Gillian with a G: The Foodie Behind the Screen

**I've moved!! Catch me now at When Bread is Broken**

Ciao a tutti! Hey everyone!
My name is Gillian, and after hours and hours and years of reading fabulous food blogs, I finally got the nerve up to start my own! I am a 20 year-old English major/Music minor (in voice) at Converse College in South Carolina, and grew up in Massachusetts. I'm planning on attending culinary school after I graduate (THIS year!! howwww did this happen???)

But, I'm the first to admit that my love for food was not always so, well, lovely. I was always a rather hefty kid, but every summer during high school something snapped and I turned my lifestyle into a very healthy and happy one. Going into my junior year of high school, it occurred to me that I didn't actually have to stop being so happy and healthy, that I could continue to lose weight and maybe one day reach my goal weight! All I was doing was being more conscious of what I put in my mouth and exercising. I still went out with my friends for burgers, fries, and the 12-scoop sundae at Friendly's (always eaten with at least 8 other people squished into one teeny tiny booth. They hated us, but we loved it!).
But, like most diets, I hit a plateau. So, soon after my 17th birthday, I joined Weight Watchers with my mom. And this is where me and food starting getting not-so-friendly.
Don't get me wrong - I think WW is a really fantastic program that has helped/is helping a LOT of people. But, for control-freak OCD me, it was not the right road. It basically handed me a formula with which to lose weight, and every perfectionist bone in my body (there are a lot) pounced on it. I lost weight, and pretty fast. In fact, looking back, the amount of weight I lost in the amount of time I lost it in - 60 pounds over a little more than 2 years - isn't all that insane. But what it did to my psyche wasn't totally worth the loss. Before I could realize it and stop it, I was deep into a very serious eating disorder. Some people 'accused' me of it, but I just did not see it. To me, I was just gifted with an inordinate amount of self-discipline. It really became a source of pride for me. And I was finally starting to like who I saw in the mirror.
The summer before my freshman year of college, my family and I took a trip to Italy - a country where food is an HUGEly important part of the culture. We started in Rome, then rented a villa in Tuscany for a week, and ended in the south for a couple of days. That trip was the first time I started to recognize how disordered my relationship to food had become; I spent most of that trip feeling regret over not eating a plate of pasta or a gelato cone because I was so afraid of gaining weight. It was truly irrational, this fear, but I didn't know what to do about it, and I didn't feel like I had anyone to talk to. Yes, I should have reached out, but I was still determined to prove to myself that my own "self-discipline" could conquer all.
My freshman year began, and that's when I really started sliding downhill fast. I counted nutrition info ruthlessly, ate a diet of cereal and salad, and spent many lunches eating in my room because I there I had more control over what and how much I ate. Even though I was losing weight, I hated who I saw when I looked in the mirror. I was constantly obsessing over how I looked, always sucking in or pinching the tiny amount of baby fat around my waist. All I could think was "if I just try a little harder, it will go away, and then I'll be perfect." It's hard even now to look back. Of course, this mindset led to several eating binges, and the ensuing guilt was almost unbearable. One too many Jelly Bellies, and I wouldn't "allow" myself to eat more than lettuce for the rest of the day.
But, as the semester went on, I made some really amazing friends. Like, really amazing - they are my family and I don't know what I'd do without them. In the spring of freshman year, I discovered KERF--Kath Eats Real Food-- and my thinking slowly started to change. Combined with my introduction to yoga the semester before, I was becoming increasingly aware of the damage I was doing to my body and mind. Kath's take on food and her emphasis on whole, unprocessed foods really started to change how I looked at food.
It's been a very hard uphill battle, and I still deal with the evil ED voice in my head every day. But my friends, family, and yoga have given me a new self-confidence, and I've gone up and down on the scale so much, I'm learning that the number has nothing to do with the girl.
In January of my sophomore year, I went to India with my school for a religion class - and got a lot more than just book-learnin'! I pinpoint this trip as one of the most influential events in my life. I returned with a new view of my world, our world, and life in general. The healing had begun.
After a rocky and incredibly painful junior fall semester, I packed my bags and was off to Florence, Italy to study abroad for a semester. I started my food blog, and was bound and determined to seek vengeance for the pain I caused myself on my first venture to Italy. For those 3.5 months, I lived. I ate and came to appreciate the beauty of the Italian view of food - one of utter respect and reverence. Everything is local and fresh, and there is very little processed food. I took an anthropology course called "Food & Culture," as well as a nutrition-based cooking class, and it was a completely eye-opening experience. Combined with writing the blog, my love and appreciation for food as a source of life, an art form, and an endlessly fascinating aspect of culture exploded, and it's become quite clear to me that it needs to be a central part of my life, career, studies.

Well, that's me. Sorry it's so long...I'm an English major. Get me writing, and I'll babble til the proverbial cows come home. What did I miss? I love singing - especially belting showtunes at the top of my lungs, I swear by yoga, I think Prince Philip is by far the hottest Disney Prince and that baking is the best cheap therapy available, and I'm pretty sure I could eat sushi, melon, and/or chocolate every single day without ever tiring of them. I love green smoothies, Whole Foods, and practicing my Italian - especially by singing Josh Groban. I have no idea what my future has in store, but for the first time in my perfectionist control-freak life, I'm [semi]okay with that.

And, of course, I love food. Talking and writing about it, making it, photographing it, eating it. Got something on your mind? Shoot me an email @ [And it doesn't have to be about food! Need some yoga chitchat? Love the wonder that is Jane Austen? Dying to show off a picture of your new puppy? Hit me up!]

Peace, love, and as always...