The Journey to Health
Everyone’s journey to health will begin a different way. Mine began five years ago after our son, Jeremiah starved to death. He was nineteen gestational weeks but only the size of a twelve week old.
Changing how we think about the food we put in our body is difficult. We like the foods we have been eating. We are comfortable in the flavor and cooking techniques. We have our favorites and don’t want to give them up.
Since our experiences color our lives, I thought I should share a bit of my journey as we learn together about the connection that food has to our health. I do this so that maybe you can be influenced enough to change your dietary habits before you suffer as much as I have. I want you to experience a life brimming with health and vigor. I want you to watch your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren grow up in health not illness. I pray my story will help you.
Although we had been farming for some time we mostly were doing it to have something better. A chicken with good flavor, firm texture that cooks up juicy, not pumped with growth stimulants or raised in overcrowded conditions has got to better than what was commercially available. Just makes good sense. That the chickens got extra vitamins from the grass and bugs in the pasture was just gravy. How food could benefit and change your health wasn’t really on our radar except in a general way that more vitamins are always good.
How food could be detrimental to your health was equally vague in my mind. I had the most boring health history. I was healthy, my siblings were healthy, my parents were healthy, the birth of my daughter was uneventful, I had never broke a bone or needed surgery, and only rarely had a cold. Although I knew people could be allergic to peanuts, strawberries and shellfish, I only knew one person that was sensitive. I grew up eating a fair amount of hotdish (casserole), junk food cereal, got through college on soda and chips, ice cream was a staple yet I remained naturally thin and in good health. So I didn’t feel like I needed to “get healthy”. We just wanted better food because it was “better”.
We had been eating grassfed beef, pastured chicken and eggs, pastured pork, etc for several years as a staple. Although I cooked it pretty much the same as I had always cooked. A typical day would have cold cereal with raw milk for breakfast, cold cut sandwiches on store bread for lunch, hotdish with grassfed beef, green beans and cream of mushroom soup from a can. But everything changed drastically with my pregnancy.
Jeremiah was planned five full months before he was conceived. We announced our pregnancy when I was just a few weeks along and within days I had the worst morning sickness I had ever experienced. With my other two it just wasn’t that bad. After a few weeks we suspected the baby was allergic to something I was eating and we started to cycle foods out of my diet. We couldn’t find a correlation so we got more drastic and started taking foods out by the major categories. No dairy. No eggs. No wheat. No this. No that.
I continued to have strong reactions at every meal. By strong reaction I mean irregular, racing heartbeat, trouble breathing, cloudy thinking, then I would pass out for several hours. I would wake up feeling better but hungry. If I could wait a while to eat then I would feel decent and get some work done. But eventually I was so hungry, I had to eat and it would start over again. We continued to take foods out of my diet. Finally, we found I could eat watermelon and popcorn and feel pretty good (relatively) after meals.
But, I knew I was real sick. There was no doubt in my mind I would never make it through the pregnancy. If I did I would die in labor. I could hardly breathe and barely had strength to walk to the table for meals. I only hoped to make it long enough for the baby to be born.
During all this time, I continued going to the Farmer’s Market each week to sell our stuff. Matt would load up the truck and trailer, friends at the market would unload it. I would sit and visit with customers and serve them if they wanted to buy something. Then friends would pack up the trailer, I would drive home and Matt would unpack it. I would go to bed until the next weeks market day. I had no hope nor did I have any energy to look for solutions.
While I was glad to eat something, watermelon and popcorn were only a stop gap not a solution. You will starve to death on a diet of watermelon and popcorn. I knew we were starving. I could only figure that somehow the baby was allergic to ALL foods. His reaction was making me so ill. I just had to do my best to get through this.
I couldn’t. My water broke when I was at a major function selling our chicken. Why I bothered to go still is a bit of a mystery. We just felt like I had to. The ultrasound reveled he had died. I delivered at home about a week later. I knew God spared my life. I didn’t know why.
So life moved on. I got a bit better. Well enough to think I would heal. But I didn’t. I stayed sick. We didn’t know what to make of it when we realized it wasn’t the baby. Something was wrong with me! It was very discouraging. Occasionally despair would flow over me in waves.
I stayed sick for more than two years with some kind of food related illness before the answers started trickling in. But that’s another story for another day.
This is the story of the catalyst that changed the way I thought about food forever. My paradigm had shifted just enough to be life changing.
What will it take for you to evaluate your food habits?
Each week, I plan to share with you what I have learned since that desperate time when there were no answers and no hope. Don’t think I have the ultimate solution. I am just on the journey. . .
I invite you to learn along with me.