I love food. I mean that’s pretty obvious even if you’ve never met me or seen me in person. If you read this blog you know that. No one who doesn’t love food starts a food blog or goes to culinary school (or at least they shouldn’t, especially on the second thing). I’m sure there are psychological reasons why some people become “foodies” and some people don’t. There have always been people who live to eat and those who eat to live. If some Freudian wanted to root around in my childhood and adolescence, I’m sure they’d find all kinds of reasons why I am what I am. I’ve already disclosed that I was anorexic in high school. I think that set up a lifetime of disordered eating that I still wrestle with occasionally. When you have disordered eating there is a tendency to assign some moral value to what you eat and therefore yourself based on what you eat.
Hell, I don’t think you even have to have an official diagnosis of disordered eating to assign a moral value to food. How often do you hear people talk about food as sinful or naughty? People “cheat” on their diets. There are probably 10000 blogs and Pinterest boards dedicated to “clean” eating. As opposed to what? Dirty eating. And what does that look like? In my mind it looks like a one year old face deep in chocolate birthday cake. And that looks like fun. But I’m pretty sure they mean something closer to shame eating that chocolate cake, crying and standing over the sink.
I can’t say that I don’t still assign some moral value to what I buy and cook and eat for myself and my family. I try really hard to source most of what we consume locally and organic as much as possible. If it’s not a moral value, it’s an ethical one, but I seem to have an easier time with that. I apply the don’t be an asshole rule when eating with others – I’m not going to turn my nose up at something that someone else lovingly prepared for me because it doesn’t fit my worldview, unless it will make me sick, like raw bananas.
While I was assigning all this moral and ethical value to my food, I was also assigning it to myself. I genuinely felt like I was a bad person because I had a piece of cake. Let me tell you, gentle readers, that way lies madness and binge eating and laying in bed night after night cataloging my eating sins of the day and how I would pay for it the next day. One who wishes to function well as a human being doing adult life things should not sacrifice sleep for mental hair shirting. And for the most part I don’t anymore. Some expensive therapy (which I probably should have done WAY sooner), lots of reading on why people (especially women, but everyone) have screwed up relationships with food, and the insights of a host of bloggers who run the gamut from people pulling themselves out of that pit of despair themselves to professional nutritionists and psychologists have been invaluable to not spending my nights figuring how many naked spinach days I have to endure for a slice of wedding cake. It’s so much nicer.
Am I completely “cured.” Um, no. I think it’s its own wagon, this journey. Occasionally I will have a really bad day and find myself swearing to fast to go to some event or beating myself up because I haven’t eaten enough different colored vegetables for the week. Mostly though I strive to eat a varied diet that includes whole foods and not so much processed stuff. When things are bad and I am whipping myself into a moral panic over chocolate chip cookies, I think about Michael Pollan’s food rule: “Eat food. A little less. Mostly plants.” It’s pretty simple and keeps me on track. And I try to move my body around, nothing gym goddess worthy, but a walk or some yoga, or a solo pants-off dance-off in my kitchen to some Shakira. And honestly, there’s no shame in that. I no longer believe in guilty pleasures. If you like something, like the hell out of it. If you are going to eat the chocolate cake or peanut butter cup ice cream, enjoy it. Savor every bite. Make sex noises. Whatever.
And then I realized what that all mean. There are no guilty pleasures. If you love something really love it. That means me, too. If I’m going to like me, I’m going to love me, cellulite, jiggly bits, a few wrinkles and gray hairs, everything. I’m not a lab frog. I don’t get to dissect what I don’t like and cut it away. Boy. That’s a tall order for a woman who’s spent let’s say age 9 to age 40 wanting to change everything about herself (except my nose and eyes, I’ve always liked those funnily enough). So I’m three years in to this food’s cool, I’m cool journey. Falling off the wagon hurts like a dammit but I get back on. I have too much other shit to do in this life to waste it preoccupied with the fact that my thighs touch. Actually they pretty much make out with each other all damn day and I’m cool with it. Mostly.