What I'm Really Saying When I Instagram My Family's MealsSelena Mills
“People of Instagram. People of Facebook. Your cat and food photos are boring.”
I see a lot of commentary and complaints to this effect on social media and while I’d love to be a part of the #catsofinstagram guilty party — sadly my groom-to-be is allergic, so no kitties for me. But the food? Oh, I do believe I have that covered.
The growing and cooking of food has always been an art form to me. It’s been an extension of my creativity and a way of life for myself and our family. We take it very seriously, and I have the photographs to prove it. A sunset shot of two kids atop a cavernous gorge is just as magical and worthy of documentation to me as a plate of grilled vegetables and wild meat, lit by the glow of the late-summer evening light filtering in through our maple tree. Chubby little fingers peeling farm fresh eggs or plopping bananas and almond milk into a blender. Images like these that are flooding our Instagram and Facebook feeds, that some might find boring and or/obnoxious, represent everyday beauty to me.
For every person food photography annoys, there are people that I inspire — just as I am inspired by the foodie accounts that I follow. As I near my forties with two small kids in tow, healthy food has become the most important thing that we spend our money on, and the reason behind this is simple.
I was in Mexico a couple of years ago, in this dreamy little place where children don’t run wild and all of the adult indulgences happen naturally, no pressure. Sleep, sun-soaking, deep ocean immersion. Lots of time to think and take care of yourself, inside and out. I took this time to reflect on some truths about my health and happiness that I couldn’t ignore any longer. It was on that beach in Mexico that I decided to get over my hate and fear of my own body, Western doctors, and my years of infertility. (The latter of which is clearly very much in the past as I now have two kids.)
I just laid all of that baggage down and made an agreement with myself to acknowledge that I was sick and overweight. Not by a lot — 30 pounds or so — but enough that it was affecting my energy and my self-esteem. I was sick with something (I wasn’t sure exactly what) but all signs pointed to the possibility of diabetes: increased thirst and frequent urination, frequent colds and flu, slow-healing cuts, constant exhaustion, fluctuating weight, and more. Those are just some of the tell-tale signs of diabetes type 2 or prediabetes. I had all of them. I also knew I was genetically predisposed to the condition. And while I knew this, it still took six months for me to begin the process of testing and blood work (which happened over the course of yet more months). I wasn’t surprised with the results.
My blood glucose tests were high, even though I hadn’t eaten refined sugar in at least two years and ate a relatively healthy, low-carb diet. We prepare our meals from scratch and don’t consume a lot of boxed foods. So what was I doing wrong? Nothing, really. When one is genetically predisposed out the yin yang, weight and diet aren’t the only factor. So I spoke to some more experts and did a lot of my own research. What I found was the that the hunter-gatherer diet of my ancestors, which many of you know as the Palaeolithic diet, has been shown to be an optimal one for reversing the onset of diabetes. So I made the switch. Even though my diet had been a relatively healthy one for years (much different from my wayward youth of self-medicating with drugs, alcohol, and junk food), it wasn’t enough.
I needed to make a big lifestyle and dietary change if I was going to be able to reverse (or at least prolong a diabetes diagnosis.) Switching to the Paleolithic diet has proven to be beneficial in keeping my blood sugar down like no other diet I’ve tried, and as a result my future doesn’t have to include having type 1 or 2 diabetes. I don’t even like calling it a diet. It’s a new way of eating whole, unprocessed foods. No grains, wheat, gluten, dairy, refined sugar, legumes, artificial ingredients, hydrogenated oils, junk food, fast food, white potatoes, pseudo grains, none of it! While the grain and other high-carb cravings were hard at first, the way I feel makes it worth it. And I still eat, boy do I ever. Lots of wild fish, meat, vegetables, seeds, nuts, water and tea. But almost everything is made from scratch.
Knowing how to grow and prepare unprocessed, nutrient-rich food is one of the most important life skills I can teach my children, along with developing a natural desire to exercise daily in some form. Of these two things I am sure. I am living proof. I feel physically and mentally stronger and happier than I have in a very long time. My energy levels are up and my weight is slowly trickling down, naturally.
I still have my “cheat” days, or occasions to “cheat” — and there are other libations that I probably shouldn’t be taking part in (that evening glass of malbec is definitely high in sugar and coffee is non-negotiable), but a girl’s gotta live and I have my limits.
Now, more than ever, I am passionate about food and passing on my passion, knowledge, and respect for REAL FOOD, onto my kids. My mantra is, “food is medicine” and should be considered and cared about as much as shelter, love, and water. Certainly more than fancy cars, pretty shoes, designer handbags and the like. (As much as I dig those things, too.)
So, if you’re one of those people who find foodie photos annoying and all of the talk about the importance of healthy food and growing one’s own food yawn-worthy … that’s okay. You don’t have to come to my house for dinner tonight and I don’t have to double-tap your robust, filtered appreciation for making kissy faces at your phone.
In the meantime, my kids and I will be in the kitchen or in the garden, taking pictures and sharing the beautiful bounty. Or going on a hike, a bike ride, or doing yoga together. Start ’em young I say, when doing these things will become second-nature as they enter into teen and young adult-hood.
They won’t know any other way to live.
I mean, I hope.
More Babbles From Selena…
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- 5 Ways My Parenting Has Changed Over The Years