Marines.Together We Served

Friday, December 30, 2005

Food Fight

It really doesn’t make sense.

Think about it! Why is it that when I was seventeen I could sit down to a meal of healthy proportions and inhale the entire repast only to resurface asking for more? Today, forty years later, I slowly eat a bowl of cold cereal (Rice Krispies and Total combined), and I’m full. But not just full. I actually feel like I’ve eaten too much.

Now, lest you think I may be consuming a large bowl of cereal, I assure you it is not the case. It is the standard kitchen variety bowl. The amount of cereal I pour into said bowl does not even reach the edge after I add milk.

I know all the arguments regarding this state of the body, factoring in age, and the function of metabolism, youthful energy, still growing, having the world by the tail, etc. But at a time in my life when I can actually sit down and enjoy a meal, I come away disappointed simply because I can’t even finish what’s on my plate.

As I was growing up, eating everything on your plate was an inviolable rule of life. One look from my mother told me all I needed to know about the penalty for such a breech of the rules. On those few occasions when I asked why I had to eat all my beets and/or asparagus, I was met with this rejoinder: “Think of all the starving children in China.” For the life of me, I could not figure out what starving children in China had to do with whether or not I ate everything on my plate. In my childish thinking I would have been delighted to have shared my beets, asparagus and liver with them.

The reason given for this rule requiring all food on the plate to be consumed was blamed on Scottish heritage. It sounded good at the time, but in recent years I’ve done some genealogical research and can’t positively find any Scottish ancestry. Hmmmmm. My family comes from the British Isles, ‘tis true. But they’re from England and Wales, not Scotland and Ireland. Now, it has been my distinct pleasure to travel to these storied lands. They are rich in history, and are beautiful to the eye. However, the “fine cuisine gene” never made it into the Anglo-Saxon line. Pity. Having sampled British cooking, losing weight in those far off lands would be a snap.

I love to eat Mexican food, and I have my favorite restaurant that I frequent almost weekly. I can eat lots of their home-made tortilla chips and dip, but I’m discovering I can’t eat all of the lunch that follows. Typically, I would order a burrito supreme. Once entering the restaurant, I have to begin calculating what I can reasonably consume. If I’m particularly hungry, I can either scarf down lots of the chips and order a small lunch (for instance a chili relleno from the “a la carte” portion of the menu); or I can eat a few of the chips and go for the big burrito. But it no longer matters. I come away feeling grossly overfed.

You’re probably thinking I should eat slower which will digest my food better. Ha! Gotcha! If there’s one thing I am guilty of, it’s eating slowly – too slowly. You see, I was taught to enjoy my food, so I have always eaten slowly. And if that wasn’t enough, when I completed Marine Corps boot camp, I swore then and there that I would never eat fast again. And I haven’t. I eat so slowly that I should be skinny. My mother and I have a race at the dinner table to see who will finish their meal last.

So this body that once processed food effortlessly now rebels and laughs at my attempts to exercise enough to battle the bulge areas of my torso. If I threaten to take stringent, draconian measures to subject my body to a more disciplined life style, I’m reminded that if the body thinks it’s being denied food, it will take what food does come in and turn it into – fat. This is the body’s survival mode.

I’ll be experiencing withdrawals shortly. All the rich foods from Thanksgiving through Christmas will go away: Eggnog, Russian Tea Cakes, chocolate fudge, mounds of mashed potatoes, baked ham and gravy, pumpkin pie, etc.

Now understand that I am not making any resolutions. I don’t do resolutions. They’re not worth the paper they’re written on.

So here’ the dilemma – I’m in a food fight: On the one hand, I can’t eat the amount of food I once could take in with ease; and on the other, the decreased amount of food I do consume works against me.

I’m not sure what to do – but after writing this article, I’m feeling a bit hungry. Perhaps this candy bar from my Christmas stocking will do the trick......

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