It should be easy, right? You’re hungry, so you eat. A few hours pass. Repeat, et cetera.
But no. It hasn’t been this easy in decades. Probably right around when we were able to eat anything grown anywhere in the world, and all kinds of foods recently invented. If I want a banana, I can eat a banana, even if the nearest banana tree is in Jamaica. Pretty much anything I can imagine eating can be found in minutes in any decent-sized city in the US.
So why do between six and eleven million Americans suffer from an eating disorder? Why do we refuse to eat, habitually binge, or binge and purge? Why have up to half of all high schoolers practiced unhealthy weight control methods? How did 28 million Americans contract Diabetes, the vast majority being Type Two? It’s this country’s elephant in the room.
It must be the parents, right? I mean, kids learn eating habits from somewhere. Without boundaries, they’ll gobble up all the sugar in sight. Growing up, we had a bowl of salad every single day at dinnertime. I despised it. But if I didn’t eat it, I didn’t get dessert, so I resolved to the gambit more often than not. I don’t eat a whole lot of salad anymore. I remember lashing out as a freshman in college, buying Pizza Rolls for dinner and Lucky Charms for breakfast, gorging on all the things I wasn’t permitted growing up. It didn’t last long before I realized that Cocoa Puffs for breakfast were kinda gross, and ice cream every day gets old.
I consider myself lucky, both to have such strong boundaries growing up, and being exposed to so much gourmet food as a kid. My father would cook fairly extravagant dinners 3-4 times a week. I was eating capers and scalloped potatoes before most kids could pronounce them. Yet the sweet tooth is still exceptionally strong, and I have to be very disciplined to refrain from candy bars at the checkout aisle, ice cream for dessert, a whole pan of brownies for myself. Even after 18 years of fairly draconian food discipline, it’s really hard. I can’t imagine how it’d be for someone else.
What about the supermarkets? After all, they’re the ones displaying candy bars at perfect toddler eye height in the checkout aisles. Or dressing up pastries, cakes and donuts in fancy tins and 360-degree stands. Well, they sell. What sells, wins. It’s not their responsibility to mandate our nutritional choices. Or is it?
The industrialized food system! They’re the bad guys. Multinational corporations thriving on subsidized corn and tax breaks. Injecting corn or soy into every processed food item in the supermarket. Breeding chickens to have breasts so huge they can’t even walk without toppling over. Then turning the pristine, shrink-wrapped pieces over to us for three bucks a pound. How couldn’t you buy it at that price!
No, no, no…it’s not any of these things. It’s all of them, and then some. The system is really, really broken. And it’s
slowly killing us.
I don’t have the answers. Others have explored this topic in much more detail. You should do the same. I posit that, like most things in life, keeping it simple is the way to go. Or if not simple, than perhaps old-fashioned. Food has not been much of a beneficiary of the modern technological world. Perhaps being a luddite is the way to go.