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All Worked Up: Our Obsession With Food

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All Worked Up: Our Obsession With Food

I recently spent a lovely week on the farm where I played out my childhood summers. Sitting in the kitchen, I was awash in memories of my grandmother stirring a pot of collard greens, putting up pickles, cutting peaches for a cobbler, shelling peas into the big tin pail that still hangs in the curtained pantry.

My cousins were there, and we spent our days as we had in childhood: riding down dirt roads on the tailgate of a pick-up truck, casting our lines into the local fishing hole, and gathering around the kitchen table in eager, puppy-like anticipation of dinner. My most beloved aunt now took the place of my grandmother, but the meal was much the same.

As I was waxing poetic about the field peas and hot cornbread, one of my beloved cousins looked at me and said, with genuine curiosity, I dont understand getting so worked up about food. When I nearly dropped my forkful of fried okra, she explained I think eating is a nuisance. It annoys me that I have to stop what Im doing because my physical body requires fuel.

Well.

I had to wonder: does it make sense to get worked up about food? Admittedly, my viewpoint is skewed. As a food writer and intuitive eating coach, I spend my days creating recipes, researching food, teaching cooking and nutrition classes, and helping people explore their eating habits. But still. I dont think Im alone. As a whole, were just generally all hot and bothered by food. Were seduced by its loveliness, enraptured by its flavor and aroma, dazzled by its health-giving properties, and wistfully smitten by its rumored ability to make us wrinkle-free, toned and lean, ten pounds lighter by Labor Day and possibly immortal.

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Lisa Turner

Lisa is a chef and nutritionist with more than 30 years of professional experience and formal training in food, nutrition and product development. Shes written five books on food and nutrition and is the creator of The Healthy Gourmet iPhone app, and has been a featured blogger for many national sites, including Huffington Post and Whole Foods Market. Lisa is a faculty instructor at Bauman College of Culinary Arts and also teaches food and nutrition classes and workshops to individuals and corporations. She's a black belt in Ninjutsu, an active volunteer in the Boulder Valley school lunch system, and an avid wild food forager.

77 comments

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1:11PM PDT on Apr 27, 2011

I love food! I try to eat really healthy, and I'm majoring in clinical nutrition. So it's a significant part of my life :)

8:16PM PST on Jan 11, 2011

when i was growing up, my parents had each other, and since i did not feel that there was room for me in the family, i went to food, and it became me BEST FRIEND. i could be alone with it and spend hours eating one noodle at a time (of spaghetti, etc) - just to prolong the experience. IT WAS WONDERFUL!

later it started to affect my health, and my weight, and since that scared me, i decided to do the same thing recovering alcoholics do - and that is to cut it out. of course you cannot cut out food all together, just as alcoholics cannot cut out all liquid, but i could cut out the trigger foods, which are those with salt or sugar, cooked and/or processed - just about everything but raw fruits and vegetables.

though i do eat nuts and seeds, i know that i will not stop if i try to include anything with salt in it. i have had to include beans and potatoes because of the cold climate, but i am nervous about it because i am on the verge of overeating all over again - merely because they are starchy and cooked.

yes, i have lost some weight, and yes, my health has improved, but i am constantly on the watch for overeating tendencies! i don't know if there is such a thing as 'intuitive eating' in my experiences, but i think that is exactly what 'normal' eaters do all over the world!!!

1:03PM PDT on Sep 7, 2010

I am enjoying a peach as I read this article. I love food but hate to cook so I don't eat that healthy. I don't eat processed foods anymore, so my diet it pretty bland. I'm also trying to practice going vegan so that makes it blander but I'm willing to give up meat and dairy so not to contribute to animal abuse. I know of one lady who says she hates to eat, but she is over weight, so apparently he doesn't hat it that much.

10:38PM PDT on Aug 31, 2010

Hi all,

Obviously, I love food too ~ and it provides plenty of pleasure. But loving something and obsessing about it are two different matters entirely. Love is a respectful relationship that often affords a great deal of pleasure. Obsession is an unhealthy relationship, in which we may expect the object of our obsession to fulfill all of our needs.

Thanks, everyone for your comments!

12:41AM PDT on Aug 31, 2010

i love food, too

8:22PM PDT on Aug 30, 2010

I feel sorry for people who view food as simply fuel

11:12AM PDT on Aug 30, 2010

I love food too! I've recently become vegetarian, working on going vegan. I have learned so much about healthy, fresh food and I love it! I've also discovered veggies that I never knew I liked. I can't wait to learn more recipes and try new foods (:

11:03AM PDT on Aug 30, 2010

I love food! Cooking it, reading and learning about it, everything! To me it is a meditation to prepare meals that are healthy for my family. The simpler, the better. Farm fresh is best !!!

10:39AM PDT on Aug 30, 2010

I come from a culture where spicy food and food cooked with many different herbs and spices are the norm. In general, my people are of healthy weight, not obese, yet we like to eat and eat well. Lisa Turner's comment "... my Southern aunts and grandmothers didn't use harissa, pomegranate glaze, or intricate sauces; even garlic was considered exotic. The food spoke for itself..." isn't one-size-fits-all (sorry, bad pun).

9:22AM PDT on Aug 30, 2010

One side I saw with food was my mother's struggle with anorexia and constant fad dieting. In the end, she gained more weight than anticipated, mostly because she messed up her metabolism from dieting and being obseessed about eating as little food as possible. I think a lot of the skewed attitudes about food start at home.

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