So it’s getting to be close to my birthday, and every year, I try to give myself the same present: a day that I can eat anything that I want. Anything. And you know what? Every year, I never give myself that gift. I simply cannot do it.

When I was younger and had no knowledge of nutrition, it was much easier to devour as much ice cream, cake, pizza and Fruit Loops as I wanted, especially if it was the day before I was going to start a diet. Because, as you know, the day you start a diet, at least when you are fourteen years old, it is all about deprivation, starvation, and drinking as much water as you can to fill yourself up. So if you’re going to have to face that for several weeks in a row, you might as well enjoy your last moments when you can actually eat food, and man, did I do a great job. I could start breakfast with bowls of cereal and pizza, followed by chocolate chip cookies and Top Ramen for lunch, and maybe even the same thing for dinner! And, as many of us know, we experience these “diets” several times a year due to the dreaded “yo-yo” effect, so I could look forward to multiple opportunities to eat a lot of absolute junk. Wow, the things I used to do to my poor body!

As I grew out of those “diets” and into a better understanding of calories and metabolism and how our bodies work, I also gave up those crazy pre-diet days and developed a more responsible way to eat, but that doesn’t mean that a small part of me doesn’t long for a guilt-free day of eating whatever I want, just like the old days. That’s where the birthday present to myself comes in.  Wouldn’t it be fun to just eat pasta, dark chocolate, pizza, and French fries and not give it a second thought? To not care about the extra calories or the blood sugar levels, or how much fiber I should be getting? A special day like your birthday is the perfect reason!

Alas, it is not meant to be. Here’s why I can’t give this gift to myself. It’s not about the guilt. It’s not about not having this stuff in the house. It’s not about knowing better (well maybe it is just a little!). It’s really because I just have no desire to eat most of that stuff anymore, and if I do want to have something like dark chocolate, I just eat it. So easy, and guilt free. My tastes have changed so much since those days that brown rice with sauteed mushrooms and a nice big salad are really what I crave now. Really. Yes, there are still times when I want to treat myself to a little more ice cream than I should have, just like everyone else, but these times are few and far between, which I suppose is the very reason I don’t need a special day to eat whatever I want – I do it every day! Turns out I’ve been giving myself that gift all along.

So this year, I’m changing it up. Why keep giving myself a gift that I don’t need? This year, I’m going to enjoy the fact that my diet doesn’t deprive me of anything, and that it keeps me happy and healthy so that I’ll hopefully have many more birthdays to celebrate. Happy birthday to me!