Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Can't just stop eating...

So this blog post has been on my mind for a long time ... like since I started this blog a couple of years ago. I've actually started a post on this topic at least 2 other times and have written it in my head a few other times on top of that.

For about 5 years I struggled with an eating disorder.  Not anorexia or bulimia but a compulsive overeating disorder (and specifically the binge eating disorder part of that). It's also considered to be food addiction.  It's like the fun part of bulimia. But not really.

So what exactly does it mean? Well, it's not "oh, well everyone does that sometimes." Sure, we all eat a little too much at Thanksgiving, or maybe you decide to have a second piece of the cake you made or a third chocolate chip cookie, which you know might be a little excessive but in the long run isn't that big of a deal. No, this is eating that second piece of cake, and the third cookie, and then a fourth and fifth piece of cake and then you've eaten that much so why not finish it, and the batch of cookies, with a glass of milk. And then an apple because at least that's healthy ... but maybe with some peanut butter because apples and peanut butter go well together and then as you're putting the peanut butter away you have one last spoonful, and then another, and then you remember you have leftover chocolate chips so you add some on top of the spoonful of peanut butter and then the bag of chocolate chips is gone and the jar of peanut butter is empty and you had just opened a new one when you sliced the apples. That's what my compulsive overeating was like. About 4 or 5 days a week when I lived by myself.  But I didn't really gain much weight since I had a gym membership and exercised every day and lived in Cambridge and didn't have a car so I walked everywhere.

So what about just not stocking sweets in my kitchen? Boxes of cereal ... jars of peanut butter ... bread and butter.  Those work too.  At least I never ate bags of flour like a friend's roommate once did. I was never quite that extreme.  And on the topic of peanut butter -- it's evil. One of Jen's friends who was bulimic and went to a treatment center for food issues said that peanut butter was a trigger for nearly all of the women she met.

Once I figured it out, I was somewhat open about it so some friends knew what I was going through and I did start seeing a therapist about it.   It really is an addiction. And abstaining isn't a solution. Can't just quit food. I also thought about food and what I was going to make ALL THE TIME. I didn't realize how much I thought about food until I did a 3-day juice fast with my church when I was eating and I still found myself starting to plan out my meals.

The therapy did help me figure out the reasons. Didn't immediately help with stopping but helped me figure out what was going on.  Of course it was about control and stemmed from body image and trying to lose weight and wanting to be thinner. The control was wanting to control what I was eating and trying to follow a diet and not having a good attitude about what I thought were failures in my diet.  So if I told myself I wasn't going to eat any sweets, or I was just going to have 1 cookie but then I had two it turned into "well, fuck it then, might as well just eat them all."

What made it go away? I got roommates with whom I was honest about my problem. Then I fell in love and got married. One day I realized it had sort of just stopped being an issue. Now I kind of do the more typical "oh whoops, I ate 2 pieces of cake" thing now and then but haven't binged since we lived in our apartment before we got married (nearly 7 years ago).  Being pregnant was tough because all my weight issues came back. Seeing the weight go up and up was hard until I gave up and realized it was going to happen and there was nothing I could do and I'd worry about losing the weight after the baby was born. I did try to keep active though by going for frequent walks.

And now I can even go "on a diet" without having the "oh I fucked up so might as well just eat the world" reaction.  I just let myself have the treat and don't focus on it.

I don't really have any good conclusion for this. Just "yay I don't have this problem anymore" because it totally sucked. And I have total sympathy for anyone with any eating disorder because it's not just something that is easy to ignore and get over.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The most delicious apple pie ever. And also chowder.

So, if you know me at least a little bit well, you know I love to cook.  Or specifically to bake. I used to bake a ton.  Fresh bread every week, cookies or other sweets brought into work every week ... that sort of thing.  Then I got pregnant. Didn't want to eat the first few months and started a new job and suddenly the baby was born and it was all I could do to make a box mix.

Lately I've had more time since Nate is more independent and also enjoys cooking with me so I've been getting back into cooking more.

If you know me more than a little bit, you know that I went through a bit of a "sugar nazi" (as Jen called it) phase when I was against sugar.  I've gotten over that but was making a lot of Eating Well recipes for awhile (and still do when I want to be more healthy).  Also, I recently got Joanne Chang's Flour cookbook which has recipes for simple foods but sometimes just a little more complicated than they need to be (though they certainly are delicious).

So today I did two things I haven't done in awhile and don't do frequently. I made a no-holds-barred chowder (it had 8 ounces of bacon's worth of BACON FAT in it plus 1/2 cup of BUTTER) and pulled out an old cookbook* sitting on my shelf and made a really simple apple pie recipe.  Both of those things turned out SO GOOD!

First, the chowder.  I took this recipe.  I pretty much made it as is except that I used a bag of frozen langostino tails in place of the lobster (same thing, sorta), left out the scallops and used a pound of Turbot in place of both fishes.  Also I only used 1 1/2 quarts of milk and 1/4 cup of butter and left out the curry powder.  I think next time I'd add a few more potatoes and maybe do some type of herb.  Not sure which.  Possibly just give the curry powder a try.  Jen's not a huge fan of soups/chowders but she loved it! SUCCESS!

The pie recipe was from Fannie Farmer's Classic American Cookbook (my version was printed in 1979). It's really simple and doesn't even bother with that fancy-schmancy egg wash on the crust. I've printed the recipe below but I will admit that I used a frozen pie crust from Trader Joe's (which is the best store-bought crust I've ever had).  I'm not a crust person. I know they're supposedly really easy but I just haven't gotten the hang of them so I'll use one I know will be consistent!

Apple Pie

Basic Pastry dough for 9-inch two-crust pie (store-bought or homemade, certainly up to you)
3/4-1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
6 large, firm, tart apples
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a 9-inch pie pan with half the pastry dough. Mix the sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and flour in a large bowl. Peel, core, and slice the apples and toss them in the sugar mixture, coating them well. Pile them into the lined pan and dot with the butter. Roll out the top crust and drape it over the pie. Crimp the edges and cut several vents in the top. Bake 10 minutes, then lower the head to 350 degrees F and bake 30-40 minutes more or until the apples are tender when pierced with a skewer or knife and the crust is browned.

*My dad read cookbooks. He read cookbooks for the introductions, for the little anecdotes and tidbits of information that were peppered throughout, but mostly he read them for the recipes. After he died, my mom and I found piles of saved newspaper and magazine clippings. They were all restaurant reviews and recipes. From his years observing my Chef-grandfather and reading recipes and eating all over the world, my dad had compiled a rich encyclopedia of food in his head. In all the years I watched him cook, I very rarely saw him use a recipe. All he needed to know was in his head. However, he did enjoy reading cookbooks. When he died at the age of 60, my dad had a collection of over five hundred cookbooks. He liked to tell the story of the one summer he went to the annual used book sale under a tent in one of the mall parking lots and came home with sixty-five new additions to his collection. When he came home very excited about his new purchases, my mom did not react with as much enthusiasm as he had hoped. Like many other families, there were bookshelves in the family room and a couple other rooms of my parents’ house. They were full of cookbooks. When my dad died, I had thirty-two cookbooks, eighteen of which my dad bought for me at the used book sale that summer. Of my collection, twenty-four books focused on dessert and bread making. After he died I took a bunch home with me and the Fannie Farmer's one was one of them since I ended up saving a lot of the older historical American ones that he had.