by Raquel Gilkes
How I started on this journey
I was having a huge and delicious chocolate sundae in Chefette (of all places!) with my sister one day when I felt a sharp pain in my stomach. I mean a really sharp pain that would not go away and left me gasping and moaning in agony for about 10 minutes. She was very alarmed, and immediately took me to the doctor. After poking and prodding and asking me several questions that I could barely answer, the doctor said that the pain was a minor and temporary inconvenience but she was more concerned about my overall health.
For one thing, my weight: 252 pounds.
She recommended that I see a dietician and start an exercise programme; since at this weight with my sedentary lifestyle, I was a prime candidate for diabetes, heart disease, hypertension…. She droned on in the background while I sat there in stupefaction trying to wrap my mind around the fact that it was possible that I weighed two hundred and fifty two pounds! That could not be true.
When had that happened? I’m sure I weighed 135 pounds just the other day. Yes, I admit that I had put on a little weight, and I had been buying bigger clothes recently, but what did she say? I took the short list of recommendations for the dietician and left the surgery numb and trembling.
The dietician visit was even more traumatising. She did ‘body analysis’ and asked me a series of questions about my meals, my emotional state, and everything under the sun or so it seemed. While she didn’t come right out a say it, I could easily tell from her recommendations that I was doing everything wrong. I ate too much fried foods, too much fatty foods, too many cookies, crisps, cake and pastries. I needed to completely make over my diet; and hovering behind her kind words was the ominous, though tacit, threat ‘..or else’.
Around that same time, my husband bought me a camera, and we started taking pictures. It was only when I saw the of myself in various poses at events that it really started to hit home how much bigger I was than everyone else around me, this could not be allowed to continue. I decided that something must be done.
I considered and discarded many options, including surgery. From my research and consultations with a personal trainer at and the dietician I realized that I needed to rethink my relationship with my food. So I joined a gym and started experimenting with recipes; thus began the journey.
My change took a while. I remember when I first started; many of my friends would remark how expensive it was to eat a healthful diet in Barbados. They would talk about how much staples cost at the health shops, and supermarkets. I never found that I had to rely on ‘health food’ I used normal foods that I liked, cut my portion sizes and developed many delicious recipes along the way. This breadfruit creole is one of my original recipes that I have never shared anywhere else before.