I'm tired of being told what I shouldn't eat. Sugar will kill me, wheat will give me a belly, grains are bad for me, I shouldn't eat dairy, and I need to eat more protein, but the right kind of course.
Let it be said that I hate diets.
I am forced to eat a gluten-free diet for health reasons, and understand that some feel best without dairy, meat or grains, and I encourage them to do what's best for them or what they believe in.
At the same time, life is short and I want to indulge in everything. I want to drink champagne, buy the best chocolate, fry bacon and slow cook ribs on a regular basis. I want to order whatever I want off the menu. I've made many personal trainers cringe with my choice of eating dessert for breakfast and my love of wine, but I am grateful for my curves and the experience that earned them. Some eat to live, and others live to eat. I think you can guess which category I fall into.
I know what guilt feels like. I know what restriction feels like. It is far from glamorous and the consequences to your health and happiness do not balance out.
I am convinced that a life of everything in moderation (including moderation) is the key to optimum health and happiness. The healthiest cultures in the world indulge in local delicacies on a daily basis. They sit down and eat as families and treat food with respect.
I was in the best physical shape of my life when I spent a month with French grandparents of the children I was taking care on the seaside. I ate half a baguette (or more) slathered with butter and jam every morning alongside a big bowl of coffee, ate meat, cheese and seasonal fruit and vegetables for lunch, and ate simple dinners consisting of a meat and a starch. There was always dessert, and always a couple of glasses of wine.
On this diet there was never a need to overeat. I ate regular portions, looked forward to my next meal, and felt well balanced and fuelled enough to spend the day running after two small kids on the beach. It felt right.
In North America I feel like we love to blame. We demonize one ingredient or one habit for increasing waist lines and decreasing health. And there is truth to some of these: some of us do eat too much sugar, too many processed foods and do need to move more. I think our dairy, wheat, and grains are being processed in a way that's making many people sick. I think there's too much added sodium and sugar in our food. It's unfortunate that we have to be so weary, but on the bright side it forces us to connect to where our food comes from and we are learning to make better choices.
I also think we need to work on our relationship with food. We cut out entire food groups with the latest health report and often miss out on the rituals of food. We eat at our desks, in our cars, inhale meals in powdered or liquid form, and forget to sit with our loved ones at the table and savour every bite.
I'm as guilty of this as anyone. I once went so low carb I dreamt people were chasing me with loaves of bread. I've eaten two protein bars for dinner on my way home from yoga. I also love popcorn and wine for dinner and lately eat my dinner with a side of Breaking Bad marathons on TV.
So where do we find our balance? How do we find what's best for our bodies and hold onto some kind of food culture? It's different for everyone. For me, it's in bringing the pleasure back to food. It's eating real food, knowing where it comes from, but not stressing out too much when I don't.
It's eating dinner by candle light, eating at my favourite restaurants, trying new recipes, and sharing my adventures with you here to celebrate.
I want to be the girl who eats everything. I want to savour every bite, try everything once, and be proud of it.
Life is too delicious not to take a big bite out of it.
What's your bite on this?