Wednesday, September 17, 2014

For the Love of FOOD--Trigger Happy Part 3

Over the weekend, I watched a documentary called "Spinning Plates," which I thought I would use as inspiration to talk about healthy relationships with food.  But the film ended up being so much more. It highlighted how much love is packed into food, how our relationships are built and solidified around great meals, and how enjoying food with loved ones is one of the great pleasures in life.  The film followed three different restaurant owners/chefs and their families.  One a high-end, modernistic cuisine restaurant in Chicago, another a family owned and operated restaurant in a small town in the heart of America, and finally a Mexican restaurant in Arizona operated by a husband and wife, both immigrants into the US trying to make a living for their family.

Hearing their customers talk about the food, and the amazing people behind the food, was touching enough.  It was a firm reminder that as much as we, Americans, obsess over foods and diets and weight and exercise and fats and carbs and 100-calorie packs of shit, that we are missing one of the greatest joys in life.  Enjoying the pleasures of taste, one of our gifts, with love and passion.  Tasting the delicious sweetness of a banana, without anything else.  Tasting just one bite of rich, creamy chocolate.  Or discovering all the complexities of olive oil.  I often hear people referring to the French, saying that the French do it right.  They enjoy rich foods, but don't over do it.  I don't want to over generalize, but the concept is right.  If we shift our perspective to see food as nourishing, delicious, healthy, and a blessing, I doubt we will scarf it down as quick as possible, load it with condiments, and pack it in with a large bottle of Coke.

The patrons in the family-run restaurant in Iowa would come in regularly, use it as a way to talk to their neighbors, enjoy their meals of chicken, potatoes, and corn, and get on with their simple living.  While the diners in the upscale Chicago restaurant were taken on a "culinary journey" where the menus fixed, and they trusted the expertise of the chef to create the perfect meal.  The chef viewed each plate as a piece of art.  In both instances it's about the experience.  Experiencing the food, enjoying it, without seeing it as a plate to conquer, to devour, to destroy.

Now obviously, we can't always eat out or make every meal feel like a heavenly experience.  But I would urge you again to shift your perspective towards food, and more specifically, anything you put into your body.  I have recently been trying not to eat on the go, or eat while I am doing something else.    Too often I am eating my lunch while typing away at the computer, or devouring a banana while driving.  I can't tell you how many times I have chugged my latte and forgotten to enjoy it.  Not to mention, we do not have a kitchen table, we use the coffee table in front of the TV.  It's terrible! It results in mindless eating, overeating, under-eating, poor eating, etc.

Weezy trying to eat my leftover pancakes!

If you've decided to start the food-happy journal, consider adding who you eat with, what you saw or experienced during your meal, where you ate, etc.  I know that each morning when I teach early, I spend the hour and a half between classes at a local cafe.  They know me when I come in, and I love grab a seat in the back.  I smell the delicious bacon (that I don't order,) I want as yummy stacks of pancakes are delivered to eager faces.  I see people meeting their friends, co-workers, or are simply starting their day alone, like me.  Its a beautiful thing, once I started noticing.  One day the man next to me, burly with grease under their nails, were talking about a construction project they were doing in a house.  They were drawing diagrams, discussing the pros and cons of two different plans, and all the while over bacon and eggs with a steamy cup of black coffee.  I thought they were fascinating (and I thought that I was being a bit creepy listening!)

But there is an opportunity each time we go to eat to be mindful about it.  Some people say Grace before they eat, and I often wonder whether the words still mean something.  But they have the right idea.  Taking the time to put away the laptop, put down the cell phone, turn off the TV, and tune in to your meal, what food/drink your putting into your body.  Then take the time to notice how it makes your belly feel.  One bite at a time, triggering our food-happy state!

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