Letting Go of Food Rules

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I’m actually a bit scared to post this, but I’m doing it anyway. My health counselor suggested it a couple of months ago, and it has taken me this long to get up the courage. But I’m posting it in spite of my insecurities because it just might help someone else.

As far as food bloggers go, I’m not very extreme. At all. I’m not vegan, gluten free, paleo, or even that far into the Real Food camp. In fact at one point along the way I was asked to contribute to a baby steps for real food series because, according to the blogger, I somehow managed to incorporate real food into my cooking without going “all the way.” By that I guess he meant that I use real ingredients but don’t do the whole soaking/sprouting/fermenting thing.

That’s not to say I don’t feel guilty about not doing those things. I have all the books. I read the blogs. I have a sourdough culture that I’ve been keeping alive (sort of).

I didn’t realize how much I had internalized the guilt of what I should be doing until I found myself at the health counselor wanting to lose weight. I was eating out three times a day, which was not healthy for my waistline nor my wallet.

“So let’s start with breakfast,” she said. “If you forget about what you think you should be eating, and could eat anything you wanted, what would you want for breakfast?”

“Eggs and toast,” I answered. It truly is my favorite breakfast. Except that I hadn’t had time to go to the farmers market in ages and I couldn’t bring myself to buy eggs at the grocery store. As I answered the question, I could hear the neglected sourdough culture calling to me from the refrigerator. And since I didn’t have anything in the house for breakfast I found myself stopping at the local bagel shop every morning for a chocolate chip muffin and a large coffee with skim milk. On days I was feeling especially down on the fact that I was not cooking my own breakfast I was rebellious and ordered a soy  milk latte–GMOs and “The Dangers of Soy” brochures be dammed.

“What’s stopping you from eating eggs and toast for breakfast?” she asked.

Suddenly all the guilt washed over me. “I haven’t had time to bake the bread,” I said. And then the tears flowed. And I felt really silly crying over unbaked bread.

She then reminded me of the time that I felt guilty about buying rhubarb at the grocery store.

“Are there any other areas of your life where you feel like if you can’t do something perfectly, it’s not worth trying to do at all?” she asked. Dang, she asks hard questions. I had to think about that one.

My assignment for the next few weeks was to go to the grocery store and buy really good quality bread so that I could eat eggs and toast for breakfast. I did. I gave myself permission. But then, a funny thing happened.

Once I was eating protein and not sugar for breakfast, I had more energy. I did find time to make it to a local grocery store that carries local organic eggs. I’ve since made it a regular habit to shop there once a week on my lunch hour for basic groceries. I’m sleeping better, and even though I’m still not baking my own sprouted sourdough bread, I am cooking more and losing weight–all without counting any calories.

All because I gave myself permission to not do things perfectly.

Why am I posting this? What sane person would admit on the internet that they cried over unbaked bread? Because I have a feeling I’m not the only one who bookmarks recipes and tutorials and at the end of the day gives up and says, “screw it” and orders pizza. I want to tell you it’s OK, despite the food nazis and militancy of some sites you might come across, to do what you can and not feel guilty if it’s not perfect.

Let go of the food rules, listen to your body and your heart, and do what you can. Really, it’s OK.

This post shared at Works for Me Wednesday