As I revise this post, I realize I am writing it to a couple of people I love very much and sometimes worry about. I don’t think everyone needs to drastically change their eating habits. I share my story with the hope that the people who do need to change, won’t wait until it’s too late.
Dieting and health resources don’t talk much about how extremely difficult it is to change. Many of them give you all these happy success stories, but they don’t tell you lunch may bring you to tears (true story). They don’t tell you that before you feel amazing, you often feel terrible. I think most people leave this out for two reasons 1) they don’t want to scare you 2) they block it out and forget.
I’m talking about this today for three reasons 1) realizing the terrible part is mostly temporary and totally normal motivated me 2) remembering the struggle keeps me on course 3) misery loves company.
As I mentioned, I radically changed my nutritional plan when I started acupuncture for health reasons. Over night I quit consuming processed foods, excess oil, refined sugar, refined carbohydrates, beer, canned tomatoes, orange juice, dairy, and drastically reduced meat consumption. The first several weeks I was extremely strict so my body could heal and so I could kick my biological food addictions (now I am less strict with certain foods).
For long time, I was prejudice against obesity. I never understood why people couldn’t just eat healthier or eat less.
I thought as long as I maintained a certain body type, I was fine with food. I never thought of myself as an emotional or compulsive eater. Quitting unhealthy food made me acutely and suddenly aware of my addiction and my denial (read about caffeine addiction here). Refined sugar and fat were crutches. Quitting made me even more irritable, moody and frustrated. Basically, I was miserable. My reaction to something so simple as a change in diet.
What kept me from giving up? Seriously? I knew I would feel almost immediately sick. Maybe this isn’t true for you, but everyone who quits has their reasons.
Sickness saves me as I walk past bakeries, pizza parlors, the candy aisle, decline greasy appetizers, beer, etc. Now, I can eat small amounts of oil and sugar, but my taste for it has completely changed.
Mourn the Loss
It’s okay to scream inside when you pass your favorite bakery. Sit on your couch, watch sad movies, mope over your kale and sweet potatoes while you stare at your phone and think about dialing the pizza place. When your coworker or roommate orders greasy food, leave the room. Call a supportive friend. Splash cold water on you face. Go for a walk. Cry in the shower.
Relationships, deaths, jobs, moves, and all major life changes may require a period of mourning. Eating is one of the most intimate and integral parts of your life–of you. For me, finally seeing it this way allowed me to grieve over my food and the person I was with it.
New Life, New Love
When I was tired of grieving I found a new place to funnel my anxiety, my moods, even my celebrations. I meditate/pray and exercise. I cook and bake more than ever before. I read books and blogs, watch documentaries, and talk to everyone I know about health and food. I write this blog with Erin. I’m inspired by you.
What would you say to a loved one struggling with an unhealthy lifestyle?