When I had my first daughter, I wanted to make sure she was fed well. When she started eating solids, I pureed sweet potatoes, peas, chicken, and blueberries and froze them into little ice cubes to thaw when she needed a snack. Sometimes I fed her those baby crackers, but most of the time I fed her the real stuff because I took so much joy in watching her eat food that was good for her.
It was an interesting experience, since I had always seen my own eating as a fearful battle. Eating healthy was something I thought I “had” to do to be thin- a list of obligations and trade-offs that I made because I feared staying fat. Yet when I fed my kid amazing food, I never once worried that she might get fat and she seemed to actually enjoy it. That was when a light bulb went off for me: THIS IS THE WAY HEALTHY PEOPLE THINK ABOUT FOOD.
For years, I’d been bitterly make myself eat salad instead of eating what I really wanted. I’d skip a night of drinking and feel upset that I wasn’t having fun with my friends because I needed to lose weight. If I didn’t limit my intake of sugar, I’d feel guilty because that was a sign that I deserved to be fat forever. I thought I enjoyed the feeling of being stuffed, even though I often had to take deep breaths after meals because I was so full that it was literally hard to breathe.
Why were those the things I didn’t want to let go of when I thought about lifestyle change? I was always looking for a quick fix so I wouldn't have to make all those trade-offs. It turns out, I didn’t love compulsively eating chips, drinking alcohol all the time, or feeling guilty or stuffed. I just didn't realize it until that day when I knew what it felt like to joyfully take care of something precious to me.
People ask me all the time what made me permanently lose weight after battling with it for most of my life. It was that "light bulb" moment as I joyfully watched my tiny baby spoon sweet potatoes into her mouth. And I've chosen to joyfully take care of my own body ever since.