Friday, November 13, 2015

New Website

I've bumped my blog over to, so please hop over to to follow along. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Food Anxiety

God of Paleo eating, forgive me for I have sinned.

About four years ago, Brandon and I embarked on a month of Whole 30 eating in an effort to figure out what was destroying his digestive system. The Whole 30 cuts all added sugar, alcohol, grains, beans and legumes, soy, and dairy products for 30 days. For 30 days, you eat only fruits, vegetables, seeds, tree nuts, oils, and meat. After just a few days, we noticed amazing results - we lost weight, sinus issues disappeared, complexion cleared up, snoring ended, acid reflux disappeared, indigestion gone, major digestive issues for Brandon disappeared, afternoon lethargy disappeared, and we both were sleeping like rocks. We felt amazing.

After we finished the Whole 30 Challenge, we said good riddance to soy and grains. Adios, sandwiches! Goodbye, pasta! You get the idea. It has been our goal in the weeks and months and years since that first Whole 30 to stick as close to that strict diet as possible - all whole foods, no processed or pre-packaged junk. When we slide back into eating pizza and ice cream on a habitual basis, we all notice the difference. When we consciously cut those things that we know will make us sick out of our diets again, we feel better again.

For the most part this has worked really well for us. Cutting out all of the pre-packaged and processed stuff has made for significant changes in how we feel. Participating in the Whole 30 was a powerful, eye opening experience to how much diet affects the way our bodies operate.

But Brandon's digestive issues continue to spike, and so we try to cut out other parts of our diets that might be culprits. Chickens who are fed soy, for instance. Chickens who are fed soy that lay soy-fed eggs. Nitrates. Red meat.

The general progression of our dietary habits has looked something like this:
  • We tried the Whole 30 in 2012 and felt overwhelmed, but figured it out.
  • We switched to Paleo eating and felt overwhelmed, but figured it out.
  • We watched Forks Over Knives and felt overwhelmed.
  • We heard about Grain Brain and reinforced our anti-grain sentiments.
  • We launched Whole 30 challenges again in 2013 and 2014 and made A Case For and Against Detox
  • We learned how too much protein in your diet can affect your kidney health and started to cut back on meat.
  • We learned from the World Health Organization that red meat is a carcinogen.
  • I signed up for a plant-based diet wellness class at work taught by the Esselstyns of Reverse and Prevent Heart Disease fame who say, no animal anything, no dairy, no oils, no added sugars, just fruits, vegetables (lots of leafy greens especially), whole grains, beans and legumes, and today I'm beginning a seven-day plant-based diet challenge.
I am afraid to buy bread. And pasta. And rice. And cereal. The other day I bought a package of whole wheat spaghetti and felt a surge of shame.

I believe I suffer from FAD - Food Anxiety Disorder. I don't think it's a real thing but I bet it will become one soon, because of this:


There are plenty of recommended, modified, reduced, reorganized, This Is The Way diets I could reference. These are the two that are front of mind for us right now.

Eat meat.

Don't eat meat.

Don't eat grains.

Eat grains.

Don't eat beans and legumes.

Eat as many beans and legumes as you want.


I should not feel anxiety about buying a food product that most of the world subsists on, right? I want to live the healthiest, most joyful life I can and provide strong guidelines for lifelong health for my kids. The world is against me in this mission. School wants a sweet treat, a salty treat, a juice drink, a goodie bag, and a healthy snack for the Halloween party. Church hosts a donut hour every Sunday and dessert at every cheese- and meat-based potluck. Restaurants offer three vegetarian, cheese-smothered entrees and four salads, one without meat, with cheese. Butter, cheese, white bread, and meat, everywhere!

I wouldn't care about any of this if I hadn't done that Whole 30 Challenge four years ago, stripping away the staples of the American diet, cutting my addiction to sugar cold turkey, and discovering all of the benefits of eating for health, not eating to satisfy my desires. We have evangelized for Paleo eating and now I find myself eyeing another model, another option, wanting the very best for my body and my family's bodies for the long haul, wondering about all of that meat we've been eating and what it might be doing to our kidneys, our cells, our overall health.

And so I bought a bag of whole wheat pasta and a can of pasta sauce. I stirred in some spinach. My kids sung the praises of noodles over dinner and we Googled how much sugar is in one box of raisins (25 grams) and how much the average adult woman should eat each day (25 grams). We talked about eating well, about maybe even eating sandwiches again (SINNERS!!!!).

I wish I didn't care about any of this because it's just plain exhausting pushing against our cultural norms of cheese cheese cheese and meat meat meat. Countries all over the world and families in our own nation are malnourished and starving, anxious about where they are going to get their next meal and their next meal and their next meal. Here in the Fifty Nifty United States, we are anxious about consuming too much food and the wrong types of food. We eat junk and pay for it now and later. It's a money-making industry of diet plans and pharmaceuticals.

Last night at dinner, Brandon and I scanned the menu and tried to decide what to eat.

"You're making me freak out about meat," Brandon said as we looked in vain for a non-meat, non-cheese dish.

"Don't freak out," I said, "Order whatever you want. I don't want to be a slave to our diets, but I also want to feel good and be healthy." I took my own advice and ordered sea scallops (They are of the animalia kingdom, folks. I was secretly hoping they could be considered plants.)

That's the bottom line. Anxiety about food is not feeling good. It is not healthy. I need to remember that food is not an idol. Learning more about what foods are good for you and what foods may have negative impacts on your long-term health is good education and an important framework for making healthy decisions. I feel better when I don't eat added sugars. I feel better when I don't eat dairy. I feel better when I eat healthy grains. I feel better when I don't eat red meat.

I especially feel better when I remember that I have to eat for the rest of my life, and life is a journey of successes and failures, of gaining more knowledge and growing in wisdom and discernment. I can choose into health or I can choose to indulge, and both choices are mine to make, consequences on either side.

Those sea scallops were delicious. I don't regret them.

Monday, November 2, 2015


We spent the evening with friends of ours discussing the aches and opportunities of the church we're attending, and while our kids ran around their living room and up the stairs, and I scratched the ears of one of their pups, I said the thing I keep saying about this church community: I laugh every time I think about where we're at and how it doesn't make any sense, but here we are, filled with peace and joy for this place in spite of what would make more sense. Something has bound us here for the time being, for such a time as this, and that mystery and misty hope keeps me coming back, excited to see what's next.

The opposite is true for me with my mom and her health right now: wrapped up in that is fear and anxiety, worry and stress, uncertainty about what the holidays hold, what next year holds, what the future holds. It feels dangerous to plan for the future, even as God says he knows the plans he has for us, plans to give a hope and a future. It is much harder for me to trust that mystery in the face of the realities of disease - dis-ease - it is much harder to hang on to hope.

But that is what we have, isn't it, what we must have, what we say we have when we say we love Jesus and God loves us, we say we have hope. Joy. Peace.

Even on this rock life finds a way to keep on living.
Tonight I am warm, held in the majesty of love and communion with my family and with my friends. My husband is strumming his guitar. I spent 30 minutes holding my daughter, talking about sex and marriage and belly button lint and how the Earth was made and how babies are made. She asked whether Grandma Rose is feeling better and we talked about cancer and upcoming doctor's appointments and God's love, and Lydia said, even if she dies (oh God, oh God, oh God) it will be okay because we will see her in heaven again with Great Pop and Pop-O.

We are all made of dust, made of the stuff of Earth, all of which was made by the hands of God. We are held. We are held in this warmth and love, and it is this love--capital-L Love--that delivers joy. Peace. Hope.

I will say I love you and you are loved a thousand times in as many ways as I possibly can to every person I come in contact with every day because it is the only thing proven to conquer death and fear of death. It is the only thing that carries me over this chasm of fear and anxiety. It is holding my daughter who is holding me and it holds my mom, even now, even in her anxiety and my anxiety, in her worry and my worry, in all of the unknowns about tomorrow that are always there but strikingly clear now. What a gift to be reminded that today is all we know for certain? So, love.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Neither death nor life. Neither death nor life. Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Love, love, love. I wish to stay right here, replicate tonight in its hope and vision for the future, extend that faith and hope and love out for all my days. No more fear. No more anxiety. Just peace and love and being held.