Food ≠ Happiness

So you think food is going to make you happy?

It won’t, you know. I chased the happiness I was hoping it would bring for years and years…only to find myself exponentially more miserable each time.

The idea that those M&M’s, those bags of popcorn or that cheeseburger and French fries is going to make you happy…it’s all absurd.  Crazy as I tried to tell myself it was…I was still searching for it. That magnificent moment when that milk chocolate grazed past my lips or that first salty crunch of a French fry dipped in crimson ketchup.
But it is each time as it always was… a short-lived moment of euphoria… there and gone in the blink of an eye.  The next day, all that’s left is ridiculous guilt. Mounting, suffocating guilt…along with the salty sludge floating around in my system.

 
Where did this come from? Where did I get the notion that food would make me happy. That food would take away all the hurt or despair I was dealing with. That food would fix what was wrong. Food was there to comfort me when I was down…it never turned its back on me…or so I thought. In essence the very thing that I was turning to, was destroying everything at the same time.
But this thought that food equals happiness has put too many of us in a place that we never wanted to be.

A place where we’ve lost control. A place where it’s much easier to keep giving in to temptation than to change what we know every time we look in the mirror is broken.

I know what it feels like to say over and over again “This ends today!” only to blow every semblance of a structured eating plan later in the same day. It’s a truly disheartening feeling that always leaves you discouraged.

I finally feel as if I’ve made it over that hump. The hump that doesn’t leave me running for the closest bag of potato chips when I’ve had a bad day at work or I’m bored out of my mind on a Saturday afternoon. I finally feel emotionally disconnected from the food I’m putting in my mouth. It’s not a filler or a substitute for my happiness. Learning to separate the emotion from the eating will get you over that hump too.

Disconnecting my association between eating and happiness has certainly helped me get this far…

 

Please don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy good food…hell I love good food. But it is not eating it that makes me happy. It’s having control over all of it that makes me happy.  And as far as ‘good’ food goes…I’m redefining “good”. I’m eating with my head now instead of absent-mindedly, robotically shoving things into my mouth.  It’s been near impossible to change almost 30 years of bad habits, but changing them I have.

I could give you a thousand and one weight-loss tips but until you do a little spring cleaning upstairs… I seriously doubt you’ll have the kind of success that you’re looking for.

Food won’t make you happy in the end.

Feeling good makes you happy.

Feeling good about yourself makes you happy.

Being healthy and fit and strong makes you happy.

And you deserve to be happy.

 

“Life is made up of small pleasures. Happiness is made up of those tiny successes. The big ones come too infrequently. And if you don’t collect all these tiny successes, the big ones don’t really mean anything.” ~ Norman Lear

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You Might Be Gluten-Free If…..

Jeff Foxworthy did his redneck style. I do mine GF-style. Minds out of the gutter people!

I’m in a cheesy mood tonight…Not that it has anything to do with the amazing queso fresco I just ingested – but in a dorky, witty, joking mood. Perhaps it’s because it’s Monday…perhaps it’s because the new job has me a little frazzled, but regardless, you’re the lucky one that gets to enjoy light-heartedness this evening…

So without further ado ….You Might Be Gluten-Free If….

…your bar tab went up exponentially when you had to stop drinking beer and start drinking liquor.

…you keep at least 5 kinds of flour in the house and none of them start with ‘W’.

…you can’t eat at a buffet.

…the smell of freshly baked pizza makes you on the verge of postal.

…Five Guys sees you coming and instantly changes their gloves.

…you get stomach cramps walking through the bread aisle.

…you question your ‘Southern card’ since you can’t remember what fried chicken tastes like.

…you’ve ever deliberately slammed your shopping cart into the Wheat Thins display in a fit of rage.

…you spend more time reading ingredients than actually eating the food.

…your happiest moment this year was discovering GF bagels at the grocery store.

…someone could rob you with just a club sandwich and Doritos.

…you’ll hug people with a nasty cough but keep someone eating a cookie at an arm’s length or farther.

…you’re considering converting to the Aztec religion, so people will accept your corn-worshipping ways.

…you pack your own toaster to go on vacations.

…you have written “CONTAMINATED” on containers of cream cheese.

…you’ve considered strangling friends/relatives who say “It can’t hurt if you only eat a little, can it?”

…you can find hidden gluten on food labels in the blink of an eye and some people around you couldn’t find it if they had a magnifying glass, a dictionary and a Ph.D.

…you burn your toast and eat it anyway because those two tiny pieces of bread cost $1.50.

…during the holidays, visions of guar gum dance in your head.

…you are afraid of spices and in restaurants, ask for your food “naked.”

…people think you’re on a low-carb diet.

…you’ve ever asked for a bunless burger and been looked at like you have 3 heads.

…you kiss your date before dinner instead of after.

…you write a GF blog!

…you’re feeling better than you EVER have in your life and still losing weight! Go me!!!

 

 

Still chipping away at the pudge. And I do not miss it at all!!

I’m going to work on updating my ‘Goals’ page sometime this week – but wanted to let you know the two new ones that I have set for myself in the meantime.

1)      To lose an additional 50 lbs by my sister’s wedding. Wedding is May 19, 2012…that amounts to about 10 lbs a month. Completely attainable goal – although I’m a little off this week – my next goal should help me get there with more certainty…

2)      To start working out. The scary thing is that I really am itching to get active. I’m imagining myself doing physical things and yearning to get a good aerobic sweat in. I’ve never wanted to sweat before so I’m a little shocked that I feel guilty about not doing anything at this point.

Now that eating better is second nature, I can focus on my other arch nemesis: moving my behind. I certainly need to work on toning and firming up. Nothing sexy about excess jiggle. And there will certainly not be anything sexy about loose skin if I manage to lose (I’m sorry…WHEN I LOSE) 100 pounds. I commit to you, loyal followers, that by the time I post a blog next week, I will have started my workout regimen.

 

Before I sign off this week – I want to mention something I mentioned last week…There’s only one day left and the way it stood a few days ago, it will take an absolute miracle (or divine intervention) for me to come out on top…but I need votes! Please go to http://jovialfoods.com/blog/7362654553-2/ and vote for #13 (If mine is your favorite) and help send me on the GF/culinary trip of a lifetime. (See last week’s post for more details.)

I really appreciate all of you that have voted for me thus far and helped to spread the word. Voting ends tomorrow (12/20) at midnight and results will be announced on the 22nd. Keep your fingers crossed that the next time you hear from me, I’ll have to add renewing my passport to my to-do list! What an amazing Christmas present that would be!

 

I hope that each of you has a Merry Christmas…may Santa bring you everything you’ve asked for and more!

“Faith is believing that the outcome will be what it should be, no matter what it is.”  ~Colette Baron-Reid

Don’t Discriminate

It is no secret that I love the Food Network. I want to be on it, I watch it constantly, and I could probably tell you more about the lives of the chefs on that channel than I can about Oprah Winfrey or George Bush.  Some people are obsessed with movie stars and famous athletes, while I’m busy stalking Alex Guarnaschelli, Aaron Sanchez and Giada DeLaurentiis on Twitter.

I want to secretly discover an invitation to participate on Chopped in my mailbox and would likely have a panic attack if I ever got into an elevator and saw Bobby Flay standing there.  But I have to be honest – the FN chefs like some gluten in their cooking.  I’ve tried to mentally come up with gluten-free versions of all the recipes that I see made, but the truth is, a channel devoted 100% to cooking is a shitty place to go when you can’t eat many of the things you see prepared.

What if a GF chef wanted to be a judge on Iron Chef? Or a contestant on Hell’s Kitchen or Top Chef? I just don’t think it’s possible. Imagine being a child of Paula Deen’s and having Celiac Disease? Would she acknowledge them?  I wonder if she’s got a secret daughter hidden off camera that was ousted for never being able to eat fried chicken or biscuits and gravy. Would Mario Batali disown his child for having to stay clear of pasta?

And so it got me thinking – why don’t we see chefs with Celiac Disease? Granted cooking GF is a niche thing, but there are plenty of shows on cooking for the vegetarian lifestyle that I’m sure non-vegetarians watch. I want to see something that I can enjoy! I want it GF and I want it now!  (And yes, that last sentence should be said with your best Veruca Salt impression.)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

Why is All-Purpose flour the thickening agent choice for every chef that has a cooking show? Why not try corn flour or rice flour? Why can’t Rachael Ray dredge her chicken in cornflake crumbs instead of panko? I seem to remember a low-carb show….a low calorie show. How about a GF show? Hire me to do it!!

Stop discriminating against us!!! (Ok so I’m not saying it’s discrimination…just saying it would be nice to cater to all dietary needs every once in a while.) I will continue to watch the Food Network like it’s my job…and continue to secretly dream that it really was.

And while on the topic of cooking…I have a recipe that you really must try…if you’ve never had quinoa – this is certainly a great way to eat it!

 

Big thanks to Gluten Hates Me for the recipe! Amazing GF recipes and a fantastic blog as well!

____

As for the weigh-in – although slight, there was another loss this week.

 

Getting closer and closer to being under 200 for the first time in a long time…looking forward to celebrating that milestone with you!

 

Until then, you can find me in the kitchen…

 

“Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.

– Harriet Van Horne

The Girl with the Scarlet Letter

Have you ever had one of those moments where someone told you something and for a split second you had built it up to be so magnificent in your mind, only to drop down about 14 levels of joy once you figured out what it really was?  I had one of those moments yesterday.

I have come to accept the fact that I probably won’t be able to eat (with any confidence anyway) at most places. I no longer throw the early-diagnosis-esque tantrums like I once did if the menu doesn’t have a gluten-free option.

Yesterday was no different…I was going to a cornhole tournament/football watching function at a local bar…where yes, everyone does know your name.  I had confirmed that there would in fact be Woodchuck Cider available (my favorite GF beer!) but since I hadn’t been there since my diagnosis, I already expected that there would be nothing ‘safe’ for me to eat.  My pre-diagnosis trips had included quick glances at the menu to find the greasiest menu item available in an attempt to soak up a portion of the beer that I was undoubtedly ingesting, of course none of the items being gluten-free.

Right before I walked into the door after setting up cornhole boards, the girl that was in charge of the function said something to me about being gluten-free. Then she said, ‘I have something for you to eat.”  What?! I about wet my pants. Had I hallucinated that I’d have a safe food? Could it be that I wouldn’t have to sit there for hours without something to snack on (i.e. something to soak up the alcohol)?!  I was in disbelief.  I felt like Charlie Bucket discovering his golden ticket!

I wondered what it was…a GF dip of some sort…a burger without the bun…a delicious salad with GF dressing. It was a bar after all, so the food running through my mind was not exactly all diet friendly.  What could it be?! What was in store?!

She turned to reach in her bag to pull out my GF surprise…my mind was running like a slot machine….Chips…Fries…Chips…Jackpot!!!!  She reached in….oh I can’t handle the suspense anymore…hand in her bag…I’m salivating…she grabbed the bag…stop the madness already, I’m starving…and she pulled out my treat…

A perfect peach.

Trust me…I am more than grateful and so incredibly humbled that she thought of me and thought enough to even offer me something to eat.  Her kindness to someone she had only just met meant a great deal to me.  And trust me, I know that a peach was a far, far better choice than what I might have previously ordered. And for that, my waistline thanks you, Tricia.

But amongst the smell of burning grease, beer, and hot dogs…I was momentarily deflated.  This is what my ‘cheat days’ have turned into: GF beer and fruit.

I didn’t eat it there because I tend to end up looking like the child below when I eat peaches…half my makeup dripping off the bottom half of my face but sticky and smelling like summer.  I did absolutely destroy it when I got home and it was delicious!!!

I do want to mention that it is not a requirement for me to eat when I go out. However, being able to have a little snack while the rest of my friends are indulging on Eat This Not That’s worst offenders does allow me to feel a slight sense of normalcy…something I haven’t felt since I was diagnosed.   I can’t hide in my own kitchen forever.  I know I need to suck it up and deal with it.

I’ve become that girl that restaurants hate.  I’m the one that walks in and the kitchen staff instantly starts whispering “There’s the girl with all the demands…There’s the girl that is adamant about salt and pepper only on her salmon and absolutely no other bulk seasoning…There’s the girl that requests that we change our gloves and utensils so we don’t contaminate her food…There’s the girl that proclaims that if we accidentally give her something with gluten that she will get violently ill on the spot and run off all the other customers.” (Ok so I won’t exactly get violently ill the second it hits my tongue but I do say that if I feel like the waiter/waitress isn’t listening to me. You’d be surprised how well they pay attention if they feel like they might to have to clean up vomit if they don’t comply.)

I feel at times I need to wear a t-shirt with my demands. I need a nametag with my requirements.  I should be sporting a scarlet letter of my own.  There’s THAT girl….the marked girl…the different girl…the girl with the scarlet G.

But, THAT girl lost weight this week….

 

I’m slowly learning not to sweat what I can’t control.  And that my body is much happier in the long run. I may have had beer and fruit at the bar…but by God my stomach didn’t hurt afterwards!  And for that I did truly hit the jackpot.

And you better believe I’ve got peaches on my grocery list…

“Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.”

~ Chinese Proverb

The Gluten-Free Kid

Ugly part out of the way first…I can’t seem to get out of this 211-213 range…am I destined to be bulky forever?!

 

 

 My motivation has started to wane. I’m eating wrong – I’m eating too much…and by god I have to say that my digestive system has never felt better… Not that it’s any excuse to blow any semblance of a diet.

My old feelings of failure are starting to rise back up in my throat.  That awful horrid voice in the back of my head saying “Here you go again…you know you’ll never be skinny.” I can’t seem to get the nutrition part squared away right now. I love food far too much and am actually enjoying eating it and feeling pain free.  Dammit I love cooking!!! I cannot possibly explain the joy and ecstasy I feel when I’m standing in the kitchen creating an amazing gluten-free meal for myself. I lay awake at night thinking about all the ways I can reinvent dishes that I used to have in a way that won’t hurt my tummy.  If only I’d find a love for cooking cabbage and tofu instead of amazing variations of risottos and beurre blancs.   Here’s an example of both…one of the best dishes I’ve ever made! 

Pan seared scallops over risotto and roasted asparagus with a grapefruit beurre blanc - not low-cal, but it was delicious!

 

And speaking of cooking…I had an amazingly eye-opening experience this weekend.  I was in Charlotte for a housewarming party at my sister’s house.  Chili was on the menu, and to save her some time in getting all the other things together, I offered to make it.  For two reasons…1) I make a mean chili.  Wow…that was conceited. Let’s just say I know my way around the kitchen.  2) I wanted to control what’s in it so I knew it was ‘safe’. 

I’ve gone through a very distinct up and down with regards to food confidence.  I had such tremendous fear of cross-contamination and accidental glutening when I was first diagnosed.  Then I transitioned into a period of ease…comfort…I knew what I could have and didn’t question like I should have.  Then we come to my current state…distrust.  I don’t care if the menu states it’s gluten-free…or if I’m convinced that all that the dish contains is lettuce and red bell peppers…I don’t trust it if I didn’t make it.  The longer I go, the more I’m convinced that there are truly very few people that understand exactly what gluten is and how severe a reaction from even the slightest cross-contamination can be. I’ve gotten lazy about demanding to know every ingredient and I’m paying the price. At the end of the day, I’d rather do it all myself. I’d rather know that it wasn’t vegetable broth in a sauce or that someone didn’t grab a hamburger bun before plating my dinner.  I’d rather know that the mayonnaise is safe and that the prep surfaces were cleaned thoroughly. 

‘Chefing’ it up for the party was a success, and little did I know what a poignant experience my pot of chili would turn out to be….

One of the people that attended the party at my sister’s was a 10-year old named Marc.  Amazing kid…great sense of humor. And Marc has Celiac Disease.  

The look on his face when he knew he could eat the chili without fear, and the look on his face as he enjoyed his bowl is one that sticks with me now.  It makes me feel amazing.  I feel so blessed that I could help create that moment…that moment of trust in what you’re eating…that moment without fear of the unknown…That moment that I’ve lost when I’ve gone out to eat.

I can’t imagine coping with all of this as a 10 year old. How difficult it might be to prepare for unexpected birthday parties and food-oriented activities at school, church, and elsewhere.  How to deal with grandparents, babysitters, and “helpful” friends who offer gluten-containing foods…All without making them feel different. 

Marc handled the party much better than I’ve handled ones with unknown menus.  I saw him when he arrived and he didn’t have a look of shear panic like I’ve had when I’ve been unsure what was being served. He didn’t look like he was on the verge of throwing a temper tantrum like I’ve been if I find out there might not be anything ‘safe’ for me to eat. And for that, I admire him. 

I would love to get to know Marc better…I was diagnosed at 29…but I want to know what it’s like from his perspective. From that of a 10-year old.  Does he feel jipped? Does it make him sad? Does he feel different? I know kids can be disgustingly cruel to others that they perceive as different…and wonder if there’s any ‘dietary bullying’ that he’s ever had to deal with.  And I want to help. 

It’s situations like his, and the bliss on his face while he sat with his bowl of chili, that make me want to do so much more.  Thank you, Marc, for your incredible inspiration.  

I’ve decided that I’m blessed to have celiac disease…it has provided me with an opportunity to reach out and help others.  I want to do more than be an advocate for Celiac Disease. I want to do more than just be an encyclopedia of knowledge on the condition.

I want to seek a way of serving that corresponds to my unique abilities and propensities, a way that engages all of me. I want to help others directly. I want to cook safe meals for the CD masses.  I want to help give everyone with CD that look I saw on Marc’s face Saturday night.  

I believe that God really does have a plan for every single one of us…I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease for a reason…perhaps I am finally discovering my life’s purpose…

 

“I seldom end up where I wanted to go, but almost always end up where I need to be.” ~ Douglas Adams