Food Relationships

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

June 5, 2011

“You know, I wasn’t eating when we met.”

“What?” I queried. “You didn’t eat?”

“No, you didn’t notice?” asked my husband.

He proceeded to explain that he was riding his bicycle all the time, not really eating breakfast or lunch, and what he did eat for dinner was largely prepared foods like Ramen Noodles. Occasionally, when I would cook something he would participate, but largely it was the variety of pre-packaged foods.

I mentioned this to my mother, who was shocked to learn I hadn’t heard of this phenomena before. The phenomena being that men don’t eat until they meet someone, get married, and are (force) fed 3 squares a day.

Food relationships are very interesting to me. To continue on this theme of food obsession, I now have more fodder to explore and contrast. My husband likely didn’t eat to save time and money. Regardless, this relationship he had with food wasn’t very healthy. Growing up, I also didn’t have a healthy relationship with food.

When I was in 8th grade, I was 5’2″ and weighed about 130lbs. I was pretty well developed as puberty had hit. But, I was not the skinny twig as many of my classmates, and therefore, I felt I was fat. I hated eating in front of classmates for fear I would be judged for continuing this idea of fat. Like many girls, I hated my body and this perception I felt others had of me. I would often skip breakfast and lunch, then I would consume dinner, ravenously.

When I think about how obsessed our society is with food, I think of these scenarios. Not eating to save money, not eating to maintain a terrible vision of what looks good, eating in different ways to ensure optimum health, the wrestlers who make weight by being muscled anorexics. What are we really doing when we maintain these habits?

As my high school years wore on, and I created more meaningful lasting friendships, my confidence rose and so did my eating habits. Through my first college years, I stopped the unhealthy meal skipping and began to think about food in a more enjoyable way. I learned that I really do like to cook. I learned that I can cook and people enjoy the combinations of food I create. I remembered that I do enjoy eating and sharing meals with people. On one hand you could argue that I grew up.

Why do we struggle so much, though, with these food obsessions? Today we have Jamie Oliver in his food kitchen trying to show one school at a time how to produce healthy meals in public schools. On the other hand, we have a variety of celebrity chefs (think Gordon Ramsey or any on the Food Network or Bravo) entering kitchens across America, competing, and centering their obsessions around gourmet food. Then, we have the food shortages across our planet and country, the ability of the “haves” versus the “have nots” to access quality food — the irony being, here in the States, we are the among richest on our planet. And, then, we have communities all across the country with children suffering from emotional distress and food related disorders.And, finally, to add insult to the whole concept – there is the growing concern of food allergies and knowledge around food sensitivities – concepts that sometimes fall right in the face of the cultural concept of food.

We need nutrition to sustain us. A more enjoyable method to receive that nutrition is, arguably, through a good meal. Instead of just breaking bread with another and enjoying the nutrition gifted, we obsess.

Please, add to this discussion. How do you obsess about food? Do you? Do you know others that obsess about food? Can you understand?

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