“People who love to eat are always the best people.” – Julia Child
I love food. I love good food. I love the act of sitting down to share a meal. I love to cook. I love to go out to eat. I love to experience food around the country and the world. Simply put, I love food. I also lead an active life and I rarely let a day pass without doing some sort of a workout. I don’t sweat to lose weight or to negate ‘bad’ food – I push myself physically because I enjoy the challenge and I love, love, love feeling strong. I don’t view what I put into my body as just fuel (one of my least favorite schools of thought) – food represents so much more to me than convertible energy. Food is life. Food is love. And food is what feeds not only our bodies but our souls; which is exactly why I don’t diet. And also because diets are ridiculous at best and downright dangerous at their worst.
That’s not to say that I don’t eat healthy (although to be fair, what exactly does ‘healthy’ mean?). I do – fresh vegetables, fruit, and lean meats are among my favorite food groups. But I also eat Chicago hot dogs, chips and fresh salsa, and Belgian waffles on a regular basis because a life without doing so is meaningless. My approach to food is pretty simple – whenever possible, I eat well-prepared food with quality ingredients and try to avoid foods with high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oil (I haven’t purchased or consumed margarine in over 15 years) because I hate the way they make me feel.
I don’t avoid entire food groups but I try to limit my pasta and bread consumption to homemade/handmade because gluten bothers me and if I am going to consume it, I want it to be the most authentic and delicious version possible. I love spice, loathe under-seasoned food, and dislike most casseroles. I think boiling vegetables is an abomination and I have trouble trusting adults who don’t eat at ethnic restaurants. And nothing beats a hot pink filet mignon seared in a cast iron skillet with butter. Except maybe pho – with extra cilantro (give me all the cilantro).
I worked as a prep-chef one summer in high school at a high-end bistro and learned the art of preparing food from scratch. I am forever thankful for the Executive Chef who took the time to teach me how to properly reduce a sauce, roast vegetables, and how seasonal ingredients can be prepared in ways that maximize their flavor. I don’t own a bread maker; kneading bread is zen for me. When time permits, I avoid shortcuts. And our go-to meal when we don’t feel like cooking is a charcuterie board. Thankfully, our kids eat a variety of foods and they’re at the age where they get excited about trying a new restaurant and ordering something they’ve never had before so we’ve been able to eat at some pretty cool places around the world as a family. And most importantly, they don’t see their mom ‘dieting’.
It took me getting through my twenties and most of my thirties but I can say with confidence now that I absolutely love my body for no other reason than it is my body. I’m sure there are some people out there who think I’m too whatever but that’s their problem, not mine. I will turn 38 in a few months and I think I’ve never looked better. Earlier this year I participated in a nutrition program that changed my relationship with food for the better. I learned what my body needs for protein, carbs, and fats in order for me to feel my best. Because when I feel my best, I do my best. I don’t track calories, I eat what looks (and tastes) good.
And I don’t diet. Thank goodness.