I am on vacation right now. It has been a year since I have seen my close knit family in Oklahoma. I can tell you right off the bat, Oklahomans and my family, are a beautiful people: strong, friendly, and giving to a fault. I am so happy to finally be seeing them. When I am away from family sometimes it feels like there is a small part of myself that other people just don’t understand. Right off the plane, it feels like okay, yep, there it is, that is the hole I needed filled. That is the understanding I was looking for. Instantly there are the hugs, smiles, and giggles that I missed.
Two things are aligned against me this week in the weight loss arena. One, I am on vacation and I haven’t seen these people in a year so it feels like I am entitled to splurge on some freshly grilled cheeseburgers off my brothers grill, my Mom’s homemade yummy chocolate cake, or Eskimo Joe’s famous cheese fries. These are only just a few of the don’ts I did this week and they were delicious. Family and food I think at least for me seem interchange able. We eat and talk or play games and talk. It is inevitable. So what do you do in those situations when you are caught up in the moment and you just want to be like everyone else eating the cake and ice cream? Luckily I did well in that moment so I am proud of that. I ate only a small piece of cake maybe four bites and a small scoop of ice cream maybe three bites. But those fries…took me down.
A good or bad part about being around family they watch your sugars and your proteins because they know you are. They are helping in the way that you know you are being watched. Yesterday my sister said, “Don’t you want some ham or something? You are eating an awful lot of carbs and I don’t want you to get sick.” (She was sharing her Valentines chocolates with me, another bad move on my part.)
That is sort of the other thing. Most of my family and I have the same fatal flaw too, we have bad eating habits. Dad and I have been comparing out diabetic testing machines and testing each other’s sugars. As I mentioned, my sister and I shared the chocolates. Mom too has a weakness for chocolates. My mom has learned portion control long ago, she eats a very small amount of food, but not much of it is healthy. My brothers are doing better. Patrick takes an hour walk every night. I threatened to go with him a couple of times…never did. Matthew is a father and has an amazing wife who I believe encourages him to make healthy choices. They feed their kid veggies and fruits.
His name is Caleb. Being around such a young eater reminded me how fun food can be. At three years old, Caleb eats one bite out of his cucumber and says, “Look it’s the moon!” He also had sliced pickles on his plate that he made little moons out of. I told him, “That pickle used to be a cucumber.”
He replies, “I don’t get it.”
But then he patiently listened while I tell him about the spices and the vinegar. I think we all can find hope in young eaters like this.
I look at the way my brother and his wife feed Caleb and think, I should take just as great care in what I put in my mouth. I should examine it and understand it in the intrinsic way he seems to as if it is the first time eating it. Maybe I should look at food like it is new. I feel I need to ignore all I have learned and know about the food I eat, and just focus on its unique properties. Perhaps this mindful aesthetic approach will be more enjoyable for me.
There is so much drama in food for my family. I have been thinking about how it affects all of us. I hate onions, sister hates cheese, brother hates pasta, and Dad hates pretty much most green foods. There is so much emotion behind it too. My sister regales us with tales of trauma suffered by a certain food and the bathroom adventures. Oh, and forget a certain persons aversion (yes even mine) and be accused of just not caring at all. Then there is always the food guilt, shame, and weight loss baggage, that’s a big soup of drudgery to stir through.
That leaves an imprint, a mark on your tongue and heart. How do you clear out the cobwebs of this emotion and just look food like the miracle of God that it is? Look at a cucumber and say, look its whitish green soft flesh, and when I bite it, it’s the moon! It might be time to play with the food, and look at it with awe and intrigue again. Perhaps I will rediscover how it nourishes me and how to cohabitate with it healthfully.