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Culinary Adventures in a College Kitchen

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Turning Point

Good morning :-D

My day started a bit earlier today than usual because I need to catch an early mass before heading out to lunch to celebrate my grandparent's birthdays. It's nice to be up before the afternoon, though ;-)

I had a bowl of oatmeal today and spiced it up with some blueberries. Gotta say, though, I would not do this again. Maybe it's because my blueberries are a little under-ripe but they were pretty bitter. On the side was some coffee in that sweet mug of mine. I seriously should have bought every one in stock. This one always makes me smile :-D

I was reading Caitlin's blog last night and she dedicated part of her post to Operation Beautiful's "Change The Way You See Not The Way You Look" and asked other bloggers to also post something. She said to write about anything you wanted regarding healthy and I pretty much immediately thought of how my relationship with food had changed in the past year.

I grew up in a house that gave little thought to nutrition. Yes, we ate our vegetables (my Dad would insist, in fact) but we would also drizzle real butter over our popcorn. Whole grains did not exist. Oatmeal was something to be loaded with sugar. We only used whole fat, Vitamin D milk. It was the little things like this that on their own amounted to little but when added together made an impact.

When I entered high school and weight started being something that was noticed I became self conscious and did the only logical thing. I started dieting. I was fifteen years old and reading my mom's Woman's Day for dieting tricks. And I took these articles seriously. I took my dieting seriously. An entire childhood raised on fat and sugar and now I shunned it all. I wouldn't even dare touch a cookie. I kept fried foods at bay. At face value this was healthy but in reality I didn't just avoid the foods, I had an irrational fear of them. I was convinced that if I ate them something bad would happen.

For a while I still ate restrictively. Lean Cuisines became my best friend and I toyed around with Atkins and South Beach. It wasn't until I went into my second year of college and got my own kitchen that things began to change. The summer before college I read French Women Don't Get Fat and was instantly enchanted by a lifestyle that seemed to allow you to eat anything and not be punished. There also were recipes. They were simple to make, only including a few ingredients, and I was surprised to find that they tasted good, too.

When school started, instead of eating at the dining hall I would cook my own meals. An obsession with Food Network had started during the summer and I would go online after the shows and bookmark any recipes that I thought had looked good. I had rarely cooked before but I caught on relatively quickly. I went from choosing familiar recipes to ones including foods that I had rarely eaten. Now I ate quinoa, whole wheat pasta, eggplant, butternut squash. I discovered there was a whole world of food that I had never tasted. And most of it tasted pretty damn good :-D

Now, I eat a pretty balanced diet. I also don't deprive myself (as you know, haha). Baking my own sweets has really helped me embrace them again because when I make them I know exactly what is going into them. Also, if I spent the time to bake it you can bet your bottom dollar I will be eating it!! I can honestly say that I am a happier person now. And I'm healthier, too :-D

Have you had a turning point in the way that you eat? Is there any food you have recently discovered?


  1. I could have written this post! I never stuggled with my weight in my teens (I can't believe you were so young when you started dieting!) but I've struggled in the past 5 years. I had no idea how to eat properly either because my parents had no idea how to eat properly. I've had to learn more in the past few years than I had ever before but I am happy that I am finally in a good place with food! Finally. :)

    Thank you for sharing your great story. I'm glad you've found your happy place too.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Ameena! Yeah, I started a bit early on the dieting front. I'm glad to hear you've gotten to a healthy place with your eating :-D

  3. Great post! I only wish that I had the support and community of food blogs when I was in college...I think it would have prevented that 15 lbs of weight gain :-/

  4. So inspiring! Thanks for sharing your story and being honest about your past mistakes. I think we've all been through some crazy diets that we aren't proud and I'm happy to hear you found your perfect balance. Eating healthy has to be one of the most difficult parts of being away at college and props to you for tackling it!

  5. When I was buried deep in my eating disorder I was like you, terrified to eat anything that was "bad" for me. I learned to relax a little with food and actually ENJOY it when I started cooking for myself. When I was going through recovery I decided to learn how to cook because everyone in my house pretty much ate like crap. Learning to cook was one of the best things I ever did for myself.

  6. What a great post! :) Cooking has also changed my life for the better, and taught me that I can be creative with food instead of fearing it.

  7. Ha ha! I just wrote a post about French Women Don't Get Fat last week! I'm currently reading it, and it is life changing! Loved your post!

  8. Your story is inspiring. I too didn't accept myself in high school, and like you, I'm doing much better now that I'm learning to cook. Cooking is both stimulating and relaxing at the same time and it has given me a much better relationship with my food and with my own body. You definately appreciate dessert more when you've made it (and feel less guilty about it too!).

  9. I love your story! I grew up that way too, boxed and convenience...little or no nutrition! My new story is just beginning, though. Thanks for being courageous and sharing yours!

  10. I love this post! I completely agree with baking your own sweets and enjoying them! Eating well is about eating what you like and being smart about it. If it makes you feel badly, don't eat it. But I see no reason to cut out cheese, etc. if I am not allergic! A big part of having a healty relationship with your body and food is to stop being scared of foods.

  11. Thank you for your honesty about how you feared foods. I have not eaten fried food or anything "bad" in over a year-and for the same reasons. I share your love for cooking and have discovered the healthy alternatives out there in the same way as you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.