This Friday, I want to dedicate this post to my health.
Just in general, I am thankful to feel good. I realize this is quite a special thing. I have no major health problems (except needing a really simple foot surgery) and I feel better than I have right now, than I have in a long time.
I also wanted to take this post to explain my rationale for why I feel better.
First of all, I have less stress here. I explain it to others that my stress is mainly short term. A bad day is not being able to communicate or having an issue buying snow chains. Those go away fast when I either laugh it off or have multiple glasses of wine. And while I enjoyed my full time job that I had in the States, it provided more “long term” stress, as most jobs do. So this major health affecter has lessened for the meantime until I start working again.
Second of all, I think a lot of it actually is rooted in food. My husband has been on this bandwagon for a long time, but this has taken me a long time to admit the cause/effect. I am now fully there. I just had to be forced to feel the difference in my body.
Here are a few reasons why I think my body feels better with the food here:
–In Europe, they don’t really eat processed food that has been manufactured for convenience, not for nutritional value.
–In Europe, they don’t have a lot of “shortcut” food like low fat and sugar substitute types. No diet ice cream here or fat free pastries here, folks. It’s the real deal.
–In Europe, genetic engineering of animals is illegal.
–In Europe, basically all the produce is organic by nature, they don’t use chemicals or alter the seeds in any way as is done in the States.
–In Europe, it is taboo to “eat on the go” or eat while walking, so it makes for more conscious meal enjoyment.
And its not just me. This topic has come up various times with friends here. One friend reported that she felt gross the entire time she visited the US for Christmas because her stomach had grown used to Switzerland’s foods and it couldn’t take the processed ingredients anymore. It was rejecting them. Another friend commented that she couldn’t cut the chicken into bits for a recipe at her mother’s house because the texture was so unlike the chicken she has become accustomed to here. Just this week, I met a lady who dropped 10 pounds in her first few weeks living here this Fall because of the positive change of the food.
If you are interested in learning more about this topic, I recommend two forms of media. The first is the book Food Matters, which I read with my book club. It encourages conscious food consumption to protect the environment. My two takeaways were:
–Buy things with less packaging
– Try to cut your meat intake in half to lesson the environmental impact that big business meat farming has. After reading the book, I did cut down my meat intake, using nuts and beans to replace half my protein. I didn’t really miss it.
Also, Gabe and I are big proponents of the movie Food, Inc which outlines the danger of the current systems of agriculture. It suggests that we are on a slippery slope; our concern with producing food at less cost for masses of people has altered the food in a way that makes it unhealthy. It suggests that government subsidizing of our food supply creates a few harmful scenarios.
–For example….beef and corn manufacturers lobby the government for subsidies and thus, beef and corn are more affordable in the US. Thus, a typical mid-range US family can’t afford fresh vegetables but can stock up on sodas, packaged foods and other things contained corn oil, etc that might not be a balanced diet, creating health issues. Many US families literally can’t afford to eat healthy.
–Also, in the case of meat, the demand for certain types of meat has encouraged genetic manipulation so that we are raising animals that meet the demand. One of the most disturbing scenes in Food, Inc. is one in which a chicken continually stumbles and falls over…all because he was designed for a breast bigger than he could manage.
However, even after seeing this 3 years ago, my coupon-cutting-self continued to scoop up only the large chicken breasts at the local Charlotte grocery store, as every 6 weeks, they were Buy 1, Get 2 Free. So I could get 3 huge packs of chicken for $9 USD total.
It’s only now that the cost equation has been taken out, as well as I am not given a choice – its forbidden to alter the meat production here – that am I now consistently eating “normal” food. Eight months later, I can feel an incredible difference. When we move back, I am going to certainly prioritize buying grass-fed, non-antibiotic meat items and organic vegetables.
Finally, the healthcare is very good here. It is very holistic in nature. I saw my first “general” doctor this week, in an attempt to solve the Cambodia food mystery. She spent an hour with me – asking every single question possible. Asking detailed family history. Information about every health issue I have ever had. Detailed questions about every part of it. It was like she had all day. But she was trying to get at the root instead of solve my surface issue.
My Swiss chiropractor does acupuncture before adjusting as a standard part of the visit. Also, he doesn’t require a pyramid of visits like my US guy did…simply just tells me to make an appointment when I hurt again. In the US, I had chiropractor appointments twice a week, acupuncture once a week and massage every three weeks to try to fix the chronic back pain that I carried – I was spending about $500/month in pain management.
In the last 8 months living in Switzerland, I have only had two visits to the chiropractor and one massage for back issues. I think its a combination of less stress & natural food that has been the remedy. Those who have seen me during my visits say that I look like a different person because of the lack of pain.
And we haven’t had a single cold here since our move. Those who know me well know that I always caught things so this is a big turnaround. This surprised me as well because of how often I am riding in public transportation, sharing air and touching buttons. However, I think its the stress and food that are helping to build my immunity.
Today’s post is not meant to be anti-US. These methods exist in the US, but they have become harder to find because of the effects of food and healthcare economics. I was lucky enough to discover it only by it being the default for us, so I just want to share my firsthand story with two encouragements:
1) If possible financially for you, don’t buy genetically engineered meat.
2) Seek doctors with holistic approaches. It can make a world of difference.
Bon weekend, everyone!