I spend a lot of time thinking about food.
Where it comes from, how it is or isn’t harming the planet, who did or didn’t suffer to bring it to my table, what’s in it, what isn’t in it, if I need it, if I want it—and if I do—what exactly do I need or want?
And most notably—if I eat it, will it make me fat?
(Cue the body dysmorphic monster living in my head.)
This is what we call the “Big Daddy of First World Problems.”
To live in a town, in a country, on a planet that is so abundant, that I have the mental and physical energy to worry about the pedigree of a bunch of carrots—rather than crouching in a dirt hut gnawing on bark, because I haven’t seen a speck of food for the last week—is the definition of privilege.
But don’t worry, I feel terribly guilty about it all.
It occurred to me the other day, that despite all this thinking, thinking, thinking about every last particle of food that crosses my lips, I don’t spend all that much time thinking about how it tastes. And that’s a real shame—because food is delicious!
I realized—as I was shoveling some perfectly warm and cozy oatmeal down my gullet and letting my mind drift to fantasies of spicy peanut soup, with a thick slab of bread for lunch and maybe, oh yes! Maybe, a sticky, gooey block of that butternut squash and spinach lasagna I had stashed in the freezer—I realized how very, very lucky I am to, not only have food to eat, but to be required (kind of) to eat it at least three times a day. I mean, I could get away with once or twice, but it’s not ridiculous to say that eating three (or more) times a day is normal, healthy and even expected.
That’s a lot of eating! Every single day!
Now, for those of you who have never suffered from disordered eating, this may not seem particularly revelatory—but believe me when I tell you, it never occurred to me how much fun my over-thinking this stuff was really depriving me of.
I decided to—just for one day—only think with lusty passion about the taste, the texture and the color of the food I ate. More than that, I was going to go deeper than thoughts, and try to just feel the food.
Just feel what it’s like to eat for pleasure and without guilt.
Well, I didn’t do a very good job. After the third bite of my vegetarian deep dish pizza, the devils of self hatred were already beating me about the brain. Not that that didn’t stop me from eating three huge slices, but that’s not the point.
The point is, I had a brief moment—one flash of understanding—of what it could be like just to eat food because it’s good.
It’s good, and I am supposed to eat it—even when my body isn’t skinny, even when some people still don’t have enough and even when it doesn’t come from a pristine farm right down the street.
My plan is to build on this teeny-tiny moment, bite by beautiful bite.
A dark chocolate here, a tangerine there—and before I know it—I’ll sit at the table urging myself to eat—eat! Eat, like an old-school Italian grandma
Until then, I’ll keep reminding myself of this important idea—that I should try and accept the gift of food with gratitude, instead of fear.
Author: Erica Leibrandt
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Photo: Flickr/Barn Images