Sunday, 5 October 2008

Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we may have diabetes

I'm not a Christian, in fact I don't have a religion, I suppose you could call me an atheist. I do however subscribe to a set of beliefs that are very similar to the 10 commandments, that bastion of Christian belief, but I am not a Christian. I just don't steal, or kill, or commit adultery or any of the other things Christians aren't supposed to do. I do however believe in karma, that cosmic force that rewards those who do good things just as it punishes those who do bad things. The problem with karma, or more accurately with people, is how do we know where karma begins and ends and when do we have to take responsibility for our own actions, when does "it's karma" as an excuse fall down?

In the last few years, but more recently in the last few months my parents' health has declined. A combination of age and lifestyle has combined to give them a cocktail of ailments that has left me wondering what have they done to deserve this? The answer is of course nothing. This isn't karma at work, it is more to do with bad lifestyle choices, diet, lack of exercise as well as other factors like family history, all adding to make people a little bit more predisposed to certain conditions. I am a firm believer in 'you get out what you put in' and if you abuse your body for decades with alcohol and fast, greasy food and rarely exercise don't be surprised one day if your doctor tells you have diabetes or a heart condition. I am not suggesting these are the only reasons for the current state of my parents' health but they have almost certainly contributed. The worst part is that these ailments tend to wait until a point in your life where you are already winding down to retirement or are sufficiently advanced in years that the willpower or strength to fight them off starts to wain. Karma does not dish out diabetes or heart attacks, bad lifestyle choices do and that is hard thing to say when it is my parents who are having the problems. 

Jamie Oliver has a new series on TV that has just started called 'Jamie's Ministry of Food' and the first episode was a real eye opener. He goes to Rotherham, a typical Northern town where the locals have bad teeth and even worse dietary habits. One girl of 22 feeds her young daughter exclusively on fast food and then breaks down later, explaining what we all already knew, that she is lazy and selfish and doesn't have the best interests of her child at heart. I seriously think that feeding your child that kind of crap everyday amounts to child abuse and I am sure it won't be long before we hear of someone suing their parents for abuse when they were younger based on their diet. I wonder if it will happen here first or in that real bastion of fatness, the US of A? 

That old excuse of 'it didn't do me any harm' or 'My parents never taught me to cook' is wearing incredibly thin and will no longer suffice as an excuse to feed your young children on strips of kebab meat and chips. Cooking for your family needn't be haute cuisine, it should be simple food made with fresh ingredients, more about getting vitamins and minerals into your body than taste sensations. I really admire Jamie Oliver but he is not only fighting a losing battle, he also seems to be vindicating their lifestyles. At one point he gets really angry and says that he doesn't know who to be angry at when the answer is staring him in the face. The mother of the fast food junkie five year old is to blame. Nobody makes her order fast food and as she later admits it is to do with laziness and selfishness on her part not because she can't cook (I mean who the hell can't boil an egg?) 

My parents' health has declined in no small part to their diet and to this day (well not this day actually as my father is currently in hospital) my father insists on eating a ridiculous amount of salt on his food and he point blank refuses to stop eating the fried breakfasts that he has enjoyed for decades. My parents were born and grew up in post WWII Britain and even though fast food wasn't around then, beef dripping and lard were. The next generation, born in the sixties and seventies that saw the boom in fast food and curry houses and frozen meals and the generation after that, the microwave and kebab generation are the ones in real danger. Then there are the poor buggers from places like Rotherham (although it might as well have been anywhere) that are growing up, or should I say out, on a  diet of cheese and chips, doner kebabs, Mcdonald's, pizza hut and all other manner of 'food' stuffs that are almost certian to cause long term damage.

I don't blame karma for my parents current predicament, in some way I blame them but then maybe the excuse of "We didn't know it was bad for you" holds some water for their generation, but what will the excuses be when the generation after them and after them have the same complaints?  To say that people of those generations were unaware of the health risks of not eating well is offensive to anyone with a bit of common sense but the generation that Jamie Oliver is trying to help, my generation, are just down right offensive with some of their excuses. "I were [sic] never taught to cook" is not, has never been and will not ever be a valid reason for feeding your child on fast food and burdening them with a possible lifetime of weight problems and the associated psychological problems that come with it, as well as the possible consequences later in life, debilitating and soul destroying condition like diabetes, heart conditions and all other manner of vile conditions that attack and break down your body until you are a shadow of your former self. 

My parents are now shadows, they are still my parents and they still have the same spirit that have always had but it is now in short supply and it is heartbreaking to hear news from family members of another setback caused by the diabetes or the doctor can't do this operation because of the heart medication ad nauseam, literally.

karma can only do so much, after that it is up to you.

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