Sorry to be off radar...I have been crazy busy and just the thought of blogging made my head hurt...but I am back...here we go!
I try not to judge. People are where they are in their evolution. I consider that all the time and carefully measure my words and actions to accommodate that fact. But sometimes I wonder what people are thinking.
I just returned from teaching on a cruise ship. I know what you’re thinking. What was that cruise line smoking when they invited me, the queen of bad news for junk food eaters, onto one of those floating binge palaces to teach healthy cooking? I thought the same thing.
My first class was on the first day we were at sea. I convinced myself that the first attendance would be light, first morning and all; people struggling to find their way around the ship. But I walked onstage to a packed room, filled the brim with people ready to be entertained and educated about healthy cooking. Class was totally fun. The people asked thoughtful, concerned questions about health. Who knew?
But before we get all warm and fuzzy about change; hang on. After class, I had free time. So my husband and I took up seats on the ninth deck overlooking the sea…and it turns out, the buffet dining room. Yikes!
Granted, there is everything a person could possibly want to eat displayed in a most enticing manner. From lamb chops to chocolate mousse and everything in between: pasta, pizza (at least 4 varieties), bread, pastries, cold cuts, eggs, omelettes, bacon, sausage, French toast and waffles, the lines for food were endless…unless you were interested in the salad bar. The crisp, fresh greens sat abandoned next to little bowls of glistening chickpeas and kidney beans, nuts and seeds, unless they were smothered in ranch dressing.
It got me to thinking. This obsession with excess goes far beyond our desire to eat our ‘money’s worth.’ It goes beyond the desire to ‘treat ourselves’ and beyond the attitude of ‘I’m on vacation; I’m entitled to all of this…and more.’ It was clear that people were making their choices; the cruise line didn’t have a gun to their heads forcing them into the fried food line.
What entitles people to abuse the one body given them in this life? And what makes people want to do that to themselves? I watched one gentleman, a perfectly nice guy (you could tell, just from his eyes that he was a sweetie), huff and puff his way across the deck to a chair, one hand holding 8, count them…8 large sugar cookies, while the other hand balanced an ice cream-filled waffle cone. His breath short, his gait labored, I watched him struggle to his seat. Flopping down, he dove into his food, but not with relish, more with a pained look on his face, like every bite added to his discomfort just as each bite added to his substantial girth.
I got to wondering as I watched this pattern repeated time after time, person after person, almost in a pained obligation to excess. As bloated bodies waddled from food station to food station, their plates groaning under the sheer volume of stuff on them, I couldn’t figure out what continued to drive them. At what point did they lose hope? After they lost control? Is it after the first 15 pounds lands on their butts and bellies? The first 20? When do you say to yourself, ‘this is what I am meant to be’ and just let go?
At what point in life do you decide that the mere seconds of sensory gratification on your tongue is worth your health and quality of life? I can’t believe that people don’t know any better, that they have no idea that what they are eating (overeating) is creating so many of their problems, from aches and pains to diabetes and heart disease.
Look, I know that a cruise may not have been the best place for me to observe people and their eating habits. I know that the reputation on a cruise is that people eat as much and as often as they can. And I know that most people go on cruises for that reason; the glaciers, national parks, beaches and landmarks take a definite back seat to what’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Look, everyone loves to eat (almost everyone anyway…) and food is meant to be yummy, sexy and satisfying. I love food, good food, tasty food as much as the next guy. But when that love of eating exceeds all natural limits and robs you of your health and vitality, it’s time to wake up and examine what you are doing. With the average American consuming 4400 calories a day (twice what they need to maintain their weight), it begs the question of how much is enough?
And don’t even think of giving me the argument that healthy food is elitist and expensive. Sure, I can’t compete with a 99-cent burger and fries combo, but what is your health worth? You can either invest in healthy eating now…or you can pay the price later…with your health and your healthcare premiums. I am tired of paying for people’s bypass surgeries that could have been avoided had they just eaten a healthier diet. And I ain’t even talking about being vegan. I am just talking about eating real food and not as much.
I was watching Bill Maher the other night and he was talking about how healthy people are demonized and ridiculed, like we’re no fun, the bad news at this party of excess that marketing has created. In his more than sarcastic and eloquent way, he said that Americans think it’s their right to eat poorly and excessively and be fat.
How sad for us if that is true.