Sometimes I catch myself thinking there is nothing new under the sun. It’s a shadow of a thought really, but it can seep into everything.
What it means on a practical level is that whenever I am excited by something, or make a change in my life, I instantly think “just wait, this won’t last.”
Or, “well, whatever I have to say has all been said before.” So therefore it’s not worth saying.
I get that these thoughts are a protective mechanism, because there have been times I have made changes that didn’t stick, or times when no one wanted to hear what I had to say.
I declare today different.
I hear you little shadow on my shoulder, but I’m going to talk about this anyway.
I’ve talked about our struggles with breastfeeding here before. But what I haven’t talked about is why I wanted to breastfeed so badly. There were many reasons, but the most important one was that I wanted to do everything I could to make sure Zane didn’t have any of the lifelong issues with food that I had. (From a picky eater in childhood, straight to being overweight as a young adult, it has never been an easy topic for me.)
I tried. Oh how I tried. Looking back on it I think I tried a little too hard and for a little too long.
I spent five months in agony, wondering why me? Why my baby? I kept holding my breath, waiting for the hard part to be over so that then I could enjoy my baby. I missed a lot. I was so angry. I hated that it was so easy for other moms. I cried so many tears.
And then a couple of things happened around 5-6 months.
First, Zane’s mouth issues resolved to the point where the only thing left preventing exclusive breastfeeding was that my body wasn’t producing enough milk. Second, it suddenly dawned on me that as important as breastfeeding was, it wasn’t all there was to a healthy relationship with food, in fact it was only the very beginning (duh). (Big thanks to Goddess Leonie for a post on baby led weaning that came at the magically precise right moment for me!)
Oddly enough these two things pointed straight at one thing: I needed to improve my own eating for Zane’s sake.
I had tried before many times to eat more healthfully, some times more successful than others. Never permanent for one reason or another.
But it turned out what I couldn’t do for my own health or vanity, I could do for Zane. Even though I had zero extra time or energy, eating well just simply and easily became my top priority. After the hopelessness of breastfeeding it was a relief to have Something I Could Do.
Since this time I (mostly) wasn’t motivated by self-loathing, I was able to avoid the punishment aspects of changing my eating.
More importantly, I knew from experience that if I approached it from a punishment perspective it wouldn’t stick anyway. And I needed for it to be something that could work long term.
It couldn’t be hard.
It couldn’t involve stupid willpower.
Basically, it couldn’t be based on me being someone different than who I am. (You know, someone who cooks elaborate meals every night for fun. I’m never going to be that person, and That’s Okay.)
So I took all of the lessons I had ever learned about myself and how to make gentle changes. I did crazy amounts of research as to what my ideal diet would look like nutrient-wise. I got realistic about myself and my habits. I created systems, systems, and more systems.
And then I very easily made deep and lasting changes to the way I eat.
Our whole family is now eating a plant-based (vegan) diet free of refined sugar. Our diet isn’t perfect but it is so, so very good–and so much better than it was before.
I knew I would have to make this my hobby for the short term in order for it to work. What I didn’t expect was the passion and excitement that has come along with these changes.
Eating this way lines up with everything, absolutely everything, that I believe in.
Eating this way reduces our chances of disease by like a jillion percent.
Eating this way shows compassion for all beings.
Eating this way is good for the planet.
I (me! in my own humble kitchen!) have opted my family out of an entire corrupt system: from the chemicals in processed food, hormones and antibiotics in animal products, to food-borne illness. We have (almost) no worries about what is actually in our food.
I find this incredibly liberating.
Don’t get me wrong, if I’m at the coffeeshop and I want a cookie, I eat a cookie. I don’t believe in deprivation or willpower. But that is rare. Our daily habits are healthy. And fun. And thanks to my systems, relatively easy.
Both me and my husband have lost close to twenty pounds in the past couple of months with pretty much zero angst about it. (I hesitate to write that because I don’t want to focus on limiting myself in any way, even my weight. I believe fiercely in the concept of Health at Every Size and don’t want to equate my self worth with a measure of any kind, especially not a number. At the same time, the numbers on the scale offer a measurable confirmation of what I already know–that I am shedding unnecessary layers.)
So from my greatest pain– my lifelong issues with food, the heartbreak of not breastfeeding– has come a great joy and strength.
I have felt interest in various topics before, but never anything that has a forward motion of its own that I can feel working through me. I feel compelled to try to save the world through the very molecules that we put into our mouths, that make up our individual bodies.
To help myself, and others that want to, learn how to feed ourselves with love.
Love for our bodies.
Love for our families.
Love for all animals.
Love for the planet.
I’ll be talking more about my journey as it happens…
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