Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Full Belly Disclosure, Or, Loving Food the Right Way

So, something I thought about for a good while and decided to share since I’m a firm believer in honesty. I don’t want to give the impression that I eat all this with no repercussions. That and I think of Paula Deen and other celebrity chefs who are under fire about promoting food that’s delicious, but maybe not the best for us. It’s a complicated issue, just as it is for restaurants, whose job is to make food delicious. No, one is holding us at gunpoint to eat Gooey Butter cakes, or Big Macs, or HUGE sodas, soft drinks, or sweetened teas.

On the other hand, you do have to do a bit of work to figure out what you should be eating. Read labels, ask questions. Yet many people don’t, they don’t hold themselves responsible, and they should. That’s why children can’t smoke, or drink alcohol, or gamble, but adults can. It’s called being able to determine what’s best for you. And granted sometimes it’s hard, and granted, having a family can be more difficult to make better choices. It may not be easy, but it’s necessary.

In my case, I’ve been heavy just about my whole life. I’m a sedentary person by nature; I love to read and paint. I’m a huge klutz so physical activity was never my forte. I really don’t drink soda, and now when I do it’s diet, I don’t really eat junk food, and eat a mostly vegetarian diet during the week. On the weekend I loosen up a little but mainly don’t consume anything ridiculous (regularly). I ate healthy foods, yet was heavy. It’s affecting my health in a small way, but it’s only a matter of time before other issues pop up.

I decided a couple of years ago to get the ball rolling on making better choices for myself because only I can do that for myself. I’ve gone to the doctor and am working on my health issues, which are mainly the result of being heavy. I need to lose some weight to see improvements. 

So, now I walk a lot, I take the stairs more often, and I recently joined a gym. I also decided to join Weight Watchers to help me figure out what I was eating, or not eating. So far I learned that that what I was eating was fine, but my portions were WAAY too large (see, this is called being educated!). I’m fairly savvy about healthy eating and what not, but thought eating lots to healthy food was the way to go. Not necessarily.

Since increasing my activity, and joining Weight Watchers in April, I’ve lost 15 lbs, and 10 more previously (5 on my own and 5 after the cruise, strangely enough. Seasickness will do that I guess).

What I’m trying to say is that as an adult I have to make my own choices. I will reap what I sow in terms of my choices. I have chosen to eat healthier overall, but I still love food, and will continue to do so. I just won’t eat A LOT of it. What I really like about Weight Watchers is I can choose to eat whatever I want, but I have to keep track of what I eat, and how much. To me it’s like my bank account; I don’t have infinite dollars (I wish!), why should I have infinite calories?

So, I’d like to write about the fun stuff I eat, as well as what I eat the other days. To show that, you can love food and not cause harm to your health. You can also be healthy and not eat rabbit food (but seriously, fruits and vegetables are really important!!)

The key is moderation, really, truly. Sometimes that isn’t easy. In America, we have a penchant for “more is better,” and that doesn’t always translate well. For some, none is better than some, and I understand that (which is why bread in my house is highly regulated J). But, I think many of us have to learn to love food, but not to an extreme.

I want to love food, but not have it kill me, or cause damage. I want to enjoy my life and be happy, but also be around long enough to enjoy the ride, to enjoy my friends and family for many, many years. Perhaps it’ll inspire you to really think about something like this, to think about your food, where it comes from, and how much you really need. How, like with physical activity, if you don’t use it you lose it.

If anything else, I’m not trying to convince you that what I post is not what I eat every day, and you probably shouldn’t either. This is me being honest, and hopefully it is appreciated.

I’ll sprinkle in some of the foods I make that I eat during the work week, but first, I really have to highlight the incredible concoction, the Colombian hot dog. Yes, even these can be included in a healthy diet as a "sometimes" food, not an "always" food.

Until then, mangia!


  1. Hear, hear! Moderation is key. As you're someone who loves food and writes about it, I think it's awesome that you're talking about the other side of the coin. Unfortunately, our bodies weren't meant to eat the enormous portions served in restaurants etc. We can, however, partake and indulge in what tastes great. Just preferably not to excess.

    Congratulations on your weight loss success! You look gorgeous either way, but you should be proud of what you've accomplished. :)

  2. Aww, thanks Elena! I didn't want to come off as preachy, but I thought it was something to be said. I thought I'd be a hypocrite writing about these awesome things, but then most of the time eat totally differently.

    Yeah, portions are crazy here, you think you should eat all that. We also tend to eat for any other reason besides hunger. There's a HUGE conversation going on in the foodie community, the restaurant community, public health, and so on about this. If we don't take control of how and what we eat, we're in big trouble.

    And thank you, I'm amazed that, while I knew the things I'm doing now, it didn't really click. I'm more concerned with my health and longevity than appearances. It's actually kinda annoying that I have to wear a belt and other things are too big. I don't want to buy anything new yet because I'm stubborn :)

    No matter your size, shape, whatever, confidence is the sexiest thing. Oprah's not skinny, nor are Queen Latifah, Mo'Nique, Kate Winslet. So many people think losing weight will give them confidence, but that's not really how it works.

  3. Your uncle Annalena went from 290 to 210 by joining a gym, and watching portions, and not feeling compelled to clean a plate. Traveling to Italy was a revelation. There are no gyms, and NO ONE is fat. And Italians eat all day. So, I asked "We walk, and we don't eat junk food," was the answer. And when we were served food in restaurants, it was enough. Never too much, and never a huge plate: enough. We were NEVER offered a dessert menu, unless we asked for one, and soda was always in a 6 ounce can. No extra large coffees, no extra large anything. In a country where even the truck drivers are slim, fit and handsome, clearly they have something figured out that we all should.

  4. Wow, that's impressive Annalena!! I was in a similar realm and didn't want to gain anymore weight. Plus, this ain't gonna get any easier and the big 3-0 is approaching a little more every day.

    There is this inner compulsion I have to not waste food, to finish it. The Fisherman has it too. His mom lived through the Revolution in China so she always wanted her sons to not be hungry. But I'm trying to teach us how to overcome that. We try not to waste, period, or to have leftovers for next time. Worst case scenario, I ask myself "Which is worse, the garbage can carrying this extra food, or my body?"

    I've also learned when to stop eating, and not when I feel full, but rather when I'm not hungry anymore, a very un-American concept.

    Italy and Europe in general comes from a very different place than we do. We have space, bigger is better, and that concept translates to everything we do, from cars to houses, to food. More is better, even when quality is seriously lacking.

    Italians love their food, they prefer quality, they take their time with food instead of shoving it into their gaping maws. They walk, where even in NYC, pedestrian central, I see people standing on the escalators, perfectly capable people.

    Yes, to understand when "enough is enough" is very freeing. That's been my biggest issue. Not the food that I ate, but how much I was eating. That, and, plants are our friends. I attempted going to a farmer's market near the office and was sorely disappointed overall. I was fortunate enough to get rhubarb, so I'm excited to play with that!