After the base salad comes the fun part! Why is it fun? Because I’m going to encourage you to put whatever it takes on your salad to make it appealing to you.
Without cautionary admonishment regarding fat, calories, carbs, etc. Yeah. I’m a rebel. Truthfully, my reasoning here swings past my rebellious nature, rounds the bases of my nutritional education, and slides me in at the home plate of life experience, having shown me that people are more likely to begin when they’ve found an IN. *put a pin in that philosophy for now. We’ll be circling back in upcoming posts.*
You’re not stupid and you’re not a child. There’s nothing I can say here about less nutritive types of salad dressings, meats, cheeses, croutons, etc… that you don’t already know.
Being influenced by what’s been deemed as “right or wrong” doesn’t necessarily serve many of us in an optimal way, and that’s why it’s imperative to find your OWN way; methods that serve your own unique needs and objective.
I see it like this: if a person isn’t currently eating any raw vegetables because the type of salad made in a way that’s actually desirable to them “isn’t healthy enough”, why not set aside the conditioned thought of what’s “bad” on their salad for now and focus instead on the objective: familiarization with eating vegetables.
If the only thing stopping someone from eating an assortment of vegetables is a handful of croutons and a dollop of blue cheese or ranch dressing on the side, who’s to decide that’s “wrong” if they’re meeting a larger objective?
Perceiving food neither as good or bad, but instead powerful, is essential in learning how to eat.
Understanding this connection was critical in my recovery from years of disordered eating. As a bulimic, I was either fasting or feasting. What I wasn’t doing was fueling. Like so many others, I’d fallen prey to the dieter’s mentality of food being good or bad and had forgotten how to eat. Re-learning this skill would be a process.
In order to learn, I had to unlearn. In order to unlearn, I would have to let go.
Of the weighing, self-hatred and subsequent abuse of self. Of dieting. Of my fear of food- and the unconscious distorted beliefs I’d been operating under regarding both it’s scarcity and overabundance.
I let myself BE.
Put that way, it makes it sound as though I just seamlessly decided to change and did it. Don’t be misled. Everything seems as though it was easier once you’ve accomplished it and you speak of it later. It wasn’t. Unlearning and rerouting takes time and it’s never just “done”. But for once, when my impatient, “I need this to have happened yesterday“ self was told to slow my speedy ass down and forget about time I listened.
I was told to forget about my perceived shortcomings and practice unconditional forgiveness and acceptance of self. This is no once and done and I’ve yet to master it. Can it even BE mastered? Your guess is as good as mine. But I worked on it. I continue to work on it.
And every day on my work lunch break I began to eat a salad that I actually enjoyed. Was it a “healthy” salad by nutritional standards? Nope. I still remember it. Wendy’s salad bar salad to which I added cubed ham bits, shredded carrots, green peas, blue cheese dressing, sunflower seeds, and croutons. Every day I looked forward to that salad and I enjoyed it. In the beginning I had to work hard to resist the urge to purge when the panic would override my enjoyment of this “fatty, unhealthy” lunch, but I powered through my habituated urges and each day it became a little easier than the day before. Until one day I realized I could trust myself again.
I didn’t have to gorge until I made myself sick out of fear that I’d deny myself in ensuing days. I could have whatever I wanted. And because I could, nothing was forbidden. You know what eventually happens when nothing is forbidden? The panic that you’re not going to get what you want is a thing of the past. Time is non-existent and there’s plenty. And when you’re assured within that there IS plenty and there will always BE plenty, you find peace. And once you’ve found peace, your body begins to heal and take over. And you begin to realize true hunger and learn to ascertain whether what you’re hungering for is actually something that food can’t provide.
As my clothes got looser, I realized that the 30+ pounds I’d gained during my bulimic period were essentially melting off me. People would ask me what kind of diet I was on and were fascinated but skeptical when I’d tell them that it was the opposite- I’d stopped dieting so that I could learn how to eat and in learning how to eat, I began to learn how to live.
So while my rebel salad philosophy may at first seem controversial, when you dig a little deeper you’ll see that it’s not. That dressing laden, croutoned, cheesy, meated monstrosity of a salad is a sacred part of my history. It’s where I began. But my nutritional requirements and understanding didn’t stay there and it doesn’t end there.
Find your in and just begin without worrying about what comes next. You’ll know what to do when you get there. Trust yourself.
p.s. Hey, I shorted you on the list of salad add-in ideas! Look for them in the next post.
What goes best with a Rebel Salad? You guessed it!
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