Today I am excited to share a guest post from Lauren Snyder Grosz who has been providing wellness and nutrition education on the Liberation Wellness Blog since spring of 2010. She writes articles about the effect fad diets and eating processed foods has on our health, as well as other important health topics.
I’m so enthused about the work Lauren does in spreading the real food and nutrition word. I hope you’ll go visit Wellness Liberation and read more of her posts as well as other fantastic contributors who also provide information. These people are making enormous contributions to our knowledge of real health, and are doing some of the most important work in the world.
I met Lauren at the Weston A. Price Wise Traditions Conference in Philadelphia last month, and she was sweet and engaging. As with many other great people I met there, I wish I’d had more time to visit and talk with her. But as conferences go, the schedule was tight and there were so many people to meet and see. I’m hoping to get to know some of those amazing people better whom I wasn’t able to spend time with by featuring their posts on Agriculture Society.
This wonderful essay describes missed opportunities by those who have every means possible to bring great health to themselves but instead listened to the wrong advice about how to achieve their goals. Although I don’t follow celebrity life much, I’m always encouraged to hear accounts of famous people who make positive changes through real food and share their stories. It’s important when those in the public eye speak out against mainstream health channels and tell the world about their health successes since so many people listen to and are influenced by what they do.
And still, there are other stories of those who chose to starve themselves or follow unseemly diets to become healthy – and aren’t doing themselves any favors. Lauren’s essay today talks about several people in the spotlight who have chosen those paths, and I think the lessons we can learn from these choices are extremely important.
I admire the Guests the way some people admire the Kennedys. My daughter is named Charlotte Catherine because I wanted to be able to call her C.C. as a way of paying homage to C.Z. Guest; horsewoman, fashion icon, and gardener. In the Spring of 2002, I had a chance to attend a lecture she was giving at The Chicago Botanic Garden. She was 83 at the time and appeared to be in excellent health. A year and a half later C.Z. Guest died of ovarian cancer.
In the November issue of Harper’s Bazaar, I was saddened to learn that C.Z.’s daughter Cornelia is a vegan. A quick Google search revealed that she has made this decision for health reasons. Congestive Heart Failure turned my father, who had been an exceptional high school and collegiate athlete into the equivalent of an invalid when I was 16 years old. Two years later, I became a vegetarian as a way of steering clear of my dad’s fate. Occasionally, I’d lapse, but it wasn’t until I became pregnant that I permanently ditched vegetarianism. Cornelia is almost 47, so it’s not likely that pregnancy will rescue her from her vegan wasteland. Discipline will also make it harder to turn away from something she perceives as providing a payoff. As a young socialite in 80’s, the article emphasizes how her equestrian habit saved her from the other popular habits of the era. Even if she was out late, there were horses to ride the next morning.
Once, I made the acquaintance of a pro football player, who had started drinking soy and was a vegetarian during the week. When I began inquiring as to why he was doing this, what I learned was interesting, disturbing really. He felt this way of eating required discipline, hard work, and persistence, all of the things that helped him to be a starter in the NFL. He was a physical specimen to behold, but was unable to credit his grandmother’s and mother’s love of traditional southern food for his stature and strength. This inability to give credit where credit is due is also what led Cornelia Guest to ban all animal products from her life. The saying in their house was, “a pound of butter a day keeps the doctor away” and still she banishes the food! It isn’t enough that her mother enjoyed robust health until she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Surely butter, cream, eggs, and meat must be to blame.
Certainly, this is what I thought because butter was king in our house and from my vantage point it had caused nothing but trouble. My mom died at the ripe old age of 64. Yes. She smoked, but everybody knows food plays a part. I’ve already mentioned that my dad lived like an invalid, who survived until he was 72 because he slept about fifteen hours a day, and swallowed prescription pills that could only be held by a giant shoe box. Somehow, it never occurred to me that my family’s health woes could have anything to do with the bank of cabinets devoted to snack foods or that my mom liked to start her day with dessert and a glass of Folgers Crystals. She was very particular and always insisted on Heinemann’s Coffee Cakes. A cursory glance at their ingredient list fails to turn up anything that belongs in a Bavarian coffee cake or any other food for that matter. Now blaming sugar even seems far fetched because unless we were making sugar cookies from scratch, it seems highly unlikely that any of our favorite companies used anything other than High Fructose Corn Syrup and soybean oil. My dietary choices were also hampered by my mom’s fabulous figure, never weighing more than 125 pounds, she was of the opinion that only peasants couldn’t wear their normal clothes home from the hospital after giving birth! How could sugar, even if it was fake, be to blame? She was thin, strong, and enjoyed incredibly robust health, until diagnosed with cancer. Within a year, we had lost her.
That very same year, I serendipitously came across the life changing work of Sally Fallon Morell, President of the Weston A Price Foundation. While I hadn’t been a vegetarian for many years, it wasn’t until then that I understood the importance of having animal fat in my diet. Fortunately, there was enough real food in our house; my mom frequently cooked from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, that I instantly knew which foods were the culprits of disease in my family. The drive to be healthy seems incredibly strong in children who’ve lost a parent at a young age. Gwyneth Paltrow provides a window into the extremes someone, with means, will go to in order to avoid getting cancer. She was very close to her father and to have lost him when she was only 30 obviously took a toll. In her new cookbook she reminisces about cooking with him and notes that health food was not the priority, hence her obsession with Veganese, a concoction made entirely from fake vegetable oils. In addition, the starlet avoids dairy and only eats animals with two legs. I can’t help but wonder how on earth her mother Blythe Danner allows her lovely daughter to carry on with this warped destructive food philosophy. Not surprisingly , Gwyneth announced that she has osteopenia – a precursor to osteoporosis. She is unable to connect the dots between her diet that is devoid of Vitamin A and D and having a disease commonly reserved for old women. Her remedy for this which was urged by her doctors is to take prescription strength Vitamin D. What is most disturbing is that she has enormous influence, just as Cornelia Guest has in her circle, and hordes of young girls will blindly follow their advice!
Lastly, it’s important to add that many people already understand the importance of eliminating junk food, such as sugar laden cereals and soda. Dr. Price showed that this is only part of what is responsible for radiant health and wholeness. Unless the all important fat soluble activators are given their due people will still experience compromised health. Madonna’s daughter Lola is proof of this: the Material Girl’s family is on a strict organic, vegetarian, macrobiotic diet and yet the poor girl still was not spared orthodontics and additionally required a back brace for scoliosis.
Living long and living well depends on eating high-fat high-cholesterol foods. Yes. We all have to die sometime, but that doesn’t mean it has to be via a massive heart attack, cancer, or spending the winter of one’s life in an Alzheimer’s facility. Traditional diets provide the antidote to these grim scenarios. The second arrow in our quiver is that an infrastructure for excellent sanitization exists – hot water, stainless steel tanks, electrification – that should allow us to all live to a ripe old age (barring accidents). Yet, instead of flourishing, the diseases of civilization have never had a stronger hold on us. It’s simply not enough to know something is bad. While we do not need to turn our children into small nutritionists, they must be able to discern between what is true and false, and why certain principles must not be abandoned in the kitchen.
Lauren Snyder Grosz is a Certified Nutrition and Wellness Educator. She writes for LiberationWellnessBlog.com. As a student on a lifelong quest for exceptional health and happiness, her mission is to empower people to take complete responsibility for their own health by rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true and rediscovering what truly works based on accurate science.