I came home yesterday and wanted bread, cheese, and beer—some comfort food.
Exactly three seconds after I finished the last chew and gulp, I felt the guilt of having carbs and fat. Oh, I see you might be nodding your head.
I realized that this was the daily fare for ancient Egyptians: beer with yummy flatbread and fresh goat cheese. What sounds decadent and guilt-producing for me was just a regular Tuesday for them—and Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
No one sat around saying, “Oh jeez, I already feel bloated from having carbs, what was I thinking? Where is that gluten-free crap I should be eating?” They just walked off in that silly sideways Egyptian walk and watched the sunset over the Sphinx thinking, “That was a good day. More beer tomorrow.”
What if I stopped feeling guilty for things I put in my face and just enjoyed it?
Okay, I get the concept of limiting my food intake, like maybe not having the entire container of ice cream, just one little bowl. What if I could think of the things that I consume as a love story to myself? What if it isn’t the calories that cause bodies to retain fat and water, bloating like the Hindenburg disaster? What if it was the stress, guilt, blame, and shame that cause unhealthiness? What if I could truly eat and drink whatever I wanted and still be healthy if I just filled myself up with love, care, and kindness first?
I’ve heard that in a small Italian village, people live long, healthy, happy lives without medications and issues like high cholesterol, heart disease, allergies, and mental health issues. They eat a lot of pasta, cheese, drink copious amounts of wine, and even smoke cigars. Some exercise, others don’t, but many live far past a hundred.
Maybe the secret is that they’re happy. They take care of each other, they’re tightly connected and supported, and meals for them are a celebration, a ritual, a time to connect, support, b*tch around, and laugh. Oh, and also eat.
I see the phrase “self-care” plastered all over the internet. It seems to mean anything from spending more than you need on a bottle of wine, to getting a manicure, smoking pot, taking a bubble bath, and doing yogic breathing techniques. “Self-care” has become such a ubiquitous, all-encompassing thing. I wonder if it becomes confusing and so it is easily dismissed.
Maybe I need to relax my judgemental inner voice and remember that the first word is “self.” Maybe I should define honestly whether or not what I am about to do—such as having ice cream—is truly self-care or just stress-bombed, self-soothing guilty pleasure—which is ironic, isn’t it?
Can I take just one pause to ask myself a little kindly how I am doing before I get the spoon? Can I take a moment to breathe, sigh, hold my heart, and feel a little care and tenderness, and channel a little Otis Redding, “When she gets weary, try a little tenderness.”
Pretty soon, I am dancing in the kitchen and smiling, and the ice cream is back in the freezer.
I give myself a little heart pat and feel my feelings for a bit. You too, maybe?