Nourishment column

Jessica Jones is learning to navigate a healthier lifestyle through foods that provide nourishment to the body, rather than depriving. 

Today, in the United States, we have more information than ever on the relationship of food to our overall health. Yet, one in 10 American adults is battling type two diabetes. My family is not exempt.

Our relationship with food can be a tricky business. Because we have to eat to live, and with food being more accessible than ever, it can be a struggle to make healthy choices.

If your family is anything like ours, you know the struggle is real. We enjoy eating all kinds of food. We enjoy trying new recipes, going out to eat, and trying new food products as well. We love food.

After my parents' diabetes diagnosis and mom's cancer diagnosis, I started to stress about food. I researched food. I also went on restrictive diets and fasted almost every morning. While studies show that doing these things can benefit one's overall health, after a while, I noticed that my waking thoughts were planning my meals for the day and my workouts. It was becoming habitual and compulsive.

After looking at the timing of this and seeing it was on the heels of such a shifty year and a half, I understood that I started using diet and exercise to regain a sense of control. I ordered a workbook geared toward developing a healthy relationship with food. After two weeks of digging deep and exposing my blind spots, I began taking steps toward a healthier mindset.

I broke up with restrictive diets and learned to identify if I am using food to cope, control, deny feelings, or relieve stress. I am learning to listen to my hunger. I mostly eat whole foods that nourish my body. Instead of abstaining from the foods I enjoy, I have them in moderation now, without feeling guilty or anxious about it.

I am overcoming restrictive thinking. I am excited to bake more this fall, try new recipes, and enjoy maple bars again in moderation. I am also learning to exercise when it brings me joy and when my body isn't overly sore. I've added more rest and recovery days.

Overall, it was eye-opening to me how a hobby of health and fitness, a desire to be informed and live a healthy lifestyle turned into an unhealthy hold on my life.

Equally important, I learned to identify other types of hunger that I was unaware of and ignoring. While I was not starving my body, I was hungry for a deeper connection to God and loved ones. All things that a strict diet and workout schedule could not provide.

To nourish means "to promote the growth of" and to "maintain and support."

Caring for our bodies with foods that nourish us is only one part of the whole. We also have a responsibility to feed our souls and minds, and when possible, support and nurture others.

For some soul food from my grandmother, favorite recipes, and "Nourish" part two, you can check out my blog at breakfastatjessica's.wordpress.com.