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Women: EAT LIKE A MAN!

Turn on the television. Count how many ads you see for food specifically geared towards women. Do this for an hour, that is if you can stand television today for that long. How many of them devote their entire message to eating less?

All of them.

Special K wants us to eat their breakfast sandwiches that are 190 calories.

Multiple yogurt companies stuff bland, vile sludge down our throats with less than 50 calories, 0 percent fat and ‘high protein’.

Do you really want a small, shitty pack of “cookies” that are 100 calories? Have you seen those? Those are hardly cookies. Give me two packs of those, a bowl and some whole milk. That’s cereal!

Skinny Cow wants us to eat those little itsy-bitsy teeny weeny, yellow polka dot bikini –

Wait.

Those tiny portions of ice cream! All geared towards women!

Tiny food.

To make you tiny.

Healthy.

Empowered.

Right?

WRONG.

We are STARVING. We under eat. We are orthorexic and anorexic. In vast proportions. Or should that say ‘portions’? We stuff ourselves at 11pm, butts hanging out our fridge, gorging on calories we do not allow ourselves and secretly shame ourselves for.

When was the last time you saw a food ad geared towards men? Perhaps light beer. Remember Hungry Man microwavable food? They advertised over 1lb of food in a microwavable box for men. REAL MEN EAT REAL FOOD YARRRRRR. Men are not made to feel shame for their food choices. Men are not told to eat this, or avoid that. Men just EAT THE FOOD.

No matter how enlightened, secure, or empowered we feel in our daily lives towards every other thing, food is women’s achilles heel. These companies know this all too well. Magazines all push articles on losing weight with some new fad diet or another.

My mother used to purchase Women’s World magazine many, many years ago. A long time friend of my wife had an interesting and hilarious observation: “Why do all the women on the cover of Women’s World look like they want to EAT YOU?!” On one side of the front cover, they’d advertise a new way to lose weight. On the other? CAKE! COOKIES! WAIT UNTIL YOU TRY THIS NEW RECIPE FOR FUDGE! Or something.

There are so many ways the world makes us feel unworthy, fat, and hideous. We are taught to hate our bodies. Restrict this food or that food. Then we can binge on ‘bad’ food and hate ourselves even more.

The cycle continues.

I am a 5Rhythms devotee. It is a beautiful type of ‘moving meditation’. We move to music of all sorts, un-choreographed, allow what is presently with us internally to just be, and move how we feel without judgement. We may bawl our eyes out. We may feel elated and rejuvenated. It is an awe-inspiring modality for dealing with pent up emotions, for looking deep into ourselves, for connecting with total strangers in a beautiful, intimate way. We let our souls shine and let it all out!

Did I mention it’s a ton of fun? Even when you feel like your heart is torn in two, 5Rhythms will challenge you in every way possible.

This past April, I attended a three-day workshop called “All My Relations” given by the wonderful, wise and always hilarious Kathy Altman of The Moving Center School in California. On day two, after three hours of continuous, rigorous movement, we broke for lunch.

I had packed white potatoes sliced thin, and fried in bacon fat that morning. I also packed with it a hearty portion of shredded chicken breast. I was absolutely famished, my stomach grunting it’s disapproval. I looked around at my fellow dancers to see what everyone else was eating. I was stunned.

Salad.

Yes, salad.

SALAD?!!

After sweating for hours, pouring with sweat and emotion, many ladies deemed salad as a great post-workout meal.

I wanted to cry.

I have noticed over the years that women eat salad in front of each other. Why do we seek approval from other women on our food choices?

Other dancers consumed dates, crackers and hummus, grapes, berries. That sounds yummy, but is that a meal unto itself? After three hours of dancing your ass off?

95% of my fellow dancers at this workshop were women.

After attending a workshop in July given by the lovely, passionate Lucia Horan, I was approached by a woman from out of town. She asked if I knew the area well…and where could she get a good…

…wait for it…

…SALAD!!!

I have nothing against salad. It can be a great meal with the appropriate ingredients, protein, heck maybe even some squash thrown in. I gotta have my starch. And frankly, so do you!

Woman was not meant to live on salad alone!

Neither was man.

But Hungry Man never came out with a Hungry Man SUPER MASSIVE SALAD KIT YARRRR!

Many months ago, I was at work on my lunch break. I ate what I brought: some combo of meat, veg and starch. But it wasn’t enough. I was still so effing hungry. My metabolism is bat shit most days.

Enter chocolate.

I popped into Godiva, spent $12 (yes, 12 DOLLARS) on a large block of delicious, sensuous chocolate. I walked around the mall to kill time all while eating said bar of awesome.

The looks I got. The side-eyed stares, the disapproval. Yes, I am eating chocolate, stuffing my face, because it’s DELICIOUS and I LOVE IT and SO DO YOU so EAT SOME ALREADY. AND SHUT UP.

Men eat. They eat what they want, when they want it. They don’t watch Dr. Oz and babble about eating coconut oil to boost metabolism and lose weight.

They don’t eat low-fat ice cream. They don’t eat salad post-workout! Men EAT and they have no shame, no concern for anyone else’s perception. Nobody turns an evil eye to a man eating ANYTHING he wants. Had I been a buff, hot, sexy man walking around the mall stuffing my face on Godiva, no one would batt an eyelash. No one would disapprove. But there I was, tall, relatively slim, FEMALE and gorging on chocolate while looking at clothing in H&M.

It’s not our fault. Television, magazines, billboards, Victoria’s Secret, Cosmo, Hollywood, fad diet gurus, Dr. Oz. Big money goes into making us feel like SHIT.

From childhood, we are told we’re not good enough. We’re not thin enough, hot enough, sexy enough, smart enough.

WE ARE ENOUGH.

You are always enough.

Stop believing in everyone else’s version of what you “should” be. You are your own compass, your own map. No one else is going to figure out you for you.

Determine how much you need to eat daily based on your height, weight and activity level. You will be very surprised at how much you need to eat!

http://www.health-calc.com/diet/energy-expenditure-advanced

Eat everything. There are no ‘bad’ or ‘good’ foods. This is hyper-food-extremism at its worst. Butter is not the devil and sugar is not responsible for everyone’s health problems.
Relax. Cook and eat with friends. Don’t eat in front of the television. You do not enjoy your food that way. You do not enjoy the company of your lover or BFF that way.

Enjoy good wine. Drink beer from local craft breweries. Sleep. Pray. Meditate. Let go.

When was the last time you showed yourself loving-kindness? Not just in a spiritual manner…but with food? When did you last derive pleasure from a meal? One that made you go “OH MYYYYYYY” a la George Takei.

If you haven’t in a long time, leave the comfort of your couch and computer and get in the kitchen. If you don’t have appropriate groceries to make a sexy meal, then go out and buy them.
Make pasta carbonara. Fresh, hot pasta, bacon, a splash of hot pasta-fied water, egg yolks, parmesan cheese, freshly cracked black pepper. It’s easy and delicious. It’s slippery, silky, rich and simply, incredibly orgasmically divine.

When I started to Eat the Food, I bought fresh egg bread from a local Italian bakery. I had also just bought eggs, my favourite butter (L’Ancêtre from Quebec. Worth every penny), local maple syrup and whole milk. All from Blossom Organic, one of my favourite food stores. I went home and whipped up a huge batch of french toast for myself, wife and 10 year old niece Dani.

The sweetness of the maple syrup, contrasted with salty butter, and dense luscious egg soaked bread was un…be…lievable. I was in heaven. I couldn’t believe I had denied myself for so long. We women, we’re good at that. Denying, suppressing, apologizing, guilt-tripping, rationalizing. To whom? Ourselves? To this world that pushes us around?

Fuck it. Fuck Hollywood. Fuck television and fuck disgusting 50 calorie yogurt and stupid packets of shitty cookies. We have hated ourselves and hated food for far too long.

It is time to take it back.

Take food back.

Take us back.

Julia Child has a wonderful line about ‘diet food’:

“The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.”

And…

“I think every woman should have a blowtorch”.

Oh, so much to tell you all!

I cannot believe I have been away for over five months, approaching six. I feel strange having abandoned a blog and a following I loved and worked hard on.

It’s not because I do not care.

It is simply because my priorities changed.

I also came to some astonishing new realizations about primal/paleo eating: it doesn’t work for everyone. And it didn’t work for me.

I’m still in a mild state of shock over this conclusion. I, like many, thought I’d found the holy grail of health, of vitality, of true nourishment.

I need to collect all my thoughts, all my feelings and every last syllable before I write a very long, and very overdue post.

This site is also getting a serious face lift. I’m not digging the current theme.

Stay tuned for a mind-altering, eye-opening, shocking new post! Coming soon to an internet browser near you!

A Christmas Perspective: It’s very Polish, ritualistic, and sometimes a little sad…

Harry *is* a Christmas present.

Harry *is* a Christmas present.

Oh, look. Christmas is upon us.

Sigh.

Sniffle.

Sob.

For those of us who have lost a loved one, the holidays are exquisitely painful. Birthdays, anniversaries, and other days of memory are always tinged with sadness, but Christmas gets an extra large helping of suffering.

My parents loved Christmas. We had an inexpensive stereo system in the living room, which was always turned to EZ Rock 97.3FM, and once December hit, all they ever played were Christmas tunes.

We loved it. You’d hear the same songs over, and over again numerous times. That got to be minutely irritating, but it was worth it.

Tata would be belting out “Silver Bells” in his faux operatic tenor, while Ma and I would roll our eyes. On the inside, we were giggling. Dad was a complete dork.

Now you know where yours truly gets it from.

Polish people don’t mess around with Christmas. It is taken very seriously, and preparation is done in advance. Mama would bake these small, shortbread style cookies that were sandwiched together with raspberry jam. These would be made weeks before, and stored in in our cold storage room. They were extremely tasty cold, and you better believe I snuck one or two, or many. And then would promptly get in shit for it.

Mama would scurry in the kitchen, furiously making cream cheese and potato perogies (ruskie, or Ruthenian) in large batches. She would freeze them and they’d be ready to be dunked into boiling hot water for Christmas Eve dinner.

Mama also made this incredible wild mushroom borscht. It was a dark, potent brew, filled with small tortelinni style packages stuffed with wild mushrooms. It had amazing depth, and a slight sourness that got you in the back of your jaw. It was my favourite part of Christmas Eve dinner.

Being Catholic, meat was not served.

But there was fish.

I had serious problems with this from a very young age.

“MAMA! But fish is meat!”

“NO EEZ NOT PACHOO”

Years later…

“Mom. Fish. It’s meat”.

“NO PACHOO”

Many years later, with a degree in smart-assedness:

“Hey Ma…fish is flesh. So, you know…that makes it MEAT MA”

“AAAAAAAHHHHHHH…

SHADDUP PACHOO”

We had salmon, we had breaded sole, we had Polish “Greek” fish. What?

It’s fish layered with grated carrot, celery root, onion, some seasoning and a little tomato paste. I never ate it. It looked weird to me. Even when I hit my mid-twenties, I still wouldn’t eat it.

Compote or kompot was a delightful stewed fruit drink. Hot, and sweet, you sipped the ‘broth’ if you will, and ate the stewed peaches, prunes, apples and other chunks of merriment with pleasure.

With that same stereo playing carols care of EZ Rock, we devoured soup, perogies, various non-meat (!) fish dishes, kompot, more perogies, maybe some Black Seal Rum if you were lucky and Mama was in a good mood. Oh my god, the food.

After dinner, you were stuffed. You were so stuffed, in fact, you had no idea how you were going to march up the flight of stairs leading to our family room, where we had a real wood-burning fireplace, our gorgeous Christmas tree AND MORE FOOD. COOKIES AND CAKE.

OH MY.

Presents were exchanged; the television was put on with some typical Christmas movie on. Celebrating went late, as attending Christmas Eve Mass was essential.

I hated it as a child, but over the years, I’ve grown a certain level of respect for it. Good on you if you’re awake and sober by midnight. I haven’t stepped foot in a church in years, for fear I may blow up, or the entire establishment goes up in flames the very moment my fingertips are dipped in holy water.

I am a recovering Catholic. Don’t get me started.

In typical Polish Catholic tradition, opłatek was passed around before dinner. That’s O-PWA-TEK. It’s a wafer similar to the one given out during Mass, but this one is stamped with a nativity scene. Everyone gets a piece. Then everyone goes around to everyone else, breaking off a piece of their own opłatek with the other person and sharing it, all while wishing them enormous blessings and good tidings, health, joy, money and good will for the new year. Hugs and big wet Polish kisses abound. It was a bit embarassing as a child. I must admit, I miss it now. It is a touching, emotional ritual. Ritual is as old as humanity, and I am firmly convinced of the importance of it in our lives. It is entrenched in our DNA, our cell memory, our universal consciousness. Ritual harkens back to older times, to a drum beat, to sacred ceremony. Today, our rituals may include listening to vinyl, preparing a luscious cup of tea, meditating on mala beads, or sharing pieces of opłatek with loved ones on Christmas Eve.

Now that I think about it, every part of Christmas Eve was ritualistic. Food is by far, the most important ritual of all. Sharing delicious, homemade food with loved ones is social, sacred and loving. Laughter is spread like butter on rye, joy and humour fills the air like the smell of kompot simmering away on the stove.

I’m often asked about perogies during the Christmas season. I’ve made perogies from DE SCRATCH once since my parents passed. It’s a mountain of work. You have to make dough. It has to chill. You have to make filling. It must taste just like Mama’s or else, why bother? That means onions chopped finely and fried slowly in butter, with salt and lots of freshly cracked black pepper. Potatoes boiled and mashed, with those savory onions added in and a generous helping or two, or three of Philly cream cheese. It had to be Philly. I’m serious. They didn’t taste the same if it wasn’t Philly.

They were a huge hit. Everyone was in awe. My mother-in-law commented that they were not at all like store-bought, as the dough was nice and thin.

You damn right it was. Rolling that dough was akin to a Crossfit WOD. I used a French style rolling pin, not the kind that’s a cylinder on a rod, and it spins, thus doing the work for you.

GEEZOOS CHRRRIST.

Right, Mama?

I don’t know that I’ll ever make perogies ever again. They are an extreme pain-in-the-ass (and not even Mama liked making them), and labour intensive. They’re also made with flour. I don’t avoid wheat just because it’s anti-Paleo/Primal, but I am assuredly gluten-intolerant. I eat wheat, and only a few minutes later, I’m in pain. It’s not worth it.

I am fully capable of retaining memories, traditions and rituals in other ways. I usually put on EZ Rock at home on my days off. It puts a bounce in my step and makes routine chores seem more enjoyable.

I’ve married into a Swedish family, and that means a very meat heavy Christmas Eve dinner (HAHA MAMA!!!), and some cabbage, pickled herring, rye bread, marzipan and chocolate truffles, and lots of wine. In the past nine years, I’ve celebrated a little too hard, shall we say, and Christmas Eve Mass has missed me again and again.

This year will be different.

While I won’t be stepping foot in a Catholic church, I will be visiting a United church my mother adored on Christmas Eve. It was one year she decided to do something different, and she was completely mesmerized by the evening.

The church was completely dark. Black and mysterious.

But the lights. Oh, de lights, PACHOO.

They had lit candles everywhere.

It was so BEWTIFOOL PACHOO.

She had tears in her eyes gushing all about it.

I’ve flirted with the idea of going one year.

This year, the flirtation ends. And I’ll be thinking of Mama the entire time. If I lose it completely and bawl my eyes out, so be it. If I don’t, so be it.

So be it.

However you remember your deeply-missed loved ones during the holidays, don’t beat yourself up over the past. It’s dead. It’s only a memory, and what is a memory? A thought. Your mind has probably misconstrued and twisted it since then. The past only has power if you steep yourself in it. Do you really want to camp out back there? Do you really want to exist in steeped, over-wrought misery and pain?

I suppose you can. Open the door of your heart, and let that slimy bastard in. You may not want to be friends with it, but maybe acquaintances?

But sit with it. Sit in that pain, that agonizing, sharp stabbing in your heart. Breathe deeply. But sit with it. Here it is, it’s here. You don’t have to like it.

Once you allow yourself to feel it, instead of pushing it away…the pain…

…it will leave. You will not even have noticed when, but it does.

Then celebrate your health, your joy, even if it’s only a shred. They would want you to be happy.

It’s not one day at a time. Hardly.

Grief is an intense process, and in the case of parents, I do not suspect it’s something one ever moves beyond. You only get one set of parents. No matter what your relationship with them, and mine was tumultuous most times, they are ingrained in you, in every part of you. In every cell that makes you.

I will fondly remember Tata proudly singing “Silver Bells”, and if Anne Murray’s version comes on, I will surely cry. So I will let it. Just be it.

I will remember the smell of wild mushrooms, the taste of kompot tickling my tongue, and the crackling of opłatek in my palm.

Remember, and smile. Smile and radiate their love and joy within you. Father, mother, sister, brother, whoever that may be. We all have memories of Christmas with those who have moved past the veil. Keep them close, and smile deeply, down to your gut, your liver, past your appendix, and way deep inside, to your soul.

Whatever you celebrate in the month of December, I wish you a blessed, healthy, warm, loving, romping, hollering, eclectic good time, and a fabulous new year.

(Don’t worry, the food posts haven’t stopped).

Love,
me

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