08 August 2009

Embracing The Fun Side of Food

Revisiting the foods we enjoyed as children is a simple way to bring pleasure into our everyday eating experiences. For most of us, this is the time when we truly embraced the fun side of food way before many of us adopted a self-inflicted 'whip of condemnation' when it comes to our eating. We can all remember that one or two special meal items which we looked forward to having as a child. Perhaps mom only cooked it for a particular occasion or we had it on a certain day of the week or time of the year, or perhaps it was when the family went out to eat or went to visit the grandparents. Whatever connection that food has for us, chances are that as adults there is still that sense of nostalgia whenever we enjoy the food or even think of it. Most of what are considered ‘comfort foods’ have such an effect on us. It’s not just about the food, for the foods which bring us the most comfort add a warmth to our hearts which cannot be measured.

Many restaurant menus meet this need by providing items which reflect our desire to reconnect with the foods of our childhood which are associated with so many memories. They offer such items as mac & cheese, hot chocolate with mini-marshmallows, grilled cheese sandwiches, creamy mashed potatoes, meatloaf etc. which are commonly labeled as comfort food items. Some restaurants chains have their entire theme based on only one comfort food such as NYC’s S’MAC ( Sarita’s Macaroni & Cheese) Restaurant, The Peanut Butter & Co Sandwich Shop (also in NYC) or Cereality, a national Cereal Bar & Cafe chain. These establishments exist simply because they sell much more than a meal, they sell an experience.

As adults we can at times get so obsessed about being mature, that we feel that we have to justify indulging in the quirky and free child in all of us. Embracing the unpretentious, natural childlike part of us can be very freeing even when it comes to food. We don’t have to explain and validate everything to ourselves or anyone in order to enjoy that well deserved indulgence. Children don’t get into all those complications about a thing, they just do what is in their hearts to do.

It’s not everyday you have that S'mores treat with chocolate oozing out at the sides, or that marshmallow melted on a stick over a camp fire. It’s not everyday you have a PB&J and Fluff sandwich or a huge bowl filled with five different varieties of dry cereal with milk. When we allow ourselves such childlike pleasures, it doesn’t mean we are reverting to being children ourselves, it just means that we are freeing ourselves of our endless list of self-imposed rules. So go frolic for one pleasurable moment with no rationalizing or guilt. There is great value in just enjoying something, such as a treasured and fun meal from childhood, for what it is without over analyzing it too much.



Great post, you are right about connecting foods and emotions. It is so important to allow yourself an indulgence every so often and not think of it as a failure. Building treats into your diet helps prevent that guilt binging. Thanks for the perspective!

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