I Am What I Ingest

Tonight we’re going to do a sort of “before and after” thing.

This goes along with the post, called Experimental Data, which I wrote a few days ago. You see, a lot has changed in my life. In Experimental Data, I gave you a brief picture of the major changes between my life before I began my wellness quest and my life as it is now. But the more I have thought about it, the more I realize that it might be useful for me and for you to see a slightly more in-depth look at one aspect of these changes.

I just happened to be flipping through some of my old pictures, and I found this:

How My Medicine Cabinet Used to Look

This was the drawer where I kept some, not even all, of my medications. You see, this drawer held the prescriptions that I didn’t mind other people knowing about. I had a different hiding spot that held several bottles of pain medications that according to everyone but me and my doctor I wasn’t taking. So this photo shows you 90% of my medications. I believe I took this photo in 2009, just before I went to my first rehab. After that my parents just dumped this drawer out and disposed of it all. They told me that there were so many pills in the drawer that had no label on them that they just figured they had better get rid of all of it.

Either way, it is a pretty damn scary picture. It is frightening for me to just look at it and to realize how many chemicals I was putting in my body. That picture represents the “before”.

This photo represents “after”:

How My Medicine Cabinet Looks Now

Yeah. Pretty amazing right? I also have a couple medications that I keep in the refrigerator and another pill bottle I keep elsewhere. So again, this picture represents about 90% of my medication now. It is a good comparison against the old photo.

The question is, how do I interpret the difference between these two images? What do they show me, and what do they mean?

The first meaning is simple and obvious: I am taking way fewer pills than I used to. I am taking fewer medications because I am healthier. There are many reasons for that, and most of them I have talked about repeatedly in my previous posts, so I won’t subject you to a reiteration of everything I do each day to maintain and improve my wellness. However, as ironic as it is, one of the reasons my health has improved is because am I taking less medications. So, less medication makes me healthier, leading me to need less medication. It is a positive feedback loop. So, potentially, could I reach the point where I could just take no medication? Well, probably not. It is possible, but not probable. But I am sure that as long as I continue to keep my primary focus on optimum wellness and continue to make choices each day that support me in that goal, I will be able to put less and less foreign substances in my body.

You see, it isn’t just that I am taking fewer medications…it is also that I have recognized a very important fact that I dismissed most of my life: everything I put into my body can be “medication”. Food and drink are the simplest, most basic forms of medicine, and although many doctors in the west have forgotten this, many physicians in the east (such as those from the Ayurvedic tradition in India and the Chinese herbal tradition) have maintained the practice of using what we eat as medicine. In fact, in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine, everything that we put into our bodies can influence our health.

Although I am not taking any specific herbal remedies in addition to my prescription medication, I am being very careful about what I put into my body. I know I have talked about this in many of my posts, but it is so important to me that I feel bound to repeat it again.

I was the guy who dismissed alternative medicine and herbal supplements as a bunch of bullshit that was sold to gullible people in order to make money. Sure, I figured there were some practitioners of alternative medicine that were sincere and believed in what they were doing. But I figured they were idiots. But I have come to believe through personal experience that many of the precepts taught by these “idiots” are true. For instance, what I eat and drink has a huge effect on how I feel physically. A great example is dairy products. When I used to eat them I had a very clear and obvious increase in mucous production in my nasal passages, throat and upper airways. I had always felt it happening but I ignored it because I liked to drink milk. Now, having cut out all dairy from my diet, I have noticed a marked decrease in the amount of mucous in my throat.

But that is just one of the many aspects of the changes I have made to what I put in my body. Suffice it to say that I may not have eliminated everything that I potentially should. For example, I still use sweetener in my tea. I use natural, raw agave nectar, which is about as healthy of a sweetener as you can find on the market these days. But it is still an added sweetener, and although I like it, I don’t technically need it in my diet. And the most important part of this wellness quest has been eliminating unhealthy and unnecessary things from my system.

Perhaps in the future I may decide to cut out all added sweeteners. But for now, I am content with the changes I am making. You can’t do it all at once. Or well, perhaps you can, but I think that makes me less likely to succeed. Although I did do a pretty significant one-eighty in my diet, exercise and medication habits at the beginning of this wellness quest, it has still been a progression. And it will continue to be a slow, natural change, as I figure out what my body does and doesn’t need, and listen to it. (I talked about this in a previous post, Learning to Listen)

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed the visual representation of the changes I’m making in my life. I encourage you to think about the idea of food and drink as medicine. Just like any prescription medication, food has side effects too. It may not come with warning labels, but your mom will still tell you not to eat that extra slice of chocolate cake at 9pm because “it will keep you up all night!” We all respond differently to the things we choose to put in our bodies. I think one of the best ways to work toward wellness is to truly listen to our bodies and choose not to ingest those things that make us feel bad. In many ways, the old saying “you are what you eat” isn’t far from the truth.

Goodnight, and peace to you,



4 responses to “I Am What I Ingest

  1. Peace back at you! Nathan, the befire and after photos are a dramatic contrast! Amazing improvement! Sleep well. Hope to see you again soon.
    Aunt Laura

  2. While it might be hard for some people to visualize it, I can see a beautiful thing in the “after” photo. It truly is a thing of beauty, and it will serve to your benefit for a long time. 🙂

    • I agree! I often see beauty in simplicity (although complexity can also be beautiful) and the “after” photo is beautifully simple.
      Thanks for reading and for your comments.

      Peace to you,


  3. A picture does speak 1,000 words! These before and after pictures are a true testament to all the great work you have been doing to realize optimal wellness.

    You say getting off all medication is possible, but not probable. I suggest simply holding the intention of that possibility – envisioning yourself free of all foreign/chemical substances, and feeling absolutely and completely well. You don’t have to know how to make it happen. With a strong and pure intention, prayed and meditated upon often, the universe will conspire to make it so.

    A fine experiment….don’t you think?

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