I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.
My whole I have struggled to make healthy choices for myself. Now when I was younger, I made unhealthy choices because I did not know the difference. I ate what my parents fed me. They ate what the culture promoted. As I became a teeneager, I started to learn about healthy choices, but still I ate what I always had eaten. The typical foods in which the American culture promoted. These foods are heavily processed, with tons of added sugars. The first couple years in college I actually started on this cycle of dieting. My only motivation was to get thin, but all the fad diets never really worked. I would gain the weight back as soon as I stopped dieting. Like many women I associated my emotions with food and comfort. I would even find myself just eating out of boredom.
It was in January 2007 right before I was to graduate from college that I actually started taking a stronger interest in my health. I started researching health, and learned about food and dieting in a different way. It was the beginning of searching for a healthy balance.
I graduated college and went to live in Connecticut to work a theatre company there. This was my first real professional job I had out of college. I was working as a follow spot operator. During the show, when I wasn’t running the spotlight, I had a lot of free time to read. I was talking to one of the actors about how I had been more interested in learning about a healthy lifestyle balance. She suggested I read a book called “Diet for a New America”. I went to the bookstore my next day off and bought it. It was not the subject I thought it was. I believed it was a diet book which would give me advice on dieting. Instead it was a book about the food processing in America, with a main focus on meat production. I realized one day when I returned from the grocery store, I had unconsciously been avoiding meat. For the three weeks I had been reading this book, I had not eaten any meat whatsoever. It was shocking to me realizing I had gone so long without something I had always eaten. This book is was what lead me to become a vegetarian about ten years ago. I just simple decided if I had not been eating meat for three weeks and did not miss it, then I could probably keep not eating meat while I did some more research on the subject.
I wanted to dig deeper into this subject of meat production in America. The facts in the book disturbed me greatly. However, at the time I felt it was important to read other books on the subject. I wanted to make a conscious informed decision. The fact that I was losing weight without trying just added to the confidence I had in this first choice. Then as I read more of the same facts over and over again, I realized the production and processing of meat in America was not healthy or safe. I decided to become a vegetarian.
I had been diagnosed with hypoglycemia at 17 years of age. It is something my mother has too, so I knew you had to eat small meals every few hours to control your blood sugar. Instead of having diabetes, I had low blood sugar. Basically when I would eat a lot of sweets my pancreas would over produce insulin. I had to cut out sweets in high school. I will be honest I have a sweet tooth and this was a challenge for me. So I would eat sugar free sweets, just like my mother had always done. Although I would sometimes not follow that rule and eat sweets anyways. One of the changes I recognized when I became a vegetarian was how my blood sugar seemed more regular. Even if I were to eat a piece of regular cake or ice cream, my blood sugar did not drastically fall like it would have before. I am not saying this was a cure, but it did help me regulate my blood sugar. To this day I do not have as many problems with it like I use to. I can eat an ice cream cone without feeling dizzy or light headed a few hours later.
Now you can be a vegetarian and still be making unhealthy eating choices. Pizza and ice cream are both vegetarian. They are also two foods I love, and I eat them to often. Like many new vegetarians, in the beginning I started substituting dairy products for the meat I used to eat. I have probably eaten my own weight in cheese over the years. Not to mention all the milk I consumed. Seven years ago when I first moved to Boston, I realized I was being an unhealthy vegetarian. It has always been a back and forth. Going on a diet for a while to focus on losing weight and being thinner, and then settling back into old habits of buying cheap processed foods to comfort me. Especially in times when I was going through emotional struggles and depression. It was at this point I started digging deeper into what was a healthy vegetarian. I started dieting again, eating more vegetables. I joined a CSA (community shared agriculture) which forced me to try vegetables I never knew existed before the CSA. I even tried my hand a yoga. I managed to go from a women’s size 12 to a women’s size 6. I lost forty pounds in a year. I was loving my new body, and my new life. Then I met someone who I started dating. All of a sudden my focus no longer was on my health but instead on my relationship. It was easy to fall back into old habits once I changed my focus to something else I valued more. These were my choices though. Then I started to struggle more financially when he and I moved in together. I had changed jobs and wasn’t getting as many hours. At this time in my life I was selling cosmetics at a department store. It was easy to buy processed food because it was cheap. I would buy the groceries since he was paying the utilities. Then he would help out with the other things like toilet paper and laundry detergent when we ran out. All of a sudden the budget I used to buy my food now had to include his food. Pasta became our main staple. Now pasta alone is not bad, but when it is the only thing you eat in a week. It becomes a poor decision.
Now when we broke up and I was only buying for myself it became easier again to start buying more fresh vegetables. However, the unhealthy habits had taken hold in my life again. I had changed them once but had struggled to change again. The motivation had only ever been about how I looked, being thinner. The decisions I have made about healthy food have always been about how I want to look. And the side effect is feeling better.
Now as I have been fasting for 7 days, my motivation for eating healthy food is not about how I look. It is about building a stronger temple. Feeling better than I do when I eat unhealthy foods. I found the sensations the first four days to be the most challenging. I felt like I had the constant munchies. All I wanted to do was eat. I had hunger pains in my stomach, every hour. I found myself reaching for foods only having to stop myself before I unconsciously put it in my mouth. For example, my nephew was visiting the first weekend of my fast. He had left some candy buttons on the floor in his room. I went to pick them up to put in a plastic bag so he could take them home with him. Then I realized I had peeled a button from the paper, and one of the candies was about to go in my mouth when I stopped myself. I even remember asking myself what I was doing.
The food I ate did not satisfy, and the water I drank did not satisfy. The only thing which quieted my growling stomach was scripture, song, and prayer. The past three days as I have continued to press into my motivation for this fast. My motivation is to build a stronger temple for the spirit which dwells within me. And to be obedient to the word.
The one thing which surprised me the most today when I went grocery shopping with my fast in mind, was how many foods I could not purchase. My shopping cart looked more like a garden than a cart of boxes. Other than fresh vegetables or fruit, I got some canned chickpeas, nuts, brown rice pasta, frozen vegetables and fruit, some whole grain oatmeal, and canned antipasto ingredients. Nothing had added sugar, nor was it over processed. I would say most of what I bought resembled the item it was when it came from the earth with the exception of the brown rice pasta which only had four ingredients in it. All which I could pronounce.
For the past three days I have not had hunger pains, but my body does tell me when I am hungry. When I eat a small portion I am satisfied. When I feel thirsty, I drink and feel satisfied. I have even found myself naturally eating smaller portions. I eat not until I am gorged, but until I feel satisfied. I will continue to press further into him as I go through week 2. I will make food choices which serve the temple God has asked me to build.
My prayer is that I find better understanding in myself and the way I make decisions. I want to make the right decision each day and not just because I am fasting. I want to do what I love and not what I hate. I want build a strong temple which will not falter in faith. When the dark storm rolls in, it will stand strong on the rock. I no longer want to live on sand, falling into old habits I know do not serve me when I desire to be the best version of myself. The person who God has made me to be.