I was out at happy hour with some new friends a couple months ago, and I ordered french fries with bacon and a big IPA beer from tap. When my food arrived, I was completely focused on gleefully dipping that first crunchy potato stick in ketchup and then into my mouth.
Oh how I love french fries!
As I continued in my blissful fried noshing, being the energy sensitive that I am, I felt glaring eyeballs digging into me. I looked up and noticed that my three companions were holding their cocktails in silence staring at me with jaws practically dropped. It was like a scene in a sitcom.
"What?! I'm a chick who digs beer and bacon. Doesn't that make me cool?" I joked, as I continued to dip and munch my fries with bacon.
Girl holding raspberry martini says, "Um, aren't you Miss healthy living? Why are you eating fries and worse topped with bacon."
I wasn't quite sure if her tone was judgmental or just confused. No matter, I was in bacon bliss.
The other two nodded in agreement and wonderment as they took sips of their Gin & Tonic, and Chardonnay.
Another asked, "I thought you were vegan. Why are you eating bacon?"
Looking back at the three of them, I took in everything in stride, and remembered that I have never been one to ever follow norms. This is one reason people find my blog and Twitter content interesting.
I explained to them in my most happy self because french fries just make me happy much like chocolate does for many others,
"Yes, I am Miss healthy living and I help inspire people to live healthier lives. However, healthy eating doesn't mean perfect eating. I'm not vegan, but I eat lots of vegan foods because I have a dairy and egg allergy, and vegan recipes are far more creative with the vegetables. I am so done with baby carrots and steamed spinach."
Honestly, one of my pet peeves about diet and wellness books, magazines, and sites is that they sell this notion that to eat healthy means a menu of only things like apples, brown rice, boiled spinach, and steamed chicken. And oh boy, once in a blue moon you get to eat a "free" food like pie or chocolate chip cookies like you've won a prize at the carnival for being "good" with your eating all week.
Living in America surrounded with all this decadence in the land of the food courts, Costco, and drive-thrus not to mention my mom's Filipino cooking, I do not think it is either realistic or doable to eat perfectly healthy all the time without feeling you're living on some program where food is constantly judged to be good or bad.
This mentality is why diets have failed for me every single time...it's about control and deprivation versus the enjoyment of food and how food brings vitality to your life. My psyche goes nutzoid the second I say something is forbidden and I end up wanting those "bad" foods more than ever.
So, I found that what works for me is this 80/20 rule-of-thumb where 80% of the time, I eat vibrant tasty dishes like kale and avocado salad with lemon juice, seared salmon with fresh tarragon, dairy-free rotiserrie chicken salad with mandarin oranges and walnuts, and Quinoa chicken "fried rice."
Then 20% of the time, I eat whatever the hell I want...without any judgements or feelings of guilt. Operating this 80/20 way has helped me keep off 35lbs for the last three years now. I get to stay in my skinny jeans and enjoy food! Most importantly, I no longer live with that anxiety of, "Oh shit! I effed up with my eating because I ate a glazed donut or a fried chimichanga."
Life is too short to not enjoy food, and I've spent way too many years being afraid of food and letting it control my life. Besides, there is a big difference between eating french fries every day and a couple times a month.
So today, as I sit here with you lovely people and eat my french fries with bacon and a frothy IPA, you are witnessing one of my 20% moments...and life is good!"
I also added,
"This morning, I ran 5 miles. So one of my compromises when I know I'm going to have a 20% type meal, I do an extra hard workout that day. It's a trade-off that is easy for me to do."
All three of my new friends nodded their heads as they thought about what I said, and chimed in with their own philosophies in how they maintain give and take with food in their lives.
We continued on with happy hour talking about dating and why reality TV is a sign of the end of times. I thoroughly languished in my fries with bacon.