“You can eat all the broccoli and brown rice in the world, but if you feel isolated and lonely, you are not going to be living life at full capacity.”
I’m going to be honest with you all, I have not had good relationships with food pretty much my whole life. I have had eating disorders, and borderline eating disorders. I have deprived myself and binged, been a vegetarian, and a meat eater. I feel like I have tried every “diet” on the planet, but none have made me content. My journey with food has been up and down and all around, ignorance, and eye opening experiences. I have scars and demons just like the rest of you. At 37 I can say I am still learning what is best for my body and only … my body. The most important thing I have learned is that food will not bring you happiness. No matter what you eat, how thin, medium, or large you are, you will not be happy unless you surround yourself with people you love and who lift you up, a career that motivates you, physical activities you enjoy, and a healthy relationship with yourself. There is so much more to life than what we eat. Yes we need food to fuel our bodies, but having been yo-yoing for pretty much half my life, I can tell you happiness did not come until I surrounded myself with people, a career, and activities that I love. Most of all being able to love, accept, and be kind to myself. Loving my body at each point in my life, whether I was in the best shape, 9 months pregnant, post partum, or a naive twenty something just trying to blend in.
My relationship with my body has taken years and years to grow and I meditate on this often. Reminding myself to thank my body for all it does for me. Thank you for being healthy, and strong. Thank you for allowing me to live this glorious life, to run and swim with my daughter, to ski and surf with my husband. Thank you. Thank you. So before you go googling or reading about the best way to eat or lose weight check in with your body. Get your relationship with your body right first, listen to what it has to say, do you have aches in pains, are you sleeping poorly, headaches, heartburn, perfect health? Are you hungry? Are you full? There is so much information out there telling you what to eat, with science backing it up. What is right? What is wrong? Knowledge is power, yes, but I have learned to listen to my body first and go off of what makes me feel my best at this moment in my life. All these little signs above are our bodies talking to us. Let’s tune in and listen. Our bodies change over time, so be open to change. What worked for you before might not work anymore. It has definitely been the case for me multiple times. Here is part of my journey, what I have learned from my body, and what currently is working for me.
Nutrition science, which after all only got started less than two hundred years ago, is today approximately where surgery was in the year 1650—very promising, and very interesting to watch, but are you ready to let them operate on you? I think I’ll wait awhile. Michael Pollan from “In Defense of food”
Like I said above, I tried every “diet” out there, deprived and binged through my late teens and early twenties. Drank way too much alcohol, and did not treat my body very well (why do we do this to ourselves??). After meeting my husband we stopped all of the “dieting” and ate a healthy lifestyle (what we thought was healthy at the time). We went with 80/20, eating healthy 80 percent of the time and enjoying treats and meals we wouldn’t normally eat 20 percent of the time. We ate a lot of grains, dairy, soy products, and beans (my husband was a vegetarian at the time). We also drank an obscene amount of alcohol, partying with friends and family or just having drinks at home on the couch. This worked great for us for the time being, then I got pregnant, and I really wanted to teach my daughter healthy eating habits so she wouldn’t go through what I went through, and what a lot of young adults, and teenagers go through every day. We still follow the 80/20 lifestyle, eating a lot of veggies, protein, grains, and dairy. Our rule with Greye has always been to ask yourself “would I eat this?” If the answer is no, then I should not be giving it to my child. If we had treats we would give her treats. . We don’t believe in kids’ food versus adult food, we have always believed kids will eat what you give them. If we eat salmon and asparagus for dinner, Greye would eat that as well. We wanted her to have a strong foundation, and Will and I were the example she would follow. This created tremendous growth for us, having the pressure of a little one watching your every move. And trust me she voices her opinion “Mommy if you are eating chocolate why can’t I?”. Great question, right? I have learned to be strict, but flexible, and also reverse the question, would I feed this to my child? No? Ok then maybe I shouldn’t be eating it.
I have been working in the field of nutrition for more than 25 years and what I’ve learned is that there is probably no one right way of eating.”
When I turned 34 I started having major pain in my right wrist and thumb to the point that I couldn’t grip objects, I could barely buckle my daughter’s car seat, and was in constant pain at work and at home. I tried physical therapy, wore a brace all day and night (when I was home from work), and took ibuprofen like it was candy. I was miserable and it was definitely keeping me from being my best self. At the time Will and I were both vegetarians and eating a lot of processed soy products for protein and also more grains and dairy. Healthy stuff, but stuff that my body was telling me through inflammation was not working for MY body. I was in so much pain I would have done anything to make it stop. I ended up going to a local Chinese medicine Acupuncture doctor. She could barely speak english, but I heard her very clearly and she yelled “NO COFFEE, NO SUGAR, NO DAIRY, NO GLUTEN!!!”, then she calmly stuck needles in my wrist and left me in the dim light to process that she pretty much told me I shouldn’t be eating my whole entire current diet. I immediately thought she was crazy, but I went back again, and the same thing happened. She didn’t even say hello, she instantly yelled the same phrase “NO COFFEE, NO SUGAR, NO DAIRY, NO GLUTEN!!!”. With my tail between my legs I left and thought “Jesus, I can’t believe I paid this woman to yell at me.” BUT remember when I said I would try anything? I went home and started a food journal. I cut out gluten and dairy completely out of my daily diet during the week, added meat back into the mix, and cut all inflammatory oils out, using only olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil. Disclaimer: read every label, these bad inflammatory oils and sugar are hidden in EVERYTHING. I stopped eating any processed food during the week, kept my morning cup of coffee (I’m a mom, come on, I need my coffee) and traded my afternoon coffee for a cup of green tea. My inflammation was instantly better, and was completely gone in 2 WEEKS! Yes, 2 weeks! I felt like a new person. Not only did I get full mobility back in my wrist, but I also got my energy back, and I looked better! My skin and body felt alive again! I cannot thank that Doctor enough and can’t stress enough to listen to what your body is telling you!! Inflammation is your body telling you something isn’t right.
That was three years ago, and I have learned so much more about my body and the nutrition it needs. I still stick to a mostly gluten free, dairy free, and low sugar diet. To be clear I want to give my body what it needs but also have a good relationship with food. I do not deprive myself. If I’m hungry I eat (usually something healthy), but If I want chocolate I will eat dark chocolate or something else sweet. I also eat pizza once a week with my family because it is our favorite. I always tell Greye, put good food into your body first, the food that fuels your body, then you can have the treats that you love in moderation.
“Since I’m not very much into the rules, this diet has only one rule. And even that rule is flexible. The rule is that 90% of the time you eat what is healthy for you, and 10% of the time you eat whatever you feel like eating.” Joshua Rosenthal Integrative Nutrition
36. My thirties have proven to be the time where my body is screaming at me for how badly I treated it in my twenties (at least that’s what I am convinced of). With challenges there is growth, and I am really learning a lot. After turning 36 I started getting acid reflux. Most of the time it would happen when I drank too much coffee but it continued to get worse (do you see my pattern, lol I don’t like the doctor) until anything I ate, even healthy food gave me horrible pain in my chest, and stomach. I finally went to my primary doctor and she of course prescribed me medication (that did help a lot), and also a diet change AGAIN (remember, be flexible). Cutting out a lot of fruits, and eating high fats (lots of avocado and nuts) and more green veggies. My body is thriving on high fats, I feel more energized, and my hunger is much more satisfied with fat instead of fruit. On the outside I am probably in the best shape of my life, BUT now almost a year later if I don’t take that medication the reflux immediately comes back. My insides are still not happy with me and are pretty much burning me from the inside out . I am venturing on a gut repair journey to hopefully fix my problem from the root. How do I do this? Well going back to what my acupuncturist said, you have to get rid of the triggers (coffee, gluten, dairy, and sugar), and also add in supplements to replenish the good bacteria in my belly. I have not stopped drinking coffee. I still have my one cup in the morning. It is my vice, what can I say? Cutting caffeine is definitely my biggest challenge, but I have already cut back a lot and guess what? I’m still alive! haha. I am making up my own gut repair program but following the guidelines from “Clean gut” by Alejandro Junger M. D. This book is awesome and packed with so much great information, but I say I am “making up my own gut repair” because rules and food don’t go well together for me. Healthy relationship with myself and food is my number one priority. Remember to always do what is best for you and your body, and don’t wait until you have health issues, like diabetes or cancer. Start now, and eat for you and YOUR health. What food makes you feel your best, gives you good energy, and keeps you satisfied? Junk food is delicious but fleeting, and then I feel lethargic and awful after. As much as I love the treats I will give my body more of what it needs, and thrive off of first. Everything else comes second, and I try to ask myself, “how will this make me feel?”.
Side note: I have been eating clean, and supplementing for about a week now. It was bumpy at first, but now I feel great, and my acid reflux is nonexistent (no medication)! Yay! I can’t wait to see how I feel a month from now!
“It’s simple really: if you learn about how your gut works and understand how to repair and keep it clean, you will achieve vibrant, long-lasting health.”
-Alejandro Junger M.D. Clean Gut
Here I am at 37 years old in my food journey. I have come so far, and I am really proud of myself, and I am more motivated than ever to heal my body and live the longest, healthiest life I can live. I want to fuel my body, experience all parts of the world and cultures, surround myself with wonderful people, love my work and it’s environment, be excited to wake up everyday and live my dream life with my husband and daughter.
Primary food is more than what is on your plate. Healthy relationships, regular physical activity, a fulfilling career and a spiritual practice can fill your soul and satisfy your hunger for life. When primary food is balanced and satiating, your life feeds you, making what you eat secondary.” Jonathan Rosenthal
Daily eating for me:
This changes with my work schedule, and also how active I am that day. I use Fitness Pal to track every once in a while to make sure I am eating enough, and also getting the right macros. I am not strict or consistent with tracking at all, it is really just to help with calories burned to calorie intake ratio. I eat on average every 2-3 hours, and try to keep my macros around 50% Fat, 20% Carbs, and 30% protein. Again not super strict with this, I just use it as my guide.
5:30am- Coffee (dark roast, with Laird superfood creamer)
6:30am- Green smoothie (half an avocado, 8 ounces of water, 4 ounces of almond milk, 2 tbsp almond butter, 1 tbsp protein powder, 2 tsp ground flax seed, 2 cups of spinach)
9:30am- Protein shake and banana ( sunwarrior protein)
12-1pm- Big salad with grilled chicken(right now I use 50/50 organic mix, cucumbers, black olives, raw green beans or broccoli, pumpkin seeds, and dulse. “Primal kitchen” dressings are great and made with avocado oil, they are not gluten free though)
Afternoon snacks- Raw almonds/cashews, hard boiled eggs
6:00pm- Salmon with sauteed veggies (usually a protein with vegetables)with the occasional piece of dark chocolate 🙂
I ALWAYS have snacks with me. Usually a bag of almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, my favorite homemade bars, hard boiled eggs in the fridge to grab and go. Just like you pack snacks for a child, pack them for yourself. No one likes a hangry encounter! Without food every 2-3 hours I pretty much turn into a zombie; I get a headache and can’t focus well(hint: why I always have snacks with me).
Side note: This day of eating is customized to ME and only ME, and this is one day. I definitely enjoy pizza (our favorite), and treats here and there, but consistently on a daily basis this is how I fuel my body. Find what foods work best for you, listen to your body, and remember to thank your body. This is it, the only body we get, let’s treat it with kindness, and patience. Give it the fuel it needs, and thank it for the daily gift of everything.