I have been asked several times how it is that I found myself immersed in this CLEAN EATING thing and I realized that, although I titled my first blog “The Backstory & Getting Started“, I never really gave much of the actual backstory. My bad. I’ll give it a better effort here.
The problem is that, not surprisingly, it’s complicated. And possibly boring. So I’ll try to give you the truncated version. Enough but not too much information.
It’s hard to know where to start because I was probably walking around with significantly compromised health long before I got “sick”. THIS is why I am so adamant that you not accept “common” as “normal”. EVERYONE seems to be walking around in this sub-par, sub-functional state of health. And EVERYONE seems to thinks it’s okay.
Let me tell you, not only does it SUCK, it will get worse. AND you can feel 1000 times better!
Here’s a little of my relevant timeline (I’m sure there’s more but these are probably the biggest ones):
- Apr-May 2011 – My husband and I traveled to Ukraine to adopt two older children who had both been living in separate orphanages (10 hours apart) for a little over a year (each had previously lived with their bio families). The trip was incredibly stressful & expensive (which is also stressful). Despite getting sick within a few days of arrival (I am fairly sure I picked up a parasite), the 8-week international jaunt netted us two lovely but somewhat wild (non-English speaking) children. They are delightful children but they had no idea how to exist as a part of a functional family unit! And I transitioned into motherhood crappily. I am the poster for “how NOT to”… Fast forward to now and we are a reasonably functional, marginally sane family.
- Sept 2011 – After spending the summer with our new children, they started school and I started a new job. There were so many balls in the air with two kids having all kinds of adjustment and academic and behavioral issues, I was beside myself trying to keep it all going. And while we ate what most would consider to be a “healthy” diet, it wasn’t great (certainly not what it is now!) and it would soon get much less great just to be able to get food on the table.
- Sept 2011- Sept 2012 – I began to sleep less and less. I was transitioning into motherhood crappily (I already mentioned that, right?) and it was extremely costly to my health.
- Oct 2012 – I was downright sick. I was emotionally drained and unable to recharge without being able to sleep. I needed help. Conventional medicine offered Ambien. Turns out I cannot take most prescription medications. I went from doctor to doctor. REAL help is hard to find! I ended up diagnosed with a gluten intolerance (I was told to “avoid gluten” which was a bit of a joke because I didn’t even know what it was!) and completely depleted hormones (fortunately I’ve tolerated bioidentical hormone replacement!). And somewhere along the way I found I out I have a few genetic mutations (insert fake laugh at your silly joke here) that can make some really normal yet crucial processes such as making neurotransmitters (read “serotonin”) and detoxing normal daily stuffs (like metals in our water or dental amalgams or medications) not go so well. Also along the way, I came to understand that I had “leaky gut”. I’ll blog more about this in the future.
Having been diagnosed with a “gluten intolerance” started a new life for me. After a brief stint of replacing all of my normal gluten-containing foods with “gluten-free” foods, I quickly realized I needed to move to whole foods (although I still wasn’t sure what that was!). I can’t recall how I knew to do this. I guess maybe “status quo” no longer was enticing enough.
I began to educate myself about clean food and sustainable food and slow food and living food. I went to farmer’s markets and talked to farmers. In the beginning I didn’t know what to ask or what to say. I would literally say, “I don’t know what to ask but I know that I need to know about my food. So you tell me what you think I need to know.” I realized that their information could have been and probably was slanted in their favor, but I was learning about food.
While I no longer buy from the first farmer with whom I developed a relationship, he changed everything for me. I don’t think I had never known someone who knew the animal that I ate or that gave me milk. The person who was responsible for their welfare and fate. If you think this is a bit morbid, I’m going to challenge you that you are disconnected from your food (unless you don’t eat meat). You are eating an animal. And that animal is a product of its life.
My point here is not to get into the ethics of animal consumption (I respect vegetarians and vegans) or even conventional farming. My point here is to say that being connected to your food in this way is pow-er-ful. Because food is power. I don’t know how to translate this for you if you haven’t experienced and felt it for yourself. But I believe that you cannot be truly nourished by food that you don’t even know what is in it.
Over the course of about 8-10 months, we took all kinds of crap-foods out of our diet and added in a whole bunch of deeply nourishing, real, whole foods. And you’ve read the list of menacing symptoms that resolved. You may have also read my post about “Three Things I Never Gave Up”. I will soon post “Three Things I Gave Up”.
But rest assured, we are not over here in food purgatory living a life of deprivation. We are nourished. We are well nourished!
The way we eat takes effort. But the effort it takes cannot compare to the health and vitality we get in return. THIS is what I hope to share with you.
And I would be remiss if I left the impression that only food matters. Obviously, stress and the management of it is a HUGE factor. And there’s more, like moving your body (and I do not mean “chronic cardio”). But I don’t want to get ahead of myself…