For the past few years I’ve been mostly avoiding these two food groups: carbs and sugar. I never used to before I turned 30 and in fact, growing up these two were a healthy part of my diet. Dessert after dinner was as natural as brushing your teeth before going to bed and any form of carbs from pasta to rice was a must with every meal. My “high metabolic” constitution didn’t stop me from going for seconds or lets face it sometimes eating half a pie in one setting. But between my late 20’s and early 30’s I began packing on the pounds – precisely the time that I began a more sedentary lifestyle which consisted of sitting at my desk for ten hours a day and sacrificing any form of physical activity.
Somewhere along the way I developed a fear of sugar. I cut it out of my coffee, and missed out on the simple pleasures of eating pasta without the worry of how this was going to affect my waist line. I began counting calories and avoiding anything I felt would contribute to my weight gain. I’ve even gone so far as throwing the bun away from my burger. I signed up for healthy/no carb food delivery services and one evening, while eating my prepackaged lentil soup (with no bread), I realized that I didn’t enjoy eating anymore. I thought of all the Italian restaurants I’d loved eating at in New York and tried to recall what a delicious linguine ai frutti di mare tasted like.
As I perused through Netflix last night, I came across Christa Tosi’s Chef Table episode and I was mesmerized by her joy for baking cookies. I thought wow, I had literally taken away the joy of eating good food from my life. Food should be joyful and nourishing and as a seemingly healthy individual who am I refuse myself from the pleasures of good food. Perhaps I can’t indulge in eating half a pie anymore, let’s face it, those days are over. But how could I not allow myself a serving of dessert after a meal. And why the hell not eat pasta a few times a week – the Italians do it and they are relatively healthy! Obviously there’s more to it like eating fresh, home based meals and exercising but why had I slowly stripped away the pleasure that good food had to offer me? So I decided, in that moment, that I wasn’t going to deny myself food that brought me joy – even if this meant upping my workout regime.
One of the best quotes I’ve heard through a friend of mine was that “This idea of achieved health doesn’t feel right. Food should be intuitive”. In my case it isn’t about starving myself of desserts and carbs, but of really taking a look at my life and realizing that I’m not moving enough. Simply going to work, and working out twice a week doesn’t compare to all the healthy running around I did as a young adult. My priority to my health was outweighed by my priorities at work and to compensate for the lack of time and energy I had to workout, I cut out food that made me happy.
Ultimately it is about listening to your body and I believe that eating good food is a way to commensurate a good life. Food should be soulful and evoke good memories and didn’t someone already tell us to “Eat Drink and Be Merry”? Most cultures use food as a way of celebrating life – a birth, a wedding, a holiday or a joyous event gathers family and friends around the dinner table to feast. As with anything, indulgence can lead to negative consequences but as I’ve learned, so can denying ourselves of something good. So I say follow your joy – and if that leads you to a salad that lights up your world then do it! As for me, I’m going to follow mine to some delicious linguine and a slice of berry pie.