"Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm."

--Winston Churchill

Thursday, October 7, 2010

No More "Bad Foods"

Tonight was very therapeutic for me and not to mention an incredibly huge milestone. I actually made macaroni and cheese! I know, most of you might say, "so what?" but if you really knew my deep history with food you would know that this is big.

Let me explain: Ever since I can remember, macaroni and cheese has been near if not on top of my list of very favorite foods. I adore it and would beg my mom to make it for me when I was young. When I was finally old enough to make it I discovered the Annie's brand and fell in love...especially with the Mexican flavor. I would make it all the time and pig out on it till I felt like I was going to burst. Fast forward a few years when I was growing increasingly self conscious about my body and hated how "fat" I was getting. I know this wasn't the case, but merely my body changing and me eating whatever I wanted whenever I wanted because that was what I was used to from my childhood. When I finally broke and decided to go on a diet, I decided that carbs were the first to go, and that would mean saying goodbye to my beloved mac and cheese. My "diet" started off innocently enough, but subtly became more and more rigorous and restricting. I won't go into the whole nightmare experience my eating disorder took me but let's just say I didn't touch macaroni and cheese...or hardly anything else involving fat or carbs for years.

Even since I've been healing and developing a better relationship with food, the idea of eating a bowl of macaroni and cheese still frightened me. My fear came from a mix of my lingering eating disorder and my fear of a possible allergy to dairy. However, after discovering that I am in fact far from a possible dairy allergy I thought it would be the perfect occasion to break out a box of Annie's mac and cheese with rice noodles!

I steamed some broccoli and carrots to go with it because I felt a little unbalanced eating it by itself. Let me just say, I savored every delicious bite! I did not eat the whole bowl, as I might have done in the past, but saved the rest for later.

I subscribe to Eat This Not That's online newsletter and in a recent slideshow titled, "25 Best Nutrition Secrets" they say to go ahead and eat your favorite foods. Just do it in moderation. "Good eating doesn't need to be about deprivation. It's about making smart choices--eat foods that you enjoy, just not too much of them."

My Aunt Catherine also recently introduced me to a wonderful site called Positively Sunny, which offers positive advice and tips for living a happier life for women. On the site they have a section on learning how to Eating Happily. Kathleen Johnson writes, "For some reason, we think the food we love can't be good for us. I just don't agree. No matter what foods you enjoy most, eating them with joy is healthy. Give yourself explicit permission to eat the foods you enjoy, even on a daily basis."

This particular section in the post really spoke to me:

All right, some foods are better for us than others. But thinking in terms of good food/bad food doesn't serve our happiness. We eat dozens of different foods each week. Invariably, at some point during a typical week, you might eat a food that you or someone else has labeled "bad". Then you think you've been good or bad.

Judgment like this isn't consistent with happiness. It also seems to lead to binging, overdoing and generally not enjoying the food you eat. Be flexible. Even if something isn't loaded with nutrients, it might taste good. It might have been a gift of love from someone. It might have been all you could find to eat. If any of these are the case, all I can say is: Enjoy, be grateful or learn from this and plan ahead!

Though my current food allergy testing restricts me from many foods, my resolution is to no longer label foods "good" or "bad." Instead, I will use this opportunity to branch out and try foods I am not restricted from, even if they are something I would have run away from in the past. I want to change my perspective on food altogether and no longer be afraid of it. Instead, I want to be a conscious and not mindless eater and to eat the foods I love and savor and enjoy them to the fullest.

With that said, cheers to macaroni and cheese!

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