A month ago, I decided I would write about food and my relationship with eating. I wanted to discuss my love for food, how to eat healthy and maintain a balanced relationship with food when there is a whole world out there that guilts us into dieting, restricting ourselves or policing what we should or shouldn’t eat. There is so much to unpack out there, even a brief scroll on Instagram will show strewed posts on intermittent fasting, paleo diets, gluten-free recipes… and the list goes on.
So, what transcends? Truth be told, I am not too sure myself. In fact, for the past month, I have not had a good relationship with food. My parents were in town, which meant heavy, delicious meals every night. I got sick, which drove me to eat hearty carbs that my body craved for to fight any viruses. I also took a wonderful family trip to Italy and ate my body weight in pasta, pizza, cheese and meats. I skipped the gym because work got busy on top of all of these things. Any motivation that I had built up from a routine of working out, eating good greens and avoiding junk and fattening foods seemed to dissipate day-by-day. It was a weird dynamic; I was enjoying quality time with my parents eating the best home-cooked food, but I couldn’t shake these guilt-ridden thoughts of ‘I should be eating healthier’ or ‘I shouldn’t be eating this’. I felt unhealthy and insecure. I also body-shamed myself and at most meals I had guilt scratching at the back of my mind, making me feel bad about eating.
‘‘…everything in moderation, including moderation.’’
Now, it’s the end of the month, and I am here struggling to write about my relationship with food because I have yet to shake the guilt off of having eaten unhealthily for the past month. At a baseline, I love food! I love eating, I love cooking, I love learning how foods are made. I especially love watching food videos. I mean, I even have an Instagram handle dedicated to pictures of me eating – Follow my food journey at @alwayscaughteating. There is no doubt that food brings so much joy and value to my life, and yet, I do struggle with my perceptions of it. I am a routine-driven person, and it seems like eating more and differently outside of my healthy routine makes me feel like I failed. But the truth is, no one is perfect; we all have cravings. Food in the real world is so much more than salads, chicken breasts and spiral courgette spaghetti on Instagram. Treating yourself every once in a while is okay. Eating your guilty pleasure snack is okay. A wise friend once told me ‘everything in moderation, including moderation’. Reflecting on this month, no, I didn’t eat as healthily. No, I didn’t work out. But I’m only human and not every day, every week or every month is going to be full of antioxidant greens, natural fruit sugars and smooth sailing. Sometimes life gets in the way; sometimes you have amazing travel plans. It’s okay to let go of normal perceptions of food that perhaps don’t apply to a Milanese restaurant where they supposedly serve the best osso buco in town. As this month dies down, I am looking forward to getting back on track with a healthier diet next month, but I am also working on strengthening my relationship with food and reminding myself that healthy eating is always going to be a work in progress, and what is progress without a reward (of a big slice of pizza)?