Last night I made chili for dinner. I meant to make spaghetti but didn’t have any sauce. So chili it was. It was a little hot, so I put cheese in it. It was still too hot, so I ate it with cheese toast. 

As I was eating my cheesy chili last night I started to feel a little sad, because I can’t enjoy food anymore on account of the guilt I feel when I eat it.

The truth is, I don’t like healthy food. It doesn’t, as Marie Kondo says, bring me joy. I grew up on southern fried dinners. If I could go home to Mama’s every night and still have her make me fried chicken, biscuits and gravy, fried potatoes, fried okra, fried etc. etc, I’d be happy to do it. It fills me with sorrow that I can’t guiltlessly consume cakes and candies and fried chicken and cheese sticks and pizza.

But, I’m in my mid 30s now. My metabolism naturally isn’t what it used to be. And though I barely sit down during the day, I have no taste for actual exercise right now. I see all these women on social media who are like … “There’s no excuse for not finding 10 minutes a day to exercise,” or some similar thing. And I’m just over here like, my excuse is I’m tired and if I find 10 free minutes during my 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. day, then I’d just rather be sitting in the rocking chair eating my lunch and watching tv.

Probably 12 years ago I started watching documentaries about how the basic American diet is ruining everyone’s health. I made a trip to Earth Fare and was going to turn my life around and start eating healthy food, and only organic food too. That was short lived. Eating healthy is a lot of work.

I’m not saying that my eating habits haven’t changed since then. I mean, it’s not like in college when I’d call up Papa John’s and order a large pepperoni pizza, a cinnamon roll dessert pizza and a bottle of coke all for myself and eat it in one sitting.

We eat a lot of organic food. I typically don’t fry anything. But I can’t make a healthy diet stick all the time.

I need to lose a good 20 pounds, but really 40. I’ll go to my grave blaming my endocrinologist for giving me medicine that basically killed the glorious metabolism that allowed me to eat so poorly all my life. I’ve just never been able to bounce back from my messed up thyroid, and it’s that sickness that makes me feel guilty when I eat a bowl of chili with cheese in it.

See, I’m supposed to be giving up dairy for a while. I took a food sensitivity test, and I had a reaction to cow’s milk, yogurt, bell peppers, garlic, peanuts and mushrooms. Before that I’d already tried giving up gluten, because as I’m sure I’ve complained here before, my thyroid was messed up and they say people with thyroid problems should cut out gluten.

I was doing pretty good, and then it was Thanksgiving and I said well I’m going to eat whatever I want today. And I did. And then I said, well the holiday lasts as long as the leftovers, and I kept eating the macaroni. And, even though I still haven’t had another glass of chocolate milk or a peanut butter sandwich, which used to be my lunch every day, my diet hasn’t overall improved. (For the record,  I don’t sit around and eat all day, I only eat breakfast, lunch and dinner and sometimes I’m so busy in the morning I don’t eat breakfast.)

Anyway, that’s all. I’m just feeling a little down and out because I want to be skinny and healthy, but I also want to eat whatever I want, and I know I can’t have both. So if you’re thinking maybe you’ll pick your diet back up after Christmas, I’m right there with you. After Christmas sounds good.

Danielle Wallingsford Kirkland is a former Sentinel staff writer and correspondent. She can be reached at

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