because as we eat fast, you don’t digest fast—with peace you enjoy food more if you’re slowed down and you’re relaxed. But we’re hyped up and we’re eating foods that are very stimulating, high in salt, high in chemical additives, they’ve got artificial everything. They’re not anything that nature intended us to eat, and they’re not foods that we have evolved over biological history to be compatible with. They impair our abilities to be healthy and seeing that spread globally makes me very sad, because I know the epidemics of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity in children as well as adults that ensue. I want to see us wake up, stop feeding our kids junk food, protect our kids and ourselves from the purveyors of junk food, the predators who profit when we disrespect our bodies by eating foods that they sell us that are tasty, convenient, cheap and awful.
HTLF: What advice would you give to start being healthy right now?
JR: One thing you can do is go into your kitchen and look at all the food that’s there. Go into the pantries and the cupboards and the fridge and throw out everything that isn’t compatible with your thriving and well-being. Throw out anything that is inconsistent with your optimum health potential and start from there. When you start to eat foods that are healthy and not the ones that aren’t, what happens is you grow in self-respect. You realize you can keep your commitments to yourself, and that is so powerful. Food can be very addictive, so we need to break our addictions to foods that are unhealthy and generate some positive addictions. If you’re gonna be addicted to something, be addicted to dancing, be addicted to singing, be addicted to loving. Don’t be addicted to sugar or alcohol or worse. Be addicted to your own joy and your own expressive nature being fulfilled.
HTLF: Can you talk a little bit about other cultures compared to ours and the treatment of elders and how this is also a cultural thing going on here?
JR: I think our culture is uniquely youth-obsessed. We’re very image-conscious, we’re rather shallow in that way, and we sell ourselves short. Other cultures have learned to respect aging and not to look upon the ideal time of life as in your 20’s, which really is a kind of confused time of life for most people, but to understand that as you age, you grow in wisdom. You have the capacity to grow in understanding, insight, compassion and in the ability to actually understand the different phases of life that people go through and then to help people out of the understanding. When we believe that your best days are behind you by the time you’re 30, as is often the case in our culture, it’s a rather hopeless place to live from. You really don’t have much to look forward to and that takes a toll on your health, it takes a toll on your identity, and it takes a toll on your relationships. Is that a terrible thing if your skin starts to wrinkle a bit? I don’t think so. I think what’s a terrible thing is what dies in a person while they’re still alive, when we give up on ourselves, when we fall asleep and we get depressed. We shut down and don’t honor the spark of life in ourselves and other people and don’t learn how to live with respect for ourselves at every stage and respect for others at every stage, because when we can do that, then the vitality of life is with us and expresses through us at every age.
Watch related video: Author John Robbins on Society's View of Aging