When the kids were little, my husband and I competed in the “fun parent” games. You know, just a healthy little competition to find some balance between “get out of the knife drawer” and “let’s go for an amusement ride in the laundry basket!” Newsflash: I win. Because I totally nailed it with Dessert for Dinner Day. Every February 11th, it brings anticipation and chatter in the weeks leading up to it. What’re we gonna have? Waffles? Brownies? Do we have the cherries for on top of the whipped cream on top of the ice cream? Add it to the grocery list!
It started as a way of celebrating my late dad’s birthday. I lost my dad to heart disease when I was 21, and he never had the joy of being a grandparent. My kids never had the pleasure of jumping the waves with him at the beach or knowing his sweet tooth and having him steal their Valentine’s Day candy. Sometimes talking about him can feel like a chore because it brings up all the things he and I are still missing out on… but dessert for dinner turned his birthday into something else. A day I don’t dread. A day to celebrate and connect my kids to their grandfather through stories and laughs.
I mean, what isn’t fun about waffles, brownies, ice cream, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, cherries, sprinkles, and whatever else a kid can put into a well thought out dessert as their main course?! These days, our confections look a little different than when we started – mainly in that they have to be gluten-free. But we still stop everything we’re doing for one hour every February 11th to share one of our favorite meals.
Even as a nutritional therapist, whose job is to transform health from the inside out using food and lifestyle, I tell my clients not to be afraid to eat the dessert. Food is intended to connect us to both ourselves and the world around us. Think about how food has been used in celebration from the beginning of time. It not only nourishes our body, but food nourishes our soul. When we create awareness in our body, it’s freeing to join in on all the fuss about food.
Many of my clients come to me and label themselves as some type of eater. “I’m a stress eater.” “I’m an emotional eater.” And I say YES! You are. Because first of all, emotionless eating sounds so f’ing boring, like you have to nibble on nothing but carrots with a straight face all day to be healthy or skinny or whatever goal you have in mind. And second of all, the body’s physiological response when in a state of stress is that your cortisol rises, making the body think it needs more energy to fight off whatever throwdown is about to happen. And what would give you more strength? Food. So yes, you’re a stress eater. So am I. And most other human beings.
I say all that, but I know you still carry around guilt around foods with sugar in them. It’s hard to find balance. But there’s a balance to be had with practice. It’s not celebrations that cause inflammation and feelings of being unhealthy in your body. It’s when foods like sugar show up in your daily meals and become habits.
If you start using food to celebrate with intention, the guilt will begin to dissipate. Feeling and being healthy isn’t a tradeoff for celebration, adventure, and happiness. It isn’t a tradeoff of never having another bite of sugar again. It’s a practice of nourishment, and that’s more than trading your meal in for a shake or noshing on raw veggies all day (bleh.)
So with that, I declare February 11th Dessert for Dinner Day! Or I challenge you to pick a special date for your own Dessert for Dinner Day. Let me know in the comments how it goes over… I have a feeling it will be your best meal of the week.
Want to know more about how I can help you find your health, and eat dessert too? Get more info here.