Inspiring Others… Especially Family

My first post! 🙂

It’s not surprising it’s about food!

Growing up, food was very big in my family. Irish Catholic background in the mid-90s to 00s meant lots of meat, even more starch and carbohydrates and more sugar than I want to think about. Did I mention EVERYTHING was heavily processed? Yep.

My mom worked in a grocery store since my brother was young; she was a coupon clipper and a sale-junkie for everything, but especially food. I remember being yelled at for wanting to buy fruit in the grocery store because “you and your brother won’t eat it before it goes bad!” I remember being 10 years old, wanting to go on a diet because I was so unhappy with the way I looked. (I also wanted to be on anti-depressants, but that’s a whole ‘nother issue with childhood advertising for another day.) I remember being allowed to drink multiple sodas in one day, along with desserts and other “treats”.

Then, my parents got divorced and eventually remarried other people. My dad as a single parent meant lots of frozen dinners, pizza, chinese food… you get the picture. Social anxiety and reminders of how “unathletic” my parents, and therefore I, were, kept me on the couch as opposed to the soccer field for my entire middle and high school career. My friends were the characters of Boy Meets World, Harry Potter and anything else on the Disney Channel.

Let’s fast forward to my young adulthood:

My first job was at my dad’s restaurant. Free soda on tap, free pizza, and raging adolescent insecurities. I was overweight, as one would assume after a sedentary lifestyle and very minimal fresh plant based foods. I dabbled in eating disordered trends- attempting to get the weight off to get attention from this one guy led me to some very depressed thinking and only a weight loss of about 10 pounds before I went back to my old eating habits. I never thought about a balanced approach. That maybe soda really isn’t necessary at all, so why drink it? Unfortunately, there weren’t a lot of healthy options at my dad’s place, and I’ve come to find out now that even the healthy options aren’t healthy!

And then that magic day almost three years ago, I met my love. 🙂 It was only after I met Craig that I was inspired to continue my education, to take a new path in another job and get healthy because I can do it. I quit working for my dad and became a produce clerk at an organic store. Our relationship was still new though, so we were doing a lot of “dating” type activities: going out to eat, going to the movies, getting ice cream, going to bars, etc. About two years ago though, I decided to try it. I was plagued by migraine headaches and after cataract surgery at the ripe ol’ age of 20, I quit soda and processed foods. (I had a month where I started shopping at Giant while counting calories… only to find out later that there was aspertame in my yogurt and high fructose corn syrup in my bread.) I finally started taking advantage of the wonderful benefits of my workplace: generous discount, organic produce, some free stuff- it was great! I figured out what degree I wanted to pursue and lost 45 pounds since 2010.

Two years later, Craig and I are still going strong. My weight loss has been a slow game, but Craig thinks it’s because I’m losing fat and gaining muscle at the same time. After watching documentaries such as Fresh, Forks Over Knives, Food, Inc., and many more, we are more into the organic lifestyle than ever. Craig is a wonderful chef so he’s been cooking healthy for his family even though they don’t really see the importance of what’s in your food. I don’t have a great relationship with my Dad, but I’ve tried to tell him, because I feel like the information could save his life, that he should change his diet, even a little bit. He only gets mad. My mom just says “it’s great for you, but I’m too old. I can’t change.” The only people I haven’t tried to convince are my brother and sister-in-law… but it’s getting time to swallow that pill.

So, how do you go about it? How do you tell someone they’re eating poison? It’s the most fundamental part of our lives, but we give it no thought as we shovel plastic margarine covered genetically modified popcorn into our mouths as we watch mindless brainwashing television. (Also, another post.) It’s so frustrating that sometimes I get frustrated thinking about talking to them before I even say anything because I know how biased they are. But I love them. I love my whole, insane, loud, Catholic extended family so much that I’ve wanted to express this important message for so long: STOP EATING IT IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS! Or better yet, don’t take anything at face value. Even some products that we sell at the organic store contain questionable additives. Generally, I’ve adopted a “whole food” attitude about my diet. If it’s an organic cucumber, I know it doesn’t have fish genes in it. If it’s a free-range, organic egg, I know that the chicken that laid it saw sunlight and could walk. While our ultimate goal is to grow all of our own food, I still sleep better knowing that I’m eating the best that I can in my situation.

So, it’s funny to me. I’m (kind of) in the same situation as my mom: working in a grocery store. But it’s incredible how different the situation is. I’d rather pay $5 for a dozen eggs each week and sacrifice going out to eat or going to the movies. (Granted, this is also because I’m afraid of the quality of most restaurants and I’m not interested in most movies out today.)

This is my first post, so I may not get any responses. But I’ll still ask:

Any advice for a twenty-something wanting to school their family on organics and healthy living? Or have I inspired you through my words?

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