I was having a conversation the other day with my girl Anna about food/nutrition. We were discussing sugar for the most part. I won't bore you with the details, but at one point, she asked me a question and didn't like the answer. I could tell she was frustrated. Not with me, but with the information. I could understand exactly how she felt and had been there many times myself. Usually on a daily basis. I told her that what I do, is use the information to guide me most of the time.... we still have to live!
She told me how it just added to her frustration with the food system as we know it, that it makes her sick, and no wonder so many people are overweight!
I have given up most sugar and removed it from my life (other then naturally occurring sugar in fruits and things like that), but I realize that this isn't something most people can/will/want do. I think though, that the majority of the population just doesn't realize how bad sugar really is for them, especially for children and I also think it's not entirely their fault.
I have another friend, who told me that I act like food is the enemy. I can see, from the glasses she is looking through, why she would feel that way. I actually feel quite the opposite. Food, real food, I do not see as our enemy at all. It is the fuel for our body that will keep it running smoothly, help us to avoid sickness and disease and can help us to age gracefully and comfortably into our old age. This seems more like an important ally to me. What we feed our children when they are young, plays a huge role in how they will view food and it's importance in their life. It also plays an even bigger role in their health and livelihood as an adult. You don't have to believe me, but it still won't change the facts.
When I first started on this journey, I was worried that it would be hard to give up things like processed sugar and conventional bread. That it would be too time consuming to make each meal from scratch and not be able to rely on pre-packed boxed or canned food items to come up with quick and easy meals. These were huge staples in my diet and I wasn't sure how many things I would be able to come up with to eat, that were good, once so much stuff was removed. I started out by telling myself I didn't have to do anything I didn't want to do, that I could try it for a while and see how it went. And as I removed things that weren't good for my body, as I read more and more information as to why they weren't good for me, and as I felt the results from doing so, it became easier and easier and easier.
I have never felt so empowered and helpless at the same time. It's an overwhelming feeling sometimes. The more I learn about food, and it's different roles and effects on our body, the more empowered and in control I feel over my situation and my health. It gives me more confidence to be able to feed and fuel my daughter's body as well. She is completely reliant on me and what I am feeding her now is going to have a lasting affect for many years to come.
I also sometimes feel helpless, the more I learn, because I realize how little our country and our government cares about the health and well being of its people. Everything is run by money and power and it's all based on the bottom line. They don't care how misleading or tricky they have to be to get you to buy what they are trying to pass off as "food". And unless you have hours and hours to dedicate to researching and educating yourself about it, you have no clue what is going on. You won't know how it's affecting your body negatively, or your child's, until it's too late and something has gone terribly wrong. And it isn't until too many people have been caused harm by something and raised enough stink about it, that they will then finally pull it off the shelves. Unlike most other industrialized countries, where "better safe then sorry" is more the motto, and things have to be rigorously tested before it is sold as food to the public, things are pushed into our food system where we are used as the guinea pigs. Do you have any idea how many preservatives are allowed to be placed in our foods and products that are actually banned in other countries?
Like I told my friend Anna though, I have to give myself a reality check here and there and know that I am doing the best I can, and it's a big improvement over where I used to be. I try to take the information and the things I have learned, to better my life and my health, but I try not to let it frustrate me or upset me if I can't always do everything like I want to. We just don't live in a society that is conducive to that.
I do have hope though, that this is changing. I hear more and more stories all the time about other people starting to stand up and take notice and each time I do, it gives me hope. One of our clients came in the other day to get some booklets printed for the city that included rules and regulations for citizens of the community. She wanted to add a section in the back that listed the guidelines for setting up a chicken coop and raising chickens. She said they had been getting so many calls about this recently, people wanting to raise chickens in their backyards, that they wanted to go ahead and include it in their booklet. There are more and more groups popping up in my area all the time, like "Slow Foods", and there are many restaurants that are starting to serve all natural and healthy food items. The more and more people that care, that realize the importance of the food that we put into our bodies, the more and more the companies that are responsible for our food will care to make it healthier. If people are willing to pay their hard earned cash for over-processed, preservative laden quick and easy meals, and the companies can sell it to them for such huge profits, then certainly their conscience isn't going to stop them from doing it. And if the government is going to let them get away with it, then the only way to stop them is to quit buying their food.
When I first started drastically changing my eating habits, it was a bit of a lonely road. I had no one to bounce ideas off of, no one to discuss what I had learned or to share new ideas and recipes with. It wasn't until I started to follow other like-minded bloggers, that I finally was able to find a sense of community. It's so much easier to hang in there, when you have others to share with and learn from. Most of my friends and family, had no problems with my new eating habits, even if they thought I was crazy. But there were some (and still are), that would sometimes react so strongly, they seem almost angry about it. I honestly feel now, that it's more because they think I am trying to either push my agenda on them, that I think I am better then them because of my decisions, or that I am judging them because of theirs. I have gotten a little better at blowing these reactions off, now that I am more used to it. Anyone that really knows me, knows I would never judge them for their choices or think that I am better then them because of mine. I have realized I can't take it personally, because honestly it's not my issue.
What a change time can bring though. I now have so many more people in my life joining me on this path. Whether they have found the path on their own terms or have been around me long enough to see there might be something to this, I have been so inspired lately by the enthusiasm and interest in others. I am swapping recipes and information with friends and family members. In the beginning, I didn't have a single person (other then my husband, who, thank goodness, puts up with me through just about anything), that I could call or talk to when I would find out something really crazy or disturbing. I mean I could have, but they didn't want to hear it, so I kept it to myself.
And the the thing is, it's not that I want to "teach" someone what I have learned (although I am more then happy to if they want to know anything), I just thrive on discussing these topics. I find the subject of health and nutrition, although often frustrating and overwhelming, to also be fascinating! It's like when someone is really into photography, or a sport, or anything else people spend their time really involved with, it is just really amazing to me, how it all works together, and the impact it has on our lives.
The more I know, the more I want to know. I have come a long way on this journey and now, at this point I actually LOVE the food I eat. I honestly can't imagine going back to the way I used to eat. I feel energized after each meal, instead of sluggish or tired. I used to get the shakes really bad if I went too long without eating. I couldn't even tell you the last time that happened. And I haven't been sick, other then a snotty nose in over a year. I no longer have to worry about my weight. I eat everything I want to, and it is never an issue. My tastes and preferences have changed and I crave the things that are good for me. So if you see me at a party, and I am munching on my own snacks that I brought, or passing on the cake at the wedding, please don't feel sorry for me, I couldn't be any happier about it!
I shared this post on Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday