Moving past deep-dish guilt

Certain things stick in my brain for no apparent reason. Like an old episode of Oprah. She was talking about preparing for a photo shoot for the cover of a health and fitness magazine. During the lead-up, she had a trip to Italy and she bragged on her show that she did not eat one slice of pizza while on her trip. She was quite proud of her self control. And good for Oprah, if that’s what’s best for her. But the premise never quite sounded right to me.

Enjoying a slice of authentic Chicago deep dish pizza.

This likely came to mind after my trip to Chicago last week. It was my first time in the windy city, there for the Association for Women in Sports Media’s annual convention, and I had to deal with training for my Musselman triathlon weekend coming up in four weeks. Convention meals include way more food than I normally consume on my own and frankly I don’t usually eat a three-course meal at lunch and dinner.  Then came lunch on our Saturday. We were in Chicago. And that means deep-dish pizza. Like I was going to pass up an opportunity to get authentic Chicago deep-dish pizza? I don’t think so. And Lou Malnati makes a mean deep dish.

During the trip I had nutritional successes (eating the dried fruits and nuts I packed as snacks during the day) and setbacks (there was no such thing as “just a bite” of dessert.) My strategy was not to eat past the point of being full. I came to the edge a few times, but attained my goal. And perhaps most importantly, I stopped myself from beating myself up. My gremlins (or as my friend Mary called them once, “the negative committee which meets in your head”) tried to get me to feel guilty for eating deep dish pizza and chowing down on dessert. I listened to them for a few minutes. Then decided they were full of crap.

Because I also ate plenty of salad and drank tons of water. I kept up my running workouts and added as much walking as possible. And most importantly, I enjoyed myself. I shared meals over conversations with good friends and new acquaintances. It wasn’t just what I ate but how I ate. I could obsess over calories and diet composition. Or I could make the best decisions for me in the moment and move on. For me, a diet of deprivation isn’t appealing. My goal is not perfection. It is to fuel my body, mind and soul to live big. Sometimes that means a slice or two of deep-dish pizza.

Back home, my locally-inspired strawberry salad for lunch.

Not beating myself up for my convention eating digressions made it easy to fall back into my healthy eating habits at home. One lunch of deep-dish pizza does not ruin an entire lifestyle. And so I was back at the market, picking up local strawberries and lettuce for a lunch-time salad which I ate alone, on the good china, at a table looking out my front window. It wasn’t better than the hustle and bustle of the convention three-course lunch. It was simply different. The variety helps me cultivate an appreciation for whatever the day presents.

Strawberry Salad


  • About 1 cup torn lettuce (or salad greens)
  • 1/2 cup diced fresh strawberries
  • 1 Tbsp. toasted sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • Pepper


In a small whisk the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and pepper. Toss all ingredients together.

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