I feel like all I saw while I was out-and-about today were deep fried balls of dough crammed with gooey fruit filling. That’s right, happy Fat Tuesday, everyone.
Now, it is no secret that the trademark Paczki isn’t exactly what you’d call a healthy food item. They can pack 300-450 calories and 15-24 grams of fat! I know you are probably rolling your eyes getting ready for the future RD-to-be’s speech on healthy alternatives, right? Think again. I am telling you to do the opposite. Grab one of the polish treats, some Mardi Gras beads and have yourself a little mid-week (almost) break.
Why am I telling you this when it seems so paradoxical? Let me explain…
Something has hit me recently: the justification of food choices. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times over the past few days/weeks/months I have hears people justify their food choices. Be it because they worked out that day, haven’t eaten all day, or they deserve it for the hard week they’ve had. Heck, I have even caught myself doing it too!
Saturday Joseph and I went to this charming little breakfast joint in East Lansing called Golden Harvest. Now, there is a good chance that my fellow Spartans know exactly the place that I am talking about, but the rest of you are probably miffed. Golden Harvest takes breakfast indulgence to a whole other level. We had to wait for AN HOUR outside just to get in (the place is tiny, no room for waiting! Joe actually thought I was going to cry because we were in the cold for so long and I hate anything below 80 degrees. But, it was so worth it.) Anyway, back to the story (apologies) I got what was called the “Stella’s Surprise” which consisted of 2 giant pancakes (that were about 2x the size of my face and 1 ½ inches tall) with bits of waffle, white chocolate chips and fresh raspberries topped with caramel sauce and a giant pile of whipped cream. As soon as I ordered it I, unknowingly, began the justification process. “This will fuel my run later today”, “Good thing I don’t eat like this every day”, etc. etc. What is sad is that I didn’t even realize I was doing it. Once I reflected on how many people justify food choices (it happened an absurd amount today, which is what triggered this post) I realized that I am guilty of doing the exact same thing.
Why do we do it? Why do we have to justify what we are choosing to put into our bodies? Is it not our own choice? Why is there so much judgment surrounding food? What does it matter to others what we eat? They don’t know what the profile of your diet is like.
The truth is that I never realized how much judgment there is surrounding food. And I hate it. With the current obesity rates and other various health issues that correlate with diet and nutrition, we should be trying to stop the judgment from being present, but it seems like it just keeps accumulating. Think about it, if someone is currently eating a poor diet and their health is at risk because of it, do you think they will seek help from a dietitian? My guess is probably not because they may be afraid of being judged. I really hope that we can stop this. I certainly do not want people to avoid coming to see me when I finally become a Registered Dietitian. I love food and talking about it, that’s why I chose this career! Carrot or French fries, kale or cupcakes, I’ll always discuss food. (And I can guarantee you it is always a judgment-free zone)
How can we stop the judgment that surrounds food, you ask? Back to the pazcki! Go ahead, eat one if you want (if you don’t want one, don’t have one, simple as that) and don’t say a darn word about it besides that it tastes marvelous. Fat Tuesday only comes once a year!
I am not advising you to eat this way every day, obviously, but I am saying it is OK to treat yourself without having to justify it. If you want the king of all jelly donuts, for goodness sakes grab one! One splurge will not revoke your efforts of eating a healthy diet. Guess what? After my ridiculously large, sugary, and fatty breakfast on Saturday, I didn’t all of a sudden become the size of a hot-air balloon. One splurge (or two!) doesn’t hurt.
Remember: 3,500 calories = 1 pound. Some days you will eat more calories than others and some you will eat less. Your body can tell when it is in a deficit or in excess. You just have to listen to it!
It is now time for me to go relax (I am on hellish-winter “spring” break) like the grandma I am with the large, steamy mug of blueberry tea and get to work on knitting my wash cloth… Before you judge me it is a super sweet double-basket-weave pattern and looks really cool looking, I promise…. Okay… there is no making that sound hip… What can I say, I have the spirit of an 85 year old woman, and I am 100% okay with it!
I leave you with one final request: Don’t judge other people’s food choices. Don’t assume that everyone eating cake has a diet of pure fat and sugar, or that the man munching on carrots must be depriving himself. What do you really know about that person? Most likely zilch. The same goes for when you grab a brownie for desert (or breakfast… I know I am not the only one! Fess up!) No one knows your diet as a whole and has no right to judge you. If they do, then they probably aren’t a very good person and in that case you don’t want to be around them anyway.