A blog about intentional living.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Intentional Living = Intentional Eating

Teddy and me, eating berries while camping with family in California.

Over the years, my meals have been dictated by different things; sometimes I eat to fuel, sometimes to detox, and mostly I eat simply because I am hungry. No matter the occasion, food is always around. It is always necessary, and what we eat is often a battle.

Last year, my husband and I decided to move to Idaho from California. We now live about 25 minutes west of Boise, and we will probably never move back. Recently, we traveled to California for a visit, and upon our return home, we both looked at each other and said, (almost in unison) "I don't miss California." Be it the traffic, the pollution, the hurried public, the crime, whatever it is, we aren't in a hurry to visit again any time soon. Of course we miss our loved ones, but not so much the location. What does this have to do with food? Well, whenever I'm immersed in thoughts about my previous life in California, I am led on a mental journey through the changes we've made in our lifestyle since moving. I am faced with the realities of how stressful the initial move was, but also, how incredibly UN-stressed we are now in general. And as a result, I am beginning to really see the connection between how a stressful lifestyle affects our mental health, not just because it is stressful, but because it affects how we EAT! Yes, a high stress, fast paced lifestyle totally affects how we plan and prepare meals, and what we eat greatly affects how we feel on a day-to-day basis. So I'm getting a better understanding of how what we eat intertwines our intentions for how we live. For example, now that we've adopted a simpler lifestyle; budgets and gardening allow for more raw, organic, and junk-free foods. Being at home allows me the time to create dishes from scratch. Evenings outside give me time to pick and harvest package-free produce, instead of buying at the store. And because I have taken the time to learn and create space in my life for canning, I am able to preserve some of that food to use over winter.

When I think of California and our reasons for leaving, I am often met with ideas behind intentions. We wanted a simpler life. We aren't fans of the major hustle and bustle that modern living often revolves around. We both agreed that it was important for me to be a stay at home mom. We wanted to do that for our children, and to live in California as a single-income family would have meant sacrificing things that we really weren't willing to sacrifice. To live where we are now, we still make sacrifices in order to uphold our single income household, but we give in different areas. And we are ok with how we live here.

The relationship between how we fuel our bodies and how we fuel our hearts is often united. When we are intentional about what we do with our time, we can make better food choices, we feel better and healthier, we have more energy to look after our families, and we are happier. Its circular. On the flip side, when we are rushed and stressed, we have less time to devote to our diets, we reach for packaged junk, we under eat or over eat, we have less energy, and we feel inadequate because we can't do all the things we want to do. We get sick, we hurt, we are fatigued, and we can't take care of ourselves, our homes, or our families. Circular. Intentions and food. Bodies and spirits.

When we slow down and make choices based on the needs of our bodies, the thoughts in our minds and the feelings in our hearts will lift. We will be fueled and capable of doing the day's work in a way that will serve ourselves and our loved ones. When we get caught up in the rat race, always in a hurry, hitting the drive-thru on our way to meetings and appointments, we sell our bodies short, damaging them and setting ourselves up for tired afternoons, sugar crashes, crabby evenings, and restless sleep. We will do this day after day, until we are so worn out and torn down that we eventually crumble. Emotionally and physically drained, imbalanced, we will fall down into a heap, plagued by fatigue, and sometimes depression, unwilling to say how we feel, but dying inside with the only thought of "I can't."

I can't do this anymore.

I can't be everywhere at once.

I can't make everyone happy.

I hate myself.

I am inadequate.

I am tired.

I don't know how other people do it.

....And that last one, that's the kicker. "I don't know how other people do it." How many times have you looked at someone else's so-called life on the internet and thought "How do they do it? What am I doing wrong?" Well here's the quick answer...they don't. They DON'T do it! They have bad days too, they have dirty houses and laundry, and screaming children, sleepless nights, and frozen lasagna for dinner! I promise! And if they don't, then they are either lying, or they are miserably trying so hard to keep up with their image, that they never slow down enough to enjoy their blessings. And that's sad. Do you really want that? I don't.

We all show our best side on social media. I know I do. It's not intentional. It's just the way our brain works. We could have ten bad days in a row and not post a single thing, and then BAM, we wake up on the right side of the bed, we randomly have time to do our hair and makeup, the house is miraculously clean, and the next thing we know, we want to share how awesome we feel. I don't know that it's about showing off, or bragging rights, so much as it has become a part of our culture to want to share when things are going great. And I can't speak for others but I know for myself, that when somehing feels good, I want to inspire other women to feel good too. And maybe we aren't doing it right, or maybe there is no right way to do it, but that's beside the point. The point is, when you look at someone's social media feed, you are only seeing a glimmer, a tiny fraction, of their so-called life. It's only the parts that they want you to see. And yes, for many of us, how we view others has a direct effect on how we live our lives, what we strive to be, and (gasp) what we EAT?! Yes, because remember? It's circular. Feel good, eat good, feel good, eat good.

Moving on to another source of our unintentional habits. TV! Now, don't get me wrong,  I totally watch Hulu and Netflix, but I do so carefully, and I try to avoid exposing myself to things that don't align with my beliefs or morals. And one thing that is tougher to control than the actual show you're watching, especially with cable, is the ads! There are about seven billion things I can list that I dislike about TV ads, but I'll just name the pharmaceutical commercials because to me, it's the most important topic. Every other commercial is for some kind of prescription drug that is going to magically cure all of your problems. Never mind looking at your diet or lifestyle to figure out why you are fatigued, can't sleep, have skin problems or inflammation, just take this pill! It'll cure you! So no wonder we are all living under the pretense that pain should be ignored. Back ache, arthritis, tendonitis, ehh! Just take a pill and move on with your day! Every ad wants to make sure you know that you can "keep living your life" without the symptoms of whatever ails you. But really, isn't it deeper than that? Our bodies were created in perfection. That's not to say that any one body is perfect, but the way they work and how the parts interact with one another and their environment, it was all created with a perfect plan. So why would we doubt that? If your body is aching and tired, it's probably best to listen, to figure out what it's trying to tell you. Rather than slap a band-aid on it and continue pushing through, worsening the problem and damaging your health, let's get to the bottom of things. And you'd be surprised at how many problems can be solved by simply changing the way you fuel your body. If we placed less importance on always being the wealthiest, the fastest, the prettiest, the most successful, etc, and more importance on living a whole, centered, and balanced life within our means, we could accomplish our food goals and close the circle.

This constant striving to live better than or as good as the person next to you is where we are failing to thrive. Older generations lived in a more streamlined village mentality where members of the community helped others who were struggling, and people accepted help because they knew that when the time came, they would help someone else, too. Life wasn't about  being the best, it was simply about surviving. These days, surviving isn't good enough. We have to be the best, do the best, drive nice cars, buy big houses, and then make more money to pay for it all. It's OK to live more simply. To slow down. To have less and be less stressed. In fact, it's more than OK. In my opinion it's ideal. Maybe not for everyone. Some people thrive on stress and thats OK, if it makes them happy. Some people don't want kids or a family, and that's fine too. But for those of us who want a deeper connection to our kids and spouses, who want to feel better every day and who want to be less edgy, irritable, and tired; maybe it's time to look at our intentions. What are they? Do we even have any? What are we exposing ourselves to.. on tv, social media, and in social situations. Do we like it? How does it make us feel? Do you feel good after scrolling Facebook or does it leave you with negative thoughts? Does your car payment run your life? Do you have time to cook healthy food and spend time with your family? A lot of us know we should eat better. We already know how it will make us feel. But we consistently "don't have time." And I think by living a life of intention, you can make space in your life for those priorities.

Obviously life is going to happen, there will be frozen lasagna nights and days when you don't even have time to shower, let alone cook a decent meal. But maybe there are some basic changes that we can make as a community, to help each other out. I think simplifying our lives and letting others know that is OK to simplify theirs, that might be an easy first step. I am constantly growing and changing as a mom and a wife. My intentions are often changing too, but I've recently solidified that food is a priority. It's an anchor for our well-being, and my life revolves around it. It may not be glamorous or one size fits all, but it works for me and my family. So figure out what works for you and try simplicity on for a while. See what you can cut out of your life to make room for more important things, like healthy snacks and fueling breakfasts. If you are always cutting corners in the morning, and crashing in the afternoon, then breakfast may be where you need to start. Set an intention for your morning. Take a break from your emails, texts, and social media to give yourself an extra five minutes to prepare something energizing. Not just a coffee and a granola bar but maybe some protein and fiber. Eggs and veggies, or toast. Whatever works for you. Baby steps. Go from there and see how your circle of living changes. When you change what you eat, you change how you feel, and from there, your actions are born.

I don't have it all together and I probably never will, I still  eat junk food at times and I am a full-blown coffee addict. I may not be the best at disciplining myself when it comes to food, but I am trying. And I'm learning new things every day, so I aim to use social media to inspire and motivate others to do the same. That being said, I hope this resonates with someone. If you enjoyed reading this please let me know. I have other blog posts in the making but this one I felt was on my heart and I think it applies to so many people. I haven't shared any recipes in a while and that's a result of me not really doing anything new or fabulous in the kitchen! Again, something maybe I need to work on is sharing the normal, ugly, and not so lovely side of life! We have been busy lately and I've been doing the bare minimum to keep us fed and fueled. Maybe I'll share some of my simple go-to meals while I'm at it. Now that our trip is over I'm planning to do a re-set and get some more powerful breakfasts in line, concentrate more on food prep, and be more active in living out my intentions when it comes to feeding my body. I'll try to remember to take pictures for IG so I can continue to inspire those who have been interested in our food journey!


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