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My Name is Mandy and I Love Food

Those of you who know me know I love food. When I say love I mean LOVE. I get excited about dinner, I mean really excited.

In my younger years and as one of 4 children I was an army brat on subsidized government vouchers. This meant lots of frozen, canned and boxed groceries with preservatives and a long shelf life to feed everyone for the month.

When I got close to my teens, my parents divorced money was even tighter. I was the only child left at home at that point. My mother and I were on food stamps and for a time I received free lunch at school. I recall many of my days were spent skipping breakfast or even lunch and eating dinner at friends houses. I was often so hungry and deprived I would eat a couple of plates of food, a trait that followed me well into adulthood even though I had plenty of food at this point. I felt like there was never enough and I had to keep filling myself in case I didn’t get anything at the next meal. Some of my better food memories then were when my older sisters and mother worked at restaurants, I was usually able to eat for free while they were at work. My favorite meal was beef flavored instant ramen noodles (still nostalgic for me) and the best meal was if one of my friends parents ordered pizza for delivery (HEAVEN for this little girl!).

I remember being a younger girl at my grandmother’s house in the summer and being amazed that I could eat the pecans that fell from the tree or pick the muscadines from the vine and eat them. This is also where I learned to find the honey in the honeysuckle on warm days and where I had the realization that chicken was a CHICKEN. (Ummm, WTF, was beef then?!). Some of my favorite memories were going to my aunts house, snapping peas in her trailer. The smell of the tomatoes on the vine and freshly shucked corn still brings me back.

As I ventured into adulthood I had a very unhealthy relationship with food. I struggled with a few bouts of anorexia, severely limiting my food intake and counting every calorie and ounce of fat. I would bounce between binging and purging, rewarding and punishing. I was always searching for a healthy balance. I would limit my food intake as a form of punishment if I missed a day at the gym or if I messed up and ate a whole bag of Oreos in the middle of the night which was not uncommon for me in those days. I used to write everything I ate down in my food journal and sometimes I would write not-so-nice things to myself to “encourage” me to do better. In my head I thought this is what healthy eating looked like.

These days I understand that my relationship with food starts first and foremost with a healthy mental state. It starts with understanding I am not broken or missing anything, there is no need to fill myself with food to make myself whole. It is based on listening to my body. It is based on breaking through unhealthy patterns and learning to see where I am self-sabotaging, numbing or simply being mindless. This doesn’t mean that I don’t occasionally sit on the couch after a long day and enjoy a glass or two of wine and chips and cheese, it means that when I do so it is because I am aware and honoring my desires in that moment (and not to numb or stuff myself to fill a hole). I choose to honor my desires that come from a choice to nourish myself in every way that I can, body, mind and spirit.

If you struggle with with food I would love to share the tools that I learned to guide you into a more healthy and honest relationship with your nutritional choices. Join me and my friend, and fellow FORM yoga teacher and health coach Jessica Calderon for our Level 1: Beginners 12 Day Online Cleanse. This is a journey of self-discovery and nourishment for the mind, body and soul including daily meditations, journaling, learning and support. Our next cleanse begins on September 25 and you are invited to join the ride. Go here to learn more.