I grew up in a Lithuanian household where food was central to life — probably not so far afield from how my pagan (read earth-honoring) ancestors lived. After all I started with a nipple in my mouth that gushed all kinds of life giving nourishing bio-chemical substances into my body, and my ancestors being pretty connected to nature and Life itself knew and honored the power of that nipple.
I remember standing by my grandmother by the stove where she was frying up potato pancakes or with her in the garden after the last spring frost weeding the radishes so that they would have enough space to grow. I now appreciate the taken-for-granted gift of growing up in a food-culture that was the milieu of my childhood.
It got me close to the qualities of nourishing and nurturing… Food was a point of bringing us together, connecting us with each other, with our environment and with our bodies. It was also used to tear our family apart, to control, to punish. I remember the confusion watching my dad throw out sausage that my mom bought and hid in the fridge as well as having to hide the number of homemade oatmeal cookies my mother made that i ate.
This food culture I was born into had its own share of positive and negative aspects for sure. And my intention has been to sit with the confusion and try to make sense of these seeming opposites to find integration and coherence instead of being caught fighting between the two.
Food became the lens through which I saw most of my life, and it was such a point of control that I was often thinking about it — probably way too much. The baseline of feeling worthy to receive unconditional love… and food was linked and fraught with complexity that was at the source of big struggle in me. This led me to pursue and explore all kinds of ways of eating – informed by a striving for an unattainable perfection — guided to almost compulsively find better and better ways to eat. Im certain this exploration led to the inner distortions that led to outer disordered eating.
Along that journey, I started learning the differences between food and nourishment, which was not only what I put in my mouth.
I navigated my way through disordered eating over the last two decades and in the process uncovered a level of compassion and tenderness for myself. I’ve come to understand that what I put into my mouth has more to do with what goes on between my head, heart and belly which can make navigating our relationship to food, eating and nourishment a complex endeavor. One additional dimension that complicates the journey is the shameless manipulation of food by our industrial food system which uses addictive chemicals and improperly prepared ingredients. It becomes quite a herculean task to approach the table and find nourishment.
So I feel some peace when I present myself as a nourishment guide to help people navigate their own relationship to themselves, what is on their plate and the journey from the plate to their mouths. It’s good stuff – sometimes challenging but profoundly rewarding once we return to our birthright of deep nourishment with food, connection and belonging at the table sharing our humanity with others.