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Have you been food-shamed?

That is so bad for you.

You shouldn’t eat that.

You should eat [insert food] instead.

Are you going to eat all of that?

Is that all you’re going to eat?

Why are you eating that?

That isn’t healthy.

You should eat something healthier.

Didn’t you just eat?

That looks disgusting.

I can’t believe you eat that!

That has way too much sugar.

That has too much fat.

That stuff contains poison you know.

You’re eating poison.

That is terrible for you; it’s like poison to your body.

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Have you ever heard any of these comments? It’s called food shaming. Food shaming is analogous to someone telling you that you look fat in that dress or you shouldn’t be wearing those jeans. Or when you look in the mirror and harshly tell yourself your thighs are too big or your arms too flabby. These judgments fuel body dissatisfaction, lower self-esteem, and inflate the belief that you aren’t good enough… healthy enough.

Food shaming implies that your eating habits aren’t what they should be and cause doubt about your food desires, health, and even body shape. If you already struggle with food anxiety or self-consciousness when dining with others, invasive commentary about your plate elevates these feelings. Passive aggressive and even direct commentary about your food feed the lie that you’re eating wrong or something is wrong with you for making the food choices you have. Critiquing your food also makes the other person feel better or more “health righteous” about their own food.  No one has a right to judge you or what’s on your plate. 

Every single one of these phrases has been spoken to me AND/OR my children. These comments, while sometimes seemingly innocent or meant to be helpful, are harmful to your thoughts, behaviors, and esteem about food, your body, and sense of health.

Hear me well: no one should ever be in your food– including your spouse/significant other, children, and other close family. 

This means no one should be commenting on, questioning, or judging your food. Ever. (Nor should anyone be commenting on, questioning, or judging your children’s food, especially teachers and other students. More on that in a future post 😉 ) By the same token, if you’ve ever said any of these comments to yourself or even out loud to another person about your own food, then you are expressing shame about your own choices. You’ve pegged yourself as “wrong” or “bad” because of your food. Food doesn’t define who you are. Food is simply a fun, creative, and delightful way to honor your body’s need for nourishment.

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It’s important to recognize food shaming when it happens and acknowledge how it makes you feel because it affects your relationship with food and your body. Understanding how food shaming affects you is a powerful step in building body confidence, empowering positive messages, and setting boundaries with others when it comes to your health.

If someone is all up in your food with their shamey commentary, stand your ground and trust yourself. You don’t have to defend your choices or feel bad about your food, and you certainly don’t need to feel bad about yourself. You know your body better than anyone. Love yourself and eat what you love.

 

The true beauty of a woman

May we honor this truth for every woman from every/any background of race, culture, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political backdrop, socioeconomic circumstance, mental health condition, age, educational level, and familial situation.

All women. All equally beautiful. All equally powerful.

What’s the difference between gluten intolerant, sensitivity, and celiac?

Gluten free

*The following post isn’t meant to diagnose or treat any medical condition. It is 100% necessary and encouraged to see your doctor if you have any concerns about your own body.*

With the holidays merely hours away, our little family has three family dinners to attend this week. For each meal I have been lovingly contacted about concerns regarding gluten-free food; as a family member living with celiac disease, it’s hard having me over for dinner. With this in mind, I thought it might be helpful to break down what celiac disease is and how it differs from gluten sensitivity and intolerance.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Most people are familiar with wheat, and often people will say something like, “Oh, so you can’t have bread or pasta?” Exactly, along with about 1, 552 other things, like beer (which is fine with me, blech), most processed food, baked goods, and sauces, soups, and dressings. Gluten isn’t normally listed as “gluten” on a package; gluten is found in ingredients that are derivatives of wheat, barely, and rye. For example, “modified food starch” is often code for gluten.

What is gluten intolerance?

Gluten intolerance means the body has a negative, physiological response when it reads gluten in the digestive process. Intolerance can be broken down into two main categories:

  1. Gluten sensitivity
  2. Celiac disease

What’s confusing is these are two totally different conditions with similar symptoms.

  1. Gluten sensitivity:

Your  body is sensitive to gluten when it reads gluten as a foreign substance and tries to get rid of the gluten for you.  It’s analogous to when you get something in your eye. When there’s a object in your eye, something that shouldn’t be there, your eye starts to hurt and water, which is your body’s response in trying to push the object out. It’s uncomfortable and painful, but once it’s out, you feel better.

When your body is “gluten-sensitive,” your body reads gluten as something that shouldn’t be there and tries to expel it from you. Symptoms can include (but aren’t limited to) gas, bloating, diarrhea, fatigue, headache, stomach ache, and nausea. Some people may vomit (this is a protective response your body activates to get rid of the contaminant).

Just like you aren’t allergic to the pebble or eyelash you got in your eye, you aren’t necessarily allergic to gluten, but your body has a serious reaction nonetheless. It’s talking to you, letting you know something isn’t right. Gluten-sensitivity isn’t trendy. It’s important to listen to your body and be careful to limit or avoid gluten intake.

    2. Celiac Disease

Sick womanThis is a gastrointestinal disease wherein the body attacks itself, specifically the villi in the small intestine, when it reads gluten. Villi are little finger-like extensions that line the intestinal wall and help absorb the nutrients in food. When the villi are damaged and/or destroyed, the intestinal wall becomes analogous to a glass surface, where nutrients essentially slide on by rather than becoming absorbed.

Because the body attacks itself, celiac disease is classified as an auto-immune disorder. It’s genetic and sometimes won’t present itself until well into the adult years. I was finally diagnosed when I was 33 years old, though I had many symptoms for years before I was finally tested. In addition to constant stomach upset, as l listed in the gluten sensitivity section, I also battled skin rashes, interstitial cystitis (fancy name for painful, irritable bladder syndrome– essentially feels like a monthly bladder infection), headaches, and fatigue.

After getting negative results from food-allergy tests, my allergist had a “big picture” moment where we looked at all my medical conditions and symptoms as a comprehensive landscape, and he said, “Let’s test for celiac.” Bada-bing-bada-boom, the blood test revealed anti-gliadin IgA antibodies10 times higher than normal. In addition, I went to a dermatologist to have my skin rashes biopsied. Bada-bing-bada-boom, results came back as dermatitis herpetiformis. This is a fancy name for celiac disease manifested through the skin and confirmatory evidence that I officially have celiac disease.

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Celiac disease is not trendy. Because the body can’t properly absorb nutrients, called malabsorbtion, serious medical issues can occur including (and not limited to) infertility, miscarriages, depression, and severe weight loss.

A gluten-free diet is only the first step and it isn’t easy. I can’t tell you how many times people said to me, “Oh, gluten free is SO easy now!” No. It isn’t. Celiac disease causes gut damage, which means there is a healing process that needs to happen in addition to avoiding more damage. Additionally, there are certain foods the body simply may not be able to process or read properly any more. For me, it took about a year of constant illness before I learned that I am severely sensitive to corn, almonds, cow’s milk, and casein. I also have to be very careful with eggs. It’s imperative for me to read every single ingredient list even when a giant “GLUTEN FREE!” is plastered all over the front of the package.

Cross-contamination is serious matter. The kitchen in which my food is prepared and the other foods surrounding my food have to be gluten free and other-food-allergy-free. I am just shy of being two years past my initial celiac diagnosis and I still get sick, mostly from cross-contamination.

Hence the reason why it’s hard to have me over for dinner. 🙂 Not impossible, just hard.

Each body is different. Every celiac case looks different. Every sensitivity is different. Gluten free dieting is a trendy cultural movement; it’s important to note that gluten isn’t necessarily evil. A lot of people can eat gluten and be just fine, and others can’t. That’s okay. Listen to and know your own body and feed it accordingly.

 

I am not the vine

ChapelleSillouhette

I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

I took on too much and fell into a depression.  I walked ran boldly forward with intent to bring heavenly Love to others by loving and encouraging  through the gifts God has given me. I seek to bear fruit–something nourishing for others and delightful to God. Yet, my desire to please my Father and to please others crashed into each other, and I fell.

I’m trying to get back up, but I am real tired. Depleted.

My desire to please is not for others to be pleased with me, but to be pleased in their own lives–to feel happy or hopeful or validated or affirmed. When people need help, I want to help; when people need love, I want to love; when people need someone to understand, I want to understand. Hear me well when I say, I do not need nor do I desire recognition or credit, but rather to remain camouflaged in the backdrop while God takes the spotlight.

I pray (a lot!) for people–strangers, friends, family–and I always ask God to give me the words to speak and write in a way that lets people know He’s got them–that they are Loved and Protected– even if they aren’t believers in Christ. I ask Him to help me be a good deliverer and steward of his message.

Yet, I never ask if he has a message for me to deliver–a word of encouragement or an act of love–and if so, then to whom. I run on the assumption that everyone who is on my heart or crosses my path must be there because God needs to me encourage them.

The problem is I run. I come to His feet in reverent prayer and then I take off running. I have this irrational sense of urgency to hurry up and love–and love well. I need to be fast enough and good enough in order to bear the good fruit–the fruit good enough to be pleasing to God and fruitful for the lives I am trying lighten.

In my haste, I run ahead of God and become emotionally invested in every person I meet; I look over my shoulder and ask behind me, “Hey Lord, what would you like me to say to them? How can I love them? By the way, thanks! They have taught me a lot.”  In my eagerness to lift up essentially everyone, I forget that I am not God. I don’t have the power or the stamina or the emotional capacity or spiritual insight to serve everyone and bear fruit for the whole vineyard. I am not the Vine. I am but a branch! Without God, the true Vine who serves the entire vineyard, I. Am. Nothing. 

Romans 12:3 says “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”

I used to think this verse meant “don’t get too big for your britches,” and in a sense I think that applies; however, I see now how this might mean not taking on more than what God is asking me to handle. I am only equipped with so much, so far– I only have a certain measure of knowledge and wisdom; I only have a certain amount of energy and stamina to extend. I am a child, a young branch in the eyes of God–still growing, still tender, still small.

When I run ahead of God, leaving him behind, I cannot do anything. The fruit I seek to bear will not grow. So now what? Here I sit, on my knees in front of Jesus, humbled again in my humanness–with a load of mess that I created for myself–a multitude of commitments to honor whilst committing to my children, husband, true friendships, and not to mention–myself.

John 15:1-2 says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

I don’t believe the Lord is cutting me off, for while in my depression friends from St.Chappellewhom I’ve retreated have told me how much they love me; strangers of whom I’ve held at a distance have told me I’ve blessed them; my children and husband of whom are the most precious to me and bear the burden of living with a woman in constant motion have told me how much they love and honor and trust me, still.

I am being pruned (and it’s really uncomfortable)–cut back to where I can see the Vine, reminding me that I am not the vine; all He asks of me is to bear the fruit upon my branch. The only way to bear the good fruit (and to know how to fix my mess) is to grab Jesus’ hand with the same reverence with which I pray, and let him lead me through the vineyard–showing me whom to learn from and whom to love and whom to serve.

 

**The photos in this post were from my trip with my husband to Ste. Chapelle winery in Caldwell, ID. I refer to this place as God’s breakroom. It was here that God so tenderly answered my prayer for a wise and humble heart while giving me a moment to breath and to enjoy acres of flourishing vineyard.

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