A friend once told me that our relationship with food is the most intimate relationship each one of us has. At the time, I thought that was absolutely ridiculous. Food is just food. It is just there, and we eat it.
Today, nearly 20 years later, I could not agree with that friend more. Food IS the most intimate relationship we have.
We eat food every day… usually several times a day. And every time we eat, we’re faced with choices. What am I going to eat? How much am I going to eat? Where am I going to eat? With whom am I going to eat?
Then we eat. We chew it, we taste it, we digest it, and it literally becomes us. Our incredibly efficient bodies take the vitamins, the minerals, the enzymes, the proteins, the fat and the carbohydrates out of the food and they become our cells.
YOU really are what you EAT!
My relationship with food has shifted dramatically throughout my life.
As a child, I felt indifferent about food, preferring bland meals. My parents prepared it for me and I ate it. It was fairly simple.
As a teenager, food became something I felt I needed to limit. Like many teenage girls, it became something that I believed could make me fat. This belief coincided with a feeling of guilt and shame whenever I indulged. Food became something I needed to have a certain amount of control over.
By my twenties, food turned into something that often made me feel sick. I almost always felt bloated after eating and was consistently constipated. I felt lethargic most of the time and began suffering from migraines.
I had my first child when I was 28, followed by two more adorable, but very hungry little people.
Now food became a chore that threatened to chain me to the kitchen like a 1950s housewife. I had better things to do than slave over a hot stove for these people! I took every possible shortcut regarding food as I tried to rebuild a career I had put on hold for these little darlings. There were a lot of hotdogs, a lot of chicken fingers, and a lot of frozen pizzas for many years.
Then my daughter really shook things up. By the time she turned one, we learned she had severe food allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, dairy, sesame and was highly sensitive to gluten and soy. Now I was forced to pay attention. My daughter’s life depended on it.
Needless to say, by this point, my relationship with food had really been through the wringer. Over the span of my lifetime, food went from being something I felt mostly indifferent about, to something that could make me fat, to something that made me feel sick, to something that threatened my freedom and career, to, worst of all, something that could send my daughter to the emergency room in seconds with just one bite!
I hated food. I despised it. I resented it. I was scared of it. And yet, I still had to eat it. I still had to feed my family. Food was not going to go away.
Then one night, while searching the internet for answers to help my daughter who not only had to restrict her food to protect her own life, but also suffered from terrible eczema and basically had developed a full-time rash that kept us both up most nights (2 a.m. oatmeal baths were a common occurrence), I came across a woman who claimed she cured her own eczema by changing her diet.
I devoured this woman’s whole story that night. She wasn’t selling anything. There was no magic pill or cream to buy. She was just telling her story. She cleaned up her diet. She nourished her cells and healed her gut with pure wholesome food and although it took some time and a lot of persistence she eventually healed herself from the inside out.
Her story made so much sense! It was so logical and resonated deeply with me. If certain foods could make my daughter sick, could different foods make my daughter well?
I had to give it a try. I cleaned up shop. I went through my refrigerator and pantry throwing out pounds and pounds of non-food that I had been feeding my family and myself for years. I read everything I could get my hands on about healing with food. I started to cook. The journey began.
I’ll admit it has not been easy at times, but boy has it been worth it! First and foremost my daughter’s eczema and chronic itching improved dramatically. Within a few months of changing her diet, I was able to take her off the doctor prescribed, daily dose of anti-histamine she had been taking since she was one. And we were finally sleeping!!!!!!
I would’ve been satisfied with that, but for me there has been so much more!
One of the first changes I made was eliminating dairy. I hadn’t realized that I had been drenching nearly everything I ate with cheese. I put cheese on my salad, on my pasta, in my sandwiches, on my meat, melted on my vegetables. You name it, I added the cheese.
When I took the cheese away, I started to really taste food for the first time. My taste buds felt like they were coming alive. I tried new vegetables. Oh, the vegetables! The bright colors, the wide range of tastes and flavors from food that was grown straight out of our earth was truly overwhelming to me at times.
I’d always been a fan of salad choosing to stick to the basics…tomatoes, cucumbers, romaine and cheese of course. Now, I was eating and tasting asparagus, beets, zucchini, artichokes, kale, cilantro, chard, squash, peppers, eggplant while simultaneously learning of their healing properties: asparagus, chock-full of iron and folate, supports cell repair; butternut squash brimming with the powerful antioxidant beta-carotene strengthens skin, hair and nails; chard’s biotin helps the body use protein while its vitamin K and calcium are critical for healthy bones.
As the food I ate became brighter, my world also became brighter. The fog I hadn’t realized I had been living in for years lifted. My mood elevated. My hair looked shinier and my skin brighter. My headaches improved. My constipation went away. My overall enthusiasm for living increased. I wanted to do more fun things. I wanted more adventures, to take more chances, to meet new people!
Just a few years ago, I hated food. Today, I am madly in love with it. I create with it. I nourish my children with it. I appreciate it. I enjoy it every single day.
So, did food heal us?
I can’t really speak for my daughter because her journey with food will be her own. But for me, I wonder, was it the food that made me feel better or the change in the way I thought about the food? I’m guessing it was a bit of both.
Either way, there is no going back. This is definitely my new beet!