Friday, April 11, 2008

Blood and air and such

For some reason, probably nothing more than the weird phenomenon we call coincidence, a repeated theme has been circling me for almost a week.

It started Tuesday night as I sat eating one of the best deli sandwiches I'd ever had and watched three other guys eat a less than best meal of fast food goodness. Within a half hour the same guys, in the midst of studying a book primarily about helping the homeless, discussed the topic of fasting. (Not surprisingly, it wasn't a lively topic.) Later that night, the theme continued as I caught up with a friend about some garden seeds. I finished Tuesday with a strange yearning for some of that yuck my friends had been stuffing into their jowls earlier in the evening.

Wednesday night I sat in the Cafe and listened to two women discuss how they could eat a certain cake as long as they substituted it with a certain drink. And if they could find the right graph, their points would most likely add up. During my eavesdropping, I also entertained a conversation with one of Ell's workers about the dangers of artificial sweeteners and the benefits of true sugar. Later on I broke open a book DAVE gave me called "The Omnivore's Dilemma" which I (on purpose for the irony) bookmarked with a build-your-own-panini menu.

Yesterday I watched as one, then another, then a third, and then a fourth co-worker headed across the street to Yorgo's Gyros. Not because they were in the mood for Greek, but because the Chinese place was too expensive. Oh they didn't want Chinese either, but they were tired of what the vending machine had to offer. Not that the vending machine ware was their first choice, but it wasn't PB&J. And goodness knows PB&J isn't high class enough for a banker. (That last part made me chuckle.) Last night I entered into a pros and cons conversation on whether a friend and I should indulge in large milkshakes even though we were stuffed from the Greasy-Spoon-Diner meal we'd just finished.

The theme? Of course all of those have to do with food. While I think about food a lot, the last few days my brain seems to have been intensely keyed in on the topic. And starting this book seems to be making it worse. Goodness knows the U.S. of A. could use to reexamine their food choices, and maybe all these thoughts and conversations surrounding me mean I need to be doing the same.

Even though I'm a fat Irishman who often overeats, I still find the topic a bit silly. Why should we even care about what we're eating? We don't think about breathing do we? We don't focus on our spleen or appendix or liver and making sure they are working right do we? Can you remember the last time you had to make sure your nerves had the right synapses in them? So why do we think so much about food? The human body is made to work on it's own, and in turn the stomach and intestines. If your feel hunger (notice I said "feel" not "think"), eat. When you feel full, stop. If you crave something, eat it. If something makes you sick, don't.

Of course I know the topic can be, and often times is, much more complex than those simplicities, but I can't help wondering if it needs to be. Medical conditions aside, eating should never have grown into the mess it's become. Eating is eating as much as anything is just what it is. If we take it too far, well, that's just too far. What are your thoughts?


Blogger Elizabeth said...

This is something Mike and I go 'round and 'round about. Mostly because my theory has always been EVERYTHING in moderation. Whether it is food or with a drink or with even such things as our time. With food, it is when our life revolves around the "must have" rather than "this is a need being fulfilled" that I believe it becomes a problem. Sure, it's OK to enjoy the food we eat but when we over indulge ourselves it becomes a problem. One last thing and then I'll step off my soapbox rant here. I believe that when we are craving something, there may be a real need. Such as, a craving for ice cream or cheese (which is somethings I crave). I can say that I am not a milk drinker and I believe the reason I crave those things is because of a lack of calcium in my diet. Not that it gives me the permission to go and eat a half gallon of ice cream!

This was a good post Sam. Thanks for making me think more about it!

6:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good question, Sam. I am afraid that trying to comment on your post at midnight with anything close to intelligent won't happen.
Hope you find your way out of your musings soon--let me know. MOM

11:56 PM  
Blogger Kyle said...

I've been thinking about food more lately as well... We've been talking about nutrition in my biology class and about all the nutrients we need, and all the nutrients we get too much of. Then I look at what I eat at Marbeck Commons and think I'm going to die young... It's a good thing to think about for sure. Not always an easy one though.

1:29 AM  
Blogger 3rd string's finest said...

Love the post, Sam. Food is definitely my fourth , maybe my third most favorite thing in the whole world. In general, NOT including bracketed items and subcategories and such.

First off, let me begin by telling you that it is currently 7:15 a.m. I just got off work and am enjoying a spicy picante bowel of noodles. microwaved. A 900 calorie protien shake. The last remaining glass of yesterdays former gallon of pink lemonade. mmmm. And thanks to this post I am reminded of a box of zebra cakes which I hid in a cupboard over a week ago.

Here are my thoughts as they relate directly to your question. Yes, moderation has it's place. Yes , I believe over-indulgence has its place, at times. I believe that self-respect has a big place, as does self-control. These things, among a dozen other unmentioned items are all pieces of the pie, excuse the analogy, I couldn't help myself.

Sam, as a banker you would probably say what I am about to say using a nifty little phrase such as "live within your means". But I am not talking about fast cars, big houses, and private islands. I am talking about food. If you can "afford" to overindulge once in a while than, by all means, go right ahead. But! If you are "in-debt" up to your neck....well thats different. My motto, "you gotta work some to spend some". Well thats not really my motto, I am pretty sure thats the first time i have ever used it. Nevertheless! It is fitting. I maintain a diet that would make the average man tap out after "third lunch", but I maintain a lifestyle that can support it. Anyways, thats my two cents. Take em' or leave em', but you did ask for em':) peace, brother.

7:57 AM  
Blogger Sweet Peripety said...

my husband, a dietitian, says real sugar is best too. he's waay more lenient about what he eats b/c of marrying me LOL moderation, is best. AND, truth be told, AVOIDING certain things would be sooooo much better. Like transfats and high fructose corn syrup LOL. We eat less red meat than ANYONE I know..which I am not sure if that much better? Probably is, but not sure about that one. Anyways, good convo.

9:14 AM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

Hmmm...Good discussion.

Watching my children, I believe we train ourselves to overeat. We were born with the capabilities to eat until we're full and no more, but eating is a social activity for most people and therefore it becomes a gift to ourselves to indulge and over indulge.

I've always thought it interesting how the Bible talks about gluttony and drunkedness in the same way.

My dad (extremely rarely) would enjoy food just because he wanted a treat, but he was almost the epitomy of a "healthy eater". He didn't eat if he wasn't hungry, if his body craved oranges, he ate oranges. If he body craved fish, he ate fish.

My mom on the other hand, swears she doesn't have a full gauge - she tries very hard to watch how much she eats, but she could eat all day every day and not really get overly full.

Back to my original statement, I do think it's learned, at least to a degree. My nature is not to overeat, but I can force myself to do so and if you do that too often, you end up wanting to eat more often.

On the other hand, it has to have something to do with genetics. Some people, no matter how much they eat will never be obese and others will never be skinny, no matter how much they starve themselves.

However, this conversation wasn't really about weight...but that's where food conversations always send my mind.

Ironically, I've seen first hand, inability to eat(for extended periods of time) makes food as much of an obsession as overeating!

Finally: I'm convinced sugar-substitutes are the devil.

11:47 AM  
Blogger GUYK said...

Yeah, we either eat to live or live to eat...

and I reckon that real sugar is best..unless one happens to be a diabetic. From where I sit as a diabetic Splenda is the best sweet food the creator gave man enough brains to make.

2:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rare Delmonico Steak, Onion Rings, a good tossed salad with Blue Cheese dressing, a great pot of hot Constant Comment tea, and a slice of cherry (or blueberry) cheesecake - now THAT'S thinking about food!

2:38 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

P.S. How was the milkshake?

5:13 PM  
Blogger Melissa Blair said...

Interesting thoughts from everyone.

How about this humans, maybe we don't really over eat any more than in the past. Perhaps it is related to what we eat, and what we do when we are not eating.
What we eat - 100 years ago, we did not have all of the processed foods that we do today, and grocery stores (if they even existed) were much different as well. Many people ate what foods they grew on their own. Which meant a lot of fresh foods, and some canned goods. Things were prepared only at the times the meals were ready to be had, and foods did not lose their nutrients as easily. Eating out was not something that was done often either.
What we do when we are not eating - Todays world is filled with so much technology and convienence, that many of us can't believe we ever lived without our computers, cell phones, video, cable television, microwaves, frozen dinners, fast food joints and prepackaged foods. At the same time, all of these convienent foods give us more free time, that we use to play with all of our technology. Basically, we spend less time preparing our meals, so we can have more time to play our Xbox or send emails, instead of taking a walk, a bike ride, or playing ball with the kids. In addition, technology at the work place has led to jobs that do not require much physical labor.

Maybe 100 years ago, people were eating the same, but the meals were prepared more naturally. When folks were not eating they were doing more labor intensive activities. Something to 'chew'

12:10 AM  
Blogger HennHouse said...

I read your post yesterday, but didn't have much to offer to the discussion. Then I read the following this morning as I rode the exercise bike--and perhaps because you brought it up, I was much more in-tune with what it says. Thanks for sparking the discussion.

"He continued this subject with his disciples. "Don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or if the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your inner life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the ravens, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, carefree in the care of God. And you count far more." (Luke 12:22-24, The Message)

"TThen Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!" (Luke 12:22-24, NIV)

1:49 PM  
Blogger Laura G. Young said...

Ditto to what hennhouse wrote. :)

I read "The Omnivore's Dilemma" last year, and found it to be very interesting, indeed.

As a modern society, we truly are out of touch with many things -- including our food. I think this is why I'm going to attempt my own little garden this year.

If it goes well, I might even get up the energy to blog about it....


6:53 PM  
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7:16 AM  
Blogger HennHouse said...

Boy this post planted a seed in my brain!! This morning I was reading in John and I came across the following:

"Don't waste your energy striving for perishable food like that. Work for the food that sticks with you, food that nourishes your lasting life, food the Son of Man provides. He and what he does are guaranteed by God the Father to last." (John 6:27, The Message)


"Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval." (John 6:27, NIV)

Love you, Sam!

4:25 PM  

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