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  • Writer's pictureEve Bernfeld

Stop the Insanity!

This, as you know, is not a food blog. But if I wanted to, I could write about the following, all made during one recent week:

Homemade larabars (“Bar” did not happen—they were a crumbly, gooey, yummy mess.)

Homemade jerky (Quite a bit of work, but very tasty and SO much cheaper than store-bought.)

Homemade sesame candy (A snack only counts as “nutrient-dense” if your kids will eat it—two of mine would not. Also, in a hot car driving through Oregon and Idaho, individual pieces melt back into an enormous sticky blob.)

Homemade molasses cookies (Should have tested the recipe. Even I found them bitter.)

Homemade hummus (Nearly always worthwhile. Though my blender is on its last legs.)

However allow me instead to sum up my adventures in cooking all of these foods (on top of normal meals, work and getting ready for a 2000-mile road trip) in three words:


By Friday I was so stressed out that I was vibrating, weeping and yelling at anyone that moved (or didn’t move fast enough). As I took a tearful 5 am walk through the neighborhood, I realized:

“I did this to myself.”

It occurred to me that I have two values that are coming into conflict:

1. My desire to not be a raging lunatic to my children and

2. My desire to make wholesome food from scratch.

Honestly, it’s easier for me to make the freaking jerky. That is much more straightforward than learning to PAUSE and listen to myself. Take my psychic temperature and STOP overdoing it before I get so stressed out that I’m miserable to be around. In the Alexander Technique, we call this Inhibition.

Sometimes people misunderstand the concept of Inhibition. They think it means “Yay, I don’t have to do anything!” But it doesn’t really work that way. Inhibition is a form of Executive Function. It’s what allows us to do the harder thing. The non-stereotyped thing. It’s not just learning to stop tensing my shoulders. In this case, for me, it’s about eschewing a straightforward, well-defined parenting path (cook lots of food from scratch, feel virtuous) to stumble down a murkier road (set sterner limits for myself so I have some life-force left to be a decent human being to my children).

Fortunately, the two are not entirely mutually exclusive. But sometimes I have to force myself to do the harder thing and throw those bars and that box of mac & cheese in my grocery cart because I know that, despite all my best intentions, I will overcommit myself if I try to do it all from scratch. And then before I know it, I’ll be the crazy lady yelling, “NO YOU CAN’T HELP ME MAKE THESE GRANOLA BITES! YOU’RE GOING TO BE LATE FOR SWIMMING!”

No. Pause. Stop the insanity.

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