Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Sacred and the Profane

Mr. E sent me this article from Salon last week and it got me thinking.


It's an interview with Barry Glassner, who just wrote a book called "The Gospel of Food". In the article he touches on all sorts of the dieting and food ideas and issues going on today, but the part that jumped out at me most was this:

I think that one way that the food industry is brilliant is in picking up on the bipolar approach to food that we have in this country where we think that certain foods are good or bad, or sacred or profane.

I've become fairly successful at reworking my life so I have a healthy attitude towards food. I eat about half of what I used to and I know what a normal portion of something is and I mostly stay away from fast food and I exercise and I eat vegetables instead of chips and I get a small non fat latte every once in a while instead of a grande mocha with whip every morning. But as I've learned all this and lost sixty pounds and become a runner, I've also gotten worse at separating myself from what I eat, I've also become convinced I don't do enough and I always feel like I could be eating better and that if I did, I'd be a better person.

Inherent in any diet or lifestyle where you're making yourself do something that doesn't come naturally, like eating carrots instead of ice cream, there's always a level of self flagellation. It's how you lose weight. If you didn't want to change, to be "better", you wouldn't have the motivation necessary to get off your ass and put down the spoon. But at the same time I can't help but wonder if it's gone too far when I always feel judged and when I never feel like what I'm eating is the right thing. Is it really normal to feel so defensive because I don't eat whole wheat pasta? I don't like whole wheat pasta, but I still feel like I would be a better person if made myself eat it. At every meal there's a little voice in the back of my head telling me I should be eating kale instead of macaroni and cheese and I can't help but wonder if I need to tell that little voice to shut the hell up. Also, I have no idea how to do that.

The worst part of it all is I don't feel like a "good" person when I eat "the right foods". I just feel like a bad person when I don't.

I can't figure out I feel this way because the lot in life of a perfectionist is to be stuck forever trying harder to do better, or if it's because society's anti fat stance is so strong that we apply it to whatever we think of as scary fattening foods as well. Maybe it's a little of both.

All I know is that deep down I really do know that eating kale won't make me a better person. But at the same time, in the same head space, I also know that I'm a bad person, because I'm not eating kale for dinner.

1 comment:

Chris H said...

Geezzzz, who the hell decided what was "good" and what was "bad" ??? NOthing in moderation is evil, and you are a normal person, not a good or bad one depending on what you eat! If you make healthy choices 90% of the time, does that make you good 90% of the time? You are obviously struggling with this issue, it is so sad cos I'm sure you are the nicest person! If you eat something "bad" enjoy it! Life is for living, yummy food included... in moderation. I take every saturady "off" my diet, and have some evil evil food, and love every mouthful, and I don't feel bad, I feel great!