My Journey to a Nourished Life

I think it’s so helpful to read stories about how other people have changed their lives through nourishing food. It can be encouraging to see how small changes can really add up, and how we all had to start somewhere - and how no one became a expert on nourishing foods overnight! So here is some of my story:

I’ll begin with some background: I grew up in a mildly health-conscious household (stress the mildly!). We unfortunately basically ate the Standard American Diet (aptly dubbed SAD), though not absolutely brimming with junk food compared to other kids I knew. I started my first diet at the age of thirteen when I suddenly became a self-conscious mess (who doesn't at that age?). I knew nothing about dieting except to eat less. I dropped a few pounds like magic and I thought, “Hey, this is great!”

So throughout my teen years I dieted on and off. I craved junk foods like fast food burgers and candy bars (probably because I wasn't getting any healthy fats and not eating enough in general). As I got older and began to venture out on my own, I also ate fast food more often and indulged in junk sugar way more than before. By the time I was sixteen it was hard for me to stay on a diet for more than four weeks, but eating less still worked for me in the short term.

At this time I made my first step toward healthy eating: a dear friend told my family about the danger of eating hydrogenated oil and trans fats, and I’ve been avoiding those bad boys ever since. Unfortunately, it would be quite some time before I would make any other healthy changes in my diet!

Wedding bells and baby bonnets...

Well, life moved on and I got married. Soon we decided to start a family. I thought natural childbirth would be the best for me and baby, and during my childbirth classes I learned a little more about nutrition (like keeping my protein intake up). This was really helpful, but I still had no clue about healthy fats and how much we needed them. My diet was mediocre at best, but it definitely could have been worse.

After my daughter was born, I again went for eating less as my weight loss method of choice. No specific formula, just cut back on the food (and I tried to ditch the ice cream, which was hard!). This time my weight loss was really, really slow, even though I’d heard weight loss was supposed to be easy when you’re nursing. Yeah, well, not for me. And those last five pounds just wouldn't budge!

Obsession begins...

During my second pregnancy, I was obsessed with not gaining weight like I had the first time around. I would eat very light all day and binge on ice cream most nights. If that’s not a body and baby crying for help, I don’t know what is! But I'd never heard about listening to biofeedback, so these desperate calls for help went unheeded.

After the birth of my son, I picked up Dr. William Sear’s book about family nutrition. Worst. Mistake. Ever. I might as well have read the food pyramid in book format. Saturated fat was portrayed as the evil health villian (well, all dietary fat was on trial in this book). Soy and vegetable oils were on the healthy food list. Right then and there I hopped on the low-fat bandwagon with my whole heart. It was one of the biggest mistakes I ever made.

I lost weight fast (still cutting calories and now cutting fat as well), and I thought it was great. I was 10 lbs lighter than I had ever been! I don’t know why I didn’t notice the other ways this kind of eating affected my life: I was moody and exhausted all the time; often lightheaded and forgetful; and my son was a very fussy baby who nursed just about every hour around the clock. It just never occurred to me any of this could be connected with my diet.

And then I became a Cardio Queen...

Of course, life became hectic and I quickly put all the weight back on. Enter cardio queen phase. Coupled with low-fat dieting, it was like a slow death sentence. I fought my body tooth and nail to get back to my skinny weight. Being thin made me feel like I was a better person. I thought to myself: See, I really do have willpower and determination!

But I was also an emotional wreck, suffering from mood swings, fits of rage, and bouts of depression. I also had a poor complexion, pasty with lots of acne. And then came the intense sugar cravings and I started gaining weight again. What the heck was wrong with me?!?

The Precipice for Change:

That summer I realized my life was headed down the toilet if I didn’t change something. Aside from finding more spiritual direction in my life (which I believe goes hand in hand with a nourished life), I finally picked up my copy of The Schwarzbein Principle and read it thoroughly. I realized I’d been getting it all wrong. So I read more. And more. And more. Then I remembered a close friend had once recommended Nourishing Traditions and quickly read it. That's when I finally started making better choices and reaping the wonderful benefits.

I found so many things when I started eating traditional foods like real butter, whole milk, soaked whole grains and coconut oil. I found it was easier to make changes as time went by - my body was starting to want healthier food instead of junk and sugar! I found out what satiation felt like, physically and emotionally. I found the joy in life again, I found I could be a more patient person, I found I could handle some very stressful situations without breaking down. I am far from a perfect person (and I still battle junk food cravings at times), but I feel a hundred times better than I felt two years ago.

And that is why I want to share with others about how eating the right foods can really nourish you inside and out. Getting the right information and choosing nourishing foods can really change your life completely. And I know this because that is exactly what happened to me.

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  1. Elizabeth, it sounds like you and I and millions of other folks have had similar experiences with diets -- start a new diet, enjoy some initial success, become a True Believer, preach our new-found wisdom to everybody who will listen ... and then start gaining weight again.

    After numerous experiences like that, I'm now a little slower to assume that I've finally found my last and best diet.

    Not to be negative, but how do you know that you won't be disillusioned again a year from now?

  2. Thanks for sharing this. I know how you feel. Some of what you described seems to be some of what I have dealt with. I'm still in the process of becoming healthier with my eating, but I'm getting there!

  3. Jim and Alison, thanks for your comments. I appreciate hearing from my readers! Becoming healthy is most certainly a process, and I don't think of my journey as over in any way. I am constantly learning more and more, and making more improvements along the way. I think sometimes we are just ready to hear things and make changes, and then sometimes we're not (but may be later down the road).

    Jim, I definitely understand where you are coming from. It's so easy to jump on a fad diet and then realize it was just an illusion. One of the reasons I know things are different now is because I am not focused on weight loss. I actually have 10-15 lbs I'd like to lose still, but it's on the back burner because I am far more concerned about my mental and physical health.

    I tried "diets" before and lost weight (and gained it back), but emotionally I just continued to suffer. And it got worse with each diet. I never felt right, I never felt whole. That's what stands out to me most when it comes to eating truly nourishing food. I am now someone who experiences joy and hope in life, instead of only disappointment and misery. Of course I still experience negative emotions from time to time, but it's so much easier to pull myself back up now.

    Another thing is I always felt like my body was fighting me tooth and nail before. My body feels "happy" now, if that makes any sense. It's just an overall feeling of well-being that I've never experienced before.

    So while I'm sure I'll learn more and tweek the way I eat here and there, overall I don't believe my philosophy is going to change: the body requires nourishment from real foods to be happy and healthy.

  4. Hi Elizabeth. I'm so happy I found this blog. I too just read Nourishing Traditions which was recommended to me by a nutritionist that I'm seeing. Today I made my first batch of soaked rice. Tomorrow - homeade yogurt. I think I found your blog when I did a google search for pima milk culture because I was thinking of trying the pima milk. Anyway, I'll have to subscribe and see what you're up to. Like you have, I plan to go through the recipies over time and slowly change my diet and that of my family. I have a 6 and 3 year old.