Don’t Let Weird Social Pressures Determine Your Health

Don’t Let Weird Social Pressures Determine Your Health
April 6, 2011 Heather Nicholds, C.H.N.

Phil and I went for a walk the other day because the weather was just gorgeous. One of the things we got talking about was how social norms can affect your own diet.

If we totally cut out sweets, for example, a lot of people would think we were nuts, that we’re depriving ourselves. We’d also probably be tempted quite a few times throughout the year when hanging out with friends and family.

But the thing is, white sugar/white flour/refined oil sweets aren’t really a normal thing for humans to eat, and there are lots of cultures that don’t do sweet desserts at all. Even sugar cane/whole wheat flour/coconut oil sweets, while better, are not what your digestive system is expecting. Many sweets are seen by your digestive system as foreign, toxic substances that it must get rid of.

Oil is another one I’ve been thinking about more than usual lately. Eliminating it might seem extreme in current society, and in the context of the most common cooking methods being used right now, but it’s definitely not necessary and for the most part, not a health food.

Meat and animal foods eaten in the excessive quantities they are right now are definitely more of a social influence than a health one. A purely vegan society isn’t a human tradition, either, but eating meat at nearly every meal is the bigger departure from previous generations.

Cigarettes were once the social norm, and even encouraged with ads showing doctors who recommended certain brands. They’re out of favor these days, but we now have other things that are just as bad for you, yet considered acceptable.

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If you were to quit drinking sodas, a lot of people would probably think you were going too far and wonder why, but Phil says he’d rather see people smoke 1 cigarette every day than drink a can of Coke (not to mention the huge soda serving sizes from fast food joints). Soda, white flour, deep-fried everything – these are now the norm. No wonder 1 in 2.5 people get cancer.

These non-foods are also a huge factor in the growing rates of obesity, diabetes and other diseases. Diet sodas aren’t any better, since the sugar is replaced with chemicals. Some day I hope soda will be viewed as socially repulsive as cigarettes are today.

What I take away from these thoughts is that if I want to do something for my health, even if it seems crazy to some, I try to look at it in a context beyond my own society and upbringing. I also listen to the feedback that my body gives me on what I eat, like the pimples I get when I eat something with white flour or sugar – my body’s way of telling me something is wrong.

Or sometimes, your body doesn’t give you clear feedback, especially if you’ve been ignoring it for years. You can drink a coke a day and feel fine, but over time your health will decline.

The bottom line: I try to follow common sense and then pay attention to my body’s reactions. If you want to be healthy – I mean truly healthy – you’re going to have to break some of society’s rules. From Mark Twain:

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

Is there something that you want to do for your own health, but feel like it’s too crazy in your family or social group?

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