CXII. The Culture of Consumption -

As I have mentioned in a previous post, when I find myself in the position of having to eat out, whether it be by choice, or by force, I try in earnest to choose the least fattening dish on the menu.

Whenever a salad is available, dressed in non-fat balsamic vinegar, without  the natural lard in nut-form, and devoid of avocado or meat, I don’t register a  second thought and, with conviction, order the salad.

I try to avoid eating bread in any form and if at all possible, I attempt to separate the solid vegetables contents from the sauce they’re drenched in.

On occasion, I splurge and eat whatever is in front of me. I have 2 explanations for this phenomenon, aside from the fact that I obviously can tolerate the food and may even go so far as to fancy it :

1. I am filled with anxiety to such an extent that filling myself up with food is a compensation mechanism that serves to translate the abstract into the tangible; namely: nausea, an upset stomach, and a feeling of bodily disproportion.

2. I feel obligated to finish consuming food as a form of respect. In other words, I am attempting to not disaffect a party of people whom I will no doubt have to encounter multiple times throughout the course of my existence. In avoiding argumentation, I appropriate appreciation towards the bearers of food by filling myself to the point of finding an unobserved nook where I can jog in place.

For the entirety of my college career, exactly 1 year from today, I would ingest less than 800 calories a day. The summer that followed commencement, I was more than inclined to keep this lifestyle static, albeit, with healthier choices and occasional choice of a potato-filled bread with yogurt as opposed to a veggie patty without the bun.

The primary reason for developing this eating habit, I know now, was to prevent weight gain. As a 4.0-obsessed freshman, I was sitting all day and studying.
What was originally a subconscious need to control my weight became the norm. Upon coming home, my primary care physician was more than alarmed, which in turn, alarmed me, and so I ate everything in site. Suffice it to say, I felt more sickly the more I ate.
Eventually, my diet adjusted for (slightly) more food intake.

Contrary to what people may think, I do not count calories. If I cannot bring myself to stand on a scale, quantifying how many units of energy I consume, a number that can easily be translated into pounds, would be contradictory to my wishes.

When I ate as I have been for the past 4 years, my skin was clear my hair became silkier and yes, thinner which was not a pro, and shopping became a case of seeing a runway model in the fitting room mirror minus 9 - 10 inches.

Till date, I do not understand why my parents and other family members always pushed food towards me and others my age.  I most definitely would not want to keep this legacy alive when I have kids. Sure enough, whenever I say this, I’m met with squinted eyes and am scowled at. How could anyone starve their kids?

The food spectrum goes from one extreme to the other.

Some ethnic cuisine almost completely phases out certain food groups.

I have said it time and time again, I am not vegetarian. Although, if I wanted to be vegetarian, that is my choice and my choice alone.
I could care less about little jabs made here and there by those who disapprove.
If I eat kebab after not having eaten meat in months, I am clearly not a vegetarian. I have no qualms about animals eating other animals. It seems as though people like to give me a hard time in this regard. I’ll get the nutrients that I need to survive, thank you for your concern.

As many inadvertent arguments that develop between family members and I when I refuse to eat meat, simply because I do not like it, there are  an unfortunate number of times where I cannot help but eat what is available; a compromise has to be made.

For this is the culture of consumption.

In a short time, I’ll be immersing myself among a people who are heavy meat eaters. When I say meat, I am referring to the distinction that is made between meat,(lamb, pork, goat, cow), and poultry, (chicken).

One reason for my dislike of meat is the chewiness. No matter how well cooked, the texture is naturally akin to rubber. With that said, chicken seems to be the least rubbery among meat/poultry products.

In the country where I’m headed, chicken dishes are not commonplace. If I am to survive in this foreign land, I’ll have to forsake my desire for vegetables. The non-meat dishes are heavily bread and cheese based which, as you can only imagine, will cause me to stock up on more pepto bismol more than I’d like to admit. I don’t think my stomach could handle it.

So here’s to the culture of consumption: From the small portion-sizes in Paris, to the chemical-induced foods of the Americas, what food you consume has never been an individual choice.