“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Nutrition is powerful, very powerful. Weston A. Price says it better than I can:
“One wonders if there is not something in the life-giving vitamins and minerals of the food that builds not only great physical structures within which their souls reside, but builds minds and hearts capable of a higher type of mankind in which the material values of life are made secondary to individual character.”~Weston Price~
I firmly believe that a good diet has the power to positively affect and change every aspect of your life, including things like your relationships, thoughts and moods, money and career, hobbies as well as your physical prowess.
If nutrition is really so powerful, it begs the question of why more of an effort isn’t made to improve the quality of food for the average person. Everyone knows that vegetables are healthy and that exercise is good for you and yet many people knowingly eat a lot of damaging food and don’t move their bodies. If you go to the average doctor when you’re sick you’ll be prescribed some medicine and yet in the overwhelming majority of cases you won’t even be asked about your eating habits. Something seems very wrong with this picture.
I think one of the answers to this perplexing question is that nutrition works slowly. This goes both ways. A bad diet can take a long time to do damage, sometimes only happening over a period of generations. The story of Pottenger’s cats is a good example. Here is another good post by Matt Stone about this topic. This must be one of the reasons why people knowingly eat harmful foods. The damage takes a long time to show… too long for them to notice. I ate a poorly constructed vegan diet, very high in junk food for a few years. It took a long time before I noticed anything was wrong.
Good nutrition can be likened to the story of the tortoise and the hare or to the amazing potential of the bamboo plant. In Ken Lodi’s fantastic book The Bamboo Principles he describes how human potential can be compared to the many qualities of the bamboo plant. Words like adaptive, tenacity, resilient, growth, flexible, cultivate and foundation are used to describe bamboo. One of the paragraphs goes as follows:
When bamboo is first planted, it grows at what you would call a normal rate. After a few years, it’s only a few feet tall, and remains that way until its fourth year- then it grows eighty to ninety feet in six weeks, almost two feet a day.
What’s effectively happening in the first years of the bamboo plant is that it’s establishing a strong, solid root system or foundation. This allows this rapid growth in later years.
Good nutrition works very similarly to bamboo. If we are ill, we need to be very patient with our bodies while we provide it with the materials it needs to heal. This can be quite a slow process, while your body replaces old cells, reorganises hormones, dumps old waste products and restructures itself. Of course, it is possible to get noticeable results overnight, but for lasting health we need to rebuild the foundation of our health at the cellular level. Once this strong foundation of health has been built, the rest of your life starts noticeably improving very rapidly. Suddenly you realise you have a lot more energy, your mood is improved, your productivity has increased and you are dealing with people in a better way.
I noticed this in myself during my own healing journey. The real results took a long time to show up, though it was completely worth the wait.
Old habits die hard. It took a long time to figure out exactly what my body needed and what was harming it. Once I had figured this out, it also took time to build the habit of consistency with these new truths. Most people cannot give up a lifetime of eating wheat overnight (as an example). Your nutritional needs also change depending on many factors, such as your stress levels, what you ate the previous week, month or year and more. Patience and trust in yourself are two virtues that will go a long way towards your own healing.
One must also develop the characteristic of curiosity. Instead of seeing lifestyle changes as difficult and cumbersome, rather try view them as a game or fun experiment. This attitude makes sticking something through a lot more pleasant.
Nutrition can change your life for the better because it works on the biochemical level and it’s relatively easy to implement. Since we are made up of cells, and our cells are influenced by our nutrition, essentially we are what we eat.
Other things effect us on a biochemical level as well. Things like stress, sleep, sunlight effect our biochemistry in a big way. I mention this because for some people nutrition is not the limiting factor in their health. Even though I am a huge believer in the healing and total life transformation power of nutrition, often it’s more important for people to focus on their weak link to get real results.
If eat the best diet in the world and yet put yourself in too many stressful situations as well as not getting enough sleep you may be unhealthier than someone who eats a poor diet but keeps the rest of their lifestyle in check.
My recommendation is to make nutritional changes very slowly, trusting yourself to be moving towards health. Listen to your body, have fun, enjoy the process. Don’t change too many things at once. Make big, powerful, lasting changes, but make them slowly. When you look back at yourself in a year or three you’ll be amazed at the difference.