Unfortunately, donuts are also delicious and beautiful and entirely irresistible. Which is why I never ever ever ever ever buy them. Ever.
Except for last Sunday. It was Elijah’s birthday and we bought a box of freshly baked (fried?) donuts as a special breakfast treat. (Jeanine, I know you are reading this right now and laughing.)
My kids were oozing with joy. And trans fat. Normally, I make them eggs or a smoothie, maybe a piece of toast for breakfast. The big “treat” is homemade pancakes (all natural, organic ingredients, of course) on Saturday. But donuts? Never, have I ever bought them donuts for breakfast.
They dove into that box knowing it may very well be the only donuts they see in this house for the duration of their childhood, or until I die, whichever comes first. Elijah held three in his hand at the same time. He had another at lunch, another at dinner with his birthday root beer float and another the following day.
Best birthday ever.
It’s hard to face a box full of donuts like a grown-up and walk away. But this is precisely what I did. I looked at the two donuts whispering, “Saaaaandy….eaaaaat meeeeeeee” (jelly-filled and chocolate glazed) and I said, “No thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Donut. I’m having a banana and almond butter for breakfast.”
So very mature of me, right?
When I was less mature, I never walked away from food I enjoyed. If I cooked it, I ate it. If I saw it in the buffet line, I ate it. If someone served it to me, I ate it. Any time I faced food I loved, I ate it. Even if I was full.
My kids do this all the time. Elijah claims he has two stomachs: one for healthy food and one for junk. He says that’s why he cannot eat one more bite of dinner but always has room for dessert.
Then one day, I had an epiphany. Just Because It’s There, Doesn’t Mean I Have To Eat It. As a grown-up, I have the choice and the power to walk away. Which, for me, is way easier than taking “just one bite.”
(Are you one of those people who can do that? Take just one bite? If you are, you are my hero. That’s like a super-power. I don’t get that, at all. If I start on a pan of brownies, I will finish the pan of brownies.**)
As a grown-up, I’m adopting the attitude that it’s okay to refuse food. Even if I like it. Even if it’s there. Even if everyone else orders it. Even if the house smells like fresh-baked cookies, all day long. Lo, even if the waitress accidentally brings me salad AND fries, when I specifically said salad INSTEAD OF fries.***
I used to have such a dilemma every time I thought about baking something with my kids or going to a fancy work party with endless buffet tables. I would either avoid those situations completely, or resign myself to the fact that I would spend the evening eating things that are bad for me. Black or white. Sink or Swim. No middle ground.
But then, one day, I thought to myself, “Just because I make cookies, doesn’t mean I have to EAT the cookies. I can make these for my family and enjoy the process (and the aroma), but I don’t have to eat the cookies.”
Right? Adults think like this, you know. We are grown-ups with checking accounts and college degrees and home mortgages. Surely we can face a plate of cookies and walk away.
I don’t know why this is such a revelation to me. Maybe it’s left-over People Pleasing (I don’t want hurt people’s feelings.) Or maybe it’s just that I love food so much. (I don’t want to hurt food’s feelings.)
Which brings me to my next grown-up food attitude:
It’s Okay To Love Food.
The other day, a friend was talking to me about the weight she gained over the last couple years. She talked about how she doesn’t really exercise any longer and she probably should but she’s so busy, etc, etc. Then, almost ashamed of herself, she lowered her voice, looked at the ground and said, “Plus, I just really love food.”
I hear so many people (mostly women and girls) say, “I love food” like they just confessed to marital infidelity or something.
You guys, I love food, too. Now that we’re all mature and stuff, we should know this. I love everything about food. It’s pretty and it tastes good and it smells good. Seriously, what’s not to love?
God, in His infinite goodness, made food (our mandatory body fuel) irresistible, on purpose!
Why did He do this?
So we would want to eat!
If you hated food, you would starve and eventually die. Losing your appetite is one of the first indications of sickness. Hating food is not a good thing. Do you know what “hating food” is? An eating disorder. That’s neither normal nor healthy.
The key is to love the right food→ real food. You shouldn’t love donuts and brownies and French Fries. That’s what children love. But we are not children. We are grown-ups. And we are very mature. And we know that’s not real food. That’s crap.
Which brings me to my final Grown Up Food Attitude:
Eating Crap Makes Me Feel Like Crap.
Well, either that, or it makes me gain three pounds. Or both. I feel like crap AND I gain weight. It’s not fair.
Sometimes I sneak junky food and I don’t immediately feel bad physically, and I think I got away with something. Yay! I beat the system! But then, the next day, I feel all tired and sad and realize there’s no escaping it. The older I get, the less I can get away with eating crap, ever. It just makes me feel and look horrible.
Kids don’t make this connection. My kids can be lying on the floor writhing in pain from a stomach ache, and it will never occur to them it could be from the pizza and cake and soda and candy they had at the sleepover. Even if I tell them it’s from the pizza/cake/soda/candy combo, they will deny it. “No, it’s not. It’s because I have homework!”
Now that I’m a grown-up, I can make that connection. I have the ability to look at food and determine it’s worthiness, based on how I feel afterwards and whether I want to wear my favorite pants any time soon. I’m learning that I love feeling energetic and happy, and also being able to zip my jeans, way more than I love donuts, brownies and fries. If I’m going to indulge, I choose to dive in with eyes wide open.
That is very mature of me.
The reason all this is fresh on my mind is because I spent all last weekend making very good food choices, and I feel fantastic! I was mature and grown up and was a very good example to my children and my blog readers. ****
*Okay, here’s the real deal. I walked away at breakfast, that part is true. But later on, between lunch and dinner, I ate the jelly-filled one. I couldn’t stand it. They were calling me! They were too powerful!
**This is actually a true story. Once upon a time, for my 26th birthday, my friend Betsy made me a pan of brownies. Every time I passed the pan, I broke off a piece or three and popped it in my mouth. The next day, I noticed that the brownies were almost gone! Immediately, I thought to blame my new husband. JON!!!!! I couldn’t believe he ate all my birthday brownies. Maybe I married the wrong guy. So I asked him, “Jon, did you eat all my birthday brownies?” And he said, “No. I never even tried them.” For real. He didn’t have any. I ate the whole pan in two days. The end.
***Oh my gosh, what is this, an interrogation???? Okay, FINE. I ate the salad AND the fries. Actually, since you are standing there demanding the truth, I ate the fries FIRST. And I didn’t even finish the salad. There. I said it. Are you happy?
****Total lie. The REAL reason I wrote this post is because, last weekend, between the donut and the fries and about five more horrible food choices involving deep-fried platters and glasses of various high-calorie beverages, I have felt sluggish and sad all week. Plus, all my favorite shorts are too tight. It’s fresh on my mind because I chose to indulge and I’m still paying for it, a week later. There’s nothing wrong with an occasional splurge, but I acted like a child and went completely overboard. I’m hoping you learn from my bad example. As my mom used to tell me before she’d light up a cigarette, “Do as I say, not as I do.”