We Ditched Healthy Eating, and It Cost Us – BIG TIME!
Several years ago I learned about the Standard American Diet. I had no clue that the food I was putting in my body had a name, and I certainly didn’t know there was a thing called “real food” or “whole foods” or “organic foods.” I was clueless!
Then I got sick. I was experiencing migraines every other week. I needed a test run that would cost us thousands of dollars but our insurance wouldn’t cover it. My migraine medicine alone was going to cost us about $100 every four migraines. I was missing work too many times a month, and I was miserable.
That’s when we started our journey into natural living and better health (you can read more about it here). This was seven years ago, and I can say that we experienced dramatic changes in our health after taking the plunge into real food and natural living.
I stopped experiencing migraines, my digestive issues completely cleared up, my skin became vibrant and even radiant, and I had more energy than I ever remembered having! My knee issues that had plagued me since I was ten years old even disappeared. Not to mention, my husband dropped 65 pounds due to all the lifestyle changes we were making. We were feeling good!
We continued this way of living well into the first year of my oldest son’s life. I nursed him until he was 13 months old, cloth diapered him faithfully, and didn’t let an ounce of grain hit his tummy until his first birthday (his smash cake was his first taste of goodness!).
Together as a family, we continued to learn more about real food, healthy living, and better stewardship of the earth. Our friends thought we were odd, and our family thought we had lost all of our marbles, but we didn’t care. We felt amazing!
Then, life took over.
We moved across the country to take a new job and live in a 90% unchurched area. We struggled through life without a soul to call friend, we questioned whether we heard God right, and we fell into life in one of the healthiest states in the continental U.S.
It became easier to run to the health food store to grab items I would normally make from scratch, and we began to make one compromise after the other.
Of course, we’d never stray too far before coming back to center, but then we had a second baby, my husband quit his job, and we struggled to reconcile our faith with what “the church” offered. We walked through miscarriage and muddled through authentic community, and slowly, slowly found our way through it all. Together as a family, God wrecked us and food was the last thing on our mind.
I wouldn’t change one single second of living in Colorado. I learned more about God and who He is and what He has done in that three years than in all my life before then.
God stripped me of my identity. My identity in conservative Christian evangelicalism; my identity as a crunchy mama; my identity as a business owner; my identity as a writer; my identity as … well anything. I was stripped naked.
There is something about living and being and breathing when you have nothing but God to pull you through (and a family that He’s entrusted to your care) that will humble you to the core (as it should). Together as a family, we leaned in to one another and grew in ways we wouldn’t have had we never set foot on the rocky soil of that little resort town.
So don’t hear me and think I’m complaining.
I’m not. I’m simply sharing a journey that has led us right back to where we started.
I’m sick. Again. I’m experiencing migraines every other week. I need to potentially seek professional help for various reasons and well, that’s going to cost us some money.
My migraine medicine alone is going to cost us about $100 every four migraines. My husband is missing work, and we’re calling in favors from Grammy far too often. I’m miserable 75% of the month, but I keep plowing forward because … well, I have two children to care for and a husband who needs a wife. Plus I know grace through trials like I never have before, and the joy of the Lord is my strength. I know this is all for His glory, and I know that in the trials He draws near.
Yet as I evaluate how we got back here health-wise, I’ve realized that we have been giving ourselves way too much grace. We’ve towed the line of grace so far that’s it’s not even grace anymore. It’s tolerance. It’s acceptance of sin and lack of discipline.
Yes, life happened to us. And no, I’m not saying that real food is a holy way of living. Because I realize now that all those years of healthy eating and living a more natural lifestyle wasn’t being done in the name of Jesus, but it was being done in my own strength with my own ideas and by my own agenda. I didn’t seek wisdom from God when we hit trials. I didn’t ask Him to help me when the going got tough. I just quit.
And He let me. He does that, you know? He lets you do things that aren’t good for you sometimes because you have a choice. God gives us a choice to choose Him. And, the minute you say, “Jesus save me!” He will bring you back into the boat and calm the waters (not necessarily in your circumstances but most definitely in your heart and soul). And anyone who asks Him for wisdom, He will give it.
I’ve been doing a lot of praying, repenting, and seeking these last several weeks.
It was part of the reason I took a sabbatical. I needed to clear my mind and settle into our new home. I needed to get our home functioning so we could, again, focus on our spiritual health as a family.
There is more to our spiritual health than just whether or not we’re reading God’s word during the proverbial “quiet time” and showing up for church on Sunday morning.
Our spiritual health is in our hearts, minds and souls and evaluation is essential to ensuring sound living by the grace of God. We must evaluate our entire lives before God on a regular basis, seeking Him and asking Him to reveal anywhere we have strayed from His will. God’s Word says to do everything to the glory of God! Everything!
And among other areas in my life where God has revealed my straying heart and lack of discipline, health is the first one I feel led to tackle.
For my body is His temple. My body is what He uses to share of Himself with others. My witness is who I am and what He has done in my life. I can’t share that witness, that love with anyone when I’m laid up in bed because I lack the discipline to choose foods that will nourish my body.
Our family’s food choices haven’t been a matter of finances. Our family’s food choices haven’t been a matter of availability to good sources of food.
Our family’s food choices have been a matter of hearts that have grown lazy, and now our children reap the consequences of our wayward hearts just as we (the parents) do.
Food is not the issue. My heart is.
My husband and I have been working together to formulate a plan to get our family back on track health-wise.
We’re committed to making better choices and regaining what we lost by the grace of God. But this time, it’s layered in prayer and dependence upon Him.
This will not be easy on our kids because they’ve become so addicted to sugar and treats (can you even call it a treat when you get it every other second?) and cruddy snacks. My four year old is a little louder now about what we eat, and I keep reading and re-reading this post to remind myself that we’ve been here before with him and God’s grace is sufficient. I know it will be worth it, but it’s going to take a lot of work, faith, and grace.
Perhaps you’re resonating with some of this that I’ve been sharing. Perhaps you’re looking to make changes in your family’s diet and perhaps you’re wanting to be a little gentler on the earth. If so, then maybe the baby steps we plan to take back into better health will inspire you too!
I will start sharing more about our journey in the coming weeks and months. I’ll share with you my list of baby steps to real food, some ways we’re choosing to be gentler on the earth, our vitamins and tinctures we’re making, and more.
I know that sickness is a part of this fallen world, but where there is a way to choose better health, we will do the best we can, seeking His wisdom and relying on His grace. So stay tuned! I look forward to sharing this journey with you!
This is great. I can totally relate. Thank you for sharing. Looking forward to more.
I’m sorry to hear that you have been struggling and feeling so miserable. I know how you feel and the effects of going back to bad eating habits. I do hope that making some changes will help you to get better and I will be praying for your heart and your family as you all make the adjustments.
I am looking forward to following your journey. While I don’t get the migraines like you, I have other health issues made worse when our eating turns to pooh! Your post really resonated with me, right down to the noisey older child (only difference is gender)!!!! I will be following with interest, as I have been feeling quite convicted as well – my family has allergies, and this winter has been hideous (we live in New Zealand); something needs to change health wise, or there could end up being long term problems.
Our allergies this year were horrid too! I just feel like I’m reacting to everything instead of being proactive. Good to know that we aren’t alone!
Perfect Timing! I’m looking forward to following your journey…
Thanks for all you do – and welcome back ~ I missed you!
Aw, thank you! I’m glad to be back 🙂
Oh boy do I hear this! I too get terrible migraines that leave me in pain, unable to see, sometimes unable to speak or move. I have often allowed far too much processed, sugar-filled “food” to take over, telling myself it is okay because I have to have balance my stress versus all that I have to do – stay at home mom, part work from home mom, jewelry maker, and starting a Senior Ministry at my church. Your blog has actually helped me so much in the last 6 months to be more intentional in everything I do! So thank you and I know that this process will be great for your family and for mine. Thank you so much for being an inspiration!
You’re not alone! I’m glad Intentional By Grace has encouraged you to give Him all areas of your life. Love hearing this!
Thank you so much for sharing this! This is exactly how I feel! My husband, myself and my two small children just lost our home and most of our possessions to mold and it feels like we are being wrecked. The mold caused many health issues for me personally but now we are out of there and we need to eat healthy to get back to a state of health. I became so sick from the mold at my worst I ended up in the emergency room three times in one week. I literally thought I was dying. I still have pain and sickness but it has greatly improved since getting out of that house. I have to put my faith in God to guide me away from unhealthy options when I feel bad and help me plan and have strength to stick to healthy choices to get us all back to feeling great. I will face the same trials as you with getting everyone changed over but I look forward to not having stomach pains, headaches, dizziness and everything else one day in the future and I am blessed that we were removed from that environment and that my kids and husband did not get as bad as me. I will keep you in my prayers as we go on this journey together!
Oh my! I’m so so so sorry to hear that. Praise God that you were able to get out, and may His grace be sufficient always as you move forward in faith. Praying with you as well!
I feel like our families have been through similar experiences. God has definitely brought us down to nothing several times these past few years, called us to things we thought were impossible and felt miserable at times causing us to question Him, and now He’s calling us to a big move overseas – for my physical health, but I believe also for our spiritual health as a family, to mold us together, and to bring His physical healing and spiritual healing worldwide. God has put that emphasis on me these past few days. The healing of the heart is the most important thing we share, and that also can show outwardly as we take care of our bodies. We made a major lifestyle change about a year ago, and although I am still sick due to other diseases, I know it makes a big difference. My husband’s GI problems were completely solved. And as a woman, I am passionate to show women it is totally not about weight but nourishing your body.God never met for food to become about calories and how you look. I pray we can change that for this next generation.
Thanks for always sharing your heart, Leigh Ann!
I radically changed my eating habits which resulted in getting off insulin, cutting my other medications, and losing weight. Gradually I started making more compromises with my meat & potatoes, “organic is too expensive”, vegetables are optional husband. I got burnt out making two meals, having to deal with all his leftovers which didn’t fit my plan, and going over budget at the grocery store. Now my sugars are increasing, my activity is decreasing and I am soooo discouraged. Thanks for sharing your journey and encouraging me.
This article is perfect timing for me! I too am trying to revamp our family’s diet after really falling away. My husband also gets cyclical migraines when we’re not eating well, our son gets headaches, and we all feel sub-par. It’s not easy to get back on the bandwagon, but your article was so encouraging. Best wishes as you work to where you want to be with your family!!