When I was a child, we ate the standard American diet at my house. Hamburgers or steaks when my dad wanted to fire up the grill and things like grilled cheese sandwiches or macaroni and cheese served with canned soup when my mom made lunch. Side dishes included various fried foods, mashed potatoes and gravy, and a variety of foods made with cheese, as well as cooked vegetables in butter or sauce. We had processed foods like sweet rolls, chips, and crackers often. If we went out to eat at a drive-in, we had burgers, fries, and milkshakes, and if we sat at home and snacked in front of the TV, it was popcorn with butter or chips and dip. Except for the occasional “salad” drowned in salad dressing, we rarely had raw fruits and vegetables. And then there were the sweets. Every member of my family was a sugarholic, and my mother knew how to make great cookies, pies, and cakes that we ate in addition to the mass-produced snacks we loved, like Hostess cupcakes and candy bars. A lot of people ate like that back then; it was considered normal, in part because of food manufacturers’ advertising.
Eating at my grandmother’s house was a lot more healthful. Being from the Mediterranean, she cooked with olive oil instead of other fats or oils, made a lot of fresh salads dressed with olive oil and lemon juice and seasoned with aromatic Greek oregano, served very few fried foods, and included fresh fruits and vegetables on every day’s menu. When she wanted a between-meal snack, she had an apple, a spoonful of tahini, or a handful of nuts. Sweets were reserved for a few special occasions like birthdays and holidays, and then we usually had either one of the plain flavors of ice cream or the mocha cake from a local German bakery, covered in mounds of buttercream frosting and decorated with sliced almonds and chocolate logs.
My grandmother lived to be 83 years old and was in excellent health until the last few months of her life. She was still mowing her own sharply sloping lawn in her 70s–with a completely manual push mower. Her son, my father, died at 58 after more than 20 years of ill health. He had to stop working several years before his death due to health issues, and a couple of years before he died he told me he had fallen one day while walking to the mailbox to get the mail and could not get up; after that, he had to let my mother retrieve the mail. He found ill health boring and depressing and complained of loneliness while my mother was at work every day. My mother too had health issues for awhile–a blood clot in her leg–but she radically changed her diet because of it and has eaten more healthfully ever since. Today at 85, she has outlived my father by more than 25 years. Although a lot of people—even many doctors—will tell you that what you eat has nothing to do with your health, that is simply not true, and evidence-based research tells the real story. Your food is either boosting your health or destroying it.
Medical journals have gradually begun to swing to the side of the mostly plant-based diet because research so overwhelmingly supports its substantial health benefits. Plants contain phytonutrients that have a surprising number of health benefits. In fact, as books like Foods That Heal demonstrate, plant-based foods can be medicinal. Unlike pharmaceuticals, however, they have no side effects except robust health. Fruits and vegetables offer health benefits beyond anything you can get from a bottle of pills, especially since most medications are designed to manage or control disease, not cure it. A healthful diet is the ultimate feel-good way to eat.
The movie Forks over Knives is a documentary that explains why a raw, plant-based diet is so vital to health. As the movie’s web site states, “The feature film Forks Over Knives examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods.”
Forks over Knives is only showing in a limited number of cities throughout the country right now, and unfortunately Dayton isn’t one of them. However, if you don’t mind driving to nearby Cincinnati or Columbus, you can see it there. Forks over Knives promises to be one of the most compelling documentaries of the year, and you can watch the trailer here.
You can check out the showings and buy tickets online here. In Cincinnati, the film is showing at AMC Newport 20 at 1 Levee Way in Newport, Kentucky. In Columbus it’s at the AMC Lennox Town Center at 777 Kinnear Rd.
Whether you already love the raw food diet or you think you could never stand it, this film will impact you. Not sure if it’s worth the drive to see it? Then just ask yourself this question: How good do you want to feel?
“Raw Food is the way to true health and the way to reverse 99% of all disease.”
– Thomas Stinson
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