Cultivation, not consumption, for health

We live in a culture where over-consumption is perceived to be a necessary and driving force for economic growth. Buying “things” is encouraged and this idea is infiltrating all aspects of our day to day life, including health and leisure. It often feels that how much we purchase is an indicator of success and affluence. I have started to question the value of a consumption based medical system and the limits of that ideology for health and healing.
We have continued to increase consumption, even in our leisure activities. Rather than actively doing things, we passively sit and watch movies and TV, go to concerts and sporting events, and visit restaurants. I like all of these things and am grateful to have the opportunity to enjoy these leisure practices. My concern is that we are becoming a society that isn’t willing to invest our time and efforts for personal cultivation if it requires physical exertion. I’m worried this mindset is limiting our own ability to recover and maintain health. It is common to feel depleted after an eight- hour workday and an hour long commute in the car, even if our job isn’t physically demanding. “Too tired to exercise” is a common statement from new patients in my office. When we begin to cultivate health holistically and create a habit of physical movement our stamina for our required obligations increases. We begin to feel as if we have more time and energy after work to do the other things we desire to accomplish. Leisure expands from the couch or restaurant into the woods, the park, and even going to the gym becomes enjoyable.
The marketing departments for big business want to create a narrative where we can purchase the cure — either pill or procedure — to become or maintain health. However, there isn’t a fix that restores health. Recovering from a chronic state of imbalance and disease requires a shift in lifestyle practices and the nutritional foundation so that our body can heal. We can not pay someone to make these changes for us. We should not fear these lifestyle and dietary modifications and we need to reconsider the relationship we have with these types of efforts.
Cooking real food at home isn’t a burden, it is a privilege and an opportunity to take control of the nutritional foundation we are building for ourselves and our children. The consumption paradigm where we are outsourcing our nutrition to others doesn’t work. The results are obvious over the decades we have run this experiment and it is time to let it go. We must begin to cultivate the preparation of food for ourselves again at home. If we let go of the burden mindset and recognize the gift real food nutrition is for our health, we can establish real food eating as a habit and the transformation of our health becomes the result.
I know it is often times easier to talk and write about this subject than to put these ideas in practice. I challenge my patients to start with small steps and simple changes to build momentum for the shift. Instead of stressing over cooking an elaborate dinner each and every night, begin by preparing a warm breakfast in the morning before work or school that has protein as the key component. It is amazing how many patients share that a protein based breakfast sustains them with good energy and mental clarity through their morning. After breakfast try to skip the fast food lunches by bringing a salad or soup from home. It doesn’t require that much effort to pack a lunch and you will save money by not eating out and be in control of the nutritional quality of your food. As these practices become new habits it will spread through your day into your dinner at home too. So please begin to cultivate real food nutrition at home. You will be glad you did.


Dr. Peter Swanz is a graduate of the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine where he was awarded the prestigious Daphne Blayden award for his commitment to naturopathic excellence. He is a board certified naturopathic physician with advanced training in classical  homeopathy and nutrition.


Published from the May/June 2015 Southern Indiana Fitness Source.