I was sitting at a funky little restaurant’s community table typing, deleting, and staring at my laptop screen. I usually write to you about one of my many stories where I felt crazy about food and how I overcame it. But, on that day nothing I wrote was coming out how I wanted it to.
Then, two women came into the restaurant and sat down across from me. They opened up their laptops to “work” and started loudly catching up and debating about what to get to eat.
(If you’re someone that stresses about food, you know looking at a menu is totally anxiety provoking.)
I knew this was about to get interesting.
The first woman was clear she wanted to get the pasta. She kept interrupting her friend to tell her she knew it was “so bad.” She went on about how she needed to lose weight and even lifted up her shirt a bit and insisted her friend squeeze her “love handles.” When the pasta finally came, she talked about how fattening it was each time she took a bite. Sadly, I doubt she tasted, much less, enjoyed it.
The other woman said she had been “so good” and didn’t want to screw it up. She ordered a salad and then gazed at each plate emerging from the kitchen. Each time food went by, she let out little chirps of excitement even though these plates weren’t for her.
Meeting girlfriends to share food should be a time of enjoyment. Unfortunately, these experiences, as I was witnessing, can be heavy with guilt that lasts even longer than that meal–obsessing about it throughout the rest of the day!
What a waste!
A major component of feeling complete in your eating experience is allowing yourself to actually enjoy your food. When you’re busy in your head worrying, you aren’t present with the food you’re eating. You take the last bite and barely remember what you just ate. When you don’t soak in the pleasure you’re left feeling unsatisfied and thinking about what else you want to eat. You also become hungry again sooner than if you had been present with the flavors and experience of the food.
Sitting across from these women, I felt sad that so many women deny themselves the pleasure of food and, instead, opt for eating with a side of guilt.
I became inspired to check out the dessert menu. I ordered a giant, soft, warm chocolate chip cookie. I would’ve never done this in public during my food-obsessing days. On a “cheat” day, heavy with guilt and worry, I would’ve and gotten one of these puppies to-go and quickly (secretly) inhaled it in my car. Never in public.
When my cookie arrived, I was busy typing this very blog and barely noticed. When I was ready for a break, I closed my computer and pulled the plate in front of me. I savored the sweet strawberry garnish first and then ate the cookie one bite at a time. I felt free and confident. This exact feeling is what I had been craving for years of fighting with food and trying to stay in control of what I ate.
I left more than half the cookie on the plate when I was finished. Not because it wasn’t good, but because I enjoyed what I wanted and clearly heard when my mind, my body, and my emotions felt satisfied… it didn’t take as long as you might think.
Can you imagine eating one of your favorite treats without it being a big deal?
Try it. It’s really empowering!