Sunday, November 8, 2015

Never Say Never

"Never say never."

Of all the things God has taught me this year, that mantra is one of the most grounding and humbling; and will hopefully stay with me. For like, ever.

After saying 'au revoir' to eggs, dairy, and meat for four and a half years, I was certain that I would be eating and feeding my family this way for life.

Well, I'm writing this blog post to say that circumstances can always change and evolve, and wisdom means being humble enough to evolve along with those circumstances.  Following a certain restrictive diet, namely a vegan one, began to take its toll on me.

I need to start out by saying that I in no way am condemning a whole foods, plant based lifestyle.  I still incorporate as many plant foods into our diet as possible.  My husband and children have thrived eating this way the past several years.  I think that a vegetarian diet is most likely a totally sustainable and enjoyable way of living for many people.  Just not me.  Not anymore.

I started becoming interested in nutrition and the quality of our food shortly after our first son was born. We eliminated gluten, started buying organic as much as possible, and became generally more conscious of where our food, particularly our animal products came from.  We discovered veganism via my reading Kathy Freston's book, "Veganist: Lose Weight, Get Healthy, Change the World".

I wanted to do all those things!

Soon after reading this book, a film called "Forks Over Knives" was released.  My husband and I went to see it, were immediately convicted that we needed to stop consuming all animal products, and that was that.

Convinced that I had done sufficient research and found the "perfect diet", I became complacent when it came to learning more about nutrition and how food affects our bodies.  If it was a plant, and even better if it was a whole food, I ate it with abandon.  Food became a passion, and even an obsession. Being a vegan means pre-planning every single thing you put in your mouth, and becomes particularly challenging when you add in family get-togethers and other social events.  Emotionally,  even though a part of me enjoyed all the cooking and food prep, this way of living inevitably became a source of stress for me. I suffered anxiety at the idea of being put in any situation in which I could not have complete control over mine or my kids' food.

"But it was making my family healthy, so buck up and keep going, woman!"  That's what I told myself.

I was ignoring the fact that despite having what I considered to be the perfect diet, my own health was suffering.

Until I couldn't ignore it any longer, and it began to make me angry that despite doing everything "right", I was feeling less than stellar.  At the beginning of 2015, after suffering what I assumed to be hypoglycemic episodes (daily), several gall bladder attacks, chronic digestive upset, mood swings, and finally, amennorrhea, I decided it was time to seek help from a doctor.  I ended up being diagnosed with  Hashimoto's Thyroiditis (Autoimmune Hypothyroidism).

It might be a bit late to say "long story short", but longer story shortened, I made a conscious decision to stop obsessing over a restrictive diet that has honestly not improved my own health at all, and start eating intuitively.  I wanted to stop letting food rule my life and be the constant focus of every decision I made.  And thus, eggs, seafood and meat have made their way back into my diet.

I don't know where this leg of my journey will take me.  Nutrition is certainly still very important to me, and I make it a priority to eat clean and feed my family as cleanly as possible.  The main difference now is a mental shift into realizing that just eating the "best" way you think you can doesn't mean that you won't still have physical challenges.  And I can't beat myself up over that any more.

I dealt with an immense amount of guilt upon abandoning my former lifestyle; which I had clung to as giving me the ability to identify as being kind, compassionate, and exceedingly healthful (even though healthy I was not).  However, I began to seek out support and information from a community of people who had similar health struggles and began to be kind to themselves through eating the way I wanted to.  I saw that these people were compassionate, intelligent and mindful individuals with so much to offer; and the guilt and worry melted away.  A sense of peace poured out on me as a gracious gift from God, and I have embraced this new way of living, and am joyful.

Without knowing how many people will read this, or have an ounce of care for how I eat, I wanted to post an initial foray into my healing process so I can feel free to add updates here and there and maybe, just maybe, provide some solidarity and encouragement to someone else who may find themselves in a similar situation.

1 comment:

  1. Racine...thank you for sharing your journey. It certainly rings true for me as well. I'm so thankful to find a new friend who understands my neurotic thoughts about food. Kris