If you could have set up camp inside my brain week before last (now THERE’S an appealing offer) you would have heard, around the tiny little pretend campfire, my thoughts chasing each other around in skittish little circles.
Little circles that seemed to inevitably lead back to thoughts of bacon. Or guacamole. Or even, for goodness sakes, a plain pita chip. Even though you can drink enough of that lemonade to fill you up, even though, for the most part, you can function just like normal…it’s just not, well, normal.
There is so much habitual eating that I do every day, the meals, the meal planning, the snacks, the almost unconscious grab for the whatever food item happens to be closest. When I take eating out of the equation, I realize just how much time I spend rotating around all that food. But it’s more than that. It’s the awareness, all around the edges, that I’m not quite satisfied. The small but insistent nagging at the back of my brain that things aren’t quite right.
Don’t get me wrong. I certainly don’t know what it’s like to be truly hungry, but doing that cleanse makes me come closer to the reality of what it must be like to be chronically in a state of hunger. How my energies naturally turn toward fixing it. How my thoughts skitter. How they circle and swoop, eventually coming to land on the spot, the possibility of when I will eat again.
I wonder what it would be like if I didn’t know when that time was coming next for me. If the lack of food was not due to my own choice, the resuming of normal life not an option.
While I was on the cleanse, I happened to read a short article on Michael Pollan’s rules for eating well, rules that I had read in his book last spring and that struck me as fairly common sense – written to be easy to remember, simple guidelines. Anyway, none of that is really the point – what really struck me in that reading was the comment section (it really wasn’t so much an article as an ask for comments) and how quickly it turned into a discussion of the terrible eating habits of the middle class, and lower middle class, and working poor. So many people found it so easy to make sharp, dismissive comments about what causes those people to eat that way.
I found myself wanting to scream at the computer. Just a little. Because it seems very simple to make the right decisions about food when you have the money to do so, or the time to be able to read and research, or simply that you aren’t trying to make those decisions when you are already hungry.
You aren’t going to get any argument from me that we eat badly in America. Not at all. Where I hope I always will argue is against the place of making judgements about people whose circumstances I can’t possibly understand.