In case you haven’t noticed, I’m really into living healthy. Like, really really into it. It’s a huge part of my life and who I am.
I read a lot of books about nutrition and flip through all the cookbooks I can get my hands on. I watch a ton of documentaries about food and the food industry. Going to the grocery store takes me a bazillion times longer than the Average Joe, since I read the ingredients on every thing I throw into my cart. And I wear a FitBit daily, just to make sure I am moving my butt enough.
Yep, nutrition and healthy living is a big deal to me. Yet, I fed my family delivery pizza for dinner tonight.
Does that make me a hypocrite? Does that slice of pepperoni pizza override all green smoothies and long walks I have as a daily part of my life? Does opting to order a pizza after a really long day at work make me a failure in the healthy living niche?
Hell no, friends! It makes me human. And a balanced one at that.
You see, while I believe in my heart-of-hearts that fueling my body on nutrient-dense foods is vital, I believe even more that it is important to practice balance and mindfulness in everyday life so that extremes and restrictions don’t take over my life.
Because they used to. And I had to learn the hard way.
Back in the day, when my family first transitioned into a real food way of living, I went extreme. Big time. I thought that being a “healthy person” was an all or nothing gig. I figured the days of gelato stops on the way home from the beach or family walks to get burritos were a thing of the past and I better just get okay with that.
And I tried to….by obsessing. Obsessing over all the things my family ate or didn’t eat. All the healthy or unhealthy things we did that day. When the obsession was at its worst, I would find myself laying awake a night, mapping out our healthy day to come. Somehow, in my well-meaning intentions to improve our family’s life, I had completely gone off the healthy deep end. I had traded in my unhealthy food for an unhealthy relationship with healthy food.
Pretty soon, in what was supposed to be a beautifully and fulfilling healthy life, there was a great sense of loneliness, stress and isolation.
But I am a lady who learns from her mistakes. Once I realized how unhealthy my obsessive and extreme behavior was, I started rethinking how I was viewing health.
Up until that point, I had viewed health as doing all the right things all of the time and not letting there be room for circumstance, balance or grace. I had lost my sense of right and wrong in so many ways. I had alienated myself and our family from people and events we used to love, merely because the food being offered wasn’t what I’d personally prefer to eat everyday. My daughter (who had inevitably been snuck a processed treat or two by well meaning friends and family members) started to obsess about her opportunities to have sugar, sweets, and pizza. And I was constantly stressed about how to find joy in this new “healthful” way of living. While our food was now healthy, it felt like so many of the new changes in our life were not. It soon became apparent that in my quest to nourish my family and myself, I had forgotten the importance of gratitude, humility, balance and mindfulness in life.
It was time to redefine what “healthy living” for our family meant.
For me, it felt like rediscovering gratitude and humility was an important first step.
When our friends and family prepare a meal in celebration of togetherness with love and kindness in their hearts, how loving and kind is it of me to reject it? Yeah, not at all. I reminded myself that I, too, didn’t always embrace a healthy lifestyle and (even more importantly) I needed to remember that my beliefs didn’t have to be the same as everyone else I love. Now, when I show up to a dinner or celebration, I always show up with a healthy dish to share and enjoy the food that was made of love and generosity (in moderation) without blinking a judgmental eye. The people in my life are amazing and always try to honor my passionate “food philosophies” (as my husband likes to call them) as best as they can, but I always tell them not to stress about what to cook for us. I’m there to enjoy them and food for the soul is just as important as food for the belly.
Next was balance and mindfulness.
I know, in my bones, that my body needs clean real food in order to thrive! However, I eat (at least) 3 times a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. With so many opportunities to nourish my body, how detrimental could an occasional indulgence be? Seriously? I’m not a nutritionist, doctor, or anyone with any formal training to make this conclusion…however, I am a smart and reasonable person. That pizza we had for dinner tonight, was a carefully selected treat from our very favorite pizza joint that makes pizza just the way we love it and was enjoyed with a side of fresh strawberries and raw sugar snap peas. I didn’t have to cook, dinner still got on the table, and my family still chowed down on plant-goodness. It was a treat dinner for sure, but met with a healthy side of balance in those berries and peas. And I got a much needed break from the kitchen.
We are a family who eats veggies and cooks at home, but we are also a family that occasionally goes out for ice cream sundaes. We are a family who fills our lives with movement and nature, but we also deeply value cuddling up together in front of a favorite movie. We are a kombucha-brewing and water-drinking family, but my husband and I will occasionally enjoy beer or a glass of wine when the mood strikes. We are a family of balance, rather than extremes. We don’t believe in “all or nothing” because we are in this lifestyle for a lifetime. We want our daughter learn balance instead of depravation. And we want to be able to live a life we can sustain, instead of trying to be perfect each and every day.
What an amazing awareness to discover, Taesha. I find that so many of the most well-intentioned books, films & blogs are judgemental and presumptuous. Finding true health is a journey of self-reflection and compassion, I think. And not to forget the immense pleasure food brings! So grateful you’re sharing this timely insight.
I’m so glad this piece spoke to you. I think with "health" being so trendy these days, there is so much pressure to be perfect….which is obviously not obtainable for anyone!
Thank you SO much for sharing this! I have been struggling so much with stress and judgy-ness since I revamped the way we eat. Your comment about finding gratitude and humility hit very close to home! Did you have any tricks for snapping yourself out of it when you started to head in that direction? I normally realize I was being an ungrateful pain in hindsight 🙄. Thank you!
I’m so glad that it spoke to you! Whenever I am facing holiday treats or food (whether at a gathering or as a gift), I just smile and thank the person for all the effort and thought that went into the dish. I remind myself that everyone has different priorities and that they care enough about me to make me/buy me something with good intentions. And I also remind myself (often during the holidays) that one meal with foods that I wouldn’t normally eat doesn’t undo all the healthy food I eat allll the time. It just part of living in balance!
Thank you! I needed to read this ❤️
I hope it helps!