Because of my love of food, I’ve struggled with my weight, and growing up, I was a bit chubby. Then as I hit adolescence and then adulthood, my weight fluctuated up and down like a yo-yo as I lost and gained weight. Needless to say, I have a few self-esteem issues related to my body and my weight, and a lot of my emotional baggage is tied up in body image and food.
So, I’ve come to understand that many people, myself included, use food not as fuel for the body, but as an emotional release or as a way to fill a void. We use food for so many reasons other than to fuel our bodies. We use it to celebrate. We use it to mourn. We use it to offer our condolences. We use it as a welcome to the neighborhood. We use it as an antidepressant. We use for comfort and satisfaction. And we self medicate with food as we try to fill our emotional emptiness.
For me, food has always equated to comfort, and as I have struggled with my emotional baggage, it has been a constant source of comfort in my life. But it’s a nasty cycle. I would eat to feel comforted, to feel satisfied, and then be disgusted with all that I ate cursing my body and the excess weight. I would wallow in the self pity that I didn’t have the will power - that I couldn’t maintain the lost weight. And I would eat more, gain more weight. Feel worse. At some point, I would lose some of the weight, feel better about myself, but then fall back into bad eating habits as life got unbalanced and more stressful. And the weight would come back, and I’d feel bad about myself again. My life has been a lot of self-sabotage.
As I struggle now to bring positive and sustainable change to my life. I need to free myself of the emotional hold food has on me and use food for fuel not comfort.
As I kid, I loved sugary cereal for breakfast, and as an adult, I lived off bagels. Both of which are mighty tasty, but not very nutritional - high in carbs, low in fat, but also low in protein. Not the best way to fuel up at the beginning of the day.
Since I’ve switched to a more whole-food, plant-based diet, I start my day in a much better way. I still eat cereal, but it’s of my own making, and it’s packed with a lot of nutrition including protein. Using old fashioned rolled oats as a base, I add some nuts, seeds, and fresh fruit that I top with a little agave nectar, cinnamon, and vanilla soy milk for a chewy, sweet yet yummy and hearty cold cereal. I mix a big batch of the oats, nuts and seeds in a resealable container and cut up the fresh fruits each morning - blueberries and strawberries are my favorite.
Here’s my basic cereal recipe:
8-10 cups of old fashioned rolled oats
approx. 2 cups of sliced almonds
approx. 2 cups of chopped walnuts
approx. 1 cup of raw sunflower seeds
approx. 1/4 cup of golden flax seeds
occasionally I’ll add some sesame seeds as well