From a very young age I developed a love for food. I can still remember some of my very first experiences from being fascinated by the taste of birthday cake and fried chicken to grilled meats. In this picture below from 1982 you can see how I’m shoving my mouth with birthday cake and some sort of reddish concoction. I have no idea what’s up with the box of Domino sugar, but hopefully I wasn’t eating that too. I developed a bad relationship with food from a very young age.
Growing up in my grandparent’s home meant fairly healthy home-cooked meals most days, in fact, we only had fast food about once a year and I was extremely limited on what I was allowed to eat. My grandmother loved to cook, but I had zero interest in many of the recipes she prepared. I despised fish (even salmon), brussels sprouts, coleslaw, goulash, veal, and round steak to name a few. I had no interest in vegetables and I’d dread what was going to be put in front of me because I had to finish what was on my plate.
Back then there weren’t many fast food restaurants and eating out was a rarity and restricted for special days, but I can still remember visiting Geno’s East in Chi-Town, my very first bite of a Burger King Whopper, and some of my first visits to an all-you-can-eat buffet.
As time went on, I became exposed to many different foods when visiting my dad on the weekends. They ate out often and had all sorts of foods to enjoy. My dad was a big grill guy and would BBQ outdoors every weekend.
Some of my favorite foods from the past:
- BBQ chicken
- Chicago style pizza (Geno’s East)
- Mozzarella cheese sticks
- Birthday cake
- Ramon noodle soup
- Crab legs with melted butter (Red Lobster)
- Chocolate chip cookies
- Macaroni and cheese
- Fried Chicken (KFC)
- Shrimp fried rice, egg rolls and fried wontons
- Spaghetti and meatballs
- Cheeseburgers and fries (especially White Castle)
- Porterhouse steak with waffle fries
- BBQ Rib tip dinners
- Chicken enchiladas with chips and salsa
- Cheese popcorn
- Candy bars and chocolate in general
- Hot fudge sundaes (Dairy Queen)
- Soft pretzels with cheese (a shopping mall staple)
The only healthy food I had a true interest in were watermelons and other sweet fruits. I truly loved pomegranates, strawberries, and peaches, but my absolute favorite foods were all pretty much unhealthy for me.
Growing up, my grandfather kept in shape and was an avid calorie counter. He ordered books from the government that listed calories and nutrition for each food and he would weigh and record his food in journals. He loved to eat healthy and enjoyed junk food only on occasion. As a child, what he was doing seemed silly, and it wasn’t until I was sixteen that I started to gain in interest in health. Even though I started juicing at a young age, I had a terrible relationship with food. A few of my first jobs were in fast food including Orange Julius and Karmelkorn in the local mall which put unhealthy food right at my fingertips. Eventually–when I had kids of my own–I would have to start paying attention to what I was putting in my system.
In the year 2000, my first child was born and I had gained a ton of weight. I worked next to a Greek restaurant and enjoyed loading up on fried chicken and lemon rice soup. It took me about six months to get the extra weight off with exercise and proper eating. Then the next child came, and another after that, and the cycle repeated with my weight going up and down like a hyper coaster. It seemed like it became harder and harder to lose the weight after each child and in the midst of all this, I’d developed a nasty eating disorder to be followed by a thyroid disorder that sent my metabolism to sleep. I’d been thin my whole life and there was no way I was going to be fat. I resorted to dangerous eating habits and did what I had to do to keep the weight off.
Being diagnosed with disease was my first wake up call. I’d been diagnosed with one autoimmune disorder in 2006, and a more serious one in 2013. After the first diagnosis it was simple; either leave the food behind or die young. Life’s short, but I wanted to be here to see my kids grow up. All throughout my struggles I always strived to at least get my daily dose of nutrition, but I would repeatedly slip up and start eating the very foods that were making me sick. I had to figure out a way to restrict myself to eating healthy portions by moderating and figure out a way to stop the food addiction once and for all. I had to leave my love for junk food behind.
So here we are in 2018 and I’m counting calories and have myself on a healthy path for good. I’ve learned how to love and appreciate the healthy foods that I have rather than complain about not having the foods that make me sick and I’ve removed all the foods that make me sick rather than just the obvious ones.
Instead of writing down all my calories like I was (just like Grandpa), I’m using a Samsung Gear Sport watch that my husband bought for me which not only counts my calories but counts water intake, calculates my sleep, monitors my heart rate, and tallies my steps.
It’s connected to my phone and I can chart everything easily. You can set targets for how many steps you need to take daily and change your daily calorie count. It records my workouts and counts distance and floors climbed as well.
If my grandfather were here today, I know he would love to have one of these watches. He spent so much time on the golf course daily and I imagine his steps taken daily would blow mine away. 🙂
Food truly is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and learning how to moderate portions allows me to still indulge from time to time as long as I can control myself. Sometimes I wish I would’ve paid more attention to this when I was a bit younger, but you live and you learn. Thanks for another important lesson, Grandpa. ❤