I guess you could say I have always had food issues. When I was little, I’d sneak into the kitchen after dinner, looking for something to satisfy my never-ending appetite, and anything that would curb my sweet tooth. Needless to say, I gained a few pounds and hated the way I looked. In my early teens I fixed that problem by becoming anorexic, surviving on only diet soda and oranges.
But in high school, in order to fit in with the crowd, I needed to eat. My eating took a turn to an extreme, and I devoured burgers and fries, shakes and Cokes, and anything with the name Hostess on it. I crammed umpteen pieces of bubblegum in my mouth, doused my baked potatoes in butter and sour cream, and ate anything and everything fried. And vegetables? If it wasn’t a potato, corn, or lettuce, it wasn’t on my plate (at least not by my choice).
Even with all the eating I did in high school, I barely gained weight. You see, I had found a way to beat the system. I figured out how many calories were in each item, and knew exactly how long I needed to exercise to eliminate the weight. Often that meant working-out three hours a day. I may have been eating and exercising, but I wasn’t truly healthy (and never really had been). I had just found a new way of being anorexic.
It was late in high school that I discovered a health food store and began experimenting with unique foods. It was a short phase, but one I would remember forever.
After I was married and pregnant with my first child, I began to realize the impact of my eating. With a new baby growing inside me, I knew my food choices were not for myself, but for him. And so it was, for the first time in my life, I began to eat better. (Other than that one late hot summer night when I ate a bag of potato chips by myself. But we won’t talk about that.) Still, I hadn’t included many vegetables. But even without those, I felt really good.
My new baby was welcomed into the world, and as he grew and began to eat, I knew I had to do something I had never done. If I ever wanted my children to eat vegetables, I knew I had to eat them too. So slowly, I introduced vegetables into my diet. That was the beginning of a grand love affair.
But love affairs often fall apart, and with a busy life and growing family, I usually didn’t find the time, or energy, to eat right. Maybe I thought eating healthy required too many steps, that I had to grind and slice foods, and make some great creation. Maybe I never realized that healthy eating could be easier than that. So instead of simple, healthy eating, I often found our meals being substituted with frozen pizzas and burritos. To top it off, I drank soda, lots of it, to stay awake during my busy nights of work.
Thirteen years ago our family moved to the Pacific Northwest. Once again, I discovered new foods on the grocery shelves, and once again began to eat a little healthier, and even lost a few pounds.
But all my efforts fell away when I endured a brain injury six years ago. It took away my ability and desire to eat. I would have to retrain myself in healthy eating.
Sometimes, I think things happen for a reason. Sometimes I think we need to feel the depth of despair before we can truly appreciate life. My health was its lowest after my brain injury. Pictures from that point show me as weak and frail with dull, limp hair. I had broken teeth and a malnourished body. I truly couldn’t get much worse.
It was through many avenues that I would find the key to a happy, healthy life, and through much, much trial and error.
If you are struggling with health issues, I encourage you to look towards your food. Food sustains and nourishes us, but also takes away the ability to live a full, healthy life.
As Hippocrates says, “Let food be they medicine and medicine thy food.”
Here is the diet of a simple hippie:
Meats – Minimal amount, and minimally processed-preferably not at all. Grass-fed and organic, when possible. Used more for flavoring than as a main attraction, though I do like the occasional bison burger.
Veggies – Lots and lots of veggies, a wide variety, and at every meal.
Fruits – Almost as many fruits as veggies, though veggies win out.
Nuts – I am nuts about having nuts. I try to eat them every day, in homemade nut milk, fudge, or just a small handful.
Extras – Ghee (clarified butter), Coconut, Cocoa, and Honey as a sweetener.
There aren’t a whole lot of other things in my diet, except for the few chips I eat with salsa and avocado. The diet is simple and minimal – it’s what we were given when we were first placed on this earth. Besides, what more do you really need?
(Watch for healthy recipes coming soon!)
One final note: As ridiculous as it sounds, I am grateful for all that has happened to me. I have finally found what true health really is.
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