By: Rohan Anderson
It was my body that told me to make change. It was my body that gave me no way to ignore the fact that I was my own worst enemy. Most of my adult life I'd been unhealthy, a result of my diet and lifestyle choices. By the time I reached my early thirties I was in a state of health similar to many of the western population. Obesity, hypertension, anxiety, depression, food allergies were all part of my daily reality, most of which I was medicated for.
It's not like I reached one particular 'lowest' moment and made a revolutionary decision to change my life in some Hollywood esq moment kneeling in pouring rain, clinching my first to the sky, and screaming "nooooo!" Instead it was a far less exciting, and a more gradual process of identifying what was making me sick, then introducing change.
It wasn't initially obvious to me that it was my choice of processed supermarket food, take away dinners and heavy alcohol consumption that caused my health woes. I was in denial for as long as possible, reluctant to admit my beloved vices of convenience were in fact responsible for my list of medical aliments.
Over many years I experienced a metamorphic process, changing my habits of consuming a diet comprising mostly of processed food, to a diet and lifestyle of 'living off the land' where home grown plant matter and predominately wild hunted meat became my main staple. The changes in the way I ate eventually impacted positively on my health. For example, by avoiding foods with the preservative sulphites in it, I removed a food allergy, which for me presented itself as respiratory inflammation (i.e. shortness of breath).
By avoiding processed foods high in salt, I reduced my hyper tension, and I am no longer medicated for those symptoms. By avoiding processed foods containing sugar I gradually lost weight, and most importantly, rid myself of debilitating depression and anxiety.
Now you might think this is another story of some hippy going all natural and organic and preaching about the supposed benefits, and you're right, exluding the hippy bit. Regardless of what anyone might think, for me, the resulting improvement in my quality of life is a reward enough.
I documented the entire journey on a blog I called, Whole Larder Love, which I recently just finished up after six years. The initial idea was to document what I was doing, even though at times I was blindly looking for answers to problems I didn't know existed. I've since written a few books, toured the world, presented talks and facilitated workshops and demonstrations.
So why do I feel the need to communicate this story?
Even though my experience has been a very personal one, it's not an unfamiliar one. You don't need great powers of observation to see the overall poor health of western population, with statistics to back it up. One of the alarming realities is that more adult Australians are now dying from obesity related disease, than from cigarette smoking.
The change in the food that is presented for us has been gradual, so too is the subsequent change in our diets. My story of self inflicted ill health is echoed loudly across the suburbs of the western world. Many of us are dealing with the same or similar medical challenges. We buy what we are told to buy via the mediums of television and print, and when we try to make a conscious 'healthy' choice we read the words on the food packaging assuring us the food in our hands is a good option, but it's clearly not.
For years I was opting for the 'low fat' option, only to be consuming food loaded with sugar, which after consuming, my body hurriedly converted it into fat. Something had to give, I opted to avoid this food all together.
By sharing my story, I've inadvertently become an advocate for change.
Instead of telling people 'this is what you should do' I've used an approach of sharing 'this is what I've done, and this is the result' an approach that seems to have resonated with many readers. As a writer of cookbooks I'm now plunged into the competitive world of the food industry where much of what drives people is a hunger for celebrity and wealth. Which makes getting my message of embracing real food a whisper amongst the shouting of TV chefs and Reality cooking shows.
That's simply a reality of being an agent for change; your voice isn't always heard across the holler. And that's ok, because I've found little success in telling someone that their diet and lifestyle are slowly but surely killing them. Taking the moral high ground only alienates people from the message you're attempting to convey.
I realise that my voice is tiny. I realise that no company or large corporation has interest in their consumers embracing the concept of local and organic. It makes little business sense on a large scale. Instead it's the little guys that I deal with and support.
With this realisation, I have no option but to continue to utilise platforms available that are free and online to share my story. Which suites me to no end, it allows me the freedom of honesty, even when I share the ugly bits.
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About Rohan Anderson:
Many of us are unhealthy, a direct result of the modern western diet. Obesity is the obvious symptom, but there are many less visible, of which Rohan Anderson experienced as a result of his diet of processed foods. In an effort to make change, he removed himself from the conventional system and looked to the past for answers. He now grows most of his food, hunts and forages the rest in his home region in the Central Highlands of Victoria, Australia.