As I sit here writing this, I’m in France.
Catching a little lull in between the miles and miles traipsed around town and our late night dinner plans.
Being here, I can’t help but think about my time here in Rome, almost 9 years ago now.
It inevitably makes me think about how different I was back then.
Mostly, with the anxiety, and stress I didn’t even fully know was happening over food, that permeated every little crevice of my day, like the cobblestones I was walking over every minute.
Over that pizza and pasta and rich food, all the livelong day.
The Roman way.
I was living in a place where everyone — and I mean every single person that lived there permanently– seemed so carefree. So patient and nonchalant and calm around food.
And not just food. “Bad/fatty” food.
It was almost like those fancy Europeans were talking to me.
Mind to mind.
Yeah, OBVIOUSLY little American girl, I eat carbs. I love them.
I eat gelato.
I even drink wine at lunch.
I have 4 coffees a day if I want.
I smoke cigs.
Are you looking at me?
Actually, it was even worse than that, in my head.
It was like they actually didn’t know that that stuff they were ordering so irritatingly casually, wasn’t good for you.
That they didn’t even know they should feel ashamed by their full fat milk cappuccino that happened 3x/day.
Like it wasn’t even a thing.
Just a normal daily routine.
No pride in it, no shame in it. Just usual life.
You know that thing that people say when you’re bothered by something, that it’s never actually about the other person, it’s always about you?
That you secretly want more of whatever they have, or whatever they’re bold enough to do in their life?
It was like that.
That was pretty much happening my whole trip. Back almost a decade ago.
I was mad because they could do that.
Galavanting and floating around, drinking full fat cappuccinos and pizza and pretending like it wasn’t a big deal.
And still weigh 110 pounds and look like Blake Lively fresh off the set, strutting down the street in their chic all black outfits.
Anyways, that was so long ago.
And in my work now, in my own journey with real food and helping others, I always refer to those crazy but wildly awesome and amazing Europeans.
Who actually enjoy every bite of their food.
They sit with their friends and families and neighbors and co-worker and hell– even strangers, I’m sure. And they talk.
Long and slow. Over hours.
They enjoy conversation and company instead of just having their heads down over plates of food.
Because to them, eating is so much more than just the food itself.
It’s the pause. The petit joy.
The thing and moment to be savored in the day.
It’s not a stuffing fest.
Not a calorie count ticker going off in their heads.
It’s just real food, cooked with someone’s hands. Or their own.
Full of flavor and beauty. And fully appreciated. With a glass of wine, and then some dessert.
(Always dessert. And then cheese.)
It’s never about amount, it’s always more about the experience.
The pleasure of food.
But moreso, the pleasure of talking, connecting and just being exactly where they are at that very moment.
Without all the noise and the crazy. Just being with and who the people that matter.
That is truly what a good meal means.
And what so many of us totally miss.
Pretty much, exactly like I used to, back in the day.
Because I didn’t have room in my head for the crazy voice AND relaxing and enjoying. And the crazy voice in my head always won.
So, this trip.
It comes, and I’m pumped.
But this time, it’s 14 days of vacation time instead of months living somewhere as a true citizen. And a different country. France instead of Italy.
Paris, Nice, St Jean, Monaco, St Remy, Provence, and back to Paris again. FRANCE with a capital F.
And this time, I am no longer afraid of full fat milk and cheese and having dessert.
And of having a bit of wine at every meal, in moderation.
And to be around people who know real food, in all it’s joy and beauty and glory.
I felt like I was finally in on the secret.
That I know how calories don’t matter.
And that I know it’s about cultivating the experience and joy with food.
And that I know it’s about eating slow and tasting any and everything I want to.
Except, in the back of my head…
If I’m being completely honest– I had a teeny thought.
That I don’t want to just jump head first into a fat of cream or butter or bacon or ordering lattes or eating every single macaroon and gluten free pastry in my head, because that’s not healthy and balanced either.
But.. this is a trip of a lifetime. Just me and my Dad, before I get married later this year. We love food. He taught me all about wine. We love exploring and tasting and trying.
But.. I don’t want to come back from my trip feeling tired or puffy or otherwise not totally energized and ready to get after it.
That my goal isn’t to see what I can “get away with” with food. I hate that. It’s a diet thought.
My goal was just to enjoy all the good food that I want to, but still feel great.
So, I do. I jump in, but carefully. Mindfully.
But, after about a week in, all of a sudden…something shifts.
I’m trying a cappuccino (ok- I fully admit, for the first time EVER, in my solely americano/espresso shot life).
I eat some cheese straight up during a meal. Not just sprinkled over my roasted veggies.
Find the only gluten free bread in the country of France, and proceed to love and enjoy every bite of my favorite part- the crust! Duh.
…and felt fine. And victorious, to be totally and completely honest.
See? I could do it. I could totally be French.
No big deal.
Ha. I am a new woman after these past 10 years. Everything has changed. Proved and triple tested now.
Except here’s the thing.
Although some of you may not like it.
After a week, it the rebellious healthy eater in me started to get tired of all that stuff. I felt a little less joy each time with each French indulgence.
I realized there is a line for me.
The line between how such GF bread, coffee and wine and dessert and cheese a girl can have and still feel great.
It was fun, of course.
I was over the moon like a freak that I can now enjoy even the richest and fanciest foods like everyone else and still not have nightmares about it.
But, after a week in that vacation mode, it started to feel less exciting, less rebellious and therefore– obviously, less fun.
And then: I don’t want to live like this. This doesn’t actually feel that great.
I want to treat myself well.
That I’m worth feeling amazing everyday– not just ok.
Not just functioning, sub-par or so-so.
But thriving, and living, and doing, and being exactly who I am.
I want to eat vegetables, and to eat food that I feel energized and totally fulfilled by– but in the best, happy way.
I want to be a good partner to my body.
I want to be the best I can be, so I can help others to do that for themselves.
It’s no secret that the more joyful and fulfilled you feel on the basic levels, the more you can give to others.
Which is, you know. gold.
The richest way to live your life.
That delicate little balance between eating great food and treating yourself well, so you can do and give well, and those petit little joys that make you feel alive and free.
And maybe even a little bit rebellious.
We need them both, in a sweet little tandem that flows and shifts throughout the year.
Life isn’t about perfection. Sometimes you tip over on one side.
To every single one of us.
But the blessing is being able to tell.
To get yourself right back to good, without any guilt or extreme punishments.
Or otherwise crazy week long juice cleanses.
To be in this game of treating yourself well, for the long haul. Always. Weekly. Daily. On vacation, and in the course of your normal daily life too.
You (and I) are all worth it.
(French market freak out face at the biggest farmer’s market in the world, in Provence France).