Today, I went with my mom to the grocery store. A relatively mundane task, as most tasks tend to be. My mom wanted more salad dressing. There was some stuff on sale, and I was browsing while my mom made up her mind. Then I saw it: Creamy Garlic Ranch.
I tossed it into the cart.
(My mom is so freaking happy I'm eating I think she might spring for caviar and champagne if I'd asked. Fortunately for her, I like neither of those and am content scarfing down ice cream sandwiches).
I realized, in the microseconds between when the dressing left my hand and when it went ker-thunk in the cart, that holy leaping lizards, Scooby! I didn't check the calorie/fat content before I selected it.
I didn't want to jinx myself and mention it to my mom, so I didn't. Yes, Mom, this blog counts as the mention.
So of course this thought occurs to me, and my mom still hasn't finished selecting from the astonishing wide array of salad dressings. I look at the varieties: organic, low cal, low carb, low fat, no fat, low sodium, etc, etc. I love different flavors of salad dressings because they make good dips and/or good marinades for chicken. Gimme a bottle of dressing and some chicken breasts, and dinner will be on the table in about 30 minutes (though a marinating time of several hours is optimum. Yeah right- like I have time for that.)
The question I'm wondering is this: how many of us buy "regular" anything anymore? Even marshmallows are advertised as "fat free." Which they are, but only because they're basically um, sugar, and more sugar. Companies want to make more and more low fat and low cal foods. And I understand the consumer pressure because of the (in my opinion) almost totally manufactured dangers of the "obesity epidemic." Yet if you read the ingredients, they replace naturally occurring fats and sugars with chemicals. Ick. Give me the real thing any day.
Somehow you're a glutton if you don't choose the "low fat" product. At least that's how I used to judge myself. Ed's rule was: thou shalt order the lowest calorie and/or lowest fat version of any product out there. Why buy full fat sour cream when you could get low fat? Or fat free?
My body needs fat. Fat can taste good. And it's just a bunch of hydrogens, carbons, and oxygens.
I still have a hard time with this subject. When I realized that I had picked the "regular" salad dressing and saw the low fat options, I wanted to yank it out and put one of those into the cart. What's the difference? And maybe to someone without an eating disorder, it wouldn't be a whole lot of difference. Some people might not even know. I might not have known, based purely on taste. Then again, I might have.
It's not even so much about the specific fat content. It's about breaking free from rigid rules and regulations. It's about honoring what I want. It's about letting myself want, period. When anorexia and OCD, you don't have wants. You have rules. It's easy (in a sense) and it's secure. I don't have to think, I just act.
I developed these rituals to help soothe the anxiety that was within me, formed by my brain's crossed and frayed wires. An imbalance of neurochemicals that sizzled and frothed. So what really blows my mind (no pun intended) is that I feel less anxious when I let go of those rules. I am trying to accept that I will be anxious and no, it won't kill me and yes, it will be easier in the long run if I don't listen to the nasty little beast in my head who tells me to wash or restrict or exercise or arrange things.
That is the moral of the story. Ranch dressing isn't just ranch. It's a symbol of freedom. From anorexia. From OCD. From the mental illnesses that imprisoned me for so many years.