This week I bought something that I swore several years ago, pre-FI days, I would never buy again. I bought a dietary supplement.
I dread to think how much I have spent on vitamins, minerals and "wellwoman" products throughout the years. I took a lot in my 30's and 40's. I wasn't exactly swayed by every craze that was doing the rounds, but I did subscribe to the "insurance policy" idea of being able to swallow a pill and not worry too much about what I was eating. I would also try to self-medicate for minor illnesses and conditions using vitamins - skin problems, digestive troubles, tiredness, wrinkles, weak nails, I tried "cures" for them all.
My parents have always taken multivitamins and they are now both into their 80's, so I didn't see any harm in them, and possibly quite a lot of good. I knew the case wasn't sealed but I was prepared to give it the benefit of the doubt (something like being an agnostic). Thinking back I probably spent about £8 a month on supplements over the course of 25 years, along with the occasional splurge on an expensive course of designer supervitamins, some of which I never even took. That's a lot of cash which, at the time, we didn't have available to waste.
It was probably about 4 or 5 years ago that reports in the media about the "myth" of the multivitamin started to appear and I had a re-think, did some research and decided to stop taking supplements. I already knew that my diet had improved, as more information about how to eat for good health, and the importance of doing so, became available. My husband (who is the cook in our family) was making sure we had home cooked food and lots of fresh veg every day. I had stopped eating sandwiches and crisps for lunch and was concentrating on salads, lean protein and fruit. I knew what I was doing and I was being a lot better about actually doing it. There was no need to swallow a pill "just in case". I haven't felt the effects of going cold turkey on vitamins one little bit.
However, for the last 4 months I have been suffering from a painful neck and shoulder along with pins and needles and numbness in my right arm and thumb. The doctor tells me that I have a trapped nerve due to "wear and tear" in the vertebrae at the top of my neck which has irritated the nerves and caused inflammation. It is basically a form of arthritis and there isn't a lot that can be done, apart from wait for the inflammation to subside and try to keep positive. I am sick of taking pain killers, wearing heat pads and having disturbed sleep, so I turned to Google to see if there is anything else I can try.
I discovered that there there has been a lot of interest in curcumin (turmeric) as a natural aid to the reduction of inflammation in all kinds of ailments. It has even come under investigation as something that might help in depression, which some scientists are now suggesting is a result of inflammation caused by the body's immune system. So, after doing my due diligence, I decided to give it a try and ordered 60 tablets (two months' supply) for £20.
I must admit the FI part of me is struggling to justify this spending. The whispers in my ear go something along the lines of : "But aren't you supposed to be cutting out unnecessary expense, not adding to it and in the course of doing so also supporting unproven quackery". On top of having the slightly sick feeling that I could be throwing money away, I also hate the way that people are routinely taken for a ride and deprived of their money by the supplement industry. At its worst it is guilty of raising false hopes of miracle cures, instilling guilt in parents for not giving their kids the latest "brain-boosting" vitamin combo and generally making big business out of selling unproven products to under-informed consumers.
However, I'm still going to give my curcumin a go. Despite the fact that if things improve I will never know if it worked, or my body just mended itself and even if it doesn't work I run the danger of getting locked into the mind-frame of "give it a bit more time" and then "well, you might be worse without it". We'll see. But it does look as if I'm committing myself to £120 a year more spending. Maybe the best thing to do to make myself feel better about this is to find something to cut back on to balance this out. As part of my January detox challenge (thanks TFS) I have decided that drinks after work on a Friday will be of the non-alcoholic variety and therefore far less pricey. If I keep this up all year my health will benefit even more and I can stop feeling guilty about the curcumin.
Maybe sometimes we need to indulge our need for something just because it makes us feel better, even if it isn't strictly necessary or even justifiable and allow ourselves to silence that FI imp on our shoulder. I'm counting this as one of those times.
(Image courtesy of Rogue Fitness)