The other day I was quietly informed that not everyone approves of our lifestyle. I was a bit puzzled at first what was meant by this statement, but all was soon made clear. I was shocked to find that some people don't approve of the way we choose to eat. Bear in mind that at least part of the choice was made for me when I started to have severe allergic reactions to food additives. The people that have seen one of my reactions don't question the need to avoid these ingredients, but this is not a demonstration that I feel comfortable performing. For me a severe reaction usually includes hives, extreme difficulty breathing and feeling lousy for days afterwards. Also, each reaction seems to get progressively more severe, so common sense would seem to encourage that I avoid triggers.
While I talk about our food journey, I don't try to push anyone to follow the same plan. Truth being told, as passionate as I am about food, as much as I enjoy learning to make foods from scratch, this is not an easy way of life. Sometimes I miss going through the grocery store and tossing things in the cart without reading the ingredients and trying to determine where and how it was sourced. There are also times that I miss having food that is ready to eat with little or no work, especially when I am under the weather. I also know that it is difficult for some of our friends and family to understand why we can't eat out with them at a restaurant. Travel and visiting family is much more of a challenge, and often leaves me feeling guilty and uncomfortable because I feel like so much focus has to go into what I can or cannot eat.
Change has a funny way of snowballing. I had to read labels to check for MSG in any of the many forms (read here for a list of names that this additive is listed under) and I also had to be on watch for artificial sweetener, as I have had chronic migraines for most of my adult life. Along the way, I began to notice more and more what was in the products that we were buying. The more that I researched, the longer the list grew of things that I didn't want to bring home. In the midst of all of this, I began to find out more about the ethics of food. If you have watched "Food, Inc." or "The Future of Food", or read any of the many books and articles out there, you know what I mean. I had always believed food was simple, but then I found out about how the American public had to protest to demand that organic food could not be irradiated, GMO, or exposed to sewage runoff. I also found out that the image of animals in idyllic pastures was, more often than not, far from reality. This meant that on top of what I did NOT want, there were now criteria that I did want. The result was a decision to begin to phase in as much organic as possible, and to buy meat that is humanely raised and not fed antibiotics, hormones, etc. As if that isn't complicated enough, we became very aware of packaging, both in terms of chemicals that can leach into food, and in terms of how much can be recycled or avoided in an attempt to reduce how much we send to the landfill.
I know that this all sounds complicated, and it certainly is not a cakewalk. Still, I was surprised to have someone tell me that they did not approve of what we are doing. We aren't hurting anyone, and we are gaining numerous benefits that do help to offset the effort that we put in. For one thing, my husband has severe gout, which we manage exclusively with diet. Almost nine years ago, he was on crutches and medication because of severe flare-ups, and now he avoids certain things, eats a heathier diet, drinks a lot of water, and he rarely has even a light attack. Around that same time, I had chronic migraines, meaning that I had between three and five debilitating headaches each week, each lasting between one and two days. I had to use injections of harsh medication, and even so, I seemed to always have intolerable headaches. Now I have a few severe headaches in a year, and those are rarely as bad as the skull-splitters that I used to experience. We are also both gradually losing weight, without depriving ourselves or going hungry. We are still making changes, but we are seeing results.
I am still not entirely sure what the individual disapproves of, but after much examination I have decided that it is their issue and not mine. I can talk to them about other topics, and accept them as they are, and hope that they, and others, will find a way to accept me as I am.