Just two weekends ago I was drinking expensive wine and eating delicious freshly cooked food. It was an amazing weekend surrounded by beautiful scenery, awesome people, and with the love of my life. Being away from "real life" helped me to connect with a part of myself that I forget. As I have briefly shared I have had challenges with disordered eating on and off for years (8th grade to be specific). Each time it seems to come on is typically during a time of change, whether it be something that is going on in my life (for example when I had a baby or when I got laid off from my job) or something as simple as the season changing or the holidays. All things 'change' are a trigger for me, and now that I have had time to reflect and be curious over the years I am learning a lot!
Prior to our trip to Sonoma I was feeling some of the "food stuff" (for lack of a better way to explain it) come up. I was thinking so much about what I ate and the amount and is it the right food and will I feel okay? The thoughts were frequent and consumed a lot of my thinking—is it what I am eating or when I am eating or how much caffeine I am having that is making my clothes continue to feel tight? What is the deal? Was I worried about looking a particular way or to feel good and even sexy since I would be around my hubby? I wasn't sure, but what I can tell you is that it was a bit of a challenge prior to leaving and I had to keep telling myself one moment and day at a time.
Today I am curious as I think about our trip to wine country. It was a unique opportunity to go to different events where everything was provided for us—food, drink, and transportation. I didn't have to think about food as much as I do when I am feeding my kiddos constantly (and when it is my job to decide, buy and cook food for the family). I did notice that one big worry that sometimes comes up when we aren't at home is, "will I get enough to eat." This almost sounds silly because of the abundance of food I have access too in reality, but in recent years my food sensitivities have provided it difficult to find something to eat in social settings. It has been a challenge for me and I think a part of why I have a bit of social apprehension. When you aren't sure if you will have food you can eat sometimes you don't even want to go out and you have one more thing to think about. Should I eat or should I pack something or will there be food? And often times I just try not to care, but it is a real variable in social situations and cannot be overlooked.
In fact, last year when I went on the same trip to Sonoma, I was so afraid that they wouldn't have food that I could eat that I packed a lot of food in my suitcase. I had brown rice tortillas and peanut butter and bars and seeds and more. It was a bit excessive. However, after last year's trip I healed in a unique way with my eating-disorder issues. I realized that I would have enough to eat and that trying to have a very restrictive diet was just TOO MUCH for me. And in fact, being restricted was and still can be a huge trigger for me.
To continue on last year's healing for a moment, I came back from the last year's trip realizing how free and able I was to be present with my body and food; I actually enjoyed food again and it was fun. Unfortunately, and fortunately shortly after our trip I completed a food sensitivities test called the LEAP MRT Food Sensitivities test; the diet required me to eat a very restrictive diet. The main focus of the diet was to eliminate foods that I reacted to in order to create healing in my gut. The theory of this test and the reintroduction protocol is that it isn't the food that is causing you to react to the food; rather, it is the state of your gut that matters. Thus, if you eliminate these foods for a while and then strategically reintroduce them you have time to heal and the end result: eat more foods and feel good! I was all about it when I received my initial results and was very dedicated until the holidays rolled around. Once the holidays hit and I had been going strong for weeks it got SO HARD. In short it was a mind F, and I kept feeling like a failure. Each time I would retry to strategically introduce a food I would fail or not be perfect, I would feel so much shame. My nutritionist worked closely with me and basically pulled me from the protocol sometime in January or early February. The message that she helped me understand was I had done enough healing and worrying so much about the process of "testing" foods was actually causing me more harm than the actual food. I was shocked and concerned and worried. How is stopping now a good idea?
Stopping in the middle of the process of the food sensitivity test was a challenge for me emotionally and mentally. Had I failed? Am I not as determined as I think I am to get something accomplished? Over time I realized I had to let go of my own critique of how it went. I was not a failure and I actually did great for a while. To give you a little insight, for a good 6-8 weeks I ate mainly cucumber, avocado, buckwheat, brown rice, turkey, cumin, salt and mango. It was a pretty limited list, especially in the vegetable department.
As I fast forward to right now I ask myself this: did doing the LEAP MRT diet help me heal? I would absolutely say yes. For example, I would get incredibly sick if I would eat oatmeal or an almond a year ago. Now, if I eat a little bit I am okay and my stomach doesn't blow up. Also, the summer of 2015 I couldn't eat a salad without getting very sick and the summer before that everything I ate needed to be either cooked or blended. It was awesome to have your food blended or cooked in the heat of the summer (or maybe not so much). And you wonder why I felt restricted, angry, confused and more. The good news is that this summer (2016) I ate salads without getting sick and it was glorious! It isn't perfect, but each day I am learning more and more. This gut healing is a journey and isn't ever going to be perfect. So I will lean into that and try to do my best regarding what I need each week.
Reflecting on these eating issues brings me back to the recent weekend away in wine country. This time I knew there would be food that I could eat and I had a lot better trust and lack of worry that I would actually have food to eat. This freedom and trust led to a heightened awareness of the present moment. I was not thinking about what next for food or if I was eating enough of the right food. I was enjoying each moment that I was presented with. I was also reminded that what feeds me isn't food, but rather being connected—when I am connected to others it is strongly correlated to when I thrive and do well. I absolutely LOVED being with people in an environment where I could be 100% me. I was in a group of people that knew nothing about me. Thus, there weren't any pre-conceived ideas about what I am, what I stand for or anything. And that was amazing. I felt grounded in me. I was confident, present, and so grateful for this space away. In fact, I had no idea at the time how much of an impact being away and in this situation would be for my healing heart. I also think it is important to note, my stomach was a bit off because of the unique food I was eating, but I made it through and having the experience was healing to all of me, my mind body and soul.
When I got home I felt a huge sense of sadness. And yes, it might be the amazing wine or being with my sexy husband that I was missing, but when I look beyond the expensive wine and experience I know in all of my heart these things:
1. CONNECTION is a huge part of my happiness, and truly all of us humans walking this earth. Of course we all need varying degrees of connection and different things work for different people
2. Not having to think about food is HUGE! As a mama and the chef of the family, sometimes that is all I am thinking about. It feels like there isn't an hour that goes by where I am not planning the next meal. Additionally, I SUCK at meal planning. And I mean really bad. I used to be good at meal planning when it was just the two of us, but with kids and picky eaters I just seem to feel off. If I make something they will like, it is lacking the vegetables that I like and if it is something I would eat, I need to have something in addition that they would eat. You get my point.
3. Space. Having space for real life was healing. Sometimes being away makes you appreciate all that you have. And for me, spending time with the love of my life helped me realize why I am doing this crazy family-life with him. At the foundation of it all, LOVE!
How are things now that I am back? Well, to say the least, the first week I felt a bit tired and spacey. I was a little scattered with a few things that I am starting in my own work, not to mention we have a lot of fall-calendar fun happening that is keeping us busy. Despite all of this I am trying to fill up my heart with gratitude, faith and love. And most of all I want to keep it all going with curiosity surrounding each of my moments and days.
Yes, the eating stuff seems to be like a light switch. When I am home and back in charge of everything my eating issues are close by, sometimes closer than I would like. I wonder if I need to organize my house differently or why it keeps coming back. But I know deep in my heart that it is because eating issues and thought patterns and even behaviors are what I know. And I also know that CHANGE is hard. When we resit to change we are afraid of hurting and being in pain. This is a lesson I have learned in yoga, and in particular with my studies with Rod Stryker. And because of all of this, when I heal it feels amazing because I am free and feel more like myself than every. However, I think there is something deep inside that knows that change will be hard and is scared and so much more. Thus, I must carry on. I must share this now because maybe, just maybe I will inspire myself and others to keep showing up. To know that your dark side is there to teach you and that you can keep making more and more choices that will align with you and you can and will thrive. I know I can create new patterns that change the old patterns and I know I can and will continue to feel better and heal.
That is it my friends. I do not have any amazing conclusions from this trip except that I know that I can heal even more. I feel called to share even more and I feel called to keep showing up to my life. There is a lot going on in the world right now, but what we what we can control are the choices we make and how we react to it.
In love, light and so much gratitude,