My absolute favorite food in the world is pasta. White-flour-based, gluten-filled pasta. That’s right, a food with virtually no health benefits and a nightmare for anyone with a wheat allergy or sensitivity. I continue to admit it loud and proud—pasta is my love and my Achilles’ heel.
Now, consider this: I’m sitting at a restaurant, famished, and I flip the menu open to be faced with two dramatically different choices. On one page they’re featuring the daily special: delicious pasta! A mountain of noodles swimming in one of my favorite sauces accompanied by nothing green or of any sort of nutritional value. The flip page offers me something quite different—steamed kale, lentils, no sauce. Straight-up medicinal food that will fuel me, nourish me, and make me feel complete, yet …
The pasta! The pasta will make my belly sing for joy, beg for more, ask to be whisked away to Italy where we can live happily ever after. Meanwhile the kale and lentils are wooing me with their health benefits, and I know I’ll digest them well. The pasta might make me feel fat and bloated, but the kale still can’t hold a candle to it. Do I want to stay healthy or go all out? Do I behave and eat the kale, or is it okay to splurge and have the pasta? This debate continues in my mind until the waiter arrives at the table, at which point I gaze up with confused doe eyes. To be healthy or not to be healthy — is that the question? Here’s my answer: Order the freakin’ pasta.
Our lives are short and sweet, and how tragic would it be if you ordered the kale only to get hit by a car on your way home with your last thought being, Why didn’t I order the paaaaasssstaaaa?!
I want you to be a warrior of health, but I want you to balance that out with being a warrior of balance and love. Eating a bowl of pasta (or whatever your favorite food is) bears no shame. Our taste buds exist to be awoken and tantalized! Food provides a symphony of flavors to experience, remember, and relish. When you order or prepare your favorite food, you’re treating your belly, heart, and soul. It’s a simple treat to reward your body for showing up every day and allowing you to function properly. This is how I want you to view food—as the beautiful gift that it is. Clearly, food is here to nourish us and keep us alive. I also believe we can use it as medicine — to heal our bodies naturally and fully. I also view food as a platform to create friendships, bonds, and alliances, and as an unspoken way to share joy, passion, and love.
How You View Your Food
A huge number of food neuroses come from the emotions we project onto food. I joke about my Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde conversation over pasta versus kale, but this isn’t as uncommon as you might think. We’re taught that certain foods will make us fat, while others will make us skinny. Once you have this association with foods (think of words like fat, oil, butter), you steer far away from them so as to not experience the guilt of crossing over onto the dark side. It always feels good to plow into a pint of ice cream, but afterward we often sit remorsefully rubbing our soft (but happy) bellies.
My question is this: What if we could eat food without regret? What if we could drop the labels associated with certain types of food and just view them as experiences? When you associate a specific food with negativity and fear, it takes on that energy. For example, if you want to eat a chocolate chip cookie, but your guilty conscience is weighing you down, it will be a horrible experience. You’ll eat the cookie, crying on the inside, knowing each bite will add an unwanted bulge somewhere. At this point, what’s the purpose in even eating the cookie? There’s no enjoyment, just judgment and pain, when all you wanted was the simple pleasure of eating a cookie.
This negativity infuses the food, and this attitude (whether we’re convinced we can’t eat something or that a bite of something will send us off the deep end) makes us physically and emotionally sick. We have the power to change this by altering the way we look at food. You can sit down with that cookie and realize with a knowing smile that this cookie might be one of the highlights of your day. All those small little chips of chocolaty goodness are going to give your belly a hug. They might even throw a dance party in your stomach once they get there. Point being, it’s going to rock. Next thing you know, you’ve eaten a “bad” food with a loving attitude, and guess what? You feel fine. Actually, you feel great. Guilt-free, satisfied, and satiated.
My caveat to this would be don’t live off a steady diet of cookies. It’s still crucial to eat smart and to have balance in everything that you do. There’s the famous joke, “I do everything in moderation, except moderation.” While this always puts a smile on my face, moderation is key. You’re out to dinner — order some pasta. Special occasion — have the cake. Celebrating — drink up! Day-to-day basis? Be smart. Eat organic non-processed foods. Choose colorful foods full of nutrients to heal and fuel your body. Want a glass of wine (or two) with your beautiful, nutritious meal? Cheers to your health and sweet, sweet balance.