Food, Revisited

I’ve always been confused about food. What is there to be confused about? You buy it, you cook it, you eat it, and your body is fueled. Do basically that process three times a day, and you’ll be healthy, right? Wrong.

I’m not sure if I can blame the melting pot of American culture for the loss of my ancestors’ European food traditions or if I should blame post-war food manufacturers and their marketing teams. Perhaps western diet culture and Hollywood are to blame for my confusion, not just directly, but indirectly through my mother and grandmother. Maybe I can blame Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network for allowing the emotionally manipulative advertisement of junk food when I was a child. Or perhaps it is all these things, muddled together with other aspects of my childhood and the white American culture in which I was raised.

Since high school, when I first heard of a peer going on a diet (it was the South Beach diet, and yes, I tried it too), I’ve gone around and around in circles with different diets and manners of eating. It’s almost a cliche in our country now. I’ve tried everything, especially if it involved going to a health food store for sPeCiAl InGrEdIeNtS.

Lately, all this confusion has nothing to do with my weight or physical appearance. Rather, I see my weight not as the problem, but the symptom. When I gain weight, I’m not upset about the way I look (I look fantastic at any weight, thank you very much), but because I know it’s a result of unhealthy eating and lifestyle. My confusion about food has more to do with the yearning to be healthy and live a long life.

Compounding all this confusion is that someday I will have children and that the relationship I have with food will be taught to them whether I like it or not. It is a hefty weight for someone who wants children as badly as I do.

Recently, I found a diet that really worked for me. I felt amazing, lost some weight, and gained back a little hope for my future. Then, I saw how that diet affected my hormonal cycle and immediately stopped. If the food I ate was going to make me healthy, it had to make ALL of me healthy without upsetting the hormonal balance that had previously been working wonderfully.

So I find myself back at square one, this confusing place where all food seems simultaneously good and evil, where there are far too many choices to choose from and everyone has an opinion about it all.

In times like these, I tend to go back to basics. Cheryl Mendelson’s chapter on food in Home Comforts is always, well, a comfort to me. She writes of the three western meals of the day in terms of their physical contributions as well as their emotional impact on our day, and it speaks to me on a spiritual level.

Everything is connected. The mundane and the spiritual. Light and dark. Helpful and harmful. Exertion and rest. Balance is key. I know that. I’ve known that before. I will know it again.

I’m working on sitting in the middle of my confusion and waiting for it to settle, rather than trying to sort it all out. I have to accept what is before I work on changing anything.

[Sorry, this got real deep all of a sudden! That happens when I write without a plan!]

In conclusion, I have no idea what I’m doing, and what is food anyway? The end.

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