This new year, I’m going to try something truly radical in my approach to eating, something completely new, something totally for-me revolutionary. Wanna know what it is? Are you ready? It’s pretty extreme. Can you handle it?
I’m not doing a cleanse, not doing a detox, not doing a new diet, a new diet-disguised-as-lifestyle. I’m not starting a new plan, regimen, or routine. I’m far from the first person to eschew the New Year’s Resolution bandwagon, so don’t think I’m positing that this is wholly original or groundbreaking – but here’s the thing: to me? It is. Not just on a January 1st, but at literally any time.
It dawned on me recently that since I was 14 years old there has never been a time that my eating choices have not been defined by restriction. Never. That adds up to thirty-two years, folks. From New Year’s Day in 1986, when I committed to 600 calories a day and plunged rapidly into a whole kaleidoscope of disordered eating, then cycling through food combining plans, vegetarianism, low-carb diets, all manner of calorie restriction and later ‘clean eating,’ I have always been on one regimen or another.
This doesn’t mean I have always been compliant with whatever self-imposed regimen I was on, mind you – I can imagine friends and family reading this with serious (and justified) side-eye, having witnessed me chowing down on all manner of decadence. But that’s just it: I am always either On Plan or Off Plan. Falling off the wagon, getting back on, off-track, on-track, round and round. Even during pregnancy, I deliberately ‘listened to my body’ and gave in to all kinds of cravings, but knew all the while that this was a temporary get-out-of-food-jail-free card, and that all too soon I, like all postpartum people in our culture, would be tasked with “getting my body back,” as soon as possible please.
I’m 46. I no longer have the excuse/requirement of being onstage as a dancer to justify my dining strategy du jour. I have a daughter who looks up to me, who deserves to enjoy food, to love her body and to have someone actually model this for her. I have, hopefully, at least a few decades left to experience life here. It’s time to be done with this bullshit.
So the new challenge is to go regimen-free. Can I hashtag that? To learn to enjoy nourishing myself without caveats and qualifications. To finally LOVE food the way I’ve always wanted to, the way I’ve envied others being able to, not holding it at arm’s length and defining various categories as forbidden and weighing it all down with decades of guilt and shame.
#regimenfree. Let’s see what that life is like.