I thought I would start off this whole blog thing with a quick game of catch-up. How the hell did I end up where I am today? Why do I even care about any of this? Why should you care either? Well, those are great questions, to which I have a long and sometimes rambling answer:
In the beginning…
I grew up in Bellevue, Washington, in a family that self-identified as “lazy vegetarians”: we ate mostly vegetarian or fish-based meals at home, but if someone else was cooking, then meat was happily consumed. I remember growing up eating baked salmon, homemade whole wheat bread, lots of veggie-filled stir fries, and a salad with every dinner. Without my explicit awareness, we ate a pretty healthy and varied diet of real, whole foods. I remember picking mountains of berries in the summer and helping to turn them into jam in our hot kitchen. I have distinct memories of helping my dad make honey-mustard dressing for the salad and having to stand on something to see everything on the counter well enough.
We grew up eating food from a wide range of cultures; all sorts of curry at our favorite Indian restaurants were a regular Friday night feature; my special-reward food was lentil soup with pita bread from the Mediterranean restaurant near our house; my dad would make his version of Japanese yakisoba or Greek moussaka on demand to approximate some of my restaurant favorites; when guests were in town, we would go get Ethiopian food to share around the table. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was growing up with a foundation of varied, delicious, and pretty healthy whole food meals with influences and flavors from around the world.
Life in the Tropics
My family relocated to a small town on the Big Island of Hawaii when I was 10. This further opened up the realm of food possibilities I was exposed to. Hawaii’s food culture is a delicious mixture of all of ___. When I turned 16 and was able to drive myself to the store,
It wasn’t until early in my college years that I started to shift my eating style to emphasize real foods and a greater focus on the right balance of vitamins and nutrients I needed to be getting to make my vegetarianism truly healthy and long lasting. I slowly started losing the weight I had gained during those intervening years, I was loving all of the meatless meals from all over the world that I was cooking and eating, and I was feeling great…
…Until I stopped feeling so great. I started getting massive cravings for burgers—something I had never even really eaten much of in my life, given my family’s eating style growing up—and smoked salmon and chicken pasta and a whole range of foods that included meat. I was taking the right vitamins and supplements, but I was still feeling hungry all the time. Around this same time period, I had started practicing yoga and learned more about tuning in to what your body is telling you. Apparently, mine was telling me to start eating meat. Hell, it was yelling it.
I decided to stop ignoring my body’s cues and see how I felt if I gave it what it was craving. So I slowly began adding in meat again. I started with small amounts of chicken and fish. At some point I ate that so sought after burger, that enticing, mythical food that had been taunting me for years from TV commercials and restaurant menus—and promptly felt sick as a dog (definitely a story of too much, too soon). For years, I worked on slowly adding small amounts of meat back into my life.
Turning a Corner
Unsurprisingly, I started feeling better. But I had learned so much while in the vegetarian community about conventional animal feedlot practices and the damage conventionally raised meat does to the environment, to the health and lives of the animals, and to our own health when we eat them, that I had a hard time initially navigating the re-entry of meat into my diet. I read everything I could get my hands on that related to nutrition and health from a whole foods perspective. I started to learn more about the impact of sustainably raised, pastured animals and traditional food practices. I learned more about how animals raised the right way have a completely different impact on the environment and our health than their conventionally raised counterparts.
I was introduced to the Weston A. Price foundation, and began incorporating their principles into my life. Suddenly, I wasn’t having stomach trouble eating meat or dairy, I wasn’t getting energy crashes anytime I went too long between meals, my skin cleared up, my hormone health improved, and I just felt better. Throughout this time, I learned more about the ingredients in conventional beauty, bath, and body products, and the toll they take on the body and the environment. So while I monkeyed with my diet, I also started playing around with finding healthier and more environmentally friendly swaps for my bathroom supplies, my home cleaning products, even little things like the kind of notebooks and toilet paper I buy.
Where I am Today
More goes here…?
While I’ve made massive strides dealing with my health issues, I’m still working on my own path towards health and happiness. This blog will be an avenue for me to share what I have tried and learned, what has worked, what has failed miserably, and what I’m learning and trying as I move forward with my education and experiences.