Why Do We Talk About Food Like It’s Poison?

More often than not, conversations about food are toxic. We need to stop.

I was super skinny as a kid. I threw up everything I ate. I threw up when I laughed. I threw up when I cried. My family didn’t know what to do. Honestly, I think everyone thought I was either possessed by evil spirits or was seriously ill.

One day, my grandma took me to a sinseh (a traditional Chinese medicine physician). He prescribed me some really odd-tasting medicinal powder that tasted like a mixture of mud and poop. Not that I have tasted poop before but you get the idea.

After that powder, I started putting on weight like mad. So, if you saw me today and thought, “She must have been a chubby baby,” you couldn’t be more wrong.

As it turned out, the powder was dried monkey testicles.

Yeah. I ate monkey balls. A fact I only found out 30 years later.

My grandma’s valiant efforts to fix my “skinniness” eventually became my lifelong project to lose weight. No one could describe me as “skinny” ever again.

Weight, or rather the excess of it, forms much of the root of our love-hate relationship with food. Instead of seeing it as much-needed nourishment, we often find ways to deprive ourselves of it.

Abs are made in the kitchen, so they say.

We tell ourselves we can’t eat something because “it’s not organic”, because “humans were never made to consume carbs”, because “it’s got preservatives”, because “the meat is farmed”, because “it’s genetically modified”, because “our blood type prefers certain food groups” …

But why are we warring on food? Doesn’t it feel a tad bit ungrateful? After all, an entire economy of individuals toil and sweat to grow, harvest, produce, and manufacture the stuff that lines the supermarket shelves we can so easily access.

It is a behavior unique to citizens of developed nations. That we have so much food, we feel we have the right to decide what is “worthy” of our bodies, that because we can so easily fill a basket with produce, we have the extra time and energy to get creative and design diets that make us feel better about ourselves.

Which brings me to this question:

Is food the poison? Or, are our bodies merely reacting to our toxic attitudes towards something that nourishes, feeds, and sustains life?

You could argue that Cheetos is not really food. You could say that a Big Mac is a poor way for someone to meet his daily requirements for protein, fat, and fiber. But just because we can afford to eat “whole foods”, eat “fresh foods” … does it give us the right to condemn the food many people need just to get by?

We have to stop talking about food like it’s poison.

We have to stop because it shouldn’t be so stressful just to keep life going.

The Secret is not what many of us would consider as the authority on Life’s truths but what it says about food and weight makes sense.

If we keep ascribing foods as “good” and “bad”, we will always feel like there’s a slim chance that something we put in our mouths is something we shouldn’t eat. If we believe that food — no matter its form — is inherently nourishing and beneficial, it will work its magic and treat us better.

My grandma was someone who could not bear to let food go to waste. Even when our family could afford to pick and choose and let food go unfinished, she would try her best to make each morsel count.

She never had any rules about food.

And in her own way, she helped me realize that we should always count our blessings and thank the gods that we don’t need to eat monkey testicles to keep whatever we eat down.

42 down, 21 to go

I get by on some food and whiskey but I can’t survive without my 3-hour long weekend naps.

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