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Eat to live, don’t live to eat. Not.

The very first time I heard that phrase many years ago, it made me feel guilty. These days I have enough perspective to know that I just don't agree with it, and that's fine.

Yes, yes, our physical bodies need all the macronutrients (and micro, for that matter) in a reasonable balance for our lifestyles and body types.

But food is so much more! All the textures, tastes, other feelings (I am resisting the urge to go on a long tangent about umami, look it up), and then the way that certain foods taste together... I just can't accept a reality in which the exquisiteness of the perfect mashed potatoes with a rich herby gravy is denied, or even worse in a way, not appreciated.

And to be honest, the individuals that have said those words to me said them in an arrogant-with-a-hint-of-marytr tone that made me suspect that in the privacy of their own homes they sometimes ate chocolate chip cookie dough or peanut butter by the spoonful, just like the rest of us.

My point here is that these two ideas- feeding your body for healthy functioning and deriving great pleasure from food- are in no way mutually exclusive!

I firmly believe that there are no bad foods. There are choices that are more and less nutritious, more or less filling, and perhaps more or less appropriate for you (due to allergies or other health issues), but none of those things make a food good or bad. That's a judgement call.

Okay Sarah, so if there are no good or bad foods, what if all I want to eat is ice cream and pizza forever?

Guess what? I suggest you try it, with a few guidelines:

1. Wait until you are hungry before eating.

2. Stop eating when you are full.

3. Before you partake, think about what you expect from your experience.

4. Compare reality to fantasy. Was it as fabulous as you thought it would be?

5. Based on your experience, decide how often you want to have that food.

You may notice that there are things that you have denied yourself for a long time (for me it was white cake with white frosting) that you have built up in your imagination so much that they just don't live up to your expectations, and after you notice that, you are simply done with them. They aren't worth it anymore.

Other things will be worth it, and that is when practicality comes in.

I love cardamom ice cream with rose syrup and pistachios on top, and I happen to be able to procure all of those things when ever I choose to. However, if I eat too much of it, my body does not feel good. On top of that, I run a bit cold, so ice cream is not a good choice for me most of the year. I do choose to eat this dish on a regular basis in the summer. I eat a reasonable serving as part of a balanced meal, enjoy it a whole lot, and move on.

There is room in this life for both hedonism and functionality. Thank goodness.


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