By Lenora Howze
AFRO Executive Director
For as long as I can remember and well before the word “foodie” entered our lexicon, I’ve had a love for food. Some may, okay they did, call it an inordinate one. Growing up and at every family meal, it was expected that I would out eat everyone at the table, including my father. Going back for seconds, or even thirds, was the norm for me. We didn’t have much money and I’m sure there were times my hard-working parents wondered if they could afford to feed me. With three other children to feed, I’m not sure how they did.
My mother was not one to show emotions or to say “I love you” very often. One of the ways she showed her love for our family was with a hot, home-cooked meal EVERY night, even those when she had to work the overnight shift as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). Food was much more than a source of nutrition for me. It was security. It was love.
My love affair with food continued into my adulthood although I didn’t always consume it in the healthiest of ways. Food became more than something that pleased my palate. It became a source of comfort when I was sad. It was something to do when I was bored, even if I wasn’t hungry. My go to for stress relief? FRIED. CHICKEN. WINGS. With fries of course (aka a chicken box to Baltimoreans).
Eating like this on a regular basis eventually caught up with me but not in the way you might think. Yes, I gained a few pounds over the years but for the most part, I’ve stayed the same weight and dress size for most of my (post 30-year old) life. A naturally high metabolism concealed a hard truth: I had a problem with food.
One day, during a season of intense spiritual examination, the truth caught up with me, interestingly enough while I was enjoying a wonderful (and HUGE) meal. I suddenly had this overwhelming sense of conviction about my unhealthy relationship with food. It was not just about the amount or nature of the food that made it unhealthy. It was my lack of discipline for what, when, and how much I would eat. I knew things had to change. And they did.
Don’t get me wrong, I still LOVE food and am still known as the one who can eat more than most. The difference is that I have the power in this ‘relationship’ and not the other way around. I decide when I’m going to go all out with a “high-in-fat-and calories” meal or if I’m just going to have a plate of veggies for dinner. Most recently, I even tried my hand at a few vegan dishes, under the supervision of my friend and health and wellness coach, Schavonna Williams. Schavonna assured me that a healthy, plant-based diet doesn’t have to be tasteless and boring so I was willing to give it a try. She was right. Everything we made was bursting with flavor.
Again, don’t get me wrong. I have no intention of completely giving up my chicken box. I’ll just throw in a side of quinoa and edamame, every now and then.