As I was standing next to my doctor (my boss) smiling as he spoke to our patient, a newly diagnosed diabetic, about changing her lifestyle to eliminate soda, wheat, sugar, and eventually all grains, I found myself pretty proud of how far he’d come since I started there 2 years ago. Our patients are being taught real food healing and they are getting better. It seems so simple. Just give up a couple things, replace them with better things, and you’ll get better. Then I noticed she was glazing over, shifting glances, just waiting until her turn to talk. When her turn finally came, it hit me. The one thing I would ask everyone to give up to attain optimal health and well being if asked, and it may surprise you. Although soda and wheat come in at a close second and third I would start with that damned television. Yes, I believe TV is the biggest enemy of our health, and not just because of the wasted time people spend on their duffs while tweeting along and complaining about not having time for a workout. There’s a MUCH bigger problem.
I guess being as busy as we are I hadn’t realized how long it had been since I’d seen TV shows, commercials, etc. I was in utter SHOCK at some of the nonsense coming out of this patient’s mouth, by virtually no fault of her own. She went on to explain she’d been on a popular statin (cholesterol lowering) drug for several years. Just the other day, she saw a commercial for this drug that said long term use could cause diabetes. Oh no. No she did not just blame a drug instead of the behaviors that put her on said drug for her diabetic condition. Wow. I could feel my own blood pressure rising, and just as I was about to make a comment, it got worse. “Dr. Oz even says…” Oh for the love of God get me out of this room. Please. I am about to lose my job.
This is not even close to the first time patients have mentioned “The Dr. Oz Show”, “The Doctors”, Jillian Michaels, etc in explaining the rationale behind their often misguided choices. I think my very favorite conversation recently went something like this: “But they say whole wheat is good for you. Whole wheat pasta, bread, granola cereal. That it’s good for your heart and colon” to which the good doctor replied “Who is THEY? Who said? Kelloggs? Kraft? Kashi?” This patient searched herself for an answer. She couldn’t really recall who told her such things. “Have you done any research or spoken to a professional about this?” “No, I guess it’s just what I’ve always been taught.” Poor thing. When every time you turn on your television or radio you hear things repeated over and over you begin to believe it without even realizing. It’s almost like a chant: “Heart healthy whole grains” “Lowers your cholesterol” “When diet and exercise aren’t enough…” So, when Cheerios made by a big company and that gym membership you over pay to walk in place made by another big company aren’t enough, you should be on our big company’s drug. Which may lower your good cholesterol right along with the bad, and has 40 other side effects for which you will need more drugs. Thank you for playing right into our hands and lining our pockets. Succckkaaa!” This burns my behind something fierce because GOOD people who are trying to do what’s best for their health are getting SNOWED by the things to which they’re constantly exposed.
Sadly, it doesn’t end with healthy food claims and drug advertising. Pictures of delicious pizza, pasta, and cookies dance across your screen while you sit there starving because you didn’t eat enough protein or fat makes you want to dial up the local delivery service. We spend hours and hours of life we can’t get back staring at a box in a daze instead of cooking meals ahead for the week with the kids, spending face to face time with our families, taking a walk outdoors or going to the park, riding a bike, reading a book, having coffee with a friend, researching something that ignites passion, or getting in that workout that we keep talking about. Just think of how much money you’ll save by turning off the cable! Bonus!
Here’s my challenge to you for the next 30 days. It doesn’t even involve changing your food choices (although I’d strongly support that!). Turn it off. Completely. Unplug it. I promise no one will die without their “shows”. Take the next couple of days and make a list with your family of all the things you’ve wanted to do, together and individually. Then schedule it out. Take that time spent in front of the box and do a different relaxing activity. I promise you this: you’ll sleep better, your family will reconnect in an amazing way, and your brain will have a couple fewer discombobulations. yay, you! Please let me know how you did, and what you did instead! I’m excited for you!