Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Eating to Live

Some people eat to live, others live to eat. I fall into the first category. Although I enjoy eating – far too much so in fact – I don't view it as one of life's great pleasures. I am not a foodie. I'm not a gourmand and I'm not really that creative nor do I joy experimenting with food. I enjoy my food fairly basic and simple. Don't bother trying to sell me on that gourmet fancy burger for an exorbitant price. Just give me something nice, basic and savory at a fair price and I'll be quite happy. 

My view on food causes my wife great distress. She falls into the second category above: one who lives to eat. She would love to have a husband with exotic tastes and not only a willingness but a passion for culinary exploration. Sadly I have greatly disappointed her in this area. And our children are no better than I. Poor lady. She's probably got a gourmet chef inside her just waiting to be unleashed all these years and she's been chained by a husband and family who wouldn't appreciate the chef even if she were set free.

For my wife's sake as well as my own health, I am trying to expand my culinary appreciation, if not my passion for food. I try to receive gratefully and appreciatively the new dishes she prepares, although I know I fall far short of offering her the praise and affirmation that she really craves. It's tough when most often I'd be quite happy with something very simple and non-creative. I am truly a fortunate man that she tolerates me in this area, but how does one create enthusiasm and passion for something that one finds largely a matter of indifference?

As I get older though, I am finding I need to pay more attention not only to what I eat but more importantly how much I eat. I have to discipline myself to not mindlessly graze on snack food while I am working at my computer or doing other things around the home. (Since I work out of our house, the kitchen is essentially always accessible to me – not such a great thing.) When we lived overseas I did not have such an issue with this. My lifestyle was much more active and I had less access to snack foods that I didn't need. But returning to the US has not done well for my waistline.

Ultimately I know that I must take responsibility for my diet and lifestyle habits. However, I must add my voice to those speaking out against the way our society treats food. The issues with fast food are well known and widely discussed. But the fast food restaurants are not the only ones guilty of pushing an unhealthy lifestyle. Most restaurants are guilty of this. Yesterday evening my family and I went to the Texas Roadhouse at the invitation of my parents. They served great food. I have no complaints in terms of quality. But I do have a complaint in terms of quantity – not that it was too little, but that it was too much. We simply didn't need all the food that comes with a standard meal. My wife and I chose to purchase one entree and split it between us, adding an extra side to round out the divided meal. This proved to be a very nice solution, though even at that it was probably more calories than either of us needed. But what would we have done had we been single, or could not come to agreement on a shared entree? (The latter is most often our challenge.) Why do restaurants push such large portion sizes? Couldn't they offer smaller portions for a smaller price?

We are blessed in this country with an overabundance of food – and it's killing us. I bemoan the rising food prices as much as the next person, but maybe they are a hidden blessing. If we cannot afford as much maybe we won't eat as much, although so far it doesn't appear to really be slowing us down. I don't think that being responsible in eating requires that a person become vegetarian or vegan, although I can respect those choices. It does require that we eat in greater moderation. I know there are a lot of good books and blogs on this topic, with better insights and reflections than I have to offer. As for myself, I am going to strive to eat smaller portions and to expand my culinary appreciation so that I can enjoy more of what's good for my body. I probably won't ever become the foodie my wife would like me to be, but I hope we can find a healthy balance together.

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