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How are you Voting for your Health?

by in American Sickcare System, Discipline, Environmental Medicine, Kitchen Sink, Life Coaching, Lifestyle Tips, Motivation, Preventative Medicine November 11, 2008

Call me old fashioned but I refuse to vote by absentee ballot. I just love Election Day, and to me there is something really special about driving to the same elementary school year after year and filling out my ballot alongside everyone else in my community. There is that certain spirit in the air. That friendly neighborhood free cookie and coffee hour that can’t quite be replicated anywhere else. “Does my vote really make a difference?” I always wonder to myself as I look around the crowded room.

It certainly does to me.

Election time is about much more than voting for the lesser of two evils, it is about taking the time to educate ourselves about the issues.

As I carefully went through my voter’s ballot one last time, I realized, “wow voting is just like making healthy decisions!” Voting can be simple, and voting can be tough. There is that clear section in your voter’s pamphlet that you quickly breeze through, and then there are those decisions that you still aren’t certain about after never ending research and reading. What does this issue even mean? Do I need to hire an attorney to translate this legal gibberish? You may be left even at the last minute to deliberate over what is right and what is wrong.

Whether my vote is actually counted or not, I am left that much more educated as I submit my passionately researched opinions on how this world should be –in to the giant garbage can er…ballot counter.

We are truly blessed in our country to at least be given choices, even if they aren’t the best choices, they nevertheless are still choices. The freedom of choice is what makes America the amazing country that it is. Your choice may not always make the difference in America, but it does make a difference in you.

One thing that always ticks me off year after election year though is the blanket statement “everyone should vote.”

Do you really think everyone should vote? Sometimes I think that people should be forced to take a basic test on the issues and pass it before they can vote. Now I am not saying this to offend people that can’t read. Really, you shouldn’t have to even know how to read in order to vote, illiterate people can and should still be allowed to vote—as long as they are educated on what they are voting about!

What happens when we don’t educate ourselves on the issues and just go blindly vote? Does the thought of hundreds of thousands of uneducated voters making decisions about our government terrify anyone else?

One uneducated vote is actually enough to throw off an entire election.

In this year’s presidential election the “vote was rocked” by all the previously apathetic people that never really cared enough to go out and vote. That is what made the difference. That is what got the underdog in to office. That is what has created a great deal of hope that, “change is coming”, “that race is not an issue”, “that the average person can be president” (well George W. already demonstrated that) and that MLKJ’s dream that “people are not judged by the color of their skin, but the content of their character,” has alas come true. At least the majority of the American population is now looking at character and not color. We are progressing!

The votes of the previously apathetic are what has made American history. In all reality that is more amazing than the first African American being elected to office. Apathy is a far bigger problem than prejudice these days. Of course there are still and will always still be ignorance around race, but we have an entire Generation of “X”ers that don’t care about anything except video games and Sex in the City. Young people everywhere are starting to take pride in their country, starting to see that “this is MY country too.” People in Seattle have been dancing in the streets, making eye contact, and some strangers have even been caught making polite small talk despite the start of the nine month rainy season.

Regardless of your party preferences, I think we can all agree that the choice to vote is a right that many Americans take for granted. You shouldn’t just go blindly vote, it is important to educate yourself on the issues at hand, the pros, the cons, and then to support things moving in a positive direction.

Every day, everywhere you go, you are given a choice. You are given an opportunity to vote for your health. Sometimes the choices aren’t that great like “do you want fries with that?” or “diet coke or regular coke” or “pumpkin pie vs mince meat pie” and “sugar or something made from sugar?” But nevertheless they are choices that we should still attempt to think about.

Is Barack Obama right? Is change really coming? Only you can decide.

It’s the synergy of these little daily choices that build us up; or stack up as obstacles in our path.

In naturopathic medicine one of our main nature cure healing principles is to “remove the obstacles to cure”. The body wants to heal. The body wants to repair. It is the intrinsic nature of the body to constantly heal and repair, but the body also requires the right tools, the foundation has to be properly set, and obstacles must be removed from the path of “The Healing Power of Nature” or “The Vis Medicatrix Naturae” or “The Vis” as most naturopaths fondly refer to it. “The Vis is strong in this one,” you can go around joking to all your healthy friends if you want to be nerdy like me.

Obstacles to healing typically come from our unhealthy diet and lifestyle choices. All the white refined food garbage we eat, stagnation, negative thinking, unhealthy relationships, drugs, alcohol, smoking, etc, etc…nag, nag, nag…these are all the roadblocks to healing.

Sometimes the right choices are crystal clear. Everyone knows drugs are bad. Everyone knows smoking kills. Everyone knows 1-2 glasses of wine a day not the whole bottle, right? But when it comes to our diet things can be a bit trickier. We usually are left picking between what appears to be the lesser of two evils. So what would you vote for:

High Fructose Corn Syrup or Aspartame?

Wow!!! Did I really just vote for High Fructose Corn Syrup? Well, I was left no choice when it went head to head with aspartame. *sigh*

Which is the lesser of the two evils? High fructose corn syrup as noted in Dr. Scott Olson’s amazing book about sugar addiction, “Sugarettes” is linked to obesity, diabetes, aging to our arteries, and hypoglycemia. Whereas aspartame, is guilty of causing a “cephalic response” which leads to obesity and weight gain. In the cephalic response the brain is tricked by the sweet taste of aspartame and then tells the pancreas to secrete insulin, despite normal levels of glucose. This insulin dump causes low blood sugar or “hypoglycemia” which makes you hungry, and ultimately leads to being overweight.

Is aspartame not the biggest joke in health “care”? The man made garbage you are drinking to lose weight is making you fat? Yikes the issues can be deceiving, and just like in politics, the government refuses to acknowledge this conundrum, while both the FDA and American Diabetic Association also refuse to acknowledge that sugar causes diabetes (type II) and weight gain. (Source: OlsonND)

Yet another reason that politics mirror health care—you don’t always agree with the government!

Do you trust the government? Do you believe every single bit they tell you? Whether you do or you don’t the correct answer is “you shouldn’t always.” The government has to keep prison and school caffeteria programs funded so the average American best not base their “optimal daily allowance” off what the government says. I think the RDA should be called the MDA for “Minimal Daily Allowance”. The government also only cares about the collective and not the individual. There is no “NDA” (Nicole’s Daily Allowance).

So—now that you have been educated on aspartame vs high fructose corn syrup, do you still want to vote for aspartame? My guess is “no” if you are trying to use aspartame as a weight loss aid.

“Well Dr. Nicole, sugar makes people fat too, and high fructose corn syrup is converted by the liver to fat–all biochemists know that fructose is typically converted in the liver to fat,” you may argue.

Which I would then deliberate back that aspartame has MORE consumer related complaints than any other man made substance we consume. Frankly I don’t even have all day to rattle off the ever-growing list of skin rashes, autoimmune disease, fibromyalgia, arthritis, cancer, mood disorders, so forth and so on that consumers are reporting to the FDA. Thus I am left to make an ugly vote for high fructose corn syrup.

Rarely in health just like in politics, are we ever given a win-win situation to deliberate over like “soup or salad?” You can’t fail on that choice, unless the soup is a rich fatty cream base with chunks of sausage, or the salad is a lifeless sad case of iceberg lettuce and Thousand Island dressing.

My point with this rambling about voting for our health is that every single day, every place you go you are given the power of choice. Exercise that power with extreme privilege. Educate yourself on the issues. Read one new health tip every single day. Create a new whole foods recipe each day. Our day to day choices do in fact have influence not just on us but on our environment and those around us.

We live in a country where we have the constitutional right to choices, and many of us are not exercising these rights when it comes to our health. It may initially be overwhelming to think about all the diet choices we have to make, but in the end it all boils down to the same thing whether you are voting for a candidate or voting for your health—education. Educate yourself on the issues and then make your decisions based off your values, based off what works for YOU.

The more you educate yourself on the things you choose to put in your body the healthier you will inevitably become. We truly “are what we eat,” and the tritest expression in nutrition should be the motivator behind all your health decisions. What are your values? Who do you really really really want to be? Fat or thin? Healthy or unhealthy? Organic or Polluted? Positive or negative? Fit or fat? Selfish or contributory? Environmental or Apathetic? Believer or Non-believer? Who do you want to be?

You are invited to decide that today.

If you want to prevent disease, if you want to be healthy, if you want to teach your children by example; if you want to be that positive person and most importantly if you want to inspire the people around you by the choices you make—the bigger “votes” although initially tough—become that much simpler.

Hmmm…that gym membership is suddenly worth it, that home cooked meal at the kitchen table is suddenly worth the extra effort rather than just another night of drive through dining. Reading your child a book before bed suddenly becomes a million times more special than drinking a fat glass of wine in front of the television. Maybe that extra 20 cents for that organic apple really isn’t that bad after all when we decided to vote with our consumer dollars against pesticides being allowed to poison our environment and our children, and our children’s environment. Your consumer dollars are always voting too.

It all boils down to living by your values.

What is it that you really value? Life coach and author, Tim Brownson is constantly nagging me…er…um…I mean… he is always INSPIRING me to consider my values, and some of the healthy or environmental things I have previously been in a naturopathic rebellion against have more easily slid into place.

Anyone that has been chronically ill—that has been so sick that they have seen death’s door and made it back again knows the value of their health. If you have visited death’s door you do not take your health for granted. You realize you were given a second chance, you were given life. You choose life and you choose everything that supports the existence of your life. Unfortunately those of us that have not been forced to pay that visit to death’s door, have no clue what the true value is in our health. We may never fully understand until it is too late.

As a result, our health is always a value that will get cast aside with apathy. And apathy is the biggest war we have to wage for this century.

Whether you are traveling, visiting a friend, dining out, or eating at your kitchen table–you are always given choices. Get political, vote for the lesser of the two evils. Use your money as your ballots. That is exactly what keeps us always moving in a healthier direction. That is how we save the environment and ourselves. That is how we prevent disease. One day at a time, one choice at a time.

One healthy vote at a time.

Ha- you thought Election Day was over now did you? Sorry I can’t let you off the hook that easy, voting season has just begun. Now get out there and make your votes count!

“Progress not perfection.”

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen table.

~Dr. Nicole Sundene

Related Reading: 45 Years to American Health Care

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