So, to be honest I would admit I was quite ignorant to all the implications that we currently face with the food system in the U.S. My lack of knowledge was not necessarily unique to myself, nor were the challenges that eventually caused me to encounter a huge transformation in the way I viewed food. Just like the woman who spoke to us about her diabetes, it also took a serious medical condition for me to realize how important food is for our bodies and overall general wellness.
In the fall of 2012, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease; which took a huge toll on my life and made me very sick. Crohn’s Disease is an auto-immune disorder which basically means your body attacks itself because it cannot even differentiate anymore between what is and is not harmful to your body. A hyper-active immune system that is constantly on defense mode. During this time, I was eating whatever I wanted and never thought twice about how my food consumption influenced my health.
Initially, like most people, I went through all the doctor visits and ingested a ton of medications into my body. I was still eating the same things, and felt the same side effects but was able to better “control” my symptoms, also known as putting a huge Band-Aid over my illness as the symptoms were still deeply affecting me. Learning that Crohn’s Disease had a lot to do with sickness of the intestines and stomach, I eventually began to ask my doctors; “So, what about nutrition? Do my eating habits affect my illness?” The answer in short– no. For me, this did not make sense. How could an illness that had to do with my stomach not have anything to do with the food I ate? It seemed like my body was attacking itself because what I was eating (a lot of processed and fast foods) was not even considered food anymore but actually toxins. Fed up with the months of adverse effects from steroids and other harsh medications, I finally decided to trust my own intuitions and took a trip to a nutritionist.
To my findings, I was actually not surprised to what she would soon tell me. My entire diet was all out of whack and I was instructed or urged to omit many things I was so used to eating out of my daily food consumption. Without getting into too much detail into my new diet– I quickly learned how fresh and whole foods can be medicine and in fact, even work better than medications without so many painful side effects.
In short, and although quite personal, I wanted to share my experience with my illness in relation to this topic because this became my initial push to start exploring better food choices and educating myself on why I was so misinformed in the first place. Unfortunately, as we heard in class, sometimes it takes a crisis for people to finally make necessary changes. The good news is that our troubles can also become a blessing in disguise and ironically lead us to discover what we need to change and better yet, our passions. For myself, after experiencing such great results simply by a change in diet intensified my desire to learn more about how food not only affected me but society as a whole. I realized I was not the only person who was getting sick from what we have been conditioned to eat, which is why I wanted to educate myself about the food we consume, what the issues are in relation to the current system is in the United States, and how we can change it. There are so many people who are physically and mentally sick without taking into account their health problems may stem simply from their diets. If we as a society could learn collectively about some of the implications and alternatives, I think we would all be amazed as to how many illnesses, diseases, and many other societal and environmental costs we could avoid.
To make a change I think it requires a lot of passion and deep interest from an individual. You have to truly want it. Most people are not going to persist and work hard for something without a fire in you that makes it seem worthwhile. So when I ask myself why is this important to me– or in other words, how this evokes a “deep hunger” or “deep gladness”, I look back at how much food has impacted my life and how much it can also deeply affect others as we begin to spread awareness through small projects such as the ones we plan for this semester. With all of our passions and deep motivations combined, this is what I believe will help us collectively bring our individual ideas together and go through a paradigm shift in the way we view and consume food.
Thanks for reading!
– Erika Bishoff 🙂