Introducing one of our favorite mantras and the inspiration for this blog:
Eat to be Your Happiest Self
At first glance, one might assume that eating to be happy means eating whatever you want.
After all, when food gives us pleasure, what do we usually think of? Something delicious, of course! What we’ve learned, and want to share, is that delicious can mean many things.
Before I go any further, let me just say that while eating anything (or everything, however you want to look at it…..) may work for some people, it doesn’t work for everyone. And it most certainly doesn’t work for us.
Back in 2002, our daughter Kelly was diagnosed with celiac disease and over twenty five other food intolerances. We tried gluten free for a year or so, and then at the advice of our functional medicine doctor, we adopted a grain free and sugar free diet that was designed to heal her gut.
Going grain free and sugar free was honestly one of the hardest things I’ve ever done —-as a mom and as a human being! First of all, because it meant that I had to break up with my lover and best friend – no I wasn’t cheating on my hubby – I was addicted to sugar! I had no idea how much sugar had a hold on me – my mood, my energy, my outlook, and the chronic pain I’d been blaming on my “broken” body. I also didn’t realize how much sugar was feeding the “bad guys” in my gut and Kelly’s protruding hard (distended) belly as well.
One of our biggest hurdles was that with a restrictive diet it’s only natural to feel deprived. Even more so than feeling deprived was the feeling of being different. You can’t help but feel like there’s something wrong with you – like why do I have to eat differently than other people?
For me, there was also another hurdle. That was the mommy guilt. It made my head spin with thoughts like, how did this happen? is this all my fault? The first few days on the diet were horrible. Flu like symptoms settled into our bodies – we were achy, exhausted and nauseous. Let’s just say, we felt worse before we felt better. That made me question everything. I began to wonder if I was being over protective or reaching too far for something unreachable. I wondered, Was I possibly harming my baby instead of healing her? Why should we do this when we are the only ones?
So how and why did we keep going?
The answer lies in one word – intuition. My gut kept telling me to keep going, that it was the right thing to do……
So I began to explore how I could inspire myself to be kinder and gentler with the rules, to feel less pressure and more presence, to lean into the bigger picture of how the ultimate goal was to see Kelly’s true spirit shine. One of my strategies was to show Kelly what I was seeing in her. When she ate the “wrong” foods, foods that irritated her body, she was grumpy and her behaviors escalated. On the contrary, when she ate “right” foods, she was calmer, slept better, and seemed back to her happy self, the one we had glimpses of when she was a baby. Ultimately, I wanted to teach her how to tune into her own body.
That’s when I started saying – eat to be your happiest self. It became our mantra. It was the bridge from eating whatever we wanted, to eating with more purpose.
Approaching it this way also helped me to parent with more faith and trust. It helped me transition away from parenting with my own rules or agendas and into parenting with a style that fostered empowerment. It also helped me learn how to use my intuition as a guide so I could lead from the inside out rather than the other way around.
What we learned is that eating to be your happiest self has very little to do with the pleasure of eating delicious foods and much more to do with the result of eating those foods. Once we learned how to tune into our bodies, we began to understand the food mood connection.
This experience taught us more about the food mood connection than any book, lecture, doctor or coach could ever teach us. And becoming Kelly’s partner on the journey was one of the most powerful things I could have ever done for both me and her.
Through the process, my cooking style evolved from necessity, survival and constant anxiety around what we would eat next —— to a beautiful unfolding of deeper connections with food, my family, my body, mind and spirit. I learned to cook with love, to make something from nothing and to create from an intuitive sense rather than fear of following a recipe just right.
This is what I loved most about the cooking classes I taught in my kitchen surrounded by a dozen other women who all were craving the same connection – connection to each other, connection to their bodies, and connection to the food we ate together. As an autism mom, former Health Coach and passionate foodie, creating community and connection are my WHY. Because it is through connection and vulnerability that we discover deeper meanings around life and our journey in it, together.
So I’ve decided to create a weekly sit down where I will be exploring from a place of curiosity and inspiration, the latest trends and burning questions. I look forward to inviting guests to also share their perspectives, knowledge and inspiration. And of course, answer your questions as well.
So stay tuned, and I hope you will join me whenever you can stop to pause, reset and get re-inspired.
Suzie, GF Guru Mama