Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Raw Foods and Emotional Eating

I recently realized that I do a lot of emotional eating. Usually heavy, dense cooked foods and sugary things and also large portions of whatever I'm eating. I often eat until I'm stuffed, but keep going because my brain wants to. I just figured out that I eat to suppress happy emotions as much as I do sad ones. I would be very protective of my food and snap at D or the girls if they asked for a bite, but I would steal food off their plates and finish their leftovers.

I eat a LOT. People have a hard time believing that because I'm 5 foot 9 and weigh 130 lbs. I have never struggled with my weight, so its hard for people to imagine that I have a problem with overeating, but I do.

So, I have been eating a diet much higher in raw foods for the last month. I am not saying that I'm "going raw" or making any commitments to the percentage raw that I eat. I have tried that before and what ends up happening is that I mess up, then feel guilty, then binge on junk because I'm feeling guilty. Now I'm just focused on eating what helps my body feel good, not any particular diet. And if I eat something that doesn't feel good, I make note of that and try to use that info next time.

A few things happened recently that changed my perspective:

I read a book called Willpower is Not Enough and it talked about focusing on your hearts desires rather than your willpower as your motivation. I made a list of my hearts desires, which included having more energy, releasing pent up emotions, feeling good in my body etc.

I realized that I am an emotional eater.

I realized that I can eat a LOT of fruit and still feel great. In fact I *need* to eat a lot of fruit and that's one reason eating raw didn't work for me before. I didn't get enough calories, and when I was still hungry I thought needed protein so I'd go for dairy or peanut butter. Now, if I am still hungry after the first 3 bananas, I have 3 more!

Right now I'm reading a book called Raw Emotions, and I have a friend who does 80/10/10 diet who is on a similar journey. I am realizing just how wrapped up my emotions are in my food. I use food to suppress emotions, but the food just causes more negative emotions like guilt which I then don't know how to deal with so I eat.

This last month I have been feeling really good! Most days my diet looks something like this:

Breakfast: Smoothie and solid fruit (5 oranges or an entire melon for example)
Lunch: Wrap or salad with greens, tomato, avocado, carrots, cucumber, apple (not always all of those things at once, I mix it up)
Snacks: more fruit or sometimes yogurt (other dairy bothers my galbladder, but yogurt has always been fine)
Dinner: This is where I might have cooked food (which I try to keep plant based, like a lightly cooked stir fry) or sometimes I have had 8-10 oranges or another salad or a fruit salad.

I never expected that raw foods would help my emotional journey so much! Releasing the toxins from my body has also cleared my mind. I think so much clearer when I have only had raw foods that day. I'm not as irritable (or I just handle it better when I am) and I don't try to avoid people so much by going on the computer or sleeping. I'm finally releasing a lot of emotions that I've buried, and learning how to identify emotions and deal with them in the moment. That's something that I have been working on for at least a year now, but its much easier when I eat raw.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


E has been able to count to 10 for a long time now, but getting 10-20 down has been harder. She knows all the numbers, but getting the order is hard. Counting to 20 or 100 comes up occasionally like when she wants me to count all her cards or some games that have little pieces.

She has a poster on the wall of numbers 1-100 and she asks me to read off the numbers to her sometimes, and there is the occasional opportunity to see the numbers in real life like exit signs or apartment numbers. I have vaguely wondered how she will learn the higher numbers without me "teaching" them. I was pretty sure it would come up, but it just didn't seem like it would come up often enough. I knew that she can recognize numbers 1-9, but not two digit numbers..... or so I thought.

Yesterday we were looking at an anatomy book and she pointed out that we were on "page 68." I was surprised! How did she know that was 68? Then she did it a few more times, getting it right or almost right. Like "Fivety-six" instead of fifty six. Then today were were looking at a book about whales and she said we were on "page 83." It was 38, so she's still figuring out the left to right thing. Then she said the numbers of a few other pages correctly.

I just thought it was so cool that she has picked that information up along the way! I knew it would happen, but I didn't know how, so it's fun to see all the ways she learns things that I never would have thought of to use if I was trying to teach.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Here's another example.....

Tonight I made some cookies with my kids, gave them a bath, and played under a fort we made with the table and a blanket. Then I said, "let's lay down, watch a tv show and go to sleep." We all snuggled up under the blankets for a cartoon on Sprout and I said "after this show is over we'll go to sleep."

This is how we often get to bed. We pull E's twin sized mattress into the living room, snuggle up together, put on a tv show or movie and they are out in half an hour. Then D and I can stay up for a few hours if we want to. E used to stay up a lot later, but now that she's dropped her naps, she goes to bed earlier.

When I turned the tv off, it was clear after 5 minutes that neither of them were as tired as I thought. E said that she wanted to stay up, so I let her. Most people would probably think that is permissive, but I counter that it's only permissive if bedtime is a "rule." Or if the household even has a "bedtime." We don't. My job is to help my children fall asleep when they are ready, make the environment conducive to sleep, help them learn to recognize the signs that their body is tired, and trust that they are learning about their *own* bodies and their *own* needs as separate people from me.

So, I told her that yes, she could stay up. She wanted to use the mattress as a slide off the couch and I said that was fine as long as it was fairly quiet. I left the lights off, except one low one and the tv to keep the atmosphere. I reminded her that it was late at night and our upstairs neighbors were sleeping, because that is being respectful of their boundaries. I said that she could do it as long as she wasn't banging on the floor or yelling. The girls played quietly for half an hour or so, and then settled back in to watch tv. L came and snuggled with me to nurse, and is asleep on my lap right now. E fell asleep watching Brother Bear..... quietly, peacefully, when their bodies were ready.

Yes, we are radical unschoolers. No, we are not permissive.

Also titled: Kids need boundaries and adults need boundaries too.

People who have only heard of radical unschooling or who know "that one family with the bratty kids," often think that radical unschooling is permissive. They say "but kid's need boundaries!"

I agree! But I don't think most people understand what "boundaries" are.

They hear boundaries and think rules or limits. Like a fence that corrals the kids in, and if they hop the fence then they get punished or manipulated into coming back. Or maybe it's an electric fence and they get shocked for even touching it. They see kids as always "testing the boundaries" and they believe it's their job to keep the fence strong. They put some thorny bushes or a swamp outside the fence and if they believe in using rewards, they might stick a candy dish or their love in the middle of the corral to entice the kids to stay inside.

Rules are not the same as boundaries though. Boundaries are about a person putting up protection around themselves, that allows healthy things in and keeps the unhealthy things out. That's why I agree that yes, kids need boundaries. They need our help learning what those boundaries are and how to kindly, but firmly enforce them. Kids also need our help learning what other people's boundaries are and how to respect when people are enforcing their boundaries. None of it is about putting rules, restrictions and restraints on either kids or adults, and it's not about anyone doing "whatever they want" if it means trampling someone else's boundaries.

Permissiveness is having a boundary and not enforcing it or allowing those in your care (namely your children) to break through someone else's boundary.

For example, I have a boundary about my personal body space that I will not allow someone to jump on me. This is for my personal protection so I don't get hurt. On the other hand, my husband is ok with the kids jumping on him (literally from the couch to his back) when they play. So, we don't have a "rule" that says "no jumping on people." Yet, my kids understand that most people don't like being jumped on and they don't do it to anyone but my husband. It would be permissive if I said that I don't want to be jumped on and then if my kids did it anyway, I let them, all the while getting angrier and angrier until I finally exploded and yelled "Get off me!" or worse, punished them for it. It is much more respectful to all of us for me to state that I do not like being jumped on and then help my children *understand* and respect that boundary. It would also be permissive if my children tried jumping on a guest in my home and I stood there and and let them violate that person's boundary. On the other hand, it is not permissive for them to jump on my husband when he allows it. Though it may seem like chaos, wild children and "doing whatever they want" (especially since they are often naked and loud, lol), they are not violating his boundaries, because he is ok with it.

The other piece to this is the radical unschooling. Part of radical unschooling (and really this should just be part of all parenting) is helping our children find acceptable alternatives. "Acceptable" is a word that needs to be challenged as well. It doesn't just mean whatever the parent is comfortable with, because that can be pretty limiting! There are a lot of variables to take into account when figuring out what's acceptable- first and foremost is boundaries, but also money, time, space, etc. As a parent, I feel that it's my job to stretch my ideas of what is acceptable and comfortable for me, and be willing to look at the bigger picture. This world is so amazing, and learning happens in so many unexpected ways both large and small. If I can be willing to say YES, even if something is odd or unconventional or uncomfortable for me, it will open up a larger world with more opportunities for learning for my children. In addition, finding alternatives is a chance to be with my child in a meaningful way that builds our relationship and that is the most important part.

So, when I have told my children that they can't jump on me because it violates my personal boundaries (not in so many big words!), I don't just leave it at that. I find somewhere they CAN jump and a way that we CAN play together. They can jump on the couch, the bed, the mattress on the floor, at the indoor playground, off the picnic table at the park, off the retaining wall, on our friend's trampoline. Maybe we can buy a trampoline- not right now, because of real world financial restraints- but how can we make that happen? Save up some money each week? See if we can find one used? Craigslist, freecycle, ask around..... the possibilities go on and on.

It seems like when people say that some kids get to "do whatever they want," they are implying that whatever they want is destructive, mean, and self-centered and we have to train that out of them. I think we need to look at the underlying needs. Sure, I could jump to the conclusion that my child is jumping on me because they have a desire to be cruel and hurt me. Or I could see what is obvious to an in tuned parent- she wants to get out her energy and play with me. So how can we make that happen in a way that is safe and respectful? This means that I spend a lot more time with them than I would if I just made a "rule" and then set up "consequences." This requires that I connect with my kids hundreds of times a day over all kinds of situations. It's hard work! But the relationship we have and the way they treat other people, lets me know that it's all worth it.

The other side of this is that kids need boundaries for themselves and need help learning how to enforce them. This is a really big deal right now in my house with a 4 year old and a 20 month old! Radical unschooling doesn't mean that I let my children beat up on each other because "that's what they want to do." It means I spend a LOT of time helping them navigate situations. Today, E was drawing at the table and L kept trying to push E off the chair and get her stuff. I moved L and tried to get her engaged with her own drawing at her chair, but she didn't want to. So, I talked to E about the options. I suggested taking her stuff in her room so L wouldn't bother her and she agreed that would work. I helped her enforce her boundary around her personal space and her stuff.

So, yes kids need boundaries and so do adults! And yes we are radical unschoolers. No we are not permissive!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Last Three Days

After my raw foods "Aha!" moment, I've eaten lots of raw, almost all produce the last few days, and I've been feeling great! I've been eating lots of bananas and oranges, but I've also had:

a stir fry (green beans, spinach, broccoli, carrots)
a baked potato and broccoli
a smoothie with banana, pineapple, and strawberries
a smoothie with banana, pineapple, strawberries, spinach, dates and apple
homemade, mostly raw food chocolate balls with cocoa, oatmeal (next time I'm going to use raw, ground buckwheat), raw honey, and dates. I flavored some of them with pureed strawberries, some with chopped almonds, and some with coconut. The strawberry are the best!
a small bowl of spaghetti
a peanut butter bar

Tonight we went to a party for Purim. I knew they were serving chicken and they had asked everyone to bring a side. D wanted to bring bread, cheese and dip, so I just hoped that someone else would bring a salad or something. I wasn't too worried about it though. Since I haven't made any commitment to "go raw" I didn't feel like I was going to fail or fall off the bandwagon. I decided to just enjoy myself, eat whatever was there that I wanted and try to keep in mind which things would help me meet my heart's desires of more energy and feeling good.

I was surprised how much produce was there! Someone brought a huge salad and there was also carrots, celery, cucumbers, and olives. I ate a banana and some raw chocolate balls in the car so I wouldn't be too hungry when we got there. Then for dinner, I loaded up on the salad and other veges. The chicken smelled delicious, so I went ahead and had a little piece.

Then the cookies were served..... I ate a bunch of them, I don't even know how many because I didn't bother to count. And you know what, I don't feel guilty! This is a new thing for me. I'm not glad I ate them, because I got a stomach ache and headache, but for once I'm not beating myself up. I don't feel as well tonight as I have the last few days. So this is simply a reminder to me of why I want to eat more living foods. Just a reminder. I can take it in stride and enjoy my fruit breakfast tomorrow.

I also took some time to think about why I ate those cookies. They were tasty, but not THAT amazing. So why did I have one after the other after the other? Once again, I think it came down to emotional eating. We did a Purim play where we all got dressed up like the characters, and read the parts. When the costumes came out, most of the people had a blast getting dressed up and playing around. I enjoyed watching them, while I sat and ate a cookie. When it was time for the play, some people playfully vied over the fun, silly parts. I laughed at the craziness, while I ate a cookie. During the play, a few of the people really hammed it up. I read my parts without really getting into it...... and after the play, I had another cookie.

So, what emotion was I trying to avoid? I think I was avoiding REALLY enjoying myself and having fun! How asinine is that?! I don't want to be someone I'm not and I totally get that some people just aren't the outgoing, ham it up, silly type and that's ok. But when I was in high school I took a drama class and I LOVED it. It was the thing that finally brought me out of my super shy shell and helped me to be comfortable around crowds. The best part was improv! I can be really silly and goofy, but it takes a lot to get that out of me. I enjoy being that way, but the only people who usually see that side is my kids and sometimes my husband. I'm comfortable around people in the sense that I don't feel UNcomfortable. In other words, I don't get nervous or worried about what they will think or shy. But it's rare that I'm comfortable enough around someone to be silly and goofy. In my mind, I was right there with them being a dork. In reality, I was sitting on the sidelines. Eating cookies.

So, once again, beauty from ashes. I'm glad that I was able to figure that out about myself tonight. One more thing to see, examine, and let go.

Raw Foods and Lots of Fruit

Something finally clicked for me about raw foods. It took a few weeks (months?) and a few different things to make it stick in my brain. I'm a little dense that way! lol

A while back one of my friends who eats a raw foods diet, said that she eats something like 10 or 12 bananas a day. I thought WOW! That's a lot! Then not too long after that another one of my raw foodist friends said the same thing. Then I read on her blog how she ate 15 oranges for one meal and her husband had 25 fruits in a day. That really surprised me, so I tried to figure out why that was such a big deal to me.

I eat a LOT, so it wasn't really the amount of food that shocked me. If you know me, you might not be able to believe that my 130 pound, 5'9" self can eat an entire medium sized pizza, a whole pie, a box of cookies, or a half gallon of icecream as one meal, but if you REALLY know me, you've seen me do it. So, why did that much fruit seem so crazy?!

My friend suggested that maybe it was because of culture and habit. We just aren't used to buying fruit by the case. We just don't see it in our shopping carts and our kitchens. I thought about that, and agreed with her, that was part of it. I also realized that a lot of times, I limit myself to less fruit than I really want. I might eat 2 bananas, but then I think that there's only a few left and a week till I go grocery shopping and I should save some for the kids. Also, I tend to feel like produce is more expensive even though really it's not. Most of the produce I buy is less than $1 a pound, some of it way less. But some culturally conditioned part of my brain wants to tell me that it's expensive and special and can't be a whole meal.

I used to eat a banana or two (or whatever fruit, that's just an example) and then still feel hungry. So I'd think I needed protein and I'd eat some peanut butter or keifer or yogurt. Or something heavier and cooked. When I realized how much produce my raw friends eat it was like duh! If you're still hungry after the first 2, have 2 more! The thing that made that click was reading about the calories. Cooked food can have a LOT of calories, but no nutrition. Raw food has lots of nutrients but you need to eat more to get the same amount of calories. But the cool thing is that the more you eat, the more nutrients you get too!

The other thing was that when I tried to do a raw foods diet before, I was "committing" to it and then I'd eat something cooked and feel guilty. I'm not doing that any more! I'm not making any commitments and I'm not claiming to be "going raw." I've been reading this book called Willpower is not Enough and it makes some great points about willpower vs. heart power. The things that we try to do through willpower rarely work, because we can only grit our teeth and bear it so long. But the things that flow from our hearts desire, come easier, more naturally and stick with us because they are internalized. When I made a list of my mind's desires and my hearts desires I realized that I was trying to go raw before because of my mind. Logically, I know that eating raw is more healthy, so that's what I wanted to do. On the other hand, my heart's desire is to have lots of energy to play with my kids and follow my passions, to feel good and strong, to stop having headaches, stomach aches and allergies. So, now I want to eat the way that helps me follow the desires of my heart, which is much more sustainable.

I also have discovered over the last few months that I really use food to drown my emotions. The day I had the miscarriage, I went right to the store, bought a frozen pie and inhaled half of it. I would have eaten the rest, but my family was helping me. Combining this knowledge with the information about following my heart's desire not just my willpower, has been really helpful! Now I can approach this not as a diet issue that I need to over come with my will because of the logical reasons to eat better. Instead it's an emotional and spiritual issue- I want to eat in a a way that allows me to feel all my emotions, deal with them and turn them over to God. I want to eat in a way that allows me to follow my heart's desire of having more energy and feeling good to be a better wife, mother, and to serve God through the passions he's given me. I'm really excited about this new paradigm shift and I can't wait to see where the journey leads!

Beauty From Ashes

I'm taking a break from the marriage study to post some other things that have been going on in my life. On the 18th I had a miscarriage. I didn't really know I was pregnant- well, I knew in my heart and my instincts. But I hadn't tested and I had slacked off on charting. I figured my late period was just due to breastfeeding making it all irregular. I knew, but I never allowed myself to say "yes, I'm pregnant" and just accept it.

So, when the miscarriage happened it took a bit of emotional juggling to adjust. First, having to accept the fact that yes, I really was pregnant and then immediately having to deal with losing the baby. At first I thought it would be pretty easy to deal with since I never got the chance to accept that I was pregnant and get attached, and since we weren't trying to get pregnant anyway. It quickly became a lot harder than I would have imagined.

I've really been on a roller coaster of emotions this last week. The most difficult thing has been the regret I have for not listening to my body, my heart and the Holy Spirit telling me that I was pregnant. Baby Joslyn lived inside me for 8 weeks, yet in that time I never acknowledged her, never told her I loved her, never put my hand to my stomach to think about her or say a prayer. So, I have regrets and also a surprisingly deep sadness at her loss.

I've been shocked to discover that people who I thought believed that life begins at conception, really don't believe that losing a baby at 8 weeks is the same as losing a baby at, say, 8 months. Though you can bet that if I had an abortion they would! I understand that it may not be the same emotionally for some women. It's like saying, "Is it hard and painful when a grandmother dies?" Well, that depends on the person and their relationship with their grandmother. Certainly it's gut wrenching for some people and other people might not even have known their grandmother. So, in the same way to say, "This is how it feels when your baby dies," won't be the same for two different mothers.

For me, even though I didn't get a chance to know Joslyn, her death has been hard on me. I've shed more tears this week then I have in the last year. I miss her and I'm sad that I won't get to see her grow.

At the same time, I feel a strange sense of peace about her death. I'm not angry about it at all. Her death brought an amazing power of healing, renewal and life to some other areas of my life. There's so much more to this than I'm willing to say on a public blog, but trust me when I say that healing and peace can come from anything, even death. YHVH had a purpose in bringing Joslyn home to him, and while I grieve my child, I'm also rejoicing at the way he has blessed me with healing. I know that I will see Joslyn someday. In the meantime, I hope she has fun playing with the angels!

Romans 8:28
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.