Are We Responsible for Getting Sick?



When people hear of the diet I eat many of them comment, “Why would you give up all the “good” things to eat just to have more years of old-age misery?”

How many people do you know who are in their 90s and are still energetic and fully engaged in life? We probably all know a few.

By contrast, how many people do you know who are in their 70s and 80s (if they have lived that long) and are sick? They may have osteoporosis, heart disease, dementia, diabetes or cancer. Some are even bedridden after having a stroke. I think we all know plenty of people in this group.

I’m hedging my bets and planning to get to my 90s in good health.

It seems that the word of the day in my community is “responsibility.” When we hear that a family is having a hard time and going on welfare or can’t afford health care, the loudest voices accuse them of not taking “responsibility” for themselves or their families.

I hear people say, “That group works well with the homeless because they hold them accountable for getting back to an independent life,” or, “People having babies out-of-wedlock, just aren’t responsible.”

In other words, most of us think that other people just need to be more “responsible.” I wonder why that word doesn’t apply to the way we take care of our bodies?

What if we used that word on our own lives? Is it responsible of us to eat foods that make us too heavy (a BMI of 25+)? Is it responsible of us to eat foods that can cause diseases like osteoporosis, dementia, heart disease, diabetes, cancer or stroke? Is it responsible of us to continue to smoke because it makes us happy? Is it responsible of us to continue to eat animal products because we like them?

I’ve heard the rationale that if you can afford to drive a gas-guzzler or if you can afford to smoke cigars and drink brandy or if you can afford to eat meat at every meal, that’s your right.

I realize that those individual freedoms are important to many of us. After all, it is your body to do with as you wish. But, other people are definitely impacted. Your spouse or your children may have to step into a caregiver role. You may not be able to afford all of the medical care needed, so the taxpayers have to step in. Because health insurance companies have to pay for more care, they will raise the premium rates for other people.

If you think you are just hurting yourself with your lifestyle choices, think again. What about the husband of the wife diagnosed with cancer? He suffers emotionally almost as much as the patient. What about the kids of the man who suddenly dies of a heart attack? Or the parents of a 50-year-old who has diabetes and has to have his foot amputated?

We take responsibility for keeping our belongings clean and neat. We take responsibility for teaching our children about morals and ethics. We take responsibility for making sure our children go to the best schools and get the best education.

But, are we responsible for making sure our children are always happy and get whatever they want? I doubt if any parent or grandparent would agree to that.

Should we let our kids stay up late at night so they are too tired to pay attention in school so we just hire them a tutor?

Should we let them get tired so their immune systems break down and then we just pay a doctor to give them an antibiotic to get them well?

Do we think we can feed them junk food and then have them pop a few vitamins to keep them healthy?

Do we think we can reward our children with candy and sugary drinks and then just pay a dentist to fix their teeth?

Do we let them eat hamburgers and macaroni and cheese and have ice cream for dessert because that keeps them happy? What do we do when they get fat and are teased and taunted by their classmates?

Being responsible seems to be a matter of degree and personal bias.

If we eat meat and cheese at every meal, but then we bike and run like George W. Bush, shouldn’t that keep us from having a heart stent?

Having responsibility for our own health and that of our children seems to be one of the most important “responsibilities” we can carry out.

What about responsibility for our planet? Is it enough to recycle our cans? Is it enough to keep our thermostat on 78 in the summer? Is it enough to wash clothes with cold water?

One of the most helpful (and responsible) things we can do to help our environment is to stop eating meat. Did you know that raising animals for food uses more water, more land and creates more methane gas than anything else?

Are we responsible for the way animals are treated to provide us with food? We think of those “animals” like we do “slaves” or “muslims.” They are “different” from us. We don’t “know” them.  If we think of those animals and fish in this way, we don’t have to worry about our responsibility for taking care of them.

I’ve got a great idea. Let’s start taking responsibility for the health of our bodies and for the health of our planet!

RSS feed icon
Sign up to receive new blog posts directly to your inbox.  Just fill in your name and e-mail address and hit the “submit” button on the SIGN ME UP form. You will then get an e-mail asking you to confirm your e-mail address.  Once you do that, you will be signed up to receive new blog posts.

© 2010-2013 Melinda Coker

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: “Melinda Coker, health coach and author of the book, Diet and Cancer: Is There a Connection?, teaches women around the world how to develop a healthy lifestyle.”

Categories : Blog, Prevent Cancer

Comments are closed.