I was told by my GP last week that I needed to lose some weight(read: 10 kgs!): my blood pressure was up from normal, and she ordered blood workups to see what my blood sugar levels are; also to check whether I am going into menopause, and I have been marched off to a gastro-specialist-person to have my colon checked out.
Not really the most wonderful news for a foodie: I feel betrayed by my body. But I realised that I had been expecting to stay in shape and have prefect digestion, even though I have been eating and drinking without a care in the world, as I continued to revel in the pleasures of cooking and eating and drinking good wines and hosting nice dinner parties.
I hate dieting: in fact, I may have dieted twice in my life only: the first time when recovering from giving birth to my second son: I had gained a lot of baby-weight. I was also young, so I lost it without real effort. My interest in cooking and food was just beginning to bud, so it did not feel as if I had to give up a lot.
Much later, in my 40s, after struggling to get into a pair of size 12 jeans, I decided to cut back again, and found it much more difficult to change my style of cooking and eating: I have never regarded any food ingredient as”bad” when I cook, so it was hard to suddenly start measuring portions, cutting down on using butter and cream, foregoing wine with meals. I did lose the weight, but as we all know by now, unless permanent, long term changes are made in our lifestyles, it will creep back on. I have never been a fan of exercise, although I have had stretches of doing yoga and Pilates, and have often been enthusiastic about (the idea of!) walking every day: sadly I have not made those kind of changes along the way.
Which brings me to the present. Here I am, 10 kgs overweight, a straight talking GP telling me to lose weight or face health problems, and also imbedded in a lifestyle of cooking gourmet food, drinking wine, eating without a care in the world, loving the deep pleasure of it all.
I feel quite challenged: at least I have not ever really been a fan of baking and making desserts and sweet stuff, so that may help in what I can see will be a process of becoming more mindful of how I cook, what I eat and drink, and how much of it. My first reaction was: “oh noooo! I will have to give up my identity of being a good cook and a food lover!” I felt quite depressed for a while. Ironically, I had been feeling a little uncomfortable lately: my body giving me little hints that all is not well. I wanted to ascribe it to oestrogen dropping, rather than my lifestyle, but deep down I knew that something had to change. When I saw myself in a post-Xmas photograph, I was shocked: I looked really fat. I have not ever been overly concerned with body shape issues(except hating my fat thighs with lots of cellulite which I had been plagued with since after having children), but suddenly, soberingly, I saw myself and realised that I am on a path towards disease and an unhealthy, uncomfortable old age. I think that prompted me to go to my GP.
So, in the last week and a half, I have rediscovered the simple pleasures of making simple dishes of meat and fish with masses of wonderful salads, often with greens from my garden, and oriental style broths: redolent of ginger and garlic and coriander and basil and tangy with lime juice and pungently savoury with fish sauce. This style of cooking is naturally lower in kilojoules, and does not require bread to mop up the sauces. Not that I have cut out bread completely, nor butter, nor wine, nor cream. I could not make such drastic changes, and I am very wary of demonising any foodstuff. I will not give up the pleasure of cooking and eating and drinking: I feel that it is central to how I live my life. But I am finding that with a little more awareness of how I do not want to limit my lifespan with over-eating and drinking, and being more mindful of exactly what and how much of it I put into my mouth, without being fanatical, I may be able to slip sideways into a different way of being a foodie.. and lose some of the extra weight that had been gathering almost imperceptibly around my waist and arms and thighs and breasts: I have even developed a cleavage, my body going softer and older and clearly, more unhealthy too.
I have no doubt that some of my recent physical symptoms and even weight gain, are caused by low oestrogen, but maybe I can let this change of life be the start of a change in lifestyle.