The Drama of Eating

by Kate on May 14, 2012

in Health, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Healthy Mind, Simple Living

Why has one of the most simple activities necessary for survival evolved into this convoluted, emotional, and unnatural experience for so many of us? It’s really sort of tragic that we live during this very brief time in history when food is relatively plentiful and yet no one can enjoy it (If it interests you, you can view the Statistics on Starvation on Wikipedia). “Everybody is enjoying it,” you say, “that’s why 2/3 of Americans are obese or overweight.” Yes, but how many of them are fraught with guilt every time they eat a Big Mac? How many of them would love to feed their child an apple instead of a hamburger but feel they can’t afford it? When you eat with any feeling other than “I am so happy and grateful to be feeding and fueling my body with this delicious food” you’re not enjoying eating. You’re just stuck in a weird toxic masochistic relationship where every pleasurable feeling has a dark shadow of dissatisfaction and guilt.  How did we get here?

First, let’s go back to the second sentence of the previous paragraph. Is food really plentiful? Sure, if you can call what we eat today food. I’d argue that a lot of what advertising wants us to believe is food is not, in fact, food. “Food,” in the biological sense, should give your body nutrients. So much of what we eat today does not. And those decreased starvation statistics?  Something to be thankful for and applauded of course. But I fear the reason starvation rates have decreased is also the reason overall quality of food has decreased: methods of mass production.

Just a quick Google search of “GMOs”, “Monsanto”, or “Genetically Modified Organisms” will lead you to a plethora of materials explaining the shady processes big farm corporations like Monsanto use to produce their huge crop yields. But despite my tone thus far, this was not meant to be a rant on Monsanto or the modern state of the food industry. One should never dwell too long on the things one cannot control. So what can you control? What can I, you, or any of us do to address our modern food crisis?

1. Stop the Fat Talk: Please, women everywhere (men too), stop talking about how much you hate your thighs. Normally I’m not one to ask people to hold thoughts in–generally I think expressing troubling thoughts is a good thing. But in this case, I think sharing your poor body image does more harm than good. This talk is like a contagious virus that easily spreads to the unassuming young 12 year old girl who previously never knew thighs could be disliked and thus begins her body obsession and yo-yo dieting and so on. Plus when you say things like this you’re either met with “No you have great thighs”, which you don’t believe, or silence, which makes you think people agree with you. So retrain yourself. Do whatever you have to do to stop giving power to these negative thoughts. And if you’re a parent and do this around your child, then you need to think about how much you love her and let your love for her be more powerful than your negative thoughts about your own body (or hers, God forbid!).

2. Focus on Eating Real Food: There’s this rumor floating around that healthy foods are more expensive than unhealthy foods. It’s simply not true! Sure if you want to go buy a prepackaged meal of organic Tofu noodles at Whole Foods, then that will cost more than a #2 meal at McDonald’s. But a carton of tribe hummus will cost only $3-5 (one serving would be around $1-2). Add a slice of whole wheat pita bread (less than $1 per slice), and you’re eating a filling meal for much less than any Fast Food meal I’ve ever had. That’s so boring, you say? Do you realize that burger from McDonald’s is comprised of 93% corn (Scientific American, 2008 http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=that-burger-youre-eating-is-mostly-corn)? It’s the salt the tricks you into believing it’s exciting. (If you still think hummus is too boring I can-and will-come up with a list of other inexpensive healthy food ideas). The main reason I think eating Real Foods is so important is it helps to stop you from associating eating with stress relief.  Raise your hand if you’ve ever ended a stressful day and thought “God I need some French Fries/Coffee/Chocolate”. What about “God I need some Blueberries/Almonds/Baked Chicken?” See, takes the emotional out of eating so you can focus on feeding your body instead of your feelings.

3. Learn One Simple Math Equation: I hate to relate eating to weight. Sounds weird, but weight is so appearance focused while eating, I believe, should be about doing something good for your body. That said, I leave you with this one simple truth: weight gain and loss is just math. It’s a simple function of calories in minus calories out. This Nutritional Daily Needs Calculator will estimate the number of calories you burn while sedentary plus what you burn from any exercise. Add those two numbers together and you’ll have a good idea of how many calories you should be eating daily or how much more you’d need to exercise to maintain your weight (To lose, eat less. To gain, eat more).

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*In the spirit of full disclosure, links to products in this post may be affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission if you decide to purchase any of the products I recommend. Know that I only recommend products that I have used and love myself.

*I am not a doctor, a nurse, or any kind of health practitioner. I’m just a gal with a pretty keen intuitive sense, great research abilities, and curiosity that is easily peaked. Please understand that my advice is really just another opinion and it’s for you (and your doctor) to decide the best course for your health and well-being.

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