Recently I spent a couple of weeks doing non-profit work in Thailand. Any time I travel outside of the US, it challenges the perspective I have on my life as I see the various ways it contrasts with another culture and a whole different system of living. I have lived in Thailand before, but it was almost 10 years ago and certainly before I had the views on health I now hold.
One of my Thai friends, who has experienced a number of health issues recently, asked for my help to support her body naturally. The further we dove into the things she could do to start the healing process for her body, the more apparent it was that this would be very difficult to accomplish in Thailand. Because the country is not as developed as the USA, one could easily assume that their food is cleaner, without all the added toxins we have riddled ours with, but that is far from the truth. In fact, one the great influences our western culture has had on this developing country is the use of pesticides and unclean practices in raising animals. It’s unfortunate we have passed on some of our dysfunction to them.
The affordable foods that can be found in markets and roadside stands are loaded with chemicals, food carts and restaurants use MSG almost like water, sugar or sweetened condensed milk is added to a shocking amount of items and sound education is extremely minimal on the subject of nutrition. Even brown rice is almost impossible to find when eating out, which is ironic considering rice is one of the country’s greatest crops and sources of income. Only the truly wealthy can afford to shop at the few specialty markets that carry organic or clean produce, leaving a substantial margin between them and the rest of the country.
As my friend and I determined what would and would not be possible for her, she was shocked to learn that there are still Americans who choose to live an unhealthy lifestyle, even after they have learned that they have easy access to the alternative. It made no sense to her, to have all the resources of health at our fingertips, but to still choose to damage our bodies with junk.
Her shock challenged me while simultaneously humbling me as I realized how often I complain about the things I don’t have or can’t afford, all the while neglecting to acknowledge how lucky I am to have access to the things I do have and to not take them for granted. Maybe I can’t afford the crazy delicious Sea Bass in the fish counter at Whole Foods every week, but I can eat a huge variety of clean, healthy food every single day that can be conveniently purchased at almost any local grocery store or Farmer’s Market.
So friends, my health tip to you this week as well as to myself, is not focusing on something new and exciting we can make or eat to avoid boredom, but to instead take another look at what we already have and to take at least a moment to appreciate it and be thankful for it. It’s so easy to forget we could have so much less… so for all that we do have and all that we can afford, I am thankful, and I hope that is something that can continue to grow in me and around me as we walk in health together.