“But you have no idea what it's like to be fat.”
A chance encounter, the kind that stays with you for a long time to come.
She (barely) twenty, attending cosmetology school, living in a world where girls are thin, and image is a very big deal. An air of excitement filled her voice as she talked of her lap band surgery, just a few months away
Me .. 40+ .. wishing I didn't have to acknowledge the body shifts that have been happening since my mid-thirties and into my forties, or that I've been 100+ pounds heavier than I am now (not once, but twice in my life). Wanting to say with authority that the days of worrying about body image were long behind me.
That this season of life has been about learning to love myself more, a big part of the equation, realizing the body I've been given is enough. I can stop putting it through painful remodeling projects when it's already beautiful.
She talked of friends minoring in the college of reduction, where the hunger for smallness has become a constant, nearly exhausting state. They juice-fast, exercise for hours, and won't touch bread baskets
I thought of the people twice her age, at different fitness and nutrition events I've attended over the past few years
I'm eating the non-fat Greek yogurt, but I miss the creaminess and taste of full-fat
Is it true I should avoid milk? Will it cause us to bloat and gain two pounds overnight?
Is it ok if I ate ten walnuts instead of five? I was really hungry
I've hardly eaten this week, got in double work-outs; I'm so disappointed that the scale won't budge
I know exactly where they are, having dieted for decades. I always wish for them a different paradigm, where not all of their bites are measured, and they're able to eat outside the lines of the paper tucked in their purse, whole and nourishing food that tastes good to them, listening instead to how their bodies feel.
But we all have our own journeys
(I feel so thankful to have grown up on a farm where fresh, real, homemade food was treated as a something beautiful)
It's conversations like these, that always reminds me of the beaches of Mexico. The juxtaposition of women who diet for months before booking their flight to the beach, versus the women who simply walk the beaches, topless, without a care in the world. Their flawed (from the perspective of some) bodies on full display
They're unapologetic, proud of who they are, and their beauty. No matter their size.
It's no secret food is my favorite way to connect with people
This past weekend we hosted our second Spaghetti Saturday. We spent the evening sharing wine, spaghetti, salad, and a few (!) Christmas cookies. To think someone couldn't enjoy the evening because they didn't feel like they could have pasta or a glass of bubbly would have made me sad.
Yet at the same time, I get it. The world we live in, no matter our age, skinny is treated as one of the highest forms of currency.
She told me how life was going to different when she was thin, the ways it would be better once she had more self-confidence. All the things she'd been waiting to do, the love of her life she was going to meet
I couldn't help but smile
Age, I've discovered, can bring perspective and knowledge, but sometimes it doesn't make realizations (or regret) any easier to bear. How I've been there, waiting for life to begin again, once the scale read that magic number. How the same feelings can still creep into my spirit today if I'm not careful. “If my body were only X, life would be so much better.”
But the problem with X, is even if/when we get to X, are we ever satisfied? Or do we then fill it with another X, and then another, and then another? The reality is, it's never going to equate to greater happiness or self-love in the long run.
Happiness is something entirely different
I hugged her before we parted ways, and couldn't resist asking my favorite holiday question, “What's your best thing you've had to eat?”
I love this healthier version, without the heavy cream, or handfuls of Velveeta that often accompany classic recipes. Made with simple ingredients: ground beef, onions, and garlic, beef broth, tomato sauce, and puree. It's complemented by a creamy cashew cream sauce that's mixed throughout
If you have never tried them, cashew or almond cream sauces have become a go-to as a replacement for heavy cream in recipes. Surprisingly, the combination yields a wonderful texture and taste and is a great alternative if you're avoiding dairy.
~ Adapted from The Spunky Coconut
- 2 ¼ lbs ground beef
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 cups tomato puree
- 2 ¼ cups beef broth
- 1 ½ cups cashews, plain and unsalted (soaked in water for three hours to soften, recommended but optional if you have a powerful blender like a Vitamix)
- 2 ½ tsp arrowroot flour
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 1 tsp sea salt + plus more to taste
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Optional Toppings
- pickles, chopped
- green onions, topped (green and white parts)
- In a small bowl, cover the cashews with water and let sit for a minimum of 3 hours, to soften
- Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot over low to medium heat. Add olive oil, onion, and ground beef.
- Stir occasionally, breaking up the beef, and cook until the meat is no longer pink, and the onions are tender
- Add garlic and cook a minute more
- Add the tomato puree and increase the heat to medium
- Drain the cashews
- Add the beef broth, softened cashews, arrowroot flour, tomato paste, and salt to the blender, and puree until completely smooth.
- Pour the puree into the pot, and bring to a boil. Once a boil is reached, turn off the heat, and allow to cool for a few minutes.
- Serve with chopped picked and green onions