Food has always found its way into the center of my life. From the time I was a young child attempting to lick an ice cream cone that kept rolling off, to making quesadillas in college, food has been a major influencer in my life and later, my health.
When I was young my choices were limited to comfort foods such as my mother’s famous meatloaf doused in Ketchup, my father’s baked beans made with molasses and brown sugar, or the classic all beef hot dogs and cheeseburgers grilled to perfection on our porch. Yes, I said porch. We had both a deck and a porch and my father always enjoyed grilling with a roof over his head. This way when it rained or snowed, he could still barbecue. We never complained.
As I ate I watched. My father, melting a half a stick of salted butter in a glass dish in the microwave, would then evenly pour the golden liquid over his corn on the cob, add extra pats to his real mashed potatoes, and even more to his freshly baked rolls from scratch, courtesy of my mother. My mother on the other hand, preferring margarine, believed it was healthier and encouraged us kids to follow suit, which we did. Well, my sister did, whereas I preferred to beg, arguing that it was ‘real’ and therefore better for me. Sometimes I won the argument and sometimes not.
While my father knew how to eat, he remained at a healthy weight thanks to my mother. She encouraged us to eat our vegetables, once frozen bits of broccoli or cauliflower, while the corn, baby peas, and green beans came from cans. We mainly ate like this when the garden was not in full swing. When it was, all produce came from ‘the field’.
The field, as we called it, sat in front of our 1940’s white farmhouse and red barn. In later years my father would purchase red metal roofs for both the house and barn so anyone flying overhead could make out our property from space. The field offered a healthy border between our house and the neighbors and allowed my father to plant a selection of fruit trees and rows of vegetables.
During the summer and fall months, we would gorge ourselves on cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, eggplant, and an assortment of fruits too numerous to mention. Eggplant was and still is my favorite of the bunch. My father would expertly cut paper thin slices, bread them and then deep fry them until golden brown. I loved nothing more than delicately balancing a freshly cooked slice on my fingertips, blowing on it impatiently and then gobbling it up. To this day, that memory makes my mouth water.
As I grew older I would melt butter in the microwave and then drizzle it over freshly popped popcorn followed by a cascade of salt, as well as add pats of real butter to my mashed potatoes and far too much to my rolls. These series of habits continued into my college years when I was diagnosed with a fatty liver. I was shocked because I was too young to have any health problems. This didn’t stop me however, and I continued this way until I grew into a size twenty-four. By then I had been out of college for two years and decided to make a change. I did not like how I had grown and joined a gym.
I worked out everyday so I could make this part of my permanent routine. I began making wiser choices when it came to food and portion sizes. I dropped over one-hundred and twenty pounds and got into a size twelve, perfect for my five-foot seven medium-frame. Everything was as it should be and then I started dating a man who would become my boyfriend. He loved food like I loved food and I fell off the wagon. It is hard to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle when you are with someone who is battling their own weight and health issues. I eventually gained much of that weight back and so continued my struggle for my love of food.
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