I’m turning 30 this week, and I want to say I was wrong — probably about many things, but one thing that I know for sure.
I didn’t enjoy a lot of meals. And I was a jerk about food, to family and friends, and most of all myself. That was wrong (though it seemed like a good idea at the time), and it was a waste of energy.
If I ever came across as a condescending jerk to you, my sincere apologies.
In my 20’s, I was often preoccupied with trying to find the most nutritious, most healthy, most perfect meals. That meant a lot of unnecessary guilt about anything that didn’t fall into those categories. It also meant a lot of conversations about whatever books or articles I’d recently read, parroting concepts I didn’t fully understand (yet somehow memorized?), running bizarre experiments on myself, and — more often than not — successfully convincing the people around me to give it a shot.
The stress that my overthinking about nutrition created was, ironically, unhealthy. I never once tried to lose weight. Ever. But I did, even to the point that it was dangerous to my health. There’s a twisted irony in being so afraid of getting sick that you scare yourself into sickness! And that was really hard to admit about myself. That I was wrong.
Food is great. Love all of it!
Just be mindful of the dosage. That’s what hurts. One day of eating cookies is fine. A month straight is bad.
And obsessing over every meal being “right”? That is just fear. Maybe you want to feel some sense of control. Maybe you don’t want to get fat, or sick, or die young. Maybe you don’t want those things to happen to your family, because it hurts watching somebody you love struggle. Maybe it’s all rooted in the feelings you’ve been too ashamed to process, so you act in ways that are expressions of your own repressed emotions.
The reason isn’t important. What’s important is letting go.
The food doesn’t matter so much. What matters is who you share it with.
In the 1950’s, the town of Roseto, Pennsylvania was known in the medical community for having “unusually low” rates of heart disease, compared to the rest of the United States. Researchers were stumped; they had no idea how this was possible. The men in Roseto ate meatballs and sausages fried in lard, they constantly smoked unfiltered cigars, they drank wine “with abandon,” and they worked in mines where they contracted respiratory illnesses from gases and dust.
All signs pointed to ‘Yes, they should be having heart attacks’…
But they weren’t. They were healthy.
The researchers discovered their secret: The clan loved each other. They spent tons of time together, they made each other laugh, they shared meals with one another. They were just friends and families who loved each other.
It’s not the food, stupid. It’s the love you share.
My goal for 30 is simple: To love each meal, with the people I love.