finding a balance of food professionally and emotionally

I am sitting here pondering last night’s post. I had a record number of hits on it today;60 of you read it. I can only imagine it was because it got personal and it struck a chord. Food, weight, body image, all of these subjects are so intricately woven together in most of our lives. For me its compounded by the fact that I am a chef, I have in the past put on significant weight, successfully rid myself of the weight and have kept it off for 4 years now. Now food is so complicated for me. I desperately want to be “acceptable” in circles of women. I want to be sexy to men. I want to be lean, strong and healthy. I want a flat tummy for Pete’s sake! I want to be a success story. I want to succeed in my cooking career and I want my appearance to communicate success, IE thin and therefore healthy. Right?  How on earth will I ever be able to meld the two worlds?? As Julia Child said, “Fat is flavor.” So true. (except they say never trust a skinny cook!) I put on the weight by my first stints in self-educating. My husband was a roofer. Our first three years of marriage he was away at work for weeks at a time, at out of town jobs….I put on and additional 2/3 of my original body mass. I put on nearly a full grown woman’s worth of extra weight. I cooked my way through cook books. I could make a mean souffle in my first year of marriage. I was cooking for comfort, companionship, taking care of my man. If truth be told, I have always turned to food  for love, for self comfort, for that instant feeling of contentedness. Sounds pretty text-book psych 101, doesn’t it? I remember being 10 yrs old, left to baby-sit my 3 half sisters and as soon as the car pulled out of the driveway I was heating a tortilla on the gas burner and spreading some salty butter on it…it tasted good and I felt better having had it. I was lonely as a kid. My parents divorced, both remarried badly, yada, yada, yada…..The point is, I have always had a skewed relationship with food. It was more than the fuel God intended it to be. I was always soft, pudgy, chubby, whatever you want to call it. I was also always insecure. My parents, all FOUR of them would tell me I was chubby, fat, putting on weight etc…all the way from age 7-18. So, food is an issue. I am good with food as a craftsman. My challenge now is to keep the proper perspective. I am so scared I will fail. I am scared that people are watching and waiting for me to put the weight back on. Seriously. I think women are especially analyzing me closely, looking for the pudgy roll over my jeans, waiting to say, “I knew you couldn’t do it.” How many times do you think you unconsciously give another woman the once over, looking at her from head to toe? Start paying attention, and you’ll be surprised, we all do it.  But my question is, why do I care so much? I want total strangers to be impressed with me, to be my friend, to like me….to even envy me. Why?? Some thoughts that come to mind are that I must be guilty of the same thing, somewhere deep down….I am looking at others who have what I want (a thin, flat tummy) and watching for a failure, something I can see that they aren’t as successful as I once thought. –maybe even something that means they are not better than me—A roll, a soft bit of tummy, smaller calves than mine, not as muscular quads as me etc….This is a bit disheartening. I believe that you always see your weaknesses in other people, you project them onto others….so since I am internally freaking out that others are waiting for me to fail, could it be because I am doing the very thing I am accusing them of?? Why does the scale define me? Why does the size of my jeans define me? Why do those numbers sometimes dictate whether or not I am happy or defeated? Why is success defined as thin? Why is acceptance balanced on physical attributes? I will tell you this much, I will never have that flat tummy. Why would I? I have NEVER had a flat tummy….not when I was in my pre-teens, not when I was in track and volley ball, not when I was a cheerleader, not when I was riding horses and mucking stalls and mowing lawns all day, its not how I was created. Now, the challenge is: can I accept myself? Am I good enough? Can I eat the foods I am crafting, and the skills I am learning, can I do this without the self destructive thoughts of guilt that I actually ATE the butter sauce that I made for the bleu cheese steak? Will it be okay to just maintain and not lose these last stupid, stubborn 15-20 lbs that I think should go away?? Maybe something else to work on will be to define what success is. What it looks like, what it feels like. There are so many rabbit trails to go down along this journey. I hope its freeing. I hope to come to a place of contentment. I hope some of you will arrive there with me. I will share in future posts what I did to lose it, but I am mainly writing to find a sense of balance with my relationship with food today and tomorrow and to find a way that my daughters will never go through this. That they know they are good enough.

onto tonight’s dinner:

I had left over cabbage from last week’s Chinese cabbage rolls and since buying the horse trailer, things will be tight for a week or two, so I need to be creative….yet I want to stay on track with building my culinary skills and broadening my palate and taste combinations. So tonight is:

Soupe Aux Choux-Garbure (main course cabbage soup, pg 48, Mastering the Art of French cooking)

here’s the kicker, my oldest actually said, “That sounds REALLY good Mama!” Is this the same teenager that I kissed goodnight last night???Seriously? Cabbage soup sounds GOOD? To be honest, it doesn’t to me! I am hoping for a surprise though, like our previous experience with the split pea soup….

place 3.5 qts of h2o, 3-4 cups peeled and quartered potatoes and 1.5 lb. of salt pork or lean bacon, or smoked ham in a pot and bring to a boil. Add 2 lbs. of roughly sliced cabbage, 8 crushed peppercorns, 1/2 tsp. marjoram (I used oregano because I didn’t see the marjoram right away and didn’t want to put the effort into looking for it) 1/2 tsp. thyme, 4 cloves mashed garlic, 2 medium onions studded with 2 cloves, 2 peeled and quartered carrots and simmer partially covered for 1.5-2hrs until meat is tender. Remove meat if necessary (I used bacon that I chopped so this step is not necessary for me) and slice into serving pieces, and return to pan, adjust seasonings, add salt if necessary, skim fat and serve with crusty french bread…..

1 lb chopped cabbage

this is savoy cabbage, a lighter texture than green or red

minced garlic

sure smells good!

the amazing thing is tonight, my dinner will be on time and done, since I started it after lunch! whew!


















If you scrolled down far enough, you found this. Kind of like a bonus track on a CD…..I am sitting here, typing with sweaty palms, wondering, do I really want to post this picture? Will it be advantageous for me to do it? What will I gain? Will it free me? These are secrets I am keeping, they are all in this picture. I dress to hide that tummy, those stretch marks, that apron of extra skin/flab from losing over 100lbs. I originally took this with a self timer, so that I could have something to compare to as I began yet another try at firming and toning and flattening…..I am hoping that by posting this, and sharing my secrets, it will be one step closer to acceptance. No secrets, nothing to hide.

current pic

there won’t be many more pics, this is about all I can handle, and I don’t want to bombard my readers with them. You can see much more on my sparkpeople page….


About wannebechef

I am a mom of 3 home schooled kids, wife of 19 years, head chef/manager of cafe and a personal chef and event planner.
This entry was posted in cooking, culinary skills at home, dieting, food, home cooking, recipes and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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