Six years ago, I loved watching cooking shows like Rachel Ray and Sandra Lee and often tried to copy their dishes. The food looked beautiful and while the cooking ladies on TV raved about how great it tasted, mine never tasted all that special – even when I followed the recipe to a T. At the time, I was over 350 lbs, and lived off of fast food, TV dinners, and the semi-homemade meal of the moment.
A lot changed when I became pregnant with my son, and (surprise surprise) there was drama. The what and how and who aren’t important but circumstances forced me to change my eating habits and I started buying fresh food and stopped eating fast food and take out. I still didn’t exactly know what to do with it all, so I relied on the tricks I’d learned from Food Network to cheat, and make things ALMOST from scratch. It was better than McDonald’s but there were a lot of cans, packets, boxes and jars in my life. During my pregnancy I lost 60 lbs and had a beautiful, healthy baby boy and life was good.
After he was born, I wasn’t “eating for the baby” anymore and was able to work and had a little money so I went back to the old habits of fast food and take out. I lived at home with my parents and ate dinner with them most nights, but lunch and breakfast were often eaten with one hand in the car, headed from the drive-thru back to work. I put back the weight that I had lost, plus more.
Something had to be done. My son was two and a wild child. I had nightmares of him running into the street my fat ass being too slow to catch him. I tried every fad diet, joined three different gyms (never went to any of them) and basically considered myself a failure. I thought that if I couldn’t lose weight for myself, then surely I could do it for this little boy that I loved more than life itself – and if I couldn’t lose it for him, what kind of mother was I???
Eventually, my beautiful friend Hilary told me she was having gastric bypass surgery. I’d heard of the surgery, of course, and had contemplated it, but it wasn’t until I knew someone in “real life” that I was brave enough to really explore it. Once I was open about it, I found that the nurse at my doctor’s office had had the surgery and lost 100 lbs (and a crappy husband) and she recommended her surgeon. I called him that afternoon and made an appointment, and 3 short months later, I had my guts rearranged and changed my life.
I knew that I had to change EVERYTHING about my eating habits and my thoughts about food if I was going to make this work. Due to complications with my surgery, I wasn’t able to eat “real food” for about 6 months, I lived on protein shakes and soup (and diet coke..shh.) and that time really reset my brain.
I realized that if I was only going to be able to eat small meals for the rest of my life, I wanted those meals to be AWESOME. I didn’t want to waste my 5-6 bites of food on a Big Mac, I wanted it to be the best burger ever. I began reading about food, and watching cooking documentaries, hosted by chefs instead of celebrities with big boobs, and reading recipes. I had inherited my grandmothers cookbooks when she passed away and I pulled them out and began reading them like novels.
I ended up losing 180 lbs, and actually got to down to 140 lbs, which, for my frame, is too thin. People began asking me if I was ill. I added butter to my diet and got up to 165 which is really my ideal weight. I’m a full figured gal and enjoy my curves.
People say that you can never really CURE an addiction – you can fight it, or you can replace it. Alcoholics quit drinking and start smoking, smokers quit smoking and gain 50 pounds. I replaced my food addiction with… a food addiction. But instead of eating, and eating, and eating food, I read about food, think about food, study food, talk about food, cook food, and, when I’m hungry, eat food.
The knowledge that I’ve gained in all this reading has helped me keep the weight off, more than anything else. I truly believe that real food, as close to the way God made it as possible, is so much more satisfying than any fat-free, sugar-free mess you could come up with. A few bites of cheesecake, full of cream and butter and sugar, will satisfy and delight you, where a whole hunk of some fat-free, sugar free cheese-product-type cake-thing will fill your belly but not your soul.
We’ve stretched our bellies out with all this unsatisfying crap, and taught our brains not to be satisfied until we’ve eaten three bowlfuls. A single bowl of soup, made with fresh ingredients, and a big hunk of homemade bread with real butter should be more than enough to satisfy a person for one meal. But with all the processed crap we’ve fed our bodies, it never works, because once our bodies process out all the sodium, sugar, chemicals, additives and gets down to the tiny bit of nutrition left, it wants more!!
This rant was brought to you this morning by my breakfast. I was staring at the fridge wondering what to eat, and I was tired of my usual eggs, and I really REALLY wanted fettucini alfredo. I thought, well, why the hell not. 6 years ago I’d have run to the store to get either a TV dinner or a jar of alfredo sauce. (Or, honestly, I’d have run to Whataburger for 2 potato,egg and cheese tacos, 2 hashbrowns and a diet coke)Instead, I melted a little butter in a pan, added flour and made a roux. Then I added the last of the cream to make a bechamel sauce, seasoned it well with salt, pepper and a little garlic, added some parmesean, and added some cooked bowtie pasta (all out of fettucini). That’s really not a lot of anything – a little butter, a little flour, a little cheese.. .and you’ve got one of the most satisfying dishes on the planet. I ate less than a bowlful and I’m totally content. My 1 year old loved it too!
Cooking is about so much more than putting hot food on the table. It’s about providing nutrition for your body, and for the bodies of the people you love, and about satisfying the soul as well. Good food isn’t a luxury – it’s a neccesity and we should ALL enjoy it.