So here I am, 54 years old and by just about any medical professional’s description, morbidly obese. I wish I could say they were lying, but the reality is I am fat. And while I would like to blame others for how I got to be as large as I am, the reality is that I can’t. Nobody ever forced me to eat anything. I chose to do put every single morsel in my mouth. And I chose not to exercise on a regular basis while I could. So here I am 54 years of age, with limited mobility and having to learn how to eat all over again. The main difference is that I have come to a place in my spiritual journey where I am being intentionally more mindful about what I put in my mouth and why.
Learning how to eat healthier has not been easy. I would like to tell you it has been a cakewalk, but that would be like somebody who is trying to quit drinking or using drugs to say it was easy. They just put it down and walked away. I have probably fallen off the eating healthy wagon as many times, if not more, as some of my friends have fallen off the clean and sober wagon. The difference is that there is less stigma associated with my falling off then theirs. Someone I love dearly has been struggling with his addiction just about the entire time I have known him, he gets clean and then falls down and gets back up and falls down and gets back up. One of the things I have always respected about him is that he gets back up again and he keeps trying. He has never given up in his battle with his addiction.
I wish I could just walk away from the need for food and never have to touch it again, but I can’t. So my recovery is a little bit different then his. And I have been praying about this one more time, I came to realize that I need the love and support of my friends and family. So not that this is a surprise to anyone, but I need to lose weight. There I said it. I think one of the problems I have had in the past is I have tried to lose weight for the wrong reason. I have tried to lose it for my friends in response to things they have said to me in love. The reality though is that any change we make in our lives cannot be for somebody else, it has to be for us.
So today, I made the commitment to myself to begin eating healthier for me. I can’t do it for anybody else; I have to do it for me. I have to do this because I love myself. I guess it really hit me this past Monday when I came home from an intense emotional experience and wanted to comfort myself with food. My initial response was not to write about my feelings, talk about my feelings, or even be with my feelings. I wanted to eat my feelings. Now to my credit, I have to say that at least I ate them with healthier food. Note, I did not say healthy, but healthier. I did not turn to a stuffed crust extra cheese pizza. Rather, I turned to some lo mein. Healthier, I think and I didn’t eat as much as I might have in the past, but still I found myself using food to try to heal my feelings and it didn't work. Because long after the lo mein was gone, the feelings were still there and they did not disappear until I talked and wrote about them and surrendered them to the Creator.
So, I am working on teaching myself how to eat foods that I enjoy, but also foods that are wholesome and healthy. One of the things that I realized I need to do is keep some healthier salad type foods in the refrigerator. So my first healthy meal was to try to find a healthy substitute for pizza. When I started to think about pizza, what I realized I loved most about it is the tomatoes, cheese, and toppings like basil or jalapenos. It has never really been about the crust. In fact, I use to say I could just eat the toppings and leave the crust behind. So I thought I would try making kind of a pizza salad with a grain that I enjoy (couscous) and toppings I enjoy, tomatoes, cheese, and basil.
So here is what I came up with
Pizzaesque Couscous Salad
- 2 cups diced roma tomatoes
- 1 cup diced mozzarella cheese
- 3 tablespoons minced shallots
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1 clove garlic, crushed and minced
- 1 ¼ cups water
- 1 cup uncooked couscous
- ¼ teaspoon fresh chopped basil
I mixed the first eight ingredients into a bowl and put in the refrigerator to marinate. This is my pizza toppings. Some of my favorites, at least tonight
Then in a saucepan, I brought the water to a boil, stirred in the couscous, and then removed it from the heat allowing it to sit for about 5 minutes.
After the cous cous cooled, I tossed in my pizza toppings, and enjoyed.
While I need to work on just being with what I am feeling and writing about them, I also need to be intentional about creating meals that give me flavors I enjoy but with a healthier approach then I had been enjoying them.