A few years ago, I went on one of those diets where you only eat cereal for three meals. To be fair, I actually really liked cereal, having concocted a recipe as a kid that called for adding liberal lashings of honey and sugar to already-sugar-laden Frosties, a recipe I called "honey crunch" and featured in my "cookbook". Everyone refused to eat Frosties honey crunch except my rather patient father, who politely put it down after a bite. Anyway, the diet worked to a degree - as all diets do initially - because I cut out snacks and just ate more cereal or tasteless protein or fruit instead.
Cereal was stuck in my mind as not just a comfort food, but also as the food that could double as being healthy. I put it, quite firmly, in my "good" food category, even though the Willy Wonka description of cereal as the wood shavings from sharpeners might be a better way to describe some of the awful cereals out there. (Hotel breakfast buffet cereals firmly fall into this category.) I ate so much cereal on this diet that I now find it boring, but mostly, my idea that it was "good" killed the joy out of it.
It took me a long time to understand the idea of eating well or eating more mindfully, and it is still something I struggle with. Courtesy cereal-based diets and conflicting advice over the years, I have a moral relationship wth food that I am slowly trying to break down. For years, I put food into categories like good and bad, food that made me feel guilty, food that should have made me feel healthy but just made me resentful. I've slowly started recognising this - thanks to Darya Rose at Summer Tomato, and our conversation on this - and I am starting to enjoy food for being healthy on its actual merits, not my preconceived notions of what is meant to be good. One day, I hope to enjoy the occasional bowl of cereal without putting a label on it.