My bike commute was one of the first to go. I’m hardcore(ish), but I take no risks with my fingers and toes on -40 degree windchill days. I still squeeze in my fair share of gym time, but when I’m less active, I eat don’t eat as well. As a result, I’ve been struggling with my nutrition this winter. There’s not much to do other than eat everything in the house when I’m cooped up.
And so the inevitable sluggishness that comes with eating a bunch of garbage hit. I didn’t feel great. I vowed to get back on track.
I started packing more salads for lunch and (sometimes) passing on the sweets that float around the office. I brought back breakfast protein shakes and planned to do a few cleanse days using Isagenix products.
Then — in the midst of my health kick — I decided to give this whole healthy eating thing the big middle finger.
It wasn’t because I was too lazy to plan out healthy meals. It wasn’t because I had no self control to resist temptation. It wasn’t because I was snowed in and I has to scavenge my freezer for food (though that could have been it!)
It was because I sat down to meals with people I cared about, and I felt like I would have ruined the experience of dining together if I stuck to lettuce leaves and chicken broth. I wanted to fully enjoy these meals while spending time with my friends and family rather than worrying about my calorie count that day on MyFitnessPal.
The first meal was with my mom. We ate an impromptu lunch at a French bistro. The restaurant was kitschy and fun with Paris decor and details — even the coasters were Eiffel Tower themed. Sure, the menu offered salads, but why waste the opportunity for a hearty bowl of covered-in-cheese French Onion soup and a buttery crêpe? I can still taste it! It was a memorable meal with just my mom and me, and I don’t regret one bite.
My family also has an annual tradition of baking macarons the weekend before Valentine’s Day. Since it’s a bit of a long process and we usually make several varieties, we also have tons of snacks to munch on throughout the day. While my contribution to the snack table was a tray of veggies, who could resist the awesome cheese ball caterpillar my mom made? I wasn’t about to turn my back to that. And of course, I needed to taste every single delicious flavor of macaron we made (for the record, we nailed the lemon and red velvet macarons.)
Lastly, a friend hosted a vegetarian potluck. Yes, vegetables were a focus, but cheese, pasta, and baked goods were of equal importance. Take my dish, for example: spinach pinwheels, which contain whole lotta cheese and puff pastry and just a little bit of spinach. Since everyone brought a different dish, I wanted to try everything, no matter how bad for me or good for me it was. I felt way too full at the end of the meal, but once again, I didn’t regret overeating.
There are lots of reasons we don’t always make the healthiest of decisions. I’ll admit that I have succumbed to eating what I shouldn’t at times because of boredom, laziness, or lack of willpower. And usually that leads to feeling guilty.
But at other times, food is an integral part of bringing people together. Turning your back on the unhealthy stuff wouldn’t just be rude — it just wouldn’t be fun. In my opinion, these are the times when the calorie counting app needs to go out the window. Instead, I prefer to focus my attention on enjoying meals with the people I care about. Those meals are more important to me than fitting into my skinny jeans this week.
Betsy Mikel | betsymikel.com