Principles Of Healthy Living
By Ron Cridland, M.D.
Adapted from his lecture "Health Without Drugs"
The information herein is not given as medical advise.
Before starting or changing any medical treatment please consult your physician.
What I'm going to share with you is nothing really earth-shattering as far as breakthrough scientific documentation for a vegetarian diet. I'm going to give you a bit of a framework on which to integrate all the information that you'll hear at this Festival about diet, lifestyle, exercise, and relaxation, positive attitudes, and such.
As a physician, who's been working for over a decade with people like yourselves who have followed basically a healthful diet and healthful lifestyles, I've had an opportunity to try to put things into a philosophical, organized framework which I find is extremely helpful in my practice, to help people get well and stay well, and also in own life.
When I first started practicing, I thought if people just knew the information that was in the "McDougall Plan," for example if they just knew how much diet affected their health they would just follow it, make changes, and become healthy. But then I realized that there are many people who know a great deal about diet and lifestyle, and are still not doing it. In fact they may know more than I do about some things. Then I thought, maybe it is just lack of discipline; if these people just had more discipline, they would follow what they knew.
So I would try to motivate people and help them to develop discipline. Then after a while I realized that this wasn't working either, that some of these people had a tremendous amount of discipline: they were able to do the same harmful things day in and day out and know that it was causing their pain and their suffering, and yet they'd keep doing it. That took incredible discipline. So then I thought, what is the energy that fuels the machine of discipline? A couple of things have come along that helped me sort this out. One of them is that Scott Peck wrote "The Road Less Traveled"; many of you have heard of that. He had a pretty good idea about discipline. and he talks about discipline as the ability to delay gratification.
So let's say you have your annual tax return to do. It's only a couple more days before it has to be in, but what you'd rather do is go to a movie. So you go to a movie and all the time you're there you can't enjoy it, because you're thinking that you should be doing your tax return. So the ability to delay gratification makes it easier for you to get on with enoying your life. Sometimes you have to delay gratification to get a job done or to make a living or to get a degree, or whatever.
And he talks about three other components of discipline. He talks about the ability to accept reality; that reality is the way it is; that the economy is the way it is, the environment is the way it. is, people are the way they are, and govemment is the way it is. Trying to complain about it or say that it shouldn't be that way won't change it. If you want to change it, you have to change it. But just thinking about it, or trying not to accept it, won't help you at all because you just keep bumping up against the same brick wall. So a sense of reality is very important. Accepting responsibility that your life isn't exactly going the way you want it to go but that you are the only one who can do anything about it, is very important too.
Then the fourth thing was the ability to create balance in our lives. You know, some people will go on and they'll delay gratification for ever; they're the type A workaholic, people who can't take holidays and relax. They're always delaying gratification, although some of them get a lot of gratification out of working hard, too. So what happens is if we don't balance our lives, then we run into problems.
We talk about people who are obsessive about their environment, and compulsive about their activity and fanatic about their diet. Well, they're not doing too well in the psychology category. Because they can alienate their friends, they can alienate their family, they can become sick because of loneliness or interference, with people making fun of them because of the way they're living their lives. They can have problems too, and that can make them unwell. So creating balance is very important. We may think of a financial analogy where you have a check book, and you're writing checks, and you can keep on writing checks and forget about what your balance is, and just keep writing checks until they start bouncing back to you, due to insufficient funds.
That's one way of doing it; the other way is taking your bank statement every month, and reconciling it with your check book, making sure you never write a check for money you don't have. It takes a lot more work but it works a lot better. People do this with their health too. They push themselves and keep pushing themselves. They will eat healthfully, exercise, and do all kinds of good things. But when they get sick, why did they get sick? A lack of balance. I'm going to talk to you about a philosophy that's going to help you with balance too. I think it's probably one of the most important things to create when you already understand diet, you already understand the importance of exercise, and the importance of a healthy psychology. Now you want to make sure you integrate all that with balance.
As a physician, I have to make some decisions, about how to help a person with a particular health problem. It's nice to have scientific literature; you know, a clinical control, double blind, placebo-control trial that tells me, for example, that diet does this to blood pressure, or diet and lifestyle do this to reverse heart disease, or diet does this for rheumatoid arthritis. It's really nice to have that scientific study to back up the advice I give to people; it gives me confidence, and it gives the patients confidence. But sometimes we have particular situations where we don't have a study that tells us exactly what to do in a given case.
We have somebody with combinations of problems, where they have high blood pressure and rheumatoid arthritis, and they're over-weight, and they're tired. Now what do we do? We don't have a study that tells us exactly what to do with this particular situation, so then we're left to rely on our clinical experience. Perhaps our own clinical experience in handling similar situations, or the clinical experience of our colleagues, that we share information with at conferences like these, or from literature. Then sometimes we come across situations where we don't have clinical experience, we don't have placebo-control trials. Now, what do we do? Now what we're left with is our understanding of physiological principles. If we understand how blood pressure is created and it's too high, we can understand some of the things that might affect blood pressure, and try to work on those. That's useful; physiological principles are useful. But then we still come across some situations that are so individual that even physiological principles aren't really that useful to help us, to tell us what we're going to do with this patient. Then we're either left with nothing, or with philosophy.
Before I tell you about philosophy, I want to define health. That's what we are talking about, health without drugs, or principles of healthy living. Well, what is that? Now, if somebody goes to their doctor for their annual physical, and they have blood pressure and cholesterol measured, and blood sugar measured, and they have a physical exam. They have a finger stuck in every orifice and they have a pap smear, and they have a rectal exam, and a stool test, and stress tests, and they have cardiograms, and all these tests are negative. We hear about the patient who has all these tests negative, then walks out into the waiting room and dies of a heart attack when he gets the bill. (You're supposed to laugh; that helps my stress, to have you laugh at the appropriate time.)
What's going on here? I thought we measured health. He was perfectly healthy. All the tests were negative, therefore he's healthy, right? No. There is more to health than just the absence of clinically identifiable disease. Now, the Health Organization defines health as optimum physical, mental, an social well-being. You might add to that optimum intellectualwell-being and spiritual well-being, and so on. That's pretty good. That's better. It doesn't exactly tell us what it is, but it tells us that it's more than just the absence of apparent disease. Another way of looking it, from a physical perspective, is that health is the functional efficiency of every cell in your body. The cell is taking in nutrition oxygen, water, minerals, and proteins, and so on, and it's creating function, and then it's eliminating its wastes along with doing its function. If that cell is able to function normally, if all these processes go on in a normal manner, then we say the cell is functioning. The cell is healthy.
If all the cells that make up one particular tissue such as the liver tissue or the brain tissue or the heart tissue are functioning normally, that tissue will function normally. And if all the tissues in that organ function normally, then your organ functions normally: the brain, the heart, lungs, stomach, liver. And then if all the organs in an organ-system like the cardiovascular system, the nervous system, and the digestive system, and the endocrine system function normally then the organ system functions normally, and then all the organ systems function normally, then we have an organism that's functioning normally. But we have a lot of "ifs" along the way. If we have some abnormality in any one place along the way, then we have a problem. But we may not be able to measure it yet.
It may take 7 to 10 years for breast cancer to show up (even by mammography). It may take 20, 30, 40 years for the heart attack to occur, or 50 or 60 or 70 years for the stroke to occur. But we may not be able to tell earlier. Just because we've had an abnormal test, it doesn't necessarily even mean that a person is going to have that disease. So a lot of people who are trying to screen for disease by doing all kinds of things aren't necessarily going to prolong life.
If we look at the most common cause of death in our society today, which is cardiovascular disease, one of the most common presenting symptoms of cardiovascular disease is sudden death. So if you're waiting for it to occur before you do anything about it, you're already in trouble, unless you have someone sitting there who will give you CPR and you are only four minutes or so away from the hospital. Even then the chance for survival isn't wonderful. If you wait for your first cardiac arrest before you do anything about it, you are in trouble. What about the second most common cause of death, cancer? The most common kind of cancer is lung cancer. After it's diagnosed, there's nothing we can really do about it that prolongs life. So two of the most common causes of death we can't do much about once they develop. It's not a good idea to wait for a disease to occur.
So we're looking at prevention, we are interested in prevention. Physicians are interested in prevention too, now that they've realized that their typical medical approach doesn't work too well. People are still sick unnecessarily. There's a lot of hullabaloo about doing prevention in practice now. Family physicians are probably getting the recognition that they deserve, especially in America. When I go to a conference and speak to my colleague physicians, they ask me what I'm doing, I say "I have a health promotion type of preventive medicine practice" They say, "Well we do health promotion preventive medicine too. We do pap smears, mammograms, stool tests, and all those kinds of things", and then they call that prevention. Why? Because in medical school they learn that there are three kinds of prevention. There's primary prevention, where you actually prevent the disease from occurring in the first place, which is what we are really interested in. The second prevention, which is really not prevention at all but early detection, is waiting for a disease to occur before you do anything about it, like breast cancer, or lung cancer, or cancer of the cervix, cancer of the prostate.
You're looking for a prostate specific antigen to try and find prostate cancer early, but then what are you going to do about it? There's not a lot vou can do about it that seems to actually prolong life. So, number one, if you are going to be able to do something with early detection, you've got to make sure that it works, that the treatment for that thing you detect early is effective. Now if you look at breast cancer for example, a lot of effort has gone into mammography, and there may be some benefit, but when you look at breast cancer incidence, the number of new cases of the disease that are diagnosed per year per 100,000 women, the incidence of breast cancer has risen by 30% over the past two decades.
Now, they'll say that's because of early detection, we're diagnosing more cases sooner. Well, maybe. But if the treatment is really effective, then the death rate should be going down, right? Well, the death rate is not going down. In fact the death rate has gone up about 1% over the same period of time. So what is the treatment overall that will be effective? Maybe there's some success in very specific cases, but generally there isn't. Now look at another cancer, cancer of the cervix. For 30 years or so we've been doing a lot of pap smears trying to diagnose cervical cancer earlier. Wouldn't you know it? The incidence of cancer of the cervix has gone down during that time. That sounds good. The mortality is going down too; that sounds good too. But how can we reduce the incidence of a disease by waiting for it to occur before doing anything about it? The whole concept of early detection is waiting for the disease to occur, and then doing something about it.
So how can you prevent it from occurring if you wait for it to occur? Obviously, you can't. So I don't see how pap smears can decrease the incidence of cervical cancer. There probably are many other things, like decreased venereal disease and other things related to cancer of the cervix that we may have indirectly affected over the last couple of decades. So you can't on the one hand say that early detection decreases the incidence of disease like in the case of cervical cancer, and on the other hand say that early detection increases the incidence of disease in the case of breast cancer. You can't have your cake and eat it too. You have to make up your mind which way it's going, and to tell you the truth, I don't think it's going either way.
That's one of the problems with waiting for a disease to occur before you do anything about it. That's called secondary prevention, which is really a misnomer: it's not prevention at all, it's early detection. The doctors think they're doing prevention. In fact if you look at the Physician's Handbook of Prevention, of 300 pages, well over 200 pages are towards the early detection stuff, 5 or 10 pages on nutrition, and of whatever is left another 70 or 80 pages related to primary prevention are more along the lines of immunization, as well as telling people not to get into illicit drugs and that sort of thing (which is useful).
But when you get down to the physician's office and actually find out how much time is spent on primary prevention, you get swamped with all of this early detection stuff, and then go on with the results of that. They're just swamped. They don't have time to do real prevention. So they're not really going to get much bang for the buck, in terms of actually preventing disease. Then there's something called tertiary prevention. When you know you have a serious disease such as diabetes associated with increased death from cardiovascular disease, with kidney disease, and blindness, etc. Tertiary prevention is when you have a known diabetic and you send him to the ophthalmologist every year to have a look and see if there's any diabetic retinopathy and neovascularization, so we can laser it to prevent it from bleeding and blinding the person.
That might be reasonable, but it does nothing about the process that's causing the blindness, which is what we ought to be doing, which could prevent it to some degree. By putting them on a healthy diet, getting the blood sugars down, and the weight down, getting them active. So again, tertiary prevention is distracting if you're really interested in getting the most bang for the buck. There is some value in it but its not prevention, it's damage control; that's what it is. Obviously, a lot of people are confused about what health is. It's like the pleasant young woman who comes in, and seems to be exuding this air of European influence, you know, with make-up by Germaine Montile, nails by Faberge, and body by Haagen Dazs.
Or the very pleasant 80-year-old gentleman who comes in and says, "Aside from my diabetes, and my heart disease, and my arthritis, I'm perfectly healthy. What they mean is, when they look in the mirror in the morning, they don't see any great fungating cancers growing out of the side of their face. You don't see really obvious signs of disease when you have diabetes, or when you have arthritis, or when you have heart disease. You can't see it on the outside all that well. It's funny how people think that they're healthy-"aside from my cancer, my this and my that" Obviously, they are not. And that's what makes it confusing, and the only information that we hear out there, all the way from the New England Journal of Medicine, to the National Enquirer, to the radio talk show host, etc. is stuff like that, and it's confusing. Many people are confused in that way.
So, what about philosophy? The typical medical philosophy seems to go like this: People are sick because they have a lab-test deficiency, a drug deficiency, or an organ excess. If we just do enough lab tests, give them enough drugs, remove enough organs, they'll get well. Isn't that how it goes?. If you have a problem, "Let's do some tests" " "Well, I've got drugs for that" Or, "We don't need that uterus" "What do you expect at your age?" That kind of stuff. I don't see anything to do with health there. The philosophy that we should use is very simple: Health is the result of healthful living. Maybe it's profound, but it's very simple. It is basically the observation that the body will try to heal itself if we give it a chance. The problem is that people can hurt themselves faster then they can heal, and that's why disease occurs.
Depending on their genetic weaknesses, some people will harm themselves over a period of time and they develop arthritis; some others harm themselves and they get high blood pressure; somebody else "gets" diabetes. They have different genetic weaknesses. But your genes don't doom you just because your parents had high blood pressure, or heart attacks, or diabetes; your genes don't compel you to have those diseases, if you live within your genetic capacities. So, what can we do? Well, we can identify our objective, as a physician, or as a patient, or as an individual; it is to identify and remove those factors that interfere with healing, to better allow the body to heal itself, while at the same time providing all the requirements for health.
There's a corollary in there: if the body heals itself, then there is no such thing as "curing." There's no amount of vitamins, or potions or lotions, or acupuncture, or chiropractic, or herbs, surgery, or drugs that are actually going to heal you. How do we know that? Well, if I cut myself, and died of my wounds, it wouldn't matter what you do to me, not one iota of healing is going to occur. There can't be any. So if healing occurs, it must be our living body that is doing it. Now, that doesn't mean we can't influence healing. We certainly can. If my cut is dirty, and it gets infected, and red, inflamed, and pus-filled, it can even cause sepsis and death. Or if that wound is gaping open, it's going to leave a big scar and take a long time to grow together. So what I can do is cleanse the wound, I can sew the edges together so it won't have so far to grow, and I can protect the wound from further damage and contamination by applying a dressing.
But in doing that I have not cured or healed the wound, have I?. If I put a cast on a broken bone, I have not cured or healed the broken bone. All that does is provide the environment in which healing can occur, and removed the factors that could have interfered with the healing process. For example, you take a seed. Even with our modern technology, and billions of research dollars, I can't make that seed grow into a plant I can stick it under a microscope, slice it down to molecules and stack them together, but I can't possibly create a plant out of them. It just won't work. And yet, I can get that plant to grow, 99 times out of 100. How? By providing the enviroranent in which germination, and sprouting, and growth can occur. And that works.
It's the same thing for healing. You create the environment in which healing can occur, under your physiological determinants, under your genetic predispositions. That's how you create an envirorunent for sleep. You don't make someone sleep. You create the environment in which sleep can occur. You don't make someone relax: "Wake up! Hurry up and rest!" It won't work! But you can create the environment in which you can rest and heal; and as you release, just slowly let the tensions go out of your body, then you can relax. It's the same thing with love: you can't make people love you. You can create the environment where someone might want to love you. Or if you are a salesman, in a store selling widgets: you can't make people buy them; you create an environment where people want to buy them.
Well, it's the same thing with health and happiness and all those things: you can't make them happen. That's another reason for balance. You can't make yourself healthy; you have to let yourself get healthy by creating the environment in which healing can occur. The way you do that is by identifying and removing all the factors that interfere with healing, at the same time providing the requirements for health. The factors that affect your health come under four basic categories: Diet, the Environment you live and work in, your Activity, and your Psychology. D.E.A.P.-the acronym is "DFAP" (spelled wrongly to make it easier to remember). If you go through these four factors, when you're looking at health, you will be able to find it in your own lifestyle.
Diet: you know that the optimum diet for the human organism is vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes-as close as possible to a strictly vegetarian, low-fat, natural foods diet. Now, you can run the body with some other kinds of foods, but it just won't run so well or as long and with low maintenance. Just as your car can run on other things besides unleaded gasoline, but it won't run so well for as long and with low-maintenance. I'm not going to belabor this point here. However, one thing you want to keep in mind is that diet doesn't make you well. The idea is to get a diet that doesn't hurt you any more, while at the same time providing all the nutrients for growth and health. The healing occurs a little later on and we'll talk about that in a moment.
The second category is Environment. We want fresh air, and sunshine, pure water, positive, supportive, secure environment at home and at work, at play and at school. It's a very important factor. People like ourselves are taking more and more positive choices about ways we eat, what kind of exercise we do, and how we think, and our attitudes, and so on. Your environment is going to start affecting your health more and more through urban problems, racial conflict, muggings, pollution, things like that. A situation you can't necessarily directly control, except trying to live away from it; but it's going to affect you and particularly your children more and more as time goes on. So it's important to consider that when you have an opportunity to put in your two cents worth in an election or something like that, or make your thoughts known. Taking care of your environment is very important, and will become more and more so in the future.
Activity. You remember I mentioned diet doesn't make you well? Well, the most important single activity turns out to be sleep, because that's when your healing occurs, if I want to stimulate healing. A variety of growth hormones are released primarily through the deeper levels of sleep. Sleep is very important, and most people need at least 8 hours of sleep just to recover from everyday wear and tear. And that's ifthey're tranquil, and not sick and tired or stressed with wear and tear to begin with. Now, if you're physically, mentally, and emotionally active, that increases your wear and tear, thus the probability of increasing your requirements for sleep to more like 9 or even 10 hours a day. We can get by with less; most people do. Just as you can drive a brand new car for 50,000 miles and never get the oil or filter changed, or do any other maintenance, and it will still drive. it will start up every morning, and keep going. But it won't last nearly so long as one that's been well maintained. Neither will you; and your sleep is maintenance, it's one of the most commonly overlooked factors and it's one of the reasons why you have to emphasize it, because I've been working for the past decade with people like yourselves who are already doing a lot of other things right, and yet some people are still not well. The missing link is often sleep. It's a very important aspect, a key to how quickly-or whether or not-you will get well.
Second most important activity is relaxation. Relaxation lets you sleep well. At night time, brush your teeth, wash your face, and clean your mind. Go to sleep with pleasant relaxing thoughts. If you do a relaxation technique in the process you'll fall asleep easier and you'll have a deeper, more healing form of sleep. You're more likely to get down to that deep sleep where the healing hormones are released, plus you're practicing a skill called relaxation that you can use during the day to minimize the effects of stress and tension, that cause headaches, and backaches and wasted energy. The side effect of practicing relaxation on a regular basis is increased awareness. You become much more aware of what's going on in you physically, mentally, and emotionally. As a result of that increased awareness, you're much more likely to get your needs met: More sleep when you're tired, more fim when you're not having enough fun; more companionship, more exercise or less exercise. We've all been brought up being sold a bill of goods by society, our families, the media, and so on, telling us all kinds of things, programming our brains, with all kinds of things that we should do that may have very little relationship to our physiological requirements. They tend to override what our body is trying to tell us to do. You wake up in the morning perhaps even without an alarm clock, because you've been conditioned. You got up at the same time for the last 10, 20, 30, 40 years. Even though you may still be tired, you're not sleepy any more. You have to get up because you have domestic, or academic, or work related commitments. So you force yourself to get going. You may not feel sleepy, but you may be tired, and you push yourself to go. Your body says it doesn't really want to go, but oh, you have to. Again, you're not listening to your body.
You're listening to the tape playing in your head telling you that you have to do this. When people are really sick, and, they're in pain, they're suffering, they may be feeling very tired, but still think "I have to keep going." They're not listening to their body. Their body's out of balance, and it's getting worse. If you need sleep to heal, if you need sleep to get rid of fatigue, but you don't let yourself sleep when you feel sleepy, or when you feel tired, how are you going to get better? You are just making it worse if you push yourself to get going. And the more tired you are, the more you have to push yourself to get through the day, and the more adrenalin you release. Remember the fight or flight response, and the sympathetic nervous system? You get scared; you almost had an accident on the highway and your heart goes bump-bump, and your stomach does flip-flops and it's full of butterflies, and you feel weak in the head: that's adrenaline
Remember Pavlov, he had this poor dog - I know we don't like talking about dog experiments - but he would bring food and then ring a bell, the dog would salivate because of the food, and eventually the dog learned to salivate just with the sound of the bell. He developed a conditioned response. Well, the same thing happens in people too. You have just about a near miss on the highway and you get that fast heart rate, and you feel weak in the head, you know why: you felt as if you were about to die, and you know why you felt like that.
Now lets say you are really tired, and you're pushing yourself to get through your day. You are driving down the same highway, a clear sky, not a problem's going on, but you really had to push yourself to get through the day, and to get to this appointment; and you really felt like doing something else, like lying down. When you're just about to have an accident, that adrenalin level has gotten up just about as high as it gets. Your heart starts going fast, your breath is rapid, and your stomach is doing flip-flops, and you associate this with what? Panic! You feel like the world's going to end, you feel like something bad is just about to happen. You don't know why. So you blame it on psychology, you say it's psychological. It's actually a physical response. It's Pavlov's dog all over again. You've been conditioned. This is what happens.
A lot of panic attacks are actually people pushing themselves when they are tired, when they're over-adrenalized. When you're adrenalized, it's hard to sit still You've seen these so-called high-energy people: they run around, they can't keep still, they can't sit still, they've always got to be doing something. Those are really tired stimulated people. They can't relax because adrenalin makes them feel uncomfortable. At the end of the day they try to sleep and they can't sleep as well. They don't feel sleepy for a long time and they get to bed very late. They have trouble falling asleep or if they do sleep, they don't sleep deeply and the adrenalin inhibits those healing hormones.
So they wake up the next day not feeling refreshed, and they have to push themselves even harder to get through the next day, until what happens? They're so stimulated, they can't sleep, and they get all kinds of things like chronic fatigue syndrome, and those chronic things where nobody seems to be able to get better. So, balance again is very important. We are programed listening to our head. We have to listen to our body. Practicing relaxation enables you to hear your body, not with words, but with feelings. Feelings are the clue as to whether you're living right. It's very important that you give yourself a chance to listen to them, to feel them, otherwise you'll get into trouble.
The third most important activity is exercise. We need exercise to achieve optimum health and well-being. The problem is that exercise will not make you well if you're sick or tired already. The way exercise works, is that it acts as another stress. It stresses your ligaments, bones, tendons, muscles, heart. And that stress stimulates the body to build us stronger, more fit, more efficient, with more endurance. But that building doesn't occur while you are exercising, because that's when you're breaking yourself down, tiring yourself out. That building only occurs when you are asleep, and only if you get enough sleep. Not only to recover from everyday wear and tear, but you have to get additional sleep to recover from the additional stress of your exercise, otherwise that additional wear and tear accumulates and you end up with the repetitive strain injuries, and the golfer's elbow, tennis elbow, arthritis, bursitis, tendinitis.
We often see people who are trying to get healthy, trying to lose weight, and they get involved in a really vigorous exercise program, and they exercise really hard for a couple of weeks, and then what happens? They get sick for a week. Then they exercise very little for a week or two till they get over their sickness, then they start exercising vigorously again, and after 2 or 3 or 4 weeks they notice "Oh, tendinitis; can't do that anymore" And they'll take ibuprofen. Eventually they have to tone down their exercise, and maybe even stop it. But it's not an ibuprofen deficiency, because they take lots of ibuprofen, and it doesn't get better. They put on those bands, and they have cortisone injections, and it doesn't get better. Eventually they have to give up their activity. Why? Lack of balance. They weren't getting enough sleep to recover from their everyday wear and tear let alone the additional wear and tear of their activity. Now how can you get into a sustainable weight-loss program without exercise? It won't work.
First, you have to develop a solid foundation in health and energy, through eating a healthful diet, getting enough sleep, doing relaxation, and having a positive life. Then, once you create that foundation, you can build optimum health with exercise, and optimum energy, optimum weight, and optimum metabolism. It's like building a house. You don't start off with the walls and windows, and the roof; you start off with a good solid foundation if you want this house to last. If you want to be healthy, if you want your exercise program to be sustainable, you have to start with the foundation.
A lot of people are pushing themselves, and they know it; that's not sustainable. Eventually, they're going to get sick and run-down, and not be able to keep doing all things they thought were so important, and for which they had to compromise their health. If you are compromising your health, eventually you won't be able to do those things. That's irresponsibility. Let's say the family depends on the salary you earn, or the things you provide for them. So you're up late, because it you're doing this sort of thing, because it seems really imortant. But you're starting to get irritable and snappy with these people you care so much about, you're getting tired and short-tempered. You really care about these folks, and you're shouting at them. These are the people for whom you are sacrificing your life, and they're really important; but it's "You darn kids! and "Johnny, get out of here!" or "Stop doing that!" So you upset them, and you're really frazzled; then you get sick. Now you're a burden, not an asset. You have to take care of yourself. It's not a luxury or an extravagance, or a waste of time, or selfishness; it's a responsibility. If you don't do it, you are being irresponsible. Think of all the people who are gomg around out there' saXW 'We have to help people, we have to provide service, and we have to do all these things for others" If you do that at the expense of your own health and well-being, we're going to have a lot of people who need to be taken care of If people would learn to take care of themselves first, there'd be a lot fewer people we'd need to take care of, wouldn't there? So taking care of yourself is not being selfish, it's being responsible. Then if you've learned to "walk the walk" in addition to "talking the talk," you can really help people. And there are going to be a lot fewer people who need help if everyone focuses on taking care of themselves first; not in a selfish way, but in a truly responsible way. We've talked about diet, environment, activity (and the three components of activity were sleep, relaxation, and exercise). The fourth category is Psychology; that's the 'P' in "DEAP" Psychology: the ability to handle stress in your life, positive attitude, how to run your life, productive activity, positive inter personal relationships. I had a patient who, when I was away at a conference, went to see another doctor because he started feeling poorly; and this doctor knew that I was a holistic-type doctor, so he tried to ask him all these lifestyle questions. So the doctor asked, "Do you drink?" The patient said, "No, of course not. Not a drop of alcohol has touched these lips" "Do you smoke?" "No, of course not; tobacco's a filthy weed" " Do you stay out late and carouse?" "No, certainly not. I get lots of sleep " So the doctor is really puzzled; he can't figure out what's wrong with this fellow. Then you can imagine the light-bulb brightening up over his head, and he says to the patient, "Do you get these sharp jabbing pains in your head?" The patient says, "Yes, I get them all the time" Doctor says, "I know what your problem is. It's really quite simple. Your halo is on too tight!"
If you are obsessive about your diet, and compulsive about your activity, and fanatic about your exercise; you are not doing too well in your psychology category. Again, we're talking about balance. Balance is very important. When we talk about psychology, we are discussing happiness, and contentment. There are two things that people get mixed up: that is the difference between happiness and pleasure. As physicians, every day in our offices we see people who are dying of pleasure-related diseases. Dying of diet gluttony, alcohol, drugs, sexual intemperance, and so on. We see them dying from all sorts of consequences of the pleasures they have had. Not happy-it usually isn't fun dying-especially of these diseases. You can have all the pleasure in the world, and still not be happy-, yet many people are focusing on one particular pleasure-activity, as much as they can cram into their lives.
So, what is happiness? Happiness is a mood-state that occurs spontaneously when the sum-total of your life experience is perceived by you to be highly positive. In other words, if your life is going well, you feel good. Amazing! Now, this is only a primary determinant of that, which we won't go into because that is a lecture unto itself. But many of you already more or less know what that is. And essentially, you want to have your emotional needs met, and if you listen to your body-to your feelings, not words -you'll have a good idea of whether you are getting those things met, if you spend enough time listening. "Well doctor, O.K., I've heard what you've had to say, and I think I should follow a vegetarian diet; but I know I'm not going to like it, because you're taking away all the things that I enjoy, that bring me pleasure" Well, they're also bringing you pain and suffering, and getting rid of those things is only going to make it easier for you to enjoy your life, don't you think? If you get rid of pain and suffering, it might be easier to enjoy your life; we're not taking away pleasure from your life; we're actually helping you to enjoy your life more, by getting rid of the symptoms of your disease.
"O.K., all right doctor; I agree with that, but I certainly won't be enjoying my meals any more" Now, that's not true either. Anybody who has eaten a completely vegetarian meal in a place like this (at the Vegan Festival), or has been doing this for a while, and has read a few vegetarian cookbooks, would know that there are lots of satisfying, enjoyable vegetarian meals that you can eat, foods that don't hurt you, that still bring pleasure. So as long as you're eating foods that you enjoy and that bring you pleasure, why would you want to eat something that's going to make you suffer?
You don't have to feel deprived. but it's up to you to make sure that you provide yourself with enjoyable, satisfying and filling things that are not harmful, when you're hungry. Think about the settlers who came out from the East, crossing the country in covered wagons; they didn't say: "It's lunch time, where's the local McDonald's?" on the freeway. They didn't have that. They brought it with them or had to scrounge for it. They didn't always eat very healthfully, either. But the point is that you have to plan for having what you want when you really need it.
Some people will go to a great bother to pick the right wine, or when they'll go to a special restaurant, make a big deal in choosing the right wine, as a connoisseur. Well, why not go to a little trouble of being a connoisseur of other foods? A connoisseur of fruit; make sure it's ripe and fresh. A connoisseur of vegetables. A connoisseur of a vegetarian diet. You can do this too, with just a little extra effort; it's not that dffficult. You don't have to feel deprived of all pleasure; but you have to find pleasure that's not harmful. There is plenty of it. But happiness is not derived from pleasure; happiness is when your life is going well. Remember I was talking to you at the beginning about people making changes in their lives. If they just knew how much diet and lifestyle could affect their lives, they'd just do it, right? If they came to this conference, they'd just do it. If they just read Dr. McDougall or some of the other books that we have available, they'd just do it.
And then we realized that there wasn't just lack of knowledge, there was discipline. And we realized that people have lots of discipline and keep doing harmful things day in and day out, and suffering the consequences of it, and still keep doing it; that takes incredible discipline. So what is the energy that fuels the machine of discipline? I mentioned Scott Peck; he says that it is "love' " Well, I think it may be more than that. I think it's "passion" I think that "passion" comes from a passionate goal. Have you heard of Wayne Gretsky? He is a Canadian, a pretty good hockey player who can do just about anything with a hockey puck. He weighs about 170-175 pounds and he plays hockey against 250-pound defense men who are out there to stop him. You have to be pretty motivated to get up there every day and do things with the puck. And yet even Wayne Gretsky would give up if they did one thing, and that's put the goal nets out. Why bother to go out there and risk life and limb if there's nothing to shoot at? Well, that's the same thing with you. Why are you going to put forth a lot of effort to fix your life, if you don't have any direction?
If you are traveling across a large body of water, and you just get out there in your boat and start paddling, you're not likely to end up where you want to be unless you know where you want to go. So you line up that tree with that lamppost, or that rock, or that house, on the shore. As long as you keep your eye on that and you keep steering O.K, you'll head straight across, even if there's a strong current or a wind. You take your eyes off it for a moment and you start drifting off. So you always have to keep your mind on where you're going. If you don't know where you're going, you have to figure it out. That's where another book comes in handy-, have you heard of "The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People"? It's a very good book. It's just one formula for effecting success, but it's a good one. It talks about the decision to be pro-active. This is the first decision where I'm determining to act upon my life and create out of it what I want rather than having my life continuing to act upon me. "I'm going to make it happen. I want to be responsible. I want responsibility for what happens to me. That's what we're talking about, making the decision to be pro-active.
The second step is to visualize your goals in all the details that you can imagine. If you can see your goals, and you can visualize the pathways that will get you there, then you are half way there. Then the third thing is to take that first step. You may have a mountain to cross, and it may take you years to get where you want to go, but as long as you keep putting one foot in front of the other, time is going to pass anyway so you might as well be moving towards it. Because if you're not putting one foot in front of the other, a couple of years are still going to go by, and you won't have gotten anywhere. So keep putting that one foot after the other, one step at a time; keep going in that direction. You are traveling through the forest of life (and you know the old saying that "you can't see the forest for the trees") and you come across a multitude of paths, its not just eight or ten where you have a good chance of getting it right, it's hundreds, or thousands of possible paths. The one with two color-TVs, or a big car, a big house, or the best-looking spouse, or the most power, or the most money (to say nothing of all the possible paths of a more altruistic nature); how do you know which ones to choose? Well, it's very simple if you have a passionate goal that rises like a mountain, just look up and take the path that seems to be heading in that direction.
If you come across another divergence of paths, again, look up to your goal and take the path that seems to be heading in that direction; it becomes simple. But it's still the road less traveled. The one less traveled is going uphill against gravity, it's not paved, and it's rutted, and it's lonely; whereas everybody else is trying to take the easy downhill route to an uphill destination. The first sentence in that book is that life is difficult, and the sooner you accept that, the easier life is going to get. So if you spend your whole life trying to find a downhill route to an uphill destination, obviously you'll never get there. Or when you do turn around, you're going to have much farther to climb than if you had just started jumping over the fences like you had to do, at first.
So in summary, the philosophy we use is heavy, but it works time and time again. Certainly I've seen it work in the decade of practice that I've had, but it's been around for a long time. We constantly revalidate it in medical science. It's based on the observation that health is the result of healthful living, that the body will try to heal itself if you give it half a chance. The problem is that we can tear ourselves down faster than we can heal, and that's why disease occurs. So our objective is to identify and remove those factors that interfere with the body healing itself, while at the same time providing the requirements for health. And those main factors are first, in trying to get healthy: D.E.A.P-Diet, Envi- ronment, Activity, and Psychology. Take a look at your diet, and your environment. Take a look at your activity, and your sleep-are you getting 8 to 10 hours? Are you getting enough exersize that's appropriate for your level of health, which may be none if you are acutely ill?
And psychology: learn to limit stress, and relax (remember relaxation, and listening to your body); have positive attitudes, productive activities, positive relationships, and understand the difference between pleasure and happiness. All the pleasure in the world won't create happiness. You don't have to be deprived of pleasure to be happy-, there are pleasures you can have that don't have to hurt you. Find them and make them available to you, and there you are. Thank you.
Audience question: What do you do when sometimes you can't get enough sleep?
You will survive. The body is designed to handle tons of stress. It's just what you do on a regular basis that's important. Do you compromise significantly? Even on diet, if you compromise insignificantly, it's probably going to have an insignificant effect. It's what you do on a daily basis that's especiafly important. If you came to this conference well rested and healthy, and you missed a couple of nights' sleep, you're probably going to be fine. But I wouldn't miss two more, I wouldn't miss too many. I'd miss a lecture, or miss a breakfast, or go to bed early, so you don't get too far behind in your sleep, otherwise you'll have a sore throat or a cold or something like that by the end of the conference.
Audience question: How long should naps be? An hour, a half hour, fifteen minutes?
If you think you need maybe on average nine hours sleep because you're an active person, and you have had eight hours of sleep, you will need to make the loss up by having an hour's nap.
Dr. Cridland is in general practice and
prevenuve nutritional counseling, at the :
Health Promotion Clinic
6010 Commerce Blvd., Suite 152
Rohnert Pafk, CA 94928.