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Just Stick a Fork in It

I often feared that my fondness for a certain four letter “f” word was a mortal sin.

I'm talking about F-O-O-D. What did you think I meant?

I have always been health-conscious and I’ve never been overweight (this is something of which my family members constantly reassure me). Yet throughout college, I’ve been surrounded by people—more like fruit flies I couldn’t smack off—who constantly told me “don’t eat that,” “that’s bad for you,” “omigod there are so many calories in that,” and “you’ll regret it later.”

You’re probably familiar with those (soft news) morning television shows (not mentioning any names) that invite “experts” to talk about what you shouldn’t be eating… as you lick the pancake syrup off your fork. These are the people who make you feel like you-know-what if you sneak a few too many Oreos every now and then or treat yourself to crème brulee at a fancy French restaurant.

I am a health nut—an advocate for healthy living. I highly encourage exercise and a diet full of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean protein.

But sometimes, at 2 a.m. after a night at the bar with my best friends from home, I just want to share some greasy chicken tenders at the local diner…without guilt. Will I (most of the time) still stick to recipes that substitute extra virgin olive oil for butter? Absolutely.

Yet, if Paula Deen were to be the guest chef at my apartment tonight, you’d better believe I’d take a big ol’ bite of her pecan crusted chicken. Then, I’d eat lighter meals the next day.

I know it’s a cliché, but balance really is the key to a happy life.

I used to miss out on all the fun—I would bring 100-calorie food bars to holiday dinners because I couldn’t allow myself to eat dessert like everyone else—like the rest of “Fat America.” I thought I was one of the elite who could resist the pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, or better yet, my cousin’s famous snickerdoodle cookies on Christmas. The dieticians and nutritionists on television say you're weak if you choose to indulge during the holidays because that’s when you "pack on the pounds.”

I hated myself the day I ate an entire chicken salad at Applebee’s, envying the girl at the table in front of me who draped her napkin over her mostly untouched plate and pushed it to the side.

Hearing the voices of the so-called health experts in my head, I have given away slices of my birthday cake to everyone else and allowed myself to lick only the frosting from the candle ends.

Don't get the wrong idea...I am not encouraging you to raid your fridge and scarf down the entire Entenmanns raspberry danish sitting on your counter. But I just want people (mainly those who obsess over calorie and food intake) to know that it’s okay to indulge once in a while (as long as it’s not every day of the week)…and to enjoy doing it!

As I approach my 22nd birthday (this Friday!) I am preparing for my first slice in over three years. And I refuse to let myself feel like a criminal when I dig in.

And speaking of cake, check out this gargantuan confection one extremely lucky person received for his 22nd birthday!


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