Food: Friend or Foe?

I love the holidays. I love spending time with family, decorating the house, and most importantly all the special Christmas treats.

But this time of year brings out the worst of my food anxieties. Half of my brain wants to devour every sweet and delicious treat I lay my eyes on, while the other half is shaming myself for craving and/or devouring said food that is clearly bad for me. And I know I’m not alone in that struggle.

I’ve had a pretty unhealthy relationship with food most of my life. My mom never told us we couldn’t have junk food. On the contrary, if we ate the whole family-size bag of chips, half-gallon carton of ice cream, and drank that three liter bottle of Ritz soda in one sitting she wouldn’t chastise us, she would just tell us we would get more tomorrow. Sundays were spent eating five $0.39 cheeseburgers (each), bag of puffy cheese doodles (each), and whatever soda we wanted. These were good days for us. On bad days? You can’t even imagine how much we ate.

And it just went on like that most of my life. I ate when I was happy, sad, anxious, angry, got good grades, got bad grades, got into a fight with my best friend, got asked out by my crush, etc. If I didn’t have food on my person then my mind was on food. At home it wasn’t a big deal because I knew that my family was just as consumed by our consumption. Because of this I was always bigger than my peers.

Look, I don’t want to turn this into a ‘I was bullied and cried and hated my life’ post because I’m over whining about stuff I can’t change, but it is relevant to how I currently interact with food.

I was bullied because of my weight for most of my life. If it wasn’t by classmates then it was by teachers. The teachers hurt the worst because I was taught to look at my teachers as people to be respected and admired but unfortunately I was placed in the care of very nasty and hurtful people. And unlike the youth of today, when I was growing up society couldn’t have cared less about a child being bullied by anyone because it was seen as a character building life experience. Looking back today I feel like it’s a half truth but I digress.

Eventually I found my core group of friends and my weight was irrelevant. I had people that wanted to hang out with me because of our shared interests and enjoyment of each others company. I won’t say that I stopped caring about the pounds creeping on during ages 12-18 but it didn’t matter as much when I had friends that never focused on my need for two orders of Taco Bell taquitos instead of their one.

When I started college I became more aware of my dependency on excess food. I also think that’s when my friend(s) started noticing how I ate on a normal basis and they shared their concern. So I started going to the gym, attempted to eat right–let’s be honest I had an unlimited meal plan and it was my first year in college, unlimited pizza for the win!–and focused on school. I may not have gained all of the freshman fifteen but I sure didn’t lose any weight.

I wish I could say I adopted the whole working out and eating healthy thing as a new lifestyle by the time I graduated but it was a no-go. When I moved back to Miami, I got married and started looking for a ‘big girl’ job. The anxiety of the real world and my first year of marriage led me to making secret Wendy’s runs two times a day on top of whatever I had eaten at home/work. By March 2012 I was weighing almost 260 pounds (117kgs to all my non-USA readers) and literally hated myself.

I felt like I had lost control of my life. Every time I binged I would hate myself  even more but find myself unable to stop, as if there were a physical block somewhere along my nervous system preventing the sensors from my stomach to tell my brain, “Hey! Quit it! You’re poisoning yourself!” I would sit there eating until I would want to purge, my conscience yelling all the criticisms and obscenities people had told me throughout my life.

Shamu! Fat f*$%! Disgusting sloth! Sausage fingers! Jelly belly! Hamburglar! 

It’s been a few years since I’ve allowed myself to get into that deep of a depression, but there are days when I feel those negative thoughts creeping their way back from my subconscious. And recently my relationship with food has been at the forefront of everything.

Since getting released from the hospital in October I have had to focus more on food than normal. The doctors put me on a restrictive diet–for good reason–and have really been emphasizing on my need for weight loss. I was doing really well up until my mother-in-law got here for her visit. I’m sure those of you reading that have mother-in-laws can only imagine the stress and anxiety that ensues when they come for a visit.

I was totally on edge those full two weeks. So much so that I ate a whole kilo (2.2 lbs) of Nutella, a jar and a half of cookie butter, two bags of Reeses, bag of flaming hot Cheetos, and whatever sort of dessert I made for the night. Needless to say I’m almost positive I gained twenty pounds during her visit. I’m embarrassed admitting that but I figure honesty is the best policy for this sort of thing, right?

I will say that the past few months I’ve had a great support system, great friends that has been encouraging me to learn more about what I put in and on my body, cheering me on through every workout and meal planning session. I’m grateful for those in my life that have been, and always will be, there to support me when I’m at my lowest point.

I’m realizing that my relationship with food and its connection to my emotions is something I can’t work on by myself especially since I’ve been trying to do that for the past 26 years and nothing has changed.I’m afraid that my issues with food will somehow find their way projecting themselves onto Paloma. I want her to love food AND love herself. I want her to see food as something life sustaining but also something that can be enjoyed rather than depending on it to process her emotions. I’ve been debating going to therapy for awhile now to work on the deeper issues and find healthy coping mechanisms when I get anxious. I need to work on me so I can be stronger for her.

If you’ve made it to the end of this post then you get a gold star, a high five, and if you’re over the age of 18 a shot of tequila for dealing with all my long winded emotional baggage.

O Christmas Tag!

I’ve been looking for more ways to get involved on the blog without having to write so much (I’m lazy, I know). This week I was really lucky to read Angie Americana’s Christmas Tag post as part of her Blogmas post series.

It reminds me of the days of MySpace questionnaires and couldn’t help but get the urge to fill it out myself. Hope you enjoy!

1. What’s you favorite Christmas film?

How can you pick just one? I can’t so I’ll divide it between my favorite animated film and favorite live action film. Home Alone definitely takes the cake in the live action category. Because duh, it was every kids dream to be Kevin!  The Nutcracker Prince (1990) is my favorite Christmas animated film. My sister and I used to watch it on loop growing up during the holidays. It really isn’t Christmas until we dust off the VHS player, make popcorn and drink hot chocolate while watching it.

2. Have you ever had a white Christmas?

Nope, I wish. Especially since every Christmas in the foreseeable future is going to be during the summer.

3. Where do you usually spend your holidays?

Up until three years ago I spent my holidays in Miami. But when we moved to Uruguay we’ve been here.

4. What is your favorite Christmas song?

‘Jingle Bells’ by Frank Sinatra. Best. Song. Ever.

5. Do you open you presents on Christmas eve?

Honestly it depends on the year. Growing up we were allowed to open one gift on Christmas eve and would have to wait for Christmas morning to open the rest. But as I got older we would just open them on Christmas eve. Now that Paloma is around we’ll probably go back to opening gifts on Christmas morning.

6. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?

Nope! I’ve never been good at remembering any of them except for Rudolph.

7. What holiday traditions are you most looking forward to this year?

Right now I’m most excited to start new traditions with Carlos and Paloma. We put up and decorated our tree the day after Thanksgiving as a family. We are taking PJ to meet Santa sometime in the next few days. As Paloma gets older I’m sure we’ll develop and add new traditions.

8. Is your Christmas tree real or fake?

It’s fake! I miss the smell of pine trees around this time of year but sadly Uruguay doesn’t offer real trees. [See featured image above].

9. What is your all-time favorite Christmas sweet/treat?

Turron. And not the soft, mushy kind either. It needs to be jaw-breaking hard. Mmmmmmm….

10. Be honest: Do you like giving gifts or receiving them better?

I love giving gifts! I like to think I’m really good at it. I spend MONTHS researching and really listening to everyone to see what would be the best gift.

11. What is the best Christmas gift you’ve ever received?

Oh man, that’s a tough one. Right now I’d have to say it was our last year in Miami. I had been wanting this Marc by Marc Jacobs purse for ages and Carlos said we couldn’t afford it. But he ended up surprising me with it on Christmas eve. I still use it every day and it’s in perfect condition.

12. What would be your dream place to visit for the holidays?

Anywhere that it snows. I would LOVE to experience a white Christmas.

13. Are you a Pro present wrapper, or do you fail miserably?

Oh man, I’d say I’m average. I don’t really put much effort into gifts given to my family members because I know how savage we are at unwrapping. But when it comes to extended family or friends, I put more care into presentation.

14. Most memorable holiday moment?

My last Christmas with my grandpa. He died on Christmas eve when I was seven, causing a lasting and lingering cloud around the holidays, but before he passed he spent the evening with us. I remember opening my gifts from him and freaking out over a Little Mermaid nightgown. I remember the smile on his face as I jumped up and down like a sugar-addicted kangaroo. I don’t know, just something about that moment always makes me smile.

15. What made you realize the truth about Santa?

No idea, but I’ll bet it had something to do with my sister.

16. Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? Do you stick to them?

Every year but I always break them. I can’t even remember what my resolutions were for this year–I’m sure there’ll be a post on that coming up–but I can tell you if I accomplished one it’s one too many.

17. What makes the holidays special for you?

My family. It’s going to be weird celebrating Christmas this year without my sister.

 

 

 

Day trip to Atlantida: Blueberry picking and El Aguila

I have a love-hate relationship with having family or friends coming to visit. I love having familiar faces around, someone other than Carlos and my parents to talk to, and getting a bunch of goodies from the States. I hate having to come up with ways to keep them entertained.

I went through something similar when my aunt came to visit in September. Even though it was the beginning of Spring when she came, the weather was less than welcoming and we found ourselves spending a lot of time at home rather than enjoying all Uruguay has to offer.

This month my mother-in-law and her boyfriend came to spend a few weeks with us and it’s been rather challenging coming up with things to do. I’m still on the prednisone which, somedays, renders me useless. And other days, Paloma just doesn’t want to be bothered with long car rides. But Saturday I was adamant that we were going to get out of the house and do something.

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Road to Atlantida. I just love the view.

Did you know that Uruguay is one of the worlds largest blueberry producers? Well, now you know. Anyway, I’m part of an expat page on Facebook that advertises things to do around the country. The past few years we’ve seen advertisements for blueberry picking in both Atlantida and Piriapolis. Carlos and I have always wanted to go but never found a chance considering our first year here I was 9 months pregnant and last year Paloma was still too small to enjoy it.

 

So we headed out at around 9:30am and got to Atlantida at around 10:20am. It wasn’t a bad car ride but I did get lost a few times. By the time we found the place PJ was ready to get out of the car and run around. The farm is really lovely. Not only do they grow blueberries, but they also grow and sell their own organic produce separate from the picking.

I’m so glad I brought PJs rain boots because it would have been brutal to clean her up afterwards. She had a field day! She threw herself in the dirt, played with the fallen berries, picked berries off branches, tried to get through each tree into another aisle, and overall just had a blast running up and down the aisle from me to her dad.

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We were only there for about half an hour but ended up picking about 3 kilos of blueberries! And let me just tell you they are DELICIOUS! We froze about 2/3 of our pickings to be able to have some year round. But what we didn’t is almost gone.

After we got PJ cleaned up we headed to El Aguila on the beach. It’s a local landmark that was built in the mid 1940s. I don’t think it ever served an actual purpose but it’s a pretty cool building to see if you’re in the area. It’s built off a cliff so you get pretty awesome ‘sea’ views. I wish the cliff were roped off for child safety reasons but it is what it is. I was not thrilled to be chasing my two year old away from the edge, that’s for sure.

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El Aguila

We then headed to my FAVORITE bakery in all of Uruguay–La Baipa. When we lived in Atlantida before PJ was born, I used to come there at least twice a week. Their lemon merengue pie is worth every penny and empty calorie. Most people I know head to La Baipa on their way east to Punta del Este or even to Rocha. It’s a definite must go to place in Uruguay. Their selection is different than most bakeries where your options are the same four bizcochos. They have tiny bite size tiramisus, apple tarts, and lovely cream puffs. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!

Our stay in Atlantida was less than four hours but we had a lovely day. For those of you in Uruguay that would like more information on blueberry picking please don’t hesitate to ask!