Monday, August 10, 2009

My locavore journey, the very begining...

Fabulous hot weekend! We went to the pool all day on Sunday with friends from France so the kids could get all their energy out, but we think it just exhausted the parents and left the kids re-energized - not fair! And short of having to endure the junk food served poolside I was having a great time.

I was lamenting the nature of having so few options for eating out when you are a Food Captive. This happens to all of us at times and I have a lecture on it in my Foods classes. On cruise boats or planes, in schools, prisons, hospitals, while dining out with friends, eating at someone else's house or when you work at an institution that has no meal plan or limited options - you are a Food Captive! And short of bringing your own food as often as you can it is very frustrating to like great food and be served less than stellar fodder at each eating opportunity.

I eat that other stuff, as little as possible and as graciously as possible so as not to bother my hosts or hostesses. But yuck, I am always happy to be home. Twenty years ago when I started my dietetic career I was living on microwave entrees, boil in bag rice, microwave popcorn, ramen noodles and cereal, lots of cereal. I had phases of liquid meal replacements and I watched every calorie and fat gram going in and coming out on the treadmill. And all to no real avail, I still was able to overeat and weighed over 200 pounds at my highest and I was miserable.
I told myself that I needed to be thin, I knew all about nutrition and had a degree or two after all! But, my emotional eating side and genetic predisposition to eat as many of the 3800 calories a day afforded me by our gov't subsidised processed food industry was too much to bear and I shamefully overindulged at every turn. In retrospect, as I filled myself with excess quantities of low fat processed food (I don't ever recall buying any vegetables unless they came in my Lean Cuisine) I can hear my internal gourmet crying out "wait, the next bite has got to be better!" And sadly, it never was any better and I was just smothering under the guise of good nutrition gone bad!

So, one day I gave up. I learned about compulsive overeating and the most effective cure for the condition: eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full and eating whatever you really want, no mater how "healthy" or "unhealthy." I had nothing to lose except my waistline so I gave it a try. During my overeating low-fat food days I always denied myself french fries and this is what I really wanted, so for almost that whole first week I ate french fries. Not very healthy, but oh so satisfying and I wasn't overeating. I may have actually lost a pound or two that week because I only ate when I was hungry and stopped just before I was full. I was relearning how to eat in accordance with my body.
It was a slow process, but I kept at it and at it. And while I did not allow myself to get on a scale I could tell from my jeans that I was losing a bit of weight so I took the next step. I decided to give up on the food that I really didn't like and only eat food I truly loved (besides french fries.) I started trying to cook because I knew restaurant food was way too fatty. But I was miserable in the kitchen. Mainly because I was trying to make everything low-fat, as I couldn't shake that little dietitian on my shoulder saying health was all about eating low-fat. I also had no one to show me how to cook, my early years were very much self-taught and disastrous. I have ex-boyfriends who will claim I was trying to kill them with my cooking!
So, over the course of a year I lost about 50 pounds. Pounds that I have never regained (except for pregnancy of course!) My weight has been even lower over these last ten years and it still fluctuates seasonally. I always gain some weight in the summer and lose it again over the winter. But overall, I haven't been overweight, except in my head at times. So in my journey with food the first step was to overcome the compulsive overeating habits I had acquired and learn to handle my emotions without food. The next crucial step was learning how to enjoy real food and get rid of my processed food habits. For that I had to learn about food and cooking and this has been the most pleasurable part of the journey.
But I will save that part of the story for another blog, I am getting hungry now and I want to go engage in some ethical hedonism by savoring a local organic tomato sandwich made with a multi-grain seed bread (which I make weekly) and some leftover mayo I made for a potato salad earlier this week. Yum!
PS - we got our third egg today!

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