Permission to Eat Chocolate: Why Eating “Dirty” is OK.
Pieta’s Super Quick Protein Ball Recipe
mixed nuts 1c
mixed dried fruit 1c
choice of cocoa/carrot/beetroot/coconut 1/4c
cinnamon or vanilla 1t
whizz everything in a blender, roll into balls, then refrigerate.
Pieta’s Fairly Fast Homemade Chocolate Recipe
cocoa butter 1c
blender whizzed dried fruit 1c
blended or roughly chopped nuts/seeds 1c
cinnamon or vanilla 1t
melt cocoa butter over low heat, stir in the other ingredients pour into small muffin cases, cool in the fridge for a few hours. My children prefer their chocolate without the nuts/seeds and with maple syrup (up to 1/4c) they also like to add extras such as mint leaves, berries, rice krispies and cornflakes but this isn’t their blog so try my version first.
I am not a nutritionist, or a chef so what right do I have to give my opinion on ‘clean’ eating? Professionally I don’t, I do not talk to any of my clients about their food choices. Personally, I am allergic to milk; I have eczema; and I have children with food allergies. I have lived on a modified diet for my whole life, I cook from scratch for my family and I know ALL about food guilt. I am working on letting go.
I am letting go of “good” food or “bad” food; “guilty pleasures”; and “junk” food. Technically food is just food the value judgements come from me. This comes in part from being a dairy intolerant kid of a gluten intolerant mother with a brother with ADHD. ADHD wasn’t really a thing in NZ in the 1980’s. The only thing my mother knew to do was to give us both oily fish and whole foods free from chemicals and preservatives. My parents saw that sugar and processed foods were a trigger for his hyperactivity and my eczema. I don’t know if it worked but it gave my parents a sense of control in a situation that they really had very little control over.
Through my experience with eczema and a lifetime of fairly healthy eating I just don’t believe that everything can be controlled with food. Stress, hormones, heavy water/environmental chemicals and heat are my biggest skin triggers. I make good food choices most of the time and now I am working on not beating myself up when I don’t. When I was at University I always aimed to do enough effort to get close to an 80% mark. I had a huge course load and a low A was always my goal.* If I eat five small meals in a day I still get an 80% for good eating if one of them is a muffin right? (similar recipe to the protein balls just adding 1 egg, 1c oat milk, 1/2 t baking soda.) Even if this isn’t right it is sustainable. I don’t think that we could live on a perfect diet forever. Life would be too boring for one thing.
I came to this realisation about 15 years ago when Rony told me to go buy some chocolate, go eat some chocolate, and get over myself. I was probably moaning to her while drinking lemon water to dispel the cravings I was having at the time. Her reasoning was that I should just eat the thing I craved instead of eating ten other things instead. Now I eat homemade chocolate or homemade protein balls, this way I get all of the energy and sugar I crave without the itching, headache and stomach upset. What I got from Rony’s advice (I am sure that she just wanted me to stop moaning) was to listen to my body. Why does it want sweet things? Am I tired, stressed, do I need comfort, am I hungry or hormonal? Can I meet these needs in another way? If not - I need to acknowledge what I am feeling and why, and then I can do something about it. Sometimes only a dark chocolate peanut slab will do and I have an emergency supply in the cupboard sent from NZ for this purpose. This is OK too.
I have relied less heavily on my stockpile over the past year though as I have tried to make the best food choices given the circumstances -this is where the protein balls and homemade chocolate come in. (In fact I’ve just checked and my peanut slabs are a year past their best-before-date: go me!) While grocery shopping in a small village in North Yorkshire my son was (loudly and vocally) worried that the fruit and vegetables in our basket weren’t organic. I whispered to him that it was OK we’d just wash them. Fruit and vegetables will always be a better food choice than processed food - yes, even if they’re not organic.
The given the circumstances approach holds for when I’m eating out with friends too. I choose a healthy main and I don’t drink but I will have dessert which is something that I don’t do at home. I do this for emotional and social health. I do it to model feminist principles and body positivity to my friends. If I have dessert then that gives every other woman at the table permission to eat dessert too. I am constantly confronted with women who deny themselves food because they do not believe they deserve it. They do not love their bodies because of their round bellies or large thighs. I ask them why they want to be skinny and whether or not they want to live their ideal bodies’ lifestyle to get it too? It seems a requirement of beautiful famous women today that they must starve themselves or have surgery for their jobs. That is SAD. (That is an entire blog post) It is not something to emulate. If I am going to live my message about loving one’s body for what it can do, not how it looks then I will have pudding and dash the digestive consequences. As the nuns at my primary school used to say “there are starving orphans in Africa” In other words, sometimes we need some perspective because there are people suffering from real problems out there and those starving orphans are not hung up on their food choices.
So there it is, I am not an expert, I let myself eat well most of the time, I make food choices that make me happy and if that isn’t the best choice given the circumstances - I get over myself because life is too short. Enjoy the recipes.
*I did it too. and hasn't my first class honours in English Literature taken me far?