EDITOR'S NOTE: Guest blogger Cynthia Parrott is a busy working woman who manages to find the time for fitness, diet and the writing of great advice for health-conscious women.
The other day I ate macaroni and cheese -- from a box!
Okay, so you might be laughing and thinking, "So what?" Boxed mac-n-cheese might be a regular staple in your house. Kids love it... it's quick... it's easy... and it's dinner in less than 10 minutes!
But for me, a health and nutritional consultant and an advocate of REAL food, such convenience foods are a big no-no.
I stand on my soap box daily preaching against processed, pre-packaged meals. I talk and write about the dangers of a fast food diet and how to avoid the allure of the drive-thru.
I work with clients who want to lose weight, improve their health, and prevent disease and teach them that the way to achieve success is by eating healthy, whole foods that are cooked at home.
Ordinarily, when I crave macaroni and cheese, I make it from scratch. I boil my whole wheat pasta and patiently stir soy cheese into soy milk until it melts into a "cheese" sauce. Then I pour it all into a pan, top with homemade bread crumbs, and bake until it's hot and bubbly.
As it cooks, I earn the right to eat such a meal by walking on the treadmill.
It's no excuse but these past few weeks have been extremely stressful for me. So I came home from work one night looking for comfort food... and I wanted it fast.
I ripped apart my pantry, looking for something quick and easy. And there, hidden way in the back, was the dinner-in-a-box. I grabbed it, tore open the foil packet of cheese sauce and squeezed it into a pot of cooked white-flour pasta shells.
Did I mention that I am also a vegan? I don't do dairy. That means no cheese!
I felt like such a hypocrite, nervously glancing over my shoulder as I prepared my dinner. Who was going to tell on me... my cat? Ha! He was so excited he was practically doing back flips on the counter.
My cat was probably glad to see me making something other than the usual steamed veggies and tofu and was impatiently waiting for a sample of my creamy concoction. My secret was safe with him.
So why am telling you this? Perhaps because I need to get it off my chest. Or maybe, just maybe, there's a deeper message here.
I ate boxed macaroni and cheese... so what?
I could only eat a very small portion but I enjoyed it nonetheless. It was tasty, it was comforting, and it was quick. And I didn't bother to walk on the treadmill, either. I ate and went straight to bed.
The very next day I went right back to my regular, healthy, vegan way of eating. The truth is I suffer desires, cravings and slip-ups just like everyone else.
Obesity runs in my family. If I don't pay attention to what I eat and I don't exercise, I have a tendency to pack on the pounds -- even while following a plant-based diet.
Most of the time I win my battle over food; sometimes I am not so successful. I am not perfect and I never want to give the impression that I am perfect.
No one wants to work with a perfect person. If I didn't work just as hard as everyone else and I fall short now and then, how could I ever really understand or help others?
We can never be perfect so we might as well stop trying or pretending to be.
When it comes to dieting or eating well, it's impossible to follow a rigid set of rules for very long. We will always be thinking about what we can't or shouldn't have.
It's okay to stray every once in awhile and, when we do, we can't think of it as failure or defeat. When we do this, we will find it difficult to get back on track again.
I refuse to punish myself over a meal in a box... even though it is totally against everything I stand for. It's far better to make peace with it and move on!
And just for the record: I tossed in some fresh steamed spinach to my boxed mac-n-cheese for good measure. The cat loved it.
About Cynthia: I am a Certified Holistic Health and Nutritional Counselor. My company is Metamorphosis Consulting and I have been in private practice for over 10 years. I believe we can completely transform our lives by nourishing our bodies, our minds, and our spirits. It is my desire to help others achieve their health and nutritional goals, their personal goals, and to live the life they have always dreamed of. Learn more at www.truemetamorphosis.org and www.cyndaily.com.