I had the best idea for dinner last night. I texted my husband at 9:30 a.m., completely aware that he had just finished his breakfast and wasn’t even thinking about lunch yet, not to mention dinner. I wrote, “Vegetarian lasagna?” As soon as I read back, “yes to lasagna,” off I went to Trader Joe’s. Craving only dairy lately, specifically cheese, I bolted straight to the cheese section. Was that water leaking from the ceiling, or was I really drooling?
After examining and deliberating between all six containers of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, I finally chose one. Truthfully, it was solely based on price—the cheapest by $0.19. My desire in life to be the best and get the best remains constant, and in this case, it was to get the best deal.
Then, I moved on the bagged mozzarella cheese bags. That selection was a no brainer. The options consisted of whole milk or low-fat shredded cheese. Duh, that was obvious. I grabbed the low-fat option. But when I moseyed over to the ricotta selection, things got a bit more complicated.
Let me make one thing clear: Since recovering from an eating disorder 13 years ago, I refuse to buy anything fat-free. Except, if it’s nonfat yogurt, or if I approach the area housing ricotta cheese at Trader Joe’s, like I did yesterday, and am presented with only two choices: whole milk, full-fat cheese or fat-free. Without a low-fat option, I had to grab the fat-free.
I am aware that the discrepancy between all these different options is so minimal. I know that if I were to eat whole milk ricotta cheese in my vegetarian lasagna, I would not blow up. But, still, after recovering from an eating disorder, these rules and thoughts continue to circulate in my mind. When I was significantly struggling, my rules were much more strict, rigid, and inflexible. Carbohydrates were a no-no, and cheese was a food I completely omitted from my diet. So today, if I choose a fat-free option or low-fat cheese, I am just proud I am able to eat it and enjoy it without the immense guilt I would have once experienced.
That is, until I served the hot, cheesy covered noodle concoction last night. I started eating and couldn’t stop. This particular issue continues to be my biggest, daily struggle: my inability to control my food consumption and quantities. Because every time I hear the voice in my head yell, “Erin, you should stop,” I have become so unbelievably stubborn that I squash it, and to prove it wrong, I eat double of what I had intended on eating. And, while I realize binging is not a healthy behavior either, I still choose it over starvation and significant food deprivation.
I understand there has to be somewhere in between overindulging and starving myself, but this remains a constant pattern in my life: extremes. I know I need to continue trying to subside these uncontrollable episodes, ones that don’t just manifest in food, but in other facets of my life, too. For example, I constantly have to manage and monitor my exercise habits. I have the propensity to make it excessive and get out of control, which can also be unhealthy.
I am continuously faced with challenges to live a balanced, healthy lifestyle. I strongly believe in “moderation,” but understand that I have tendencies to take things to the extreme based on my history and personality. By coaching and encouraging myself through these moments, I stay motivated to avoid going down that dark path again.
Whether it’s food, money, or exercise, I do my best to stay level, enjoy the things I enjoy, but in a moderate way. So, for now, my heart will continue to melt for the smell and taste of fresh, baked homemade vegetarian lasagna, just like the cheese did that was smothered all over the noodles.