This post is part of the Food Matters Project, a cooking collaboration from a wide range of food bloggers. Each week, I will cook a recipe from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Cookbook, which places an emphasis on mindful and sustainable eating. Follow along with us! My posts for this project can be found here.
I found the Food Matters Project via a blog written by a (soon to no longer be) Chicago food blogger, the Faux Martha. This is a series about food philosophy, better eating, and healthy, delicious food.
I think it is time for some real talk.
Real talk about my struggle with food.
You see, I used to be fat. Not just pleasantly curvy. Fat. Obese. Morbidly obese.
I am not exaggerating and here is the picture to prove it.
That first picture? It is the only one I can find from when I was that heavy. I spent 3 years making sure I was taking the pictures and not in them. I was eating things like french toast grilled cheese, ramen noodles for a snack, fried chicken fingers and french fries just about every day. It was college, and you were supposed to eat crap, right?
Not right. I was in the hospital three times for a migraine that wouldn’t go away. (Those were month long hospital stays with experimental treatments and filled with glutinous treats my mom & doctors thought would boost my morale).
I did Weight Watchers and lost 15 pounds by eating their little boxed meals and treats (all filled with gluten). But then the weight loss stopped. And I was still getting migraines that lasted for weeks. I didn’t have a day without a migraine.
The doctor put me on an elimination diet from normal migraine triggers. No chemicals – no dyes, no artificial flavors, no processed foods. No nitrites, nitrates, sulfates or sulfites. No MSG. No alcohol. White rice, plain toast. I gained 10 pounds not eating.
Then my mom read some crazy hippy book and when I was knocked out with pneumonia and a migraine, she cooked a month worth of meals for me. And she made them gluten free. She made me promise that even if I went out with friends that I would be gluten-free for a month. Fine. It couldn’t be any worse than how I was eating.
Stop. Right now. In 3 days, I had my first day without a migraine. I lost the 10 pounds I gained on my elimination diet. I actually felt good. I didn’t intentionally eat gluten for 2 years. Just to see if it was a fluke – it wasn’t. I missed crusty white bread. And I thought that it couldn’t really hurt me to eat one piece. I had a migraine for 2 days and tummy problems for a week.
Now I could live, I still had a food problem. I was over-weight and recovering from a car accident that the doctors said might take away my ability to walk without a walker. I wouldn’t let that happen. From challenging myself in secret to push my walker away and walk to it when no one was around to running 4 miles a day. Every day. I started eating the foods that my body needed for fuel and not junk. I got down to a healthy weight for the first time since the 5th grade.
I felt good.
And then I lost my ability to run or even work out. So I stopped caring about food. Big mistake. I have a little purple dress in my closet I need to get back into. So, I rejoined Weight Watchers to keep me on track. And I decided it was time to start acting like food matters.
I am already down 10 pounds in 5 weeks and I have about 35 more to get me to be the thinnest I have been since the 6th grade (I already wore a dress from the 8th grade to a wedding shower).
I am going to share with you the foods I really eat and leave the dessert eating to one a day and pawn the rest off on my willing coworkers.
This recipe is gluten-free as long as your stock (or wine) is gluten-free and you use a gluten-free meat (some sausages contain gluten!) and since the recipe tells you to use sausage, pork chops or duck breast, you have choices. I used ground turkey seasoned with Italian sausage seasoning for the meat. I used 2 large cans of diced tomatoes, 1 large can and 1 regular sized can of cannellini beans and about a cup of dry white wine (in place of stock or the suggested red) because I used turkey as my meat. I left out the zucchini because I don’t particularly like it and added extra carrots and celery. I portioned it out into 6 lunches for 7 weight watchers points each. For a good, hearty lunch that will leave me full, I call it a win.