People often ask me, ‘What does it look like for you to indulge? Do you ever just crave fast food?’
I don’t eat fast food. It’s not an admirable feat though or the result of much self control, I’ve just never craved it. Perhaps that’s because I didn’t grow up on it, I don’t know but I do indulge in other ways. This last week in England was a week of liberal indulgence so as I fly home I thought I’d give you some of my thoughts. Oh and I’m also finishing up a jar of chocolate sprouted almond butter as I type, with a spoon. Indulgence #46823 of the trip.
Whatever I eat, I always want to make food fun and happy; eating is about so much more than just filling my stomach to stay alive and I like it to be a joyful moment. I also want to love my body well. I want to be free to eat, to indulge when I want and when I do, to know that what I eat still loves my body. I want to know that I’m filling myself with great healthy ingredients that I can enjoy in the moment, and which I won’t regret eating afterwards. That means that for me indulgence isn’t sporadically choosing to eat something I consider ‘bad’ such as fast food, but rather letting myself enjoy foods on occasion that I fully love putting in my body but wouldn’t choose to center my diet on every day. I think it’s important to have times where we let go, but in letting go I want to think about my whole life not just the moment. I want freedom with food that is truly free. To me, it’s not worth it to eat something that tastes great during the meal and then makes me feel not so great or that on reflection I’ll wish I hadn’t put in my body. So I choose my indulgences and then enjoy them wholeheartedly.
At home, although I make a lot of desserts, few of them end up on my plate. They are mostly for events, friends, made on request or for my husband. I like to keep my sugar intake low even if it’s unrefined but this week I let that go. Royally. That doesn’t mean I sat and devoured entire cakes without thinking – that would only be fun while eating and way less fun after. I’ve learned that that’s not worth it to me. Instead, I chose how to indulge and then did it with true freedom and loved it with no guilt, regret or need to hit the gym to be able to feel good again. I don’t think freedom is doing whatever you think you want whenever you want. I think real freedom is having the strength and wisdom to look at your life as a whole and think about what you want to accomplish and who you want to be. Then it is having the ability to accomplish that without restraint. If I see a brownie and want to avoid it but look at it a second time, give in, and grab it, I don’t think that’s freedom. Wanting to say no and then following through and not eating it might look like a lack of freedom but I think it’s actually the person who wants to say no to the cookie but takes it anyway, who isn’t free. The cookie had a hold on that person; I want to be a person free from the hold of food. So I choose what I eat out of freedom; I eat what I want, when I want. I just know that ‘want’ is a word spanning more than this single moment of time. And remember, it’s a journey. I haven’t always had that resolve. Along the way in my journey with food I’ve learned how I feel best, so please don’t beat yourself up if you say yes to the cookie when you didn’t mean to. It’s ok.
Letting go this week meant I ate a lot of dessert. We had copious amounts in the house and I let myself enjoy it. All of it was ‘clean’ in my book: sweetened with raw honey or dates, nothing refined, all homemade nut flours, organic eggs, organic coconut butter, organic fair-trade cocoa… so nothing was off limits. Even that good clean dessert doesn’t feature much in my everyday diet though where most of my meals are based on fruits and vegetables, beans, a few grains, nuts, seeds, good meats and fish but I let this week be different. London. 10 days. Vacation.
Like I said, vacation doesn’t mean I throw out all wisdom, stop loving my body and pay for it afterwards, but I do let myself go a bit. I’m ok eating dessert every day, perhaps twice. I’m ok having a cup of coffee, and then another one, and sometimes another. I’m ok indulging in a late night slice of paleo chocolate birthday cake with my brother. I’m ok going to pick up raw dessert slices to go for dinner and actually tucking in right there at the bar in the restaurant with my parents… and still getting extras for dinner! I’m ok sitting with that dessert selection in front of me and eating more than I normally would knowing it’s good food and that I’m free. I’m more than ok with it, I did it all on purpose, with joy, and zero regret. Then I’ll hit the gym again when I’m home. I don’t put in extra minutes on the treadmill to feel good about myself again, or out of punishment for indulging or with a sigh of regret… no, I go because I love it and I love me.
And food aside, perhaps the biggest indulgence of the trip for me was actually one with no calories, sugar or cash value. More than any of the culinary indulgence, I loved the time to stop and enjoy the small things in life, the time to be spontaneous, to sleep, to be, to say yes to anything, to breathe out and relax.
So in answer to the question of what it looks like for me to indulge, right now it’s probably a huge salad, a gorgeous raw dessert, a cup (or two) of really good coffee and an unending amount of time to enjoy it with someone I love. As often seems to happen on the back of one trip, I’m finding myself at my laptop planning the next one! Next up, a little weekend getaway where we’ll be combining all of those things we love. Watch out for #TWFDgoestoSanFrancisco in a few weeks time and in the meantime, indulge thoughtfully, eat with freedom, rest, take time and love yourself.