If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that finding a healthy balance in one’s relationship with food can be very, very difficult.
For some (lucky) people… finding that balance is fairly seamless (although I’m hesitant to call those people “lucky”… since we all know that, in reality, they have struggles in other areas of life that may be just as difficult!) But for others, and I count myself among that number, the road to becoming a happy, balanced eater is riddled with obstacles. We find ourselves swinging like a pendulum from one extreme side of the spectrum to the other. Sometimes being hyper-restrictive with every calorie, and other times all-out bingeing. I ache keenly for people on either end of that spectrum, because I’ve been there, and it’s an unhappy place.
Today is a different story though. Today I am blessed to stand proudly wearing my struggle and my victory as the badge of honor that it is. By the grace of God, food is no longer a stronghold in my life! And though I so wish I could give each of you a set of steps to take that would carry you out of the conflict and into the lovely, peaceful phase of “balance”… the unfortunate truth is that balance, and the road to get there, looks different for each person.
One thing I would encourage you to do, though, is to sit down and make a list of what a healthy, balanced relationship with food would look like for you. What would your life look like if you could say “I am a normal eater”?
To give one person’s answer to that important question, I feel I can say it no better than Ellyn Satter:
Normal eating is going to the table hungry and eating until you are satisfied. It is being able to choose food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it—not just stop eating because you think you should. Normal eating is being able to give some thought to your food selection so you get nutritious food, but not being so wary and restrictive that you miss out on enjoyable food. Normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad, or bored, or just because it feels good. Normal eating is mostly three meals a day, or four or five, or it can be choosing to munch along the way. It is leaving some cookies on the plate because you know you can have some again tomorrow, or it is eating more now because they taste so wonderful. Normal eating is over-eating at times, feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. And it can be under-eating at times and wishing you had more. Normal eating is trusting your body to make up for your mistakes in eating. Normal eating takes up some of your time and attention, but keeps its place as only one important area of your life.
Amen, Ellyn! In other words, “normal” eating will never be “perfect” eating… and that is ok! Because one is achievable and the other just isn’t! One enriches and supports a life well-lived, and the other consumes you… body, mind, and soul. Don’t aim for perfect. Aim for “balanced,” and make sure YOU’RE the one to define what that looks like.
So, what’s on your list? How would you complete this sentence?
“I’ll know I’m in a normal, healthy relationship with food when…”
I’d love to hear your responses in the comments! I find it so encouraging when the topic of food struggles can be addressed openly and honestly.
Anyway, I’ll tell you one of the items on MY list. A life in which I am enjoying a balanced relationship with food absolutely HAS TO make room for dessert. Can I get an amen?? And all desserts are not created equal. We know that a piece of dark chocolate every day is good for the heart and may prevent cancer… while a breakfast of three bear claws will probably just make us feel sluggish and a bit sick to our stomachs. So where’s the balance?
Well, I got curious about how other people handle the dessert issue and decided to conduct a very informal poll on my Facebook page. And the majority of respondents said, “I try to keep desserts limited to special occasions, but when I do eat them, I eat the real thing!” (Meaning: no artificial sweeteners, no “low fat” this or “low carb” that. A moderate portion of the full monty.)
I think that’s a great philosophy! Feeling deprived usually just backfires on us, right? So allowing for occasional indulgences is smart… not to mention FUN! It is definitely how I operate in my own life. But (oddly) today I want to share with you a recipe that strays a bit from that philosophy. I love because it satisfies my sweet tooth while also providing me with muscle-building protein and satisfying healthy fats.
This chocolate mousse is rich and indulgent enough to serve as a dessert without making you feel the least bit deprived… but it is healthy enough that I never feel bad eating it for breakfast or a midday snack! It’s one of those precious few recipes that really is the best of both worlds.
Promise me you’ll try it before writing me off as a crazy health nut, ok? I know most people gag just hearing the word tofu, but I promise you, it works here.
And a big thank you to the many brave souls out there who have commented here or on your own blogs, refusing to remain silent about your eating struggles. A tumultuous relationship with food is hard enough without piling loneliness and isolation on top of it! Your stories give other people hope and support!
Here’s the recipe for the chocolate mousse. Hope you enjoy!
- 1 package (14 oz.) tofu (I use “soft” tofu and really liked the finished texture of the mousse. If you cannot find “soft”, then silken or firm will work but do not get “extra firm.”)
- 2 tsp cocoa powder
- 1 tsp pure vanilla or coconut extract
- 2-4 tablespoons milk of choice (omit if using “silken” tofu)
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2-3 tablespoons agave syrup or ¼ tsp stevia, or equivalent amount of other natural sweetener
- 1 bag (12 oz) chocolate chips
- 1 T. Coconut Oil (to melt with chocolate chips)
- Set out your electric mixer/beaters so that they are ready when you need them.
- In a mini food processor, pulse the tofu with the cocoa powder, vanilla, milk, salt, and sweetener until the texture is silky smooth. (Use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides to make sure no lumps remain.)
- In a medium-sized, microwave-safe bowl, combine the chocolate chips and coconut oil. Microwave on high in 25-second increments (stirring well in between heatings, to keep the chocolate from burning) until the chocolate is totally melted.
- Next, scrape the tofu mixture from the food processor into the bowl of melted chocolate and use the electric mixer to beat them together until they are totally combined and the mouse has a smooth, fluffy texture. Use the rubber spatula to scrape down sides and bottom of the bowl, then beat again to fully combine.
- Spoon the mousse into individual cups or ramekins, then refrigerate at least one hour. Mousse lasts well in the refrigerator up to 3 days.
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