive and conscious, or am I just a cog in the wheel of a system to which I'm a victim.

Our medical system is on the verge of collapse. Only the people in it and the people who access it can determine whether it totally fails (both groups!) or it begins to shift 6-10, proactive. The folks in the medical professions are going to need to get a backbone and take back their profession!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Collapse....Its a choice!

I was struck by the title of Jared Diamond's new book, Collapse, how societies choose to fail or succeed. As I read it, I thought to myself...choice--I wonder how many people would actually accept that societies 'choose or don't choose' to collapse. Wouldn't most people assume that the collapse of a society was less a choice and more a result of a catastrophe to which they were the ultimate victim?

I've read only a small amount of the book so far, but because I've worked with the Choosing Continuum tool when teaching the Life Puzzle model, I would have to agree with Mr. Diamond--societies CHOOSE to fail or succeed, just as people choose to fail or succeed.

It is very easy to determine whether a person operates from a 0-5, reactive, unconscious, victim pattern of living or a 6-10 proactive, conscious, self-responsible pattern of living. And since people make up societies, a society is the sum total of the number of 0-5 reactive people vs. 6-10 proactive people. From this awareness it becomes obvious whether a society as a whole is choosing to succeed or fail.

Which is what scares me right now. Because after 15 years of teaching the Life Puzzle model to individuals, groups, systems, I've asked them all--where are you on the Choosing Continuum, 0-5 reactive or 6-10 proactive? After all these years, the grand majority of people continue to answer that question and acknowledge that they fall on the 0-5 side. We are reactive, unconscious, passive. And it is in that passivity that we choose to fail--ourselves, our families, our communities, our world.

There is still time to change this! But will we choose to become proactive 6-10 and choose to succeed? We don't have much time to decide--within the next 5 decades we'll find out. Did we choose to fail or choose to succeed. Did we Collapse?