Friday, November 5, 2010

Contemplating the meaning of Food

Yesterday, while I was cooking dinner, Nanna (The little girl's nickname, whom I live with I live) was not in the best mood. She had steak, potatoes, and green beans for dinner and she didn't want it. She got through the steak and potatoes okay, but it took her a good 15 minutes to eat her green beans. It was really funny because she acted a lot like I used to act.

I used to be picky. Pretty sure I was the pickiest out of all the Banks kids. Believe it or not, I never ate potatoes except for french fries because I thought I didn't like them. I never ate beans because I thought I didn't like them. And, of course, I hated most vegetables, oh and ranch dressing. Looking back, I realize that I could have enjoyed life much more if I wasn't so picky. Perhaps my taste buds changed a little bit, but I don't think they changed that much.

It's hard to tell why I was so picky. It doesn't make much sense at all, because a lot of the food I "disliked" was really good food. I was just afraid to taste new food. Vegetables are a completely different story, because they actually don't taste good (no I don't consider beans and potatoes vegetables). I don't understand why I was picky, but I am no longer picky, for the most part.

Food is awesome. I remember one time we got free food at some band event and I expressed my excitement for the free food to somebody I was next too. He dryly responded by saying, "Yeah, free beer is better than free food, though." Of course, I politely laughed and lied by saying Very True, but inside I was thinking, Really? Food is amazing and there is a reason most people consume more food than they consume alcohol. Because it is satisfying and delicious. (Don't try to contradict me by saying that it's necessary for survival. You know you love it)

If I didn't know better, I would snack on Wheat Thins all day long, every single day. I would also have ice cream or pie or cheese cake for desert after both lunch and dinner every day. Unfortunately I do know better, so I've chosen to eat slightly less addicting things, usually. I really love to be able to eat whenever I want to, but I don't like it when I can't stop eating. Like the several times I ate an entire box of Wheat Thins for dinner... or the several times I ate a carton of ice cream in 2 days, by myself.

No, I eat whenever I want to, but my snacks that I keep at hand are usually things like almonds, cheese, and low sodium Triscuits. These are decent tasting foods, except cheese, which is phenomenal, and they're all moderately healthy. They taste good enough that they satisfy me, but I am able to stop eating them before I eat a meal's worth of calories. All this does not mean I don't have a sixth of a pumpkin pie in my fridge that I bought 2 days ago. It just means that I occasionally have the self-control to not eat that stuff.

When you eat healthy, your stomach is just as happy as if you ate unhealthily, but your taste buds are not quite satisfied. Healthy eating also leads to a happy conscience, knowing that you're taking care of yourself. Unhealthy eating satisfies the belly and the taste buds. And if you do it right, you can ignore the guilt that comes with how poorly you're treating your organs with all that fat, carbs, and salt. It's usually hard to ignore the guilt for long, so in the end, you only satisfy your belly and your taste buds.

Since both healthy eating and unhealthy eating benefit 2 out of three of the categories of happiness, then they are both equally valid as far as being immediately happy goes...But this assumes that the stomach, taste buds, and conscience all carry the same weight for producing happiness. Since both methods of eating satisfy the stomach equally, we need to look closer at the taste buds and the conscience.

Taste buds produce an immediate satisfaction. This is extremely appealing because whenever you go to Woodies, you know that all you have to do is eat a bite of pizza and within milliseconds you will be happy with the taste. Most of us don't especially enjoy waiting for satisfaction, so taste satisfaction has a very strong appeal.

For those of you who get immediate satisfaction out of eating healthy, props. But for us mortals, we don't usually have a very strong satisfaction immediately when we eat something healthy. However, we know that healthy food helps us be healthy and in the long run will likely help us live a better life. Healthy food prevents high blood pressure, heart disease, and all kinds of other things that are no fun to go through. Since these benefits are typically far in the future it takes, foresight, wisdom, and self-control to eat healthy. An alternative method would be to live in a closed community where all people ate was healthy food, so you never would know what unhealthy food was like. My parents attempted doing this for me and my siblings by feeding us fruit for dessert, but we eventually convinced them to give us unhealthy food...Buahaha!

Self-control is a really important ability and is useful in countless situations. The main reason it is so important is because we are constantly faced with the choice of choosing immediate satisfaction or long-term satisfaction. Immediate satisfaction is not always bad (Like when I decided to warm up my cold hands on my bike ride today), but can often be the foolish choice (like food).


  1. I love this topic - and the new look of the blog! Personally, I choose to cook healthy meals for myself whenever I pack a lunch or cook dinner, but I let myself have what I want if I go out for lunch (once or twice a week) or dinner (once a week, usually). I also have some kind of "treat" most days - if I have a few beers on a Friday evening I try not to have dessert and if I have a weekday dessert (usually something small) I won't have a beer. I've gotten into the habit of making simple yet delicious food when cooking at home and found that Mark Bittman's "Food Matters" really helped. And even as an adult it is important to try new things! My next "new food" to cook will be butternut squash... we'll see if I like it!

  2. I miss cooking with you :( You always wanted to learn about the food not just eat it.