It's been months since my last post. To make a long story short, I was rather sick with a strange illness that was never fully determined (was it a trip to the Dominican? The sushi I ate just prior? Who knows.). It took me months to recover, required countless tests & procedures, and drove my sweet doctor crazy with all of my anxiety, but I am feeling GREAT after 4 months of misery. Praise God.
I learned so much through my journey, too much to detail in my little blog. BUT, I did want to share some revelations with you in the hopes that it will provide some inspiration.
1) Food is meant to heal and nourish, not put us in prison.
Knowledge is hard to un-know.
When I began researching food and ingredients, I discovered there was so much we as a consumer didn't know about our food. It was intriguing, frustrating and even angering. I was incensed so much crap could be put into our food supply and so little information was readily available. I read, studied and began this blog to share some of the info with you. What I didn't realize at the time, but now do, is you can become hyper-sensitive to it all and let it imprison you. That's what started to happen to me.
The more I studied, the more rules I set to make sure I wasn't falling victim to it all. I knew better. I became rigid and inflexible with food choices in that I analyzed virtually every ingredient and meal. Unknowingly, food became a burden for me and caused stress because I didn't want to bend on any of my "rules." It pained me to see my kids eating junk food and I refused to buy Oreos or Gatorade and the like.
Stress, however, is worse for the body than the occasional fast food meal or orange sports drink. I was inadvertently harming myself, strangling the joy out of eating while I held steadfast to my rules. I suffered, my family suffered and my friends probably rolled their eyes (you know who you are!).
2) We have to give up some control.
Trying to have all the control is exhausting.
This is probably the hardest thing for me as a person, as a mom. If you're a mom, you're likely the boss in your house. You have to be in order to run a smooth home. If you're like me, you make the food choices in your home as well. If you eat healthy, you probably bring healthy foods into your home. Good for you! That's the goal. Teach your children to eat healthy by modeling it for them and not making junk food readily available. While I still believe in that sentiment, I now understand that I can't control everything, nor do I want to.
It's stressful to worry about every thing your kids put into their mouths. You want them to put down the Coke and opt for water, but if they don't, does it make you squirm like it did me? Did hearing about contaminated ground water, GMOs or food dye make you feel helpless or overwhelmed about how to avoid it?
When I am in control, I feel like everything is going perfectly. But when there's a kink, which inevitably will come, I get stressed. My mystery illness was a perfect example. It was a 4-month long knot I felt would take every last inch of me. As much as I fought it, I was no longer in control. I had to give it up - to my many doctors, to my generous family and friends who cared for me, and most importantly, to my faithful God Who has ultimate control.
All of the control I thought I had was mocking me as I lay in bed sick while the world passed me by. I felt like God was saying, "You think you control all of this? Your health, your life, your every breath is a gift from Me. Your food choices aren't what's going to save you. Only I can do that."
Wow. Wow and wow. My wonderful/Dr. of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (DAOM) recognized something about me within the first hour of meeting me that has had me thinking ever since. She said all of the passion I have for food (this blog, my classes, my cooking) wasn't coming from a place of love and joy, but a place of fear. She was right.
Yes, I love to cook and teach others about healthy eating, but I was doing it because at some level, I believed doing so would help me avoid all of the illnesses that come with unhealthy eating - and I feared illness. While whole foods are unquestionably healthier than processed foods, we only have so much control over what illnesses we may encounter. If you live long enough, you WILL get sick, no matter what you eat or don't eat. You can avoid many illnesses but not all of them. It's just part of life.
3) Have more fun.
Don't take food too seriously.
Life is short. If you're feeling good today, make it the best day possible and be grateful for every breath you take. We have no idea what will happen tomorrow, but if we live IN THE PRESENT and live our lives with gratitude, it will be more fulfilling. Food is fuel for the body but it's also meant to be enjoyed.
I am a practical person. I have to have order to my life. I don't like chaos. But while I was home- bound for months, all I wanted to do was get out and enjoy life. I missed my old routine but most of all, I missed laughing with friends, trying out new restaurants with my husband, playing games with my kids and learning new things. We are always one day away from a diagnosis, an illness, an accident. All of my practicality was hindering what life wants to offer me - freedom, joy and fun.
2014 - Another Chance
Each new year brings optimism and hope.
Our family spent New Year's Eve with several families. We all shared our resolutions on paper, dropped them in a bag and then had to guess who's resolution was who's. My resolution was to "Have more fun and break some rules." No one guessed it was from me.
In 2014, I hope to take each day as it comes, enjoying the little things: a good night's sleep, energy throughout my day, a crackling fire in the fireplace, my daughter's laughter and my son's large smile, to name a few.
I will cook with more joy and let the kids order a Coke next time we eat out. I won't stress about every ingredient, rather savoring the goodness of whole foods when we have the opportunity to eat them. I will continue to teach my kids and friends about healthy choices, but will embrace Frito pie with gusto (I'm actually making venison chili tonight - with organic corn chips - I can't forget all I've learned!).
I hope and pray each of you have a healthy, FUN, joyful 2014. Send me any questions or ideas for blogs and I will keep passing along info, tidbits and recipes that will hopefully equip you with knowledge. What are YOUR resolutions? Share them with me!