I used to obsess about meals like a crazy kitten.
I saw food scarcity. I felt panic. I thought I wouldn’t get enough of it, and at the same time I was deeply scared I’d eat too much.
Let’s take pasta, for example.
I LOVE pasta. But I hated pasta for a long time. Because it would explode into the following scenario:
- Eating pasta is a treat, so I need to make it count. Best pack seventy different flavors into it to make sure I’m not missing out.
- Browse Pinterest for 3 million hours to pick the perfect pasta dish, only to realize I don’t have the right ingredients for anything. End up mix-and-matching for the perfect flavor overload.
- Weigh out pasta. Obsess over the number. Panic because I feel I’m not getting enough. Calculate the calories in my head. Decide I need to make less than I initially wanted to.
- Make the pasta. Break off a tiny bit to test if it’s done, because I cannot ruin the experience or eat more than my fair share.
- Blatantly overcook the pasta to make it blow up in volume as much as it possibly can, even if it makes it less delicious to eat.
And that’s just the COOKING process.
What do you think eating pasta did to me.
Especially when I cooked for myself and other people… I’d be so anxious and panicky over getting my exact share, and was so afraid of there not being enough left over for me.
At the same time, I was scared of eating too much.
But let’s take a minute to explore one of my profound feelings in this situation: The “making it count”.
I was going to consume calories and fill up my set daily quota. Hence, there was a clear limit, set by external forces, regarding the amount of food I could consume.
(yes, in this case the external force was me, but I mean it wasn’t my intuition and body making the decision)
I needed to make it the most delicious thing with all the flavors I could, because both my body and my mind were experiencing actual food scarcity.
I was afraid I wouldn’t get my exact share, because a) that would mess up my carefully calculated macros (gasp, and another external way of controlling my body) and b) my body was starving, so it was scared to get even less food.
I was also scared of eating too much, because you know… Fucked up mind, fucked up beliefs about food and dieting and beauty and bodies and society and feminism and do you see how deep this is running?
But I missed one major fact:
There would always be a next meal. And a next meal. And a next meal.
Did you ever stop to think about this?? Why do you put so much weight and pressure onto a single meal, its components, its taste, its shit count, its everything – when there is going to be a next meal?
The same goes for pretty much anything.
You can have chocolate again tomorrow.
You can bake Christmas cookies again tomorrow.
You can eat pasta again tomorrow.
You can make lasagna again tomorrow.
You can have pizza again tomorrow.
There will always be a next meal.
And you can have whatever you feel like, whatever sounds tastiest to you, whatever you need.
There is no reason for this kind of hostility around “making meals count” because for fuck’s sake, DO YOU EVEN KNOW how many more meals you’re going to have?
Apart from the fact that I think it’s really stupid to base daily food intake on an arbitrarily set number like calories (don’t even get me started on ~points~), lets all remember that probably no single meal has the significant impact we’re pretending it does.
Once I realized this, and the fact that I didn’t need to be so obsessive over a pasta dinner because I could just have it again the next day, and the next, and the next if I wanted to – I slowly stopped feeling this food scarcity slash fear of bingeing on a certain food slash having to pile on every damn flavor in major FOMO.
The stress I was having around these single instances of energy consumption probably did more harm than eating “too much” pasta or “the wrong” macro nutrients could ever have done to me.
Seriously, though. There will be a next meal.
I make sure my body knows this by feeding it whenever it is hungry. And this, in turn, brings freedom to my mind.