November 23, 2011

The Art of Changing Your Mind & Being Thankful.

Food for Thought.

What are your thoughts about what you put in your mouth?

Today a new patient came in and as we were discussing her diet she said “and the salad had red pepper on it—not organic—I know…” and then in a judgmental way, “…loaded with pesticides!”

I’ve been there in that self-judging space around food, and specifically organic food. How perfect I thought, a topic to write about. And we’re in the Thanksgiving season. Perfect timing.

So here is where the work was for this patient, and perhaps for you too, being the health conscious person you are: transcendence, for your food, for your thoughts, for your life—for any situation you find yourself in.

Many years ago I was on a road trip and I had an experience like the woman above that had such an impact on me I was forever changed. Living in Seattle made it super easy for me to eat just about everything as organic. So there I was, peeling an orange in the car one day and thinking, “Hmm, this is not organic.” As I started eating the orange, I could feel this reluctance from deep within me that I was eating something that was not good for me, like I was eating poison. That was my wake-up call and I only had to learn that lesson once: give thanks for my food, any food, and accept it as the wonderful gift of abundance that it is. I have been doing that ever since, regardless of the source. There are people living off of land fills in Calcutta. Organic is not in their vocabulary.

Say you are pregnant and craving red meat. In this case that meat is pure medicine for your body. You are rushed and do not have access to some organic grass-fed beef and give in to eating a burger from a drive through window (but not the bun, of course!). So what are you going to do?

Is it healthier to have the non-organic asparagus rather than no asparagus at all? I believe so, as long as you can accept that beef or asparagus as the gift that it is for your body.

I heard one of those many Buddha stories once, something about the Buddha eating whatever was put in front of him. (How do we know, right? He lived so long ago…) The point being that we should appreciate the gift of any food—including that non-organic turkey that your friends are serving up!

Transcending our negative thoughts is crucial to relieving stress and to stopping the disease process.

Let’s consider food for a moment on this Thanksgiving holiday, as so many are concerned about organic this or that. What are your thoughts about what you put in your mouth? This is a good inventory to take, especially as this can be a pivot for what causes disease and what does not.

Another patient this week had been in turmoil for months now about her decision to not take tamoxifen for the next five years as a preventive for cancer reoccurring. She is getting pressure from her oncologist and from her friends and family, and each time gets more and more stressed about her decision to not take the drug.

“I don’t want to put that poison in my body everyday! It has so many side effects and how do I know it will even work, or make things worse?”, she has said in countless emails with me. The truth is that she is treating her cancer from recurring as she is doing every natural remedy available that I would have my own mother on.

I asked her, “How would you feel each time you swallowed the tamoxifen?”

She got it—and very quickly—and was confident in her decision. Stress relieved.

I’ve heard once or twice that stress causes cancer by the way, have you?

The Magic Tool

Don’t you want to tell the pregnant woman stressing over the beef patty to just enjoy it and not worry about it? But we have all been there, and trying not to think of something can be a challenge depending on what we have going on, regardless of it being about food or stressing over your bills.

You see, we hear all the time that stress is the cause of a multitude of diseases. And along with that comes the advice to relieve our stress. Dah! If only it was that easy.

Well maybe it is! The tool here is to give gratitude. It changes everything, and I do mean everything!

This is one of the biggest tools you can use in every aspects of your life. It has the power to change a bad day into good, and a blah day into something worth remembering, and a great day into pure magic.

It will no longer matter who or what has done this or that to your Wheaties. By taking a few minutes to think of things you are grateful for will bring you right around, all the time.

How to do it

It is as simple as giving thanks for three things when need to put it into overdrive in order to get to another state of mind. Then three more, and three more. However many times it takes to get you to that warm feeling of love in your heart. Doing this daily is preventive health for the soul.

Sometimes when you are in the midst of insanity you know you couldn’t imagine being thankful for anything. Understandably. To prepare for this, I often have patients write a list of things that they are grateful for, adding to it everyday, trying to get to one hundred. This makes it easy, almost passively so, to change any negative thought patterns. All you have to do is simply read your list for a few minutes and your thoughts will be on auto pilot, on their way to nirvana.

This changing of gears is one of the most useful and crucial tools for your health. The faster you change feeling anger or dissatisfaction into contentment and true happiness, the less time the cells in your body will have a chance at developing any disease. Feeling love and appreciation is the true key to a happy life, or at least to a happy few minutes or hours if that may be your case. Eventually it will become second nature and you yourself will become one of those über-happy people who annoy your pessimistic current self.

From here on out, I’m changing the old saying, “You are what you eat” to “You are what (you think about what) you eat”!

Got a health question?

Dr. Paul Gannon is starting a weekly Q & A series on elephantjournal.com bringing you advice to your most pestering or important health and nutrition questions. And he really wants to hear from you! Email questions to Dr. Paul Gannon at info [at] drpaulgannon [dot] com. You can also check out his previous blog on elephant, Agave: The Nectar of Deceit.


Dr. Paul Gannon has been leading detoxification programs for groups and individuals for over seven years.  His experience working with hundreds of people in this field has lead him to develop the most comprehensive and effective cleanse program available today. Dr. Gannon earned his Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle, which is recognized worldwide as the leader in education and scientific study for naturopathic medicine. Besides offering phone consultations to accommodate your busy lifestyle, Dr. Gannon has offices in Miami Beach and Aspen. Visit his website here.


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