When I was younger, I always used to get frustrated with my dad for not wanting to try anything new. Every morning he’d leave the house with his freshly mixed instant coffee and banana, order a big salad at the same cafeteria and come home to a quick snack of Doritos and hot sauce, to be followed by a baked potato zapped in the microwave.
As I started to express interest in the kitchen, I began making family dinners and sometimes even packing to-go lunches for mom to take to work. My dad took notice of my new ambitions. Although he was supportive, he refused to part with his routine ways. Me, somebody who was always excited to explore new foods, dishes and restaurants, could not understand how somebody could be so rigid in his diet, and general routine.
Fast forward to today after I have done a lot of tasting, trying and laboring over a hot stove, and I find myself with similar tendencies to my father. Although much more adventurous than him in my dining out experiences, I too have a very rigid eating routine.
I wake up to half an orange, followed by quick cooking steel cut oatmeal with almond milk, chia seeds and fish oil. Pack a Ziplock of dry roasted, unsalted almonds + 1 ginger chew. Place it alongside the veggie packed salad I made the night before, an apple, a Greek yogurt and a gluten-free granola bar. After a day of noshing on my healthy yet satisfying snacks, I come home to whip up a dinner of either grilled chicken and steamed veggies or grilled fish and steamed veggies (or a frozen black bean burger if I am in a rush).
Very rarely do I ever stray from this routine. Maybe because, over time, I have found the foods, and combinations of food, that make me feel good. My guess is that is why my dad ate the way he did. It’s easy to get stuck in a routine. It’s a little intimidating to stick something new in your body during your work day when you need to feel your best.
Every once in a while, however, I ask myself if my healthy routine is not necessarily ideal for my health. I am so stuck in my ways, that if I were to forget my bad of almonds one day (this happened recently), I get incredibly anxious. Will I be okay without my crunchy mid-morning protein-packed snack? There can’t possibly be something better than unsalted almonds to carry me through to lunch. I MUST find some.
You see? Not so sane sounding.
With healthy eaters, there is one downfall. Once you eat healthy, it is very difficult to accept an unhealthy or alternative option at any point in time. It’s not organic? It’s covered in cheese flavoring? It’s from McDonalds? Oh no, I’ll just starve instead.
There is, in fact, a condition called Orthorexia. It is defined as a proposed eating disorder or mental disorder characterized by an extreme or excessive preoccupation with avoiding foods perceived to be unhealthful. I first discovered it watching MTV in this True Life: I have Orthorexia Video. Time magazine has also written about the topic.
These stories really did open my eyes to the realities of obsessing about health. I eat healthy so that I can feel good in my body. If I leave my healthy ways, if only for a minute, and I feel anxious and uncomfortable, then I am no longer accomplishing my goal.
I have now, and plan to always be, a healthy eater. But it is really easy to get stuck in a rut with your health once you’ve perfected it. I never want to stop pushing the boundaries on what tastes and flavors are out there for me. And it wouldn’t hurt to indulge now and again.
Lesson of the day: everything in moderation, and every once in a while, a cherry on top.
RECIPE ON MY MIND
Nothing says indulgence to me like peanut butter does. But a peanut butter blondie? Okay, I’ve died and gone to heaven. With that said, you will be pleasantly surprised by the health factor in these beauties. The secret? Garbanzo beans!
- Cooking Spray
- 1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup all natural almond butter or peanut butter
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup or agave nectar (you can also use honey if you’re not vegan)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/3 cup vegan (or regular) chocolate chips plus 2 tablespoons
- sea salt, for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and spray 8×8 inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a food processor, add all ingredients except chocolate chips and process until batter is smooth. Fold in 1/3 cup of chocolate chips, I like to use dark chocolate because it has less sugar but it’s up to you. Note: Batter will be thick and super delicious, so you could actually just eat it on it’s own!
- Spread batter evenly in prepared pan then sprinkle 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips on top. (The batter may stick to your spatula, so I like to spray my spatula with nonstick cooking spray first.) Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean and edges are a tiny bit brown. The batter may look underdone, but you don’t want them to dry out!
- Cool pan for 20 minutes on wire rack. Sprinkle with sea salt then cut into squares. Makes 16 blondies.