You are what you swallow


Every once in a while, I go through a panic. An irrational, idiotic panic.

As in the sky is falling. Or the Earth is warming. Or this week, my food is trying to kill me.

After having read “Unhappy Meals,” a lengthy investigative piece on food vs. nutrition in the New York Times Magazine, my head has been reeling and my stomach churning. It is not often you look back a lifetime of consumption and wonder what if.

This is how one piece of serious, mind-bending journalism can fuck with your life. Each delicious treat offered at work makes me think thrice about accepting it. I turned down king cake multiple times, and I love king cake.

Each time I hear about a low-fat food, I’m immediately skeptical — not because I’m a dieter, but because it rings more hollow than ever.

Mind you, I’m a skinny guy. I will not likely gain weight because I don’t pump iron or eat large portions. I am careful about eating a balanced diet and try to listen to my body. Listening to me whine about oh I can’t eat that is like when the newly 22-year-old in the office says I’m getting old and you wanna smack the sass outta them.

What’s causing my rampage … low blood sugar? biochemical imbalance?

Maybe it is because my consumption is so minute that I’m now more paranoid than ever about the few bites I eat. Will it lead to cancer, diabetes or merely a stress-induced heart attack from obsessing over nutrition?

You make these big pronouncements to yourself. Eat better. Exercise more. Take care of yourself.

Heck, I even considered gardening to have fresh vegetables, and I hate gardening (but love fresh veggies).

Cooking more would be best, using real food to create dinner and lunch. Cut back on the prepackaged garbage I consume regularly.

Naturally, I should spend more and demand more to have better food. But this leads to an expensive habit.

I could even start trying out the local pack-your-own-meals place, where you assemble tons of future dinners from fresh ingredients and recipe cards. (I could also cheat and grab their already assembled dinners, ready to heat up. Still fresh ingredients, but no need to stand there and put them together yourself.)

Part of me doesn’t want to think this hard about trying to settle my hunger several times a day for the rest of my life. I made it this far, eating anything and everything. Is there real potential for harm, or is it all in my exploding head?

It is self-improvement gone awry. I love to eat. I enjoy cooking when time permits. I have never really liked spending a lot of time grocery shopping or planning meals.

I wholly subscribe to the basics. Eat in moderation. Meals should be enjoyed, savored. Be adventurous. Easy on the junk food and greasy or sugary stuff. Beware the fad diets.

Yet, I seem to have lost my way. The menu no longer delights but confounds. And every bite gives me more to chew on.


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