Updated: Jul 19, 2021
As I was in the car, on my way to pick up some McDonald’s for lunch, I stopped at a red light and realized that I didn’t actually want McDonald’s for lunch. I remembered that tomatoes are now in season and realized that I NEEDED something more light and refreshing. So I turned around and went to New Seasons where I got some perfectly ripe heirloom tomatoes (picked by smell!), a rosemary & garlic rotisserie chicken, and some freshly baked focaccia.
I cut up some of the tomatoes and a few slices of the chicken and put it all together on a bed of spring mix and topped it with a glug of decent olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and some flake salt. I ate it in my backyard with a glass of Albarino.
It was truly delightful.
It has taken me 31 years to learn how to trust my body, especially when it comes to food and eating (but purity culture and religious trauma factor here too!). I was told a lot growing up how much of any particular thing I should eat--it went from “finish what’s on your plate” to “you’re going to eat as much as your dad?!” in what felt like an instant. The words were different, but the underlying message was clear: don’t trust your body. Don’t trust yourself. You don’t know what you want. You don’t know what you need.
And another layer: if you give yourself what you want, you’ll never get enough of what you need.
We assume that kids can’t be trusted to know what they want or need, and then those kids grow up not knowing when they’re full, how to know what to eat, how to know if they’re eating in a socially acceptable way, etc., and then we get the memes of “don’t ask your wife where to eat.”
But what if I was allowed to follow my own cues? I give Henry options at mealtimes and sometimes he eats only the mini cupcake or the crackers, but sometimes he starts with the fruit or asks for carrots. Sure, maybe he’s an exceptional kid who is brilliant and a natural nutritionist, but I think it’s more about teaching him to listen to himself.
Note: he doesn’t get unlimited snacks or crackers, but when it’s snack time, I open the pantry and let him choose 1 or 2 things from his snack shelves. He does, and closes the pantry door. It’s great for both of us.
What would my food issues be like if I wasn’t told “it’s a snack, not a meal?” or if I didn’t hear “you’re eating THAT?” all the time? Would I have ever gone through binge and purge cycles? Encouraged eating disorders in myself and others?
Or maybe, would I have loved myself a little more?
Would I have fewer feelings of self-doubt? More body love or neutrality?
I don’t know. But I know that learning to really trust my body and feed it what it wants and needs has removed so much stress from me and my relationship. Listening to my body’s inherent wisdom led me to a salad today! And delicious cannoli yesterday! And probably ice cream later, but maybe tortilla chips with a squeeze of lime!
Your body has its own inherent wisdom. There is nothing inside of any of us that is innately broken and in need of fixing. You’re worthy. I’m worthy.
Let’s actually eat cake.