by: Ana Guzman
Before I started with FEAST, I was a housewife dedicated only to my kids, my house and my husband.
My motivation to start with the FEAST program was that my daughter was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the age of 8. We had to start the battle for her life. Fortunately, she completed chemotherapy and is now in remission.
After hearing about all the possible side effects of chemotherapy, I decided that I needed to start to feed my kids, especially my daughter, with better meals. I wanted to do everything I could to decrease the chances of her developing negative side effects that might be caused by feeding her bad food.
When I joined FEAST, I started to learn exactly what I was looking for; healthy meals, budgeting advice, nutritional information, kitchen and cooking skills. But what surprised me the most about the program is that I also found emotional support in a very friendly safe place. This is what makes FEAST so special.
As a mother, I was giving all of my time and effort to my family and I was forgetting to also take care of and spend time on myself.
The FEAST program gave me the opportunity to connect more with my emotions, share how my day was with a group of supportive people and talk about other things in my life in a safe environment. I was able to find myself, break out of my shy shell and open up to my community and friends. At first, I started just sharing about the ok parts of my day, but eventually, I started sharing the not ok parts of my day too; when I was having trouble with my autistic son at home or that I was feeling not good enough because my family didn’t show appreciation for all the housework I did.
That opportunity to let my feelings out made me feel relief. Hearing other participants in the same situation made me feel confident and important in my own self because I realized I was not the only one struggling emotionally, but I was the only one that I can work to change that in myself.
I realized working on the emotional part is also an important part of being healthy and being able to help my family to be healthy as well.
When I learned that opening up and sharing made me feel relief, I started expressing my feelings more with my family instead of keeping everything to myself. I noticed that I received a good response from them that I always thought was going to be negative.
The FEAST program also taught me how to be persistent with my family, especially when introducing the new ingredients into our diet. I learned to cook the food in different ways, for example I would feed them raw or grilled food instead of boiled because that’s how they liked it.
Since FEAST, my life has made a 360 degree change. My family knows that I am persistent and that every meal has to have veggies. No questions asked. They also know that the way we eat may be different now, but it’s for our own good.
I also I changed from being shy to being able to communicate very well with my community and this important program from which I learned so much. I am a proud mom and now, I am also a proud Community Manager with FEAST. I am the lead teacher of five FEAST groups and have lead twelve groups total.
Thanks to FEAST, I have a career, I am a community leader, and I found my emotional, spiritual and whole self.