First, I feel like I need to add a disclaimer to this post (and the last two).
My purpose for writing has always been to inspire others through the telling of my story — whether that’s an uplifting and positive one or one that is geared towards exposing my demons. I feel strongly about this because the human experience is layered and not one-dimensional as the interwebs would like us to believe.
That sharing, as of late, has translated into posts about weight and how I’ve been feeling about my body. I am sharing what’s been going on in my head, not because I am depressed or have a poor body image, but because I am a generally happy and well adjusted woman with a strong self of self.
It stands to reason that if I’m struggling with this stuff, others are too.
Second, something else came up in my journaling yesterday that Ive been mulling over a bit. It has to do with my relationship with food and how over the years it’s become more hesitant.
I’ve always been a picky eater and prefer to eat the tried and true favorites than branch out and risk not liking something. As a kid, the list of foods I didn’t like or wouldn’t eat was 4x as long as the one with foods I would eat.
To this day, I’m still a hamburger and french fries kind of girl, feeling way more comfortable in the neighborhood dive than I do at the fancy (and trendy) new restaurant in town.
In 2009, I was diagnosed with food sensitivities. That diagnosis changed me in a lot of ways. It literally took away every single food I ate and loved and forced me to rethink how I interacted with food. Grocery shopping became a half-day event. Eating out was so stressful that I would get hives just thinking about what I wanted to eat. It also put a strain on friendships because I never wanted to go out to eat.
Shortly after my diagnosis, I set out to become a health coach. In addition to my own dietary needs, I began learning about a whole host of dietary theories and ideas around eating. Each one brought with it a new belief system. Raw food diets are the healthiest! Everyone on the planet should be eating a vegetarian diet! Paleo is the only way to eat! Gluten is poison for the body! Sugar will kill you! Only a diet loaded up with butter and organ meats can make you happy (not even joking about that one)!
So much (conflicting) information to be sorted through.
I did my best to stay firmly rooted throughout it all. I wrote about my journey with food, shared the recipes that we were eating at home, and was a voracious reader of food blogs. I even went so far as to begin testing others for food sensitivities to help them navigate their way through the mess.
Four years after my diagnosis, my body healed and I was able to go back to eating all of the foods I had tested sensitive to. I also got pregnant and had a whole new role when it came to eating: keeping a growing fetus alive and nourished while still giving my body what it needed.
Needless to say, the last 7+ years have been quite tumultuous when it comes to food.
I would love to say that time (and health) have healed all wounds, but that wouldn’t be completely accurate. I still question the things that I’m eating, particularly when I have a headache or am feeling under the weather. My default is always to blame the food. Mood swings, irritability, weight gain … food must be the culprit and not the lack of sleep, germs I’ve been exposed to, or possible dehydration.
It totally makes sense that this has been coming up as I’ve begun to get back into working out. One healthy choice always begets another; and next in line to exercise is always nutrition.
At the end of the day, I really just want to feel solid about food; to eat with enjoyment and excitement and not guilt or fear of what it will do to me. Is that even possible? Or do I know too much to ever go back to blissful ignorance?
Here’s to hoping that this isn’t black and white, but a beautiful spectrum of gray that is ever adjusting and adapting.
Image Credit: Leah Goren for TIME