Today I sat outside enjoying the beautiful weather during my lunch break, sandwich in hand and feet up, trying to soak in some much-needed sun. As I munched away on what I deemed the best combination of chicken, bread and cheese I had had in a long time, I couldn’t help but condemn myself for not choosing the salad instead. I sat there considering the fat that might be in the sauce and the sodium that was probably in the chicken – I didn’t even want to think about the carbs in the delicious ciabatta.
Soon I began to feel guilty – for eating a sandwich. I know that it’s ridiculous, but I also realized that I’m not alone. Many of us have felt that twinge of regret after eating one too many slices of pizza, a burger that tasted that much better with bacon, or a cupcake drizzled with caramel.
But the question that remains is simple: When it comes to food, is it sometimes healthy to be unhealthy?
Sitting on the couch with my friend Jessica later that day, I watched as she ate nearly an entire loaf of garlic bread. As she brought her conquest to a close, she leaned back, full and ashamed, and swore out loud that she’d never eat again.
I couldn’t help but wonder: What is this love-hate relationship we have with food? Everywhere we go, ads, restaurants and magazines are constantly giving us mixed signals. We are told to eat, then told to diet. Cooking shows glorify butter, salt and sugar, yet the commercials woven in between promote juice cleanses and kale. The media will try to show food as sexy, then turn around a moment after and tell you that if you eat it, you are quite the opposite. Like my friend Jessica, we have all at one point loved the taste of our favorite indulgence and at the same time feared that the next day we would awaken with a gut the size of Texas. But how many times has this sequence of events actually played out? Never.
The morning after devouring that loaf of garlic bread, Jessica did not wake up with a bulging belly. Unsurprisingly, she instead had the motivation to run, and planned to eat a salad for dinner.
We can’t make good decisions in our lives without first knowing what is bad, just as we can’t make healthful eating choices without having the option of indulging our sinful cravings.
When it comes to food, the most important thing is learning a sense of balance. From the start of our childhood, we’re taught to eat our vegetables, but what’s to say that every once in a while they can’t accompany a juicy burger and a chocolate shake? Rather than fall victim to all of the contradictory messages out there for us to absorb, it’s crucial to remember the basics. We need food to nourish our bodies. Doing good things for our physical self is only half of the battle. Enjoying what you eat should not result in negative feelings. Sometimes a little bit of wrong can result in a whole lot of right.
So as the Honey Nut Cheerios Bee once said, “Bee happy, bee healthy.” Our love-hate relationship with food is like any other relationship we have. With the right amount of respect for ourselves, it can be turned into something nourishing and yummy.
Lindsay Ognoskie is an editorial intern at the Town Crier.