Meet Martha Lee Anne aka MLA
Setting The Table
I grew up in the small, southern town of Monroeville, Alabama.
Harper Lee accurately described the way Monroeville was (and is) when she wrote, “people moved slowly then. They ambled across the square, shuffled in and out of the stores around it, took their time about everything…”
Something about Monroeville sticks to the top of the mouth like honey and tastes just as sweet. I can’t tell you what it is because, from all appearances, it’s old, and boring, and quiet, but if you walk the rails, or find the creeks, or have lunch at the neighbor’s house, you’ll find something rather appealing and charming about it.
Buildings have a history and belong to a family or a family’s family. Everything and everyone has a story. The mural painted there, the brick wall there, the porch of that old house, that name on that head stone, that casserole and sweet cornbread. That’s right, food has a story. Everything has a story, and this is what makes the place so rich.
Growing up we ate supper (mom, dad, and my two older brothers) at home every night around an oak table, and we ate Sunday lunch at my mother’s parents’ home around a long, oval table. There, we told stories. We ate good food, and laughed, and talked louder than everyone else at the same time because we had even better stories to tell and second helpings to get after.
The four scoops of sugar Granny put in her sweet tea was only natural. No one talked about calories, and “low fat” was (and is) likely blasphemous in most Southern women’s kitchens. After all, grandma didn’t use low fat anything when she cooked. And what grandma did, and great grandma did matters. That’s right, down here, we’re still eating dishes that our great, great grandmothers cooked… Tomatoes, corn, butterbeans, peas, and squash were always home-grown. Everything was cooked slow, and with smoked pork chops, bacon, or Conecuh made sausage. Home fried chicken was considered a delicacy ( and still is to my niece).
I realize this is not a “typical” introduction to a nutrition blog, but it’s important to understand that food, just like people, has a story. It has a soul, and something about growing up in the South has instilled that in me. There’s something absolutely delicious in spending hours around a table, enjoying each other’s company, and eating your grandmother’s homemade rolls- guilt free.
As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a BS and MS in Nutrition, I’ve been introduced to a world of nutrition and food that I never knew existed growing up. Furthermore, counseling college-aged women who struggled with eating disorders while in Graduate School, and those without, I have learned about the very real bondages of dieting, poor body image, scales, and not to mention just how critical we can be of ourselves. And I’ve continued on this journey as I work at A Center for Eating Disorders in downtown Birmingham.
What I’m trying to say is that, as a RD, I find myself on a very uncomfortable battle ground every day. There’s always a new diet, a new weight loss program, a new pill, or a new way to cut out even more calories. Many don’t hear “nutrition” and think healthier, stronger, or self-love…most think THINNER, RESTRICTING, GUILT, DIET And quite frankly, it can be exhausting day-in and day-out witnessing these unhealthy diets, recommendations, and mind-sets out there. More so, it breaks my heart that when people learn of my occupation they either shield their plate from me in embarrassment, or jokingly mention how they know they need to lose weight because being a Nutritionist doesn’t mean to them what it means to me…
My job is not to slap your hand when you reach for seconds or for a cookie. What I want most for you is to live- really live- in the freedom that you were fashioned for. It’s you glory- you’re being- and I want most to help you to discover the freedom that comes with loving your body, loving what it is capable of, and treating it well.
As a writer, blogger, and Dietitian, my job is not to make you more beautiful- you already are- my job is to help you become or stay your healthiest self. Health encompasses so much more than just food. Yes, good health comes from good food, but it also comes from good thoughts, good habits, and good body image, and THAT is what this blog is about.
So please, grab a seat at my table. Take a break, grab a plate, dive into the conversation, and for goodness sake, enjoy yourself! At my table, there are no scales, no counting calories, and no talking about the parts of yourself you don’t like. While you’re here, consider yourself family, and that means there’s heaps of good food, good nutrition, good thoughts, and great stories. So please, help yourself, and if you’re still hungry, seconds are always welcome.
Martha Lee Anne Baugh, MS, RDN, LDN