I am not sure of how to start this post, but I have had an empty draft in my folder for too long.
Lent begins in just over a week. One year ago was the start to many changes in our lifestyle. When we observed Lent last year and went on a 45 day diet void of grains, dairy, processed foods, meat, and coffee, I began to grow increasingly aware of what we put into our bodies on a daily basis.
The ongoing practice of restraint in what I ate led me to break up my daily habits and become much more aware of what I do throughout the day and how I spend my time.
I read more, wrote more, and questioned more than I had before. I had already begun to simplify and cut out excess in other areas of my life, so what about food? What is all the excess in the stuff we bring home from the grocery store? Is it harmful? Is it necessary? Can I live without that food item?
I knew already through simplifying the amount of household items we owned that it is easier “going without” than I originally thought.
I can’t even remember most of the things we have gotten rid of and certainly don’t mourn their absence. I have enjoyed a more simple and less cluttered house without them.
Similarly, now at times I will recall some of the things we have stopped eating, but I no longer have any desire for them. It isn’t hard to go with out something you know is not good for your body once your focus shifts to all the many wholesome, nourishing, and delicious alternatives.
My hope from this post is not to enlighten you or to prove anything about myself or the decisions we have made about our lifestyle, but rather to encourage you in beginning your own health journey (which has a lot more to it than just the food you eat) and to start or continue to ask questions about your current lifestyle and habits.
Because sometimes even the good habits turn out to not be as good as we thought (or so I have noticed), but often we continue to do them out of convenience, not daring to challenge our safe place in a sea of things we don’t understand or have answers to.
We leave them there to carry on as always, until one day, we see an old image of ourselves and glance in the mirror and notice: something has happened to us and we didn’t even know it was going on.
While this can happen with things like weight gain, wrinkles and blemishes forming on our skin or dark circles under our eyes, I am not solely talking about these physical changes (although they are at times our first indicator of a change), but rather the choices which change us, slowly or overnight or in ways which never occurred to us before.
I want to be asking questions instead of just going through motions until I notice one day that something about me is peculiar and I don’t like it.
what am I really doing?
Where is my energy going?
What am I caring for, giving to, taking from, enduring through, filling up with?
What am I scared to question?
And how much can I give and grow if I am living off of an illusion I won’t question, afraid I will knock and hear only a hollow thump in return or find a rabbit trail that I may die before finding the end of?
I said this was going to be about food; what my family has decided to put into our bodies and why.
The problem is that it’s about a lot more than that too.
Like the hundreds of choices we make every day and how to be intentional about them, even when it doesn’t seem like it’s that big of a deal or it will make that big of a difference.
It’s about a process that is unique to each of us and yet so much the same. Something we all share in and yet have many different views of. It’s about living in a sort of tension, adapting as we go, continually attempting to stay in balance and to hold together so much around us without losing sight of what we value most.
And what do we value? Does our focus need to change? For even that must be questioned.
Through this past year, I have started to see that I am really, very small and yet my actions and thoughts and words are valuable and have meaning and when I affirm others of this, I am affirming myself of the same in as few of words.
I am learning something of humility in a way I never have before and how so many things in life are intertwined and connected and how very far I have to go and how thankful I am to be changing even when it is hard and I fail.
In future posts, I plan on writing specifically about vegetarianism and other areas of our life which are shaped by what we eat. Partly because it is interesting to me to be able to look back and have a record of where we have been, what we have learned, and how we have changed, and also as a challenge to continue the process and not be afraid to make mistakes or new discoveries along the way.
(you can read more about some steps we have made in simplifying our lives in previous posts on my blog here)