I don’t understand my father sometimes. I love him so much. He has been an amazing father…
…but, the dude just can’t shake the addictions he has to junk food. He has diabetes and survived renal cancer in 2007. The renal cancer was linked to smoking for 45 years. The diabetes is from his horrible diet.
When I flew out from California to New England to visit my parents and brother this summer, I watched in horror as my father would sit down at the kitchen table and pour himself a bowl of Corn Pops and literally poured 1/2 can of condensed milk on top of them. Did I mention that he has diabetes? I asked him why he is eating like this and he repeatedly tells me that he just can’t shake his addiction to crap food. Intellectually, he knows that these foods (well, ‘unfoods’) are killing him, but he keeps on saying that his body is addicted and that at least he quit smoking (which I am proud of him for doing so).
Now, what I also need to share is that I keep on reading that black folk in the USA have higher rates of diseases, related to poor nutrition. I keep on reading that the urban poor black folk eat the way my father does because of food deserts, lack of access to their own land to grown their own food, lack of farmer’s markets, etc. If one is given better access to healthier foods and is taught how to grow their own food, their nutritional health will change dramatically. But here is the kicker…
…my father has lived in a rural area on 2.5 acres of his own land for the past 30 years. He has his own orchard and garden. I grew up with a man who knows how to grown just about anything in the zone that he lives.
Hazelnuts, chestnuts, watermelon, tomatoes, peaches, pears, apples, lettuce, squash, walnuts, pau pau, currants, blueberries, string beans, corn, asparagus, rose hips, and blackberries are the many beautiful foods that he grew and I ate like crazy while growing up. My father can tell you why he grows what he grow, and how it helps one’s health. For instance, he grows rose hips so he can get the best source of Vitamin C. He grows garlic for an immune booster. Below is a picture of one of his chestnut trees.
But sitting at the kitchen table with him, or looking at him eat Oreo cookies, a bag of pork rinds, and struggle with maintaining healthy sugar level, hypertension, and weight, you would never know that he is a master gardener, an expert in edible landscaping, and very knowledgeable when it comes to using herbalism. Obviously, despite having everything he needs to be healthier, he can’t kick his addictions to what I call, ‘death foods.’
I know he gets why I eat whole foods vegan diet. He always says that it’s healthy and if more people ate that way they could avoid diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, etc.
It is incredibly painful to come home and open the cupboards and the pantry and see the ‘death foods’ that my father continues to eat. It breaks my heart when he consciously tells me, “I just can’t help it. My body is addicted to it.” The addictions are obviously incredibly strong, because despite having everything he needs to be nutritionally healthy, he isn’t doing it.
And I feel angry, and scared, and at a loss because I fear that my father will be like so many black men who die far younger than they should because they are addicted to these unfoods. His addiction must be incredibly difficult to overthrow, I guess. This man was able to quit smoking in 1 day, after his doctor told him, “You have diabetes. If you don’t stop smoking I am going to cut your legs off in a year.”
But sugar seems to be far more addictive than his Winstons, I guess. I can’t believe that Corn Pops, pork rinds, condensed milk are mightier than growing his own food; mightier than the fact that he intellectually knows what he should be eating; mightier than the 30 years worth of herbalism knowledge that he has.
Corns Pops continue to win. It must be some form of legal crack cocaine. How else do you explain it!?
Obviously, something more is needed to get people like my father to stop eating ‘death foods.’ I’m simply can’t find research or books that looks at how it is possible that despite having his own land, not living in poverty, being a Master gardener, people will still reach for that box of sugar coated sugar Kelloggs cereal.
Does anyone else have this experience with a loved one, or is my father an anomaly?