When I sit down to enjoy a delicious meal or snack, I don’t want to squint my eyes and furrow my eyebrows in an attempt to understand exactly what I am ingesting. I don’t want any mystery ingredients.
I want the real thing. Pure and unadulterated. With people and food, my number one requirement for a continued relationship is honesty. I don’t like mysteries unless they are unfolding on my television screen.
I don’t want to google “What is Thiamine Mononitrate?” And I don’t want high fructose corn syrup or palm kernel oil. Or whole wheat bread made with all purpose flour and sugar as the second and third ingredients. There are a lot of things I don’t want to eat. And there are a lot of foods, lining the grocery store aisles, packed full of them. What is a girl to do??
Scratching was my answer. The more I searched out unmodified, honest, unadulterated food, free from unwanted/filler ingredients, the more discouraged I became. They just weren’t out there. Once I flipped the jar around, I had to slog through a list of ingredients that reminded me of my Organic Chemistry final. Frustration turned to inspiration when I decided to start making all or mostly all of my food myself, from scratch.
Every limitation that I had put up for myself came down. Food items that I had ruled out were now back in my repertoire. Every “I can’t have that” turned into “How can I make that from scratch with the ingredients I want to use?”
The endeavor to create food that met the dietary requirements of my family and friends was thrilling. I was constantly scribbling down ideas and incorporating everyone’s dietary preferences and restrictions into my recipes. Being able to control every ingredient made it possible to re-introduce into our diets countless items that had previously been ruled out. I substituted gluten-free breads for regular wheat breads and whole grain breads for processed flour breads. I created dairy-free cookies and homemade peanut butter cups with significantly less sweetener. And the list went on and on. It was the perfect fusion of self-expression, contribution, and the love of food.
Now to get to the loss of 50lbs (!!!) That was scratching plus a little more. Scratching alone will not a weight loss make. Ahhh shucks.
I believe making healthy, conscious decisions about what to eat and how much to eat is a ubiquitous issue for people. Whether you have been skinny your whole life or overweight or whatever body type and metabolism you have – you most likely deal with this subject in one way or another.
Few things are more fundamental and basic than eating. How we think about it and how we approach what we eat is important. Hopefully, some of what I share about my process will be of use to you. The most important thing that I have learned in this process is the absolute CRITICAL and I mean CRITICAL importance of listening to myself.
I intentionally did not title this post “The Scratch Diet.” I did not go on a diet to lose the 50lbs I had gained. What I did was successively learn to listen to myself. At times, it was a bit tedious (I have gotten used to it now), but I would constantly ask myself, every day, every meal, “Is this the right thing for me to be eating?” “Is this the right amount for me to be eating?” And when I would err in one direction or the other, I would reassess and ask myself, “What happened?” Of course there were ups and downs, and sometimes it was incredibly frustrating. Sometimes, I thought I was eating way too much, sometimes not enough, but the focus was always on learning, always on discovering and finding what was right for me. I wasn’t committed to a particular weight and I didn’t have a goal in my mind; I just wanted to be healthy, feel good, and look the way that I thought was right.
That being said, I was not impervious to getting fixated on a particular number that I wanted my weight to be, and at times I got upset when I was higher than that number. When this thinking threw me off balance, I brought myself back to the very simple but powerful question, “What is right for me?” If eating A, B, or C food item was right for me, and the amount was right, then the number on my scale was right.
The obvious question I know many of you have is how do you know what’s right for you? I know the same way you know, by asking and introspecting. If you are willing to be honest, and you don’t look to pull the wool over your own eyes, you will know what is right. If in the moments when you don’t know what is right, you are willing and open to learn, you will find out by experimenting and getting help from members of your family, friends, or others whom you trust. My method of weight loss and good health requires telling the truth, and sometimes this takes answering challenging questions, either posed by yourself or those who support you. If there was a quick fix, one-size-fits-all solution to healthy eating and weight management, the world would look (no pun intended) very different. The truth is, this is a challenging issue that demands respect and earnest consideration. It was important for me to become my own expert. My own anecdote. And my own judge of what was good and right for me and what wasn’t.
I am 6′ tall and weigh about 150lbs depending on the day, and I eat exactly the kinds of foods that I want and that I find most delicious. I do not restrict, restrain, or hold myself back. It does not require any discipline or “good” behavior. My philosophy is all about balance, as most successful endeavors are. If it worked for me and my family, it can work for others too, and I very much want to share and help anyone and everyone I can.
Maintaining good health and weight are also linked to my philosophy of scratching. Cooking from scratch gives you absolute control over what you consume. I want to know exactly what I am eating. And I do not want any more or less of a particular ingredient than what I think is right for me at that moment. The only way I know how to accomplish this is to make my food, myself, and from scratch. My most recent update to my repertoire is my own vegetable garden. This gives me even more control and even more satisfaction when I can harvest my own food and create nutritious and delicious meals for all the people I love.
Another intention in sharing my weight loss is to show you all that I am not one of those people who was always skinny or who doesn’t love ridiculously fattening, sugary, fried, and breaded deliciousness. I love it all! And now, all, includes feeling great, being healthy, and looking the way I want. My endeavor is to have everything I want and sacrifice nothing and teach/show as many people as possible that they can have it too. Eating what you love and weight management does not need to be an exercise in discipline and sacrifice. I lost 50lbs without experiencing sacrifice or deprivation.
If you have stories to share or insights to add please comment or send me an email. I will keep this theme going throughout my posts. I hope it is helpful