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Mandi G’s Personal Story: Food is Fuel

I recently had the most interesting conversation with my good friend Mandi. This woman is amazing in more ways than I can summarize with words. She shared this story with me, and in the end she said “…I’ve learned that food is fuel, not love…” and it struck me as a million dollar story.
It’s a mental shift that if we could all master, we would just naturally lose weight, find balance and live longer, happier and way less stressful lives.

So I asked Mandi to write it out for me so I could share it. We all need to get to this place in our own way. For me, it comes from my running and the clear link between good food and a good run. For you, it could be something completely different. But let it be something! Let there be some click, an “ah-ha,” a 500 watt light bulb that goes off and one day you wake up and just know what to eat and why you’re eating it. And most importantly, how to find love in other ways, outside the kitchen…but for now, here is Mandi’s story:

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Food is Love has always been my mantra. I grew up in a big family in the Midwest where celebrations revolved around huge buffets of food. Rough days were wiped away with a visit to Chi Chi’s “The Celebration of Food.” I fell in love with my husband over a cheese plate at Starlite Lounge. Most dates after that started with sampling the cheese plate. It was our tradition. I cooked big huge meals of creamy sauces and nutty/dairy desserts. Food brought people together, and was a staple of my life until recently. One night, a drastic event happened which made me transition from “Food is Love” to “Food is Fuel” and I have been dairy and nut free, ever since.

The night it all began…

I went to dinner with a gal pal for my birthday. We ate brussel sprouts with aioli and a cheese plate and lamb flatbread with gouda and all sorts of other milky treats. Progressively as the dinner went on, I slipped into a sick funk. I had sinus like symptoms, scratchy throat, wheezing, horrible head ache, stuffed up nose, everything itchy and my chest was really congested. I went home, went to bed and woke up in the middle of the night projectile vomiting, while taking turns with my butt on the toilet and my mouth in the sink. Hours of this lead me to the emergency room, which lead me to benedryl, which lead me to weeks of doctors and allergists and chiropractors and lots of reading. The end result–I have a milk and nut allergy.

I completely cut out milk and nuts and have not had either since. I feel 100% better and although it was tough to make the life switch, I really feel like it’s changed my life. For months prior to the main episode, I had been experiencing some strange symptoms but I thought I just had heart burn. I didn’t realize how serious it was OR how it would affect my breathing. Also, apparently I was allergic to milk as a baby and grew out of it.

Instead of bitching and moaning, I had to start looking at eating in a different way–Food is Fuel.

Food is the stuff that helps me put my thinking cap on for work and keeps me fired up during my daily workout. It’s the stuff that keeps me witty and awake. I really have changed my whole philosophy on eating. I used to binge eat a big bowl of mac n cheese when I was overloaded with work or had a big presentation to write. With no end in sight on that project, the rolled taco combo meal with extra cheese seemed to make the project go down so much faster.

Now, I face the project head on and slug water straight through it. It’s interesting because I have been trying to get back on track and eat healthy for over a year now. I have been documenting it with this with a blog called Fatbagsnomore. I have lost and gained the same 20 pounds for  a while and my arch nemesis to achieve my goals was cheese, and cheese related items. Now, the universe is telling me, “ok, if you can’t do this alone, we’ll help you out and make it almost deadly for you to indulge in your vices. You’ll be forced to eat healthy and look at food in a totally different way” and….it worked. Life forced me to find other “simple joys” in life. So, I had to ask myself, “what else brings you joy?” I made a list……a brisk walk, catch up sesh with a gal pal, writing, throwing the football with my dude, riding my bike to the grocery, red wine. ..etc

I have completely substituted the food joy for other simple joys:

  • Instead of getting together with a gal pal over happy hour and appies, we go on a brisk walk.
  • Instead of binge eating a plate of walnut gorgonzola pasta with alfredo sauce for stress relief from a long work day, I write for my website.
  • Instead of ordering a cheese plate at dinner as an appetizer, we go a little later and just savor the main entree.

I have really transitioned from Food is Love to Food is Fuel.  I eat to live, and to keep my engines running. I no longer have stress at dinner when picking out the newest coolest thing on the menu, probably because I am allergic to it. I just go for 4 oz of protein, and steamed veggies or greens. Don’t get me wrong, I may indulge in a side order of fries as long as they’re fried in vegetable oil, every now and again, but, when your eating for fuel, dining and ordering is simple.

Food choices are easy and you no longer feel like you HAVE to have those au gratin potatoes with the Point Reyes bleu cheese since they have a small selection of it on the menu. It isn’t an option any more and you’re more focused on the experience of being with friends and having great conversation versus the food experience.

Food is no longer the main event.

  • I am the main event
  • My friends/family are the main event
  • The conversation is the main event
  • Focusing on each other and engaging is the main event

Adopting the Food is Fuel concept has been surprisingly liberating and great for the waist line.

Although nixing dairy and nuts at the beginning seemed almost impossible, it actually has brought me to some awesome revelations about myself and lead me to a better way of living. I love my new Food is Fuel philosophy and hope the thought process will take me to the next level of weight loss and more success stories on my Fatbagsnomore blog:)

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Powerful, right? It’s truly a life changing shift you can make.

Have you made the transition? Looking to make it? Share your story, I’d love to hear it! 

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