Sometimes You Just Need to Eat the Cheesecake…And Other Important Truths About Food

Let’s talk about food.

I know, that’s what we usually do here. But, I don’t mean, let’s talk about creamy plates of butternut squash risotto…

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Or steaming bowls of curried sweet potato soup…

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(Both recipes of mine featured in last month’s issue of The Catholic Digest, by the way.)

Instead, I mean, let’s talk about why we care about butternut squash risotto and get all excited about curried sweet potato soup. Why do we cook? Why do we eat? Why do we spend so much time, money, and energy fretting our little heads about food?

My Facebook feed has the answer. Or, rather, it thinks it does.

We’re currently approaching the high holidays of eating, so almost daily, one friend or another, making an attempt at preventative virtue, posts about their new diet and the philosophy of food behind it: “I eat for energy”; “I’m eating clean”; “I’m eating like a caveman.”

Of course, right alongside those posts, are ads for Godiva chocolate, urging me to “Indulge,” as well as images from food blogs (mine included), which post pictures of tasty treats tantalizing enough to tempt even the strictest of ascetics to break their fast.

My own complicity in this  problem aside, the question remains: Who is right? Do we eat for health? Or do we eat for pleasure? Is it right to eat for nutrition, but wrong to eat for comfort? Is it virtuous to treat food as fuel, but wrong to treat it as a reward.

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Kitchen Rules: 23 Tips for Sane Eating

I love food. I love bacon cheeseburgers, rare. I love brussel sprouts, roasted. And I love pizza…any way you want to serve it up. I also have great affection for white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, pasta aglio e olio, lamb curry, risotto alla crema di scampi, and blackberry cobbler. I love blackberry cobbler

Blackberry Cobbler

I don’t just love food, though. I eat it. Happily. Gladly. Without guilt or regret. I don’t count calories. I don’t watch my fat intake. And I don’t weigh myself the morning after I’ve polished off a piece of pumpkin cheesecake.

If you had told me, 15 years ago, that this kind of freedom was possible, I would have thought you were a raving, mad lunatic. Back then, there was no freedom. Only numbers: numbers on a scale, numbers on nutrition labels, numbers on my clothing tags.

So, what changed?

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