America

To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.

― François de La Rochefoucauld

I haven’t been able to post as much due to being on the road in America for weeks. Either I have no internet, ala the World’s Worst Hotel, or I’m just not in one place more than a night or two and am trying to catch up with friends I haven’t seen in years and won’t see again for more years.

Oh, and I’m eating.

Everything.

In sight.

You see, Americans have this habit of eating constantly. Since I hopped off the Blood Sugar Express myself, I don’t need to eat like that. In fact, I actually prefer not eating a lot of the time.

But here in America there are two problems with that. First, everyone else is still aboard the Blood Sugar Express and therefore wants to eat every two hours, needs to eat by three hours, and gets ancy and then grumpy by four and five hours: if they can even make it that long without food. By the time they get to that state, they clearly firmly believe that everyone else is also in that state and won’t hear of it if you try to claim you aren’t hungry.

You have to be hungry. What did you have for breakfast?

Butter.

What?

Well, also some oil. With the butter. In coffee.

Oh, coffee. That’s ALL??

With butter.

That’s not enough. You have to eat; let’s go.

No, I’m ok, thanks.

Are you sick?

No, I’m just not hungry.

You will be very soon. What shall we eat?

Really. I won’t be hungry.

(with sarcastic emphasis) So you’re superwoman, or what? “I never get hungry.”

I didn’t say I never get hungry. I just am not hungry now and won’t be for a while yet.

But you didn’t eat any breakfast.

Yes I did. I had almost 600 calories of butter and oil in my coffee.

(blank stare)

Then we end up eating anyway. And so my body is screaming at me to stop eating, but no one will let me. If I try not to, they either get upset or angry. And that’s related to the second factor, which is that people don’t do anything with each other any more but eat. Now, granted, part of this is cost. No one has a need to pay to rent a kayak or watch a movie, for instance, but everyone has a need to pay to eat at some point during the day. And some people just don’t have the money for anything besides eating. I do get that.

But let’s all be honest and admit that this isn’t ALWAYS the reason. People are always eating because they are broken. They are metabolically broken, and grazing like cattle all day long is a symptom. If you’re eating breakfast, and then a snack at 10, and then lunch, and then a mid-afternoon snack (even if you don’t count that sugar and cream-laced coffee drink as a “snack”) and then dinner, and then you want dessert with your coffee….

I’m here to tell you that’s not normal. Oh it’s normal in the sense that everyone is doing it, but the question is: Is this how you were made to live? Were you designed to need constant infusion of carbohydrate-heavy foods every few hours in order to function? Are you in good health when you drive around the Walmart entrance for 10 minutes looking for a closer spot to park, and then get angry when someone steals the one you had your eye on? Is it normal for a human being to become so grumpy and exhausted before dinner that he cannot be expected to act civilly to others because “he needs to eat?”

I’ve harped on this a lot, but the strings are still in tune so I’m going to pluck away some more: how on earth did our forefathers ever survive? How did farmers manage to work hugely physical jobs day in, day out, without energy bars, and sports drinks, and constant snacks? How did anyone ever manage to write the Constitution if they felt as sluggish and foggy-headed as you do mid-morning until you have a snack? How did people travel and get through days before fast food was invented? You know, back when if you got hungry you actually had to prepare a meal to satisfy it. How did the Lewis and Clark expedition get across the entire United States without one energy bar?

I can tell you how. You can read about it in their journals. They ate a lot of meat. In fact at times exclusively meat. With the fat. They ate some vegetable matter when they could find it or someone gave it to them. But mostly they ate meat. Know what they did? Well, when they got hungry they went hunting, shot something, skinned it, dressed it, cooked it and then–after all that–ate it. Exactly the opposite of what we do today, isn’t it? We eat and then we go exert ourselves. The idea of exerting ourselves when we get hungry is quite foreign. I mean, most of us are feeling faint waiting for someone to cook dinner right now. We couldn’t possibly walk miles into the forest hoping to find game, which doesn’t come pre-skinned and wrapped in plastic at the grocery store.

This morning I watched an episode of some TV show called That Girl. A friend of mine wanted me to see it. It was apparently a big hit when she was little. I didn’t check, but the show looks like it is from the late 60s based on the way people dressed and the things they had in their apartments. In it, the characters ate three times.

The first meal was veal cordon bleu. That would be veal–very fat baby cow–with cheese, butter, egg, and ham and just a modicum of breadcrumb.

The second meal was eggs benedict. That would be eggs, ham or bacon, a sauce that is an emulsion of egg yolks and pure butter, all on toast or English muffin that is heavily buttered as well.

Those first two meals were “special” and that was part of the story line of the show. The third meal was deliberately ordinary. So when not eating a “special” meal, which macronutrient do you think they ate less of? Fat? Protein? Carbohydrate?

Well, the third meal was hamburger with huge scoops of cottage cheese and a sliced tomato.

Not one carbohydrate in site, but plenty of protein and fat.

And shockingly, every character portrayed was thin, fit, and healthy, from the star and her Hero boyfriend in their 20s to the goofball neighbors in their 30s to the star’s annoying mother and father in their 50s. Now of course most characters on modern sitcoms are thin too; but they are eating bean sprouts and tofu and there is always at least one Token Fatso in the show now in order to make all the fat people in America feel included. Unless the show is built around all fat people, but then it has to be a comedy because fat people never solve crimes or work in labs.

So if there’s a takeaway from this post it is this: First: eat what’s good for you, which does not include massive amounts of carbohydrates in any form. Second: give your body some time to repair and re-learn how to live, and then: Third: do what it tells you. Eat when it’s hungry. Fast when it’s not. If you aren’t riding the Blood Sugar Express anymore it’ll be honest with you about when it actually needs fuel. You might be surprised how infrequently that is.

 

Plato says he’s hungry

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6 thoughts on “America

  1. No. Kidding. Back to the States as well, and I’ve been doing nothing but eating with friends and family. And there’s tons of snacks! I never realized before how much we Americans snack now! Either it’s a white chocolate Starbucks latte, or just a few animal crackers for the kids, or some Smarties, or a bit of low-fat frozen yogurt just for fun, or a few Wheat Thins, or a Coke/energy drink… I feel weird saying “no” all the time to the snacks, cause it’s clearly such a social thing, and not eating seems to imply that you’re somehow superior or implying that they shouldn’t be eating… when it’s simply that I’m Not Hungry. At All. I’ve bit alternately sad and horrified by coming back and seeing how sick everyone seems, and knowing probably 80-90 percent of it is how everyone eats now in modern America.

    1. Isn’t that funny? That people seem to want you to eat because it implies they shouldn’t be eating if you don’t? It’s almost as if we instinctively know we shouldn’t have to be eating all the time…like it was built into our makeup or something.

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