This past week I had a very frustrating conversation. I was browsing in a bookstore with a family member. She talked about how she wanted to do something to help her mother with her health, especially to get her off some medications. She said she was looking into alternatives to conventional medicine. I readily agreed and mentioned a couple of alternative practices that helped me. She didn't seem interested and proceeded to the "new age" section of the bookstore. At this point we parted ways because I wanted to browse a different section. When we were heading to the checkout, she again mentioned helping her mother. I gently asked if she had talked to her mother about the foods she eats and mentioned an older couple who seemed to greatly benefit from eating organic fruits and vegetables. They had both lost considerable weight and the wife was able to stop medications she had taken for years. This story was met with...silence.
Bill and I have seen this on the "other side." When we've talked to church leaders in our area about the health of a congregation and than shared health education resources - church-sponsored programs, mind you - that can help members reclaim their health, we get...silence. And, like my relative who wants to resort to more "other worldly" approaches to healing, we've watched church leaders send out appeals for prayers for members who are afflicted with pain and suffering obviously linked to poor diet choices - yet they never address the need to change the underlying habits that caused the condition in the first place.
It's as if health and food are not at all linked. However, these same people, if you told them you were going to add a little sugar to their car's gas tank, would react in horror. Why? Because we would be feeding the car something that was damaging. So why don't they see that the wrong foods also damage the human body? Another take on this would be a church where a number of the members had serious alcohol abuse problems. Would the congregation send out pleas for prayers - and nothing else? Or would they consider starting an alcohol education or 12-step program at the church? Such a program would not single out anyone but would have the effect of improving the health of the entire church body. Same thing with a health program.
Why is there such a disconnect - an inability to see that food is fuel for the body and that our cells need the right kind of food to properly function? My great grandmother is someone who didn't get the right kind of food and she died from a terrible disease called pellagra. There were three symptoms to this disease - four if you count death - that were called the three D's: dermatitis, diarrhea, and dementia. An awful way to die. What caused it? A dietary deficiency - not enough niacin. Imagine the condition of the body cells of people who consume the Standard American Diet of over-processed, fat-laden, sugar-filled, chemically-enhanced "food-like substances." The effect might not be as dramatic as pellagra, but the SAD diet lacks proper nourishment for our bodies. Yet when a conversation turns to food and someone mentions eating a more healthy, wholesome, natural diet, silence often ensues.
The silence really baffles me.