Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Purpose of Food

I love food.

If I’m having a bad day, there’s nothing like going home and eating a really tasty dinner to make up for all the crap a person has to put up with throughout the day. It just makes everything better! It calms the nerves, soothes the beast, enchants my world with pretty colors and happy thoughts.Ironically, I also reach for food when I’m already happy. Why is that? After all, I’m already happy, so do I really need to be happier than happy?Sometimes the happy comes from good news, and that’s an occasion to celebrate. Good food is involved. Sometimes I’m happy because of something I accomplished and good food is my reward. Sometimes I’m just happy because I can relax and do whatever I want, and of course, what’s a better companion to relax with than… you got it… good food. Or maybe a bag of chips or some oreo cookies… Boy oh boy.

I’ve been overweight my whole life. Now, I’m a naturally big person through genes, but that doesn’t mean that I have to be unhealthy & fat my whole life. I’ve come to realize that I need to rethink the way I view food.

I’ve always wondered if cooks need to like all food. I’m an avid fan of “Top Chef” and “Hell’s Kitchen” and the bottom line in all those shows is that they all need to taste foods, taste what’s in food, taste veggies and know what they taste like before they drop them into whatever creation they are cooking. They have to taste fish, steaks, poultry…shellfish… do they really like it all, or is it simply that they have a different view of food than I do?I often cringe when I see them taste the foods because personally, I’m a very picky eater. I don’t like most fish, I don’t like tomato, don’t like crab, don’t like lobster (I know… please take that look of horror off your face, I’ve seen it before… I’m not a criminal guys, I just don’t like lobster….). So I’m always thinking “I could never be a cook because I wouldn’t be able to taste all that food to decide how to make it”. To a chef, is food simply an ingredient? Is it just a part or a component that they need in order to compose a dish? Could it be that they don’t actually like everything they taste, but they are able to calculate from the way it tastes, whether or not it fits into a dish? Are food ingredients to a chef the same as computer parts for an IT person?

Anyway, it makes me think that I too have to review the way I look at food. It’s obvious that I use food as reward when I do something good, as an anti-depressant for those days I’m down and as a remedy for boredom when I’ve got nothing to do.I guess the trick would be to reframe the image I have of food and try to stop thinking of food as a reward and start thinking of it ass a pure nutritional need. I should start thinking of food merely as a way to fuel and energize my body. I should think about it in a logical way as opposed to tying all these rewarding connotations to the activity of eating food.Why do we have to eat? To stay alive. That should be the only reason we eat. (At least if we’re trying to lose weight). Granted, I still have trouble eating foods I don’t like, even if they are good for my body. I’m not sure how I can get over that threshold, to start liking foods because they’re good for my body, not necessarily because they are good for my palate.

Food = Nutrition

I guess that means I have to seek out other ways of rewarding myself and comfort myself and retrain my brain to automatically reach out for some other type of reward or comfort when I need it.

Sounds easy in theory. Sounds easy right now, because I’m full from lunch.
But it’s far from easy in real life.

I guess analyzing and coming to this conclusion is a good step in the right direction. Who knows, maybe blogging will turn out to be good for my physical health as well as mentally. At least I see what I need to do. Now I just need to put it into practice.

Food should be better for the body than for the mind.

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