Why We Keep Breaking the Food Rules
A few days ago, my young daughter had her customary scoop of speckled vanilla bean ice cream for dessert, cleared her plate, and asked me if she could also have some chocolate chips. I said, “We already had dessert, sweetie. We can have chocolate chips tomorrow.” She pulled an aw man face and began to turn away — but before she did, I realized I wanted a few chocolate chips, too. I said, “Wait. Actually, chocolate chips sound good.”
She watched me open the cabinet and reach for the glass jar, her eyes wide, a grin spreading on her face. I unscrewed the lid and shook a few into my hand, and a few into her hand, and we tossed them back, chewing sumptuously. She said, “Can I have more?” I said, “No, that was enough, I think.” She began to turn away — but before she did, I realized I wanted more, too. I said, “Actually, yes, let’s have more.” I was laughing, and she was laughing. I unscrewed the jar and shook a few into my hand, and a few into her hand, and we tossed them back, both of us surprised and delighted.
We ate the chocolate, sweet and dark and silky. And I decided to expand the moment’s plentitude. My daughter watched me put the jar away…pause theatrically…and pull it back out, saying, “I think just a few more, for good measure…” Her face! I wish you could have seen it. Lit from within, her freckled cheeks shining, her eyes sparkling and with a gleeful disbelief, head thrown back with laughter. I unscrewed the jar and shook a few into my hand, and a few into her hand, and we tossed them back.
In one way, this was pure fun. In another way, it was political. I not only wanted a few (more) chocolate chips myself, I wanted to acknowledge the presence of her appetite, and mine, with levity and acceptance — even joy. I wanted to take a moment that often floods us with a false sense of our wrongness, with unnecessary embarrassment — wanting or going back for just one more bite, experiencing our willpower “falter” — and rebuild it as a moment of humor and humanity. I wanted to do this for my daughter.
Since she was born, I have gone out of my way to treat all foods as neutral, to model all food as potential sources of pleasure and nourishment (physical and/or emotional), to speak well and never poorly of…