I grew up in poverty. We ate what we could afford, knowing nothing about nutrition. So I ate breads and cereals for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch (we could not afford school lunch), afternoon snack of wheat chex-like cereals, dinner of breaded fish sticks and tater tots. Vegetables came in cans. Fresh fruit was only for special occasions like birthdays, and strictly doled out in equal measures by my mother.
It was all we knew and could do.
Then I got out in the world, and fell in love with exotic cooking. I watched cooking shows constantly, whipping up things in the kitchen, making up for lost time. Cream of Roasted Red Bell Pepper Soup. Steamed Tuna and Glazed Asparagus in Steamy Paper Pockets. I got lots of kitchen toys and had a blast feeding friends, drinking wine, telling stories. Breaking bread and sharing vino with friends. It was magic.
At the same time as all the good food was going around, my periods were getting worse. I had always had trouble with heavy bleeding, lots of pain, and crazy PMS. I felt like I only had one good week a month.
As I worked with western doctors and acupuncturists, it became clear that I needed to substantially alter my diet — forever.
I felt the carpet – perhaps a magic carpet – being whisked away from me. And I was angry. I had put so much effort into learning how to cook to make up for that blank space in my kidhood. I loved exotic cooking. Now I had to face the reality that I needed to eat more simply in order to bring my body back into balance.
I felt something dear and cherished and fine – something entirely of my own making – was being taken from me. It was. And I needed to accept the fact that things were changing. I wasn’t very good at that, at first.
I’ll write a lot about healthy eating and food as time goes on…but for now, I’ll say that I went through many different diets, tried lots of different things and came to several important, and health-improving pieces of self-knowledge:
* I have Celiac Disease. This means I cannot eat gluten. If I do, my immune system gets over-taxed, and I’m less able to stay balanced. I have to read every label of everything I buy to see if it has wheat in it. It takes a lot longer to shop these days. Potlucks, which are in abundance in Hawaii, are a real problem. I can’t ask everyone what’s in their dish. I usually eat before I go.
* I am a Type O blood type. Type O is the oldest blood type, present in humans *before* agriculture. This means my body has no use for grains or dairy (both invented with agriculture), so it’s consistent with Celiac Disease. In fact, 75% of all celiacs have Blood Type O. I focus on eating an ancient person’s diet – meat, green veggies, and fruit. No starches, no dairy.
There’s a lot more to my diet, but with just these two pieces of information, I was able to reduce the inflammation in my digestive system, and improve the strength of my immune system. I haven’t had a cold in years.
A Breaking Point
Changing my diet was a significant factor in leaving Silicon Valley. It was not practical to eat the way I needed to eat, and work the kind of schedule and live at the pace I was living. I never sat down to eat, grabbed whatever and kept going.
But now I had to become quiet when I ate, mindful of what I was putting in my body, caring for my body. I had never done this before, and it terrified me. I didn’t want to change my diet, but I did. I did it kicking and screaming. It wasn’t pretty, and it was part of the reason I was getting divorced from my second husband. I was beginning to shift into the new me, and I didn’t want to go. I could barely stand me; I can only imagine how it looked from outside of me.
I changed my diet anyway because I felt I could not go through another month with so much pain.
Over years, I got rid of all my exotic cookbooks, and kept the ones that focused on my types of foods. I learned Traditional Chinese Medicine’s view of food from a wonderful book called Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford.
And I began to look for a way to work at home, so I could be near my kitchen and eat the way I needed to, in order to heal. My body and its relationship to food was a huge factor in the early days of leaving Silicon Valley to an unknown life.
What is Your Relationship to Food?
Are you aware of what you are eating?
What did you have for breakfast this morning?
Is it right for your body at this time in your life?
At this time of the month? At this time of year?
How would you find this out, if you wanted to know?
Let me know what you think…