August 11, 2014

Food Chat

Before we dive right into this, I have to warn everyone, I'll be talking about you. My friends. My family. Acquaintances. People I don't care for very much. Everyone.

This week has been filled with lots of examples of talking about food and health. I think it's because most of us do not get proper education on nutrition things tend to go off-script, get ambiguous, and become super-subjective super-fast.

So I'll warn everyone, all of these posts are MY ventures into healthier processes as I define them. I have zero proper education on it, nor am I really interested in getting proper education. Like the message in my last post, food is tedious. I'm sure an education in food and health may cause me to grow a tail, breathe fire and smash all the villages.

But here's a fast question--why aren't we teaching about nutrition? I was having a conversation with one of my friends about the healthcare system and I tried to make the point that "good" healthcare and "health" are very subjective but the only examples I could come up with at the time were "ViagraViagraViagraAbortionViagraViagraABORTIONViagra". I ended up saying I didn't have an example because I try hard (GET IT?! Viagra? Hard? Ok... sorry) to not become the one-trick pony that is sexuality but I'm getting 2 degrees in human sexuality...

... so it's hard.

ANYWAY! I should've come up with nutrition and health. It's so subjective and ... subject?... huh... subject to change with the times. Regardless, I feel like food health should be taught in grade school and should really cross the... subjects... like you would talk about the molecular structure of protein and anatomy in biology; how to calculate calories and convert between 50 measurements of food in math; how culture and people talk about health in English; learn cooking vocabulary in Spanish... but cross all areas of learning so that students have complete and practical comprehension of nutrition--not bullshit that you never use and therefore forget by the time you're an adult (I'm looking at you, Are you Smarter Than a 5th Grader?).


So anyway, back to me. This week there were also the social venues when (usually the women) band together to talk about how they ran 50 miles today and then they ate blahblahblah. My wonderful friends are athletes. I am, what the French would call, not. The most energy-consuming and coordinated thing I do these days is precariously balance food on dishes/bowls/napkins/hands/llamas down the stairs, to the couch, and while turning on my TV, my DVD player, and grabbing remotes. It's a delicate but majestic process, worthy of Cirque de Soliel, as soon as they become cool with cursing. But as a non-athletic person, when my dear friends start talking about running, I immediately start to think of all the chips I enjoy and how if I had a brownie for every time my friends talked about diets and running...

... I'd be a diabetic.

And it's not just my overly-patient friends, it's others (like my grandmother's neighbor this weekend) too, forcing me into a dialogue about my health which almost ALWAYS comes from a place of knowing more/being better than me. I helped my grandmother move out of rehabilitation this weekend and as we're eating lunch at her home, her neighbor came in to check on my grandmother's recovery from hip surgery. I knew the process was going to take all day so I PACKED ALL MY FOOD. I mean I packed snacks, my lunch, my breakfast. I did it. I showed a level of commitment for this eating healthier thing I have never shown before.

I'm pretty amped about it.

My lunch was a new smoothie concoction that I had tried the day before with revolting results. I decided to try the combination again because it was high in fiber, high in protein but removed the high vom-factor of protein powder. The fact that people can eat that powdery crap is proof of Darwin's theory--healthy people have a genetic mutation that eliminates taste and food texture sensitivities so that they can power through rancid but healthy things and live longer than all the rest of us who have working taste buds. My grandmother and aunt had just finished giving me shit when the neighbor walked in. Yes, I had my smoothie in a basket-pattern Mason jar. It was all that there was available in the house besides baby food jars. And yes, the result looked like I had taken a pipe wrench to the underside of the sink and filled said basket jar with the garbage disposal contents. And yes, it sort of tasted like that but in a sweet and tolerable (note: not delicious) form. But the neighbor walks in and immediately inquires about this fanciful basket jar sludge I was ingesting through a smile that looked like I was REALLY trying not to regret my healthier decisions.

I have quickly learned that people will always ask what's in your smoothie. It makes me think of this CSI episode where this one nutritionist was making human blood/organ powder smoothies (talk about subjective health and nutrition...) because she had Renfield's Syndrome or at least claimed that she did. How the hell did this woman go for years eating people without being bothered to list her smoothie secrets?! Anyway, most of the time people genuinely don't care what's in your smoothie. It's almost like this compulsion to reduce ambiguity. You could say that there's panda tears, bamboo stalks, and soy sauce in it and it's called the "Karma Express" and has been known by the Asian Chinese for years to center your chi... or something. It doesn't have to make sense--karma is part of Hindu traditions, most commonly associated with Indian culture and chi is from Buddhism--no one notices. It doesn't matter most of the time. But every other time (like this one with the neighbor), they do care and want to know what you dared to put in your blender. Mainly for the purpose of judging it.

And, ok, that's a negative way to look at it. But their response does come from this place of feeling they know better about smoothie experiences. I listed my ingredients and woefully ended with "It all sounds good but combined... the taste? Not so much." There was no request for recipes, no suggestions for improvements, just stating the facts. I. don't. like. this. But I had to be polite and listen through a smoothie recipe the neighbor swore by (swore what? Who knows. I don't care.). When the first ingredient was kale I tried to say, "I cannot stand kale. Someone" playful glare towards my grandmother "who may or may not be at this table totally scarred me for life with kale. I think it tastes bitter."

"Oh you don't taste it! Spinach is the one with the bitter taste!"

... sigh...

Let me go and think about the chips I like and about how if I had a brownie for every time I expressed my opinion and received a response that acted like the total opposite was fact, I would be a diabetic.

Let me also say that I totally judge too. Actually, judging is where I AM an athlete. Jump to a judge in a single bound, I do. And I judge the shit out of other people's food choices. Today my mom told me that my dad has high blood sugar so he has chosen to cut out his snack peanut butter crackers but not his pudding or Little Debbie's treats... look me in the eye and tell me you don't judge the shit out of that food choice. I'm training my mind to think in sugar grams and sodium milligrams. It's to help myself. So I get it, Mimi's neighbor, my friends, healthy-minded people--you train your mind to think healthy and it's hard to remember that not everyone is programmed that way. Just like my mind has formed a distinct sex-subjects funnel, it doesn't mean that there isn't more to the world.
There's also more images in this world than this ridiculous dog. But it's funny and I'm lazy.

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