Finally Freedom From My Bondage to Junk Food

By Sonia Holycross, BS

Finally Freedom From My Bondage to Junk Food

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For me growing up in generational poverty was tough but I did not know any better. I remember food stamps being the one and only thing that we had an abundance of, or at least that was the perception, what I was taught. I remember not having enough money for bills, toys, and extra fun things, but I do not have many memories of ever truly being hungry. I remember towards the end of the month that food may be getting low and the choices limited but we always had food. In fact food was something that I was taught could comfort you, support you and be there for you when things were not going well.

My mother used to keep a package of Pepperidge Farm School Boy cookies under her bed and usually a bag of Mikesells Chips just in case she needed to feel supported and comforted. After all, she could not control a lot of things in her life but her food intake and her food choices, she could. So I learned that eating what I wanted could satisfy something within me, through food, but no one said anything about what kind of food. My first memory of standing in line for free food was when we used to wait in line for big bricks of cheese and butter. Making amazing grilled cheese sandwiches fried in government issued butter was one of my favorite meals and I learned how to make them, for myself, at a very young age!

The first of the month was like Christmas, going to the grocery store with paper money (food stamps) and purchasing more of what we wanted. Not only did I get boxes of Fruity Pebbles and Captain Crunch (over the W.I.C. approved cereals which were actually healthier for me) but we also bought whatever package looked appealing to us. Wasting food and consistently having leftovers thrown in the trash because it meant nothing to purchase more, after all “we were not paying for it” was the norm. These patterns turned into habits which created who I am today- a young women, just 39, and overweight with several chronic pain issues including high blood pressure and high cholesterol that if not addressed and handled will lead to my early and probably miserable decline and eventual death. You may be thinking ‘wow, that’s dramatic,’ but I ask ‘how dramatic is it, really?’
My father died at just 59 after suffering a long battle with kidney disease, heart disease, high blood pressure and damaging cholesterol. Before my father died he was on a strict chicken diet and a low sodium diet. I remember K.F.C. delivering him buckets of chicken! My mother who weighed almost 300 pounds, found herself deciding that lap band surgery was her only option to loose weight because she could not do it on her own or even with the support of a specialist. She tried every diet imaginable and yet it took her almost 2 years after the lap band surgery to lose the weight. She is now at 125 pounds but miserable with psoriatic arthritis and a slue of other diseases that are perpetuated by the lap band and her inability to retain life essential vitamins and minerals.

So in short, I was taught to just eat and to believe that when I find myself overweight that it is because I went out of the food pyramid (or the plate as it is now). Much like poverty, it was reinforced that life is chaotic and things like food should be quick, fast, easy and taste good because life doesn’t! If I can purchase it- then its okay, I mean why would the government allow me to buy things that are bad for me, right? We lived from crisis to crisis just surviving, so to question the majority was something that no one did.

Now that I am on a plant-based diet, I am learning that 80% of the health issues that my family has faced are directly related to our food intake. I am determined to teach this to my children through my example and my relationship with food. I am in awe about how much less I actually spend on food now that I understand that my food decisions are related to my health! I no longer eat for today but I eat for tomorrow. This is a key change and absolutely essential to breaking away from much more than just financial poverty. My style of eating is now just as important as what’s in my bank account. I want to live a healthy, happy life free from any bondage despite my economic class!

author-sonia-holycrossSonia Holycross, BS is a Development & Education Coordinator for Partners In Hope. She supports families moving from crisis-based living into a stable and secure lifestyle. Sonia has facilitated and participated in city wide initiatives aimed at bringing awareness to the issues of poverty. Through programs like Bridges our of Poverty she has developed relationships that cross economic and racial boundaries allowing her to be a driving force for systemic change in the community. As a single parent to five beautiful girls, she challenges the boundaries of generational poverty patterns. Sonia holds degrees in Social Work and Organizational Management. She is currently enrolled in the Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate program.