15. What we eat
My relationship with food has changed a lot over time and I try to be increasingly aware of what I eat and why. The operation and understanding my hormones have brought a new dimension to this relationship. I love cooking. Anything. Everything. I enjoy the whole process, from imagining what I want to prepare, up until putting it on the plate. I love eating. Smelling. Savouring. The colours. The textures.
If I had to describe myself, I would definitely say that I’m someone who loves making and creating things with my hands. Working with my hands relaxes me and gives me enjoyment, and I think it’s one of the main reasons why I enjoy cooking and taking the time to do so. This practical, intuitive work unfolds in the kitchen, it makes me feel free. Yeah, I think it must be down to something like that, cooking makes me feel creative and free. Holding the ingredients in my hands and imagining what I am going to cook. Washing it, peeling it, cutting it, breaking it, stretching it. Feeling the textures and intentionally using the cooking utensils to inspire me and achieve the result I have in mind.
I think when it comes to food, we are generally very misinformed, or mistaken. And there are lots of evil economic motivations that invite us and push us to carry on like this, eating without knowing what we’re eating, eating what damages us. It’s horrible. Another dimension of that everyday whirlwind that I sometimes talk about which represents our society. Fortunately, more and more of us are questioning our relationship with food, and we are questioning it in a healthy and generous way. And I say generous because I think about a relationship which doesn’t limit or restrict us, instead it offers us greater possibilities and abundance.
For me cooking is also relevant when it comes to sharing. I am always more motivated and find an added pleasure in cooking when I know that I’m going to share what I have prepared. Now, more than a decade ago, there was a time where I lived alone, and I think those were the years in my life when I ate the worst. I greatly admire people who, living alone, maintain a healthy relationship with food. They are brave. People who value themselves and try to consciously connect with their wellbeing.
At that time, I was constantly tired, very anaemic. My periods were incredibly heavy. So much so that I could end up using seven or eight super-plus Tampax during the night, the orange ones. The nights were really hard, I slept badly because I slept waiting for my tampon to fill up and even though I also used night-time pads, I was scared of staining the bed. Luckily, this hasn’t happened to me for a long time. When I got out of bed for going to the bath my legs would feel heavy. It’s a sensation I describe as having my legs curdled. I also remember having digestion and heartburn problems. Because I felt weak, I thought what I needed to do was eat more, and I didn’t really understand what quality over quantity meant at the time.
If I bought fresh, there was too much and it would go to waste because I didn’t have a freezer to be able to cook in large quantities and save portions. Then I started to buy tinned food, or precooked, or relied on lots of dried carbohydrates like pasta and rice, but I didn’t accompany them correctly with other products to achieve a balanced plate that would really benefit my health. Back then, everything seemed so difficult that occasionally it would occur to me to drink alone, thinking it would help me to relax, or clear my mind, or bring me the joy I was missing to face my situation. Wrong. The truth is that I was fed up and I didn’t know what to do.
Now I think that drinking excessively when I wasn’t in a good place must have something to do with self-inflicting some sort of punishment, with not having patience or empathy with myself. With feeling guilty because I don’t feel I’m good enough or that I’m to blame for what is happening to me. From this new perspective, when I don’t feel good, I now ask myself what I would do for a friend who was feeling this way, how I would try and make them feel better. And when I find the answer, I try to do that for myself. Most of the time it works, but not always, although I have been drinking very little since the operation. I find it curious, that to give myself love in those moments, I first need to project that love onto someone else around me who I really love and then transfer that love to myself.
I firmly believe that they should teach about food in schools, and if possible, do it practically and promote an intimate relationship with food that makes us truly understand that we are what we eat, that what we eat becomes a physical part of ourselves. Of the molecules that make up our body and regulate its biology. Those molecules that inevitably connect our physical being to our spiritual and emotional being. I feel we spend so much time thinking that food is only related to our body on the scales, that it has to fit into a smaller size, or bigger. And we forget our biology and the marvellous molecules that keep the mechanisms of life active and balanced.
When I was young, I didn’t learn about food in school. I was lucky at least to always eat at home. Back then there wasn’t a school canteen and, living in a small place, the school timetable and work were synchronised so that most people could eat with family at midday. I was raised with an open mind towards new flavours and raised to eat everything. That if we were going somewhere else to eat, to never worry about what they would put on our plates. I think that instilling that mentality into me is one of the best things my parents did, and something I have been grateful for countless times on the international journey that is my life.
Very gradually, after that difficult time, my health kept improving. Juanpe and I started living together and it was easier to look after one another than it was to look after ourselves. And the love that I couldn’t give myself, he gave it to me. Food has gradually become a central element to our lives, and we’ve spent many years trying to understand and acquire a way of eating that gives us vitality and mental clarity.
Before the operation, I thought I had a healthy and balanced diet, only buying fresh ingredients, or non-processed frozen ones, trying to eat proteins, fats, and carbohydrates in proportion. However, after reading about the relationship between hormones and food, I think my relationship with food, despite having good foundations, wasn’t the way that best corresponded to my body, to my health, to my female self. When I was searching for books, I wanted to find something that would help me to implement something, that would guide me in the opportunity for change that the operation had given me.
There are three books in particular that in recent months have made me understand many things about food and hormones:
- Period repair manual, by Lara Briden
- Fix your period, by Nicole Jardim
- Hormone reset diet, by Sara Gottfried
What I would like to highlight most is that these books have the objective of empowering us as women, to take control of our health through knowledge and science, while making connections with our emotional state and diet too. They also help us to create productive communication with the health professionals that look after us. Through self-knowledge we can help them to help us. My diet has changed since reading these books and I now feel I understand much better what we eat and why we eat it. I feel more balanced, and I am complimenting the impact of the operation through what I eat. It makes me excited to think that this path of understanding has only just begun, and gradually I will carry on learning and adding a deeper layer of awareness to the enjoyment that cooking brings me and the relationship I have with food.