Sunday, July 25, 2010
Thoughts About Food
I am afraid of food. It makes me nervous. Food has the power to sustain life, but it also has the power to take life. Eat the right things, and you'll live a long and healthy life. Eat the wrong things, and you'll be doomed to a terrible lifelessness. Some foods will magically reverse the signs of aging, and other foods cause the body to rot and fester. Nutritionists and dietitians all seem to have competing agendas. Makers of processed foods seem hell bent on enticing and cajoling us into premature death by partaking of their quick-to-fix mealtime solutions. Restaurants are the trickiest.
We go to restaurants for the ambiance, the luxury of having a talented chef prepare meals for us. Have you SEEN how they cook?? Yes, the food is delicious. Yes, I am envious of their talent and creativity. But the fat! The salt! The very things that make the food delicious are the very things that are most likely to kill me. I am afraid to eat in restaurants. I know that every tasty bite I take is another day or week off the end of my life.
Sometimes I feel like the paranoid monarchs of old who employed food tasters to ensure no one poisoned them through their food. I would like to have someone to test the dangers of my food before I eat it. Of course, I would have to wait ten, twenty, fifty years before I could evaluate the damage of saturated fat, sodium, preservatives, and other evils on my food taster. Alas, this is not a practical solution. My solution? I cook. I micromanage my kitchen. I assess and evaluate every drop of oil and every grain of salt that finds its way into the food I eat. I am obsessed.
When I go off track and eat wantonly, my gluttony is a shadow of its former self. Instead of eating a half gallon of ice cream* I eat extra sticks of string cheese. If I am feeling daring, I dip those sticks into salsa or another salty condiment. And then I fret. I fret about sodium content. I fret about the fat in cheese. As I lie in bed at night I can feel the cheese attaching itself to the walls of my coronary arteries, and I am afraid.
I am working on channeling that fear. Now that I have truly adjusted my food intake in favor of a healthier way of eating, I am ready to further refine the quality of the food I eat. My desire, my goal, is to make as many things as I can from scratch. I want to control what goes into my food. Take ranch dressing, for example. I love it, I eat it every day. It is easy to buy in the store, but it is almost as easy to make at home. I can do that. I do not need to buy veggie burgers; I can make them myself. I do not need to eat sliced chicken or turkey from the deli; I can cook it and slice it myself. Taking control of my food, like taking control of my activity level, is simply one more weapon in my arsenal. I am in a battle for my life, and I need to use all of the cunning and strategy I can muster.
* One of my pet peeves is the down-sizing of ice cream cartons by companies who then market a "20% bonus" carton that STILL doesn't add back up to a half gallon. Not that I eat ice cream anymore. Sigh.