The reason food and cooking became such an important part of my life...
It's not an easy story for me to tell, in fact it's very painful. But I feel the need to share, in case it might help someone else that struggles/has struggled with the same sort of situation.
Growing up, I didn't exactly eat healthy meals. A lot of McDonald's, hotdogs, chips, canned ravioli, and junk food. I'm not knocking my parents by any means, I loved all of those foods; we just didn't know any different. As a young child, I started experimenting with my canned ravioli, adding cheese on top and baking it in our oven, even making my own 'garlic bread' on wonder bread toast. But as I got older, I went through the typical awkward, pre-teen phase, in which I started to gain weight. The teasing from boys began, as I was nicknamed "fatty" and told I was chubby. The canned ravioli and junk food didn't help. From there I started an unhealthy relationship with food. I thought that in order to fit in and lose weight I needed to only eat canned chicken, cucumbers, or carrots. But then of course, I'd still drink a soda with my meals. So I was restricting my food intake way too much, and supplementing it with sugary drinks and chemicals. My weight fluctuated for the next few years as I got involved in soccer, volleyball, and dance.
Then college started. After having a rough start and a few more comments about my weight, I began a very unhealthy eating disorder. For five years my life spiraled in and out of a very toxic relationship with food. Sometimes throwing up seven times a day, I started to lose friends and relationships, which in turn brought on severe depression (though I hid it fairly well). On top of that, the bulimia caused my face and body to retain water and swell, so my clothes would no longer fit. I began to obsess over food, watching the Food Network all the time, and dreaming of which recipes I'd make next. But as my eating disorder went on, I began to learn how to cook. I found myself wanting to cook meals for friends, so I could watch them enjoy the food while I allowed myself little to no food. Studying abroad in Italy taught me so many things about cooking, but it was also a very difficult time for me as I practically ate my way through the country. Food was an escape for me; it became my addiction.
After years of getting help, going to a nutritionist and therapist, I gradually stepped away from bulimia. I started dating my now husband, (who by the way knew about my eating disorder and accepted me anyway),and my unhealthy issues with food began to disappear. I stopped constantly obsessing over losing weight, allowing myself to eat 'forbidden foods', and slowing the binging and purging stopped. To my dismay, (and as I was eating whatever I wanted) I began to lose weight without even trying. I starting reading up on health foods: whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and even the potential side effects of eating too much meat and dairy or wheat.
Over the span of three years I lost about twenty pounds, which may not seem like much, but to me it is (because I was no longer dieting!). I began cooking my favorite recipes, but subbing in healthy alternatives, like brown rice noodles or quinoa noodles in pasta recipes. I filled my plate with more vegetables, tried new ones, and even began snacking on veggies and fruit instead of chips (gasp!).
Food changed me, for the worst and also for the better. I still struggle with my weight and self-esteem. I still have days when I allow what I've eaten to dictate how I feel about myself. I'm not sure why (because it's crazy!), but I know in my head that it's nonsense. I know that it's possible for anyone who out there suffering with some sort of obsession with food, to be healed. And that doesn't necessarily mean losing weight, but feeling confident and being healthy. I know that my God helped see me through this storm and held my hand the whole way, though at times I was angry and bitter. I wanted to feel loved by people, but I realized that the love from God can surpass any love from a human. So with my story told, you now know the reason why I eat what I eat.
I enjoy food all types, thoroughly. But I also enjoy putting nutrients in my body. As a result, some of my recipes are decadent, while others are healthy. And sometimes, I mix the two and create a happy-medium of healthy but decadent (which often results in making up my own recipes). I enjoy trying vegan, vegetarian, and full-fat-unbutton-your-pants recipes. A lot of my recipes are gluten free, as a lifestyle choice, not because I'm intolerant. I also make it a personal goal of mine to change the way my husband eats (used to be only macaroni, pizza, and cheese burgers but now he loves quinoa, tomatoes, and brussels sprouts! That's huge for those of you who don't know him). I want to be able to show people that you can maintain a healthy lifestyle with a few changes in your diet, but that you don't have to restrict yourselves every day. Hopefully, maybe, I will be able to help someone else out there who is struggling with their weight, self-esteem, or an eating disorder so that they might once again have a healthy view of life.