So the waitress places every single fried food appetizer near me. That’s how last week’s adventure began. Me, with nine other visionary social entrepreneurs at a fancy Thai restaurant getting the shakes as I reminisced on the fatty goodness that lay before me. I don’t over eat anymore because I cannot. There is no room for the food and it causes pain if there’s too much in there. I do, however, rationalize my greatest pleasure on earth: food. Even when it is blocking me from my goal: healing my body. I am a human raised in the United States of America, the home of the quarter pounder, the foot long sub, the double-decker deep dish pizza.
I was one of ten Echoing Green Fellows selected to be a part of a week-long inflection retreat. It actually felt more like an “intensive” than a retreat but it was absolutely powerful. The experience was mentally challenging like a good work out that makes you feel exhilarated from the sweat but a little sore from the muscle stretching. This was the first time I ever clearly articulated and outlined my dietary needs. In my memo I admitted to my awkwardness and made a series of bold requests including the suggestion that if my dietary needs were overwhelming for the planners that I would prefer to organize my food myself. To my surprise the response could not have been more supportive.
The week had all kinds of tests with regard to food choices. The only time I did not feel confronted was while in my hotel room making green smoothies. I made one to drink in the early morning and one to take with me for late morning. Here are five things I did to make sticking to my diet a little easier:
1)I requested a refrigerator from the hotel in advance.
2)I rinsed off parsley, dandelion leaves, organic apples, and chard ahead of time and stored the greens in a small insulated freezer bag and carried the rest of my foods in an insulated grocery bag I got from Whole Foods. I had a couple of bananas, a bag of hemp seeds, and spirulina, as well as a few snacks. It also helps to have a knife or buy one upon arrival.
3)I communicated as directly as I possibly could and outlined exactly how I wanted to be treated. I clearly stated the awkwardness that can come with being the one who is “different” and I wanted to avoid the weirdness that can occur at restaurants by handling food planning in advance. This left me feeling incredibly empowered.
4)Drinking a smoothie early morning and having another before lunch helped to not only fill me up but the nutrient rich drinks also helps to reduce cravings.
5)I had snacks in my bag so when the urge for crunch, for salty, sweet or chocolate came up I was armed and prepared. There are the inevitable moments of someone offering to split their fair trade chocolate bar spiced with cayenne and cinnamon but filled with sugar. There are those plates of afternoon cookies that do the devil dance when they bring them out warm. Even though I didn’t eat them all, having an arsenal of snacks in my bag calmed my anxiety around slipping.
Last week’s tests were made easier by Maggie, the event coordinator and logistics point person. Her attention to detail was a gift, but I know this is only the beginning. I am now operating from a space of integrity with myself and my body’s needs. I am learning to be gentle myself while still being firm about what is good for my healing and what is not. Some of what I’m doing is temporary but I now see a lot of it as a lifestyle change. I know a lot of smart people ruining their organs, their insides and diminishing the possibilities of a high quality of life as they get older. I also know what it feels like to put something in your mouth knowing it may trigger bronchitis symptoms, a rash or abdominal cramps. Change is not easy but damn if it don’t feel good to feel good! I am releasing the need for pain.
I raise my glass of greens to each of you. The toast? May this summer inspire the motivation to honor the changes you have been wanting to make. I am wishing you the best on your journey. Remember it is a process. Love yourself, be gentle with yourself and forgive, forgive, forgive…yourself while focusing on one new habit at a time!
My Summer Video Blog— HEALING NATURALLY: FOOD WILL TEST YOU https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A86tINF5DGM