From a young age, my parents instilled in me the importance of finishing the food on my plate. We were not allowed to leave the dinner table until our plate was clean. On the nights when macaroni and hot dogs was the meal, the task put before me was really easy; beef stew nights felt more like prison. Thankfully I wasn’t alone in my fear of certain meals. One winter, my dad became obsessed with a bees nest that seemingly appeared overnight in the forest that hugged our backyard fence. I vividly remember him sitting in the sunroom that faced the forest, sipping his tea and focusing on that darn bees nest. By the time warmer weather hit, the bees nest had been brushed away by the harsh winter. I was relieved that my father wouldn’t have to face a thousand bee stings. My older brother was relieved that my father would never find out the bees nest was actually a grocery bag full of his most hated meal: spaghetti.
My brother’s craftiness illustrates just how strict my parents were when it came to finishing a meal. Fortunately, unfortunately, this is something none of us have really outgrown. On the one hand, we don’t waste food. And in the Western world, minimizing waste can only be considered a positive. On the other hand, we accept that what is put in front of us (read: me) is an appropriate portion of food. For me, this has caused a love-hate relationship with food.
I learned recently that that pain in your stomach half-way through a meal isn’t your stomach’s sadistic way of telling you it appreciates the chosen food, but in fact a feedback loop saying “that’s enough.” Is that what that means? It baffled me. “But most of the time I feel that pain before my meal is done? What am I supposed to do with the rest of the food?” Save it for later. OR throw it out. Either way, you don’t have to finish it. HOLY. SHIT. My parents lied to me. I forgave the lie that Santa Claus wasn’t real, but this? This fucked me up real good.
Food for me is a constant battle. I wish it didn’t consume my thoughts as often as it does. I wish I didn’t open the fridge every time I walk by it, hoping that by some miracle, there will be something in there other than protein, veggies and kombucha. I wish my motivations to meal prep were that it’s convenient, instead of a preventative against eating fast food for every meal. I wish I could have just one cookie off a dessert tray. But alas, that’s not me, and that’s okay. I don’t blame my parents for teaching me that waste is bad. I appreciate that they raised me with strict rules and taught me the value of not skipping a meal. But my addictive personality and shitty metabolism? Oh, that’s totally their fault. Thanks mom and dad. I’m going to eat a bag of kale chips with my eyes closed while I pretend they’re Doritos. It’s not the same. No matter what those health food stores tell you, it’s just not the same.