I know there a lot of blogs to choose from, and I feel honored you are here. When I read a blog or website, I always want to know the story behind the person or product. Do I connect with them? Do we have common values? Or is there something here I can learn? Most of the details of my story unfold in the pages of this blog, but here are two shorts essay on my food philosophy and my approach to intentional living, which frames the rest of the blog. On my approach to motherhood and marriage, you can start here and here.
On Food and Health
I have been studying food and nutrition for 25 years, which seems impossible to me, because I barely feel 25. But, in that time, I have seen nutrition trends come and go, many of which seemed backed by good scientific research at the time. I used to buy into all—the fads, the diets, the latest nutrition ‘advice’ I studied in school or from continuing education. But not anymore. Every year, nutrition advice shifts and moves, leaving confusion in its wake as people search for the magic bullet to weight loss or the fountain of youth.
All this study—and experimentation on myself—was fueled by a general disdain of my own body and left me with an obsessive-compulsive desire to be ‘perfect’ in my eating and exercise habits, a condition now called orthorexia, although it wasn’t commonly identified back then. I went through phases where I would go to the gym twice a day, morning and night, or do back-to-back step aerobics and kick boxing classes, or feel extreme panic if I didn’t get in a run. I compulsively weighed my food, checked nutrition facts (fat was the enemy first, and then, years later, carbs, and then animal products) and had a long list of requests at restaurants. I would panic if I found out there was mayonnaise on my vegetable-only sandwich, and often, I just wouldn’t eat. This battle with food and obsession with exercise and being ‘healthy’ consumed a lot of my life and lasted for the better part of 20 years. If I’m honest, it really started even earlier, when I was the first of my friends to get hips, around age 10. The intensity and focus changed over time, but the obsession was constant. I have years’ worth of eating and exercise logs, which I meticulously wrote down each day. Looking back, it was crazy.
And even crazier, I love food. Cooking is my happy place. There is nothing more relaxing and enjoyable to me than spending the whole evening in the kitchen, whether it’s just me and Elie or family or a group of friends. Cooking brings me joy. It always has, and feeding family and friends and strangers and future friends is how I show love.
I realize now that a lot of that obsession and quest for perfection came from a general unhappiness with myself, a sense that I wasn’t quite good enough just the way I was. To tell you the truth, I’m not sure exactly how I changed, except to say that I grew into myself. And Elie had a lot to do with that transformation. Knowing that he loved me exactly the way I am—chubby or thin, long hair or short hair, made-up or clean-faced, at my best or at my worse—helped. True love heals. I also started practicing yoga regularly and I learned to love and appreciate my body and all its curves and angles. I stopped obsessing over eating the ‘right’ foods and just ate food. Real, whole foods. All of it, in moderation. And I learning to eat mindfully, recognizing and listening to hunger and fullness cues, which I had never learned to pay attention to before. The truth is, I had learned how to suppress and ignore them so I wouldn’t want to eat. And now, I eat when I’m hungry. I stop when I’m full, and I appreciate my body for all the incredible things it allows me to do.
I will stop here to say that if you have a food allergy or intolerance or an autoimmune condition related to food, I know those are real. That’s not what I’m talking about here. I have my own experience with food intolerance, which I will share in good time. All of this is a longer, more involved story, of course. But I think it’s a good backdrop for my food philosophy and why I so strongly believe in this message.
So, the recipes and stories on this site will reflect that philosophy. I hope my story helps you understand why. And, if you ever experienced any of these feelings around your body or food, I hope you find a friend here. And comfort to know that you can have a healthy, loving, joyful relationship with food. One that nourishes your belly and your soul.
And if you’re the person who has always had a healthy relationship with food (bravo!), then I hope you are inspired by the recipes and stories I share here. In any case, I’m so glad you’re here.
On Intentional Living
You might also call this section ‘sustainable living,’ but I don’t really like the word sustainable very much, because it feels so ambiguous. Instead, I am intentional about the choices I make for our food, body and home care, baby products, home goods and furniture, clothing, and travel choices. But, I’m not perfect. I think about each choice I make in these areas and I weigh cost and convenience and whether it fits into our lifestyle.
My road to intentional living is much more straightforward than my journey around food, although it started with food. For part of young my life, I lived on a farm. We had a large garden and raised sheep and cows for meat, but I never really thought much about the food from the grocery store. In the early 2000’s, I started reading about animal welfare and our food systems. At first, that research sent me on a path of experimenting with a vegetarian and sometimes-vegan lifestyle. Over the years, that transitioned to being very intentional about the animal products I purchase, choosing ethical and humane sources, and preferably local. As I became more educated and aware of the chemicals and additives in our foods and their potential health effects, I started making better choices there, too, choosing unprocessed food.
From food, my interest expanded to creating a chemical-free home. As I started learning about endocrine-disrupting chemicals in beauty and home care products, I began buying better alternatives or making my own. I try to choose mattresses, furniture and other home goods from manufacturers who source responsibility and adhere to environmental practices. Now that I have Theo, I think a lot about his toys and all the products he uses for eating and playtime and sleeping. On this site, I will be sharing my favorite sources and products for an environmentally-friendly and healthy home.
Since meeting Elie, my concern has expanded beyond just my health and the health of my family. Elie has been interested in sustainable environmental practices for years, and I have learned a lot from him. Now, when it comes to purchases, I also think about the environmental impact and the welfare and working conditions of the people manufacturing those products. The movie The True Cost certainly opened my eyes to the perils of fast fashion and I immediately started altering my buying habits, choosing to purchase clothing from brands who commit to ethical and sustainable production. It’s not necessarily easy to do the research, so I will be sharing my finds here. As a result, I’m buying fewer clothes for all of us, which is also an intentional, sustainable choice, since we are consuming less.
We do our best to compost, reuse and recycle. We try to be thoughtful about conserving energy.
We buy local as much as possible. And when we don’t buy local, we shop small, supporting small business owners who are like-minded in their conscious living philosophy. I can’t wait to share some of my favorite makers and brands on this site, people living their passion and making beautiful things.
As with food, choosing intentional, conscious living is a journey, one that evolved for me as I asked questions and learned more and my heart expanded and my values become more clearly focused. For me, it’s part of what makes life feel beautiful and meaningful. I am doing my best to hold my body sacred, to nurture my family and to keep God’s world a magnificent place for the generations to come.
Take from what I share that which is most meaningful to you–whatever tugs at your heart. Every small step each of us takes to make the world a kinder, more gentle place matters.