Disease Proof


Surgeon General Warning: Quitting smoking now greatly reduces serious risks to your health.

person smoking cigarette

A year ago I bought my first pack of cigarettes.  Yes, you read correctly. This mother of five made the big purchase.  The entire episode at my neighborhood gas station lasted no longer than four minutes, and it was the most pathetic thing that I've ever done in my life. Obviously, I had no clue of what to even ask for; my ignorance was obvious to all. I felt like I was robbing the place. I was paranoid that someone would recognize me, and kept looking over my shoulders to see if anyone I knew was lurking behind the candy counters.   

The cost was $4.71; and that was for the cheapest brand. I spent almost five dollars for something that ruins health. I immediately thought, “What a waste of money.” I quickly threw the cigarettes into my purse and scrambled out. 

Since childhood I'd been influenced by teachers, coaches, 4-H leaders, clergy, and various other leaders that smoking was wrong. It was totally out of the question if one wanted to be successful; not so much a health issue as a moral issue.  

However, this same conservative community saw absolutely nothing wrong with eating fried tenderloins, apple dumplings, and cotton candy at school carnivals; serving donuts and hosting all-you-can-eat potlucks at religious gatherings; or devouring BBQ sandwiches, taffy, and sno cones at the 4-H County Fair. They taught their values well. I didn’t become a nicotine addict.        

                            banana split                        

A Dairy Queen treat averages $3.50. Add carbonated fountain drinks, and the evening indulgence can easily cost a family of five more than $30. According to statistics, two of those family members may end up developing diabetes on down-the-road. In today’s economy, that would cost one person ten or fifteen dollars a day just to manage insulin dependent diabetes. That number doesn’t reflect the cost of doctor visits, lab tests or hospitalizations due to complications from the disease.  In the next 24 hours 4,384 cases of diabetes will be diagnosed in America.1 Is eating for disease a negligent waste of money? 


Exploding Epidemic Set to Potentially Cripple our Healthcare System; Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes Tops 40 percent of US Adults  by Joel Fuhrman, M.D. 


morals - ideal codes of conduct which are held to be authoritative in manner of right and wrong (Wikipedia)

By the way, I hid the cigarettes.  I sure didn’t want my kids to discover them in my purse!  That would certainly set a bad moral example for them, wouldn't it?

Don’t worry.  I’m never going to smoke the pack of cigarettes.  I only bought them to prove how psychologically brainwashed we’ve become that suicidal and self-destructive eating is the acceptable norm in our culture.   


1  stopdiabetes.diabetes.org
image credits: tabaccofreeaz.wordpress.com; heitmannsnuts.netfirms.com; pizza slice by ruthboller.com      



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Comments (11) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Elisa Rodriguez - April 1, 2010 8:00 AM

Hi Emily,

I'm sorry you had to experience the purchase of cigarettes - that does not sound pleasant!

As a mother of five, I was wondering if you might consider blogging about snacks for kids, a picky child's eating struggles, etc...? I always enjoy Lisa Fuhrman's information about raising her family. Since I am not a mother yet (hope to be in several years), I am always looking for good, useful suggestions for mother's on how to make this lifestyle work. Even if you did not live this way while raising your children, maybe you could discuss what you would have done differently if you had known what you know now. I think that would be a fascinating piece. As always, thanks for the read!

Michael Crosby - April 1, 2010 9:54 AM

I was expecting the usual "smoking is bad for your health" scenario. But the twist made an oh so important point that while smoking is "so evil", without thinking we continually gorge on unhealthy,foods.

But in our society, not only is that OK, it's normal and respectable.

Certainly, while we need food to survive, gluttony is not something to be honored.

Matt Stone - April 1, 2010 11:01 AM

When you consider correlative studies showing that those that smoke the most cigarettes have the lowest rates of heart disease and lung cancer, it's clear "they got the wrong guy." In fact, just recently it was shown that African Americans have the highest rate of smoking-related illnesses by percentage, yet they smoke the least of any ethnic group in the United States. Lung Cancer increased over the last few decades as smoking has declined. Yet soccer moms would be eager and willing to lynch someone for smoking around their kids while they make cupcakes with their kids and feed them little more than Macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets the rest of the time.

What's wrong with this picture?

Deborah - April 1, 2010 11:08 AM

What happened to the cigs? I hope you didn't smoke them? Wondering why the purchase in the first place, just to see what the cost was? Great anecdote to catch the reader's attention and then give the comparison with junk food. SO TRUE!!

Great post, thx. Deborah

Krystal T - April 1, 2010 11:16 AM

This is so true--smoking holds such strong connotations of irresponsibility or weakness in our society, but eating foods that we all know are bad for us is not condemned at all.

In fact, people seem to think you're depriving your kids of an important cultural experience if you try to deny them ice cream or fried junk at a potluck.

Jeane - April 1, 2010 11:26 AM


Had me going for a minute. I wondered why didn't she say why she bought them, why didn't she say what she did with them?

Then I noticed the date. Good One.

Gerry - April 1, 2010 1:00 PM

Hi Emily:

I'm a committed Christian....not the rightwing nut kind, the Biblical kind. One who tries to actually study and do all of God's Word, not just the parts I think I like. I fail all the time, of course, but I do try to please God, because I love Him, and it is a great pleasure to do so.

I therefore found your post most interesting as I too encountered this same thing as I sought to find a good church to attend. But what I kept running into was gluttony, covetousness (materialism) and sports as the primary passtimes and passions of these folks, while they ridiculed those who drank, smoked, committed adultery, and gave to the poor and did other good works. Your example of the pot luck dinners, donuts, etc. was right on.

I now read the older authors who taught, and lived out, all of God's Word, not just the parts they preferred, and therefore they enjoyed close personal communion with God, something much sweeter and satisfying than a banana split, and every bit as real.

I'm reading George Muller's Narrative now. He's the fellow that started and ran an orphanage for children in Dicken's England, where the authorities, many of them "good christians", took orphans and put them in work houses to benefit the industrial barrons.

He didn't ask anyone for money, ever, not even if they asked him if he needed anything. He insisted in just speaking to God for every penny he needed. He believed that God moved people's hearts to contribute what he needed.

Over the course of his lifetime God sent in over $175,000,000 in todays money, from people all over the world. But remember, he not only asked God for his needs, he also walked very closely with God, obeying Him in all things. Not perfectly, for no one is perfect, but as much as humanly possible, he did so.

Gluttony, materialism and other excesses are just as much a moral wrong as unfaithfulness, abortion, and so on.

I fear that many of the owners and managers of the giant corporations that foist the ills of our society on us, the Big Ag, Big Pharma, Big Medicine, Big Food, Big Insurance, Big Banks/Finance companies, etc, unfortunately, believe themselved to be good "christians". Ken Lay, of late Enron fame, or should I say infamy, would be a good example. Poor man, I wonder how he feels about his earthly riches now?

Drugs, money, food, power and applause do not satisfy our deepest needs, they only mask them, only treat the symptoms, not the disease.

Thank you for pointing out this failing in the teaching of so many of our leaders and teachers.

Kristen - April 1, 2010 3:10 PM

Imagine if everyone was trying to eat fruits, veggies, beans and nuts... How much easier it would be for us to stay on the Eat to Live program!

At work this morning someone walked by my desk handing out chocolate from an easter basket, someone else was walking around handing out doughnuts, and we had a vendor in serving flavored coffees to the employees. And when I say no to sweets and caffeine at the office there is always someone trying to talk me into them.

This monrning my coworker said that he ate a piece of cake at a kid's bithday party because he didn't want to be anti-social (he's trying to follow Eat to Live too).

It's all about food everywhere we go. Everyone's addicted to it and it's very difficult to withstand the pressure.

It would be so great if we could do same thing they have done with cigarettes to unhealthy food - make it socially unacceptable.

Because it's hard enough to eat your salad, beans and fruit at lunch without everyone constantly trying to talk you into unhealthy food!

Emily Boller - April 1, 2010 4:17 PM

I'm merely stating an observation in this post. My intent is not to point out the failings of anyone. It is the innocent and severe lack of knowledge that is taking our culture down this slippery slope of death. We have been misguided by TV commercials, fad diets, magazines, drug companies, and even well-meaning doctors. Is it any wonder we have become a society that eats for disease? Is it any wonder it is the socially accepted norm and not the exception?

Change begins with me, and me alone. It is MY responsibility to take care of my body, regardless of the path the culture is choosing to take. It is my choice to choose between eating to live or eating for disease. I lead the way for the next generation; blazing an "easier" trail for them.

If we, as adults, parents, and leaders of children, choose to eat for health and lead the way, the next generation will follow.

I am happy to say today that I am NOT addicted to nicotine, nor do I have any desire to smoke, because of the wonderful adults who guided me away from cigarettes in my youth.

May we do the same with disease promoting foods.

isabel - April 2, 2010 12:48 AM

great post...i've also seen first hand how eating terrible food is ok but smokers are made to feel weak because of their choices

when i first started Eat to Live I was still a smoker and it took a while before i was ready to quit. i used to say to my husband that if i EVER said some of the stuff to others about their eating choices that they said to me about smoking that there would be a lot angry people around me but it was ok for them to openly lecture me about my struggle with an addiction.

to this day i will never lecture anyone about their addictions because of how terrible others have made me feel about mine but instead i will offer my support if they need help breaking free of them

can you imagine me walking up to someone eating their mcdonald's super-sized value meal and saying "oh my that is disgusting...do you know that is going to kill you?...how could you eat that when you have young children who love you and need you?"

i'm not saying that smoking was a good choice but it was my biggest struggle and hardest addiction to break and at times i wish someone had just understood how ironic it was to be berated and lectured about something i was struggling to break free of while no one would have lectured me if i chose to switch smoking for a candy bar each afternoon.

MIke Rubino - April 3, 2010 3:07 PM

The funny thing is these same conservative folks think youre abit of a loon for worrying about what you eat!

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