On Food Guilt and Letting it Go

Food is something I talk a whole lot about on this blog. I love chatting about eating it, making it, digesting it. But there’s this other part of food that gets a lot less press. Because, frankly, it’s just not as much fun to talk about.

It’s the part where eating leaves us wishing we could go back in time and do things differently. The part that leaves us wondering how much damage we’ve done and when it will make its appearance. The part that has us promising ourselves that next time we’ll have more self-control.

I should probably mention that I do think a certain conviction can reside in us when we know that something needs to change about the way we’re living. When we realize deep down that we’re not giving our body the nourishment it needs. And that’s a feeling I think we should listen to for the sake of our wellness.DSC_0919

But there’s another type that’s more sporadic and that comes in moments when we feel we’ve deviated from the picture of “perfect health” that we’ve created in our head. I went through a period in which I had a really rigid vision of the way a day of eating should look. And when I stepped outside of that little path I had created for myself every once in a while, I was plagued by fear of this uncharted territory. Would I put on 5 pounds overnight? Would my LDL levels sky-rocket? Would I still be able to run the same paces?

But oh how things have changed. What I’ve realized over time is that I’m not a robot. And more importantly, I don’t want to be a robot. I get cravings out of the blue that I wasn’t anticipating. I find myself eating meals that are exceptionally good and that I end up eating too much of. And you know the crazy part? Nothing bad happens. I enjoy every bite and then wake up the next morning and resume living the way I usually do, with pants no tighter and energy no lower.

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This summer has been one that many would see as “less healthy” than the way I live during the school year. I’ve been making and sharing indulgent desserts with my family. Missing runs because of fun plans with friends. Drinking wine as I cook because nothing brings me more happiness on a Friday evening. And to me, that is the absolute picture of health. To turn down plans or deprive myself of delicious food that I really want is what sounds unhealthy to me.

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For the record, I totally don’t think that having a good time has to include junk food or mean being sedentary. Eating fruit for dessert and taking walks with people I love are activities that make me just as happy in their own ways.

But when there’s homemade chocolate cake in front of me and it looks heavenly, I eat it. And when I have a 30 minute window between work and evening plans to either work out or spend time with my grandma, my grandma just wins.

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Ultimately, I think food is meant to be savoured while it’s being eaten and then done with. The fact that most of us don’t have to spend our days worrying about where our next meal will come from is such a blessing. Doesn’t it seem a bit crazy to fill that free space with guilt and scrutiny about calories and fat when we could be filling it with thoughts so much more worthy of our time?

So you’ll be seeing a lot of veggies and quinoa on this blog because I love them and the way they make me feel. But I never want to paint a picture of a perfect diet that I don’t have and don’t really want. So you’ll also be seeing some sugar and butter, because I sure love those too.

It’s just my own little Balancing Act.

15 thoughts on “On Food Guilt and Letting it Go

  1. You said it so well Jacklyn; I think the optimal word is moderation. Do I always eat in moderation? No! But, happiness counts too. :)

    Have a great day!

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  2. Good words. I hate when I allow guilt to ruin my experience. I do my best to remember it’s not the food so much as the fellowship and memories I’m making. Plus, fries taste so good because I don’t eat them so often! So I just enjoy them fully when I do.

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  3. Pingback: Five Things Friday II | The Domestikated Life

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