Wednesday, October 30, 2013

my not so gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, grain-free, nut-free, raw, vegan life

Disclaimer: I am in no way slamming those that choose to lead a 'clean-eating' lifestyle.  In fact, I admire it wholeheartedly and am on my own journey towards maintaining a cleaner and healthier diet. I understand there are many cases where people are forced to dramatically change their diet for medical reasons. This is simply a testimony aiming to laugh at the mistakes I have made whilst fumbling through this area.

I have a tendency to be attracted to every idealistic way of living (that falls within my moral framework).  Like most attributes, this has its strengths and weaknesses.  I understand the good sides but for the sake of this post I will mostly be highlighting the not-so-good.  I tend to create a very high standard for myself in all areas of my life and therefore can identify well with the feeling of 'falling short'.   Why is it when I reduce life to a bunch of formulas, my nature is to passionately embrace them (at first) but then to eventually recoil from them? Lets cut to the chase.

To some extent, health and nutrition has always captured my interest, yet it has been in the past year that my level of intrigue has risen.  I remember in my early 20s I would aim to resist the dreaded fats like chocolate and butter yet would have no qualms about indulging in a giant size bag of sugary sweets.    Fast forward and my views on health and what that practically looks like have dramatically changed.  I am genuinely interested in natural health and enjoy learning about new ways to do things,  however this interest can also lead me astray.  Through my explorations I have discovered a huge community of people out there whose lives seem to revolve around meeting the highest level of nourishment possible from every bite that enters their mouth.  They would describe themselves as 'clean eaters' which could accompany all sorts of definitions such as sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, grain-free, 100 % organic etc etc.  My desire to provide my family with healthy food as well as other personal health factors has pushed me in this direction.  Unfortunately these factors have at times pushed me into the grasps of fear.  "Eat this so you can avoid this disease....don't eat that so you can avoid that ailment."  And this is a place I do not want to operate from.  At times, my husband will find me turning into one big ball of knots as I am glued to my iPad googling all kinds of views on natural health and nutrition.  I have found myself despairing over not being able to afford a completely organic diet or certain products that someone has emphatically recommended, or that a certain something isn't available in New Zealand and so on and so forth.  I despair when I can't maintain a level of perfection that meets my standard of living.  "Waaaaa why did I just eat that?!?! Where has your level of discipline gone?" I know my thinking to some of you is probably flat out ridiculous and some of you won't be able to relate to this kind of thing at all.  Trust me, I have my moments of embarressment toward my set of struggles and have to tell myself to relax and not take everything so seriously.  At times I realise ironically that my pursuit of health has slowly become not so healthy.  This passion has now become the root of my pain.  It is STRESSFUL!!! In this world of health there are rules for everything.  Do not use sunscreen (you can make your own natural stuff that is less laden with chemicals), use only glass and avoid plastics, do not buy canned foods, cook with this oil, but not that, take this supplement but only use this brand (which happens to be a trillion times more expensive than all the rest), don't wear the toxic purfume or make-up, eat raw dairy, only buy honey that used heat in the process etc ETC!!!! I could go on and on.  I know, I know I have my moments when I regret even starting this journey since I do recognise the truth in the saying 'ignorance is bliss'.

We live in a world full of do's and don'ts which are most often deep-rooted in fears and even as a christian it is so easy to adopt these without realising it.  I don't want fear to be my motivator for the way I live and I know I am not called to this.  So where does God stand in all of this?  As a christian I want to involve God in every area of my life including this one.  Knowledge isn't the enemy here so I don't think the answer is to 'throw the baby out with the bath water'.  I know that I get myself wrapped up in a knot when I haven't turned to the Author of truth (on every subject) first.  Instead I look to the google god.   I assume that I know what is best for me and my family and create my own set of rules and standards that are simply unattainable.  I have a picture of knowledge as a weighty sword and it is only through His grace that I will be able to have the strength to wield it.  It is from His voice that I want to live from so that when I do wield this sword it will be because the command has come from His mouth.  This is where the peace lies and the fretting dissipates.  The commands that fear dictate result in a burdened, uptight and fearful mother.  This means that there will be a time to employ google and a time to refrain.  I want my children to have fond memories of their mother as someone who was full of life and joy.    It comes back to trust.  Trust that God has my family's health in His hands.  A part in Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts has always stuck with me is when she talks about grace filling the gaps.  Since I enjoy learning about natural health I will remain on this journey.  All the while turning to God and trusting His leading, knowing that when I do mess up or I simply don't know the answer I can trust that God's grace is big enough to fill those gaps.

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