Last night I had Ben & Jerry's Peanut Butter Cup ice cream. This is not a confession. People I know often tell me that they are self-conscious when they eat around me, worrying that I'm taking note of their food choices and judging them. To be honest, of course I notice. And two years ago, I probably would have judged them silently. These days, however, I don't. People make choices that they make--it is what it is. I'm glad I make them self-conscious. Maybe they will make healthier choices knowing I'm going to be there. It can only be a good thing.
I know that many of my friends have made big changes in their food choices just from hanging out with me and asking questions and seeing what I'm eating. I know I've made a lot of people healthier overall, and these aren't even my clients.
But, let me get back to that ice cream I had last night. No one except my family saw me eat it, but there are times where I get ice cream when I'm out or have a piece of cake at a birthday party or a dessert at a restaurant, and I am the one who is self-conscious because I am wondering what people are thinking watching me, the Princess Warrior of Health, eating something "unhealthy." Do they think I'm a hypocrite? Do they think that maybe it's OK to eat this stuff since I'm eating it? Does this make them go back to eating junk more often because they saw Debbie Peterson eating a piece of cake? I hope not.
What I've learned over the last couple of years is to lighten up. I eat well--very well--99% of the time. I eat a lot of vegetables--probably 10-15 servings a day. Fruit too. And my protein and fat choices are healthy as well. I never eat at McDonald's, and I rarely eat any kind of processed foods. So, once in a while, I have ice cream. Yes, I read the ingredients, and I won't have it sometimes if it has high fructose corn syrup or artificial colors or flavors. But, I will have it with all its sugar and dairy despite knowing it isn't good for me, physically.
But it is good for me because I enjoy it and have fun while I'm eating it. And because I don't have it often, I savor it and enjoy it a bit more than I used to when it was an often occurrence. I actually really enjoy it. And though I can't say I have no guilt eating it, I have almost no guilt (I'm working on that).
I don't tell my clients to give up things they enjoy. I tell them what's good and bad about it as far as nutrition, and they often make the choice to give it up on their own, but I also encourage them to indulge in it once in a while. I tell them to really enjoy every single bite of it. Savor it. Make it worth it. Usually, they have less of it when this happens. When we actually pay attention to what we're eating, and get all the flavors and textures and appreciate them, we don't really need to gorge on them. It becomes pointless.
My husband finished the pint last night. Ten years ago, I would have been upset that he ate my ice cream. But honestly, I didn't mind at all. I didn't even think about it. I was done with it. I truly enjoyed my 1/3 of the pint and it probably would have sat in the freezer for a month or more before I threw it out. I couldn't have imagined that ten years ago. It feels good. I'm getting hungry talking about all this food. It's lunch time. Bon Apetite!