The Changing Role Of Food In My Life

 

veggie meal burgers grilled
Mushroom-Carrot-Garbanzo Bean Burgers.

Food is a strong player in any person’s ensemble of tools to survive. Think of what you need to keep you on the stage of life and make your list of the roles food and other parts of your life play.  What are the needs they serve? Have you assigned the right life tools to the correct needs?

Think of it as a Playbill. You are the director so you can change all the “Players” whenever you like.

For me if there were to be a cartoon made of the transition in my life that food has gone through, it would be these two make-believe story lines:

1) One day my brain’s stage manager took to the mike, off in the wings, and made an announcement for my whole mind and body to hear:

“Due to reassignment, “Food” will not be playing the role of “Great Comforter”. Tonight the role of “Great Comforter” will be played by “Music”.”

2) Then a few days later he took to the mike again and let it be known:

“Tonight the roles of “Medication” and “Nutrition” will be played by “Food”, And the role of “Family Heritage” will not be played by “Food” It will instead be played by “Family Photos”.

Food has always earned its high level of respect in how it fits into our lives.  As I’ve indicated, for me food can wear many hats, some of them appropriate and some of them, well let’s just say there are better players for some of the roles.

I can’t think of a time when something meaningful happened where there was no food.  I remember that food was always central part of things.  My grandmothers and mom prided themselves on providing only the best for family gatherings. It was an important role they played and they knew it. It was part of the love.

Besides the obvious meanings of the holidays and special days and events, it’s funny how we equate food with them.  For my growing up family this is what the days meant in terms of food:

January 1st: ribs and sauerkraut

Easter: grandma’s Lemon Pie

Sundays at the other grandmother’s farm: fried chicken, roast beef, ham, green beans, dinner rolls, pineapple and marshmallow salad, muffins, mashed potatoes, noodles, cake and pie.

Forth of July: Waffles, candy apples,  breaded tenderloin

Friday nights Pizza and French fried pickles

Thanksgiving: Turkey, Capon, dressing, potatoes, scalped potatoes, pecan pie, cherry pie

Christmas: Same as Thanksgiving plus a ton of candy, summer sausage and cheese and crackers

Birthdays: A feast of whatever the person wanted.

Food was there as part of heart to heart talks. A bowl of ice cream was there whenever there was a reason to be sad or it was a bad day.

We had lots of body and brain activities including riding bikes, homework, friends to run around and play with outside. We did lots of camping trips,  took dance lessons, piano lessons, swim team, volleyball, and for a few years we played in the school band. I was in 4-H and in a girls club. Our lives were full ones, we didn’t just sit around and eat.  Yet food is what brought us together every day at the dinner table and when something significant happened, good or bad.

I took off for other parts of the country while in my 20’s. And food was always a reminder of home. Food was more than to feed me when I was hungry, it was a thread that kept fresh in my mind what I grew up with and with whom. It’s no different for many others  Just like when I was a child and I’d be offered a bowl of ice cream when sad, food had played my comforter way too often.  Those attachments are strong ones and the idea of no longer having them in my life seemed like parts of my life dying.

Just like people finding the right line of work, different parts of my life make more sense to fill a specific need I have.  There is a difference between being hungry and having anxiety.  I no longer  handle them the same way. Food resolves hunger and if smart about what food I eat,  it can treat my health problems. Food does not resolve anxiety. Meditation, good communication and a plan of action are my tools now for anxiety. No need to hand me a Hershey bar. No thanks.

Hunger And Anxiety…

…And never the twain shall meet.

So with less inflammation, and finding more clarity in my life, I am grateful that I finally broke the cycle of misusing food and starving my body of nutrients.  My rediscovering music and writing for anxiety has been just what I’ve needed.

The role of the character in this story who finally figured this out at age 55 is  being played by….”Me”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Body’s Fight For A Plant Based Diet

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This is NOT a typical weight loss journey you hear about. I didn’t decrease calories and then started to jog in the mornings or joined a gym.   I am one of a significant number of women who look large because I have  lipedema. You will learn more about that as you read my blog.

I wrote this entry months ago. Please work with your doctor and check out the resources to get more precise details on the doctors whose research and books in the end has helped me calm the beasts known as lipedema and lymphedema. Also it’s helped with my diabetes and even at times my dercum’s disease and fibro.

There are great resources listed below. And if you want to get a feel for it all watch Forks Over Knives on YouTube or Netflix. It will give you a general idea. (note…there are other food selections you can use besides what you see on that program, so no worries)

              Super easy, homemade tasty veggie burgers, stuffed mushrooms, cashew cheese

Mutiny Of The Body

For the first time in 55 years, my body took control of itself and that meant only food it needed crossing my lips. I had not planned on ever being what some would call vegan or plant-based.  My body staged it’s own mutiny and took over the ship, so to speak.  It had quite a foe to defeat, the destructive monster my memories and habits had become surrounding food.

Without me even thinking about it, meat became intolerable to me, and then fish and dairy did the same thing.  So I embraced what my body was insisting and committed to a plant-based low fat diet.  I did this without reading anything about it. I became a fast student in learning all I could after that.  30 days later I’ve lessened inflammation, weight, and unhappiness.

My Body’s Opponent

I was raised on rump roasts, noodles, potatoes and gravy. eggs and bacon,  pizza with mounds of sausage, pepperoni and animal fat cheese on Friday nights , lots of bread made with white flour. The vegetables were there but usually from a can.  Kraft Macaroni and Cheese ,with that glow in the dark powdered cheese that would be combined with margarine and milk to make the cheese sauce, was served a few times a week as a side dish usually with meatloaf. My dad would pile his plate high with food. My grandfather, mother and father were all overweight.  Night time was a time for sweet snacks and my mom called it “a party”.  If anyone was sad, well there was always ice cream and lots of wonder bread waiting for them. All get togethers and visits included food, rich delicious foods that were meant to spread the love.  By age eight, I was a fat child who had been taught that food is comfort and comfort is food. Family and friends meant food too, and lots of it.

Also added into the mix and unbeknownst to me, I was predisposed to appearing large and blimp like even as a child. I have a condition known as lipedema as well as lymphedema. Even as a child that made one leg larger than the other. fat arms, and put a tummy on me. No matter what I ate or how much exercise, I was a big girl. They didn’t recognize such things back then about that non-calorie based weight gain disorder. Inflammation was terrible in someone like me. Extremely painful.

Having yourself blimp up when you are trying to live on soggy tuna fish sandwiches 5 days a week (my mom put me on weight watchers at age 8, really makes a kid insecure. Not talking calories, I’m talking about how the wrong foods, lack of nutrition, and inflammation  inducing foods made me balloon up even when eating lean fish and vegetables 5 days a week.

That was a great deal of inflammation swelling up all parts of my body. It put both traditional and lipedema fat on my body, dragging me down, and by more than a decade ago, making my rare disease Dercum’s Disease, worse to the point of disability. I was since, diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and always struggling to keep my sugars in control.

Thanks to my stint on the high animal fat  KETO diet, my cholesterol, blood pressure and heart rhythm suddenly required medication I had never needed before. (Don’t get me started on KETO. If you are doing KETO, get your labs done every couple of months at least).

I saw vegans and vegetarians over time and admired them. I always knew it was healthier but in no way could I have seen myself giving up the foods I had grown up on.  A change of eating like that would change how my household would handle social eating and going out to grab a bite. It would change a way of life I felt. So I refused to do it.

But then my body threatened to vomit if I didn’t change and it made most of the foods I grew up with pretty unappealing to me. It spoke and I listened.

The Fruits Of Going With What Your Body Tells You

In 24 days I’ve gone down 20 pounds exactly. The painful swellings have been greatly reduced. I’ve gone from being this nervous, confused, hungry woman going to stores grabbing processed vegan burgers and fake chicken to answer my mind’s need for a meat fix, to taking fresh whole foods and creating my own black burgers.

I had to eat at a diner and managed to make a meal out of oatmeal with nuts and sliced apple, and ate it with a side salad.  I’ve created vegetable non-meat meatballs, to have with zucchini spirals and fresh tomato sauce. Baked spaghetti squash,  pizza crusts with so many fresh veggies in it that it was green and tasty!

I turn down chocolate because I have no cravings. I have no desire for drive thru foods. I’m still in considerable physical pain from Dercum’s Disease. I’ve been depressed for moments when I’ve had to face my feelings instead of eating to hide them. The sun has always risen the next day. I don’t expect foods to taste like food use to taste.  Just because I’m not comfortable emotionally sometimes doesn’t mean that it’s wrong what I am doing. It’s all new to me and it’s an adjustment. I stand a chance to see how my body is suppose to feel so it’s worth it. I’m getting more nutrition than before. I will be getting blood work done.

So stay with me as I blog about this journey.  Below are the resources that started me on my way.

The actual book that started me on this journey. No counting carbs or calories! Yet it works on lipedema and diabetes for me!

 Dr. Neal Barnard, Washington D.C. Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine

The Daily Dozen check list you can use online or on your phone.