Hmm. It's soon dinnertime. What are you going to have? Ravioli, a cheeseburger, Chicken Pot Pie or a nice rare steak with juicy fat on it?
As a kid, from the time I was 10 I was a dieter, and my father forced me to cut the fat off of my steak. It made me crave steak fat like crazy.
How often do you really think about what you want vs. what you should eat? Before you became a dieter, or decided to watch what you eat, was food always so complicated? Not for me.
I grew up with an enormous love and appreciation for really great food. With French and Italian roots, Sunday dinners were big in my family. I remember seeing my Nana lovingly stirring a simmering pot of her meat gravy while Aunt Millie rolled out her homemade stuffed diapers, better known as ravioli. OMG! You could smell the aromas coming from Nana's apartment as soon as you walked out of the elevator.
I was put on my first diet when I was 10 years old. No more pasta. No more anything tasty. Just boring, gross food. From that point on, that began my obsession with food and eating.
As a dieter, you’re given the message that you shouldn't eat the foods you love because you can't be trusted to eat them in moderation, 'like a normal person'.
No wonder, because packed with the food you have so many happy memories, your brain pushes you to eat because food is associated with dopamine release and that makes you feel so good. Before you know it, you’re tossing your cookies, getting sick.
Dieting drives a sense of deprivation, making it almost impossible to eat moderately. I stopped dieting back in 2006, because I finally saw how my food obsession was affecting my daughter, Cara. My poor role modeling was driving her to become an emotional eater. She had gained weight and her doctor wanted to put her on a diet.
I put my foot down because I didn't want her to grow up obsessed with food feeling as food deprived as I did. I knew a diet was not the answer to her problems.
We got lucky and found Doc Frost, a friend who taught us both how to eat in tune with our body's hunger. He said it was clinically known as intuitive eating. It was a diet-free alternative way of weight control.
Through that process, I've found a happy medium so I don't gorge myself at every meal. Cara is a better student of intuitive eating than me. I still have some layers of deprivation to untangle that drive me to overeat whenever I'm under stress. But she didn't grow up with that sense of neverending hunger like I did. I taught her by example explaining that food was not her enemy. She learned to respect it and love it and she's a much pickier eater because of it.
Today Cara is a professionally trained chef and a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America. She's always testing out and improving her recipes. Yesterday on Facebook she sent me photos of some homemade ravioli she prepared for a regular Tuesday night dinner.
She stuffed it with mushrooms, onions, kale, brie and goat cheese. Definitely not my cup ‘o tea, but being at Culinary, she’s developed fancier and finickier taste buds than me.
My point is this. Ca knows that she can make and eat ravioli anytime she wants. At her age I didn't get that message.
At 20, I thought of ravioli as the holy grail, so I never gave myself permission to prepare it, but that didn't mean that I never ate it. Instead of investing the hours of time and energy to shop, prepare and clean up the meal, I would buy 2 cans of Chef Boyardee cheese ravioli and eat them straight out of the can, probably standing at the sink, looking around to see if anyone is around the corner watching me. It was desperate acts like that and grabbing steak fat out of the garbage can that taught me to think of myself as an animal around food. It's been decades since those years, but they have made an imprint on my soul. Thankfully I know longer think of myself in those disparaging ways, but my guess is that if I never gave up dieting, I would still see myself as a bottomless garbage can. What are your thoughts about your relationship to food and how you eat? Can you relate to mine?
Come join me on Facebook and let's chat about this. How do you choose what you eat and are you eating what you really want?