Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fearing Food? Give Yourself a Break!

I recently read that in a study of several countries and cultures, Americans were most likely to attribute chocolate cake with guilt. 
Other cultures, like the French and Italians thought of words like celebration, happiness or tasty. But we said guilt. That was our word. 
That's sad to me. It's sad that we oh so often fear food, while other cultures embrace it, savor it and think of it as something to enjoy.
When I traveled to Italy a few years ago, I saw first hand how celebratory and communal the act of eating is to them. They don't think about the calories, fat, or "diet-destructing" factor of food. And when they sit down to enjoy a meal, they sit down to enjoy it, and I mean really enjoy it. 
It felt so nice to take a step away from reality in Italy, and actually allow myself to enjoy my meals, eating slowly and not thinking about it for the first time in a looong time. 
Rather than thinking, "Shit, this is going to destroy my diet," I was thinking, "This seafood risotto is absolutely decadent." 
Why can't we think like that more often over here? Where did this whole food-fear thing come about, anyway? Suddenly, our culture has become so dramatically diet/fat/calorie-obsessed that we can't even look at a piece of chocolate cake without feeling guilty about it. 
What ever happened to food making people happy? Geesh.
I think we need to take a step back, watch just a tad fewer reality weight-loss TV shows and read a little less into those "miracle" diet tips. 
Of course, it's good to have a healthy mindset and be conscious about your food choices, but the line has to be drawn somewhere. 
Yes, you're never going to catch me chowing away mindlessly on Pringles or chocolate cake, bite after bite. But that's not because I fear them. It's because I don't like the way they make my stomach feel, and would rather go for something more satisfying to me like fresh fruit or a big handful of dark chocolate chips. Yes, there was a time that I too feared food, but thank god that is over and done with because that simply wasn't the way to be. It was way too stressful.
All in all, we need to learn to look at food with a more open perspective and learn not to be so afraid of it. Let's not be so hard on ourselves, OK? 
So, go ahead and have a sliver of that chocolate fudge cake, for happy, celebratory reasons only of course!

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