Once More…With Feeling!

Parrot to owner: 'The cracker is fine, but will it satisfy my emotional needs?'

As I’ve mentioned, I’m starting my MFA next week and I had to submit my book proposal. As you might remember, I was going to write specifically about food and emotion, and then I thought that there wasn’t enough material for a book, and that there was no OPINION, etc. So I changed my whole thesis to suggest that if we in North America could only celebrate and revere food the way the Italians and French do, we would solve our national eating disorder and we would all be healthy and ya da ya da ya da. Turns out, the French and Italians are not far behind us in obesity and food-related health issues. So my thesis was DOA.

The other night, we went for dinner at the home of two extremely accomplished and lovely people who do a great deal of writing, producing and teaching. I adore them – they’re so smart. We started talking about my book and I was lamenting the unsupportable thesis, and then told them about my old idea. After much discussion, it became clear that it’s the right idea. I’m back on track and excited and happy again.

Meanwhile, I’ve been reading and reading and reading about food. Maguelonne Tousssaint-Samat’s “History of Food”, Brian Wansink’s “Mindless Eating”, the previously mentioned “Dorito Effect”. It’s fascinating. The book on mindless eating is quite readable and is reinforcing my own belief that we all just eat too damned much. We do. And Wansink proves through study after study that not only do we eat too damned much, we vehemently DENY doing such a thing.

As part of this exploration, I ordered portion containers from Beachbody (stupid name). I am blown away by what constitutes a portion. And if you follow their little eating guide, you come to realize that you are comfortable and full enough on what they’ve proscribed. I’ve stopped snacking, eating after eight at night (unless I’m at a function), and actually measuring out my meals. It goes back to the Food is Control thing for sure, but I’m finding it to be an education in portion control. Something I definitely needed.

I really have no shut off valve, and while the Japanese have eating down to an art with something called hara hachi bu, which translates roughly into “eating until your just 80% full”, I have no such innate philosophy. But I’m now at least thinking about it, and quite enjoying the feeling of being just satisfied as opposed to eating until I’m stuffed. I can fully enjoy my food now, savouring it, feeling really good after a meal rather than all those negative emotions like guilt and self-loathing. But I still FEEL something, right? I feel good! All eating is emotional eating, boys and girls. Remember that.

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