Health Isn’t One-Size-Fits-All

Avocados

One green avocado in the foreground and a bunch of black avocados in the background

So, this will be the first post in a while–2.5 to 3 years, I think. I’ve gone through a lot in that time, changed a lot. Now, I’m broadening my horizons. Here’s my first post on health.

When I was first told I had a milk allergy and gluten intolerance, that bread and cheese and other favorite foods were making me miserable, the world changed for me. I had never had a medical issue before, besides being near-sighted. I had never been that concerned about my health. I had never understood why people would say,”at least you have your health,” like that was some big deal until I realized I was sick. And I was sick for a long time before I realized it. My illness caused many arguments with my husband before I realized I was so touchy because I was sleep-deprived and achy and just ill.

Before I realized I was sick with something, I thought everyone must feel like this, and other people were just nicer than me. I didn’t know my illness made me basically incapable of being nice, especially before 10AM and after 5PM. So, when I found out that my body wasn’t handling gluten or casein or many other things very well, I also thought everyone must have this problem. I couldn’t understand a world where everyone else did not have this same problem, because it was clearly the gluten and casein that were the issue, and not my finely-tuned, sensitive, wonderful digestive system.

What I didn’t understand at the time is the broad spectrum of genetics and lifestyles, nature and nurture, under which people operate. That’s why there are short people and tall people, fat people and skinny people–natural variation in genetics. It helps, or helped at least, with overall survival of the species. In times of famine, my slow metabolism would be an asset. In times of plenty, people with faster metabolisms fare better as far as fertility, attractiveness, and more. I always think of taller people when I think of faster metabolism, and maybe there’s a correlation there. My body doesn’t use as much energy because I’m shorter, so if I eat like other people, I’ll be wider too.

Lots of people are able to eat gluten and casein in large amounts with few worries about their digestive system or long-term health. That’s what people tell me, anyway. They say these things don’t bother them. When I first heard from people that they didn’t need to avoid the same things I did was confusing to me. If these things are bad, shouldn’t they be bad for everyone? They may be to some extent because it may be that these things are hard on the digestive system, but not everyone’s digestive system is the same. Some people have tougher stomachs and some people have more sensitive ones. So, I still don’t think the problem is with me. Gluten and casein are not the easiest things to digest for anyone. BUT, that doesn’t mean that everyone has issues digesting gluten and casein.

My main point is that health is complex, and it’s not the same for everyone. Many people have allergies, and what’s healthy for you may be a dangerous poison to someone else. So, while I enjoy talking to people about diet and exercise methods and sharing my experience and what I’ve learned. But I no longer expect that people will drop what they’re doing and follow my lifestyle. My habits are my own, and they’re based on how my body responds to exercise, food, supplements, medication. Healthy choices aren’t one size fits all. Health isn’t one size fits all.

Now I see how odd it may have seemed when I first began telling people about my health issues. I practically doled out verbal prescriptions, and that was a mistake. I may have made people afraid to see their real doctors because my lifestyle change was so extreme. I did ask questions of people to try and understand how their health issues compared with mine. That’s how I learned that others were attacking the same or similar issues from different angles than I was. Other people had their own doctors, nutritionists, dieticians, trainers, and so on. They had their own paths, different from mine. Mostly, I needed to talk about and share these health revelations with others. The changes I made were earth-shaking for me, and I needed to put them in perspective. Over time, as I learned more and and talked to more people, I learned how complex illnesses can be and how some of the changes prescribed for me were not necessarily supported by the science.

I still talk about my health experience, and so I often get unsolicited medical/health advice from people who have very little idea about my medical history or the challenges I have faced. And their prescriptions are usually something along the lines of: you just need to eat moderately and exercise regularly, and you’ll be fine. And I understand that should work for “healthy” people, or people who live in a world that’s not full of junk food. But I’m an aspiring healthy person, recovering and struggling with a sugar addiction and a penchant for overeating and under-exercising. So that advice is not going to work for me right now, though I’d like to be able to follow that someday.

So, I’d like to tell you about my experience becoming healthier and what I’ve learned in my research along the way. I’m not a doctor, not an expert, just someone who’s done some research and has some experience to share. I’m not prescribing anything to others, just sharing information. In sum, I am not providing medical advice to anyone here. But I am sharing some experience and knowledge, which I hope will be helpful to others. I’m not a doctor, not a medical student, just a student of life, a philosopher, you could say, trying to glean some wisdom from my small experience.

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