Over the past two years, I’ve come to believe that a good 80% of our physical well-being (healthy weight, freedom from aches and pains) depends upon our diet. Six years ago, at the nadir of alcoholism, my weight had ballooned to 165 pounds, and I was miserable in every sense of the word. The early years of sobriety that followed brought little relief from the weight gain, as I remained trapped by addiction; only now to sugar.
It was only by making consistent, healthy food choices that I overcame my cravings for sugar. I lost 50 pounds without increasing my exercise (and the exercise I get is mainly incidental, from housework, gardening, and the like), and I began to feel better. In fact, I felt great. Recovery actually felt like recovery.
My travels to Costa Rica this past year have reinforced my thoughts about diet and well-being. While Costa Rica is not known for fancy cuisine, the Tico (native Costa Rican) lifestyle encourages a simple diet based on fresh food. It’s sensible and sustainable, it’s balanced and healing.
I’m not discounting the reality of disease. Dietary changes are not a cure-all, merely a solid foundation from which our bodies are better able to self-regulate. My hubby, for example, suffers from gout, and there are several healthy foods he must avoid. But, short of those select items, a more ‘green’ diet alleviates the lion’s share of his gout triggers, and an herbal supplement helps him halt flare-ups when they occur.
My own commitment to a greener, fresher diet (by minimizing intake of processed and preserved foods – I’m neither Vegan nor Vegetarian) not only helped me shed a lot of weight, it effectively corrected my hypothyroidism, for which I’d been on medication the past fifteen or so years. My metabolism has revved up so much, it’s become a challenge to put weight on.
There are even more benefits to eating green. When fruits and vegetables are fresh, they are more flavorful. Not only does the body enjoy the nutrition, the taste buds receive a treat. I can say that the meals I’ve enjoyed most have been in one of two places: Five-star restaurants, and Costa Rica. Imagine it…fruits and vegetables, fish and seafood, harvested the very day you eat them, or at most, the day before. Eating isn’t just refueling. It’s an experience of pleasure that satisfies body and soul.
I’ve come to appreciate, too, how ‘living green’ and connecting with nature has influenced my emotional and spiritual well-being. And it finally dawned on me, this simple truth that has stared me in the face my whole life: whenever our choices bring us closer to the source of our sustenance, we flourish.
By extending my dietary principles to other areas of my life, I can say my life has improved in ways I couldn’t anticipate. The time I spend in Costa Rica renews my sense of contentment with life and my passion for it. And in the middle of a Minnesota winter, (when there’s no birdsong at home, no frogs, or crickets), vacationing in a rainforest teeming with life is like taking a fast-acting anti-depressant…minus the drugs.
– listening to the howls and cackles and chirps of nature without accompaniment by first-world noise,
– standing on a sunny hill and looking up at verdant, cloud-draped mountains – or down to a sandy coastline,
– sitting in a boat and watching wild dolphins play – so close you could touch them if you dared.
These experiences don’t merely feed us; they change us.
The intimate connection of our well-being to the natural resources of our world should come as no surprise. It also stands to reason that anything artificial would have the opposite effect on our health; an allergic reaction, if you will, in mind, body, and spirit. Thus, if we disconnect our lives from nature, we suffer. And, in more ways than one.
If there is one resolution I’d urge you to make for 2018, it’s to connect with your source, engaging all your senses. Even if all that changes are the foods you eat, you’ll be transformed.