Today, I’m going to be a bit vulnerable with you all. I’ve started thinking more about the ways and whys of how and what I eat lately, and I thought I’d share some of these thoughts with you. If this isn’t your cup of tea, feel free to leave and come back on Thursday when I have a tasty treat for you.I’ve been doing a lot of reading and thinking and navel-gazing lately about my relationship with food. This has never been an easy road for me, and even though I have university qualifications in nutrition and dietetics I sometimes still get wonky on eating and food. You might be deceived that have a great relationship with food and treats given the balance of cookies and cakes here on the blog, but most of these are eaten with the ever-present cloud of guilt. I’m sick of that.
So, in my reading and thinking and navel-gazing I stumbled onto the cure. The way that I want to eat for the rest of my life: I’m starting on a journey towards Intuitive Eating (visit this website for a fantastic overview of what intuitive eating is).
I want the freedom, and the sanity, that Intuitive Eating brings. I want to be free of obsessions and torment around food.
I want to share that journey with you here on the blog as I learn to enjoy food, give my body what it needs, and learn how to live free from the diet obsessed culture that permeates our world currently.
At the beginning of every month I’m going to share the part of my relationship with food that I am working on. At the end of the month, I will share with you how I have been doing, and what I have learned. Today, I’m talking about cookbooks. My love of them, and my fear. Over the years I have bought ALL the cookbooks and magazines. I have shelves packed with shiny volumes most of which I have never even cooked a single dish from.
I love to open them though, and stare at the glossy pages filled with images of perfectly styled food, pretty people holding dishes carelessly, or quaffed food goddesses tossing salads and sneaking midnight treats. I flag the pages with neon sticky notes and write down ideas of how to put my own twists on them, or what other dishes they would pair with for a dinner party. I write lists of recipes to try from each book. And think of how I will serve them on my eclectic mix of plates and antique forks.
But, I never cook from them.
I’m afraid of the food in those pages.
I fear making the food and then having to eat it.
Because, that food, those tempting dishes, might make me gain weight.
(I told you, vulnerability today.)When I do allow myself to cook from one of the books teetering in piles beside my bed, or stuffed tightly onto the bookshelves, I either make one of the lightest recipes possible, or (if I make one of the heavier recipes) I only allow myself to do so after a punishing long run so that I have ‘earned’ the calories.
One day when I’m ‘thin enough’ I’ll let myself make these recipes because that ‘thin Amy’ will know how to eat just the right amount and never overindulge.
This is no way to live.
I don’t want to fear the thousands of delightful, delicious dishes that await me in those pages.
There’s no joy in only looking in the windows all the time. Staring at the feast and never feeling ‘good enough’, ‘thin enough’, to eat those foods.
Staring at them while bingeing on other foods that don’t fill that hole inside me because they aren’t what I’m craving.
I want to make Bon Appetit’s Olive Oil Ice Cream and eat a scoop under a summer night sky.
I want to make Dorie Greenspan’s Potato Gratin and snuggle on the couch in deep winter with a satisfying slice.
I have spent the last 15 years of my life with a disordered attitude towards food. Towards the foods I will ‘allow’ myself to make at home.
Foods I will ‘allow’ my body to eat until it’s ‘good enough’ to deserve trying all the flavours trapped in the cookbook world on my shelves.
This is no way to live.
I’m going to stop thinking about the calories in those dishes. I’m going to make peace with the fact that some of the recipes I long to try are higher in energy in others. I’m going to trust my body to honour my hunger and fullness when I eat those foods and know that some of them are ‘everyday’ foods and some of them are ‘special occasion’ foods.
When I truly listen to my body it doesn’t want to eat ice cream all the time, but a scoop on a sunny Sunday afternoon is just what it needs.
When I truly listen to my body chocolate cheesecake is too decadent for every day consumption, but at a potluck dinner with my family it’s a perfect end to the meal.
When I truly listen to my body potato gratin is a little too heavy after a yoga session, but on a Monday night when the air is dark and Game of Thrones is on TV it’s the perfect little indulgence for Chris and I from time to time.
I need to put the faith back into my body. Honour my biological hunger. Recognise when I am eating from some other place other than my stomach.
And I need to allow myself the freedom to throw rigid food rules out the window and play with my food again.
Life is too short to never eat the damn chocolate cheesecake.The challenge: throw out my fear of the recipes in my cookbooks that don’t fit into my view of what I am ‘allowed’ to eat. Enjoy each recipe mindfully!
The how: make three new recipes from my cookbook collection every month. Make what I am truly craving and pay no mind to the calorie count on the bottom of the page. Maybe one night it’s Minimalist Baker’s Masala Chickpea Curry, or a weekend brunch of Dessert for Two’s Quick Cinnamon Rolls. Life can be delicious without rules. Starting now.
Thank you, dear readers, for allowing me to be vulnerable and share my journey in this space. Maybe some of my fellow foodies have faced the same dilemma as me and my openness can start your own dialogue around your relationship with food.