Friday, November 4, 2011

How to Eat

Food manifestos are not new. I love Michael Pollan’s simple rules for eating only those things that come to us from the earth, not from packaging. I love the phrase “Life is short; eat dessert first.” Food means so many things to we humans that the “rules” are often conflicting. In my second novel, Eating Heaven, the main character Ellie is a food writer with food issues. By the end of a story fraught with figuring out her past, her present, and her unhealthy relationship to food, she figures a few things out. See if Ellie’s 7 simple rules for eating make sense to you, too.

How to Eat

by Eleanor Samuels

Why do most women in our country have an obsession with food, the eating as well as the not eating of it? We gladly feed others, yet we struggle with our own hunger. Is food a panacea to fill our empty souls? Have we lost touch with something vital—say, self-fulfillment, or even just self-acceptance—and all we can do is medicate ourselves with the pleasure of fat and calories (or heaven forbid, carbohydrates)? On the other hand, if we don’t eat and lose weight, might someone love us more? If we’re hungry and our stomachs growl, are we more virtuous than if we’re full and satisfied?

I’m just one woman, with my own variations on the female love-hate relationship with food, but I say, let’s start a revolution. Let’s make food simply food again, sustenance and nourishment, and fun when the occasion calls for it. From here on out, I will try my best to live by these seven secrets of the sane and happily well fed:

1. Eat when you’re hungry, and don’t when you’re not.

2. Eat food that tastes good. Period. No exceptions.

3. Eat food that leaves you sated instead of waiting for the next allotment.

4. Eat food that nourishes your soul as well as your body. Consider it a spiritual quest.

5. Savor every bite. Enjoy every meal. If you’re not fully aware and appreciative of what you’re eating, you’re just wasting it.

6. Eat with friends, with people you love, or with your own good company—anyone who appreciates food, drink, and good conversation as much as you do. (This would not include a TV set.)

7. If you start worrying about eating, stop it. Be happy you can eat.

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