Understand that my “food rules” are not absolute. I mean, don’t think that I’m just making this up as I go along, or that I prescribe this stuff but don’t abide by it, because I do! But there are times when an occasional Easter basket or bag of Halloween candy does indeed cross my threshold. You don’t want to be tyrannical about this stuff, right? As I tell my kids all the time, “perfection is overrated.”
The errant chocolate bunny aside though, unhealthy food really does not cross my threshold. I don’t buy it at the grocery store nor do I allow others to bring it into my home. I have established myself as the gatekeeper and final arbiter of what will come into our home and everybody at my house knows it. Oh sure, I get the occasional, “Mom, you should see the kind of food my friends have at their houses!” Followed by a litany of teen food staples: chips, ice cream, cookies… At which I laugh and roll my eyes. Cry me a river kid!
My home, and I hope yours too, is a safe haven in so many ways. We surround ourselves with the things that make us happy, that remind us who we are and where we’ve been, what we value and what we stand for. When we’re out in the world we must accommodate others and put on our game face in order to deal with … well, all the stuff we have to deal with. Most offices, businesses and schools offer up food challenges that are beyond our control – break rooms in which people leave out “treats” (aka stuff they don’t want at their houses because they don’t want to eat it), meetings where someone “thoughtfully” brings donuts, birthday treats in the kids’ classrooms (major pet peeve; don’t get me started). But in your own home you get to create a refuge, a sanctuary of your very own where the food you buy, prepare and consume creates and sustains your good health and well-being.
It seems obvious to me now, but for years I bought unhealthy food (typical “kid-friendly” foods like chicken nuggets, frozen waffles, toaster pastries, as well as adult “treats” like chips, cinnamon rolls, bagels and cream cheese) rationalizing that, just because I had issues with food, I shouldn’t deny my loved ones these family-oriented “staples.” Good grief, I needed a shovel to dig my way out of the denial I was buried under. It’s probably clear that I was not dishing up this garbage to my family and making a salad for myself every night. Of course I ate it! Since then I have learned that I get to decide what food will come into my home and, by extension, what my family and I will eat. Just because these kid-friendly, family-oriented foods are considered part of the typical American diet doesn’t mean that we buy into that standard.
And, let’s be honest, I have issues with food! I need to protect myself from myself to some extent. Just because I’m a normal weight now doesn’t mean I don’t still have lots of those same issues. I will probably never be “cured” of my propensity to turn to food when I feel anxious or upset; the best I can hope for is to be conscious of this tendency and to manage it. One of the easiest ways to do that is to create a safe food environment where there are simply very few bad choices to be made. Hear that chocolate bunnies?!?
Losing weight is hard, but it gets easier. And you’re so worth this! Let’s go get it!