Calling Dr. Julia Child
Being a very active, healthy eating thirty two year old, I have not had to use food to treat a physical ailment yet (knock on wood). I have, however, used it to treat many mental ailments. I have let food bring me joy, comfort my sadness and cure all my insecurities. In a 1990s novel, Elizabeth Wurtzel wrote Prozac Nation to describe how we, as a nation, have become reliant on drugs to cure our depression. My drug of choice is not anything that is synthesized in a lab. My medicine comes from the earth, from plants and animals that are drug free themselves. I shall take you on a journey when food became my drug, until now, when it has become my medicine.
At twenty years old, I could eat anything that I wanted. I was one of those lucky people constantly encouraged to eat and became very talented at it. Instead of using my hard earned money to buy drugs and booze, like many a college classmate, I spent money on food. I learned the term ‘foodie’ and applied it to myself. I ate for fun, for flavor and for sport. While many girls were trying to impress guys by drinking them under the table, I was impressing guys by eating them under the table. Not, in the sense that your dirty little mind went to, but in the sense that I could beat whatever quantity of food they could consume in a single sitting. I got a high from excelling at these competitions. Popularity surrounded me not because of my good looks or my young twenties bod, but because I was the go to girl for all things related to food. This worked great for me, till all of a sudden my metabolism stopped. Twenty five pounds in six months crept up on my frame out of nowhere. The same people who encouraged me to eat told me, “It’s time to stop.”
The high metabolism halted while I was spending a year abroad in Brazil. Thankfully, it only stopped towards the end of my trip. By the time I could fully grip what had happened, I was already on my way back to the states. I was not used to my new shape. As soon as I got back to school, I started to do research on how to create a calorie deficit in a healthy way to lose weight. Just by eating scientifically, I shed fifteen pounds. By picking up exercise I shed another ten. By my mid twenties, I was looking more fit than I had before I left for my year abroad. Yet, looks could be deceiving. I was a very unhappy girl, spiraling towards alcoholism, a path set by my genes. Things had to change. I stopped drinking for several years, but never addressed the issues that made me so depressed. After many years of therapy, I started to feel better. I was cooking more on my own, going to farmers markets and really taking control of my health. I was a personal trainer and I kept delving into nutrition. I was constantly researching it as much as possible. I was reading my many food magazine subscriptions as one would read porn. You have never seen someone so excited to get the mail.
I was back to my old self again, but instead of being a foodie of all foods. I became a foodie of all things healthy and good for you. Then the unimaginable happened. My fiance’s mother was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer just months before our wedding. She died within seven weeks of the diagnosis and we wed at her death bed. This time brought back all the emotions that I had when I was in my bad place. I knew the only way I would survive was by working even harder to limit my sugar intake, exercise and eat “clean”. And I did it. During these short weeks we had left with her, I changed the course of my life and decided to go back to school to become a registered dietitian