Relearning about Food

homemade spaghetti + garlic rolls.
I talked about being fat and how I got to being cool with it — and now I’m gonna admit that while I’m not gearing my goals towards losing weight1, I am trying to eat healthier. First, it’s because I recognize that eating healthier is better for us; we’ve both realized that the period of time when our consumption of processed foods was at it’s lowest, we felt the best. But more importantly, it’s because I don’t want Miles growing up with the picky, broken perception of food (and flavor) that I have.

It’s a fair assessment that until this year, a lot of the choices that Andy and I made in terms of food were poor ones; while you can pry my pizza from my cold dead hands (or, as it turns out, just limit my access to it in terms of a cold dead pocketbook), it’s more than that. We both eat emotionally; I always have, and Andy started to when he had trouble in school and was working at a pizza joint — he apparently gained enough weight that it shocked some of his relatives. (He’s lost about half that weight now, though to be honest I hardly noticed he gained it; it was pretty gradual, and I saw him every day at that point.) And I have steadily gained weight throughout my life, so I hardly notice it because I have a totally disproportionate body image.

I enjoy reading Fat Girl vs. World because she has a lot of really insightful and personal posts about how she learned her eating habits, and how her relationship with food affected her life (and vice versa). I appreciate both how hard it must be to be that honest that publicly, and the insight I get from it by seeing someone else say it, if that makes sense.

I also just can’t cook well; I like really flavorful food, and I like fried food. I know for some people fast food tastes like oil and death — and there are some foods that do that to me now too — but there are times that there is nothing more pleasing to my appetite than french fries and a burger. I cannot replicate that in my own home, and I forget where I read this insight, but when I did it fucking floored me: it’s not what food is supposed to taste like.

I’m rambling, but I’m getting to my point, which is: learning to make food that appeals to my skewed sense of flavor and limited-but-growing ability to cook is hard. This summer we were tumbled ass-over-head into it; I learned how to make more stuff from scratch, which cuts down on the amount of processed junk we eat but doesn’t necessarily make it healthier. I use enough butter in my cooking to appall most dietitians, I’m sure, and I’m still a hard love of starches. Take dinner, there, for instances; I make spaghetti probably once a week, maybe slightly less. I love pasta. Those dinner rolls are delicious, and I make both lovingly and with a feeling of accomplishment.2 It does not change that starches are not exactly the best thing.

I’m learning to cook more and rely on boxes less, and which spices make flavors that I love. I made green lentil soup tonight, and it was a hard sell on the first bite; it was kind of bland, and didn’t taste like soups that come out of a can. Further eating, though, turned out to be spiced just enough, and actually be kind of fucking delicious. (Sadly, I ran out of yeast, so no luck with pita bread.) I’m actually not convinced Andy liked it; he thanked me and said it was delicious, but his bowl sits in my sink half full, lol. That said, he’s never much liked soup. (Woe!)

The hardest thing is to lean less heavily on starch, and start fitting more vegetables into our diet. I’m a slowly-evolving picky eater; Andy is nowhere near as bad as me, but so is he. I cook with some of the basics — carrots and onion and spinach — but it’s hard for me to take the leap into other vegetables. I didn’t like them as a kid. I still don’t like them raw, though I recognize that they’re healthiest raw. Blegh. But I’m learning. (Hell, spinach was a leap, and now I just sneak that shit into things where I can find.)

The newest solution I’m testing out is including two meat-free meals when I plan our weekly meals. Andy kind of raised an eyebrow at this, but ceded that it’s nearly Lent anyway, and it can’t hurt. But I did this 1) because I’m tired of eating the same ten things I know how to cook, and 2) because meat is fucking expensive.

This post is terrible! There’s no cohesion, and I’m going to wrap it up before I go on for ANOTHER half hour.

  • Learning to spice better.
  • Learning more recipes/food combinations
  • Cutting out processed foods as much as possible
  • Learning how to love what real food tastes like, versus what “commercial food” tastes like, for lack of a better term
  • Less spending my breaks blogging at 1AM. ;D

1. I think I could honestly say that until the past year, losing weight fueled so many of my notions and activities; even when I started breastfeeding, there was a part of me that said, “Hello, increased postpartum weight loss.”

2. Now, the sauce is totally out of a can, but I season it! And add meat! I’ve never successfully made a tomato sauce that I liked, because honestly? I just don’t like tomatoes. I’ve had moderate success with white cream-based sauce.