Nurture & Nourish
... with words
... with thoughts
... with food
... with words
... with thoughts
... with food
I am about to get very real with you...
About my struggle and journey with food.
The choices I have made in the moments that I have felt broken.
And how when I felt tired, broken, and done with practices, rules and restrictions, I was led to a new perspective that has revolutionized my awareness and relationship with food.
Disclaimer: I DON’T LIKE TALKING ABOUT FOOD.
As a nutritionist you would think that I would be giddy about talking about food or would delight in sharing recipes. You would think I would have a passion for meal preparation, or nourishing others.
Well, I used to, but lately…...
NOPE. Not really.
I did, for a while, when I was a kid, a new wife, a new mom, a newly born-again holistic health practitioner. But then the passion faded.
The thing is, most of my life (over 32 years) has revolved around what I can and can’t eat!
As a child I grew up with good food, we had a garden, my mom made almost everything from scratch, I was an avid little cook and I had a love affair with food (especially with candy and feeding the neighbourhood my baked goods, sorry mom).
After a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes at age twelve I had to eat in a regimented way. Sometimes I was force fed. Eating was not intuitive or fun. It became a chore most of the time. And a lot of the time, eating was done in a place of fear as I quickly threw back some carbs to counter an extreme low. Or I had to skip meals because my sugars were so high and it could take more than an hour to come down, and I would be left feeling exhausted and depleted.
My life became consumed with macronutrient breakdowns: Carbs, Fats, Protein and Fibre.
And I hated it.
Despite the fact that my mom was a clinical nutritionist and I had an assigned dietician, the food I ate growing up was simply managed. It was not about healing. It was never about nourishment, or enjoyment. It was just about trying to stay balanced.
In my thirties my health took a very hard hit, and I knew I needed to make massive changes to my life and my diet. So I did. I got help, I learned, and I made massive shifts in food, my overall health and my life.
But still, I cried after I learned that I could no longer eat cheese & glutenous grains.
Because I was still me, and I loved food.
Food had gone from something I loved, to something to be feared, to something that needed to be regimented and restricted for survival, to my passion and my career (in fine dining and food service), to something that needed to be restricted again, to my passion and career again (nutritionist).
Sometime it feels like my entire identity has revolved around food.
And each time food has been restricted, it often felt like I had a major source of JOY taken out of my life.
During the last couple of years, I like many others, have sought solace in food and beverages that are not exactly conducive to great health.
I was still maintaining balance and moderation. However, if I am being honest, I know that I had been making cognitive choices that are NOT in alignment with the person I want to be, or how I want to feel.
I have been reaching for the temporary nourishment that comes from having foods that bring about feelings of safety, security, comfort, and joy. Even though I know these are false and temporary.
They are food band aides.
But, in a world that has been strife with restrictions and uncertainty for nearly two years I felt justified in having the few things that gave me brief periods of happiness, even if I knew that they did not benefit me, and were maybe even harming me in some way. Surely I deserved this? I had done so much, overcome all of the things (allergies, gut issues, autoimmune disease). Going off track for a while wan't really a bad thing right? It was just a new journey......
As a healer, a holistic health practitioner, a nutritionist, my actions with regards to food this last year and a bit had created a level of dissonance in myself with regards to not just my health and healing, but
WHO I AM, AND WHO I WANT TO BE.
I had been INCONGRUENT.
This creates imbalances, and I am not talking blood sugar levels. I am talking about the 10 pounds I have put on in the last year and a half, the sadness in my mind and the recesses of my soul. It has affected all areas of my life. I felt I had separated from myself, from the person I want to be, and my repeated actions had created a deep feeling of unworthiness.
I knew with every breath that I could and should make better choices, but I wasn't, at least not enough. I am not demanding perfection of myself. I don’t believe in that kind of limited mindset that dooms me to fail. However, I want to did want to do better, and feel better.
The last couple of years though, I have been finding it hard. After more than three decades of constant blood sugar management and food restrictions, on top of healing diets, vigilant wellness practices, and consistent world energy that as an empath I can only summarize as constant full body "EEP", "GAH" and "ARGGG", I have been feeling this deep resistance. I felt myself resorting to child-like tendencies of insisting that I only get what I want. I have worked so hard to be well. I deserve some slack right?
I just need to “feel good”, or at least anything other than what I have been feeling a lot of the time.
For months I was feeling fuck the green juice, fruit, lemon water in the morning, most of the vegetables if I don’t want them. Yes to the occasional piece of bread, the butter on popcorn and potatoes, the glass of organic wine (or two), the caesar salad, the gluten free macaroni and cheese.
So I did it.
None of those food choices made me FEEL better, even though I “thought” that they might.
Then I experienced regret, guilt, shame.
I felt worse.
I didn't poop properly.
I got tired.
The cycle repeated after 5 -7 days.
Just because I know better, because I have overcome all of my issues in the past, does not mean that I don't sometimes struggle to keep going. I have occasionally given in. Willpower can fade.
Just because I have intuition, a deep spiritual practice, techniques and therapies for dealing with this kind of change, pain or growth, does not mean that I do not occasionally have periods where I feel and fall to my creature comforts. Sometimes I just want to be let alone. I want it to be easier.
I could write a lot more about this. What I have done and what I have learned. The big healing journey. The food and emotion connection. The deep excavations that can come when we push through all of the limitations and belief systems. I have been immersed in the work for years. I have achieved amazing results in wellness and have followed beautiful and sometimes harrowing paths over the years that have resulted in massive transformations in my body, heart, mind and spirit! I have done it again, and again, each time tackling a different limitation, and freeing myself even more. But these last couple of years, it just felt harder. Because the trauma is so deep. The feelings too raw. And the world too messed up.
Even though I have the experience and the tools, I was resisting.
Sometimes the hard part is simply having the motivation to start.
In the past I have been motivated by illness and near death experiences to make different food choices. They have all been times of extremes. Scary places that required a shift in order to survive.
At this time in my life I have already overcome so much. But my soul felt tired and I longed for some change and more FREEDOM, and really did not want to push myself into a place dark enough to make drastic changes. I am done with big deaths. I do however welcome little deaths, small and regular changes in my reality, to help me to become the person I truly want to be.
So, in a morning meditation and prayer last year I ask God for help in making these changes.
“How do I align my heart and my soul?”
I expected some big journey to begin where I went through past life experiences, or witnessed childhood trauma. What God gave me instead surprised me.
I was given the words “PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT FOOD MAKES YOUR BODY WANT TO DANCE!”
So I took the time to visualize eating. I started with one of my comfort favourites of mashed potatoes and kale. While I felt the warmth of the dish, the satisfaction in my belly, there was no dancing.
Next was caesar salad. Once again, that gut feeling of pleasure, but no dancing.
I kept playing with food in my mind's eye. Eating one thing at a time and then paying attention to how my body responded to the foods.
Until at last......DANCING.
All of those foods, for some reason, when I put them in my mouth, I could see and feel the joy in my body. Body simply wanted to dance! Sometimes it was a little shoulder shimmy (sweet potatoes), sometimes it was a full on ecstatic dance (grilled veggies), and sometimes a prayerful foot stomp, like DAMN that feels good (mango salsa).
God always surprises me. I had been taught other ways in meditation in the past to connect with the right foods for me, and I knew I was missing joy with food, but I had forgotten what it felt like in my body to eat those foods. The feeling I got when eating the list of foods above was not the same as other favorites. Some of the foods I most thought that I loved, maybe did bring an interesting feeling in my body, such as warm pleasure, groundedness, security, even a deeply sensual experience. Some of them actually made me feel like I was sinking, even though in my conscious mind I loved them. Ultimately though, the more I played this game of dance with food, I began to really FEEL and understand how my body needs to feel with food.
Food can bring us connection to something we are missing in life, if we let it guide us. These renewing feelings though are not always what we think they may be. And they may not come from what we think they will. The body is attuned to our soul. The body is ALWAYS in alignment with health and will always choose the foods that are the right match for the healing you need, if you let it.
I can not say that your body is going to dance for sweet potatoes. But, I can say that God knows how you need to feel even if you don’t. And your body is always on board with aligning you with what heals you, renews you, and uplifts you.
Ask God to inspire you, give you your WHY, connect you.
Ask for what you need to feel, support for how you want to be, and trust what comes through.
In the past my willpower, my "why", always came from a different motivating factor.
Reversing autoimmune disease, allergies, gut health, having the energy to be a better mom, having the energy to serve, to work, how to keep alive.
This time, God gave me a different motivation, and it made my soul weep with relief.
For once it seemed, I nolonger had to make choices to prevent suffering.
I got to make choices OUT OF JOY.
I get to feel more ALIVE.