There was once a point in my life that the idea of eating pasta for dinner would send me into a tizzy. I won't be able to stop myself. It will make me fat. It will make me a bad person if I eat too much. All of these thoughts would run through my head with abandon, and I would do everything I could to avoid the dreaded, glutinous, heavy pasta.
But, as we all know, life tends to get in the way of those hard and fast rules we makes for ourselves. That, and my family loves pasta. And so the inevitable eventually came, at least once a week, that I would have to sit down and eat pasta. Try as I might, those thoughts would swallow me like a wave at high tide, pulling me back, dragging me across the itchy sand every time I tried to force myself above the surface to catch my breath.
Too cliche? Perhaps. But too, too true.
And every time I sat at the dinner table, convincing myself that this time would be different even as those destructive thoughts swirled inside my brain, it became a self-fulfilling prophecy. I feared I would overeat, and so I did. I feared I would berate myself for it, and so I did. I feared I would gain weight from one measly bowl, and so I did. Now, that last bit is somewhat scientifically inaccurate, as one meal could never cause you to gain actual weight, but as I obsessively weighed myself every morning, the inevitable water retention from eating heavier food the night before would reflect back at me from the scale, and I would feel like a failure once again.
And thus my hatred for pasta emerged, and stuck for quite a while. I believed that pasta was my kryptonite. All bread products, really. I convinced myself that bread and pasta and heavy starch were just too taboo, too risky. If I even took a bite, I would tumble down the rabbit hole that was my disorder, and so I had to stay away at all costs. We all know how that turns out.
As I've ventured through my Intuitive Eating journey, this black and white thinking about which foods were good and bad started to fade. Slowly, due to how ingrained they had become, but fading none the less. And soon, pasta was just pasta.
I learned that a bowl of plain pasta wasn't kryptonite; it was dissatisfying. A bowl of just starch, all on its lonesome, would never make me feel full and satiated and satisfied because it was lacking essential components to make a well-rounded meal. I soon figured out how to make myself a bowl of pasta that I felt good about, both because of its nutritious components, and because of how it made me feel.
And so we have the pasta bowl. Generally, I take whatever pasta is in the pantry and combine it with whatever veggies and protein I have on hand. Sometimes that's zucchini and salmon, topped with a little pesto. Other times it's broccoli and chicken, adorned with olive oil, avocado, and parmesan cheese. Really, it's just a way to throw whatever is looking a little worse-for-wear in my fridge into an arguably edible and happy-making meal.
This week was sausage, along with beautiful mini heirloom tomatoes from Trader Joe's, sautéed broccoli and garlic, pesto, and ricotta cheese.
Perfection in a bowl, man. Seriously, look at that beast. You can't even see the pasta under all that!
I ate every bite, and even had seconds. And it was damn good. And I felt damn good.