I grew up in the Barbecue mecca of the United States. As Spring and Summer time rolled in, so too did the mosquitoes, heat, and humidity. My parents enjoyed a good cookout with friends but we always ate inside. Reflecting on my youth I cannot remember many times when we ate outside simply because it was so hot all the time!
Now that I live in a more temperate climate that is all about to change. I put going on a picnic on my Live Now List for several reasons. First, I have rarely been on a picnic in my life. I enjoy the outdoors but eating outside would combine my passion for cooking and food, with my love of outdoors. It only makes sense. Secondly, it creates a memory for my family that will last a lifetime.
But most importantly, it reminds me that I can enjoy a celebration, or a party and still be in control of my eating. Let me explain. About a year ago I underwent Gastric Bypass Surgery. It was a life-changing operation that gave me a whole new lease on life. At my heaviest weight I was 326 pounds and feeling tired all the time! So I decided to make a change. Having struggled with my weight all of my life, I knew that if I wanted to live a long, healthy life and see my beautiful child grow I needed to do something drastic. Many people think that the surgery is a “miracle pill”. Other people think it is the lazy way out. In truth, it is neither of those things.
Yes, I lost a lot of weight after the surgery. Yes, losing the weight rapidly helped me to feel better faster and get moving more easily. But then after 6 months the weight loss begins to slow down. That is when the “true test” is put into place: are you committed to a healthy lifestyle? Are you really ready to make the changes? In short, yes… I was and still am! Gastric Bypass Surgery is a commitment you make to yourself to nurture and love yourself enough to change your eating habits and to get moving more. One of the hardest changes was realizing that I could no longer eat the things I used to. I used to love meat. Growing up in the Deep South meatloaf was a staple in my parents’ home. Burgers were a quick, easy, and cheap meal. Post-surgery I am unable to digest meat. For several months I felt frustrated as I struggled to find new recipes that tasted delicious, but were healthy too.
The holidays came and went and with it I began to realize that perhaps instead of trying to find a path similar to my “old ways” I should adopt new habits. So I began to shift to a vegetarian diet. I chose Vegan and Vegetarian recipes. I incorporated tofu into lots of my meals. I learned what tempeh and barley tasted like. Slowly over time my grocery cart consisted primarily of produce, legumes, and grains. Now… it’s simply second nature.
This picnic is much more then a picnic for me. It is my moment to say, “Yes, I can enjoy a cookout with my family and still eat healthy.” Yes! I am in control of my eating. Yes! I love my family so much that I am going to cook healthy food for them too! And yes… I am ready to live a long, long time. So tomorrow we are heading out to a brand new park in town. One that is known for its pristine sand dunes and solitude beach shores. One that is filled with nature bustling right along the coast. There we will be eating Baked Falafel Burgers courtesy of The Minimalist Baker and topping the veggie wraps with Guy Fieri’s Yogurt Sauce. If we are still hungry there will be pieces of fruit for everyone to snack on. What a beautiful thing life is. I cannot wait to share pictures with you tomorrow. Have a wonderful Friday everyone!