Amanda [Running With Spoons], is a super duper awesome blogger. So awesome, that she wears Christmas socks. AND so awesome that she’s Canadian. Each week Amanda hosts Thinking Out Loud – a Thursday roundup of thoughts, pictures, and life-happenings. This week is extra-special because the conversations are focused on NEDA – or, National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.
I feel very fortunate that my life has not been immediately impacted by the true struggles of eating disorders, but my relationship with food has not always been super stellar, either. This week I am going join with Amanda and the other Thinking Out Loud bunch to talk about the skeletons in my food-relationship closet.
You’ll notice in the banner at the top of my blog I have this tagline :
The truth is – I haven’t always loved the food in my life.
Both Nathan and I never enjoyed eating meat, and shortly after our relationship started, we decided to stop eating it. This was when I began to struggle with fitting the food I ate into ‘labels’ and ‘boxes’. I quickly decided I wanted my diet to be rich in whole foods, but felt pains of guilt if I consumed anything out of that ‘label’. Did the occasional cheese on my pizza make me a terrible vegan? What about processed sugars? Would I fall over dead if I ate too many? Olive Oil? Earth Balance? Weren’t all oils evil?
During this time of confusion I was eating great food, but I still didn’t feel better. I had [I’ll spare you the details] horrible stomach problems. But, I had no idea what foods were contributing. I felt like all I was doing was eliminating foods, with no relief.
Eventually I was tested for food allergies, and came back positive for dairy and gluten intolerances. As soon as I completely eliminated these out of my diet, the stomach problems (and various other problems, including joint pain, as well) completely disappeared.
Once I finally felt better, though, I was terrified of food. I wasn’t comfortable enough to know ingredients off-hand. I had to google most products to know if they were safe, and if I made a mistake, my stomach and joints paid for it for weeks. Eating out was so frustrating, that I would have rather just stayed in. But staying in meant cooking, from scratch, everything I ate.
Social events with food involved also became scary, because I didn’t understand how to ask the right questions about the ingredients in the foods, and, most of all, I didn’t understand that it was okay to just say no, or to bring my own snacks. Because of this, I often sacrificed my stomach for the politeness of eating with the group.
I can’t tell you that all of this changed overnight, but slowly I began to understand, deeply, the foods that made my body feel good, and the ones that really didn’t. It turns out – (in addition to gluten and dairy) oats and I really don’t get along. My body also does a very sub-par job at being a functional state after I eat processed sugars. But some olive oil or some earth balance (that may not be a part of the ‘traditional’ ‘whole foods’ diet) actually made my body feel awesome.
It turns out – the ‘labels’ of food intolerances and diet types didn’t actually fit my life. I needed to decide for myself what I should, and shouldn’t eat.
Part of that process involved starting to blog about my food – because I didn’t want others to feel this same fear.
When I found about about the gluten intolerance, many people asked if I was ‘now going to start eating meat’ – and tried to convince me that I couldn’t be a vegetarian or a vegan, and gluten free.
Turns out? I can actually make my own decisions about what I do and don’t want to eat. And if the ‘vegan’ police, or the ‘whole food’ police, or the ‘why are you gluten free if you don’t have celiac police’ want to say anything about that – they can find somewhere else to preach. Because you aren’t going to get far here.
Imagine that 🙂
Now that I eat what foods I want to – and what food really makes my body feel great – without the fear of ‘breaking some kind of rule’, or ‘offending’ anyone, my body is happy, and so is my stress level. I’m not saying that having multiple food intolerances is a walk in the park, and that there still aren’t days that I don’t wish I could just go.get.fast.food.and.be.done.with.it. – But most days, now – are a-okay. You can read more about ‘The Moment I Realized I Could Do This’ here.
If you are reading this and you are veggie (or anyone!) struggling with a new gluten free diagnosis, or really any food change, please please feel free to contact me. While, I have no medical training, I am happy to help you think of fun substitutions, to give you some encouragement, or to be a shoulder to cry on, or, a metaphorical wall to punch.
So. Please hear me. It is possible. You can do it. And…it gets better. Please don’t be afraid of your food. Find the foods that work for you, and eat them.
Eating disorders are very serious medical conditions. If you think you may be suffering from an eating disorder, please reach out for help.
Note – in order to help support the costs of blogging, my site occasionally contains affiliate links. When this happens – everything costs the same for you, but I get a little income as well. Thanks!