Can You Handle the Truth? (Or, do you want people to lie to you?)

Sometimes, we don’t want to hear the truth. But we must!

Code Red! That phrase was mentioned this morning by a couple of military friends at breakfast. It was referenced in the 1992 movie A Few Good Men. The character, Colonel Nathan Jessup, was played by Jack Nicholson. When asked if he ordered a Code Red that resulted in a soldier’s death, he stated, “You can’t handle the truth!”

In the context of the movie, benefits outweigh the consequences, even if it means one man died. In our world, surrounded by nearly instant access to information, we can’t handle or accept the ‘truth’ of what is healthy and what isn’t.

Late in my military career, I was teaching courses to new/prospective Commanding Officers and Executive Officers. The first thing I added to the agenda was Things You Do That Can Cost You Your Command. No matter how many things you do right, you can be canned if you do any of a dozen things wrong.

The same applies to our lives in many ways. Steal from our employers, and we can be canned. Sleep around on our wives, and we can be canned. Texting and driving can get us, and others killed. Say something in public that is not politically correct, and you may lose your job. Eat too many fruits from the forbidden tree and suffer the consequences.

A 2017 report from the U. S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) stated that one in three adult Americans is obese; and, one in six children is obese. If we could handle the truth, the obesity rate would be lower in our country. We can’t handle the truth when it comes to our health. We listen to marketers and advertisements rather than to authorities.

Why are people obese? There are many reasons, but here are a few truths. Americans eat twenty percent more calories today than they did in 1983, forty-one percent more meat than they did in the 1950’s, and forty-five percent more grains since 1970.

Large portions of the wrong kinds of foods result in weight gain. How many times have you been asked if you want to ‘supersize’ your meal? How many times have you asked for a ‘doggie bag’ to take extra food home with you? We tend to fill up whatever plate we have to the max when going through the ‘all you can eat’ buffet line.

It’s what and how much we eat that results in obesity. We tend to confuse diet for nutrition. We focus on low-fat rather than natural products. Sugar addiction keeps us coming back for more.

We know that if we eat more, we should exercise more — another truth we ignore. Americans burn 140 calories a day less than they did fifty years ago. Add the increases in calories eaten and the reduction in calories expended, and it is easy to gain and maintain more weight than we need.

The CDC claims that eighty percent of Americans don’t get enough exercise. Extra calories and less exercise lead to obesity. More clarity on a truth we can’t handle. Increasing exercise and reducing total calories should help most people lose weight. However, the unknown and little-talked-about fact, nutrition, must be accounted for in the overall equation. Balanced nutrition is an absolute must.

My wife had breast cancer five years ago. She struggled through chemo. The only side effect that could not be controlled was fatigue. She would take one or two two-hour naps daily.

On the first day of radiation therapy, she started eating nutritionally balanced meals. In forty-eight hours, she stopped taking naps. Seven days later, she was volunteering her time again at our church.

On the last day of radiation therapy, we left Houston, Texas, and drove to Jacksonville, Florida, to rent a U-Haul and bring my parents’ estate leftovers back to our home. She followed me alone and drove 500 miles each of the two days on the return trip with no problems.

Can chemo fog be eliminated in two days by changing nutrition alone? I saw it first-hand. It was a health truth that reinforced my belief system. We want to be healthy in our old age. We don’t want people changing our diapers for the last few years of our lives. That alone should be reason enough to make changes in our lifestyles. But, we must handle the truth!


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