Welcome to the first installment of “Food + Feelings” here on the blog! I’m excited about the new content and this weekly series, where I’ll be sharing my experience and thoughts after eating at different local restaurants, food trucks, bakeries, etc.
As I shared last week, “Food + Feelings” series is my own spin on the “What I Ate Wednesday” posts that a lot of other dietitian bloggers share, only I won’t be detailing my entire day’s worth of meals, just one. 🙂
My intention with this series is to explore and feature new restaurants in and around Asheville (which has a huge food scene) and offer insight into how I approach anxiety-provoking food, settings, and/or situations, practice flexibility and spontaneity, and challenge any lingering limiting food beliefs.
Even if you don’t necessarily relate to feeling anxiety/stress around food and eating out, let this be a travel guide to eating in Asheville and beyond!
OH! And if you have any AVL restaurant recommendations, send ’em my way! Bonus points if you live in Asheville and want to meet up for a meal. Seriously, I would LOVE the chance to eat and meet in person!
I won’t share this every time I do a post in this series, but thought it might helpful for this first one.
Confession: Until 10 months ago, I had not been out to eat at a restaurant in nearly two years.
Seriously, you guys.
My obsession with health, rigid food rules (i.e. eating only “clean,” “wild caught,” “organic/non-gmo,” “unprocessed,” “sugar-free,” “natural,” foods), and self-diagnosed food allergies* (which I now recognize were ways to restrict certain foods under a more socially acceptable guise) made it impossible for me to eat at a restaurant or even someone’s house without paralyzing anxiety and fear. Thus, I simply avoided any and all social occasions and limited my travel.
If I couldn’t avoid the situation and had to eat out (i.e. the two times I traveled during that time), I would do one of two things:
A) Pack my own food even if it meant toting a cooler of chilled, free-range, organic chicken breasts in a cooler bag on an airplane or bring overnight oats and measuring cups in my carry on luggage (definitely a recipe for a fun filled vacation said no one EVER)
B) Refused/declined to eat until I could get home and make my own meal later that day/night
Does that sound healthy to you? I didn’t think so. (And if it does, I’m really glad you’re here because girlfriend we need to talk.)
An important part of maintaining my food freedom is continuing to try new foods, eating out 1-2x/week, and mixing up my meals at home to prevent falling into comfortable habits or routines.
I’ve been doing the aforementioned things often and look forward to stepping up my game with the accountability this series will provide. 🙂
Onward and upward!
FOOD + FEELINGS
WHEN >> Saturday, September 31, 2017
After a long hike in DuPont Forest to see Bridal Veil Falls, a beautiful waterfall that has a cameo appearance in Last of the Mohicans. DuPont Forest is also where The Hunger Games trilogy was filmed. Huzzzzzzzah.
WHERE >> Rocky’s Grill & Soda Shop | Brevard, NC
Cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, onion, dill pickles on a brioche bun
Side of homemade sweet pickled green tomatoes
Since moving to Asheville in April, Tristen and I have gone hiking in DuPont Forest a few times. Until last weekend, we’ve always packed a picnic lunch mostly because it’s an easy, flat hike, but kind of long (i.e. 8+ miles) and with lakes and waterfalls a plenty, it’s picturesque for picnicking.
The trailhead is pretty remote, too, with few restaurants, but another hiker recommended checking out a small place called “Canteen,” which he praised for it’s great local beer selection. This was all Tristen needed to hear to want to make it a destination on our next hike (I’m rolling my eyes affectionally here).
So when we decided to hike DuPont last weekend, we planned to visit Canteen for lunch afterward.
Initially, I thought I would pack a lunch “just in case” there wasn’t something I felt like eating on the menu. HOWEVER I recognized that if I truly have zero food rules—something that is extremely important to me to maintain—and want to practice flexibility and spontaneity, then there really wasn’t a justifiable need to pack anything other than a few trail snacks.
I also very intentionally didn’t research Canteen’s menu in advance because I felt certain I could find something to eat on it…Even if it wasn’t something I was super excited about eating, there would still be something I could eat.
I think this is important to note. I find that in the era of photographing every.single.thing you eat and comparing your plate to everyone else’s (an activity that I readily admit to partaking in once upon a time), it’s easy to feel like your meals all have to be Instagram-worthy and totally rock your tastebuds. Unfortunately, that’s not reality. Not every food experience or meal has to be “perfect” and “amazing” or even pretty.
Sometimes the food you eat will simply serve its very basic, important purpose—providing energy to allow your body to function optimally. That’s OK!
OK so back to our lunch day date. 🙂
We had a great hike—the weather was PERFECT—and after stopping for a snack at the waterfall, we were looking forward to lunch. I’ve been trying to really tune into my cravings (and honor them). Midway through the hike, I got a craving for a burger, something I haven’t eaten other than at home since we went to In & Out Burger on our last night in California. I was crossing my fingers there would be a burger on the menu at lunch.
We finished hiking around 2:15 pm and drove straight to Canteen. My laid back attitude and flexibility about lunch backfired a bit when we arrived to find out they didn’t have burgers on the menu. In fact, the only thing on the menu? BEER. Whoops.
I guess, in this scenario, looking at the menu in advance might have been a really good idea. (Sigh.)
This was frustrating and disappointing, especially since we were both super hungry by this point. Tristen suggested driving another 15-20 minutes into Brevard, a small mountain town with an adorable, historic, shop- and restaurant-filled Main Street. He mentioned eating at a soda shop with my dad on a fly fishing day trip earlier in the summer.
Since this wasn’t exactly how I planned lunch to go, my anxiety was a little elevated and I was beginning to feel less adventurous. Read: The burger I was initially craving suddenly wasn’t as appealing. Not because I lost the craving, rather because my anxiety was making me want to gravitate toward something less out of my comfort zone for lunch.
Once we got to Brevard and Rocky’s Grill & Soda Shop, we grabbed two stools at the counter and scoped out the menu. I saw other diners eating various standard grill food—hot dogs with chili, grilled cheese sandwiches, milkshakes and malts, etc.
Though they had burgers on the menu, I briefly considered ordering a turkey sandwich—the easy option for me at the time. However, I still really wanted a burger—a cheeseburger—and ignoring my craving felt like a total cop out so I put the menu down and ordered as soon as the waitress arrived.
Do you guys ever struggle with analysis paralysis? What would happen if you just picked the first thing that sounded good and closed the menu? What’s your experience?
TRUST YOUR GUT
In my experience, the less thinking I do when it comes to food decisions the better because usually the thinking is clouded with “shoulds” or judgements or worries about what to order instead of trusting my instincts and ordering what sounds appealing. (The latter being an example of intuitive eating and the former an example of diet mentality eating.)
Luckily for us, our food was ready within 5 minutes of ordering and I think we ate it all in less than 10 minutes. I am SO glad I got the cheeseburger because it was DELICIOUS and made my tastebuds and soul very happy. 🙂
If I had my preference, would I have ordered a grass-fed, organic burger on a whole wheat bun? Sure. Of course. But my preferences don’t have to become rigid rules or principles (a concept I’ll be covering in a post next week).
This was such a fun day and it feels really freaking amazing to enjoy eating out with my husband and engage in meaningful conversation and do this thing called life.
Next time? I’m going for a burger AND a chocolate malt. But you know. One thing at a time. 😉
*I’m fully aware that some of you may have legit, medically-diagnosed food allergies and completely respect and encourage the need to be careful about reading ingredient lists and needing accommodations when dining out. I’m only speaking to my personal awareness regarding why I was avoiding things like gluten, grains, dairy, sugar, etc. 🙂
PS: In my last post—Honestly Nourished 2.0 The Deets—I gave an overview of the new type of content you can expect to see on the blog moving forward. As I begin posting said content, I’d love to know what you guys think! If you have any suggestions, requests, feedback, concerns—anything!—please leave me a comment below or send me an email (email@example.com).
LET’S TALK ABOUT IT! >>>
What did you guys think of the first Food + Feelings post? How have you practiced flexibility around food or while eating out? How do you cope with feelings of anxiety when plans change? Do you honor your cravings when they strike or shy away from them because of how you “should” eat at any given time?
Thanks for reading and I’ll see you back here soon!