Thursday, May 30, 2013

Mangia! Death by Pasta

I'm Italian. I'm 100% Italian. I'm second generation American. So, between the title of this article and the fact that I am Italian should clue you in on the fact that I will be sharing about the one thing all Italians LOVE and that is food.

Growing up hearing my grandmother say, "Mangia, MANGIA!!," (That's Italian for, "Eat, EAT!!"), my mother saying, "Let me put up the espresso and get out the pastries," and my father saying, "There's only a little bit left- don't make me throw it away." I've learned a thing or two about what food means to Italians. Bottom line: food is their way of blessing those around them. Italians are a very hospitable people. They love opening their homes to friends and family and serving food-and they do it well. Getting together and food are synonymous. If an Italian asks you over, be assured that there will be food served. You'll come for lunch, dessert or dinner or of course a cuppa cawffee. They will think about what you'd love to eat, from an Italian cuisine of course, prepare the food list, purchase it all, and love cooking and serving you. When Italians serve food it is a way to honor you and bless you and there is more than plenty-no one goes hungry-believe me.

Okay, my title, Death by Pasta. You ask, "If they're serving out of love, to bless and honor you, why is the title Death by Pasta?" Well, food can become an idol for many us. You see food represents a time to celebrate. A time to gather together. A time to reward ourselves. It is also there to lift you up and make you  feel better when you're down. In other words, food becomes the answer to everything, good or bad.

I remember once there was an argument in the house that lasted all day. It took until 11 pm for the parties involved to finally make up. At 11 pm my father went out to get fresh, hot bagels and whipped cream cheese to celebrate the reconciliation. Did you hear that? Eleven o'clock at night they broke bread!

This lifestyle was a hard one to fight, but I did for most of my life, until about five years ago when a dear friend wounded me to the heart. I crumbled and found comfort in food. I remember one day I felt like I heard the still, small voice of the Lord gently say, "Stop." But to Him I replied, "I'm sorry Lord, I just can't." That day, I gave up on God in this area of my life. I chose food over God to comfort me. Since that time every time I have been deeply hurt I have found myself running to food. It really doesn't matter what it is, I just eat and eat hoping that it'll make me happy, but of course it doesn't. With every pound I have gained I actually have become more sad and in response to that I eat more. It has become a viscous cycle.

I have recently begun working out and eating right, (I wrote an article about it: "Fit by Forty-___!) Along with working out I have also added an element of repentance. With every step I take or jog I run I pray for the Lord to forgive me and release me from this grip with food. I pray while I am perspiring. As my pores are opening and releasing the sweat, I pray that in the same way my heart will release hurt, pain and shame right out of my body. I pray to be free from this bondage and I know that only through Jesus will I be healed.  I need God to set me free from all the lies of how food can satisfy or heal my sad heart or how food can make a celebration even better.

It is hard for me to believe that I have spent the last five years over-eating whenever I have been sad. I now have so much regret. I think, "Why didn't I run to God more?" "Why didn't I heed the Lord's voice?" It is so hard looking at the rebellious decision I made in over-eating and it's consequences. In my regret I also wish I had gotten counsel for a few of the harder times I went through. I tell you, the last two years have felt like I was in the boxing ring with Life. In short, I was being pummelled by Life. Life was so hard and it knocked me off my feet that, well, I gave up again on caring about me.

So, as I walk or run each day I pray for a new beginning. I pray for God to teach me to run to Him. I pray for Him to heal my brokenness (because food never did do the trick).  Every day when I shower I pray for a cleansing not only of my body, but of my heart, and mind. I pray that He will pour over me a gladness and renew my life with joy. I pray not only for a new body, but a new heart. I pray that my weight loss will be testimony to the Lord's goodness to me. A testimony of a healed heart. For me the weight loss will be a sign of His forgiveness. A sign of the covenant I make to the Lord to never allow food to take the place of Him again. This weight loss is all for the glory of my King who never left me, even when I shut Him out of an area of my life. 


  1. Ellen, everything you said is so true. I am also Italian, my grandfather was born in Italy and when I am depressed or upset I eat. My sister and I were discussing this and saying "Why can't we be those people that get upset and don't eat?" Now I know, it's because I am Italian. :-) Thank you for writing this and your complete honesty. When my husband was deployed in 2008-2009 for 13 months my goal was to lose weight and I did. I had lost sixty pounds. When he returned we got stationed in Virginia. I was so excited about the move but I quickly became depressed, leaving family after living near them for the first time since I got married and moved out in 1999. I became a hermit crab, never wanting to leave the house. A little over a year after we moved to Virginia my dad passed away. I thought this would motivate me to exercise again but it had the opposite effect. Four months later I had to undergo a total hysterectomy due to medical reasons. Two weeks after that, I had two blood clots in my lungs. The blood clots prevented me from being able to take any kind of hormone replacements so one month after turning 33, I was in menopause. It has not been fun. I kept telling myself tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow but tomorrow never came and instead I have just turned to food, turned to TV, turned to reading but never to exercise. I am now struggling to lose all that weight I worked so hard to lose the first time. I realize I have got to forgive myself first before I can allow myself to try again. I have so many regrets about my weight that I just ...well sadly, I turn to food again. I get so frustrated with myself or I cheat on healthy eating once during the day and decide, well since I was already bad I might as well continue the rest of the day and eat better tomorrow. My hope is that I can allow the Lord to guide me and give me strength. Its funny. At night when I can't sleep, I recite the Lord's prayer in my head over and over again until I fall asleep. I never thought to do that while exercising. I read your other entry also regarding getting fit by forty____. I wish we still lived in Virginia. I would love to walk with you. Good luck Ellen and keep me posted.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your story with me.
    YES! I would have loved to have been able to go walking with you each day if you were still here! The fellowship would have been wonderful!
    I will keep you posted of my progress and YOU keep me updated to yours!!!
    Much Love!