Food; My relationship (ED trigger warning)
My relationship with food via the perception of social media probably looks STELLAR. And by no means am I discrediting that, because in my world now, it absolutely is. However, this was not always the case. Growing up in the 90’s, I was a product of meat, dairy, canned vegetables, frozen meals, processed sugary foods and HEAPS of fast food. My folks fed my two brothers and I what they knew best at the time. Lots of meat, potatoes, canned green beans and cheese. Oh, and don’t forget to drink at least ONE glass of milk per day, because calcium right? For strong bones? WRONG. I won’t go too far down that rabbit hole kiddos - do your research.
I remember having milk in my cereal for breakfast, processed cheese products such as gold fish or cheez-its packed in my school lunch and a glass of milk at dinner. Every time I would eat/drink anything containing dairy, which was almost everything I touched at this point in my life, I left feeling like someone was taking daggers and cutting through my intestines from the inside out. I felt brain fog, bloated, achey and so confused. Lactose Intolerance was never brought up. The philosophy was, you clean your plate because there are people out there starving. And so I did. And after every meal, twenty minutes later, I’d be in agony. Because of my lack of knowledge at this point in time, I began to cultivate a terrible relationship with food. Food began to equal pain. What else would you expect from a 13 year old?
When I started high school, peer pressure set in. We never had strict boundaries when it came to eating. At home, after dinner, I was allowed to indulge in chips, ice cream, soda and so much more. And then I had a thought, after one day when a neighborhood kid called me fat, Well, why don’t I just stop eating? It hurts me anyways. And I did just that. One summer, during my parents convoluted divorce, I got away with only eating apples until dinner time came. The ritual of eating dinner together was one of the few familial experiences we had. At dinner, I would eat what was on my plate and lay in my bed afterwards in pain. Until another terrible idea rolled through. I could.. just get rid of it? I could throw it up? I tried it once and was HOOKED. I swear some chemical released in my brain as if I had just shot up. Viola! Clearly addicted to the sensation, I equated purging to liberation. It was one thing I could control in my chaotic world. I can appease my parents AND cure myself of feeling of that dagger being twisted inside my gut. If I only knew the long lasting, impactful damage I would soon cause myself. Years of misery, not feeling good enough, and just wanting to vanish into thin air. Because who would care? disclaimer: I am in no way contributing my battle with bulimia as stemming solely from my lactose intolerance. It was a culmination of how I grew up amongst my relationship with food. I mentally, emotionally and physically was not in a good place for the majority of my tween/teenage years. To simply state, “my parents divorce” doesn’t even begin to skim the surface of my story. I could write an entire book on that.
I will leave out the brutal details of how I endured the rest of my years struggling through high school. Fast forward to age 19. My soon to be roommate took me to a vegan cooking class at a couple’s loft in Eastern Market. I was exposed to so many new ideas and concepts that resonated with me. The woman leading the class spoke of how her family struggled with cardiovascular issues. My dad has had a quadruple bypass. This hit home. Her partner offered donation based yoga classes on Saturdays. This was also the year I moved out of my folks house into an old pharmacy that had been converted into a loft space in Detroit. The polarity of this year is mind blowing. This was my most reckless year on this planet. Black out drunk was a common theme at this time. I overly abused substances, that being mostly cigarettes and alcohol. This was also the year that Michigan banned smoking in bars and restaurants. Although, in most places in Detroit, you most likely could still get away with it. Live fast, die young was a mantra of mine before I even knew what the word mantra meant. However, after that first cooking class, my roommates and I decided to immediately become vegan. Why? Who knows. Source. Spirit. SOMETHING. And we would occasionally drop into the donation based yoga class after grabbing our produce for the week in Eastern Market. Legitimately, this couple saved me. I don’t even know if they know it but they planted a seed that slowly began to ripen. After discovering veganism, I realized I could ENJOY my meals. My food didn’t have to make me feel the way I was feeling. And slowly, the healing process began.. Let me also preface, that this took time. I had to retrain my tastebuds which were coated from the years of abusing sugary, processed foods. Be kind. And patient with yourself.
After living in Detroit for a year, our group disbanded and I had a short stint where I moved back into my parents prior to moving into a friends house in Royal Oak. Being there for 6 months was 6 months too long at this time. In my healing process, I had to distance myself from my family. I was still partying but not nearly as much. I had found a couple yoga studios to practice at which reminded me of my worth and gave me coping skills to deal with my tumultuous, anxious mind. And then one day, it hit me. If I really wanted to pursue this yoga thing, and even actually teach one day, I would have to leave these habits behind. And slowly, I did just that. On my own, with the intangible helping hand of my yoga practice and my newfound relationship for plant based foods, I said goodbye to my ED around the age of 22ish. Forgive me, my timeline blurs. Trauma is an interesting thing. And it has an even more interesting effect on your brain.
Since then, I’ve dabbled with raw veganism, Raw till Four, amongst more. Upon realizing my story didn’t merely have to function as a wound, I alchemized and transformed my shame into inspiration. Inspiration, that I am on a mission to share through my creative offerings. I mentioned in my post recent Instagram post of when I started to incorporate eggs. Lately, TCM and Ayurveda resonate best and I will continue to share all that I can.
I live by transparency. And if you ever question that, dig deeper. Uproot the reasons, be it fear of feeling exposed, vulnerable or alone. Know that you never are if you know you’ve got your back and truly believe in yourself. And if you need a listening ear, I gotchu.
Some of YOUR questions I received:
Thoughts on caffiene?
I love coffee. But I do moderate myself. This was another thing that I would consume way too much of back in the day. Currently, two cups a day! I have gone through periods of time where I’ve given it up but my love for it is too strong. Did you see my stories on my Chemex?! :D
How do you plan healthy meals/snacks when you’re busy?!
This is still something I’m learning. Having a wonderful, supportive husband who cooks dinner is quite helpful! But when I was on my own, I had to prioritize time to food prep. Wash, chop and store your veggies for quick access when it comes to cooking them. There are so many easy recipes such as casseroles, root bakes, etc that are minimal in prep and just need time to bake in the oven. Keeping healthy snacks on hand is vital when you’re constantly on the go. I love fruit, nuts, seeds, fruit and nut mix and granola bars!
How do I get myself to like more fruits/veggies?
Like I said, take your time. Start eliminating processed foods which coat and obstruct your tastebuds from truly tasting and savoring your food. Stop mindlessly drinking your calories in the form of soda, energy drinks, etc. Opt for water and add in fresh fruit or fresh squeezed fruit juice.
How do you combat being bound up or bloated not eating meat? Do you get bloated?
I believe I touched on this paraphrasing above but YES, if I do go outside my usual food choices, I DO get bloated. However, through the years of trial and error, eliminating and adding back in different food groups, I’ve finally found a rhythm that I stick to. I don’t eat meat or dairy nor do I condone those that do. Those are two that would trigger digestional upset, bloating, constipation, etc. You get the drift. For some, raw veggies such as broccoli can create similar scenarios, so I would recommend cooking those raw veggies. Also, rinse your canned beans! Thoroughly! That water they hang out in inside of the can, can cause bloating as well. Cook more of your meals at home. My husband and I RARELY eat out. And on the rare occasion we do, it’s at a vegan restaurant. I just was painstakingly reminded of why I choose this when I had ordered Curried Noodles from a local thai restaurant. Don’t get me wrong, it tasted amazing but my gut was NOT happy about it.
Note that this is clearly a summary. Details have been combed over. I had so many beautiful, eye opening experiences during the year I lived in Detroit. I don’t discredit them. I don’t wish my past was different. It has made me who I am today. An individual who survived the perils of her own mind, allowing for much depth to teach from.