Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Gone Girl

Last month I saw the movie, read the book reviews on Good Reads, bought the book despite the reviews, and read the book in less than 24 hours.  I seriously read about 2/3 of it in one single sitting.  As in I sat in a chair and didn't get up for hours.  I finished the rest after a break to eat.

The behaviour pattern that took place with Gone Girl was eerily similar to the most recent time I ate 100 cookies.  I didn't WANT to read most of the book in one sitting.  I knew I'd feel better if I saved it and enjoyed it slowly.  There were other things I would have liked to have been doing with that time. And yet, I just couldn't stop myself.  I felt guilty.  I told myself I deserved to do it because it was holiday time.  Once I got within a centimetre of the end I figured I might as well finish it off and then it would be done.  My rational brain shut right down and something else took over.

This woman knows how to eat mindlessly.  Check out
the scene where she's watching the talk show with her
creepy ex-boyfriend.
This is not even an excellent book.  According to the haters on Good Reads you'd think it's the worst piece of schlock ever hammered out, but they were overly harsh.  It was a pizza from Domino's.  I fancy myself to be more of a wood-fired oven, thin-crust with prosciutto and bocconcini kind of person, but once in a while a greasy slice from a take-out joint is really satisfying.

I've known for a while that I just shouldn't bring page-turner novels into my home.  I cannot control myself with them.  The same goes for some foods, although these have changed as my mindful eating practice evolves.  Large high quality dark chocolate bar?  No problem - sits in my cupboard for weeks as I enjoy the occasional nibble when the mood strikes.  Bag of maple-bacon flavoured popcorn?  Forget it - must devour whole bag.  In mindful eating, we recognize what these trigger foods (or "food-like items") are and we choose not to have them around because we know their pull on us is more powerful than our mindful eating practice.

I thought my mindful eating practice was progressing nicely, but something in Gone Girl triggered an alarming realization.  No, not that I'm deranged and manipulative.  In the novel one of the main characters (we can't call them protagonists) says his wife is always thinking, thinking, thinking - her brain is constantly churning.  That's me.

I thought one of my biggest mindful eating achievements was my new habit of NOT multi-tasking when I eat alone.  I used to always read while eating, but through mindful eating learned that I should just sit and enjoy my food.  I thought I was doing that and I was proud of myself.  Alas, I'm often just as "gone" when I'm eating as I used to be.  Instead of reading, I'm thinking, thinking, thinking.  I'm so lost in my thoughts I'm not present in the room with the food I'm eating - I'm eating mindlessly.

The excellent thing about mindful eating is once you're aware of something, you have the power to change it.  Not like the characters in Gone Girl...they know they've got problems, and they choose to stay mired in them.  Fine for a cheap novel, but not for a real life.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

You eat like an animal

Everybody does.  Because we ARE animals.  

Most animals spend a lot of their daily energy foraging (that's biologist talk for looking for food).  The ability to get good food is a major selective pressure (more biologist talk for the situation whereby if you don't eat, you don't have kids, and you therefore don't pass on your crummy inability to find food genes to any future generations).

Of course, most of us in North America don't live like the other animals anymore.  We are bombarded by an obscene excess of food options.  Most of the providers of those options are driven by capitalism.  So, now the pressure is on the food providers to make sure their food items get picked by us.  Instead of all us humans out there on the savannah competing for scraps of berries and meat, the various forms of froot and chik'n are competing for us.  

Food companies lure us in through marketing, and through engineering food to make it hyper-palatable: easy to eat, salty, fatty, and sugary, and strangely unsatisfying.  These foods are designed  to over-ride your animal brain and to leave you wanting more.  As I've mentioned before, some foods are really really hard to eat mindfully, and that's because they're made to be that way.

I've been thinking about this lately because of various books I've been reading about industrial food.  Mindful eating is supposed to be about HOW you eat, not WHAT you eat.  But I'm starting to realize that some food-like items make it almost impossible to eat mindfully.  A truly mindful eating practice would be careful with those foods.  

Eat this.
I am inspired by the carrot.  Specifically, the tiny carrots currently available from a local friendly farm, Patchwork Gardens.  Now, these are real carrots.  Lumpy, a little dirty, and packed with so much flavour that you only need to eat a few to feel blissfully happy. I LOVE them. 

Contrast this with those bags of creepy, soggy little carrot cone-clones.  I've often mindlessly eaten dozens of these things, without deriving much satisfaction or enjoyment.  Don't try to tell me you haven't done this.  These are industrial carrots.  They've gone through a lot of steps before they've gotten to you, and they've lost most of their vitality along the way.  You could eat worse things, but why not eat better things?  The real carrots I've been eating satisfy eye, nose, mouth, heart, and cellular hunger.  Mini-carrots are just cold wet crunchers with a bit of sweetness.  How impoverished.
Not this.

I don't like to tell people what to eat, or to push my food ethics on others, but I do want to encourage people to consider eating more real food.  We are so lucky in Kingston - with a little effort, we can find local food for sale in grocery stores and delis 365 days a year!  Hard to believe during a winter like this. 

 And, I'm very happy to discover that there is a blog that pulls information together: Eat Local, Kingston.  There's a Facebook page too.  Check it out and help this community grow!