The Well-Fed Project commenced, unknowingly, years ago upon moving to London from Minnesota. Prior to that food was simply an afterthought. Something equated simply with calories to burn throughout the day. My family, being forth generation American, had mostly lost its traditional culinary heritages. Sometimes we indulged in Grandpa’s lasagna recipe and other times we’d investigate Grandma’s recipe offerings from her church’s fundraising cookbook but there was little connecting food to who we were or how it benefits our body. And without the benefits of Instagram and Facebook, there was little to inspire the homecook. Save for a reason for the family to gather nightly and for Christmas and Thanksgiving feasts, food in and of itself held little importance in my upbringing.
Looking back at that time, I remember never really feeling good. Moody, tired, underweight, ruddy complexion. When I moved to London with my husband in 2004, I was absolutely thrilled. I loved this city starting from baggage claim at Heathrow airport on our very first visit. “Did you hear those accents? Oh my God, I have to live here. I have to hear those accents everyday.” But, with this radical life change came culture shock, a loss of identity and persistent latent anxiety. My already weak digestive system deteriorated. Every morsel I ate commenced a boxing match within my tummy; I was getting beaten up from the inside out. By some luck, the gym we had joined had an amazing nutritionist well versed in such afflictions. She gave me a diet to follow, took me off gluten for a period of time and recommended some healing supplements. Within a week, I had never felt so good in the recollection of my whole life. And so my interest in food and nutrition began.
Life got busy. I adapted to my new environment. And then my daughter came into my life. At 18 months she was a determined vegetarian, spitting out any bit of meat we incorporated into her food. At 2 years old she explained, “Mama, you do not eat things with eyes. It will hurt them.” But, she was always getting sick and she was always so tired. I realized I didn’t know how to feed her. I didn’t know the first thing about what the body needs to grow and thrive.
I took her to my savior nutritionist. She suggested some dietary changes and some supplements – mainly probiotics to counteract the effects of all of the doses of antibiotics prescribed by her doctor. Again, within weeks there was a definite improvement in her health and constant illnesses started to lessen with her body growing stronger. I was newly committed to learning how to use food to fuel her health and our vitality.
And so this project begins at the beginning. A learning journey about food, nutrition and wellness. There is a certain sadness to having subjugated something so essential to life to all other pursuits for much of my life. How much more joy and energy would there have been if I only felt good in pursuit of them?
But as the Chinese proverb says, “The best time to plant a tree is 10 years ago. The next best time is now.” And so now, the Well-fed Project commences, at the beginning.