On cutting out food groups

On cutting out food groups

Today, a friend announced to me that she wasn’t eating sugar for the next two weeks, and it was so hard to find anything to eat because everything had sugar.

“I’m dreaming of cookies,” she said.

A few weeks ago, my mother told me that she was going to give up carbs.

“A lot of my friends have lost weight on it.” 

I don’t know why both of these things make me feel so uncomfortable. is it because I enjoy my morning carb-and-sugar-loaded muffin and I am loathe to give it up? Is it because I am weak?

I mean it’s probably at least partially because I am weak. I don’t think I’d be happy cutting out a food group from my life like that, calling it “bad” or “evil”. I don’t apologize for the way I eat. Though I try to get in vitamins, nutrients and protein, if there are days when I eat a lot of junk, I don’t beat myself up for it. If my carb and sugar filled muffin can get me through the day with the right amount of calories, I don’t sweat it.

I also fully appreciate that it might not be the best thing for my health. I would like to eat fancy healthy breakfasts with only egg and vegetables but they’re not in my means or control right now. (I’m restricted a bit by what the mess prepares and what is available around, and I don’t have the time or resources to cook at this point in my life). I know, however, that eating too many carbs and too much sugar and not enough protein, vitamins and minerals will not be good for my health in the long run. (Though, given the backtracking between “fat is evil” and “carbohydrates are evil” that the weight loss industry has done, I’m not sure any food groups are massively terrible for me in moderation).

But will restriction?

For a short point in college I struggled with the idea of restriction. The idea that if I ate only raw food, then everything would be fine, that my life would fall into place. Looking back on it I can imagine it being a sort of eating disorder. And it came with the “cheat days” – sundays where I would eat mountain loads of the crappy food I denied myself on every other day. In retrospect, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to deem those binges. That food became so coveted that it was very difficult to focus on anything else. The snacking on those days was mechanical, and I’m not even sure I enjoyed it much.

Nowadays, I eat a little snack every day. Whatever I’m feeling like. Chips. Chocolate. Noodles. Muffins. Juice. Coffee. I also eat fruits and rice, dal and raita, bhel and nuts. I’ll admit to you that I probably don’t eat very healthy, though not much unhealthier than most college students.  I track everything I eat and drink. I’ve found that a lot of things have lost their coveted status. I don’t want to eat chocolate, or chips. Especially not if that sets me back another 300 calories or something. I pick the lower calorie, smaller serving sizes. I don’t eat the whole thing. I make creative meals with crackers and cheese and milk. I eat a couple of squares of chocolate if I don’t want the whole thing. I eat the whole thing if I want the whole thing. I don’t order pizza just because there’s an offer because I know it’ll ruin my week and I’ve already gone above once this week.

There’s no all or nothing. There is tomorrow. There is plenty.

And I’m not living for the next cookie.

Am I right? I suppose only time will tell. But at least, thank god, I’m not constantly talking about it. (I never want to be one of those diet people. This blog is enough.)

Dear Heartbreaking Boy

Dear Heartbreaking Boy

Warning: If you’re going to be bored by my talking about heartbreak and moving on, please don’t read ahead.

Quote by Cheryl Strayed, who has taught me everything I care to know about love.

Dear A,

Today I tried to imagine meeting you after a few years. I would be awesome, obviously – successful, happy, and with someone else (duh). I’m patting myself on the back because even in my petty revenge day dream, you weren’t sad or heartbroken.

In my head, I never wanted you to be sad. I privileged your happiness in exclusion of my own – when you said something I found hurtful, I bit my tongue rather than lash out at you. When you never showed up, I made excuses for you to myself, to my parents, to my friends. When it was easy to leave, I chose (for once!) to be the girl who stayed.

So you left.

I don’t blame you. Of course you had to privilege your mental health over mine. I blame you (a little) because I never could. But I can’t forgive you. I can’t forgive you for the sake of that hopeful girl inside me who thought that this might work out. I can’t forgive you because you don’t feel the need to say hi to me and check on whether I’m okay but I do. I can’t forgive you for being the first to leave. I can’t forgive you for the panic attacks, for the feeling of hopelessness, like you were my last shot at happiness.

I know, of course, that this isn’t true. I’m 21. My future stretches forward like a sunny path, my imagination has no trouble making up a mystery person who will fill my life with love and happiness. Even without him, I have more than enough friends and family and work to not have the time or inclination to sit and cry about you. Enough has happened in the past month to wipe the taste of you from my mouth.

Still, on days like this I do wonder why I wasn’t enough. What did I do wrong? What is so unlovable about me? Should I have pushed less, should I have shaved my legs, lost some weight, been less cheesy?

On days like this I have to ask myself how I’d feel if my mother or my future daughter knew that I was thinking this. Would I want my future children to think this way? Of course I’d want them to learn from failed relationships (not just romantic) to be better, kinder, bigger people. But I also want to them to learn who they are. To know what core of themselves they will value more than love – even mine. And I’d want them to fight for that core – even against me. Fighting for personhood is a constant battle of attrition in this crazy world, and I can’t bear the thought of them losing it.

And therefore I can’t afford to lose it. Not even for you, my love. Especially not to love, which is supposed to make you more of a person, not less.

And yet, I feel the tinge of loneliness. The fear of never finding someone special, someone to be mine. (I don’t claim possession, just preemption.)

Be worthy love, and love will come.

I love this line from Good Wives. But for the longest time I thought being worthy meant to be more like someone else – more pretty, more thin, more intelligent, more vivacious, more helpful, more resourceful. Without any blame, I recognize that these are things I learnt from my parents. I’ve grown out of this. These days, I believe worthiness has to come from within – by being more secure, by being more happy, by having a life and hobbies of your own, by being you. 

This, too: that my partner will have to prove his or her willingness, ability and suitableness to love me as much as I will have to prove my willingness, ability and suitableness to be loved.

So dear A, perhaps I was not the right person to love you. Perhaps you were not the right person to love me. Perhaps we were the right people at the wrong time or the right people for a short fated duration of time. It doesn’t matter. I forgive you because I must forgive you in order to forgive myself. I have to forgive myself because I have a long life to live that cannot constantly be tinged by what ifs and maybe I should’ve. I have to forgive you because I have to be myself. 

I hope we do meet in a few years, A. I hope we’re both happy and successful and with other people who adore us and are right for us. I hope the music is loud and the food is good. I hope we don’t linger.