Tuesday, May 24, 2011

eat what you love

The world has no shortage of blogs, certainly not food blogs, so I in no way claim to be filling a void in the realm of communications.  I am, however, excited by the opportunity for sharing and self-awareness that comes with putting one's thoughts, ideas, and feeling in print.

I have loved cooking as long as I can remember. I started at three, maybe four, and have rarely been out of a kitchen for any length of time since. My first clear memory of cooking is sitting on the kitchen floor with a waffle iron at about age four. My mother was in the backyard hanging laundry. I don't remember how well the waffles turned out, but I do remember that my mother let me play and make a mess in the kitchen to my heart's content. While I may make cracks about her cooking, I will always have her to thank for placing creativity above tidiness.

When I think of favorite books, they're cookbooks. Favorite TV shows are almost all food or cooking shows. Favorite movies have food prominently featured. I plan trips based on when and where we'll eat. So it has been seriously disheartening to slowly come to terms with my body's incompatiblity with so many, many foods. It started with discomfort, which turned to pain, which I tried to ignore for way too long. I also tried to ignore the severe drops in energy and a long list of ailments that never seemed to have a clear cause. It's amazing how long it can take to wake up to the knowledge that your world has to change if you want to continue to be in it.

Bottom line for me is that I've had to eliminate gluten, dairy, soy, corn, as well as most oils and sweeteners from my diet. For a time I cooked with those foods anyway; I just couldn't eat them. Over time, though, I've realized that it's just not workable to do that. There's just way too much temptation, and the sense of deprivation is hard to overstate.

When we started clearing out our pantry, refrigerator, and freezer items that I knew I shouldn't eat, I could hardly believe we had that much food in the house, let alone that much food that shouldn't be in the house. Under other circumstances, I don't know that I could have done it. What we removed was not junk. But I haven't looked back, at least not often.

So what my life in the kitchen is about these days is finding the best, most delightful ways to eat the foods I can eat, and there are certainly plenty of those. My best advice for anyone starting on any food path that feels restrictive, whether it be temporary or life-long, is find the foods you love, REALLY LOVE, in what you can eat. Think of the rest not as what you can't have but what you've cast aside.

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