It seems like every year, for the past 5 or 6 years, my new year’s resolutions have been the basic ‘eat better, exercise more.’ While my level of success goes up and down throughout the year, I’ve always struggled with the eating better part.
Why? Because food is complicated for me.
I grew up in a family that revolved our social lives around food. Every family event or outing usually centered around where we would go out to eat, or what special meal was going to be cooked at home. As an adult, I’ve realized that none of this was necessarily bad. But what it did was mentally attach my sense of family, love, and comfort to rich, home-cooked meals. Meals that focused a bit more on being tasty than always being healthy.
I know what healthy food looks like. I know the difference between a fresh salad and a plate of onion rings. Sometimes I eat salads and feel like a champ, other times I can’t help but order a huge plate of the rings’.
But because of my background and the way I was raised, I will always value a good, possibly calorie-heavy meal over rabbit food. Even though I know eating healthy is obviously good for me and I do make a conscious effort to do so, I struggle with opposing thoughts that I only live once, and that good cooking is one of life’s simplest ways to bring people together for good times.
Not to mention that eating healthy is hard! Working around all the hidden sugar and processed stuff is like trying to locate a grain of salt in a sack of sand. I’m always impressed by the people who manage to eat perfectly organic and sugar-free every day, I don’t know how they do it! Are they secretly wizards? Who knows.
But I know, for me, I’d be downright depressed every day if I ate like a perfect little rabbit with a measly pile of carrots. And I believe that the majority of us feel this way as well. I honestly don’t know anybody who is enjoying their new year’s diet promise right now. Let’s be real, we all just complain about our inability to commit for a few months and then things go back to normal.
I believe that meeting our new year’s resolutions starts with small steps that don’t try to change who we are. For example, if you really hate running with a passion, then why would you expect yourself to enjoy finishing a marathon? It’s the same with food habits; you can’t expect yourself to be happy about meeting a goal that depresses you on some level. I can try to trick myself into thinking that I’d love to be an uber-healthy, juice-toting gym junkie, but the truth is that that image isn’t me. It’s what I feel pressured from the world to be.
The real me loves to cook and try new cuisine at local restaurants. I think the whole juicing thing sounds stupid and not really that healthy, and the idea of eating carrots and kale to get skinny makes me want to cry.
So this year, I’m encouraging myself and my loved ones, to find ways to be healthy that let you be true to you.
For me, that means being healthier by cooking at home more with fresh ingredients. It means cutting down on eating out(which saves money too!) Instead of hitting up the vending machine, I’ll take a piece of fruit or a baggie of healthy goodies to work for a snack. These things are easier to do and they don’t make my foodie heart sad.
Though they’re meant to help us become happier people, resolutions sure do have a way of making us pretty unhappy at the start of the year. This 2018, I’m promising myself happiness…right from the get-go.
Here are some resources for handling a complicated relationship with food:
And here are some baby steps you can make to eat healthier without compromising yourself: