Life took me for one hell of a ride in the past few months, forcing me to face mortality in the face and also forcing me to question everything that I didn’t use to question in my life. I wasn’t even a hedonistic person to begin with but I sure didn’t pay any attention to what I put or didn’t put in my body when it comes to food. I mean, that’s why this blog is about food.
In any case, with my whole family slowly emerging out of the Big C ordeal (actually all credit goes to my sister, she’s the survivor), I’ve finally been able to take some time out and gain some perspective on what happened (or more like, WTH just happened??). When the news first broke, I immediately kicked into action by going online to do endless research, and for some reason I found myself googling ‘natural treatments’ and ‘diet’. I think a part of me has always been drawn to that, I’m always a little skeptical of doctors and conventional treatments. And of course I was confronted with so much advocacy from around the world on diet changes or rather transformation to treat, prevent, or at least minimise the risk of cancer. The more you read, the less you can run away from it. Yes I was afraid of what I was reading and thinking about what I need to give up (fried chicken, fried everything, glorious red meat, desserts), I wanted to run away.
But every one copes with traumatic situations differently. Some people decide that since life is going to be so short anyway, why not enjoy life’s pleasures while you can? I’ve spoken to friends who have declared that it isn’t their wish to live till they are 80, and constantly live in the fear of dying. They rather die young, and happy. I completely respect that.
I admit that at first I’d taken drastic steps to change my diet out of sheer fear. I bought vitamin supplements, any and every vegetable that’s supposed to be anti-cancer, replaced refined flour products with brown rice and wholemeal, bought a juicer, ate quinoa and chia seeds for the first time. iHerb found another health-crazed customer. Mortality suddenly became very real to me and I was terrified for my sibling, for my family, and for myself. Researching and buying health and “c-treatment” foods for my sister and family was the only way I knew how to deal with the situation. I couldn’t just sit back and wait for the docs to do their thing. I was obsessed, compulsive, paranoid.
Then one evening in April, I tried to get every one at home to eat raw garlic with honey and was rejected, violently. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I realised I was taking it too far, too soon.
A few months later, I’m glad to say I’ve found peace and am no longer pointing the gun at every one to eat their kale. I’m still committed to a healthier diet today, but it isn’t because I’m afraid of dying. It’s out of love for myself and my loved ones. I’ve also become more moderate, occasionally giving myself a treat of ‘forbidden foods’. I’ve slowly started explaining to close friends why I’ve lost weight, why I’m being a health freak, why I’m willing to spend a bit more on organic products. It is hard to be social when you’ve almost cut out alcohol (almost being the definitive word) and don’t really care for any dish that screams meat and preservatives all over it. I can’t visit another fast food chain, not with the knowledge I’ve gained. But I guess I don’t want to see that as an excuse to give up what I’ve embarked on. I also want to be a positive influence, and encourage my sister and the rest of my family to stay committed to a healthier diet and lifestyle.
And it’s not just about food, it’s about re-prioritising, figure out what’s really important in life, not sweating the small things anymore, and not only deciding what you need to do in life but also what you don’t need to do in life. Do I really need to stress out over a challenge at work? No, I’ll try to fix it but not stress out. Do I really need to get upset at a rude taxi driver? No, I’ll make my stand but I’ll get over it immediately. It’s easier said than done, and I’m still not completely detached from worldly worries yet but it makes such a huge difference even if I’m 5% less negative about things.
And that, my friends, is my fresh start. Here’s to eating well, travelling well, and living well.