Saturday, March 03, 2012


I got to thinking how my way of food selection, preparation, and eating, and obsessing about all of this would look to someone from a developing-world or third-world culture.  It's helping me put some things into perspective, especially my issue of eating more than I really need or want, and eating when not hungry. I've been learning to practice "mindful eating" -- eating when hungry, paying attention to the food and my response, stopping when full.

I thought about illustrating this post with a photo, but rather than pirate someone else's, here's a link to my Google image search for "too much food."  Go have a look, just to put you in the mood.

What I see when I think about it is.... so many people are lucky to get a bowl of rice once a day. How foreign it would be to them to go with us into a grocery store, larger than any structure they've ever seen, wander aisle after aisle of astonishingly varied foods, can after box after bag after package of it, the store called "Foodland" (a land where there is food everywhere you look, imagine!), casually pick up item after item filling a big cart with it, complain about the price but take it anyway, pull out cash or a piece of plastic to pay for it (one cart costing more than they will see in a year) and then complaining that we have to put it all away, and we're running out of shelf space, and we can't control our appetite, and we're paying organizations and/or reading books to teach us how to stop eating so much.  Imagine walking into a restaurant, clean and cozy and elegant (a diner or burger stand is elegant compared to a mud hut), poring over a booklet illustrating dozens of delicacies (including hot dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches, and special entrees for those watching their weight), not being able to decide, having too many choices, being presented with a plate heaped so high we can't eat it all (or we do and then complain that we ate too much and we'll have to go to the gym to work it off), and then paying a price that's equivalent to a week's worth of groceries at that rich supermarket.

The astonishment. Can't absorb it. Can't take it in. How can anyone be so rich? How can food be so abundant?

This is an observation that makes me want to eat less, makes me want to eat oatmeal for breakfast and beans for lunch. Imagine being able to decide what we feel like having for breakfast.... imagine even having breakfast. Imagine feeling that we'd like a little snack and then perusing our choices as to which snack will hit the spot. Imagine thinking ahead what we might like to eat, going to the store and buying those foods, having them available so that we know we're not going to feel deprived. Imagine the comfort of knowing that we won't have to wait without eating for another couple hours until our next mealtime. Imagine being able to choose something pleasant to eat when we're not even hungry, when we just have a taste for something cheerful or chewy or chocolate.
Imagine making this big a deal out of whether, when, what, how, and how much to eat.

Sometimes I wonder just what it is I'm so worried about. I'm thinking that to me, mindful eating may mean being mindful of how fortunate I am.