Years ago, I vowed that I would never again write an article about diets.
I’d had it.
We women hear about dieting more than enough.
Everywhere we look, we are bombarded with messages – both subliminal and direct – telling us that our beauty and self-worth are somehow connected to the size we wear or the foods we eat.
So you have my word. This article is NOT about diets.
Now that I got that out of the way, can I interest you in an article about healthy eating?
DON’T TURN THE PAGE!
It really isn’t the same thing!
I’ve recently discovered that dieting has NOTHING to do with a healthy lifestyle. Dieting involves staring hopelessly at the scale, praying that the numbers will move – downward only, of course. It involves goals about fitting into clothes in our closet or fitting into society’s absurd standards about how we are supposed to look.
But here is the great news! Healthy eating is a completely different approach.
Healthy eating – at least in my version – does not involve a scale. It gets our eyes on the real prize: feeling good. It is a lifestyle that is sustainable for the long term, so I don’t have to add it to my endless list of failed.
I’ve never been a granola kind of girl. I am half-Hungarian! In my family tree, we don’t do organic food, or compostable food, or unfried foods, or weird green smoothie things. We actually enjoy eating.
So why the change of heart?
I had an epiphany last night.
Last night, my husband was working the night shift, like he does at least once a week. On those nights, he takes his food to-go or picks something up near the hospital. The rest of us at home eat a child-friendly dinner, usually one that is not labor intensive. Or big on the vegetables.
My kids asked for pancakes for supper, and I readily obliged. I was too tired to whip up anything gourmet, and I had frozen pancake mix in the freezer. The kind you pour from the bottle right into the pan. Nice and easy.
I stood by the stove and flipped the pancakes onto my kids’ plates, hot off the fire. They filled their stomachs as they filled me in on the highs and lows of their day at school.
Even though my stomach was grumbling, I focused on my kids. Of course, by the time we finished their homework, baths, and bedtimes, I was ravenous. When I went to the kitchen to find something to eat, I was thrilled to see that there were still some pancakes leftover.
Too tired to care, I sat down and ate a stack of cold pancakes. But even maple syrup couldn’t hide the fact that I was eating cardboard for supper. Calorie-laden, sugar-coated, nutritionist-unapproved, cardboard.
After cleaning my plate, I sat on the kitchen chair, feeling as heavy as a herd of elephants, as defeated as a marathoner who trips just feet from the finishing line.
The kitchen around me needed to be cleaned up. I had writing deadlines to meet. Laundry to wash. Lunches to pack for the next day. And all I could do was sit and stare, wondering if I even had the energy to make my way to bed.
What a surprise: Cold pancakes were hardly the fuel I needed to get me going.
That’s when I had the epiphany: This kind of eating was NOT good for me.
I thought back to what I had eaten for supper the previous few nights, and realized that, more often than not, my meal consisted of whatever was left on my children’s plates.
Cold schnitzel. Cold pizza crusts. Cold fish sticks. Cold lasagna.
See the common theme? Forget the fact that cold food doesn’t have fewer calories than hot food. I was filling myself with empty calories – and I wasn’t even enjoying a single crumb.
It was not surprising that at the end of the day, I was climbing into bed feeling exhausted like I had completely run out of fuel.
So I made a resolution last night: I am not going to do that to myself anymore.
Healthy eating is not about fad diets or shopping in the organic aisle at the grocery. It is not about convincing myself that I really like kale. It’s about my responsibility to remember that I am also a person.
Eating well is my obligation. I have to be able to find the time to put some chicken in the oven. To chop a salad or peel a fruit. To sit down and enjoy my food – while it is still fresh, while it is still hot.
I know I am not the only mother out there who forgets to take care of herself. But since last night, I am a changed person. (Don’t laugh! I’m going to make this stick!)
I am vowing to jump on the healthy eating bandwagon. The healthy living bandwagon.
Who’s with me?