We came, We saw, We’ve eaten…perhaps that is modern-day war cry.
Why am I thinking about this today? because I am a Baptist, a Southern Baptist to be more specific and if there is one thing we can do, it’s eat. Growing up, Sunday after church was always a great meal. It was either pot roast is the roasted veggies and all the trimmings, ham, fried chicken or some other wonderful spread. Or, we would go out to eat.
My dad is a minister and on our salary with four teenagers to feed nothing said budget conscious like the word buffet. I am not sure that the exact translation of the word smorgasboard, but once we learned the word in American is translates “Gluttony” in the vernacular! It was like a socially acceptable excuse to gorge ourself to “Make sure we get our money’s worth.”
I am thinking about this also because of the rough weekend I had. As I mentioned to you in a previous blog, Friday was tough. I got angry, pouty, edgy and restless, in short, I was an absolute pill to be around. As I sequestered myself to keep from aggravating my precious wife, I had time to think. It was then I realized that “Fridays” are a trigger for me.
Here’s how that works. You made it to the end of the week. Depending on your job, most of us get paid on Friday or every other Friday. to celebrate the accomplishment we want to go out and let our hair down. We want to “do” something that is different form the drudgery of 8 am Monday-5 pm Friday. So we go and do what ever it is to give ourselves a little mini vacation; our island in the middle of our humdrum. Whatever activity we choose, usually we end up at a restaurant, eating food that is step better in our minds than fast food. We want to go to a cafe where the food is not thrust at us in a sack through a window. We want to sit down and let the week wash off of us. For many, we even want to wash it down with alcohol. In some ways, it give us a sense of achievement to be able to treat ourselves to this type of meal. Now depending on your budget, that may mean different levels of dining. But seeing that I have lived in all income levels (except that of extreme wealth) I can tell you it is true of all socio-economic groups and classes.
When I was in college, it meant Little Ceasar’s “Pizza Pizza” getting two pizzas with a couple of buddies. When I started my career it meant going to a low-end steak house. As my means improved it meant Red Lobster or Olive Garden. All the way up to, and I hate to admit this, the point where I have spent almost $200 on one meal for my wife and I (including tip). Now, it was one of the best meals I have ever eaten and I will remember that experience for the rest of my life, I can even recall the menu. It all stems though from the sense of entitlement or of a need for reward.
What put me in my funk on Friday, was I realized that I was not getting “my treat”. I wasn’t doing anything and wasn’t going out or going out to eat. I felt deprived. I have developed a pavlovian response to the word Friday. I hear it or think it and like Pavlov’s drooling dogs I start salivating at the thought of what we are going to eat that night. Then invariably comes the question, “What do you wanna do this weekend (tonight)?”
Finally in her comments on a blog post, Carolyn mentioned something that reinforced all that was running through my head. Read what she said.
Heading back and forth to school was when I became out of shape. Rewarded myself with Long John Silver or Braum’s on test days if I did good (reward) and test days if I did bad (comfort). Now the daily discipline comes slow compared to how easy the bad habits were!
I am not pointing a finger at her or blaming her. I have done the same thing myself. In fact, if you have a major success in your life or close the big contract at work, or finish a project, if you are like most the first thing you say is “Hey, let’s go celebrate.” For most of us that means a thick, juicy steak dinner. If it is a small accomplishment, prehaps it is something as pedestrian as an ice cream cone. And we start this with our kids when they are very, very young. Be honest, how many parents have half-bribed, half-rewarded our kids with sweets when they were potty training. Conversely if they were bad, they may be sent to bed without desert. If they had friends sleep over, that was an excuse to buy them “pig-out” food like chips, pizza, cokes, sweets, etc.
Its funny, back in a more primitive time, the very presence of food was itself cause for celebration. Historians would tell us that when indigenous people in America would have a succesful hunt, they would celebrate. But they were celebrating because they had food and they would survive another season. Do you see the difference? They had food, they had life so they celebrated. We, on the other had, have a celebration, so we have food. The difference is subtle, but it is vast is what it does to us psychologically and to the psychology of food and obesity.
My daughter was so proud of the weight that my wife and I have lost to date that she asked this week, “When you get to your next goal, can I make y’all a special dessert?” they learn young, don’t they. She was not trying to sabotage us, in fact she had meticulously researched until she found a healthy, low-calorie, high health content desert. But the same psychology is there. It is food as a reward.
On the other end of the spectrum if we are disappointed or feeling blue, we want to eat a treat. It is so commonplace that we even developed a name for it: “Comfort Food”. In college, I was engaged to a young lady who broke things off with me. It was an on again, off again relationship but she was my world. This was my first true love. In dealing with the aftermath and realizing that this time the break-up was likely for good, I began self-medicating. In fact, I enrolled myself counseling hosted ever weekend by Dr. Haagen-Dazs. I soon mastered his Chocolate Macadamia Therapy.
This was immediately after my first big weight-loss. I had drop from 240 down to 179 at my lowest. But thanks to Psychiatry by Haagen-Dazs and an end to my 2 hour a day workouts I was soon back over 200 never to look back.
Now, let’s tie all these loose ends together as I continue to deal withe the question “How int he world did I let myself get to 470 pounds?” Only by answering THAT question can I truly be healed. For those of you on the journey with me, whatever your weight, whatever your health condition that made you climb on board — you to will have to wrestle some fo these questions to the ground. Cause at the end of the day, it ain’t about the food. The food is meeting some other need in our life. It is at once our comfort, our joy, our celebration, our status, our entitlement…you name it. No wonder we eat so much beef in this country, it takes food with broad shoulders to carry that much weight!
Here is how all this fits together from eating Sunday Dinner to going out on Friday night’s, to using food as celebration or comfort. None of this is food’s purpose! We have gotten it all wrong! We have such a skewed view of food that it no longer fits into the category where it was originally intended.
God made the earth, and according to the book of Genesis chapter 2, verse nine “And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground — trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.” Later in the same passage God said to Adam, You may surely eat of every tree of the garden…” During each step of the way in the biblical account of creation after God made each thing he stated, “It is good.”
Here’s the point. Plants were made for us to enjoy and to consume. (this is not a vegan manifesto, so were animals). The point is that the purpose of food is to provide energy to sustain us. That’s it. No more, no less. We have taken something so simple and made it into something it was never meant to be.
We have taken food and elevated it to a level that would probably make the Epicureans of ancient Greece scoff and call us gluttonous brutes! Food is a poor counselor and a fickle friend. Yet we insist on trying to shoe-horn it into these purposes.
The great part of those celebration meals is the people you are with sharing int he joy of your accomplishment. Friendships and people can carry the burdens of those down-times if you let them, food – even Dr. Haagen-Dazs Chocolate Macadamia therapy – can’t. It can’t because it was not made for that.
What I am learning through the process of juicing is to put food back into the box in which it belongs, as a source of energy and nutrition so that my body can perform at its peak, so that I can better relate to and involve myself in the lives of others who are walking this planet with me, so that I can weather depressing times and celebrate and do both with vitality, so that I can fully participate in this thing called life.
As I finish this post today, I am also finishing up my Sunday Dinner – a glass of watermelon-cucumber juice. I feel alive; I feel healthy; I feel vibrant. I have food, real food, and that is a reason to celebrate.
Juice on; Join the Journey.
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