Food has a lot of power over us and depending on where you come from you may understand this to be literal as well as emotional. We have emotional eaters who eat to suppress their emotions. But we also have individuals whose personality and/or mood is literally altered depending on the foods they eat. Love ones have love affairs with foods they cherish and that represent something to them emotionally (but which is different then the emotional eating to suppress emotions). There are foods that are consumed because it is interpreted as the proper food to consume based on a religious text. We also consume foods that have been marketed to us as being healthy or a better option then the traditional food. Parents make and serve foods to their children when they are ill, like good 'ol chicken soup. Culturally food plays an important roll, it connects us to others in our culture and provides a common base. Food even connects us to our heritage. Food is fundamentally an extension of ourselves on every level.
So what is one to do when there is a stick shoved into our food spokes and we are launched 50 feet down the road over our handlebars? How does one cope with the onslaught of symptoms that are becoming so common. The constant phlegm after eating a meal that we love and reminds us of our dad? Spaghetti that has always brought us comfort but now puts us in the fetal position in bed half way through a meal? Hives? Anger, which I would venture to say is a very common symptom. Bloating, indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, ADD/ADHD, stress susceptibility which makes us more susceptible. Or what if your child is exhibiting Autistic or sensory issues and your pediatrician is enlightened, mentioning that food may play a roll in the severity and to cut out gluten, dairy and eggs? Now you are sitting on your butt 50 feet down the road with some good road rash and a complete lack of ability to emotionally process what's going on. Being disconnected from a defining part of who you are.
I've been through this so many times now I've had to modify my stance on food. I like to share food but I always tell people not to expect me to accept shared food. I operate in a bit of a different reality. When you don't eat grains, legumes, dairy, eggs, or nightshades (and most recently sugar's) it's a lot easier to tell people what you do eat then what you don't and most people are still left befuddled and/or glazed over. The glassy eye look is a common one but the longer I do this, the less common it is getting. There is also the ever so common "I could never give up my bread." or "I can't believe you gave up cheese, I couldn't do it." Well folks, food used to be a defining part of who I was as well. Mac-n-Cheese anyone? My mother always made that and it was the best. You know what, her mother, also made it as do all my aunts (and probably uncles). And I would lie if I said I missed the warm fuzzy feeling it gave me, emotionally, I do not however miss the laundry list of symptoms that grains gave me (gluten being the worst offender). It's an adjustment, it really is. But I have come to the point where, if I don't preserve my health I can pay for it later (or in my case start paying for it at 25 -- which is the case for a lot of people in my generation or younger) or I can get myself on the right path and also gear my children up to be in a much better place.
It's not that I didn't eat traditional foods before I was thrown from my bike and suffering my food road rash. I did. But they had been modified to such a degree that my body (which has not evolved quite as quickly as our industrial food has) didn't know how to use them. Bread for example, in biblical times, was not leavened with active dry yeast. It was also not white...or wonderful Wonder-bread for that matter! It was likely a heavy, brown "bread" that none of us would recognize today. The grains were also different. Humans like to tinker and we tinker a lot with plants. How probably is it that the cultures that developed wheat would even recognize it as it is today? That's often how we improve stuff, you gotta tinker! But it's also how we have come to have completely denatured "food" like Crisco and Twinkies. Do you think people in the 1700's would have trusted food that didn't rot? Or even our great grandparents for that matter. French fries with zero signs of decay after months. Meat that didn't smell awful after sitting out for 24 hours? It's likely that the food wasn't the only issue that landed me on the pavement but it is a key player.
So I understand, your cheese is an extension of yourself. Your family always made pizza Friday nights together. Trust me I get it. My family would have "special" living room floor picnics when my mom had a crazy long work day or didn't feel like cooking and we would have Doritos, buffalo wings and french onion dip. Emotionally I miss that! It was great. But was it the food or was it the company and activity? Likely it was the "special" activity and we marked it with special food. Mac-n-cheese was one we did a lot and it brings back memories of mom's love and care in preparing a meal for us. My husband's family has their "mac-n-cheese" too, but it's called chicken and stuffing. You modify.
So what I'm doing with my children is going back, way back... I am feeding them foods that my great grandmother would have made over a wood fired stove and I am excluding many of the processed counterparts. In a pinch we will do Lara Bars as a to-go snack or a bag of sweet potato chips fried in sunflower oil (not my preferred but a much better option if I'm in a bind and have a hungry kid). We do whole foods and are building a new extension for ourselves the best we can with the knowledge we currently have. I render lard to fry stuff in and if I ate pastry I would use exclusively lard and butter. My soup stock doesn't come out of a box (but if I were super busy it might and I might just doctor it up as long as it was MSG free). Now sitting down to a simple but hearty bowl of home made soup results in happy feelings (and no ill effects). A roasted chicken with sautéed veggies makes for a memorable meal. And food is still an extension of who I am and how I care for those around me but I had to go through my 7 stages of grief about the way it used to be.
A loved one of mine recently hit a wall, where there were trickling in symptoms (that's how it always starts I think) that are possible to ignore until the wall. And ignore them we do, all of us! So now, 50 feet down the road with road rash, it's time to grieve and modify. When I spoke with her I told her she's going to go through the stages of grief and it may happen more then once (where you revert back to angry). My advice, we are all defined by food but we don't have to let ourselves be shackled by it. If your food is affecting your health, what's more important? There are a lot more resources out there then there was 5 years ago (thanks to those plowing through on their own) use them. Allow your grief to flow and throw food temper tantrums...get it out. Then move on. Create a new definition for yourself.
P.S. Incidentally, I have had wonderful personal growth as a result of this trial. I have also had a lot less anger, more energy, stronger memory (most days) and renewed health. My weight is stable and my most recent pregnancy was blissful.
Hi there, Wysteria here. I will be writing as regularly as possible on behalf of my family and regarding our adventures in farming, food, health and things of the like. My interest range widely and my brain wanders far. Namaste.