Faced with the ‘Lunch on the go’ counter at an M&S service station I stare long and hard at those carefully packed sandwiches. Thick white bread, Huge chunks of chicken and bacon smothered in mayonnaise. Then the little tiny bars of sea salt chocolate. All the calories my little heart can dream of. I’m tired, I have horrific stomach pains, I want the bread and chocolate.
What do I buy? Some sort of quinoa salad box. I don’t even like quinoa that much, personally, I think it tastes a bit like gravel. It’s just something, just like kale, that we eat because someone had the audacity to publish that it is a superfood. Why did i choose the sad-looking grains? Because I got the guilt. “I am a small and dainty woman. I eat nothing but air and leaves and tiny, tiny portions.” If the sales assistant sees me buying a sandwich and chocolate they will think I am a disgusting and greedy human being. My thighs feel bigger just thinking about buying what I really want.
The point isn’t that I chose something healthy over something unhealthy. The point is that I am subconsciously punishing myself for wanting the sandwich and cake. I am all for ‘Everything in moderation’ and balanced diets but when it comes to a moment like this all my brain can think is ‘that food you hate? It’s healthy. It’s especially healthy because the healthiest food is bad, tastes bland and leave you as dissatisfied as the UK is with Brexit’
I could have chosen anything! I could have opted for that Moroccan butternut pot I like (healthy), or a small sushi tray (still healthy) or even that chicken and avocado wheat sandwich (STILL HEALTHY) or I could have just got the poxy sandwich and chocolate and not punished myself. Wouldn’t that have been a revelation for the history books?
As Women, in particular, we have a tendency to use food as a way to punish and reward ourselves. Period pain? Chocolate. Long day? Glass of wine. Gained a little weight? Insane military diet that means I will live off nothing but plasterboard and water for 6 weeks. There seems to be no middle ground between binge mode and diet mode. There often seems to be no middle ground too between ‘I feel like a supermodel’ and ‘I feel like a pig, why are my thighs touching?’.
If you are a food lover. I certainly am. Most of the memories that stick out in your mind will involve food. Those gyros you had on the beach in Greece, the birthday cake at your 21st birthday party, the spaghetti marinara you enjoyed on a first date. So many of our relationships are entwined with memories of food and that’s ok. Read Nora Ephron’s Heartburn. Listen to Nigel Slater speak about swiss rolls. Watch anything that Nigella Lawson does. All of them live for that direct correlation of love/romance and food. All of them revel in the unadulterated pleasure that a good pasta or casserole brings.
It’s a bloody terrible resolution but I do
resolve resolut What on earth is the verb of resolution?! Anyway, my insanely late 2019 resolution is to change my relationship with food – for both the good and the bad. I want to order the cake at the patisserie and enjoy it without that voice in my head telling me I’ll have to have a kale salad tonight to even it out. I also want to not reach for the jaffa cake as soon as I’ve had a stressful meeting. I do not want to be on a (insert ridiculous fad here) diet ever again. I want to eat balanced meals, each enjoyable as the next, both healthy and unhealthy and not beat myself up about it.
I want to have my cake and eat it. In moderation of course…