This month marks 5 years since I was instructed to drastically change my diet. After giving birth to Mia, my body and spirit changed dramatically. I had Post Partum Depression, and I also had a whole host of health issues. My therapist, psychiatrist, internist, gastroenterologist, and endocrinologist all told me that what I was eating was the root cause of all of these problems. Especially sugar. Not only was it destroying my stomach, it was messing with my mood. My therapist so gently asked me during one session: “I think you may need to cut back on sugar. Do you think it is contributing to your mood swings?” “Of course not!” I snapped at her. I then reached into my stash of M&Ms as I stormed out of her office.
From that moment on, I met with a nutritionist who helped me through the process. Let’s just say that she and I did not always see things through the same eyes. “Wait, you mean to tell me that Fig Newtons aren’t a healthy alternative to Oreos??” I had a hard time letting go of sugar and fried foods. I would rationalize that even though I still went to McDonald’s, I would order a salad (that’s an oxymoron right there), and then just have a “few” of Mia’s fries from her Happy Meal. When Mia began yelling at me to “stop eating all my fries!” I knew this plan was not working.
It has been a tumultuous five years of me fighting myself and my addiction to food. I have had to tweak and shift my diet many times as I would learn more about my body and my response to certain foods. It is still a work in progress, and I am certainly not perfect with it. Being a recovering sugar addict, I must have something sweet once in a while. Just now it is a few dark chocolate Hershey’s Kisses, not a whole pint of Ben and Jerry’s.
As of this moment, my diet consists of all things natural and whole. It’s probably easier to say what I *can’t* eat — Nothing artificial, no sugar (or rather, very limited sugar), no fake sugars of any kind (High Fructose Corn syrup is the devil), nothing fried, limited gluten/wheat, limited dairy, no soft cheeses, no starches. Plus my portions need to be small. An ideal dinner for me is a lean meat with sauteed veggies. No sauces or heavy oils. And my favorite meal is a nice, hearty salad. I am now the queen of salads. And not a pseudo McD’s salad. I’m talking fresh spinach (no iceberg ever), grilled chicken, grapes, nuts, apples, carrots, sesame seeds … and of course a light vinaigrette made with natural ingredients. I am also well versed in reading nutrition labels. It’s a whole new language that takes months to master. Seriously.
Even though I have drastically changed my diet and I am happy with how I eat now, I can’t help but continue to obsess over food. Some foods can be incredibly seductive. I may not even be thinking about eating nachos, then I’m out with friends at a nice restaurant, and next thing I know I’m ordering them with extra guacamole. Damn you tasty goodness!I still have dreams about food. I can smell deep fried foods a mile away.
I blame our culture of food. So many of our cultural rituals revolve around food. This can be a beautiful experience of “breaking bread” with loved ones. Yet it can also be a gluttonous pot luck lunch at work where you are looked at critically if you don’t try the freshly baked cookies your coworker provided. There is so much emotion wrapped up in food.
And social media just makes all of this worse. Ever been on Pinterest? Well, if you haven’t all you need to know is that it’s one big recipe book with a million and one ways to make cupcakes, pasta dishes, homemade chocolates, and even more extravagant and decadent meals and treats. It can be torture for those on a diet, or at least trying to cut back on sweets. Of course there are also images of fitness tips. They just seem out of place sandwiched (pun intended) between images of red velvet cupcakes and deep fried turkeys. Yet, this too is our culture. Overstimulate the masses with images of delicious treats, yet then expect us all to find a healthy balance of moderation.
We definitely live in a culture of food indulgence and confusion. Anytime I tell people I have shifted the way I eat, I get some very interesting responses. Some people are right there with me, some have tried and wish me luck, others just seem to be filled with pity. They certainly make for interesting conversations! And sometimes it seems that some people just don’t believe that I’ve made these decisions. Or that maybe I’m not as dedicated as they think I am. This perception is made clear to me when I’m offered a cookie 4 times by a person who is well aware of my health issues. Perhaps they are being polite. Perhaps they need to move along and take their food guilt with them.
Many aspects of our society is defined by food. It’s taken me years, but I have finally been able to redefine my life outside the parameters of food.
Related pieces ~
Dear Food, We Need to Talk
Oh Sugar, How I Love (HATE!) You
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