Original Link : https://medium.com/one-table-one-world/my-love-hate-relationship-with-food-e5adea523649

On sugar, carbs, and needing to lose weight after a lifetime of struggles.

Itmay surprise you that I have a love-hate relationship with food since I write about food often, and share food posts, pics, and restaurant outings on my social media accounts. Maybe it doesn’t surprise you if you immediately related to the headline and know exactly what I mean.

I love cooking and eating delicious food. I love the sacramental aspect of food and enjoy food culture (especially history and religious traditions).

What I hate is struggling to find a healthy balance for feeding myself and family, the dependence I have on sugar for energy and comfort food for stress, and my life-long struggle with health and weight.

Chronicling My Struggles

I have a lifetime of food related issues. Starting with being told I was fat from 1st grade on and eating a lot of processed and junk food as a kid.

I wasn’t taught how to eat healthy growing up. I wasn’t told to be healthy for my health’s sake, only to worry about weight for appearance sake. I grew up in the 80s and 90s and received the message that my value as a human revolved around my sexual desirability.

Extreme dieting as a teen lead to weight loss, however, even though I had lost a significant amount of weight and had gotten into shape through weight lifting and aerobic exercise, it wasn’t enough for a culture advertising stick-thin models. At the time, I didn’t realize my ethnicity and body type were never made to look like a runway models or Hollywood stars (nor were most females) and their images weren’t normal or something to strive after anyway.

I recently realized one of my daughters is about the same age, height, and weight I was after losing a lot of weight over 8th grade summer vacation. Upon returning to school I was still told I was overweight. My daughter, who weighs the same as I did, is perfectly healthy and not overweight at all!

Becoming a teen mom and getting married young, rushed me into needing to feed my family when I had never learned to feed myself properly, or have a healthy relationship with food or my own body.

Pregnancy and pregnancy-related depression and exhaustion lead to poor eating habits, stress eating, and sickness. I’ve had 10 children in the past 22 years. Between each one I would try and lose weight and be healthier. I would often lose weight in pregnancy due to extreme sickness, then gain it all back from being ravenously hungry during nursing periods.

My kidneys are permanently damaged due to dehydration in pregnancy (from sickness) and kidney stones, coupled with poor healthcare from doctors during and between pregnancies for my kidney issues. The height of that healthcare issue was having sepsis during my 9th pregnancy and almost dying.

Not everything has been bad, of course. Through the years I did learn to cook healthier, eat better, develop a better (if not great) relationship with my body and image, and learned to see food in a sacramental way. Religious traditions of feasting and fasting have helped me with all of those things tremendously. Also, being a mother and wife means I want to feed my family healthy food, and I know I have to care for myself so I can care for them.

Where I am Now

This is where I’m at now: I turned 40 in April. I’m finished having babies, am prediabetic, have low iron, and in need of losing around 85lbs.

I need to cut sugar deeply from my diet, carbs drastically, lose weight, exercise, and feed my large family healthy, delicious food with a routine of fasting twice a week and for long periods four times a year. It’s a must to continue celebrating with food and passing on cultural food traditions that are valuable to me. Having a food budget plays into the equation, too!

What I’m Going to Do About it All

I’m not entirely sure. Part of my love-hate relationship with food has to do with all of the confusion, fear, misinformation, and brokenness of our food culture in America.

Authorities manage to contradict each other and themselves over time about what is healthy and what isn’t.

Well meaning foodie-type folks like to scare us into thinking we can’t eat anything unless we grow it from seed we harvested from a thousand year old plant (okay I exaggerate) or raised the animal ourselves. We must milk the cow, make the cheese, or even better, become vegan. If we can’t have a homestead, then we spend enough money and shop at the right grocery chains — then we might be okay enough to survive!

Then there are the real issues we have with our broken food industry: Companies like Monsanto and big animal farms that make you worry if you should eat the food for health concerns and ethical ones.

Like can we just sit down and have an honest meal already!?

What I’ve Done So Far

I’m not at a complete loss, more like frustrated about the food culture in our country. One of several reasons my husband and I moved to the Midwest was for a simple, healthy, affordable lifestyle.

We’ve made some good changes in the past 7 years since we moved to Wisconsin from California. But it’s time to make some more.

I do my best to cook meals at home without processed food. We aren’t perfect and I’m not really trying to be. We don’t eat out a lot, but we do sometimes. Again, not aiming for perfection there either. We eat a lot of homemade meals with real ingredients; I’m happy with that.

The kids eat a lot of fruit (Manny and I could do better). We don’t drink sodas often, eat a lot of candy and processed sweets except occasionally, and make a lot of dishes from scratch.

We do eat too many carbs, sugars, and processed bread. We need to eat more fresh veggies. I’d like to grow a garden (we’ve tried and not had much success), exercise more, and have a better system for clean water in our house.

I haven’t added sugar to my coffee or eaten any sweets for 6 days now.

I’m working on meal planning to make sure we eat well all the time.

I’ve made up my mind to lose weight and exercise.

I’ve walked three times this week.

I’m starting now.