Mothering

A Journey To Healthy Eating

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I’ve been playing around with the idea of writing a fitness and nutrition series here about how motherhood has really shifted my perspective on how I treat my body. Then, as luck would have it, Stephanie at Stephanie’s Mommy Brain, a blogger local to me, put out a call for participants in a special fitness and nutrition project. I seized the opportunity and jumped on board for Project 10: Real Women, Real Fitness. The goal for the 10 week project is to create a support group encouraging and inspiring women to make healthy choices. Raising daughters, I want to make sure I am their example for a woman who listens to and makes conscious, meaningful choices for her body. Here is this storyteller’s take on making healthy choices.

When it comes to our fitness and nutrition, we each travel a unique journey to find what’s right for our bodies. The culture we’re raised in, the people we come in contact with, the experiences we have – each influences where we’ll end up. The purpose is figuring what to eat and how to move in a way which resonates with our bodies.

Here are three facts about my history with food:

 1. As a kid, Saturday morning cartoons called for a breakfast of champions – a roll of Ritz crackers and  a can of coke.
2. I don’t have a single memory of my mother serving vegetables as part of any meal.
3. My parents insisted I eat meat (which I’ve always disliked); so I resorted to chewing the meat to mush and swallowing it with water.

To my mother’s credit, every evening there was a home cooked meal on the table. Void of any vegetables, it was jam packed with meat, fried goodness and greasy Cuban scrumptiousness all laid over a bed of rice.

I didn’t give eating for health any thought. Eating was about filling not fueling.

The food culture my parents nurtured began to unravel sometime towards the end of high school and had completely come undone by the time I was done with college. Sushi, seaweed, Indian fare, lentils, seafood, fragrant, foreign and completely alien foods had entered my world and there was no turning back.

I began eating for flavor and fun but still not health.

My last year in college a friend had her first baby. I was blessed to witness many of their first days as mother and daughter. One moment stands out when she was breastfeeding, the first time I’d ever seen someone nurse their child, something hit me – my body is made to give life. I remember thinking – I need to stop all the late night partying, start getting 8 hours of sleep, stop feeding myself crap, put down the social cigarettes  – I need to treat this body like a temple.

I didn’t wake up the next morning converted to a holy fitness and nutrition regime but the seed had been planted. Witnessing a tender moment of motherhood made the connection for me; my body is sacred. It will give me, give birth to and sustain life.

It’s no surprise then none of my poor habits changed until I had my first daughter. I found myself breastfeeding and making the connection between what I was putting into my body and into my child’s. I dove head first into figuring out the best way to eat for me. I read Skinny Bitch and gave in to my instincts about meat becoming a vegetarian. I discovered quinoa and barley and all sorts of grains that weren’t white rice. Our kitchen became a bounty of fruit (we’re still working on the vegetables). I read Kris Carr and The Raw Food Detox Diet and The Engine 2 Diet and The Self-Health Revolution, nutrition lifestyles focused on optimizing health not weightloss.

At the time I also read Suzanne Somers’ book on cancer which profoundly impacted my perspective on the food I eat. Yes, she’s Chrissy from Three’s Company but she’s also a famous person who used her status to get access to doctors doing incredible work with cancer patients. The book, where Somers candidly interviews expert doctors in the field of cancer treatment, was a testament to what a good diet can do. Reading how diet can affect our body’s response to a condition like cancer prompted me to define my goals for my body.

 I decided I will consume foods which will:

  • make me feel alive in my body – energized and vibrant, never weighed down or sluggish,
  • support my immune system to be a diligent soldier, creating an environment within my body where cancer and other ills cannot thrive.
  • be natural and unprocessed as often as possible to allow my body to function as it should without hazardous interruption.
  • BOTTOM LINE: I want to eat to be healthy and let my body perform at it’s best.

I’m eating in a way aligned with my goals for my body. I’ve read a lot of books on food and nutrition and I’ve taken from each what agrees with my own reason and common sense – no dairy, no food after dinner, no processed foods, more water, more tea, no soda. These are the choices I’ve made which agree with my body. I hope you’ll consider reading some of these books and take from them what resonates for you.

 

Next week, I’ll go in depth about the choices I’ve made and the way it’s impacted my health. Today, though, I want to know about your history with food. What kind of food culture did you grow up with? What motivates your choices for food today?

 

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6 Comments

  1. Great post.
    It’s definitely a struggle to cook and maintain a healthy lifestyle when it’s not something you witnessed growing up. I will say my parents both always did their best to incorporate fruits and vegetables into our meals, but we ate a lot of red meat and processed foods.
    I am going to have to pick up that Suzanne Somers book. My mother’s best friend has stage four bone cancer and has been following the Gerson method…guess what? The cancer is resolving itself! I truly believe our diets (at least most of us!) are making us sick and not allowing our bodies to properly heal.
    Sarah {Soxys Diamond}´s last blog post ..Project 10 {Week 1}

  2. I was thinking about the food culture I grew up in this week. We always had 2 veggies, a meat and a starch for supper but I rarely ate the veggies. And being southerners the meat was usually friend and the starch was usually potatoes. I remember taking cans of soda in my lunchbox in elementary/junior high. And high school lunch was usually a can of Dr. Pepper and bag of Cool Ranch Doritos. Oh! And I usually started the day with some kind of sugar cereal.

    I feel sick just thinking about all that junk!! My kids have a very different diet! We’re going to work on eating more vegetables and less breads this summer. I’ve learned veggies aren’t so bad if you don’t cook them till they are mush (which is how my mom cooks them).
    Stephanie Kay´s last blog post ..My Baby Steps Creating a Fitness Lifestyle

  3. My mom was sick when I was growing up. She felt guilty and all she could do was feed us. She made all american meals like meatloaf and mashed potatoes that, while delicious, were not good for the waistline. She rewarded us with food and I began to get fat. I would eat when i was happy, sad, bored etc. It has taken me a long time to come to terms with my eating, but I am workin on a better me!
    Kameron´s last blog post ..An honest look at my unhealthy habits

  4. Trying this again (I’m not sure why but my comments don’t seem to be coming through!)

    I think for many of us right now the biggest hurdle is changing the habits that we grew up with. My parents did what they thought was best for us at the time. I grew up very accustomed to the “all american diet” of convenience foods and McDonald’s, I’m trying hard to shift the way I eat, and the way I feed my family.

    I’ll definitely need to look into some of these books you’ve mentioned – being educated will be teh first step!!
    Liz @ Learning to Juggle´s last blog post ..Project 10: Week 1: Frustration

  5. Wow, what an amazing positive change you are making in your life, congratulations! I haven’t gotten quite to where you are yet, but I’ve also been making more concious decisions about what I put in the grocery cart, cook, and ultimate put in my kids mouths.
    So glad to have re-found your blog today!

    Raj
    Pink Chai Style

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