I’m going through a massive transformation right now, and it’s not my bulging belly.
It started bubbling in me a year-and-a-half ago when C. was an infant and I made his baby food from scratch. Then, when he was a year old, we moved from D.C. to a town in California without any good restaurants. On our first day here, we picked up a farm box full of organic, seasonal fruits and vegetables. It was the first time I’d had a persimmon. Over time, I tried parsnips. Daikon radishes. Fresh lavender. We were bowled over by the green, leafy, full spinach. “This is the best spinach I’ve ever had,” A. said.
I started to teach myself how to cook and bake. In D.C., I ate carry out at least three times weekly, and met friends for brunch often. I let A. cook for me, and never cooked for friends because I was afraid I’d embarrass myself. But in the desert, I started cooking almost every meal — and mostly vegetarian because the meat and fish looked limp and slimy. I had disasters — including poisoning my family with raw beans and ruining a baking sheet that I used to broil pork — but over time, I improved.
I lost weight. And felt better. But I still craved sugar, and would make oatmeal cookies (still a major weakness) and buy daily chai lattes.
Then, about a month ago, the doctors were concerned I had gestational diabetes. I scored a 134 on my one-hour screening test — a marginal score, but my doctor ordered a three-hour test. Also, the baby, at 28 weeks, was in the 65th percentile but its belly was in the 86th percentile and my amniotic fluid was on the high side — all signs of diabetes. I took the three-hour test and passed. Since then, I’ve had two non-stress tests and my amniotic fluid is normal.
In the meantime, I investigated a diet for gestational diabetes. I started to really think — in a much deeper way — about the food I’m putting in my body. Our bodies — along with our relationships — are the most important assets we have. And we often abuse them.
Now I’m reading about healthy eating and staving off diseases and preserving our bodies into old age so that we’re happy and healthy. Along with regular exercise, it means mostly eating (pesticide-free) fruits and vegetables. Getting Omega-3s (there is scant fish here, so I get it in flaxseed for now). Drinking a ton of water. Eating a lot of fiber. Cutting back — or eliminating — sugar. Eating whole grains — brown rice, quinoa, bulgur. It means discovering ingredients I’ve never considered before — like miso, tahini, wheat germ, barley. It means considering — really considering — everything I ingest.
I’ve picked up several cookbooks from the library, including Moosewood Cooking for Health (black bean veggie burgers! butternut squash whole wheat pasta! roasted beet salad!), and have several on request, including by Annie Somerville, Alice Waters, Yotam Ottolenghi, Heidi Swanson and Deborah Madison. I’m reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle about her family’s adventure of living off of their garden, chickens, fruit trees and local producers for a year. And I’m feeling inspired to start a garden, get involved with local growers and cook healthy meals for my family every day. I finally have the time and energy to research healthy eating and cooking — and turn what I learn into a lifetime of eating well.