Why (Outside Of Household Bills) Food HAS To Be Our Number One Spend

Vegetables in Whole Foods Market from Flickr via Wylio
© 2008 Masahiro Ihara, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Along with the weather and last night’s TV, the thing we all chat about to friends, family and colleagues is our health.

We probably don’t even realise just how much on a daily basis we express how we’re feeling physically. From complaining about niggles and pains, to colds, rashes, allergies and oftentimes more serious diseases; we spend a LOT of time discussing our wellness, or the lack thereof.

It’s always surprising to me then, that though we are obsessed with our health on one level, we often do not prioritise it in terms of SPENDING MONEY on good nutritious food.

The simple truth is:

Good food (i.e. whole, plant food) = good health.

Part of the problem here is that although it’s scientifically proven that diet has the most impact on health – even more than genes, this information has not really filtered down to the mainstream yet.

Unidentified vegetable matter. from Flickr via Wylio
© 2012 Alexandra E Rust, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

We kind of know it a little, I mean; we all know we should eat things like greens and fruit for example, but more information than this has not really been offered to us by doctors (because they don’t really know it either!) This information isn’t widely available. It’s not in the interests of industries like big pharma and animal agriculture for us to learn that we can keep well and heal ourselves with plant food, and they are the ones with influence. So we are, to some degree, deliberately kept unaware of the extent to which how we feel depends on what we eat.

Another reason is that if you haven’t tried going plant-based, you probably aren’t aware how great you can feel. So many people have permanent low-level discomfort or even pain, and have learned to live with it!

My number one non-negotiable expense, outside of the roof over my head and household bills, is food.

It has been for a long time, and unless I become a squillionaire and decide to buy a fuel-guzzling private jet into which to pour my money (which I actually totally would NOT do!) it likely will always be.

Cranberry Chick Pea Salad from Flickr via Wylio
© 2010 Vegan Feast Catering, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying a healthy plant-based diet has to be expensive – rest assured, it doesn’t.

But the most important thing to me is my health and that of my partner. Our health is the foundation on which we accomplish everything.

It’s simple. If you’re ill, you feel like crap and are not as effective in whatever you’re endeavouring to do. Whether it’s CEO-ing a huge, terribly important company; running a 10k for charity; looking after kids, or running a restaurant, you can’t give yourself fully and authentically to ANY situation because part of you is dwelling on how crap you feel.

Even worse, you may need to take sick days or even weeks. This is just a waste of yours and everyone else’s time.

I think I’m lucky in that I had a heads-up on this message here.

In the past I suffered from chronic health issues (first asthma and eczema, then chronic systemic candida if you must know) that stole one hell of a lot of time from me. Even if I wasn’t taking sick days off from school, college or work, these were still wasted days because I wasn’t fully present in them. Instead I was completely in my head, feeling utterly uncomfortable and my only thoughts were about myself and how much I was dreading getting through the rest of the day – or sometimes hour, even.

This was not living. It was definitely not a situation in which I could be creative, kind, compassionate and of service to others.

Also, I was definitely NOT fun to be around. If you’re in discomfort – you’re cranky. I owed it to myself and everyone around me to get well.

If I wanted to be pain and discomfort free so I could focus on contributing to something outside of myself (not to mention actually ENJOYING life!), I knew my health had to be my first priority.

Vegan California Roll in Rice Paper from Flickr via Wylio
© 2009 Vegan Feast Catering, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

As I realised over the years that good nutrition is the basis of good health, and eventually learned that the optimal diet for heath is a whole food, plant-based diet,  I understood implicitly that food HAD to take centre stage in terms of what I spent money on.

It’s true, there are SO MANY other things out there permanently begging us to spend money on them; our phone contracts, taking kids to Disneyland, our TV cable packages, tech, clothes, spas, car and bike gizmos etc.

But NONE of these are as vital as a foundation of health.

There’s no point having a ‘spa glow’ if you’re feeling rotten inside. How can you stay ‘in the moment’ and enjoy Disneyland with your kid if your irritable bowel syndrome/fibromyalgia/acid reflux is kicking off? You can’t ride your bike; enjoy your car or any outdoors activity if you’re not feeling good. And would you honestly prefer a top of the range phone with all the extra doodads and a TV cable package with a gazillion (more than a squillion) channels you’ll never watch; to feeling great in body, mind and spirit pretty much every single damn day?

(If you can afford all this AND the food then good for you. Lots of us however, have to make choices).

I realise I was lucky that the shift in thinking around prioritising food happened quite early on for me. I certainly don’t wish it upon others that they have this realisation in the same way I did. It’s just hugely frustrating as someone who wishes to see everyone enjoying the same vibrant health that I do, prioritising spending on ipads, gadgets, nail bars etc, when it’s plain to see that they and their families would be better served if some of that money went on food that supports health.

When we know that good diet has the most significant impact not just on physical health (and don’t just think about the most talked about diseases here, think about fertility issues, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis – the list goes on and on) but mental health, moods, hormone levels, emotional and spiritual health too – why wouldn’t food be the first thing we prioritise when allocating money?

Fruit with Swedish Pancake from Flickr via Wylio
© 2009 Vegan Feast Catering, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Whether your budget is huge, average, or not as robust as it could be (check!), spending money on good, nutritious food is an investment in your health, and by association, your relationships, your passions – your entire life.

It’s even more important than paying into tons of different types of insurance. Good diet IS insurance! I’m not AT ALL suggesting you ditch your medical or health insurance. I’m just asking you to make sure you do not see these as a ‘get out of jail free’ card or a safety net. These can give us a false sense of security. It is more important and effective to spend more money on whole plant foods every day, than it is to throw money at health insurance in the hopes that this will look after us when we need it.  Good diet will maximise our chances of NOT needing it.


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