I spend my bus ride to and from work scrolling through the Weight Watchers Connect feature. People post about their struggles, their triumphs, and mostly their relationship with food. On how they would eat their feelings and stressors. Some admit that eating brings them the pleasure that their lives are lacking. One woman said “a pint of ice cream never gave me a nasty stare.” Some ate out of boredum. In their words it dawned on me that so many Americans have a terrible relationship with food. For many it stems from their up brining and using food to cope.
I’d like to believe that our eating habits reflect our up brining and life style. For me food was always available. My parents were eating organic before organic was a buzz word that graced grocery shelves. Every fall my parents would get a hog from Huttles in Lake city and vegetables/fruit from a meat locker in Downsville. It was a big day when the call came the our bacon and ham was ready for pick up. We had two chest freezers, you know the big ones that you can hide a body in. One was filled with pork and the other fruit, vegetables, and ice cream. As my parents loaded the freezers I would play in the empty boxes while begging “can we have tater tots!?”
My parents made sure that my tiny hands touched the soil. A good part of my childhood was spent tending to our small orchard and the fruit trees at our house in town. My dad taught me how to plant, trim and care for our trees. In the fall the picked apples and pears went to Ms. Dorothy. When I think of Ms. Dorothy I think of summer afternoons picking cucumbers, tomatoes, and preparing dill bundles for drying. Ms. Dorothy is the reason I have an obsession with mason jars. She taught me how to can vegetables and fruit, to make jam, apple sauce, and soup. Ms. Dorothy and my parents brought the farm to my childhood table.
As a child the grocery store wasn’t fun, the only thing my Mama bought was milk, bread, juice, Shasta, and cereal. I would try and sneak canned ravioli and pasta into her cart, she always caught me, took it out and said “no.” I would get so mad because all of my friends were eating canned food and boxed Mac & Cheese, I wanted to eat like they did. It didn’t matter how much I whined, I never got it. Mainly this was for my own health.
Back in the 80’s food labels held little to no valuable information. Canned and boxed prepared foods were loaded with salt. Sodium was the enemy in our house, my kidneys couldn’t handle it and my body was still healing from bladder reconstruction surgery. At one time all I could keep down was yogurt and jello. Trust me I have eaten more jello and yogart, than one soul can handle. Fish was a staple, until an eye ball appeared in my fish sandwich. Vegetables, I have a non existent relationship with vegetables. If it’s a root vegetable I will eat it, but you will not see me sit down to a salad. Salads are for rabbits, not humans. My Mama often made two meals, one family and a separate bland meal for me.
Even when I was given a clean bill of health, we still stuck to the low sodium no processed food regime. In college I was finally away from my parents and you guessed it I bought canned ravioli……. they were disgusting, same with boxed Mac & Cheese. I have never eaten Ramen or a Twinki, I am probably the only American who has achieved this feat. Over the years I have gained and lost weight. My weight gain was not due to my eating habits, but my lack of activity and the medications I was taking. Add in two pregnancies…. then you get the picture.
The fore mentioned is what brought me to Weight Watchers. Over the past month I have been asking myself “do you eat for comfort? Do you eat because you are bored?” The answer to both questions is no. For me food is nourishment and not comfort. Don’t get me wrong I love me some comfort food! Many ladies eat because they are stressed or emotional. When I am stressed food is the last thing I want. I rather take a nap or veg out on the couch. If I’m emotional, I want to nap with my dog, not food.
Food doesn’t define me, I define it. My farm to table upbringing has a huge impact on my relationship with food and choices. I stray away from microwave meals, canned goods, Tyson products, and artificial flavorings/sweeteners. Sure I look at pop tarts and granola bars longingly, but I know they are not good for me. Cupcakes and I well let’s just say I can’t have just one, so I don’t even bother to bring them home. Same goes for cookies, cookies stay on the shelf. For me it’s knowing what triggers a slippery slope down fall. Those triggers stay at the store, where they belong.
It takes a lot of strength and will power to pass up the bakery department and center isles of the store. All of the good stuff lies on the edges. Even better the freshest food lives at your local farmers market or butcher. Don’t be defined by your grocery store, think outside of the store and buy from your local farmers.