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So check out what Mad Men star January Jones has to say about her eating habits, in the new issue of Allure:
"I have never dieted," says the actress. "I just listen to whatever my body craves. I don't deny myself anything. I don't crave sweets or unhealthy things very often. But when I do, like if I'm in a bad mood and I'm in traffic, I'll stop at McDonald's and get a strawberry shake and fries and not feel guilty at all, because I deserve it."
Tricky, right? Because at first, it sounds so awesome. No dieting! We love that! Listening to what your body craves! Rad! Never craving sweets or unhealthy things... well, she is a Hollywood actress and thus perhaps not quite human. That's cool.
Getting the McDonald's shake and fries because she deserves it? Well, that's where you lose me.
Don't get me wrong: We all say stuff like this all the time. As mentioned before, I'm a stress shopper. The last two weeks have been wicked stressful, ergo, triple-digit MasterCard bill and shiny new spring wardrobe that I completely deserved.
And we definitely say it about food. As in, "I went to the gym, so I deserve this cookie." "I've been stuck in traffic for three hours, I deserve this bag of chips. And also those two cookies." Or per January, "I'm in a bad mood, bring on the strawberry shake."
We even use this "I deserve it!" line to make the decision to indulge feel like a point we're scoring in the name of a healthier relationship with food. January's doing just that when she says she doesn't "feel guilty at all." Translation: She's way too empowered to feel bad about what she eats. All those messages about good foods and bad foods that make the rest of us so crazy just bounce off her shiny blond hair like it's coated in Teflon.
But here's the thing: Usually, when someone says "I deserve it!" what they're really thinking is "I so do not."
It's wicked hard to give ourselves permission to grab the forbidden fruit, because we're conditioned to think that anything delicious is a privilege. And privileges have to be earned. Preferably with as much sweat and tears as you can muster, whether that's via a nasty break-up, a terrible day at the office, or an impossibly intense cardio schedule.
Now don't get anxious. I'm not saying you can't resort to a little culinary comfort after a rough day. It sure does take the edge off. And it's also a fine idea to enjoy some deliciousness when you're celebrating the good times. That's why they serve cake at weddings.
But maybe, just maybe, it's also okay to eat fries or cookies or whatever on perfectly ordinary days. When we haven't been to the gym or crushed a deadline, or slayed a personal demon. When things are fine but not amazing and not horrible either. We can eat these things because they exist in the world and they taste good.
No special qualifications required.