Here’s why I write about food.
No one ever called us aside when we became young adults and said, “Here is how to keep your shit together, which includes your financial health, your mental health, your physical health, your spiritual health.” We were just thrown out in the world, all trying to do the best we could with limited information that wasn’t necessarily consolidated or even organized, and certainly without a lot of context. Some of us do better than others in different areas; it depends on your family of origin and how well they did. (At least when you first branch out on your own, trying to figure out what it means to be a grown up.) And then before you know it, you’re responsible for little people. There is nothing more powerful to show you up on how well you know something than trying to teach it to someone else.
With regard to nutrition, this wasn’t really a problem until we started to mess with the food chain. You can get away with eating a lot of “real food” that is considered horrible for you (bacon, butter, bread, home-made cookies) when it isn’t genetically modified or processed so the sugar content is triple what I would make in my own kitchen.
As a country, very few people are aware what good nutrition is. Most physicians are not required to take a single course in nutrition before graduating from medical school. The situation is … not awesome. (For an article about the current state of nutrition education, see here The State of Nutrition Education at US Medical Schools, Journal of BioMedical Education) So when my primary care says, “Are you eating healthy?” and then I see her tucking processed protein bar loaded with GM soy and corn fillers alongside additives and colors into her coat pocket, I assume that’s what she means is the standard. Our nutritionists are, as Dee McCaffrey says in The Science of Skinny, resort nutritionists. We go to them as a last resort. I’ve gone to a nutritionist to get counseling and vet our family diet; you know who sits in the waiting room with me? Cancer patients. Why does it have to get so bad before we make a change?
It’s kind of like when I was first pregnant and there were only three people who would tell me the truth about the unpleasant parts of the experience. When I asked the others why they wouldn’t be honest with me, they said, “Because I didn’t want to scare you.”
Well, maybe before you made that decision for me, you should have asked me if I thought I could handle it. I was about to be a mother and you treated me like a small child. How the hell was I supposed to know it was time to grow up? Betty Friedan might have been on to something when she talked about generations of infantilized of women in The Feminine Mystique. Back to pregnancy advice – seriously, as pure personal courtesy – I would have appreciated a heads up that when I farted it would be able to clear a room. Like Adam Sandler in The Wedding Singer, “THINGS THAT COULD HAVE BEEN BROUGHT TO MY ATTENTION YESTERDAY.”
I think the real reason that no one wants to say is because they’re afraid that you might respond with, as I did in my head many times before I finally figured it out, “Nope. Can’t be that. I will END you if you give me one more goddamned thing to do, and that seems like a shit ton of work. Go fuck yourself, you hippie freak.” I used to think the super healthy people were judging me. Sometimes they were. But when I think back, I realize that more often than not, the expression on their faces that I had taken to mean “You suck as a mom and you’re poisoning your children” was really “I wish I had the words to tell you without sound like a whack job and I’m trying to so hard to bite my tongue right now because I like you as a person and I don’t want to scare you.”
Maybe it’s not about scaring people and motivating them through fear, it’s about trusting them to be able to handle the truth. So get ready. The next few posts are going to be about what organic really means versus conventional versus genetically modified. My sister once told me after she saw me rubbing my husband’s feet, “I can’t un-see that.” If you don’t want to read, skip the posts under Going Organic, because some things you just can’t un-know.