Friday, March 10, 2017

Except Food

I have more of my life under control than most people, I think. I love both my jobs, which put me contact with interesting people and afford many warm friendships, and for which I pretty much set my own hours. I have always followed an exercise routine, which is modest but keeps me strong enough to lug my massage table over a few blocks and up a couple flights of stairs without puffing. For years, I have studied one foreign language or another for an hour or two a day. I have time to write poems and little lyrical essays. I read interesting books. I spend time with my family. I get out into nature once a week or so. I can afford what I buy and know precisely where my money goes. I don't drink, smoke, or dope. I'm my own master.

Except for food, of course. Food is ridiculous.

There's a dreary family history behind this, a nightmare from which I am trying to awake, as Stephen Dedalus might say. Everything about food is supercharged with meaning: it is the axis of coercion and liberty, pleasure and death-wish. Every encounter with food is some sort of showdown. It's totally crazy. No way to live.

It used to be worse. There used to be orgies of potato chips alternating with oreos, enormous restaurant meals that left me uncomfortably full, daily multiple soda pops. I would eat until I couldn't eat any more, but I was almost always hungry. My evenings generally consisted of settling in with an entertaining-but-not-challenging book and bags of chips and cookies. I'd read for hours, and when replete with one sort of snack, I'd switch to another for relief. It is rather horrible to look back on: I'd get terribly sick if I did that now.

So the present state of insanity, which includes perhaps five restaurant breakfasts per week, of astonishing volume and unhealthiness, and seven fast-food dinners per week from Burgerville, bless them -- is in fact a step UP from that. Sad but true. And in the last year or two my project of wedging a cup or two of broccoli and a large salad into every day has been running a success rate of about 50%, which is something.

But the fact is that the next step -- which will, incidentally, save us at least $7,000.00 a year -- has to be cooking and eating almost exclusively at home. It's going to be a major life overhaul. I've started: I have the breakfast proof-of-concept now. (That five breakfasts per week? It used to be seven).

I find the scale of the project daunting. But it's the last piece of my life that I really want to be different.


Pascale Parinda said...

How about one of those cook-a-meal kits? Just as a way of getting started?

Dale said...

Yeah, I've thought of that. But I'm not even up to that level yet, I think. I do have a plan in place, though!

Nimble said...

I admire the clarity with which you are surveying this. Food is hard and it's every day and it's multiple times a day. Good wishes for new habits.
I'm looking at trying to pick up my exercise (cross) habit again. So daunting to change my life and make that effort again

rbarenblat said...

I admire the heck out of you for taking this on. I am not yet ready to give up any of the coping mechanisms that get me through.

Dale said...

You'll notice that my kids are grown and I no longer have to fret about what I'll be when I grow up :-)

Sabine said...

Good project. Any chance to grow a few veg yourself? If only a few pots of herbs or maybe just the one cherry tomato plant on the deck. It's so easy really and inspiring to at least add your own stuff to the cooking. Or maybe follow a seasonal calendar with local produce. Have fun. Read the Tassajara cookbook if you can find a copy.

Peter said...

With you (on the journey).

marly youmans said...

I must say that is one piece of my life I do not worry about because my husband is the grand cook of the house. I do eat more meat than I like because he likes it. But he uses good ingredients and cooks well. I cook very little, though I do make my own kefir every day or so for smoothies.

Your life sounds sweet, despite the eating-indulgence... I suggest soups-with-salads for the transition--soup makes you think you're getting more than you are, and there are wonderful soup recipes.