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Raisins d’etre (A Healthy Relationship with Food)

A lot of problems with America today is due to people not having healthy relationships with food. I think if people had a more healthy relationship with food, a lot of the needs for diets and whatever would be obviated. I’m currently rebuilding my spectacularly bad relationship with food — for many years eating food made me unpredictably ill, so all sorts of eating guidelines and good advice contained utter fail; that isn’t the case anymore — and so I’ve been consciously thinking about food and how I interact with it.

I think there are several healthy ways of looking at food consumption and a couple unhealthy ones. Most healthy relationships with food contain a lot of the following pieces:

Food is a means, not an end. Not every meal should be the most pleasurable experience you’ve ever had. Sometimes, it’s okay just to eat a meal bar or have a snack in place of a meal. This idea leads to the americanism of eating at fast food restaurants multiple times a day, I think, if every meal is an event then it needs to be celebrated. In short, food should not be a raison d’ĂȘtre .

There are ends served by food. In particular, health is an end to which health is a means. Also, socialization is also an end to which food is a possible means. I think socialization is where people get stuck eating more than they should — the idea of food as a fun experience drives people to eat like they were having fun in an attempt to recreate fun. I think that’s where I get stuck — I’m used to eating a lot of food with people.

Healthy relationships with food keep the ends in mind. Just like fucking people at work is a bad idea, forgetting why you’re in a particular place or undertaking a particular interaction can lead to trouble. With food, at least, you probably won’t be fired unless you make some spectacularly bad decisions. Therefore, for everyday meals, it’s probably more important to get the nutrition you need for your overall life than to have the most pleasant meal you can.

Both food and people that are full of shit are bad for you. If you look at what’s in common fast food, you see that you’re putting all sorts of appalling shit into your body. I have celiac, so I have great reason to read food labels attentively, and I often see all sorts of strange things on the label that I have to look up to make sure they aren’t wheat. So, there’s lots of strange things in food, and some of them aren’t great for you in ways that aren’t in the annoying hippy ass OMG WHAT HAVE THE QUEERS HAVE DONE TO THE SOIL sort of panic that natural food folks seem to be prone to.

Building relationships is hard. For a long time, I had stopped going to new restaurants because I was randomly getting ill from eating at them. I had a decent stock of places that I would go to, and tended to go out to one or another of them when possible. Some comments that Gluten-Free Girl made the other week helped a lot about my determination to go forth and go back to being experimental with food. I’m also going back and re-examining my relationship with food from more or less the beginning this week, building things up from scratch. I spent a lot of time thinking anyway.

So, I’ve been working hard on this, and I’ve been working on mentally recontextualizing the role of food in my life. Mostly, separating the goals of food as a social occasion and food as nutrition. I think my world needs more intense flavor and more experimentation, but it also needs more attention to nutrition and making the quotidian quotidian. This is also true of the external world. Also, more eating food with groups of people in everyday contexts needs to be done.

I do, think, though that a lot of problems with food are due to people’s relationships with food and not just due to tendencies to overeat or misjudge. If you aren’t getting pleasure other places, you’re going to get it through the mouth. My own problems are simple, I had a bad relationship with food that was pretty much abusive — random stimuli leading to pain response, low predictability of severity or type of response, and etc… — but I’m working on rebuilding it now.

However, to restore the sort of crappy tone of this blog, WTF is up with the outback steakhouse and their portion sizes? I went there because they have a gluten free menu the other day, and I left with about a goat’s weight in leftovers after having quite the meal. That’s just astounding to me.

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