This is what I made for lunch today (I don’t work Thursdays). I’m sick (again – perils of working in a pharmacy and a husband that works with kids) and trying to keep my body fed with all it needs. Continue reading
The thought came to me last night that really, food and what we eat can be thought of in terms of how I was taught about medications. In general, the difference between how a drug works and how it causes harm is the dose. Continue reading
This post brings me to the reason for starting this blog. My profession. As a pharmacist, I am one of the healthcare professionals that people come to for advice. My heart breaks when I see the type and amount of medications that some people are on, knowing it could have been avoided in the first place, or that they could be doing so much more for their conditions by eating the right type of food and avoiding some of the foods that have been recommended for them by other health care professionals. I’ve been trying to use my knowledge to help these people. Unfortunately I don’t get very far. I’m blocked at every turn professionally and practically. From the Diabetes dietitian who recommends 10-12 serves of carbs a day. To the professional organisations (eg Heart Foundation) who says that Low-fat products are recommended, (totally ignoring the sugar content and other preservatives), saturated fat is bad, sugar is fine and margarine is preferred to butter. To the Doctor who is so overworked that writing a script is the “only way” to treat someone’s condition because he doesn’t have the time (or the accepting patient) to go through other aspects of a patients life such as food and lifestyle. To the patient who just wants a pill to control their condition. To the Pharmaceutical companies pushing doctors, pharmacists and other health care professionals to use their drugs, when nothing is going to change unless the person changes their diet drastically. To the few scientists in the early 1900s who ignored the evidence and changed the world for the worse.
I know I’ve gotten a bit off topic but it is how I feel. I’m so angry at how processed the world has become. When we go shopping at the supermarket we avoid 90% of the store, the middle of the supermarket with all the processed foods. At the moment I’m working on trying to get our fruit/veggies from alternate sources, such as the Co-op I just joined, or the farmers markets. Unfortunately working full time (and not your 9-5 monday to friday, I work weekends which is when most of these markets are on) makes it hard.
Anyway, the pharmaceutical profession has made me feel disillusioned the past few years, and even more so when I link how some medications work to what the body actually needs and how it works (An example of this is the medication known as Xenical – blocks fats being absorbed by the body, leaving you to excrete them. fun! Doesn’t help when it’s sugars/carbs converted to fats that cause most of the problem).
My idea at the moment, for what I’d like to do one day, involves Medication reviews. Pharmacists visit patients, record and check all their medications at their home (including complementary and over the counter medications), then write a report to their doctor reviewing their medications and recommending changes as required. Unfortunately there is no lifestyle or food being reviewed in this, and I’d love to make it more of a “health review” rather than just medication, where I could recommend changes to someones medications, but also to their food. Educate these people on why what they’re eating is actually detrimental to their health, and how to change this. Provide support as they work to make their body healthy, then review medications again.
There will always be medications that are necessary. The reason I was so drawn to pharmacology is that I am interested in the way a drug actually works to correct a wrong in the body. If the right food can do this, fantastic! I do respect that there are many times that food is not enough, and that modern medicine has done some amazing things. I don’t want to say to someone, “this medication is crap, just stop it” because that is unprofessional, and unfounded. If the patient still needs the medication until they can help themselves, then they should still take it.
I offer advice to some of my patients (I work in a retail pharmacy). 99% of the time they aren’t interested. They think what I’m talking about is wrong, because my Doctor/specialist/tv/health organisations say something totally different. Most aren’t interested. Most pharmacists I know still believe in what they were taught, what is shoved down our throats, and the food pyramid. But I understand why, it’s hard not to follow what we’re taught.
Hopefully one day I can have people come to me for advice, not just on their medications, but for their lifestyle and their food choices. I know not everyone has the motivation, drive or resources to change everything. I can’t afford to change everything to what I think is best (most organic food is unfortunately out of my budget at this point in time). But I try. And hopefully here I can share what I know, what I’ve learned, and my ideas for a healthier future 🙂
2013 wasn’t a good year health-wise for me, mentally or physically. I had joined the gym the year prior, and although I was fitter, I wasn’t shifting any of the weight or body fat i’d gained over the past few years, even though I “thought” I was eating pretty healthily. My body and gut was never happy, and I always felt uncomfortable. I was following all the guidelines that I’d been taught in my study in Science, and later Pharmacy, and everything that had been shoved down my throat for as long as I could remember. Of course I still thought that the occasional “blow out” shouldn’t affect me, just like everyone around me thought.
Once we moved house in may, I’d decided I was going to try to really focus on me. I joined Weight Watchers and suddenly lost about 5kg in a month, although I was feeling worse. Ultimately discovered I had a thyroid problem, which luckily did resolve, but made me go looking for reasons, and I was still feeling horrible.
A friend of my husband’s had seen a naturopath, and recommended him to me. Honestly this has been the thing that has changed my whole outlook in life. In the end both my husband and I followed his advice and food plans.
One of the things that he went through with me was body fat % and the muscle %. I’d always thought that I was just a bit overweight. Results showed that my body fat % was at 40%… much higher than the 25-30% that would be appropriate for me. All I could think of was, I hardly ate fatty food, loved my fruit and veggies, and the only thing I really had a weakness for was sweet things. I couldn’t understand it. This combined with an ultrasound (after a car accident where I was rear-ended, I’d had a lot of abdominal pain) which showed fatty liver and a lot of abdominal fat wrapped around my organs. My muscle mass was also up there with a 65yr old 😦
He gave me a sheet with things I could eat, how much, and what I should avoid. My aim was 90g protein daily. It all seemed overwhelming… only 1 serve of “grainy” carbs, limited certain veggies, only 1 serve of fruit a day, nuts, healthy fats, and avoiding sugar if possible. I started doing some of my own research for meal ideas and help.
A friend lent me a copy of Christine Cronau’s book, The Fat Revolution. Reading this book opened my eyes to why we are taught to eat like we do (all the “low-fat” ideas), and how the body actually works to process fats and sugars. It all made sense! I even went back to my old biochemistry books… I couldn’t understand how I could have missed all of this. Even though the biochemistry was staring me in the face, the recommendations we were taught still didn’t make sense until I re-read the book. I also looked into the “I Quit Sugar” and related resources. It became clear my previous love of sugary foods and excessive fruit (by excessive, I spent days where I ate nothing but fruit, but it’s so yummy!) had caused my current fat% state. Just realising there was as much sugar in fruit juice as coke, really turned the cogs in my mind.
Over the next few months, not doing much specific exercise (also due to a knee injury that kept flaring), I followed his recommendations (with a few changes). The weight came off so quickly. But the biggest boost for me was how I felt. I went from feeling horrible every day (bloating, inflammation, pain in the gut) to only every so often, and only then it was directly attributed to what I had eaten (specifically for me, sugar and high carb foods cause me so much pain later on). I searched Pintrest, Facebook, and google for ideas on food.
Our biggest problem was snacks. We are both snackers, and if we couldn’t find anything ready-made, we’d go and find something which made us feel horrible. I started bagging nuts in serves, and finding things I could make like protein balls, fudge etc.
The newest addition to our lives has been our Thermomix, which I had been thinking about for about 18months since I went to a demo. It is simply amazing. Nowadays the freezer is full of frozen, bite-size snacks, home made broth, tomato paste, herb puree/oils frozen in cubes, frozen fruit/yoghurt ready for an instant “ice cream”. I’m learning more and more every day. I’ve had the Thermomix for 2 months now, and i’m really starting to become confident in using it. I’ve even made a few things without a recipe 🙂
Anyway, so that’s my health and personal background to why I believe food is the greatest medicine. Without it I wouldn’t be here, trying to change my life one meal at a time.