As a child my family moved from Guatemala to the U.S. Contrary to what people might think, our struggles with food insecurity and health began in the U.S. Why? Because in the U.S. we became a “low-income immigrant family” and that label came with a heavy burden. Food insecurity became our families’ reality.
As we continued to struggle, I remember many times going to local food banks with my mama and sisters. I remember seeing my mamas’ frustration looking at the abundant selection of processed foods, refined grains, sugary sweets, chips, juices and sodas, but very limited healthy food options.
Although we didn’t have many choices the “unhealthiest” foods were never an option for us. My mom always picked the healthiest she could find, but having limited resources meant sometimes not having enough money for fresh fruits and vegetables and opting for canned instead. Still, this was better than nothing. I remember her picking out the boxes of bisquick, cans of tuna and cream of mushroom soup and whipping up her famous Tuna Rolls.
My mama and papa were full time working parents of 4 children sacrificing and giving us the best they could with the little time and money they had. At that moment, none of us could know the negative effects that being poor in the U.S. would have on our short and long-term health, both physically and emotionally.
The exposure to U.S. media and the hyper-focus on appearances suddenly began to affect me emotionally. Entering my adolescence, I began to see my body with complete and utter disgust. I developed an unrealistic view of beauty and bodies, which led to an unhealthy relationship with food. I became a compulsive eater and self-hater. Later in life, this unhealthy lifestyle led to chronic dieting. My life revolved around severe food restriction, then out of control binge eating.
Flash forward 15 years, I am now a full time working mother of 2, I had found myself in the same economic state as my mama, but with more knowledge and information available online and at my fingertips. I knew I had to change things so that my children wouldn’t have to go through the same struggles that I did.
I wanted to learn how to eat healthy while still living on a tight budget. I began by pulling all my local grocery ads. Based off of the sales I would plan my healthy menus and try finding healthier food alternatives like exchanging sour cream for Greek yogurt and mayo for avocados. I began showing my children videos on the dangers of foods we were consuming and the inhumane treatment of animals. Believe it or not, this changed their way of thinking they began to make healthy choices on their own.
Overtime I have learned to gain control over my mind and body. I’ve learned to maintain a healthier relationship with food. I’ve begun seeing food for what it truly is and it’s function for my body. Food nourishes me, it strengthens me, it heals me, it gives me life. Now I realize my body deserves the best nourishment, so I eat mindfully. My overarching goal now is to teach, inspire, and learn from other women in the same economic circumstances as my mama and myself.
xoxo big bottom
My transformation from 2003-2015 with many ups and downs along the way.