So far, I haven’t talked much about FOOD, because…well…it’s another 4-letter word. But let’s add that dynamic of the journey today, because it’s a critical and complicated component. Stating right up front, this is one dynamic that I am still working to figure out, and probably will my whole life. In my past I have had an unhealthy addiction to food. I was drawn to it, I was controlled by it, I was a slave to it. Somewhere, somehow my emotions became tied to food, and food became a vehicle to calm me down, to comfort me, to reward myself, to fill any gap I might be experiencing. But then it became something much worse. It became a habit. Eating became an involuntary response, an unconcsious activity. That was the point-of-no-return that I wish I hadn’t missed. But I’m here to tell you that you CAN return from the point-of-no-return. You totally can.
My parents were born and raised in the years following the Great Depression. I agree with Tom Brokaw, they are “The Greatest Generation”and nobody knows what HARD really is more than that generation. My mother would tell stories about her childhood and also about the years when she was a young mother at age 18. There were nights when dinner for 4 was a can of Campbell’s soup and a little bread. They lived “without” and learned how to “do without” as a course of life. To this day, I gently remind my mom that she doesn’t have to rinse out straws or zip lock bags for reuse — she can just toss them out, because we have more. It just wasn’t how she grew up. Every straw was precious. You didn’t know when or IF you would get another.
By the time I came along in 1966, life was much better for my parents and our family. My dad worked 7 days a week at an Aeronautic Engineering business called Kearfott in Little Falls. It doesn’t exist anymore, was sold off years ago. My dad worked 3rd shift (11pm to 7am) making parts for the space program for NASA. My mom gave us kids the best gift any mother could have given — she was at home for us when we came home from school. At the time, I knew it felt good, secure, warm. As I got older, I came to realize just how important the gift of her time and her presence was to us kids. It shaped who we became, and I am forever grateful.
My father died when I was 13 of esophageal cancer. He was a smoker 🙁 and it caught up to him. Losing my dad was a deep and profound injury to our family, on so many levels. To my mother, it propelled her into the “breadwinner” role overnight, which must have been so frightening for her. My mother saved our lives. She saved us. She went to work and raised us without hesitation. Looking back, she must have been filled with grief and fear. But she dug down deep into herself and pulled herself up by her bootstraps and did what needed doing. This is who my mom is. She is the strongest, most tenacious women I have ever known. When faced with adversity, you rise to meet it. Nah, you rise to look it in the eye and Stare It DOWN!
My mom has never weighed more than 140 pounds in her whole life. As a young woman she would work to maintain her 99 pound frame. [Read that to mean “my mom could Eat!”] When she was pregnant, she might weigh 120. Now, at the fine age of 78, she weighs 140. She is genetically gifted 🙂 My mom has a heathy relationship with food. Coming out of her world of “living without” my mom raised us in a world of abundance. Our house was filled with wonderful food, and lots of treats. There were 5 of us kids, so there was alot of food around. My mom could be around lots of food and not have to eat it right away. In fact to her — she felt comforted by having the food around. Knowing it was there. But for me, living in a house of 5 kids — the rules of the game were different. Eat it, or it won’t be there later. So it trained us to eat right away, and eat fast, and eat as much as you want — otherwise somebody else will. It’s so ironic how in one generation, my family’s relationship with food moved from deprivation to gluttony. Powerful nugget of information when you work to unwind this stuff.
My mom provided us with healthy meals, vegetables and such. Vegetables were from a can in those days, so they were mushy, soft and unappealing. I rebelled and would not eat vegetables. It wasn’t until college when I had chinese food for the first time that i realized that vegetables could be crunchy! Of course by then they were deep-fried, fried twice in oils, and well……not much vegetable left by the time it made it into the take out box.
Fast forward to the present – my husband and I have been reprogramming ourselves about Food. Peter and I decided a few months after I joined Weight Watchers to start eating Clean Food. We’ve begun to choose foods based upon one premise — Choose the least processed version of everything. So, if we want bread, we’re going for a Whole Grain bread. If we’re going for a pasta, we’re going for a whole grain pasta, preferably one with one ingredient. whole wheat semolina. Period. Fewer ingredients, straight from the earth if possible. We eat tremendous amounts of fruits and vegetables. We eat less meat, not no meat, just smaller amounts. It’s the way Peter was raised In Holland, where meat was the side dish to the vegetable. Wild!!
So we are starting to look at food as the fuel to our bodies. And now that I’m running and I can “feel my engine burning” — I can relate to this concept. These two things make sense together in my life now. Both of these new behaviors, running and eating for fuel, encourage each other. Crazy good stuff! I can tell you that I’ve never felt better in my life. My skin is clearer, my allergies have reduced, my digestive system is , er…regular, and the weight is shedding off. We’re not perfect with our eating. We’re not striving to be perfect. We’re striving to learn about and understand the food we are putting in our bodies, and to care about the choices we are making. I will also say that we don’t eat any fat-free or diet stuff. Nope. When we want cheese — we go real deal. Gorgeous bries, and decadent cave aged gruyeres. We just don’t eat it every day. When I want bread, I go for the gusto — delicious olive breads or this jalapeno cheddar bread from Whole Foods. Oh, god — every Saturday I make myself a turkey sandwich on that and it’s heaven. But I have it just once a week. So I’m learning to treat myself with special foods only periodically. And to fill the rest of my emotions with activities, family, friends and laughter. Turns out these things are as necessary to a happy life as your fork…….
Ciao for now……..Diane