Monday, August 4, 2014

Lifestyle Diets- It is NOT just about weight or health. Why food is SO contraversial.

We are bombarded with food messages every ads, in the news and fad health crazes. We are told we ARE what we eat. We are told to add life to our self by choosing the right foods....but all this information is often conflicting. For instance the food pyramid is promoted from a government standpoint yet it misses key facts in nutrition and eating. Even though messages of food surround us, personal talks about food are less accepted than topics of politics or religious beliefs. It is more toxic to talk about ones eating habits in the presence of others than to talk about a belief in God. People get more insulted by personal food choices than they do by personal beliefs. Food feels personal.

I have been on an extensive food journey. As the owner of a researching brain, I read any material I could get my hands on. If it had been on the news, in the latest fads, or in a food movement I have probably read both sides of the issue and extensively studied each health benefit and downside. Based on this conflicting research, I came to a few conclusions on what wasn't right for ME personally. It was good I decided to read all this information. Yet, there came a time when I had to STOP reading all this information. I also formed a few stronger opinions of what I would probably never put in my body again. I had to come to those conclusions in my own time. I was intelligent enough that I knew about a decade ago that certain chemicals or food additives were pure poison; but I just could not implement change... until I COULD.

While I  knew some aspects of my eating were not right for me, no amount of willpower or research changed my life, until it did. My life took a series of paths that suddenly led me to the one moment that changed everything about eating. And I STILL don't have it right. I am still aware that one day they will find conflicting evidence about something like liver/ salads or whatever, and I will be shocked that what I thought was a good choice - wasn't. That is just how food tends to go, and that is why I disagree with people who promote eating as all about health. It simply can't be. Eating is not ALL about health because health changes. Health also may get better with some diets due to sensitivities and allergies and intolerance's (a big issue in our household and part of the reason we feel so much better now. We had MANY of these and thus why we are stricter about breaking our habits) but health still has a way of turning into illness, even in the most well maintained body.  Shit happens. Random sickness can strike the toxic and the healthy bodies. In fact, at times the toxic bodies can hold up better. If food was simply about health the conversations about it would have stopped years ago.

I do not often speak about our food journey except with close family who have the innate privilege of communing with us over food or feeding our kids food. God knows that everyone who knows us seems to be curious about it. I can often tell who truly wants to know our journey to enhance theirs and who just wants to refute our story. Because, let's face it, with all the research out there, many stories CAN be refuted. The one essence that can not be refuted is YOU. Is ME. Our own personal journey can not be refuted because it is OURS, deep down in our souls. That is what I try to stick to. My friend Lola gave me a lot of advice at the beginning of my journey because I saw what had worked for her and I honestly wanted to know more. I did not feel judged by her lifestyle. I knew I would never fully follow her journey and I still do not fully, but I took aspects that I could incorporate into my life and when I was lost on a few topics she pointed me in the right direction. That is the goal I have for sharing my story. I only share specifics of health or food thoughts to those who genuinely want some direction. For those who feel lost. But I never give it as "the answer" just one of the few answers they may apply...or not.

I have been "overweight." At Christmas last year I was 175 pounds on my smaller 5'6 frame. Now I am 132. Could I stand to lose more? According to beauty standards- yes! But each weight had a lesson of BEING. Being at both I can say that weight does not make one happier. Both of my frames brought different aspects, struggles and goodness to the table. Losing 40 pounds over the last few months felt glorious at first. The first time I fit into size 6/7 again I was delighted and dizzy, BUT after I got used to it, I found the same issues in my life surface again over time. I am the same ME. Perhaps in better clothes. (It's so frustrating that quality clothes are typically made in smaller sizes. It was so hard to find things that suited my style before. Luckily, I think that is changing.) But on a physical plane, I do feel more exposed at times. More aware. I do get the looks from men (and women) more again. I got them a bit overweight too but now it happens more and sometimes I feel very small and vulnerable. If it was about weight, I think I would still choose to be slightly bigger. But it's not about weight. It's not even fully about health...I will tell you what it is about for me ...and I believe that each person has to find their own balance and reasons that motivate them to stick with anything in life...beliefs, ways of living, food, sex...whatever. I tend to have more questions than answers when I research these topics and I am learning to like it better that way.

In regards to health, my tummy still hurts even with all the food changes. Yet, I have LESS issues than before eliminating certain foods. I DO feel better in general. But my health is STILL not the best. Food is a layered issue. Not only are people STARVING but hurting people are throwing up or eating to numb. Food is about wounds. Food is about collective economic, political and status power wounds. Food is about judgement. I have watched someone get all riled up about Splenda and the implication that is poisonous more than they were riled up about someone denying their beliefs about God. Food does feel like it is WHO we ARE. But it's not. Food IS a part of us. Part of the saying is true, that we are what we eat, but that saying, even though it has truth, has always bothered me. Because in the end, we are not just what we eat. Our essence is more. We ARE what we ARE. I AM.

I have learned when people ask about our food journey, to cause the least harm by saying, “We were having drastic gut issues and this was a last resort suggestion from our doctor and thus far it is helping.” I find that an expansion on that can cause feelings of judgement. Unfortunately, some people still get upset or worse feel pity. Our kids have a harder time with the phrases that tauntingly cringe, “Too bad you can not eat this…it is SOOOO good. I feel so bad for you.” We have told our children that most other children do not understand, but adults should not be participating in that behaviour. We avoided people the first two months of our lifestyle diet change, when that phrase would have undone us. Now we just think, “It is you who is in pain on my behalf and I do not feel pain about this, so why do you?”

I do not think our diet is right for everyone. I do not think any diet is right for anyone. Just like I do not believe that one lifestyle, political stance or belief system is right for everyone. I believe we all have to find a way to enjoy our health and food that is worth it enough for us personally to stick with it. I also believe this has to come with a mixture of working through our layers of pain and grief and our layers of joy and BEING. That is the ticket. It does not matter the weight or what foods we choose to eat in particular, although I do agree that getting off of sugar for anyone helps heaps with immunity and hormonal issues, but it DOES matter how we feel on it. People have accused lifestyles like ours as “inhospitable” because we can not go anywhere to eat and we can not accept other’s foods or we can’t have people over. I disagree. We never liked to do that anyway. We preferred to go over for tea or light salads and fruit before too (because of a meat paranoia I have. I only eat at those homes I KNOW well enough to monitor this. It's my personal issue. Plus, I generally just prefer to eat at home or with our parents and bestie. I find I can concentrate more on the topics without food because I am an Aspie and the sensory aspects greatly distract me. It's different for everyone.) We gently decline but never in a way that is meant to harm. Sometimes we decline based on boundaries and self love, most times we decline simply because it is best for everyone in the end. We still enjoy community and still have people over for tea and food…and I do have snacks on hand that have gluten/ sugar/milk for any of our home events. We try not to infringe our eating on others.

However, I DID have people who used to make me feel awful by their discussions on weight and God. I did not like that and it taught me that if I ever did change my eating, I would not participate in that…and I still try desperately not to unless ASKED. I always appreciated the people who SHARED their story when asked.  Most know we are pretty much only raw eaters, but that is because we are adamant on our kids not breaking the diet because we know it would cause them pain in the end. They would feel very sick if all the people who wanted them to indulge got their way because it would now be too rich on their systems.While food is part of hospitality I have come away with this lifestyle realizing it can still be incorporated to a lesser extent in community and still be enjoyed. I adore a picnic with cold chicken drums, fresh fruit, mozza cheese chunks, dark chocolate and fresh home made iced lemon zinger tea. We love our higher fat dairy like butter, mozza and Greek yogurt or organic milk. We can still commune with food and others if need be.

I have to be even more careful sharing my food journey than my religious journey. That was shocking to me. I struggled so deeply my first few months on our lifestyle food change, and the only thing that kept me going was the venting on my private blog and supportive friends. I was so grateful to be able to SPEAK my existence. I could not do so otherwise. Weight is not the issue. In fact, they have proven in a few studies that women live longer who have an extra 10-30 pounds on them then women who do not. Probably because a random illness has more to work with? That does not make them better though. Perhaps it is about women who are soft in their essence and sometimes that tends to carry somewhere in body…whether a little belly, rounder thighs or cheekbones or whatever? That said, thin women can also carry this essence, if for them the thinness comes from genetics and not obsession with weight. Their eyes carry the softness and their essence shows a softer side. There is a subtle difference in a woman who is naturally thin and a woman who WORKS too hard to be that thin. A woman who works that hard is finding her security in her body. Just like a woman who is overweight is finding security and safety in her body. It’s the same feeling/ goal but in opposing manifestations. Overweight and underweight tend to come from the same root core. This is why not one manifestation of body is better- thin or overweight or average.

We are all simply struggling TO BE in the here and NOW. We all tend to deal with it in some form or another. If food was solely about weight, food would almost be a non issue with the right amount of therapy and research. If food was about health, it would be also be a non issue. If everyone was magically better and healthy with the right food choices ALL the time... that would catch on! But health is not so cut and dry. Weight and health are pieces of the food story. Shame stories, history and brokenness are a piece of it. Wholeness, joy and essence are also a piece of our food stories, but in the end there are so many layers and so many more questions.

For me, it always comes down to BEING. I no longer crave any kind of sugar or any kind of food other than some stir fry, rice or salad or smoothie…I just don’t and that DOES free up my life. It enables me to live more in the present because I struggle with living in the future. I believe this futuristic stance on life comes from my upbringing. It was always about getting to heaven when you die. It was always about death. I LIVED to DIE. I find there is some brokenness in that theology. I no longer live to die because that is a deep travesty in the gift of life I have been given. There are many layers of that, I will not go into now, but I realized that food was part of having me rooted in the future. It was always about what I would eat NEXT. What I would eat for supper. What I would eat for a snack or to harness my cravings. I don’t think I will ever go back to eating how I ate before simply because of that one factor of the future. I’d always feel craving, guilt or confusion over health and food. Currently,  I KNOW I am eating the healthiest that I can manage and there is no guilt when I enjoy my dark chocolate, my berries that used to be so sour to me but now are so sweet, and stuff that was tasteless before because I was so numbed by the extra sugar taste or stimulants I was used to. THAT is what I love about now. Not weight, not health, not even my new clothes…what I love is that I taste the tiniest bit of allowable food and I can actually ENJOY it NOW. I didn’t before. I couldn’t. I was looking for the next pleasure sweetness. I needed all the sugar. Whenever I hear people say, “Oh she is gluten, preservative and sugar free…so basically she is on a tasteless diet.” I smile. It happens a lot because they feel judged, so they judge me and I will admit at first (the first month or two) I felt the same way. It felt tasteless, but NOW, I TASTE every morsel of what I eat, how sweet ripe raspberries are, how the tiniest bit of honey feels divine, and how the mix of “bland food” is a delight on my tongue.

Food no longer controls me and that is why I stick so strongly now to our lifestyle diet. It is enough to motivate me staying on. The weight was never a motivator which is why I failed at diets that I tried before when I wanted it off. I had to come to a place of belonging weight wise before I could even start to think about my own food journey. Being "overweight" was one of the best moments of my life, because it taught me to face myself just as I was...just as I AM. While health was a motivator for me at first, and it was enough to get me on our current path, I STILL have some of the same health issues. Health comes and goes (although I do have better immunity now) but being FREE to enjoy my food that I do eat, but not think about it again until it is time to eat is a goal I had always wanted. That motivates me to stay in the present. I love the power of NOW. I do feel more vitality and health in some of my choices and that helps. Food matters, but it is not the only thing that matters. It's also not about beauty. Essence IS beauty. I was beautiful before, I am beautiful now, and I will be beautiful until I die because I was MADE for NOW. So are you.

In the controversial terrain of diet, food and lifestyle you have to find out what motivates YOU to live NOW. You have to face your own layers, embrace your darkness and light, and find out what keeps you grounded enough to be present. Because that is the greatest gift... LIFE. Essence. You, being worthy, BECAUSE you EXIST. Not because of your food choices, your body control, your self control, diet or exercise regime. Not even because of your health. It comes down to your soul essence of belonging and love. Who are you RIGHT NOW? The size of your body is part of you but not at all a complete picture of you. The health of your body is part of you but is not what defines you. The food choices you make point to inner issues, past stories and present anticipation but it is not the complete picture of YOU. Don’t embrace that judgment lest you judge. Do not become judgements or allow judgments to become YOU.

I am. I am worthy. I am because I AM made in the image of a greater I AM. I simply am and in that becoming I see you the same way because YOU ARE.

P.S. As it tends to happen because of where I live and my socio political climate I participate in, I am speaking from a place of privilege. I am aware and humbled that I get to even CHOOSE the quantity and quality of what I nourish myself with. This post is considering an audience with similar people of privilege and will obviously not apply to certain demographics. It is a great blessing to be able to choose what has a part in keeping us strong, healthy and responsive. I am not saying otherwise. I do think food needs to be a considered part of existence. I do not think BEING is completely tied up in it though. We have to go to our roots of BEING before we can find healthier ways of participating in life (food, beliefs, exercise, sleep ect.)
*Many are curious as to what we actually eat. We most likely eat a combination of the Weston and Price diet with eating for Our Blood Type, a bit of Paleo/ Celiac baking (with only whole foods like Oats and Honey)...our lifestyle choices fall more into the higher fat category with natural, clean foods but due to allergies and intolerances we have a lot of differing factors.

THIS post by someone I know gives some great resources and facts about food and is close to the way we eat.


Nyssa said...

TOO weird. I JUST started no sugar or bad carbs.
I have so much more energy which is what I needed so badly!!
I am craving smoothies, greens, cauliflower etc.. and eating only those.
I am so much more clear headed and energetic. I even exercised this morning for an hour.
This is so validating.

love you! xoxo

Kmarie Audrey said...

I am glad it was validating! Good luck on that…it does bring more energy! I could mot get enough salads and smoothies when we first started because my body was so depleted...We each need to listen to our body and find out what nourishes and what saps us...each person is slightly different due to intolerances, allergies ect. We treat our cars better than we do our bodies. We know our personalities better than we know our food needs and body absorptions...its so strange really...I am glad to hear you are finding what works for you.
Love to you too.

S said...

When I started eating "healthy" foods for the first time and stopped consuming unhealthy foods , every bit of food that came in my way, tasted all the more better. So, yes, I can relate to that. Actually, too much sugar, salt, chemicals, etc.etc. immunes our taste buds. So when we start taking less sugar/chemicals, we can feel the "actual" taste of food which we did not find earlier.
Although food is not all about body and health, yet in my experience, food can change the way how we function. Sometimes, it is about emotion too-we use/eat food to feel better.
For me, (when I made a major change in my diet some years back), I have seen many benefits. So, controlling my eating habits has indeed helped me a lot in maintaining good health in general. But I did not go by what was suggested by doctors. I went by my instincts of what suits me.

The thing that I have noticed is that home cooked food made from fresh ( not frozen ) ingredients is far more beneficial than prepared/ready to cook/ takeaway food.

But, when I want to feel good (when I am down), I eat certain foods which are not coffee with cream or a sandwich filled with too much meat and mayo.

So, it works both ways- Controlling some aspects of my diet to feel more healthy and not-controlling some other aspects-to feel good emotionally.

The only problem that I have in my country is that people feel offended not if you refuse "certain" foods but if you refuse "more" helping. It is strange isn't it ? In my country, if you eat less or tell people that you would have only one biscuit instead of two,-they will "force " you to eat two !!!!

Kmarie Audrey said...

S: I always love your comments! Yes very good points. And it is better to listen to instincts than most doctors...sometimes it takes a cleanse to get our instincts even working again because we were so dulled by preservatives and false tastes.
That is strange that more is insulting...but I could see how that would be when food is a privilege and commodity more and a deep need...where as here there is so much excess but people still get insulted because they feel judged if you refuse what you make them...

Kmarie Audrey said...

I meant what they make you. LOL.
Anyway, Thanks again for your thoughts! I can't wait till you update again. I always am comforted by your posts:)

My Little Warriors said...

"If food was about health, it would be also be a non issue. If everyone was magically better and healthy with the right food choices ALL the time... that would catch on! But health is not so cut and dry. Weight and health are pieces of the food story. Shame stories, history and brokenness are a piece of it. Wholeness, joy and essence are also a piece of our food stories, but in the end there are so many layers and so many more questions."

this statement is so true...You are so preseptive!!!! ( Did i spell that right?). When we started our food journey 7 years ago iIgot a lot of "oh poor you" and also a lot of " well it's just a fad" . I also get " did a doctor tell you to do that or did you just decide on your own?"... I would also beat myself up for not being completly perfect in what we could eat ( if that makes sense) and I just had to let it go and be okay with what I could function with ( much like you had mentioned) I am glad you have discovered the joys or what once "bland" food tastes like... mmmmm the sweetness of a strawberry... :)

Kmarie Audrey said...

Thanks and your spelling was close! Perceptive just has a C in it:) I only know this because my brain recognizes words in my memory by their form instead of direct spelling...its weird.
I do that too! The perfection thing at times and learning to let go is really healthy. I love the joys of delicious normal food:)!
It's so nice to have supportive people like you on my journey. Thanks for being a good friend!