Saturday, May 30, 2015

Making Friends with Food

Many of you are like me and your relationship with food is a complicated one.

As a little girl, I was what we used to call “pleasantly plump.” In my generation, kids had their height and weight checked in school every year and the results were called out loud to be recorded in our permanent record. I vividly remember my fourth grade year because I was the heaviest girl in the class at 124 pounds.  I was embarrassed and ashamed and even though I pretended it didn’t matter, it did. 

I grew up in a family that made its living by running a restaurant, Parker’s Crab Shore. The restaurant overlooked the scenic Monroe Bay, just off the Potomac River. Customers were seated at long picnic tables covered with oil cloth and cold beer and hot crabs were a mainstay of the menu. Parker’s was famous for the generous Seafood Platter which included a crab cake, fish, shrimp, scallops, and clams– all fried. The platter was adorned with sides of French fries, potato salad, coleslaw, and crab salad.  No one ever walked away hungry!


My childhood revolved around food, and I developed a deep appreciation for food, not only for nourishment, but also for comfort.  I ate to reward myself. I ate to soothe hurt feelings. I ate when I was bored or putting off work. I ate for many reasons, and being hungry was only one in the long list. 

A few years back, a friend sent me a link to Smith magazine’s Six-Word Memoirs. I was intrigued and sat down to give it a try. Right away, I wrote “fat, skinny, fat, skinny, fat, skinny.”  I’ve alternated between restrictive diets and overeating most of my adult life. Remember the Weight Watcher’s commercial where the lady dragged the scale chained to her leg around with her everywhere? The one with the song, Always on My Mind, playing in the background? That was me. 

And then something changed. I hit the 50 year landmark and started fresh. I lost 20 pounds and I’ve maintained a healthy weight for the last 3 years.  I’ve always loved movement and exercise, but my issues with food have been more difficult to tame.  These days I’m making friends with vegetables and fruits, lean meats, whole grains and healthy fats. And my whole family is healthier for the shift. 


For the next 8 weeks, I’ll be participating in a workshop, Am I Hungry? based on the book Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat by Dr. Michelle May. The aim of the workshop, led by a registered dietician, is to help participants learn to eat mindfully and live vibrantly.  So far, I love the workshop because it’s not about control or weighing or measuring or tracking or even about portion sizes. It’s about learning to rely on my natural instincts. 



And I’m already feeling free and lighter than I have in years.   

If you struggle with food issues, I’m a friend who understands and is willing to listen and share.  Just send an email my way.

17 comments:

  1. Beautiful, honest post. I can certainly relate. Oh, how I wished I was one of those naturally thin people who can eat anything!

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    1. Always a pleasure to hear from you, Elizabeth. More and more I have respect for our individual variations - and our individual struggles. Coming to love ourselves is a big part of loving others. It's so hard to enjoy the foods I love without feeling guilty - and then I remind myself that God wants us to live a life of joy.

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  2. Just wrote you, about the name Parker's. We are related. Beautiful post Donna.

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    1. Barbara, I have felt as though we were sisters from our very first exchange - and I couldn't be happier that we share the name Parker in our heritage. If you read a few comments down, you will see that Robin (aka Gotham Girl) has eaten at your family's Parker's Seafood in Roanoke! The world keeps getting smaller and friendlier!

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  3. Beautifully written, as always, Donna. But those photos--my goodness they are absolutely beautiful!

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    1. Hi Roxanne, Thank you so much for visiting. I would love to stop and see your recent photographs but I seem to have lost track of you! Send a link my way with your blog or photostream so I can follow you - it's always my pleasure to support a friend. Are you still taking classes with Kim?

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  4. Your photos are just stunning! I've tried to to make friends with healthier foods for two years now. The problem is I have a husband that won't eat odd things and there are so many things he doesn't like. I find myself cheating when I'm angry about something or depressed. Sounds like a very interesting workshop.

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    1. Hi Roxi, I read your comment out loud to my husband and we both had a good laugh - because he will eat most anything! Over the last few years, he's lost about 50 pounds and feels so much better. We mostly cheat to reward ourselves - apparently we do something good every day because we like a small treat very often! My weakness is definitely sweets!

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  5. It's always a great pleasure for me to read your posts, Donna, whatever the subject... you know perfectly how to deal with any subject and get us interested from the first to the last word of it, mixing private stories with considerations about life, health or art and illustrating by quotes from books or magazines…
    We live a time during which we get more and more informed about everything and during which we can follow all sorts of guides, read magazines or attend workshops to improve our well being… our parents were not so lucky…
    Speaking of your pictures, they are wonderful… the black background is perfect to enhance the lovely colors of your vegetables... I love the way you’ve arranged the veggies around the eggs with the gorgeous wooden spoon and whisk. And the cauliflowers in different colors, so pretty… never seen a purple cauliflower before! Lovely focus on the lace border of the napkin…

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    1. So glad you stopped by, Odile. The little lace scarf in the picture of the cauliflower is one that you sent me! In this view, you can only see the edge - but the crocheted lace is so lovely. Usually, I really struggle to get the layers in place so they look natural (Kim is so good at this), but this time, I just dropped the doily and let it be and the results were much improved. Your friends and family must line up to visit or share a cup of coffee with you - as you are one of the most encouraging people I've met. Every note from you lifts my spirits and makes me feel grateful!

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  6. Oh Donna we share a love/hate relationship with food...I also had the same issue in school...hated that and the gym class with the little uniform. Food was my drug of choice..my answer to every problem I had along with evey joy I felt...didn't matter, food fit the bill..When I was 35 I had my beautiful daughter and I turned my life around...I wanted to be healthy for her, to be around to bring her up so I joined a group called,
    TOPS...take off pounds sensibly...and that was it...I lost 100 pounds and still to this day..I fight the good fight keeping 85 of those 100 off..I could have done better but menopause hit...I don't beat myself up anymore and I'm more comfortable in my own skin but I never let my guard down...we are fortunate these days to have good fresh food, less packaged and chemical items if we choose to...I love the looks of your fresh vegetables and you make it look very appealing...so congrats to you for your 20lb loss and for moving forward in a program...I'm going to check that out. I'm always looking for new information even though I've been doing this for over 33 years now. I love your blog and your honesty...Goodness and light always shine here...have a wonderful week.

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    1. Cheryl, I can't begin to tell you how much your note encourages me! Congratulation to you for keeping the weight off for such a long time - and for coming to a place of ease with yourself. You are my role model! Menopause certainly made my body hold onto fat - and like you, I can't let my guard down, but I do want to make room for treats and a life well-lived - and friends like you make that goal seem very possible. Always a pleasure to talk with you - I especially love to see you having so much fun with the Fuji camera!

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  7. So many of us can probably relate to this honest post.....as a lifetime WeightWatchers member I a constantly attempting to eat mindfully. Still can be a struggle at times!

    Your photos have made vegetables the most beautiful thing ever! Those roasted cauliflower look divine!

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    1. Hi Gail, Always a pleasure to meet another Weight Watcher's friend. I'm a lifetime member - and for better or worse, I've met my goal weight multiple times. Hopefully, this time will be the last - and I'm really working on lifestyle changes and a focus on healthy eating rather than dieting, but it doesn't come easily to me!

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  8. So much here! Let's start with "Parkers" seafood! I grew up going to "Parkers" in Roanoke...any connection? I've always had to really work to keep my weight under control...and when my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's I totally used food to cope. So now I'm 15 pounds overweight...and my motivation to exercise went away as well. It's been a year since his passing and I've worked harder at eating healthy, but until I get the desire to exercise again I'm still going to be fighting this battle! I keep thinking one day I'll wake up all ready to dive head first into again...but I'm still waiting. Alway enjoy understanding different programs so will look forward to hearing from you what you think about this one! As always your still life photography blows me away...and I just adore the little rain video clip. Very well done! xoxo

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    1. Hi, Robin! We're not related to the Parker's in Roanoke, but that restaurant is in the family of my online friend Barbara Hurst (she's one of the photographers in Kim Klassen's Studio) - such a small world!

      I do understand about how stress complicates our ability to maintain a healthy weight. As I struggle to help my mother who has dementia, I find that food is often the first place I turn. I'm trying to correct this habit before things get out of control! So sad that you lost your father to this horrible disease. I'm really mourning the loss of my mother - as she is no longer the person I've known my whole life. A hard time.

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  9. It sounds like a delightful workshop. I am Italian, I just love food. I have increased my step count to 20,000 per day for June, we will see if that helps balance the eating. Also just being out doing more exploring helps because I am not home to eat.

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