So, I’ve been thinking about food. I think about food a lot. Maybe too much. Like a lot of my compatriots, I worry about weight, count carbs, count calories, restrict this thing or that, and it becomes…a struggle. It’s ridiculous, really. And we know what is true about our food: it’s crammed with sugar and cheap fat. We Americans have a sweet tooth. And there’s actually nothing wrong with sugar, inherently. It just doesn’t belong in absolutely everything.
Perhaps worse, is that we eat alone, and in a hurry, at desks, while we frantically struggle to keep up productivity so we can rush home and cram food in our faces. If we have families, it’s sometimes worse. We are a fast food nation, even at home, and the dinner table has been disappearing since I was a kid. We eat when we are bored, we eat when we are lonely, we eat when we are sad. And that’s sad. One of the stereotypes of Americans is an excess of friendliness, (I know there are some others. We’ll leave them for now.) but there are too many of us eating unconsciously, and alone, watching Netflix and not even enjoying the sugary snacks on which we are gorging.
I’m hardly the first person to have this thought. Here’s an article written by Margaret Churchill in 2002 on the subject of paying attention to pleasure and satiety. In 2009, Psychology Today published this article by Jan Chozen Bays, MD, on a similar topic. This one, from Joseph B. Nelson and Diabetes Spectrum, has a solid list of cited works for the more scientifically inclined.
I propose an experiment, and I invite you to join me, American or not. It’s March 5, 2019. I’m going to spend the next year eating consciously. Here are the rules as I have set them.
- Turn off the media. All of it. Alone or with a group, we are playing with our phones and arguing on Twitter while we eat. That can’t be good for anyone.
- Real Food. The definition here is broad, but I think the less that comes out of cans and boxes and the more that comes out of refrigeration, the better.
- Balance. I’m so over cutting carbs. I know it works short term, and I’m not going to say you should or shouldn’t ever do it. Just that it’s not what I want.
- Slow down. I’m like everyone else — I don’t get an hour or two to relax in the middle of the day and eat. I’ve decided that if I don’t have time to eat properly, and slowly, that I’ll wait until I do. If I’ve reached hangry, a handful of peanuts or something tiny should really hold off the pain if I’ve eaten decently prior to all that.
- Pay attention. With all of this, it should be easier to pay attention and enjoy what I am eating. Yes, food is fuel, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with making it a pleasure as well.
So how do we begin? By cleaning out the fridge. No low fat, low carb, fake sugar crap. In theory, I will eat less, and can therefore afford better food. I am a Diet Coke addict, so I’m keeping that. Judge me if you will. Other than that, whole, identifiable food. I choose not to worry about the GMO/organics debates. My budget exists, and I have to live in it. If that issue is part of your world, I welcome you to my party as you are. Let’s explore food, with all its colors and flavors, and see what happens.