I've always been in love with food. There is very little that I haven't tried and even less that I don't care for. As a child, I was fairly typical. I loved soda, candy, chocolate, baked goods, sugary cereals, breads, crackers, and even some healthful foods like cheese, fruits, and an occasional vegetable. I have never been much of a carnivore, with the exception of a good cheeseburger and of course a home made pot roast that melts in your mouth.
So of course with such a lovely array of food consumed in mass quantities, I was a chunk as a child. I started to grow taller than wider around my early teenage years, thank goodness, but I was still incredibly unhealthy and suffering for it. I developed severe clinical depression when I was 15 and stopped going to school. I was moody, irrational and violent at times. I did not care about anything. I was able to pick myself up somewhat by moving to an art school in the city, but even that did not last long, and soon I was skipping school again. Instead of hanging out with friends like most my age who played hooky, I was staying in bed all day and gorging myself on cereal, ramen noodles, and whatever else I could find, easily prepare and shovel into my mouth.
I struggled with my depression for years. I tried most of the popular antidepressants with no improvement and several awful side affects. I tried talk therapy several times, and even admitted my self to a hospital once for a weekend. None of the usual treatments seemed to be working for my depression.
It was not until I was about 22 that I discovered natural living. I believe I was turned on to it by picking up a book that I came across at the public library where I was working. I cannot remember the title, but it created a tidal wave of discovery for me. I devoured all the knowledge and information I could about living in tune with nature and eating for health and wellness.
Of course I immediately took my new enthusiasm to the extreme. I became a strict vegetarian, eating mostly raw foods and I completely swore off anything “unnatural” including deodorant and even toothpaste. The results were disastrous. The lack of protein and fats in my diet caused me to plummet into even deeper depression and my self esteem continued to fall because rather than losing weight on my “perfect diet” I was actually gaining more weight and looked worse than I had in years. To top it all off, I began to have problems with my teeth and digestive tract, not to mention debilitating migraine headaches, which I had never had before in my life.
I continued to read and research healthy living and realized that I needed essential fatty acids. I love fish, so I began to eat it regularly and started to feel a little better. Then I decided to try something radical. I began to eat whole fat dairy products. I was raised on low or non fat diary, then decided dairy was evil when I began my natural living campaign. However, something remarkable happened when I ate some whole fat plain yogurt, cheese, and only used whole milk and real butter. I actually began losing weight. Dropping pounds like crazy actually. I was amused by the irony, but continued to buy only high quality whole fat products. I also gave up traditional yeast breads and only ate sprouted grain products. My digestive troubles disappeared and I began to feel good about my body, but I was still not emotionally strong and healthy.
The summer after my mother passed away I decided to volunteer on an organic farm CSA in Happy Camp, California. We ate the fruit of our labors, along with some high quality local dairy. We were peaceful, spiritual, and happy. Or at least everyone else was. Despite the fact that I was living more healthfully than ever before and I was surrounded by the most gorgeous and peaceful nature setting, I was miserable. I was not nutritionally fulfilled and my emotional stability was suffering still. When I returned home in fall I began to gradually increase my protein in the form of meat and more beans and nuts. Suddenly, I felt great! It was like night and day! Adding a little fat was not enough for my body. I also needed far more protein and saturated fat than I had previously been allowing myself. I lost even more weight, and my self esteem continued to improve.
That was about 4 years ago. Now I am a proud and grateful size 6 and I have not had an episode of major depression since. I have ups and downs of course, as we all do, but now in my lower spirits I know to look at my diet. Am I getting enough protein and fat? Am I drinking enough water and avoiding caffeine? Am I over stressed and need to take some “me time?”
I literally have come full circle with my nutritional beliefs. As a young person, all I cared about was how something tasted. If it was good, I ate it. Then as I began to receive new information I became obsessed with eating only natural and “healthy” food, but found there was still a lot of gray area and misinformation out there. It was only when I stopped believing everything that I read and started listening to my body and spirit that I discovered the diet that was right for me.