Over the next few weeks I’ll be blogging about an issue that I believe plagues the minds of many of us: Food. I’ll be sharing some personal confessions of my own, as well as share about my most recent journey through an extended fast and how God has used that to help me breakthrough some of these issues. I’m dividing this up into multiple blogs as there’s just too much ground to cover in one, and frankly the Lord revealed so much to me over the course of these past two weeks that I simply don’t want to leave anything out.
I also want to say up front for those that are reading this, and may be skeptical that I could relate to you, that no, I’ve never had a major food allergy that’s life-threatening, and no, I don’t know what it’s like to bear the burden of needing to lose hundreds of pounds. What I will say is, I do know what it’s like to have health problems that have affected my weight, and I do know what it’s like to develop food intolerances and the struggle that comes with accepting this new way of living and eating. My hope in sharing these struggles so openly is the same as when I write candidly through songs or other blogs: that I can encourage you through your struggles and ultimately point you toward God, spurring you on in your relationship with Him.
My story with food is probably like many of yours. I was a pretty scrawny little girl who was very active growing up. From the time I was little I participated in gymnastics and softball, and was constantly outside exploring nature (I wanted to be a marine biologist). :) In middle school and high school I remained active through cheer-leading, track and field, and softball. In short, I was young, active, and had a high metabolism. Like most 80’s kids, I grew up on a steady diet of…junk. My breakfasts included: doughnuts, Pop-Tarts®, cinnamon rolls, bagels, toast, or cereal. Lunch was either cafeteria food, a PB&J or some other type of sandwich with a side of chips and a cookie. I’d occasionally switch it up and have a salad (loaded with Ranch® dressing) if I wanted to be “healthy” that day. Dinner was usually pasta, a casserole, or some form of meat and vegetables…but I didn’t like vegetables…or fruit, really, so I’d skip on those and just have a healthy helping of bread. Now, before anyone reading this or friends of my mom start to get all worked up, I want you to know that my mom, as well as the rest of the cooks in both my immediate and extended family, are all incredible cooks who always have and continue to prepare well balanced meals for their families. They provided healthy options. But I was a kid. That stuff was “gross.” So I just ate bread and sugar. Again, it was the 80’s and the government provided an awesome food pyramid for us (that has since been altered) that said we needed tons of dairy and wheat in our diet. I just personally ignored the vegetable and fruit portion. I mean, after all, don’t most kids? I was basically a bread aficionado, so my parents nick-named me “bread box.” No joke.
So, fast-forward to college. I’m still eating the same way. I’m walking miles across college campuses so my metabolism is still stellar. Fast-forward again to the end of college and a few years after. I’m living on my own and cooking for myself. I’m really trying to be more healthy so I’m substituting a few things here and there when I make home made banana bread, I’m bringing a lean cuisine or a salad (still loaded with Ranch®) to work for lunch. And I’m throwing some pasta in a pan with some Ragú® for dinner and calling it “cooking.” And guess what? I’m still fitting into my clothes from high school. Because yes I still have my old cheer-leading shorts and I admit I can be a bit of a sentimental hoarder. Leave me alone. I was also still very active. I have always enjoyed physical fitness and pushing my body to its limits, so I’ve done P90X® and Insanity® a few times, as well as pretty much every other fitness machine, routine, or program.
Then I met someone who was…particular about what they ate. This friend of mine would actually stand in the aisle at the grocery store reading labels. I never read labels, except for the one on the front that said, “Chocolate Doughnuts” and underneath, in subliminal text read, “eat me right now!” I frankly thought this person was just weird when I offered them coffee with creamer and they turned their nose up at my creamer because of the 30 or so ingredients listed on the label. I honestly didn’t understand why because the front of the container held promises such as “low fat,” “low sugar,” “all natural,” “great source of calcium,” etc. Though I made fun of this person relentlessly for their finicky behavior (and frankly still do) encountering this different way of approaching food planted a seed.
Around that same time I met someone who was Vegan. I always thought that was all about being a hippie tree-hugger who didn’t eat any animal product because of animal rights. It never dawned on me it could actually benefit their health. But this person shared their story with me on their struggles with food and health, as well as a book that started the whole thing for them, and I began to read and learn about food, hence beginning my journey with food.