Simplicity doesn’t have to mean boring…

Eating better is all about bringing it back to basics. And preparation, organisation and a little bit of foresight. In our household generally speaking there is no guessing for dinners – we have a vertical monthly calendar with 5 columns, and one is dedicated to dinners. Continue reading

My Professional Dilemma

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 🙂