Hippocrates was one smart dude.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” is this healer’s complete quote. He cared for the sick in Greece in the early 4th century BCE. Of course, he didn’t have access to the modern science of our doctors today, but our best physicians still offer this advice to prediabetics: eat healthy food and exercise daily, and bring down the weight.
Amazingly, Hippocrates’ wisdom, “There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance,” still applies. We stick to our opinions, “My doc would like me to lose weight, but…(eye roll)…”I’m so busy, it’s too hard, I don’t have time, my family won’t eat it, etc.” We wait for the magic bullet, the pill or the shot, only to find out it doesn’t work unless we change the habits our science trained healer suggested was the best treatment in the first place.
This is the food as medicine and medicine as food concept, or as I call it, Whole Food for Whole People. Many “health fads” toss out entire food groups: nothing white, no carbs, no grains, or nothing a male cro-magnon couldn’t kill with a spear. Other plans rely on processed meal replacement drinks and bars which are mostly sugars and oils mixed with a protein supplement. Don’t get me started on “clean eating,” unless it means you wash your veggies before you eat them and wash your hands before food prep or eating. The same goes if you’re restricting your calories below 1,500 per day, except under a doctor’s supervision, because you’re setting your metabolism to starvation mode. As soon as you begin to eat normally, you’ll begin to gain serious amounts of weight. Your body’s deprivation senses the feast and goes into beast mode. All you do is set up a yoyo effect, gaining and losing the same weight over and over. I have a drawer full of these T-shirts.
“Wherever the art of Medicine is loved, there is also a love of Humanity.” My dad and uncle were both physicians, so healing and caring for people are in my family’s DNA. I’m retired clergy, so my healing and caring has been for people’s spiritual lives. I have diabetes in my family and I’ve been prediabetic for eleven years. I have a supportive doc and I put my mind onto living my best life, not everyone else’s life.
When time is an issue, what we really mean is we’re too tired to take care of our bodies well. We don’t value ourselves as much as we value the others in our lives. As a pastor, one of the most difficult obstacles to my ministry was my own need to please others. Someone was always sick, needy, broken, or otherwise seeking my help 24/7/365. Parents understand this, adult children of invalid parents understand this, and so do the self employed. If we don’t take time off and we don’t do the necessary caregiving to ourselves, we won’t be there to care for others. As one who left full time ministry on disability leave, I can vouch for that. I have other friends who have destroyed their health doing good for others. The pain of not being able to do what you love and what God calls you to do is all to real. It’s a form of death.
I grocery shop once a week, buying vegetables and fruit in season for the best price. I don’t hit the middle aisles very often except for wild rice, beans, and my favorite whole wheat pastas, which I don’t eat nearly as often as I used to! Some cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, regular cheese, meats and eggs round out the list. I make sure there’s no high fructose corn syrup lurking in these products or other sugars by any other name. I don’t do the fat free items unless the ingredients are the same as the regular offering, except for the fat content. Often the fat free has more sodium or gums to change the texture. Reading labels is important. If you’re pressed for time, use Cornie’s Rule: A smaller ingredient list equals a better and less processed food.
Time in the kitchen is another issue for folks. I happen to be a simple cook. None of that fancy pants saucing and tending of the stove our parents did that got them a star in their crown. Save that for special occasions. None of us are the farm family any more who can tend a stove for hours. Thirty minutes tops for a meal during the week and an hour on the weekend is the most I’m giving to this part of my life and I enjoy my food! Mr. Microwave as guest chef or assistant is a boon in every kitchen for crisp, al dente veggies, or reheating leftovers just so.
Herb Seasonings can change up the tastes every night, even if the same chicken breast is showing up as the main course. Just change out the veggies and potato. This evening I went for corn on the cob instead. Counting carbohydrates is a must for prediabetics and diabetics. These are listed on packaging and your doctor will tell you how many to have per meal.
If you introduce these changes gradually, you’ll retrain your family’s taste buds naturally. All at once, they’ll resist. Slow and easy will help you adjust also. Cold turkey is best saved for sandwiches.