Paula Anderson

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August 2, 2012
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ANDERSON: My journey with food

It's confession time.I didn't always eat good food. Although I pretty much left desserts alone, I got my sugar fix from breads and pasta. Back then, I didn't know that carbohydrates convert to sugar. And I ate lots of carbs!The other thing I didn't realize was that I was an emotional eater. Trained in Catholic schools to eat everything on your plate, I got an A+. And food made for a very nice "side" with every Catholic's emotional entre of "shame and guilt." Food was a comfort, and it was never far from my mind.I remember a boyfriend from back in the day candidly announced as we ate together in a diner: "Whenever I call you, I can't help but feel like you immediately imagine a big cheeseburger."Sad, but true. I loved to eat.A favorite was a Monte Cristo sandwich, crisped up in a deep-fat fryer, and then topped with honey. A side of French fries always went with it. Because I didn't tend to gain weight, I never gave it a thought, even though a blood panel of my triglyceride levels would have probably been a sobering reality check.But I was just twenty-something, so I wasn't tuned in to the health risks connected to my diet. In the mid-1970s, sick people were mostly middle-aged or older because the fallout from unhealthy, processed food had not yet reached a tipping point for the younger generation. The term "childhood obesity" was still relatively unknown.The awareness of how diet affects us was not really registering on the public radar. If someone really wanted to lose weight, they simply deprived themselves until they were able to get into clothes they'd outgrown, and then six months later they'd probably start the cycle all over again. I decided an intervention was in order when I began to recognize the lure of carbs as an obsession, or a true addiction. I did some reading, and I began to pay attention.If you're caught up in an addictive behavior, it overrides other considerations, so you don't necessarily act in your own best interests or anyone else's.I began to see myself on a continuum shared by everyone else who struggles with addictive behavior - whether it's over-eating, over-working, worrying too much, exercising too much, smoking, drinking or drug addiction.How do you know if you're hooked?It's when you've gotta do it, or you've gotta have it, and rationalization conveniently kicks in to reassure that it's OK - this time.When I started paying attention, I realized I was eating way more starches and carbs than fruits and vegetables so I shifted the balance. Gradually, carbs had less and less appeal. More importantly, I noticed I felt better and I had more energy.However, this is something that has occurred over time, and I've been just paying attention to my food choices for many years. As I write my thoughts on food and the eating behaviors that surround our relationship with food, I have great empathy for those who repeatedly get off track as a result of addictive behavior. That "one-day-at-a-time" adage doesn't only apply to those who struggle with alcoholism. We all have some behavior that doesn't serve us well, and for a huge percentage of us it has to do with our relationship with food.It's a journey, every day, but not one that is strewn with mistakes. It's abundant with healthy choices. We get to choose. And we're all on that path together.Paula Anderson is a local writer who now does presentations on Healthy Eating & Our Relationship with Food throughout the Grand Valley community. She is also an owner of Yoga West Collective. She has served as a regular columnist for the Grand Junction Free Press in its early days, and was an award-winning columnist for The Daily Sentinel. Visit her food blog at Contact Paula at

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The Post Independent Updated Aug 2, 2012 03:39PM Published Aug 2, 2012 03:38PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.