10.04.2013

Foodie Probs (4/31)

Recently, my beautiful friend Emily was diagnosed with Lyme’s disease. She got a nasty bug bite while at a school intensive in Virginia. A mosquito bite that at first appeared harmless swelled to unusual proportions and brought on shakes and just general feelings of uneasiness. After being treated for Lyme’s as a precaution and told that they all but cured it- she received news that she is in fact positive for the disease.

I don’t know much about Lyme’s disease, but I do know this about Emily’s situation. She has unusual and unexplainable pains in various parts of her body. Also, she’s had to see a specialist about what kinds of foods she should avoid as a way to keep her aches and pains to a minimum and allow her body to build up immunity.

Yesterday, she and I were texting about random things. We have both been so busy and out of town at various times we are basically communicating through text right now. Last time I saw Emily we discussed the various foods she could not have, most of them foods that are considered healthy, such as green peppers and bananas.  From what I understand, Lyme’s weakens your immune system. These dietary changes will allow the rest of her body to heal and build up some stamina without expending all her energy on digesting foods. I asked how she was feeling and how the dietary changes were going.

This is what she said, “It [the dietary changes] is emotional however. Surprisingly so. Not being able to eat a fun treat that everyone else is, avoiding favorite restaurants, etc. It’s frustrating, but first world. If that makes sense. Feeling so good though so that it’s gotta be worth it!”

I responded with an ‘Absolutely.’

Last month, I did a 30 day ‘Fall into Healthy Habits’ challenge with Arbonne. The idea was to eliminate certain trigger foods that are common allergens for most people while restoring the body’s PH level. They instructed us to cut the following ingredients for 30 days: wheat, gluten, dairy, peanuts, sugar and coffee.  I ate whole foods- mostly fruits and veggies with the occasional organic meat item rotated in and swapped out my coffee for tea. It was not easy but it wasn’t terribly hard either.

Just as Emily is finding out, dietary changes, although hard, really do yield some positive results.
In our discussion, I mentioned how having less sugar and avoiding gluten and dairy really feel good to my body. I don’t feel as tired or bloated or like I need to double up my workouts to make up for the junk I just ate. I sleep better, my skin looks great and I have more energy. My weight doesn’t fluctuate and my mind isn’t foggy. Overall, I have less mental and physical junk about food.

I’m a self-admitted foodie. I love to cook and will always be the first to try a new restaurant. When I’m out of town, I prefer to eat at local restaurants only- often indulging in whatever the ‘special’ is. At home, I shop almost exclusively local and organic and prefer to eat at restaurants where I know where the food comes from. I’m a food snob and proud of it.

Punch Burger in Indianapolis

I like to set up dinners or coffee dates with my friends where we can enjoy a sweet treat. Often, I’ll make a treat of some kind, generally healthy,  for my co-workers or my small group.
These are not terrible things. Eating local and organic is good for me, my city and my environment. Sharing time with others while eating is biblical and life-giving, it’s called fellowship.

But often, I will allow myself to ‘cheat’ or eat something downright terrible for me- i.e. Excess sugar in the form of candy, lot of dairy usually in the form of large amounts of ice cream, or something else I will regret later. My excuses can vary: ‘I had a bad day and I deserve it’ (days are only as bad as you make them); ‘It’s a special occasion!’ (when it’s really not); ‘This place has a great drink/dessert/friend appetizer, I get it every time I’m here!’ (reality check- it’s not going anywhere and will be there next time you come).

During the challenge I realized just how much food has become an area of excess in my life.  

LIGHTBULB.

This past year has been a lot about simplifying for me, eliminating the excesses in my life in the form of clothes, stuff and even commitments. What about food? I’m finding that food is and always has been an area of overindulgence for me. If I learned anything during this challenge, it is how MUCH it is much more of a heart issue than a physical one.

I told Emily, “…the more I look at simplifying my life- the more I realize food is an area of excess for me. First world indeed!’

Often, I see food as a way of rewarding or spoiling myself when I should be viewing it as fuel for my body. Eating in a way that sustains my body more fully AND supports my local community is the way I should be eating. Overall, I seem to have a pretty good handle on that.
But what happens when I have a crappy day? Or I’m celebrating with friends?

Right before this challenge started, I was in an ugly place with food. Having had issues with disordered eating in my past, I was stumbling into some nasty habits. I was tracking food constantly, often overeating and then working out excessively or under-eating the next day to make up for it. I thought about food CONSTANTLY. I was constantly tallying calories in my head and deciding how I could indulge and stay under or within my allotment. If I went over, I’d figure out exactly how much I had to up my workout to come out even. It was a vicious cycle.

I quit tracking and took on this challenge as a reset. I found that my body DOES function better without gluten and dairy. I’ve found that I really don’t miss sweets all that much day to day. That freeing up my focus on food allows me to focus more fully on other areas of my life.

Mostly, I found that it’s okay to indulge occasionally. That wedding you’re going to? Enjoy a piece of cake and celebrate with the new couple. Your grandma is cooking you a favorite from childhood? Eat it and celebrate the memories.

But those random cookies from the grocery store someone brought into work? Not worth it. That candy dish you always keep full for ‘guests’? Get rid of it. Those $5 sugar-y lattes you feel you need every day to make it through work? Skip it and find a new job. J

One of the speakers at Influence, Jess Thompson, told us something that was really powerful to me.

Our bodies are not our own.

 They belong to God. He gave them to us. Glorify God in your body by taking care of it. It’s each of our responsibility to keep it strong and healthy, fully equipped to do the work God gave us to do.
I interpret that this way: Don’t struggle and strive to have a ‘perfect body’ as a way of control. But also don’t give up completely and look to food as a means of comfort.

Ultimately, our need to control how we look or to be comforted by what we eat is a sin of self-entitlement.

The world doesn't end if you don’t eat a cookie every day for your post dinner dessert. And it certainly doesn’t end if you don’t have 6 pack abs or chiseled upper arms.

I’m not saying that I have this fully figured out or that I don’t still struggle with both sides of this spectrum.

Day by day, I am learning to view my body as a vehicle through which to do the ‘good works’ that have been planned for me (Ephesians 2:10). I want to support my local community and the larger environment by purchasing local and organic. I want to serve and nourish myself and others in a way that promotes health and positive body image.

It’s really interesting that this conversation was had yesterday and this post came flowing out of it. Just that morning, I took the steps to become an Arbonne Consultant. I have been using their skincare products for a few months now and most recently, their wellness products as part of my #30daychallenge. I am incredibly pleased by their commitment to using pure, safe and beneficial products as well as the culture of promoting total body and mind health and wellness.  

I’ve been praying for a while about an opportunity to use my passion for health to help others and I think I may have found it. Having this conversation with Emily and talking through our reasons for choosing a healthier lifestyle has confirmed for me that taking on this role with Arbonne will be a great step towards my future goals (coffee shop in 5!)

I will always and forever be a foodie. I love breaking bread with my friends and creating memories over a home-cooked or locally prepared meal.  BUT. I will not go forward continuing to use food as a crutch or a comfort in times of need or distress. I will not eat treats every day just ‘because.’ I will not over-exercise or binge-eat. I will eat whole sustainable foods. I will eat when I’m hungry and listen to my body. I will remind myself that each thing I’m putting in my mouth should be fuel to nourish and strengthen my body.  

But when the time is right and that special occasion comes up? 
You better believe I will indulge in something delicious.
And probably full of almond paste.

Post 20 miler almond croissant from my favorite local bakery



#foodieprobs

Read more about Emily's diagnosis and her beautiful lovely writing at http://emilysparkles.com/