This week I’ll update readers with a few highlights of personal changes I’ve made during the past seven days in my ongoing cancer-prevention online article series. My goal here is to direct you to really worthwhile information resources that are informative as well as entertaining, many of which are coming to me courtesy of my Facebook and other social media friends who are “plugged in” to health issues.
The past week was an incredible one for me in terms of personal changes; I accomplished many more changes than I thought I would or could in just seven days. Which leads me to a side-statement: that this healthy eating/healthy living stuff is a lot easier than you may think. Once you get your head around shopping in health food stores (and the health food section of larger supermarkets) and start reading product labels, you’ll find your habits changing really quickly.
I can’t describe everything I did this week, but a highlight would have to be my trip to a very large health food supermarket in Newmarket (just north of Toronto) that was recommended to me by my friend Barbara (who demonstrates new products in health food stores, so she’s a great resource). I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that after my hour or so shopping there, my eyes teared up in the parking lot. I wondered why I suddenly felt weepy, but it was clear: it can actually be a very emotional experience when you finally realize you’re breaking with the “system” inside of which you’ve lived your whole life, by which I mean the industrial food and personal care or cleaning products. The feeling that comes with breaking one’s ties with Big Pharma and Big Agra (my term for the modern chemical-based agricultural-industrial complex) in one’s personal life and introducing choice is actually somewhat overwhelming.
The supermarket, called Nature’s Emporium, is really huge, on a scale with box-store supermarkets like Metro, Loblaws, etc. Just walking through the place was an education. I was impressed with the large offerings of organic produce, including not-so-easy-to-find organic potatoes and onions, among other things, and quite reasonably priced.
The main goal of my shopping trip was to pick up a few large (1029 g) containers of a powdered health shake that Barb recommended with the brand name “Vega” (from Sequel) that was on sale (due to the fact that producer is changing the ingredients a little and wants to sell the existing supply before new marketing hits the streets). I paid about $40 each for two large containers, which I noticed sell in regular supermarkets for about $70. Having now tried the product, I plan to go back and buy even more while the sale is in effect (if there’s any left!).
Instead of regular granola and almond milk, breakfast for me now consists of a Vega shake, that I create by mixing the powder with either water or almond milk in my handy Magic Bullet mini-blender. (The advantage of the Magic Bullet is that the mixing container is also the drinking cup for single servings.) Vega is gluten free and the label extols its virtues as a “complete whole food health optimizer” and “an all-in-one natural plant-based formula.” Reading the nutritional list on the label, it looks pretty complete. Although the directions suggest two scoops of powder, I find the formula is robust enough that I can only manage one, before feeling full.
The other components of my breakfast include a very small serving of a granola-type cereal with the amusing name “Holy Crap” that was featured on the TV show Dragon’s Den and that was recommended to me by my local health food store. I combine this with some fresh fruit (e.g., cantaloupe), a bit of organic honey, almond milk and a tablespoon of coconut oil. On top of this I still have a cup of black coffee, so that actually constitutes quite a large meal and I feel very full until lunchtime. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that I also use the shake to wash down a high-quality men’s multi-vitamin, a capsule of wild Alaskan salmon oil, and a capsule of acidophilus (which contributes to healthy intestinal flora).
After less than a week of breakfasts of this sort, I feel a marked increase in my energy level and general feeling of well being. (I’ll report back about other modifications I make to my breakfast regimen in future posts.)
Here’s a list, in no particular order, of other activities and changes I’ve made this past week:
At Nature’s Emporium (www.naturesemporium.ca) I picked up some eco-friendly dish detergent and laundry detergent.
I bought some baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice, to use for general cleaning of kitchen and bathroom sinks and fixtures.
I filled a plant spray bottle with vinegar and put it in the shower, along with a squeegee wiper (the idea being to quickly spray and wipe down the shower stall after each use, and avoid using commercial cleansers).
Concerned about possible carcinogens and endocrine disruptors, etc. in face creams, skin creams and after shave products, I dropped in to the Organic Beauty Boutique (www.organicbeautys.com) in Collingwood (where I rent a ski condo for winter weekends) and bought a small jar of moisturizing skin balm made from about a dozen organic oils and unguents. I now use this soothing ointment on my face and in place of after shave, and it does a great job. Though it cost around $30, it will last a long time (I’m guessing six months, maybe even a year, depending on how much I use it).
I haven’t found organic sources for everything yet, but am emphasizing salads and raw and cooked vegetable dishes for lunch and dinner nowadays. I even found some baked organic cheese puffs on sale to offer the kids a healthier evening snack in front of the TV.
With the warm weather I decided to barbeque some meat over the weekend (I am still an omnivore) but avoided red meat, choosing this time pork that the label told me was grown without antibiotics or any kinds of growth hormones. But it was still bought from a large supermarket and I intend to source a local producer of “natural meat” soon; by “natural meat” I mean meat from animals raised on farms where the animals get to walk around and eat grass or whatever else is natural to them, and not from animals raised on feed lots standing knee deep in their own manure, being fed corn to make them grow faster and antibiotics because this makes them sick. Ideally I wish to find meat from a farm where I can actually talk to the farmer and take a walk around, but that may be several weeks away.
(Note that when researching a freelance article I wrote long ago for On The Bay magazine in Collingwood, I learned the distinction between “organic” meat and “natural” meat. For me, the distinction is pretty meaningless and I’m happy for now to settle for natural meat; in order to qualify for an organic certification, a meat producer has to pass various tests that are almost impossible, and raise the price of the product dramatically with little additional benefit. A natural meat producer can come pretty close to the same mark, without incurring that kind of expense. But I admit it’s a “buyer beware” situation and I advise readers to research their own natural meat source personally; talk to an independent butcher or shop that sells such products, and ask to visit the farm and take a look around, asking questions. Nothing beats doing your own direct research to ensure the meat you buy is free from most antibiotics, growth hormones, and the sort of general animal cruelty that’s ubiquitous in industrial meat production systems.)
Lastly, I watched a couple of online films that I plan to write about next week, one of which is entitled Cancer is Curable Now that you can watch for free here:
It contains really fascinating information, and you may wish to watch it yourself and not wait until next week for my review. The film is a summary version of a series of videos and print resources designed to educate people with cancer about the wide variety of treatment options available to them worldwide, that may be chosen in addition to, or in place of, traditional radiation and chemotherapy. The film is very fair and really quite remarkable.
Oh, and I booked an appointment with a dietician and will get some blood work done later this week, to help form a more accurate snapshot of my current health as I start making these food and lifestyle changes. I’ll update readers about that too next week.