A Case for “Special Occasion Food”

An occassional exception

 

I predominantly make sustainable food choices.  Eating three to four times a week vegetarian, buying my food from local, small farms, and shopping organic when local options are unavailable make up how our family eats.  A big part of being sustainable is avoiding processed and fast foods.

That said it is great making better food decisions, but having a rigid relationship with food takes the enjoyment out of eating and enjoying food should be part of one’s total food experience.  What an excessive fad diet culture and nutrient of the moment fanaticism has created is a food culture in America that forgets eating is supposed to be an enjoyable part of life.

So while our family has reduced eating out, make considered choices when buying food, and have moved to a diet that’s mostly vegetarian with some grass-fed, pasture raised, small farm meats we still do enjoy a break so that we are not so unpleasant that we abstain from moments for “special occasion food.”

What does “special occasion food” mean?

It is a phrase I’m borrowing from author Michael Pollan. “There is nothing wrong with special occasion foods, as long as every day is not a special occasion,” Mr. Pollan writes. “Special occasion foods offer some of the great pleasures of life, so we shouldn’t deprive ourselves of them, but the sense of occasion needs to be restored.” (source NYTimes.)

He is not talking about food at a wedding or party, though they are occasions with food. Pollan is talking about how our relationship with food has become unhealthy by eating fast food and snacks as a normal behavior and that transversely we who make more healthy decisions can become just as unhealthy in our thinking if we deny ourselves foods we enjoy. Just do it from time to time and have a healthy perspective even when making an occasional (there’s that word again) exception from eating sustainable food.

So I have no issue having an In-N-Out burger or a gas station taco from time-to-time knowing that 95% of the time our family is eating food that is responsible to the environment and the ethics of our society.

Now back to finishing up my Double-Double.

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  • tdelano

    Moderation.

    This is something I learned when I was overweight and not healthy. Once I made a lifestyle change to moderation instead of a diet based on denial, I felt healthier and became healthier. It’s amazing what a simple change of mind will do.

  • tdelano

    Moderation.

    This is something I learned when I was overweight and not healthy. Once I made a lifestyle change to moderation instead of a diet based on denial, I felt healthier and became healthier. It’s amazing what a simple change of mind will do.

    • cbaccus

      Yes moderation is key as well as having a regular behavior instead of the ups and downs of diets that of course never work.

    • http://www.looplane.com/ Healthy Lifestyle Magazine

      @tdelano You had a good choice mate. Moderation is a great one when you’re taking up a healthier lifestyle. much better than diet and not forcing enough than others do.

  • mombizcoach

    I grew up in a large household (five kids) and a mother who didn’t pride herself on cooking. So we ate tons of processed, out of a box, can or freezer pack-type dinners, and I hated them. When I went to college, I became a vegetarian, largely influenced by my then-boyfriend (now husband) and my college dorm mates. I learned to cook everything from scratch (like even making the pasta dough for our manicotti), and was amazed at how much more I loved the flavor of the food. I also found that I had a passion for making and baking all kinds of food, and have been a foodie ever since (although I’m no longer a vegetarian).

    As a mom, I teach my kids moderation and invite them to try everything. That includes McDonald’s and god-forsaken Little Debbie snacks, right alongside my homemade pasta with homemade pesto. They are all healthy eaters and eat a wide variety of foods, know the nutritional value of everything they put in their mouths, and can help create a menu that includes all the food groups when it’s their turn to help with dinner. They are 9, 7 and 5.

    So I agree, eating is a fabulous, fun experience. I love the way the Italians do it. Dinner IS the evening entertainment, not something you grab on your way out. It is to be savored, played with, enjoyed. And by making healthy choices most of the time, indulgences or “special occasion food” is totally fine. Special has to be special, not the norm.

    Great post, Chris cbaccus . I bet @timeoutmom would love this blog and get a ton from it.

    • cbaccus

      Thanks Lara for sharing your perspective and so happy to hear you moved away from your processed childhood roots. My mother (Italian/French) cooked throughout my childhood so I was very lucky even if I occasionally didn’t like what was on my plate and would’ve traded it for a Happy Meal. Our 5 year old boys have very similar behaviors. They refer to anything they see as “unhealthy” and will tell my wife anytime I’m eating “unhealthy” food.