Mom on the Run for March 1, 2012

Balanced cooking also helps maintain sanity  

One of the secrets to cooking a good dish is balance.

Sweet with salty, crunchy with creamy, tart with mellow.

Come to think of it, balance is also key to a good life. What would we know of happiness if not for the bite of sorrow? Of satisfaction if not for the aching memory of need?

Another way to put this is to do all things in moderation. After all, eating too many sweets takes the pleasure out of it. The same with sorrow or joy.

We try to give you a good mix of recipes. Not too many sweet, not too many savory. Traditional and modern. Healthful and unhealthful.

Balanced.

In my own life, I’ve discovered that balance leads to a healthy mind and a more healthy body. It’s been a long struggle. My past is a checkered path of starvation diets and excessive exercise, bookended by periods where I was overweight, anywhere from a few pounds to a few dozen pounds. The only thing all of these periods had in common was that I was never happy in my skin.

There was no balance.

One day I looked down and had no fingernails. I’d been focused on losing the last 10 or so pounds to meet what the chart said I should weigh, basically living on fruit juice. While I wasn’t looking, malnutrition flaked my fingernails off, layer by layer. I looked up and noticed my hair had gone from shiny and thick to dull and lank, and I could run my fingers through it and pull out a ball of strands.

My frame, which has never been misconstrued as small, poked out through my skin in alarming ways.

It was a breaking point. I could have continued as I was, but I didn’t feel like my constitution could take it. Instead, I began focusing on me, not on a number. Slowly, bite by bite, I taught myself how to eat in a way that made me happy. How to, if I indulged, not beat myself to a pulp. I learned a great deal about balance.

Thus was grown my love of cooking. By tinkering with recipes, I could figure out how to make my favorite dishes in a way that wouldn’t kill me. Of course, I also had to learn how to enjoy favorite unhealthful dishes in a way I wouldn’t regret. Not to overload, but to enjoy enough to satisfy me without making me ill.

Balance.

Now that I’m a mom, it’s even more important.

My greatest wish, for my daughter and for all of you, is to love yourself for who you are, no matter what size or shape you happen to be.

The only advice I have to give is that balance is yours to find; no one can do it for you. No one knows more than you how much sour makes the sweet all the more special, how much crunchy is the perfect foil for the creamy things, these are all individual traits and choices.

Balance. May you find it in your life and on your plate.