Lately I've been kind of obsessing about food, and not in the usual way. I guess the juice fast really got me thinking for the first time about what I put into my body and how it affects me. What I've always known to be true (you eat junk, you feel like junk, and you get more junk in your trunk) is manifesting itself to me now more than ever. It seems like every single thing I eat affects me almost instantly, which is probably the main reason it's always on my mind.
I am, by nature, a junk food addict. I grew up on delicious homemade baked goods, white bread, Cheetos, pop, cookies, etc. I honestly never thought about what I ate, and I never needed to. I was a skinny ninny. It wasn't until middle school that a well-intended, health-conscious friend began pointing out the evils of my diet. However, I didn't care. Why should I, when I felt and looked great (besides the occasional headache)? If anything, I wanted to be less skinny. I was always self-conscious of my small frame, feeling like a little girl as other girls my age were sprouting upward and outward and getting curves I would just never have (until much later). High school brought a new dynamic to my unhealthy diet, with off-campus lunches, a car, and money in my wallet. I discovered fast food and a passionate love affair began. Still, though, I was skinny, and I was getting curves in the right places so I was beginning to love my body. Why shouldn't I eat whatever I wanted? My mom and sisters would walk in on me eating a second lunch after school each day, usually consisting of a corn dog, chips, and Fudge Stripe cookies and say, "One day that's gonna catch up with you." And I would obnoxiously take a bite of my cookie and say, "Then that's the day I'll worry about it." Despite my figure, I was growing increasingly tired each day and my headaches were occurring more frequently. I attributed this to puberty and newly prescribed antidepressants.
It wasn't until after I graduated from high school that I began to gain weight. I finally hit 100 pounds and gained the typical "Freshman 15," even though I was still living at home. I lived on fast food. And even though I was beginning to get stretch marks in places and some rolls in my stomach that I really wasn't happy about, I was still a size 4 and wasn't complaining much, other than wanting to sleep literally all. day. long.
And then I got married and pregnant, and pregnancy + a diet of strictly deep fried foods and sugar don't mix well. I gained 50 pounds, lost some of it after having my daughter, then got pregnant again and gained 80 more. EIGHTY. That was 10 years ago and I still have not lost it all. In fact, I've gained back all that I lost over the years and I'm the closest I've ever been to that second pregnancy weight than I ever have been since having my son. And that is a terrifying, depressing thought. The weight, though, as much as I hate it, has become secondary to my health when it comes to the physical effects of my horrible diet.
Over the past 10 years my headaches have increased by an alarming amount. After a solid year of unexplained nausea, I was tested for Celiac. The blood test came back positive. My doctor had me go off of gluten for a month before having an endoscopy scope of my insides done, which I now know was stupid for 2 reasons: 1) You need gluten in your system for the scope to see it and 2) a month probably wouldn't do anything anyway. Needless to say, the scope and biopsy found no signs of Celiac, but showed definite signs of GERD (acid reflux), which would explain the chronic heartburn, nausea, and stomach pains, which were sometimes so severe I was doubled over in the fetal position, crying. When I was diagnosed, the gastroenterologist told me it could be diet controlled. I went to my regular doctor and got a prescription for Prilosec. Such an easier fix. When that wasn't enough, I had her add another one. Now I could still eat whatever I wanted without the pain and heartburn. But the nausea still came sometimes, and my headaches persisted.
Fast forward to now. I have begun seeing an almost instant physical reaction after eating, whether it's a headache, nausea, or other digestive issues I will spare you the details of. For a long time I attributed this to sugar, and the harder I tried to stay away from it, the more addicted I felt, the more helpless I felt in abstaining. But then I began to realize it wasn't just the sugar. It was all the garbage I was putting into my body, and all the good stuff I wasn't putting in. Since then I have been educating myself on diet and health and what my body needs to function at its peak capacity. I want to feel good. I honestly don't remember what that feels like. Of course I want to lose the weight and be skinny and look good in clothes and not cringe every summer when the pools open up, but that will come. Right now I want to wake up with no headache. I want to come home from work and not want to crash in bed. I want to go a week without random nausea. I want to be an example to my kids, who are already showing my propensity to eat all things that taste good but are not. I fear for them. And I fear for me.
And so I am determined to change. I have resolved to change the way not only I eat, but my family as well. I am going to get healthy. How will I do this? I will tell you eventually, in a third installment.