Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year, New Food Attitude

This holiday season I took a much needed break from blogging and thought long and hard about what I wanted to do this year with my food goals. My mind went from one spectrum to the other, simple to gourmet, complicated to microwaveable. I even contemplated posting about dinners in 3 minutes or less, but really, who wants to write about drive-thru food? Anyway, the conclusion I came to was this: food comes, and food goes, and you just have to be along for the ride.

When I struggled through those first eight weeks of learning a new diet and a new way of eating, I was pretty stressed out. I obsessed over every ingredient, becoming a gluten ascetic and denying myself any questionable ingredient without doing any kind of research on it. I cooked the same five things over and over. And when I found a new ingredient, I welcomed it into my OCD world by eating it ad nauseum simply because I was so thrilled to find a safe food. I lived a long time like this, thinking I was the queen of gluten free because I was the queen of denial. "Never again will I eat french toast!" I muttered. "Chewing gum is bad for me!" I cried. "I must find special vitamins!" I bellowed. But living that way is not fun and it is definitely not realistic.

Don't get me wrong. I am in no way telling people to go ahead and eat a little gluten. No sir. If that's the one thing I learned from my years of restricted thinking, it's that you HAVE to be vigilant with your ingredients. However, my attitude towards food is completely different now than it was seven and a half years ago. Now, instead of pining away for a recipe that I can't eat anymore, I jump into the kitchen and experiment, not afraid of bad results. And there have been plenty of bad results, believe me. I have also had plenty of successes. And life is good. I have learned that you have to try the bad to find the good and never give up on finding that substitute for a long lost ingredient you used to love and crave. And sometimes, I have found things I like better than the original, believe it or not.

I'm still trying to make the perfect meat loaf, and I really struggle with homemade rolls, but I'll get there. It's one step at a time, one day at a time, and don't worry about the rest. Reaching and learning and growing and questioning are the only way to really feel confident and comfortable with this food life we have to lead. And the only way I'm going to get there is to be in that kitchen, playing mad scientist and willing myself to be brave with flours from new grains, new spice combinations and different recipes to try. The more I do it, the easier it gets. So my challenge to you this year? Cook more. Try more. Be willing to fail in your kitchen. And don't forget to leave a comment for everyone else so we can learn from each other's successes and failures. Because really, you can't have one without the other, can you?

Happy eating!

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