Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Nourish~Three Books Cooking Up Change

For the past six months I've been really concerned about food. After having a second child and turning 30 I've noticed some changes within myself. Less tolerance to certain foods, less sleep and exercise left me feeling worn. So a few months ago I tried the 21-Day Cleanse. It was intensely hard. Getting off of dairy, gluten, sugar, and meat was a huge change to my diet, which had consisted of all of them. I bought a list of all foods on the diet, but didn't take into account the time for preparation, mostly during lunches because I had a baby and lunch needed to be fast. So for the majority I stuck to what I know I like, beans. Usually fixing them with a Tex-Mex taste-a lot of beans, jalapenos and rice.

 It became very boring, very fast. Then I purchased this book and loved the flavors- reminds me how my parents so often cook. I love using more herbs and broth to get flavor rather than salt and oil or butter. The taste was fresh and earthy. I found at the end of the 21 days, I felt cleansed, lighter and I loved feeling satisfied by food- I found that bread and dairy cause my weight to stay and leave me sluggish. I realized I love eating vegetarian and it doesn't bother me, I also began to see overindulging in white breads helped me clarify moderation.

 I did go back to eating meat, dairy and gluten, but less of it. I found though that after eating without strict moderation I felt so ‘weighted’ is the best way to describe it. Over the next several months I toyed with the idea of going vegetarian for a longer period, possibly vegan. I loved the energy, the food choices, and the knowledge that I was digesting, healthy and purposeful food. I had noticed before the cleanse how my skin had become so red and blotchy over the past several years and during the cleanse my skin cleared and felt soft.

 Then a few weeks ago my daughter got a diaper rash, but at the time I thought was a yeast infection because it was recurrent. My son also had a cold at the same time. I am not sure if other parents get overwrought when their children get sick and it seems to last too long. I always feel there must be some outside source-something I can change in diet, washing, etc. that will stop the turntable of sickness. Never mind that diaper rash is common and children typically get 6-8 colds a year and can last 2 weeks plus. I went to my books and online sources and read up on yeast infections in babies. What I came across really changed my perspective and calmed my instincts but heightened my maternal paranoia (have I been doing it wrong all this time, did the foods I gave my children make them sick? hush hush, logic with your 6-8 colds and common diaper rash- I'm being overly protective here:)

When I looked up yeast infections I found several sites on fungal/yeast buildup. I had no idea the level of intolerances fungal buildup can cause. I was under the impression that yeast infections were the extent of intolerance to yeast and sugar. Au contraire. They can cause respiratory infections, chronic pain disorders, skin rashes and breakouts to name a few. I had no idea that certain foods sitting at the grocery store or on a boat traveling half way around the world grow mold faster than others. Now, I understand I wouldn't buy bad produce, but in American don't they throw food away faster than people can buy it? I guess it makes sense that mushrooms are out, but peanut butter, moldy? I always understood that bananas had more sugar than other fruit, but it is fruit and my daughter loves them. So I decided I would just scale down the amount she ate. Luckily I had already budgeted in organic peanut butter because my son ate so much of it - In the Candida Yeast Diet, I found that peanuts have high amounts of fungal growth, and that pesticides harm the body's natural defenses to combat things such as fungal overgrowth. My mother was always so conscious of foods treated with pesticides, or processed foods and I think it's a mindset I've taken too. I want my children to eat real food, not processed, that I want the food they do eat to agree with their bodies, as I am finding over and over again I want the same for myself. And I'm not crazy strict- we eat treats and chips and fast food occasionally. Lately though I've been cooking with more consideration surrounding sugary vegetables and fruits.

Since I live in the suburbs right now it's hard to find locally produced foods, especially grass-fed meats. But this year I would like finding ways to incorporate this into our menu. To buy local and within season. I began reading her blog years ago and found her words so enticing, not to mention environmentally sound. I loved reading about not eating foods for months, the excitement and anticipation of the upcoming season's produce. The tastes of the season! I go to the grocery store in the middle of winter and am able to buy tomatoes. No wonder they are mealy and tasteless. I want to be a part of sustainable foods. I'm saddened by our mistreatment of food (including mine) and the reason for it. To me it needs to be less for convenience- food is for nourishment and health. This documentary so inspired and brought home a lot of my emotions surrounding these topics. I understand how it's cheaper and often necessary to buy cheap. I'm on a strict budget myself, but I read a great article in a parenting magazine that it can be done in small ways. If you eat a lot of one thing, as in my son's peanut butter, buy it organically and the rest buy cheaper. This way the foods you eat most, will be most healthful and most beneficial. Small changes are where it always begins, even if it's a big movement.

These are all things I am trying. I've been trying to find food balance I suppose. I believe we eat pretty well. I take the time to prepare meals and consider what nutrients we need. I feed my kids in moderation. As I turn into my thirties, I want to really nurture my body, my health. I've learned from all these sources that being conscious about food means being conscious about so much more in my life as well. What I eat or don't affects my body as well as business, animals, our earth. The ripple effect. We are always connected. I just feel that nature has a wild perfect ness to it. I want more wholesome, more pure and simple eating. I’m always excited to cook and explore foods and now am on a new quest to see the varied ways simple choices lead to rich health.