By wisdom | June 22, 2012
I feel I should acknowledge my evolving feelings towards the stuff that keeps our physical bodies going: food.
I’ve always had an adversarial relationship with this aspect of the material world. I remember dieting in high school, when I’d bring clammy hard-boiled eggs in a brown bag along with unappetizing celery sticks, and force myself to eat this each day in my battle to get as svelte as other teens were. (Not that I was ever fat-fat. Just miserably “zoftig”, as they called the meaty girls in my culture.) Alternating this, I’d relish the pizza in the nearby joint, thin-crusted, well-sauced, with oil that dripped down my arm as I wolfed down the slices; or trying Coquille St. Jacques in the French restaurant that daddy found in the basement of aNew Yorkbrownstone. Oh, so good! Then I’d diet again.
Pregnancy was always a struggle. Having gotten down to a Size 8 for my wedding, I was able (with effort) to keep near that size after each birth – there were three of them – even though it was always a see-saw between eating ice cream from the box with a fork (!), or living on salads. My third baby, a whopping nine and a half pounds at birth, put 40 lbs on me! And I victoriously took most of it off afterwards.
Post-divorce, single motherhood was tough on my emotionally and financially. I took in a friend as a kind of roommate/boarder, but she was the kind who was blessed with skinny genes. Whether she ate half a grapefruit for breakfast and a lentil casserole for dinner, or gobbled up a mound of raviolis, her weight never varied. It was always “lanky”. I hate lanky people! They’ve never heard of dieting. Lanky means there’s never enough meat on their bones to pinch, and food metabolizes through them like an ice cube on a car hood inPhoenix!
Irony of ironies, my father was lanky. He was so skinny all his life that he was ashamed to put on a bathing suit, and was fed lots of wonderfully caloric foods (like ice cream sundaes with whipped cream) to fatten him up. Obviously, I didn’t inherit his food genes.
Well, getting to the point of this ramble, having continued to indulge my appetites on and off during middle age, trying every diet in the world, it seems (well, not every one!), including SouthBeach (quite successful the first time) and now Weight Watchers (slow but steady) to lose about 15 unwanted lbs., I’ve realized at least one huge insight: food has lost most of its allure! I eat to stave off hunger. I eat to nourish the body. I eat sometimes out of boredom. But I no longer care if it’s chocolate or salad, potatoes or broccoli, bread or cardboard-tasting crackers. I have stopped craving. Deliciosity is not the magnet that it was. Nor is quantity. I can pass showcases of gooey cakes and just shrug. I can smell fabulous aromas and just smile.
In my Zen quest, I can say that I’ve mastered the food trap, the temptation of appetite. I eat to survive, and I thoroughly enjoy the opportunities to delight in the skilled results of culinary masters, but I no longer care about any of it. Food, like sex, just is.