Don Bennett took a commonsense approach to health and learned the value of looking past the “conventional wisdoms.” This approach, in conjunction with researching the teachings of healthful living pioneers and their modern-day equivalents, and putting into practice what he had found to be true, allowed him to discover the realities of health. Thirty years later, as a Disease Avoidance Specialist, Don Bennett now shares this wealth of enlightening and empowering knowledge with others for their consideration and benefit.
1. Learn as a researcher and not as a student. Students tend not to question what they’re being taught. They may ask questions of clarification, but they do not usually question their instructors. Researchers, on the other hand, question everything, and everyone. They apply skeptical interrogation to all info they encounter, and they do this because they are looking for truthful, accurate information.
2. Research using the “ethos of science.” This is the hallmark of a proper researcher: open questioning, no authorities, no biases or personal preferences, honesty, transparency and reliance on evidence. This way of information gathering can make the world a better place by burying myth and dogma and by looking at things from the perspective of reality. And the requisites for this inquiry are respect for rational and honest discussion, a desire to “peer-to-peer,” the ability to change your position when the evidence merits it, an intolerance of distortion and misrepresentation, and above all, a skeptical interrogation of accepted notions.
3. Don’t fall prey to well-intentioned but inappropriate advice. “Just listen to your body” may sound like sound advice when deciding what to continue doing and what to stop doing, but if you draw erroneous conclusions based on what you’re feeling, decisions can be made that are ultimately not in your body’s best interests. Being able to listen to your body and make decisions based on what you’re hearing requires two things: that your body is functioning well enough to be able to give accurate feedback, and that you are sufficiently educated to be able to understand what you’re hearing. I have seen firsthand the downsides of making decisions based on someone’s listening to their body when they misunderstood or misinterpreted what they “heard” often because of misinformation from well-meaning laypeople or miseducated educators. Here’s where guidance from a knowledgeable and sincere health educator is invaluable.
4. Don’t assume that the most popular health advice is the most beneficial. This is obvious when we consider the conventional dietary recommendations that are popular because of the millions of people who follow them. And the same can be said for the disease-management advice given by conventional medicine practitioners that millions of people follow every day. But this also applies to the “alternative” diet and health arenas. Human nature being what it is, anywhere there’s money to be made, you’ll find misinformation. And the raw food industry is no exception. We’d like to believe that everyone associated with it is teaching 100% correct information, but for various reasons, this is not the case. And for many of the same reasons that mainstream health advice is popular, the popular health advice from non-mainstream sources can also contain some inaccurate info along with spot-on, 100% accurate info. Sure, the ratio of accurate-to-inaccurate info is far better in the raw food world than in mainstream culture, but even 10% inaccurate info that you are following 100% can result in a less-than-positive outcome many decades down the road. That small percentage of inaccurate info can be the difference between getting and not getting a diagnosis of something serious.
5. Be okay with losing the friends you need losing. When making major lifestyle changes, especially to ones that are not embraced by the gen pop, most people will need support. And this will usually mean that while you are traversing your new life path, you’ll lose the friends you need losing and you’ll make new ones on the way. I’m not saying these new friends will be “better” than your old friends, but they’ll be better for you. And when you begin to march to the beat of a different drum, you’ll soon find out who your true friends are. Your real friends will support you and won’t see your new lifestyle practices as a condemnation of their lifestyle practices. And one of the best ways to make new, like-minded friends is to attend events that celebrate your newfound lifestyle. And one of the best raw food events for meeting such people is the annual Woodstock Fruit Festival, where my colleagues and I speak to the issues I’ve mentioned in this interview.