One of the things I hated about restrictive eating (a.k.a. dieting, leaning out, etc.) was that it sapped my creative impulse with food. I love food. I love choosing it, cooking it, and eating it. Cooking is a ritual that calms and centers me, and feeding my family, friends, and most of all, myself, is deeply gratifying.
Restrictive eating robbed me of that. It made it so that I was questioning if I could have this or that thing, frequently adapting recipes to include "good" foods and exclude "bad" ones, and constantly saying no.
I said no to baking. I said no to happy hour. I said no to most Mexican and Italian food. I said no to toasting. I said no to trying anything with any trace of sweetener ever.
And it was lame.
It was frustrating, isolating, anxiety-provoking, and most of all? It was boring.
I didn't feel happy or challenged or curious. Those are all things I love to feel, and their absence was like a big weight on my brain and chest.
Now that I'm coming out the other side of restrictive eating the biggest blessing in my life is free, unfettered choice. I had thought that I might go off the deep end - that once the restrictions came off I might go full throttle at the Wheat Thins, mac 'n cheese, and ice cream (my "vices" of choice), but I didn't. As it turns out, indulgence isn't such a big deal when you're conscious of it. When you can revel in the decadence of something you've chosen to eat, when you can take your time with it, not scarf it down in secret, afraid someone will find out your sin, you really enjoy it. You cherish it. And it's no longer loaded.
I'm sure you've heard this before. But I assure you, it's not bullshit. Yesterday, after eating a big salad from Whole Foods for dinner, I then put down the portion of mac 'n cheese I'd gotten from their hot bar, because I was full. I'd had all I wanted. And there was definitely a part of me that was like, "Eat this now, even though you're full, because you'll never have Mac 'n Cheese again!" But these days, I can quietly tell that scared, scarcity-mentality voice that it's okay. I can have mac whenever I want, because I'm a grown-up lady who gets to decide what she eats. And that truth was delicious.
So here's an idea of what I eat now. This was breakfast for the last couple mornings: a pear, banana, spinach, kale, and almond milk smoothie, with turkey breakfast sausage.
Not pictured: me licking the juice from a fresh peach from my wrist, as it was a little too salacious for this blog.
But you get my point - not so crazy, right? When I allowed myself anything, I naturally found out what I wanted. It looks something like this: a foundation of whole foods - fresh vegetables and fruit that is as local and organic as I can afford, along with nuts, seeds, ethical meat, some dairy, and the occasional sweet.
Life is about celebration, curiosity, love. If I can't have those things, what's the point of choosing to live? When we eat, we are making the choice to live, because to not eat is to move towards non-living. So let's choose to live a life that nourishes us completely, with more than just macro-nutrients, restrictive eating, and the constant worry and self-flagellation of deprivation. Be curious about what works for your individual body. Seek to nourish it with more than just food. And most of all, love it. Because you can make that choice. I did.