We all know how hard it is to be humble but if you’re planning to embark on this health journey of ours you’re also about to find out how hard it is to be healthy.
Humility is not something I need to talk about because I mastered that challenge years ago and, like some say in a 12 Step programme I follow, “if you have any doubts about that, just ask my wife.”
It’s a tongue-in-cheek reference to the fact that the people closest to us are the ones that know us best and the real credit for my change of heart goes to my daughter Bridget and my wife Catherine. Bridget started us on this path and I thank Catherine for keeping us both on it.
When it came to my health though, I had no choice.
Well, maybe that’s not strictly true. We always have a choice, don’t we? In my case the options were simple: get healthy or have another stroke.
I only faced up to the fact that there might be something wrong with what I was eating when I came home from hospital. Until then, I thought we were all eating healthy. I thought we were moderating what we were eating but the fact was, it was all the wrong stuff.
Now I believe that, no matter how much you try to regulate your intake of unhealthy food, you just can’t stop eating more of the bits you love the most – and those are usually the bad bits. But was the change easy? The answer to that is simple – no.
I can’t say that, in the early stages of trying to change my food regime I felt instantly better. Although I could see the logic in changing, I often let myself down because I didn’t understand how addicted I’d become to certain tastes. The taste of fat was hard to give up.
I‘d been a red meat eater since childhood and I knew that had to go but why was I so addicted to it? The answer – fat. I was addicted to the taste of fat and the oils associated with a ‘good’ roast dinner.
I knew there had to be something bad with all the fat associated even with prime beef mince, but it never occurred to me that I should just stop eating the stuff.
It was hard. I mean, how much did I have to do to achieve better health. I stopped drinking alcohol at the end of August 1986 and then gave up smoking about 7 or 8 years later but, of course, I couldn’t give up food.
Red meat was the first to go, and that made a big difference.
It was the right step for me because honestly, I never could stop putting another chop on the BBQ, reducing the size of my steaks or adding in an extra sausage if I could.
I loved that food, and the fact was – I was addicted to it.
It wasn’t long after I stopped consuming red meat when something happened that made me think hard.
I was coming past the exhaust fan of an eatery that cooked up fried chips when suddenly, I felt sick. I just couldn’t stand the smell of it. Why, I wondered.
By this time, I had stopped eating red meat for a few weeks, and when I thought about it, I realised that the food I was now eating tasted better. In fact, a lot of foods were mysteriously tasting a lot better.
That was my first discovery but there was more to come. The next battle I had came with salt and sugar. When I look back on it now I can see that, yes it was hard at times, but in the very early stages, I wasn’t as fully committed as I am now.
I had to face the fact that I truly needed to change. The sad part about it is that some of us never do and unfortunately, the results are fatal.