I’ve been thinking a lot about how a restricted diet sometimes comes along with some strong feelings of guilt or anxiety, especially if you’ve had a not-so-healthy relationship with food in the past.
I’ve been listening to Christy Harrison’s Food Psych podcast, and I really like her approach to food and what it means to be eat healthily. Harrison is a “registered dietitian nutritionist and certified intuitive eating counselor who specializes in helping people make peace with food.” Her podcasts usually are casual interviews with people in the nutrition field and I get the sense that it all about making people feel positive about themselves and their diets. Food should not be a source of anxiety.
This idea of making peace with food is an important one for me. Throughout high school and college, I had a very unhealthy relationship with food. Eating was a pretty big source of anxiety for me and it took me a very long time to stop obsessing about calories or the odd pound added on the scale. I now don’t do any tracking of food or calories and purposefully don’t weigh myself anymore.
Part of this peace-making process is also not beating myself up for giving into cravings or for eating (or not eating) certain foods. That was a little bit more difficult than kicking the tracking and weighing habits because guilt is a tricky little voice inside your head. Where does that even come from?
Eating a meal is a privilege and a blessing. It should nourish not only your body but also your mind. It should involve gratitude, not anxiety. And yet, I spent years feeling nervous about food groups, or portion sizes, or caloric content. I didn’t listen to what my body needed and am now trying to repair damage that I insisted on causing.
So I’ve been practicing grateful and intuitive eating. I’m trying to keep the feelings of guilt and anxiety at bay by replacing them with gratitude that I am able to buy groceries — especially the more expensive specialty items that I “need” because I made the choice to follow a vegan lifestyle — and to eat whenever I am hungry. If you’re interested in this gentle approach to healthy eating, here is a good introductory outline to intuitive eating.
In the spirit of feeling good about eating, I’ve been experimenting with a pizza dough that tastes like a pizza dough but also fits into my restrictions. Pizza feels like a treat sometimes, and home-made pizza is really fun to make (even if you, like me, don’t consider yourself a cook). The best part is that everyone involved can customize their meal to fit their needs or wants. At my house, there are usually two pizzas: one small gluten, yeast, sugar, and dairy-free one that I can eat, and one large glutenous, cheesy, and meat-topped one that my partner wants eat.
This recipe is super simple and customizable. I’ve tried it with a few different flours, but here’s my favorite.
Pizza Dough We Can All Eat! No gluten, no yeast, no sugar, no dairy, no soy! And vegan! And still crispy and delicious!
prep time: about 1 hour all together
ingredient cost: $
- 1 cup of Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour (I used Pamela’s Artisan Blend and highly recommend it. It’s a little more expensive than other brands but worth the money.I’ve also made this recipe with Quinoa flour which is also very good)
- 1/2 c (plus some more depending on your flour) water
- 1/2 t baking powder
- 1/2 t salt
- 2 T olive, sunflower, or other cooking oil plus a little more to brush into a pan
- some basil or oregano if you want to mix it into the crust
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
- Mix all the ingredients together gently until the dough resembles a lumpy pancake batter. I’ve played with varying amounts of water and haven’t been disappointed with the end results of both thick and thin doughs. It all depends on how you like your pizza dough. I usually add 1/2 a cup of water to start and then add additional 1/4 cups until I reach a good consistency.
- Brush some oil into an oven-safe pan (I use a 10″ cast iron) or flat cake-pan.
- Pour in your pizza dough and bake for 12-15 minutes.
- Once the bottom is crisping up, flip the pizza dough and bake for another 12-15 minutes. I’ve noticed that, depending on your consistency, this timing can be very different. Sometimes 10 minutes works better, sometimes you need the full 15.
- Take the pan out of the oven and top your pizza with whatever you liked. This time around I used some tomato sauce, baby arugula, some vegan mozzarella (I really like Follow Your Heart’s Vegan Mozzarrella but sometimes they are hard to find in my area. Chao Vegan Cheese Slices are also good) and, yes, 3 slices of the local and organic salami my partner picked up for his pizza. I know, I know. I’m vegan and therefore don’t eat meat, but I’ve been craving it a lot lately. Again, this is all an exercise of being kind to yourself and listening to what your body wants. On very rare occasions my mind is vegan but my body wants to eat some meat. And that’s OK.
- Bake topped pizza for an additional 10-15 minutes. Again, this all depends on your mixture.