All About Food

Good-morning Foodies!

Who, like me, has an inner battle with food? Too shy to come forward? That’s ok… I get it. For a long time, it was not easy for me to admit that I used food to prove my willpower or to control my emotions or to control my existence.

I grew up in the 80s and 90s. You know, back in the day when it wasn’t socially acceptable to NOT have an eating disorder. I kid, but in truth, being a pre-teen and teen in the 90s wasn’t easy when it came to body appreciation. I wasn’t skinny. I was a chubby baby and a round-faced little girl. I was always tall and when I came into my own, I was big-breasted and curvy – never rail thin like the girls I would see in magazines.  I grew up in the age of Fat-Free everything. I limited my snacking to once per day and often I would wait until late at night in my pjs, unbothered by the outside world, to indulge in my favorite snack, licorice.

I loved sweets – still do. I indulged on muffins and cookies and brownie sundaes and candy and ice cream. But in moderation. Strict moderation. Unless it was my birthday and then I would say, screw it and eat whatever I damn well-pleased. But during the Fat-Free craze, when I wanted ice cream, I would get fat-free fro-yo. It would kill my stomach, but it satisfied my sweet tooth.

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What breakfast or lunch looks like these days – fulfilling and zero guilt because the ingredients are REAL and satisfying without additives and tons of sugar.

Eating disorders run in my family. I was exposed to it growing up, in the media, amongst friends. I used food to make me happy when I had a tough day. I used food as a way to show my control (I gave up eating French fries for ten full years to prove that I could). It wasn’t a happy way to exist. It all came to a head at the end of my freshman year of college. I definitely gained weight first semester, so second semester, I decided to join Weight Watchers. But I quickly became point obsessed and needed help. I sought out the assistance of a nutritionist that not only focused on weight loss and portion control, but also on healing the mind. She showed me that I could still eat a slice or two of pizza and have dessert if I was mindful of how much and what I was eating. She made sure I didn’t feel deprived and I was still allowed to occasionally have licorice and I could have my fro-yo every night if I wanted. I lost thirteen pounds that summer, dieting and working at day camp, and I went into Sophomore year of college at a great weight for my height feeling fab.

And just a couple of weeks later, I met my husband and he quickly showed me that he loved me, in whatever form I existed. He still does. Every day. Seriously, every day he reminds me how much he loved my body then, how much he loved it pregnant, and how much he loves it today. He may not be perfect in every way (sorry love), but he pushes me to see my body through his eyes, and for that I am always grateful.

Celebrating in 2018

Celebrating in 2018

Throughout the remainder of college, my weight fluctuated as does the weight of most collegiate girls. I worked out at the gym with friends, made conscious healthy choices with whatever I ate, I even took the bus to the supermarket just so I could get fresh sliced chicken to top my salads versus some of the unhealthy choices I was exposed to on campus.

I graduated college, got engaged, worked with a trainer, ate mindfully, and still questioned whether or not I was thin enough to be a bride. The struggle was real – the body dysmorphia was legit. I looked in the mirror and saw myself as extremely overweight.  When I look back at pictures now, I cringe realizing how youthful and healthy I looked and felt. I wish I could’ve realized it in the moment.

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When I was diagnosed with a borderline ovarian tumor, the nurses released me from the hospital with strict orders – cut out the fat free crap. Eat low-fat. They weren’t implying the fat-free was why I developed the tumor, but they wanted me to add some fat into my diet and to avoid the artificial crap that was messing with healthy digestion. It wasn’t an easy switch, although I do remember being excited to eat low-fat fro-yo!

Months later, I got pregnant for the first time and ate whatever my heart desired (in moderation). My husband mocked me for my big eyes when it came to ice-cream only to be somewhat amused and a little horrified that I could actually eat the big order I placed at Haagen Daz. Carvelanches were my Wednesday night treat and although in the first few months I resented feeling like a fat blob, I really embraced the beauty of my growing body by the end.

And then came the post-pregnancy emotions and body-shaming. I hated how fat I felt and resented that my body wouldn’t shed the pounds. I went shopping for some new clothes wth my mom just so I wouldn’t feel disgusted when none of my old clothes fit. I held onto the extra weight for three full months before losing a pound and then suddenly it was like a literal weight lifted and the pounds flew off. By my son’s first birthday, I was the thinnest I had ever been in my adult life and I LOVED how I felt and looked. Like literally loved it. My husband missed my curves, but I spent less time talking about being unhappy in my skin or about how fat I was, so he liked that.

Feeling thin and beautiful at my son's 1st birthday

Feeling thin and beautiful at my son’s 1st birthday

With each subsequent pregnancy, I gained the same amount of weight pound for pound every weigh in and it took three months post pregnancy before I lost any weight. Each time, I got back down to the same weight I started at, but… and this is a big BUT, my body never looked the same. My weight distributed differently. My chest was big again and my hips a little wider, but the scale said the same.

And that’s when it hit me that I really had no control. My body could face a horrible health scare and bounce back three months later to carry a healthy and successful pregnancy. My body could face illness and still birth two more healthy babies. My body could determine where the weight would settle. It wasn’t up to me. It was time I started treating my body better.

So over the past few years, after quitting dairy and soy to nurse my allergic son, I started to experiment with food and using food to fuel the body. I’ve since given up gluten, sesame, millet, and tapioca as well. I’ve embraced wellness journeys, like the low-histamine diet, with bravery and confidence in using the right foods to heal my body. I face chronic pain and bizarre symptoms every day and I am on the quest to find the key to once again feeling healthy. I now know that being a few pounds thinner or heavier doesn’t mean being healthier. And I wish I would have loved my body a littler more when it was healthy instead of shaming it for being a few pounds heavier than I wanted to be. Today, I try VERY hard to overlook the fact that almond flour and coconut and nut butters are fattening because I know that they are providing my body with fulfilling nutrients.

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Eating an abundance of food I love and trying out some things I never thought I’d like.

So, while I still have fat days and I still bother my husband about why my fat rolls have fat rolls (no they don’t really – that’s the dysmorphia talking), I have a MUCH healthier relationship with food now and I recognize it’s all about balance. I won’t eat cookies all day long and then eat pasta for dinner. I balance my choices daily to stay healthy. Going low-histamine for three weeks taught me that I can still feel fulfilled by food and that I don’t need an evening snack every day just because. I can eat when I am hungry and enjoy a piece of chocolate midday with much less guilt than years ago. I am STILL a work-in-progress, but I am grateful that today, in 2018, eating healthy means eating real food, with natural ingredients, and that ALL body shapes and sizes grace the covers of magazines and there is no shame in gaining a few pounds or losing a few pounds or leaving the house in sweats. We live in an age of honesty and bravery where models can now say, things like don’t shame me for not being anorexic – I have a thyroid condition that makes my weight fluctuate, or you know what, hey, I am happy being a size 10 versus the Calvin Klein models of 1990 at size 00. Hallelujah!

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Pregnant in 2009 – round-faced, but so happy. And present day in 2018.

So let’s all raise a chocolate bar (or a whole damn cookie sundae) to being honest with ourselves and with trying to love our bodies in the best ways we can – eating foods made with real ingredients – praising our bodies for the miracles that they are – and accepting that above all, our health will bring us happiness, not five less pounds.

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Think I need to whip up a birthday dessert like this!

And side note, my birthday is coming up this weekend and I plan to stick with my motto – eat whatever the heart desires because it’s my birthday yo!

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Picture Perfect

Hello hello!

Today, I am thinking about being picture perfect. Perfect blowout, perfect manicure, outfit on point. Perfect husband in the perfect relationship, holding hands and kissing in every photo. Perfect children never fighting, hair brushed and matching outfits perfectly clean. Those pictures look good right? Makes you feel a little jealous right?

WRONG! This blog is all about being honest and real. I live my life honest and real – sometimes to a fault. I am open about my health problems. Some days (like today) I exist in a messy bun and sweatpants, barely any makeup on. My relationship with my husband is far from perfect. We have tough moments and hurtful moments mixed with the really strong connection we share. My children are not little angels. They fight all day long. In fact, I would say it’s 90% fighting and 10% playing nicely. Their outfits are never perfect – one always has a torn knee and someone invariable gets oil on his nicest shirt.

Why am I an open book? It’s just plain easier than pretending everything is always great. That in and of itself becomes a job and I have too many jobs to juggle at the moment thank you. I NEVER want anyone to feel that perfection equals happiness. It doesn’t. I can guarantee the people who claim to live perfect lives or the people that never voice complaints about their spouse or the people that believe their children are always perfect are not rooted in reality. Because no one is EVER perfect and being unable to commiserate or share truthful feelings stunts your ability to live honestly and to feel surrounded by like-minded individuals.

Now that may seem like a harsh thing to say, but if you’re following this blog, then you too revel in being true to yourself, so you know that with being open about imperfections and embracing being a work in progress allows you the freedom to not be perfect.

Being perfect is not easy. It takes a lot of work. And I’d rather be perfectly imperfect.

xx

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When is Enough Enough?

Hi all,

Taking a break from the day-to-day mom stories because TODAY there is a much more pressing issue that needs to be addressed. Let me begin by stating, once again, as I’ve said in the past, I am not a political person. This is not a political post. This is an outcry from one parent to another imploring us to band together to enact change. Our children deserve no less than our very best efforts to keep them safe. But… I am at a loss. I don’t know what I can do personally to make a difference on a larger scale. And that’s where you come in, my lovely readers. Do you have ideas on how we can enact change? How we can work together collectively to ensure that our children, all of our children, can walk into school and safely return home to us in the afternoon?

In light of this horrific shooting in Parkland, we cannot sit idly by any longer. When is enough enough? How many children and educators need to perish before we actually DO something that matters on a larger scale? I will be honest and say that I am avoiding the news and I am trying my best not to read countless Facebook posts by friends and family that live in or nearby the affected school district. I am avoiding the news not to turn a blind eye – that is the farthest thing from the truth. I am avoiding the news because I know that if I engage in the horror, I will be riddled with anxiety sending my three children to school.  After Sandy Hook, I cried daily, and shook with fear sending my son into his building. And he had a security guard, a former cop, on guard. But in the public school, we are buzzed in without facial recognition and it is not until we are already inside the building that we are asked for ID. And all I could think of last night was, “What if a psycho (because that’s what they are – and I have the utmost respect for mental illness) was buzzed into this building carrying an arsenal of assault weapons? How easily could he take out the security guard and any child, teacher, or administrator that walked nearby the main entrance before making his way further into the building? And that’s when I resisted the urge to vomit, closed my computer and said if I read one more heartbreaking article, my head would explode and I would not allow my children to leave the house.

Our children deserve to go to school feeling safe. We need to address mental illness. We need to address bullying. We need to examine why these boys on the verge of becoming men feel the need to destroy the lives of their former classmates and teachers. Why are they obsessed with assault weapons and mass destruction? Why are they ALLOWED access to this arsenal of destruction?

I’ve seen people share that taking away the guns isn’t the answer. If a crazy person wants to cause damage, they will find another way without the guns. That may be true. Mental illness is pervasive in our society and it often goes undiagnosed and untreated or at the very least, not properly monitored. There is a stigma associated even with anxiety, so imagine if you were dealing with something more serious and you didn’t have access to help or you didn’t understand that you needed help and the people that were supposed to notice, just didn’t or couldn’t.  So yes, I agree that taking away the guns from a crazy person will not make the person less crazy or less likely to inflict harm. BUT… and this is a big BUT – without the guns, there WOULD be a lot less destruction as quickly. As I tell my boys often when they talk about guns or shooting things or blowing things up (because they are boys and they hear these things at school or on a TV commercial, etc.), THIS IS NOT JOKING LANGUAGE. It’s NOT cute, or funny, or even remotely worth pretending. I remind them whenever I can that GUNS kill people and once you die, you do not come back from that. It is not a joke. It’s destructive.

There is a school of thought (which has been discussed amongst my “mom of boys” friends) that if you too strictly repress the right to talk about guns and you tell your children they can’t play cops and robbers that they will in-turn become even more intrigued by guns and possibly rebellious. I don’t know if I can subscribe to that train of thought. My boys have laser “guns” that were gifted to them by a friend, but we discuss using the word blaster  or laser and that this is just a toy, but real guns have real consequences. I will not tell my kids they can’t use a water gun to squirt one another on a hot day, but the conversation exists that real guns are weapons of destruction.

I don’t know people… I am TIRED. Tired of hearing stories of parents searching for their children only to find out they are actually dead. How is that acceptable? How are we not collectively more up in arms about this horrific phenomenon of terror that exists prevalently in our country? Why is it taking us SO long to combat bullying? Children are dying. Teachers are dying. And I personally have had enough of the fear and the heartbreak watching other parents and children suffer. It’s too much to wrap my head around.

So with that said, after this long rambling post of raw emotion, so forgive me if this is not on par with my usual posts, HOW CAN WE ENACT REAL CHANGE? HOW CAN WE SEND OUR CHILDREN OFF TO SCHOOL WITHOUT FEAR? HOW CAN WE TEACH OUR CHILDREN ABOUT KINDNESS AND BULLYING? HOW CAN WE TEACH OUR CHILDREN ABOUT A SAFETY ISSUE WE DON’T FULLY UNDERSTAND WITHOUT SCARING AND SCARRING THEM AT A YOUNG AGE?

What are the next steps? I want IDEAS! I want to hear from you. I want to be a part of the change. And so should you.

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Over Here In Testosterone Land

BOYS! 

They’re wild, they’re messy, they’re handsy, they’re sticky, they’re cuddly, they’re sweet.

And I am surrounded! And every day I try valiantly to insert a little femininity into the house, but lately, the testosterone is overpowering.

What’s always a hot topic in our house? Pee, Poop, Farts!
I wax and wane between feeling like I live in a frat house and an insane asylum. Case in point… No matter what time of day I step foot in a bathroom, even if I literally just finished cleaning it top to bottom, there’s pee on the floor or the toilet’s not flushed. Actually, more like the trifecta – the toilet isn’t flushed, it’s overflowing with a roll of toilet paper, and there is pee on the floor. So basically, I walk around with paper towels and disinfecting spray all day, every day.

Now, I can hear judgmental voices saying, “Teach your kids to flush the toilet and have better aim.” Thank you for your words of wisdom. If you think I just skipped over this part of potty training, think again. Also at any given moment in the day you can hear me saying, “Who didn’t flush the toilet? You need to flush the toilet! Pee in the toilet – stand in front of the toilet – don’t aim for the wall – don’t aim for your brother – Why did you use all the toilet paper to pee? That toilet paper is there for girl’s like me that need it! Did you wash your hands? Get back in the bathroom and flush the toilet and wash your hands.” Yup…

Another case in point…The mystery of the inability to use a garbage can. Do you have boys? Do they conveniently leave their garbage everywhere? Cut up some paper and leave the shreds all over the floor? Check! Have a cheese stick in the den and toss the wrapper on the floor? Check! Have a snack and figure it is easier to throw the garbage into the sink than to toss it in the garbage directly below the sink? Check. Have a beer and snacks and forget to throw them out? Check. When I found my husband’s garbage taking over the den, I pulled rank. See below:

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Cue judgmental voices again, “So teach your children (and your husband) to clean up after themselves.” Oh thank you again! I do! Yet still, the garbage amasses. Thankfully, they are all getting very good at carrying their dishes to the sink post meals.

And what about all the FIGHTING!? If you have sons, you know what I mean. The constant down in the dirt tumbling, wrestling, fights to the death that ensue at any given moment without warning. Quietly watching a TV show when one decides it’s the perfect opportunity to sit on his brother’s head. Cue PUNCHING. It’s endless. When I see my boys in high gear beat-down mode, I am often reminded of a story my mom once told me about her ex boyfriend and his brothers. She said their mom was petite and her sons were stocky and strong. They would fight and she would stand in the middle to break it up and they would literally pick her up and move her out of the way to continue their brawls. I guess it feels good to know I am not alone in that (I am just waiting for my boys to be tall enough and strong enough to remove me from the situation). I always get a good laugh when I think about that story.

The other day I was at tennis lessons with my boys and their friends and I watched as the moms with daughters or a son (a single son) could hold a conversation with the other moms as their children played nicely, taking a break here and there to complain or whine about something, but quickly returning to the court. And then I watched my “Moms of boys” friends as they sat at the edge of the bench on high alert, just waiting to break up a fight. I felt my blood boil as one of my boys punched another in the eye just because. I was about to lose it when I saw another one of my friends fly off the bench with rage in her eyes as she grabbed both of her sons by the arms because they were literally beating each other up…in the middle of the end of session awards ceremony. Afterwards, we looked at each other and laughed, knowing we both wanted to cry at the constant stress of being mediator/referee at home and apparently in public too.

Which also reminds me of something my mom used to tell me. She would say that at home, my brother and I would fight like animals – always arguing about something. But when we went out in public, we acted like perfect angels towards each other. And now I realize that while she had it a bit easier with us when she was out in the world, she was probably hoping that just once, someone on the outside saw our crazy so she would have someone to commiserate with. Because I know for a fact, us moms of boys commiserate together. We say our kids are beasts and we lament over their antics and we rage against the constant reprimanding and screaming, but we also embrace the fact that boys love their mamas a whole lot.

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One of my “mom of boys” friends sent me this the other day and I literally laughed out loud. I immediately sent it to everyone I know and now I see it’s rapidly spreading around Facebook too. I totally could use “Aphukenbrake.” But I can’t help but wonder why they used a dad for this commercial versus a mom… Because if there’s anything us “moms of boys” knows, it’s that we could definitely use a little more estrogen in our lives and a whole bottle of “Aphukenbrake.”

TGIF! xo

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