During my forty years (and counting) in this body I've had my share of rules around food.
For nine years I was a strict vegetarian. Strict in a: "Is there a chicken bullion cube in that vat of soup? Then I can't eat it." way. Strict in a never once "cheating" in nine years way, even if it meant missing meals on account of my rules.
Even in Russia. And China. And Europe.
And then my family's journey of healing through food led us down some very different – and very helpful – paths.
(More on that over here.)
Months or years when our family did not eating rice. Corn. Cashews. Almonds. The list goes on and on.
And two years Paleo.
And four years gluten-free.
And during those phases I saw remarkable healing that I'll always be thankful for.
For the children and for myself.
Chronic belly aches – gone. Autistic spectrum behavior – poof. Waking every 20 minutes at night for years on end – over. Eczema – resolved. Tooth decay – stopped.
All of these things. Healed. Through diet alone.
Things that were gnawing away at our health and happiness for months, years, even decades.
Through the simple magic of changing what and how we eat.
Thank you, real food, for healing us from the inside out.
But the rules. Oh, the rules.
I'm sorry, that has sweet potato in it. I can only eat winter squash.
What sweetener is that? I can only have coconut sugar, maple syrup, or honey.
Coconut or almond flour. Your choice!
So many rules.
Frankly, I've had enough.
Sometimes I just want my children to have a normal, healthy – and yes – fearless relationship with food.
And I also want that for myself.
For the first time since childhood.
A relationship where whatever you find on your plate can and will nourish you – body and soul – regardless of the carbohydrate load, presence of grains, or the appearance of an unsoaked/unsprouted pecan.
I grew up in a pretty healthy home.
Recalling what we ate versus what my friends' ate makes me think my mom should have had a local nutrition show.
We had a garden; my dad hunted; my mom canned.
Cold cereal? Only on Saturdays. Sugared? Never.
We made our own granola and baked our own bread and the whole-grain-with-nuts-and-fruit "cookies" my mom made were viewed with skepticism by my more mainstream friends. (I distinctly remember one neighbor girl saying, "Those aren't cookies. Those are dog treats!")
On occasion I'd have one of those "popsicle" sticks that came in the clear plastic sleeve. You know: the corn syrup and food coloring kind.
And I survived.
And on occasion we'd go out to eat. There would be white bread and sugary desserts and fried things.
And I survived.
And sometimes we'd order take out fried rice containing who-knows-what.
And still. I survived.
I remember viewing these foods as a rare and glorious treat – never once with a "will it harm me?" skepticism and fear.
My kids are well educated about how food effects us.
They know why our family eats organic whole foods and avoids grains, gluten, refined sugar, GMOs and food coloring.
They know how they feel when they go crazy on sweets for a few days.
They are learning through the quiet practice of listening to their own bodies. Their own wisdom.
But they have also grown up so far with – in my opinion – too damn many rules about food.
Yes, on account of me.
Because it's easy for me to be black-and-white about things like food, and it's spilled over into how I've parented my kids in the kitchen.
I did that.
And I'm beginning to regret it.
Grains are bad.
Sweets are bad.
Peanuts are bad.
Fruit and nuts and seeds are (almost) bad and should be eaten only as occasional treats.
So many rules. All mine.
And so today?
I'm on a new path. Where food=nourishment.
Where we're educated but we know that a treat of grains or sweets on occasion won't be deadly.
Because more than anything I want us all to feel safe and nourished as we fill our tummies.
Not worried or vulnerable or like we're making ourselves sick.
So no, we're not Paleo anymore. We're not on GAPS.
Sure, almost everything we eat is Paleo or GAPS legal, but I'm done keeping score.
We're avoiding foods that we have known issues with (namely: gluten for Lupine and I, and corn for Sage) and we're eating good, nourishing foods at almost every meal.
(Edited to add: Yes, we're also still avoiding GMO's and food coloring and we're still buying organic.)
But we're rolling with the rest.
Because we don't have any health struggles to heal anymore. We're well. Whole. Healthy.
And we're paying attention to how our bodies feel based on the choices we make.
If 90% of our meals are bone-brothed and grain-free and grass-fed and real, the other 10% won't be our undoing.
It's about finding balance in our diet. Maybe for the first time in my adult life.
Oatmeal for breakfast? Go crazy!
A cookie from the coop? Tear it up.
Rice. With. Dinner? Sure. What the heck.
I'm done with feeling guilty when we "cheat". I'm ready to see food from a whole new perspective.
Because more than I want a black-and-white "perfect", healthy diet for my family, I want us all to have a healthy relationship with whatever is on our plate.
And the tone I set around food in the past few years made that a challenging prospect.
And with that? I'm off to make eggs and toast.
With an actual slice of bread.
(Okay, it's gluten-free. But it's still bread.)
Somebody pinch me.
Edited to add: Hey sweet friends. There are a couple of comments on this post that make me think I might have been unclear with my message. May I clarify?
No, we won't be giving up on healthy, organic, homemade food! Yes, we're still eating mainly grain-free, low-sugar, meat-and-veggies sort of meals. I'm simply talking about relaxing the rules a little here at home.
It's about believing that good, homemade food will nourish us. Period.
And that it's okay to bake cookies now and then without freaking about the sugar and the rice flour.
Because I had lots. Of. Rules. And sometimes that sucked the joy right out of our dinnertime.
So no, this isn't a falling-off-the-real-food-wagon moment. It's a finding the sweet spot in good food and letting go of some of the complex rules I've walled us in with.
Does this mean you should change how you eat? Of course not. No more than my homeschooling means I think you should pull your kids out of school.
I'm just sharing my shifting, evolving path with you. It's what I do here. I like to share the journey with you.
Hope that clarifies!