Sometimes you need to hear it to believe it. So here I am.

food victim

Our world view is connected to the people that surround us and the media we are exposed to.  I grew up in a conventional right wing farming family. Politics was never discussed, you simply voted right. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to vote any other way.

But then stuff happened to change me. I learn’t about illness, I learn’t about the story that our government and media aren’t being honest about. 

Did I move left or did the world around me move right? Did seeing suffering, and suffering myself, wake me up?

I watched two parents die of cancer before they got to see their grandchildren. I saw how illness and sadness can disable a family.

Then, in my twenties I escaped into pasta and sweet food. This grew to a common sugar addiction. You’re addicted if you experience constant cravings (every 15-30 minutes).  This can include basic sugars and simple carbohydrates like pasta. I thought of eating all the time. No energy, a bit of depression, a type of empty nothingness. At that stage I never connected my feelings and my health to the food I ate.

After my son was born in my early thirties I was exhausted, in a brain fog, needed 10 hours of sleep a night and was still exhausted. I was sick. I couldn’t remember a thing. I could barely function. My husband was amazing – but he was scared that this would define the rest of our lives. Me useless.

I had developed an autoimmune disease – hypothyroidism. The thrilled doctor worked out my ailment and provided me with pills and told me it was wonderful, I had an illness modern medicine could fix.

But – I was still exhausted, in a brain fog. The bags under my eyes stared back at me in every photo. Living with constant ladies problems.  I should have carried a bottle brush around with me….  Taking loads of anti-fungals that never worked.  I was only in my mid-thirties. How could I feel this bad?

How could I keep taking medicine that never seemed to work?

My friend sent me to a herbalist. 90% of the herbs she put me on are for digestion – to help my kidneys, pancreas, to help my digestive enzymes and gut bacteria work to pull the goodness out of the food I eat. She got my gut working rather than selling me a stack of vitamin pills. Common sense. Honestly, for the first 5 years I didn’t really realise this.  I just realised that I had gone from 70 years old back to now 39 years old. I started to examine the food I was eating. I still had raging candida and brain fog.

Most doctors don’t often acknowledge the fact that hypothyroidism is usually only partially helped by pharmaceutical drugs. My doctor never talked about my diet. Why not?  Why is food no longer medicine? Today I go to the doctors once a year – to get another thyroxine prescription. But to function as a 40 something I also spend over $800 on herbs – mainly for my digestive system. When I stop taking them because I don’t want to spend the money I get sick.

Most people can’t afford to spend this money. I am extremely lucky. But it makes me an activist as I want other people to not get sick.

I look around today – I know too many people on depression tablets, too many people with allergies, too many people with autoimmune disease, too many children and adults with cancer. There is so much talk about our genetic predisposition to illness and not enough talk about how we can avoid illness. We have rabidly more illness than we had 20 years ago. The significant difference is stress and what we put in our mouths.

This is not normal.  This illness load. This should not be the new normal.

Only patented drugs are available at a discount through Phamac. Most disease originates in the gut. Herbs and healthy eating can prevent and repair many of these diseases. But we only send a message out through our health care system to put a plaster on the illness. We don’t examine the ability of natural medicine and food to be as effective (and without the side effects) of pharmaceutical medicine. We need both. But this is ignored. This is a pharmaceutical model not a healthcare model. We could be smarter.

Prevention is cheaper.

I was in the doctors with my pre-diabetic grandmother the other day. I had asked her if the doctor (whom I like very much) had talked to her about her breakfast Weetbix, her toast and cheese for dinner – as being foods that essentially contained simple sugars that would have contributed to her now diabetic status. He had never discussed it with her. He said she was too old to change. Really? Porridge and vegetable soup would be damaging?

A dietary guideline for a healthy diet can never evolve to a cultural (kiwi) habit until our doctors are able to tell us that eating three wheat meals a day is a recipe for disease. That we need to eat to protect the gut. That there are simple herbs and minerals that Pharmac can provide cheaply that act as preventative medicine and can be better long term than pharmaceutical medicines.

Mainstream government doesn’t want to know about it.

I changed my life.  I increased the green vegetables our family eats at night 3 fold and are deaf to complaints. My kids eat bulk bought muesli, plain yoghurt and buttery cheesy omelettes before school. I eat wonderful grass fed meat with fat on it (but not all the time). Hardly any wheat and a tiny bit of sugar. I do everything I can to keep their sugar load down so they don’t develop and addiction to think about food all the time. go down my path of illness. On my watch I will protect them. Guard them.  I want to yell it to the world.  Defend your kids.  We all deserve more.

The French word for food is ‘nourriture’ – nourishment. The English speaking west calls what we put in our mouths food – fuel.

I don’t have cravings now. Only for something that will nourish me. I might sound like a wanker – but I don’t want to live the other way anymore.

But until you get there, you can’t believe you can.  I feel ten years younger than I felt ten years ago. I know sick people who will look at me blankly, not believing they could get better.

My herbalist tells me I am susceptible to diabetes, depression, cancer, osteoporosis… the list goes on.  Every one of us has genetic predisposition to particular illnesses.

We can’t blindly march into illness. Not knowing how deep we are in it until our life is screwed.

That’s why I am speaking up.  Risking criticism. Looking like an idiot.

I slowly started becoming political because it was so, well, unfair. Wrong. Women look after sick kids, women are more susceptible to autoimmune disease.  Women bear the load.

There is room in our media for reporting. But little room today for honest, transparent passionate debate. So we can’t question.  We simply listen. That’s why you never see media reports in the BOP about people affected by pesticide spray.  It affects more people than car crashes but it’s not ‘newsworthy’.

Our national illness forecast is more similar to the US than Europe. NZ needs to be able to fund the sick. Or privatise. Or make waiting lists longer.

Which is what we are doing.  It’s a numbers game. Cutbacks. Less services, keeping our healthcare bill at 11% of GDP the same. But with more people suffering.

America’s healthcare bill as a percentage of GDP is heading towards 20%. Europe’s is around 11%. Europe is making very different decisions from the USA because most of Europe’s health care is socially funded through taxation.

I have to speak up. And I blog because the papers won’t touch this content.

I know my life has changed dramatically. I am desperate for our government to implement policies that protect people from illness so we have less drag on the system.

It’s always about the money. If you take one or two weeks off a year because you are sick.  How much does that cost? Changing your diet radically alters your immunity and predisposition to disease. How much does that cost when you eat less because you are nourished? Seriously, you do.

I bet that even sounds like a joke to many reading this.

There is so much we need to talk about. Can we discuss how the food pyramid is broken? That cereals doused in pesticides take up too much space on our plate? Discuss how we need to support farmers so they can nourish the soil in order to feed us nourishing food? Discuss quality of food not quantity – all our government wants to do is increase production. How can we look sideways to premium markets that want grass fed milk?

Why won’t our government tell our families that cereal for breakfast, bread for lunch and pasta for dinner will lead to sick people?  Why won’t our government tax soft drinks? Why won’t our government limit junk food businesses near schools?

The science is starting to illustrate that real food can be as, or more healing than pharmaceuticals. Can we discuss that pushing more people into private insurance because we have burgeoning medical costs that our tax base simply can’t handle is a reactive response to a growing illness load. That’s a US policy and it’s failing. So, just rich people deserve good health care?

These questions should never be a left wing issue. This should be a mainstream discussion. 

But it’s marginalised.

We will never agree with every policy of any political party. Just like we won’t agree with every decision the people we are closest to will make over their lives.

Europe is so much further down the path than we are. Preventative health as policy. Environmental caution as policy. Is it because they have lived there longer?  They realise that once their world is stuffed, it truly is stuffed?

Why does a significant proportion of Western Europe abolish fracking, refuse GMO’s, have higher taxes for the rich, recycle over 90% of waste, establish taxes for junk food, have systems in place to feed kids vegetables and fruit at lunchtime, embrace green technology and green energy?

Start asking questions and you realise Europe is looking at the science. Science based decisions made by non-corporate scientists. And Europe is more transparent.

Of course Europe will never be perfect. But at this stage is NZ simply following the USA? More non-communicable illness than anywhere else in the world. What a legacy to pass on to us.

It’s very had to live a meaningful and fulfilling life when every day, you feel like shit.

I am desperate for brave decisions and policy discussion. Not sidelining.

I want my kids on a journey that doesn’t involve a constant struggle for good health.

And I have too many questions that aren’t being addressed.

About Jodie

It is only by questioning and discussing and attempting to view the world our childrens children will live in, that we start to understand that life isn't a linear process - it is a room of dominoes falling. Our world has a lot of special interests and stakeholders that by default, keep science undone, and economics hooked in the 1920's - resulting in governments that don't address the complexity that is challenging our world. From pollution to mental health (and the cost of food) to the health of our freshwater - it's complex and dynamic. What equilibrium do we want to reach - a healthy vital one or a suffering one?
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