But I Deserve That Brownie!
Have you ever declared something like this, often with righteous indignation or rebellion?
It might show up when you’ve had a long day, been especially stressed-out or even after an argument with someone. We also feel that way when we have denied ourselves of these culinary treasures for too long and you start to feel resentful of the forced ingestion of raw celery and plain, “clean” protein.
Because as a food culture we have such conflicted and mixed emotions about pleasure with food and with morality over food, when we finally give in and do partake in the “forbidden foods”, it’s often fraught with guilt, fear and worry which can short circuit or diminish the delight in eating that food in the first place, which actually changes how we digest and assimilate those foods and how it affects our bodies.
Quite a conundrum.
But when we talk about the word deserve, what it really implies is an entitlement to something that we feel is rightfully ours yet has been cruelly taken away either internally (self-proscribed food restriction) or externally (dieting culture). It begs the question whether we deserve and are entitled to pleasure and comfort, which can be the subtext underneath this proclamation.
The answer to this is a resounding YES!
But, it’s not for the reasons you think. You see, WE are the ones have internalized the idea that certain foods are good and others are bad; that some are socially acceptable and show that you are working hard towards health and others are circumspect because of its questionable nutrition and potential consequences on our bodies.
The reality is that we have sovereignty over our own bodies and choices. Only we can determine what we deem acceptable for our own bodies and only we can know which foods delight and which cause harm. The problem is that we too often listen to other people to make those determinations for us and then are left with shame and worry if/when we don’t completely comply with those arbitrary norms or the diet trend du jour.
So, when you’ve been desperately trying not to have that delicious brownie that makes you happy and does the job comforting you, AND you deal with some sort of major stressor or emotional threat or are completely overwhelmed, we do feel a sense of entitlement to be comforted – and that often shows up with food as the panacea. Of course we know that this comfort is only short-lived and the angst that follows can be even worse than the restriction itself.
You deserve to eat in a way that feels right to you
You deserve to have agency over your body and your food choices
You deserve not to be shamed by you or anyone else for those choices
You deserve to find alternatives to comfort and assuage your complicated emotions that don’t include food at all.
Hardly anyone in our culture gives you permission or tools to do this. So we revert back to what we’ve always done and the vicious cycle continues. Let me be the one to give you permission to have absolutely everything you want and desire. Let me give you permission to experience true pleasure with food, even those foods with little to no nutritional value. Let me help you find concrete tools and strategies to help create a relaxation response in your body, which in turn, will give you even more efficacy over those choices.
Here are some starting tools for you:
Take 3-5 deep breathes before deciding what to eat and when.
Tune into and isolate the driving emotion causing you to believe you deserve that brownie right now
What is at the root of it? Boredom? Stress, existential angst, overwhelm?
Give yourself a time-out for 10 minutes to ground yourself and open up other possibilities to comfort and relax you.
Make a decision from that place and honor whatever the outcome.
You have permission to eat that brownie, whenever you feel that it serves you. But, you also deserve to be happy and at peace.
Believe it or not, you can have both.
Curious to know how to start?