I was going to write to tell you about the evils of artificial sweeteners. But then something happened. I had the most pleasurable eating experiences that had nothing to do with the quality of the food. And, I thought, pleasure. Eating for pleasure, is what I really wanted to tell you about.
Two things happened. First, I gave my niece Abs our first giant slice of watermelon this summer. Look at her! Delight. Watermelon juice dribbled down her chin, into those neck rolls and all over her shirt while she giggled. That is pleasure. She is 2. She did not ask if it had too much sugar. She did not calculate if she had already eaten her servings of fruit for the day or if this fit into her diet plan. Ok, so she might have questioned why I gave her a piece as large as her face. But, at no point did she question its nutritional value. Abs just ate the melon and loved it.
Second thing was Soph’s field day at school. She was very excited as I would be manning the bounce house slide. Me too! She was also psyched that I would eat lunch with her. Every day she told me about what we were having. “Mommy, you’re going to eat peanut butter and jelly! But it’s not like your sam-iches. It has No crusts! Big blobs of jelly!”
My not-peanut butter sandwiches are made on homemade whole grain bread with almond butter because my favorite peanut butter no longer agrees with me. That is topped with some kind of usually homemade apple butter or all fruit spread. No sugar anywhere. Nothing artificial.
Dan and Soph ask for real PB&J. That means sugar-ed up JIF, whatever jelly is on sale, on what Dan calls “crappy white bread.”
When was the last time I ate a real PB&J? What gets in the way of me eating one?
Field day came. Soph and I were sitting on our picnic blankets with silly friends when the brown bags were handed out. “Sophie’s Mom” marked mine. Inside were two Uncrustables. Uncrustables are round pocket sandwiches stuffed with sugared-up Jif-like peanut butter and a big blob of purplish jelly. I’ll admit, I had a moment of “not my usual lunch.” But, Soph was sooooo excited. “Mommy, you’re going to love this sam-ich.”
Not because it tasted so good. I loved it because Sophie was so happy that we were having lunch together at her school. She loved that we were with her friends, sitting outside on picnic blankets, and had just finished up the bounce house.
People who know me well, know that Uncrustables are not a staple in my diet. But I have no doubt that the pleasure derived from eating slowly, enjoying time with friends, and seeing my girl so happy made that grab-and-go pocket of artificial flavors serve my body well. I truly believe there were no ill effects. My nutrition certifications and degrees tell me that everything we eat goes into making things in our cells.
I think this sandwich contributed to the happiness factor in my cells.
When was the last time you ate simply for pleasure? I’m not talking about eating a whole bag of peanut butter cups or scraping the bottom of the Ben and Jerry’s. Overeating is not pleasurable. I’m talking about a real food experience.
If it’s been a while, sit down with some kids. Watch watermelon dribble down their chins. Watch jelly blobs fall on the grass. Giggle. Slow down. Enjoy. I promise the pleasure of your experience will make the food serve you well.