The weirdest thing about deciding to live a life more about wellness, is that it seems so much about denial. Think about new year resolutions – I’ll stop eating chocolate, I won’t eat potatoes, I’ll cut down on drinking,, I won’t eat takeways so often. All absolutely laudable in their own right, of course, but the danger is that they all create an impression of denial, of penance. And that’s not much fun. Eating a dull old salad, or a slightly tired apple, when you actually want a big old baguette and a Dairy Milk for your lunch isn’t going to fill you with joy or make you feel like it’s a positive life change. And that is not a good start. And to digress for a moment, eating the ‘fat-free’ or ‘sugar-free’ variants of things that are usually tasty is a surefire way to make you feel deprived. And they are never that nice. So have the real thing or don’t bother. Butter, not margarine.
Recognising you aren’t (to borrow from Oprah) living your best life, doing the best that you can, feeling your best, should be a positive. It should make you feel excited, energised, enthused. Not deprived, hungry or bored. It’s a question of reframing, as I believe it is called. Making small things that you do treats, not penances. Creating indulgences, not deprivations. And making it count (more of this one shortly).
For me, lunch is the most difficult meal to manage – at work, if I haven’t planned, there is a limited array of options, most of which aren’t compatible with a paleo lifestyle. And a cold lettuce and a can of tuna isn’t going to excite me. But some nice salmon and an avocado might. Some delicious almonds maybe. A nice Greek yoghurt with some berries. All good options that feel like real food.
A wrinkled old apple languishing in the fruit bowl isn’t going to feel like a treat – but some raspberries might, or a single, juicy, Nashi pear. Or, and this is something I love, try buying oranges from the greengrocer and you might get those nice ones that come wrapped in pretty tissue paper. If you’re going to eat an orange, make it a juicy, zingy one. Make everything as nice as it can be. Use a plate and a knife and fork, drink sparkling water, if you’re at home, go crazy and light a candle at the table.
So what about making it count? I’m a big believer that food must be worth the calories. This is something I’ve come to relatively late. As a former binge eater, there was nothing I’d like more that stocking up on piles of crap, cheap food at the weekend and working my way through the lot, even when it had long since stopped being a pleasure. I can still get outside a whole box of French Fancies in about 15 minutes, but I enjoy it a lot less now. I also had a particular weakness for cheap ice cream – again, whole tubs would go. So now, if I really want a treat, I’ll make it a treat. I get dressed properly, go to a nice gelateria, sit down at a table, among other people, and order two scoops of my favourite flavours. And I really enjoy it. It’s a conscious, active pleasure, not mindless mainlining of industrial fats and sugars. This also works with chocolate. Now I recognise the pleasure of a family-size Fruit N Nut, but when only chocolate will do, off I go to Hotel Chocolate for one of their small packs of six fancy chocolates. Just six, less if I share them with my husband. And because nicer food is full of decent ingredients, they are more satisfying and less likely to send you on a crave/binge cycle, which is good.
So there you have it – make everyday food a treat, and make it worth it!
Lots of love