Lessons of Health

A couple of years ago I was ready to face my health, my eating habits, and my inability to make positive changes.  While munching on chips or eating sweet desserts, I have read magazines, books, and articles about eating healthier.  I knew my eating habits were terrible.  I knew that I needed to actually make some changes to have a better quality of life and to prevent serious health issues.  One step I took was seeing a naturopath and to do food sensitivity testing.

Back story: I have had rheumatoid arthritis since I was about thirteen.  I was officially diagnosed when I was fifteen, after months of tests to rule out other possibilities.  Diet was never considered.  I grew up on a farm and had a very meat and potatoes diet which included home grown vegetables.  It seems like that should have been a good start.  I felt very alone and isolated and used to steal cookies and other foods, and once old enough I would buy treats to eat in secret in my room.  Hence a very unhealthy relationship with food was created in these years.

When I moved away from home at eighteen I was then free to eat unhealthy as much as I wanted.  I became vegetarian in my earlier twenties.  The basis of this diet was not vegetables but bread and cheese were often mainstays along with the unhealthy “treats” that I continued to use as emotional support over the years.

When I met my now husband, meat slowly made an appearance.  That was fifteen years ago.  I have had some success over the years where the treats were managed a little better but they have never gone away as my constant companion.

I have never been able to stick to a “diet”. My weight has been up and down with 20 to 30 pounds over a healthy weight in my 20’s to late 30″s.   I could control my overall intake of food but I had to have treats every day.  They are my coping mechanism.

At 38 I had a son and then at 40, a daughter.  My weight came down with breast feeding and just being busier.  I have about 8 or so pounds I could lose but overall now it’s not about weight, it has become about health.

I still can’t stick to a diet.  But back to the naturopath.  Almost three years ago the testing came back that I am sensitive to the protein casein in milk – which meant the yogurt and cheese that were the mainstays of my diet were actually causing inflammation in my body.  Ironically, I grew up on a dairy farm.

Over the last few years, I have struggled to keep dairy out of my diet – there are milk products in so many things!  When I can keep it to a bare minimum I feel so much better.  I’ve made strides at incorporating vegetables a bit more vegetables in my diet.  But I often derail and have some days were the main things I eat are not healthy and can often include dairy in them.

The other big hurdle AND was the starting thought of this post, has been trying to find good advice and guidelines to make sure that I’m getting what I need.  My arthritis has been in a “remission” since my 20’s but I do get some swelling when I overdo things, either from physical exertion and from overeating crap.

There is much debate about paleo and other diets that may be best for auto immune conditions. None of which I have been able to follow.

I would hate to think how much time I have wasted in my life reading magazines, books, and articles about diets.  What would the world look like if we took all the advice and selling of stuff we need to exercise and eat right.  The supplements, the products, the programs.

It makes me crazy and sad.  I’m 45 and I know that the best thing I can do for myself is to stop the insanity of reading, reading, searching and searching for I don’t know what.  The miracle that would fix me.

What I’ve found is I now have a full on desire to go vegan which is a challenge in feeding myself in a way that the rest of my family is not interested in.  I know though that I can incorporate this way of eating, I can feel the joy in it that nourishment can give me.  I have committed myself to step by baby step stopping the insanity of looking to others for the miracle answer to my health and trusting my instincts.

I feel tired in my bones some days from working, caring for young kids, and life but that in trusting myself I will improve my health.

Part of that is limiting in some way the outside messages and voices that I have been reading every day for years.  There is so, so much competing information, some of it good and a lot of it horrible and self serving of those looking to profit.

Honestly this feels so new and daunting.  I will use this space as a way to not just keep myself accountable but to share my learning journey towards a saner, healthier, and more compassionate life.