Food - my four letter word

Food and I go way back.  

I hear stories all the time about how when I was a baby I would cry until they fed it to me.  Super weird, right.  It's like I knew.  

Even now, when I don’t eat in time, I find my panic and anger can sometimes be overwhelming.  At least thats what my friends tell me.

But, really, I don’t know when things got so tense between us.  Food and I.

Some people get along fine with Food.  Eating it, whenever they want.  Not eating it when they don’t.  Food doesn’t mock them the way it does me.

For me, though, Food and I never had it easy. 

I mean, back in the cave man’s era, there really wasn’t much to choose from, where Food was concerned.  There they were, the cave men, eating Food all perfectly: Paleo, of course.   The whole time, not even really knowing how rad that bison or dinosaur leg would taste with just a tiny bit of BBQ sauce.  They just existed blindly without any Foods that were white.

But then God invented the grain.  Out of now where, Gluten rose its ugly head and declared war on mankind, mostly in middle america, and promised to never let us forget the simple goodness of its mixture with butter or jam. Now with Food and Gluten joined hand in hand, things were only going to go down hill. 

I’m not sure when exactly when the evil “white Food” came onto the scene.  It was probably around the time that mankind started using tools.  Or at least fire.  Something had to happen to make an ingredient that was some how once healthy into something delicious and nefarious.  Regardless, there they were.  All those “white” processed ingredients, joining forces with grains, and slowly and surely, under the guise as “Food” they conquered the world.  

I think, historically, they started in Italy.  (I’m pretty sure there is a history book that says that somewhere.)  But then, they made their way to France, China, Thailand, and eventually, here to America.  Well, maybe Spain, England, then America.  

Fast forward to 1974, when I was born, and bam.  This is where it all started.  At least for me.  I blame the media for shaming mothers of the time into getting more “George Jetson” with feeding their kids.  Ditch the bodily functions and use a can opener.  Plastic contraptions riddled with toxins.  After all, they needed a hand free for their cigarettes.

From there, I graduated to McDonald’s french fries, doughnuts and yes, Coca Cola.

Sure, my parents made sure that when I was 3, these delightful indulgences were limited, but I was already hooked.  Yes, they would try and pack me a healthy lunch (chicken sandwich, carrots and apple?  blech.)  Luckily, there was the lunch line where I could happily supplement my healthy meal with Little Debbie snack cakes and chocolate milk.

As I got older, I became used to the fact that my family would refer to me as “apple” shaped.  I didn’t mind, so long as they didn’t actually expect me to eat an apple.

During the long summer tv binge that would happen while my parents were working, I had plenty of time to make amazing choices with Food.  I was thankfully spared any real physical activity, all while filling up  my memory bank with helpful information like how well tide cleaned clothes better than other detergents.  And just how many situations can Lucy get into?  My three sons, and tampon commercials.  I can still recite most lines from any Gilligan’s Island ever made.  

As I got older, I started to actually do exercise.  It was hard.  But I found that with some practice, I got better.  Softball.  Basketball.  Volleyball.  But then, in high school, I felt like I needed to specialize in whatever “uncool” activity I was in.  I can’t be in the marching band, athletics, journalism all at the same time.  I had to pick one.  Yup - I picked the one that allowed me to stay in a chair, working at a computer, drinking sodas and eating Nestle Crunch.  I ate so much that my co-jounalist nerds made me a tiara out of one of the nestle crunch wrappers.  

In college it was easier to stay in shape.  Waitressing 35 hours a week on top of walking to all my classes became my fitness regime.  That on top of no time to eat, I found I was in tip top shape.

But after college is when things started to get challenging again.  I had to sit 8 hours a day, and had to drink every night after that.  Food got fancier.  And Food made friends with Wine, which is really just a liquid Food Art.  It’s all been a pretty aggressive plate spinning event ever since.  

And why?  Why is it so hard to stay healthy?  Why do chorizo breakfast burritos call to me first thing on a Saturday morning?  Why do I have dreams of gooey chocolate chip cookies, oozing with white ingredients disguised by even more chocolate?  And WHY is it that I have to schedule time to move my body?  Yoga.  Cross fit.  Hiking.  Schedule.  All because of you, Food.  You’re relentless.

But, then I take a step back.  While these are all great questions to ask, there might be another bigger, and more important question.   Why do we live in a society where we have to train ourselves to avoid indulgences like this to remain strong and healthy?  Why do we force ourselves to teeter on the edge of hunger to fit into smaller clothes or look like the women we see portrayed in the movies?  All the while, telling ourselves and our families - our daughters - that its a battle that will always be there.  A constant balancing act.

And then there is the reality.  There are the families, in your community, in mine, that go to bed hungry every night.  Not because they are on drugs, or “dieting” or trying to fit into something smaller, but because they have nothing.  Nothing to eat.  Nothing smaller to wear.  No where to hang a piece of art.  No art to hang.  And the irony that keeps swishing around in my head is how can we balance that?  How do we fix that problem?  If somehow one side were able to tip over then maybe we wouldn’t have to work so hard.

Audrey Hepburn was one of the most kind and fascinating women of all time, in my opinion.  Through WWII she suffered through severe hunger, watching her mother and siblings suffer.  Through that suffering came a resolve to refuse to be hungry.  To me, while unhealthy to denounce food altogether, I appreciate her later words about compassion, beauty and food.  I hear it in my head all the time.  I would love it if more people did, too.  Maybe, if I think about it more, and do more, it will make my relationship with Food better.  Fingers crossed, Audrey.


“For attractive lips,
Speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes,
Seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure,
Share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair,
Let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day.
For poise,
Walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.
People, even more than things,
Have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed,
And redeemed; never throw out anyone.
Remember, if you ever need a helping hand,
You will find one at the end of each of your arms.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands;
One for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.

-Audrey Hepburn