At the Culinary Institute of America the motto is “Food is Life.” I admit it is a pretty great motto. Scents of cloves, cinnamon and ginger dance through my holiday dreams. My family passes heirloom recipes through generations, traditions of festive family feasts shared on joyous occasions. We celebrate with food, share while mourning, surprise each other with new delicacies and challenge each other to achieve new culinary heights. Food really has played a central role in every part of my life. I love it and live it.
My grandma always had fresh-baked cookies in the tin for dessert to follow the homemade soup softly bubbling on the back of the stove. Food was comfort and family and home. My dad had cocktail parties, elegant affairs where my mother would prepare appetizers for an upscale crowd. Nothing cheered us up more than a special snack to make us forget the hardships of the day. There really is a recipe suitable for every occasion.
Unfortunately I found a lot of occasions. My body wishes I had less to celebrate. After years of indulging it begs me for a healthier obsession. Exercise has been suggested as an alternative. Housecleaning, bookwork, yard work, and art projects are all things I can do instead of feeding my face. I am working on it, taking steps to limit sweet treats and carbohydrates and add more fruits and vegetables. I am adding exercise and tackling neglected projects.
As a special gift a friend brought me a small sugar free pound cake. I have given up sugar in my daily diet, so this was a super treat. I had a little slice and put it aside, wanting to savor that feeling of indulgence that I have recently been denying myself. I waited a few days until I tackled a particularly unpleasant chore. I was proud of myself for getting the dreaded deed done. I decided that this was the moment. Reward time. I had earned another slice of that impossibly good, rich yellow carbohydrate.
Imagine my surprise when I realized that the cake was gone, finished by my sneaky little cocker spaniel when I was not looking. It was a crushing blow. I was denied the sensual pleasure of ingesting every last calorie guilt-free. I could lie and say that it was no big deal, pretend that I was not totally disappointed. I could focus on the positive and remind myself that I certainly didn’t need that cake and that the dog in his way actually did me a favor.
I am honest. I was mad. I have since recovered myself and munched on some salad, trying not to glower between lettuce leaves. There will be other treats on other days. I will keep working on getting my body to a healthier state when I can pursue a guilty pleasure now and then. My brother would tell me that I should eat to live and not the other way around. But no matter how thin I get, I know this one indisputable fact: for me food is life, and there is no point in denying it.