Image Credit: Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr
I’ve developed a relationship with raw beets. I’m not in love, at least not yet, but who knows? Almost anything is possible. I never imagined myself regularly eating beets, but I am.
The goal is to eat one beet a day, raw, which I wrote about in an earlier post.
It’s not as hard to eat beets, as it is to take the time to prepare food and eat it. I forget, but I’m getting better at remembering. Having an appetite helps.
I baked a chicken yesterday. I used coconut oil, which is another new addition to my diet, added some onions and garlic, along with a bit of sage that a friend gave me just the other day. The whole day smelled of good food. It was calming and reassuring.
Later in the evening, I realized how little I had actually eaten earlier. Hunger struck me. I was tired. My son however was up. He quickly made me a sandwich. I think he enjoys the act of handing me a plate of food. It is rather like a sacred moment when the plate passes from his hands to mine.
There was more to that sandwich than the physical nutrition. I could feel the energy when I took the first bite. It made me feel alive. The images of my having prepared it flooded my mind, along with the way I had felt in the process. Knowing I had helped prepare the food that was waiting for my son to make me that sandwich was pretty cool too. There was love in that chicken!
My relationship with food has been difficult for a long time. Eating has been a challenge. It hasn’t always been that way. I used to love food and eating it too.
In my thirties, I experienced a personal interruption in this essential part of living. At first, I found myself not eating at particular meal times, with a particular person. Eventually, I realized after losing weight without trying, along with parting ways with the person who bothered me so much that I couldn’t eat around him, that the reasons behind my abstinence from food ran deeper than my feelings about that relationship.
Memories of my grandmother’s modest but lovely dinner table started to frequently occupy my thoughts. I remembered the good feeling of coming together for meals. No matter what was going on, we sat down to eat at the same time every day. I deeply desired that sense of connection to family and I guess, in a more expansive way, to community and our planet.
I’ve talked to psychologists from time to time about the problem of not always being able to eat. They basically each said the same thing, which was that they had never known anyone with the same reasons as I had for not eating.
The most interesting approach to solve the problem was to write the benefits of eating. I was seeing a fourth year resident at the medical school. He was very bright and open-minded.
The best benefit of eating that I could come up with was that food would give me energy to walk my dogs. In a daily journal, I recorded meals and checked off subsequent dog walks. This helped for a while, but my problem didn’t go away.
When you lose the desire to eat and don’t get it back, something is wrong. I learned in therapy why I chose not to eat at particular times, but a later tick borne illness added a new dimension to my relationship with food. Nausea and other symptoms of post-infectious disease syndrome causes a loss of appetite.
I eventually met a therapist who had also studied anthropology. She helped me understand an important part of my dilemma, which seemed simply about being human.
With time, especially as my son grew older and later moved out, I learned that I really don’t like eating alone. I need a connection at mealtime. I need other people.
Having my son around to share meals with is a blessing. I think I’m getting stronger too. I hope he is. He’s learned a lot about cooking.
We need a cow bell, but for now, the wonderful aromas coming from my kitchen will do.
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