“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world”
Any one that knows me, knows I’m an avid foodie. I love food! However, it wasn’t always that way. Only in the last four years have I really embraced different types of food and become more open to trying new dishes. Prior to that, I had a tumultuous relationship with food and what my body could tolerate. From the time I was a child, I always had stomach issues. I caught every stomach bug that went around school. It would take days and sometimes weeks for me to fully recover. The symptoms would wax and wane but would frequently keep me up at night with nausea and pain. After many visits to different physicians and multiple tests, I was diagnosed with a rare bacterial infection. After two weeks of treatment, I was back to being a healthy kid again! In my early 30’s, a different set of digestive symptoms returned and once again left doctors stumped. My symptoms slightly mimicked Inflammatory Bowel Disease but tests could not confirm. Fortunately, I found a very good gastroenterologist that identified my ailment as a different type of infection that put my immune system into overdrive. This time I was treated for six weeks and have been fairly good since.
For so long, when I ate something whether healthy or not, it was a roll of the dice on how it would affect me. After the nasty bugs were eradicated and my immune system stabilized, I had to rebuild the relationship of trusting food and how it could now truly nourish my body. Bye bye B.R.A.T. diet, hello food!
Food and Fellowship
My boyfriend and partner, Dave, is a foodie and loves to cook anything from a grilled chicken salad to a fancy holiday dinner. I live all year for his Christmas Prime Rib! For him, it’s really about the whole process. We joke that he’d immediately get CHOPPED if on the show due to the time restraints. He approaches dinner like a ceremony. He lights candles, pours a glass of wine, turns on good music, and takes his time preparing the meal. It’s how he winds down from a hectic and stressful work day. So often, our society treats mealtime as just another part of the day. Slow down! Take time to enjoy the meal and fellowship. Savor each bite and take pride in what you make. Dave started his cooking journey when we started dating. He’d start with a simple recipe and I’d be the happy (and now 2nd time cured) guinea pig. If you live alone, partner up with a friend and schedule rotating cooking nights to learn from and more about each other.
The Power of Comfort Food
Even though healthy food is the primary in our meals, we never have denied some indulgences here and there. It’s what quality of life is about! When I was around eleven years old, my mother had kidney failure and was put in the intensive care unit for months. Because my mother was the sole supporter and no money coming in, we fell on some pretty hard times. The retired ladies in our church would bring over cooked meals daily for me and my stepfather. Although I was thankful, the food they brought wasn’t enjoyable for someone my age at the time. One afternoon, a different lady came by and brought sloppy joe’s! My eyes lit up and my mouth salivated as she brought in that large container. She smiled, took my face in her hands and said “Honey, I know the other old women brought food you probably wouldn’t like, so this old bitty is bringing something different!” I wrapped my arms around her waist with gratitude. She knew what my soul needed in that time of uncertainty. Food can help heal beyond the cellular level.
Fresh from the dirt
We’ve always been interested in gardening but because it seemed intimidating, we usually just stuck to purchasing meat and produce from local farms, which is something I feel very strongly in. We pick up local produce any chance we get! Fruit stand produce is much less expensive than store bought, super healthy, taste delicious, and supports the community as a whole. The downside is that you typically need to use it within a couple days because certain fruits turn such as peaches and strawberries especially during the summer months. If we are going to a local farmers market whether out of town or locally at home, we’ll sometimes bring a small cooler to place our items in.
Last month, while I was spending a whole Saturday at the studio, Dave was bored and needed a project outside to enjoy the spring weather. He just googled how to build a garden box and away he went! By the time I returned home, there was a present waiting for me.
It may or may not be psychological but eating herbs and vegetables fresh from your own garden taste wayyyy better than the store! The pride that comes from enjoying something you grew with your own hands is such an amazing feeling.
Don’t throw away those leftovers….Repurpose them!
I detest having to throw food away. There are so many people in the world that don’t have food that it really hurts me to witness myself or someone else being wasteful. Do I sometimes throw away old or bad food? Yes, but I really have to shake off the guilt when I do it. We’ve learned ways to repurpose lots of different foods. In the mornings, make what I like to call a Top Side scrambler. Scramble and egg with some pepper, place on top of the previous night’s pork or chicken, then bake on top of leftover bread. Delish! My go-to for left over proteins is tacos. Sunday’s fish, chicken, or steak can easily be Monday’s taco. Put a little salsa or rice and cilantro on it, and voila, super quick and yummy meal for a Monday night after a long day at work (and class at Aura Aerial & Yoga :).
Before throwing out dated food in the pantry, donate it! Most pantry items are still good well beyond the package date and local charities such as The Mission by the Sea will take ANYTHING. Every experience I’ve had with them has been exceptional. They are 100% volunteer and truly have a heart for service to the beaches homeless.
My hope is that we can all see food as more that just what we put in our body when hungry. Food truly is a blessing to have and experience in all forms. From farm, garden, or table, savor and appreciate it!
Dawn Hansen began her journey to fitness and well being through pole dance in 2013 after recovering from a digestive disorder. She was immediately hooked on how fun and challenging pole fitness was and excited to see the changes in her body, strength, stamina and most especially her self-confidence. So much so, she became an AFAA Certified Instructor and loves sharing the amazing benefits of pole dance fitness. When not teaching, she works as a data analyst for a leading medical supply distributor.