Toward Healthy, Happy Golden Years

Healthy, happy golden years – isn’t that what we all want? They seem to creep up on us while we aren’t looking.

One of the things I love about the Columbia Valley is the passion of so many of its people to create a healthy environment for themselves and those they love – with wholesome food to eat, clean water to drink and pure air to breathe.

I am passionate about a few things in my life and, although I’m not sure which one would come out on top if there was a contest, one of those passions is health.

Funny how it is with life; when we are young and have the best chance of creating a strong foundation for a healthy body that will carry us into a vibrantly healthy old age, what do we do about it? If you, like most of us, fall somewhere in the national average range – absolutely nothing!

Somehow, in our youth, we convince ourselves that we have forever ahead of us to worry about stuff like our ‘golden years’. When we are twenty, we cannot conceive of being eighty. There’s just too much life waiting to be experienced between now and then, and we are eager to get out there and enjoy it. If that means over-indulging in junk food or alcohol, or drugs – oh well, we still have years and years to make a change and we’re having way too much fun right now.

The years roll by, however. By the time I was thirty, I was overweight, tired, listless and had a family to look after with barely enough energy to do it.

To most of us, I think, the future comes calling somewhere along the way, a crossroads we come to where we are shown that if we don’t make a change, switch to another path soon, there is sure to be disaster in our future. For some, it’s a heart attack, for others, the loss of a loved one too soon. For me, it was my daughter’s diagnosis of Type I diabetes at the age of 11.

If I had been the one who’d contracted the disease, I don’t know if that would have been enough. Maybe. But I do know that when it was my child, I would have done anything to save her and that was enough – more than enough.

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Image: Wikipedia Commons

I began searching for anything I could find on eating healthy. I have to say that this was back in the 70’s and although there were a few people out there who were awake, I wasn’t one of them. There was no internet, no magazine articles or books, no-one to talk to about health except some scary-looking hippies who ran a whole foods co-op. But I was desperate and hesitantly put my trust in some of them who knew about diet and herbs and creating a healthy body.

My first step was a trip to the public library where I found a book about food additives. I’d never heard the term before and eagerly devoured the material. Next, I went through my kitchen cupboards and tossed out anything that wouldn’t fit into our new lifestyle. And that was the beginning of a long, winding journey to where I am today.

When all the additives were gone, there wasn’t much left to feed my family so I began shopping in little, out-of-the-way grocery stores with bins and barrels of grains I’d never heard of and knew nothing about how to prepare. Back to the library again I went for new recipes to try.

Over all the years since, I have followed a curious path and have taken my family with me, often arguing and complaining all the way, I have to say. Sadly, there was opposition from many of the people in my life too. It’s funny about our life’s journey, though. Although we seem to go off in rather odd and even scary directions along the way at times, upon looking back, we find that each one was a stepping stone to where we are today.

I have been a vegetarian, a raw vegetarian, a vegan, ate meat and dairy, didn’t eat meat and dairy. I have been gluten-free and not gluten-free, grain-free and not. Tried lots of weight-loss diets and gave up on every one.

After all the twists and turns, all the trials and the many, many errors, plus a lot of life’s experiences, I have some wisdom I didn’t have in my earlier life. And now?

Well, now, I have come to a few simple, straightforward conclusions that have changed my life, allowed me to relax and enjoy my life more and given me a better chance for a lot of healthy,  happy golden years. Here they are:

• Every person’s body is different from every other person’s. There is no one way to eat that is healthy for every person.
• What the writers of books and articles say is based upon what has worked for them and some others. We can respectfully listen to what they tell us, knowing that their success may not be our own.
• Even the “healthiest” foods may not be healthy for some people.
• In the end, it all comes down to our own experience that helps us to make our final decisions.
• We need to eat REAL FOOD.

We live in a toxic world which is making us sick. We need to realize that each one of us is fighting a battle for our very survival and that of our families, our friends and neighbors. I am grateful that, in this beautiful Columbia Valley, there are many others who passionately care too and are making a difference in the quality of life for everyone.

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