Sweet Laurel has always been about body positivity.
We believe that loving your body begins with what you put in your body. We’re here to say that it is okay to indulge in delicious, nourishing food, and not feel bad about it for a second!
It’s can be so easy to get caught up in the mental and emotional struggle of body acceptance, especially in the culture we live in. I myself, struggled with loving my body leading up to co-founding Sweet Laurel, and through my healing journey through food, I actually overcame my own body image crisis, because I discovered food was my pathway to health. This Valentine’s Day, I want to take a moment to share with you a bit about self love and care, through nourishment.
I would argue that the most important aspect of self TLC is nourishment. When your body is properly nourished, you can wake up ready to tackle everyday, as opposed to awaking fatigued, although the day hasn’t even started.
Before I began my healing through food journey, everyday began with fighting inflammation. I was struggling with properly digesting food because I was eating food that caused inflammation in my body, like whole grain toast with peanut butter (although this caused inflammation in my body, it may not cause inflammation in yours). When my functional medicine doctor explained to me the correlation between Hashimoto’s Disease and inflammatory foods like gluten, I completely overhauled my approach to self care and nourishment. I removed grains, refined sugar and dairy, all while reinoculating my gut with good bacteria. I literally had to rebuild the walls of my gut due to years of ignoring this important step towards wellness. Another reason my gut needing repairing was due to several rounds of antibiotics I took for my acne in college. This wreaked havoc on my gut lining, sine I never thought to take probiotics after my rounds of antibiotics.
So, my healing through food journey began with this two pronged approach: removing the inflammatory foods for my body (grains, refined sugar, dairy and legumes) and reinoculating my gut with good, healthy gut flora. This meant fermented foods became part of nearly every meal. I would literally take a spoonful of my homemade coconut yogurt either before or after eating, and find ways to work fermented veggies into meals.
Changing my diet was not the only hurdle I had to overcome. When focusing so much on food, it’s easy to get caught up in body image issues. Living in Los Angeles especially, one is surrounded by a dieting and fitness obsessed culture of looking perfect at all times. When I started my healing through food journey, I was about 25 pounds underweight, and I actually secretly enjoyed this, until my health took a deep plunge. I was truly too thin, and my body could not function properly with the body fat percentage I was living with. My body’s systems were not functioning properly. I went four years without a menstrual cycle, my hormones were completely out of wack, and my bones were suffering due to the lack of estrogen in my system. I was 26 and pre-menopausal with osteopenia. I had no energy, and literally could not work out. I remember going on a hike with my family and being about a half mile behind everyone else, and thinking what is wrong with me?
Quickly, I had to come to terms with the fact that if I wanted to be well, I needed to embrace the idea of self care through nourishment. With each bite of food I took, I had to cognitively accept I would be one step closer to wellness. Food was my last resort. This is when Sweet Laurel came on to the scene.
It was during this time that I began tinkering in the kitchen with ingredients I could eat. The foods I missed, like brownies, cookies, muffins and cake… I was determined to make versions I could eat and enjoy. I quickly discovered that with a few, whole food ingredients, delicious food was possible. One day I made a chocolate cake, and I brought it to my dear friend Claire’s house. I told her it was a grain free cake, made with literally 5 ingredients. She couldn’t believe the flavor, texture and crumb. That is when Sweet Laurel was born. Claire turned to me and said, So, what are we doing with this? She knew we had to share Sweet Laurel with the world. Not only was it delicious, but it was a simple and wholesome approach to eating. Now people struggling with dietary restrictions could have cake on their birthday, and good for you cake at that! Cake that actually tastes like it is supposed to, all while providing nourishment from the inside out.
This Valentine’s Day, nourish yourself with wholesome goodness. That is our way of loving yourself. Here are some of our favorite Valentine’s Day recipes. xoxo, Laurel
Photos by Elsie Christine.