Feast vs famine

August 9, 2011

As I complete the first day of my cleanse, I am struck by the contrast between my situation here in Canada and the current famine situation in Somalia.

Here, I am completing a cleanse because I have provided my body with far too much food than is necessary. So I am overweight. As a result of my extra weight, I am unhealthy. I have the potential to damage my internal organs. This could result in permanent conditions that could affect my ability to function as I age.  Heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer have all been linked to diet.

To reverse my habits of unhealthy food choices, I am completing a cleanse that will require my restricting the amount of food I eat. I am not alone. North America is filled with individuals completing detoxes, cleanses, and various diets that eliminate certain foods. As a continent, North America has one of the highest statistics for obesity, diabetes, high disease, and cancer.

While I was undergoing cancer treatments, I attended a workshop. One comment made by the facilitator has stayed with me all these years: “We eat too much for our own good.”

This is in complete opposition to what the Somalis are facing. While I have too much food, they have far too little. We are both unhealthy, but for the exact opposite reasons.

An update that I read online, provided by the CBC News, stated that over 29,000 children under the age of five have died from the famine. Over the past 90 days, five zones in Somalia have been declared as “famine zones.” Over three million Somalis are in need of immediate assistance to survive. This is Somalia’s worst famine in 60 years.

90 days ago, I was enjoying the last day of my cruise. I had spent the day in Seattle, visiting the world famous Pike Place Fish Market. All types of seafood filled the stands set up by the proprietors. One proprietor entertained the visitors by throwing their fish across the aisles.

Other stands displayed bowls of herbs and spices. Beautiful colours and smells to delight the senses. Other stands offered delectable chocolates and sweets. We filled our nutritional needs whenever we wanted. Then we returned to the cruise ship to partake in the last dinner on board.

87 days ago I was stuck in Athabasca due to a wildfire that had closed the road into Slave Lake. I was attempting to return home from my cruise. Instead, I had to spend the night in Athabasca. Before retiring for the night, I went to a 24-hour gas station and convenience store and stocked up on frozen pizzas and sandwiches. I wanted to be prepared in case we had to evacuate.

86 days ago, I fled Slave Lake with my three children. I had one cooler and a honey bucket filled with water, I had six small water bottles full. And I had a bag of traveling snacks, something I always keep on hand because I am on the road a lot. These snacks consisted of rice cakes, crackers, and other healthy alternatives to the sweets and chips available to buy at convenience stores.

50 days ago I chose to complete the cleanse for the first time. Looking back at my diary entries from that first cleanse, I remember that the greatest challenge during the first couple of days was temptation. I wasn’t really hungry, but everywhere I went tempted me to eat. Fortunately, I didn’t cave into the temptation. I recognized that eating that often was a habit, not a need.

Three days ago, I had two suppers, along with the usual breakfast. I guess the second supper made up for my missing lunch. I certainly didn’t need it though. I had attended the barbeque that followed my daughter’s graduation ceremonies. I enjoyed a hamburger and a bag of potato chips. All the food was donated by organizations that wanted to help the Slave Lake graduates of 2011. The wildfire had displaced many of us, and many homes were lost, including mine. As a result, there were a lot of donations, including food, that Slave Lake residents benefited from.

After eating at the barbeque, I met my mother and sister at a local restaurant. They had not eaten at the barbeque because of dietary restrictions. I caved into temptation and ordered an appetizer. Not because my body was hungry. But only because the temptation was there.

Two days ago, I attended another feast in celebration of the 2011 graduates. Three tables were laden with food: pork, salmon, green salad, potato salad, broccoli salad, buns, hamburgers, hot dogs, pickled garlic cloves, devilled eggs, raw vegetables, fruit, fresh berries, whipping cream, ice cream and cake. I’m sure I have forgotten a dish or two.

Over the last 90 days, I have had more food that I can ever possibly need. In fact, so much that I’ve had the ability to say “no” to many offers of food. Over the last 90 days, over 29,000 children under the age of five have died from hunger.

That is so sad.

For information on the Somalia famine, visit the following links: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQNVzL0-CsI


For information on how to donate to the Red Cross to help the famine in Somalia, go to: http://www.redcross.ca/article.asp?id=40114&tid=001

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