When ice cream is more than just ice cream
My daughter’s asleep, the dishes have been washed, and (most of) the toys have been picked up off the floor. I walked towards the kitchen with just one thing on my mind…ice cream. I take two scoops of Double Dark Chocolate gelato (my absolute favorite Talenti gelato flavor) and ease myself onto the couch. For the next 10 minutes, there is nothing else on my mind. I’m not thinking about how I need to pack snacks for our mid-morning play date the next day, or how there are clean clothes in the dryer that need to be folded, or how there are countless emails to be answered. I take a reprieve from all of my responsibilities for a few brief moments, and am one with the ice cream.
This escape has become a nearly nightly ritual. Sometimes as I’m reading books to my daughter before bedtime, my mouth is already salivating for the creamy, chocolatey treat. Sometimes when it’s noon and I’m already thinking about the deliciousness that awaits me in just seven and a half hours, I’ve wondered if this is a problem. Food shouldn’t be a friend, or an escape, or a means to cope with the everyday stresses of life…right? I’ve pondered this question, however, and come to the conclusion that no, it’s not a problem. Here’s why:
I’m honoring my hunger. When ice cream ‘o clock roles around, I’m hungry for it. We eat dinner at 6pm, and knowing that my two scoops of chocolatey goodness are waiting for me, I make sure I leave room for it. There have been times when I’ve eaten a larger dinner and I’ve made the decision to forgo my ice cream escape. Am I sad to miss out on my two scoops of smooth, creamy bliss? Sure. But if I’m not physically hungry, then I realize that it won’t taste nearly as good to me, and I’d rather forgo it than have a subpar experience. After much trial and error, I’ve come to the conclusion that if the experience of eating this ice cream is going to be as pleasurable as I’d like it to be, then I need to be hungry for it.
I’m eating it mindfully. When my butt hits the couch and that first spoonful of ice cream hits my lips, I am tuning out all other thoughts and sensations and enjoying what I’m about to eat. I notice the taste, the texture, the cool creaminess swirling around my tongue. While I do sometimes engage in conversation with my husband while I eat my ice cream, or even watch a TV show, I make it a point to pay attention to each spoonful that enters my mouth. I’m not doing it because it’s what I’m “supposed” to do. I’m doing it because the ice cream is damn good, and I want to enjoy every last morsel of it!
I have permission to eat ice cream. There are absolutely no feelings of shame associated with the eating of said ice cream. And because of that, two scoops in a small ramekin is generally enough for me (not that there haven’t been occasions when I’ve gone back for another scoop!). I feel no desire to dive face first into the pint and eat it until my spoon scrapes the bottom of the container. Because– guess what?– I can go back and get more if I want it! In fact, I live right around the block from the grocery store, and can pick it up at 3am if I so desire! It’s amazing how having permission to eat any and all foods can not only make eating them more enjoyable, but can also make you feel so much more in control of your ability to eat them in quantities that feel good to you, both physically and emotionally.
Because of all these reasons, I don’t see my nightly ice cream party as a problem. Eating a moderate portion of delicious ice cream almost every night doesn’t make me feel guilty or ashamed, nor does it make me feel physically sick or unhealthy. Because I eat a balanced diet throughout the day and have permission to eat any foods I want, eating the ice cream is no big deal. If this changes and I feel some negative effects because of it, then perhaps I’ll reevaluate. But for now…HAND OVER THE ICE CREAM AND NO ONE GETS HURT!