Quote for the day:

Trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over your body.—George Carlin

Addiction is the disease of “more”…

Since I passed one year last week, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. Last year when I relapsed it seemed impossible that I’d be able to put together another year clean, much less Really Sober. Using again took me by surprise. … I’ve wondered what it is that makes it possible for some people to choose to keep moving in healthy ways, while others continue to pick destructive paths. Part of it, I think, is having people around you who believe in you, or on whom you can’t give up. A lot of people, for example, say they get sober for their families, in particular their kids.

But I also believe there has to be a kind of deep central belief in oneself. A love for oneself. I never thought I had this. When men would tell me they loved me, I’d be like, “Why?” I could never see why, and I could never get enough of hearing it.  …

But I’m finding out I have it. Self-respect.

A Quaker friend sent me a story from the NYT’s Well Blog about the China Study—a book about how eating plant-based whole foods will reverse heart disease, prevent diabetes, and work all sorts of other health wonders. I checked it out. I read as much of it on Amazon as I could, then ordered the book, which will come tomorrow. The author, T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., talks about these facts: medicine has become an industry in this country, just the way food-production has, and both industries protect profits before the wellbeing of their patients/customers. They will do everything they can, including plant spies, to silence even good science so that profits will keep rolling in.

The China Study is a 25-year-partnership between Cornell University, Oxford University and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine in Beijing. It has demonstrated two things:

  • eating lots of animal-based foods (including dairy and eggs) is linked with more chronic illness, and
  • eating lots of plant-based foods is linked with greater health.

Simple, as most effective practices are. And Campbell wanted to lay out his story, his evidence, and let readers make up their own minds, he said.

But when he tried to publish it, he said, his agent shopped it around New York and all the editors (probably guided by their sales reps) wanted Campbell to make more than two-thirds of the pages recipes. They didn’t care about the science, they just wanted to make the book pretty so it would be guaranteed to Sell More Books. So they would Make More Money.

“They wanted to dumb it down,” he said. As usual, with systems driven by addiction.

So he said, Screw that, and he took it to a little tiny publisher down in Texas where they published the book as it was (although admittedly with the façade of a Workman or Rodale title).

And it has sold half a million copies. Now that it’s appeared in Tara Parker-Pope’s column, it will likely sell another several truckloads. I bet Workman and Crown are biting their knuckles.

Bill Clinton closeupWhat I wanted to tell you about though was this story: Bill Clinton decided to become a vegan after reading The China Study. He’s 64, he lost 24 lbs., he’s back to weighing what he weighed in high school and is hoping to reverse his heart disease. He says he wants to be around to see his grandchildren.

Now this really got me. Because my parents are not around to see their grandchildren. They knew they weren’t in great health, but they didn’t take charge of their situations and make changes so they could be around.

Bill researched this big change. Of course, unlike addiction, heart disease itself does not include a component that tells you that you don’t actually have a disease—however, many people with heart disease are addicted to the foods that have caused their disease, making it difficult for them to make the changes necessary to kick-start their innate healing powers.

Bill has done some stupid and compulsive things in his career, things that I’ve heard some people say make him an addict or like an addict. Whatever—apparently, he loves his daughter. She asked him to lose 15 lbs. for her wedding. An amazing request. (I can just picture asking my dad, who had a lifelong enormous beer-belly, to lose weight for my wedding—or for any reason.)

And he did. He lost 20 lbs.

The stents, designed to keep his coronary veins open, were already clogging up with cholesterol. He started out by evaluating his options. Here is Bill talking about his plant-based eating:

So I did all this research and I saw that 82 percent of the people since 1986 who have gone on a plant-based, no dairy, no meat of any kind—no chicken, turkey—I eat very little fish, once in a while I’ll have a little fish, not often—if you can do it, 82 percent of the people who’ve done that have begun to heal themselves. Their arterial blockage clears up. The calcium deposits around their heart breaks up. … We now have 25 years of evidence. And so I thought . . . I’ll become part of this experiment. I’ll see if I can be one of those that can have a self-clearing mechanism.

Operative phrase: “If you can do it.” Operative power: one greater than yourself.

Addicts who contemplate joining a 12-step program that requires abstinence from addictive substances usually balk first at the abstinence part. Why do I have to abstain? Then they balk at all the hard work they have to do while they’re working to abstain. Why do I have to do all this hard work? Why can’t I just be cured?

Well, Holy Fried Pork Rinds, Batman. Change is hard.

How is Bill Clinton’s story of abstaining from all animal-based food for the past year any different from any alcoholic’s or addict’s story of abstaining from all alcohol and drugs? Bill was a Southern boy raised, no doubt, on fried chicken and biscuits made with lard, slathered with butter and gravy; I grew up in a house always stocked with beer, with people who drank and smoked all the time, as a way of life. Now we’re making changes so we can be around for other people, and for ourselves…

Both Bill and I are making nutritional changes.

We’re both exercising.

We’re both taking care of business.

To get back to T. Colin Campbell Ph.D. for a second. This story exemplifies the way in which addiction is a “medical illness.”

It’s a medical illness NOT because there’s a pill or gene out there, yet to be discovered, that will cure addicts and make drug manufacturers rich.

It’s a medical illness because it is a condition that can be treated by simple changes—in what we put into our bodies, and how we use them, and why.