April 4, 2008

Unclocked, untabled

Posted in causes of food addiction tagged , , at 6:47 am by foodaddict

Moderate relapse today. Got home from work late, was ravenous, set to emptying the refrigerator, etc. etc. As binges go, not a big one. But it started me thinking about the idea of a daily rhythm — and how fucked up mine can get (such as: late dinner => binge => staying up half the night watching YouTube => early-morning cement-head => Dunkin’ Donuts muffin(s)=> and so on).

I’m reminded of random conversations I had on two separate occasions with two different German co-workers. In the first, someone in the office was celebrating a birthday, and I asked her if she was going to have any cake. “No,” she replied, “I don’t eat between meals.” For some reason, that stuck in my mind. She was quite firm about it. She doesn’t eat between meals. That’s it. No question. No argument. Never. Ever. Eat. Between. Meals. Period.

Then a few years after that, for some reason I was snacking in the communal office lunchroom at an odd time. My German co-worker commented that she just didn’t understand Americans’ obsessions with snacking. I came up with some bullshit explanation about how we all commute two hours each way to our jobs, and we don’t have time to eat regular meals at home (which, at the time, was not completely untrue for me).

What do those German women have inside them that I don’t? They have these incredibly strong (cultural?) habits about mealtimes, and they find American attitudes about food absurd. I’m not going to pass any judgments here, because there are a lot of complex reasons why Americans eat “on the go”, but I want to explore more about my own lack of touch with my own cultural roots, which I’m sure at some time in the past included regular mealtimes.

I remember growing up, my mother used to make dinner at night, and it was usually something incredibly boring like chicken and rice and peas. Today, it’s more like, “I’m going to eat this salad from the take-out salad bar, and it’s a ginormous salad, and I’m completely stuffed to the gills, but something’s not quite right, and I’m still craving food…”

It’s odd, because food is everywhere, and yet it’s nowhere. I can eat any time, any place, and yet I don’t have a regular place where I sit down for mealtimes. This is such a huge and important topic in my mind, I won’t be able to cover it all tonight, but suffice it to say, the sit-down meal at home, where you see everything on your plate and you know how much you ate, and you have portions, and you have people watching you, is rare for me. Eating is now mostly a solitary activity that happens at odd times.

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