Food: My Story

Lynne Murray says:

Last night I dreamed about an encounter over a candy bar that ended in court. I wasn’t in the dream but the hero was one of those super-athletic, spandex clad-bicyclists whose high energy bar was stolen when he stopped to render medical aid to a child. How and why the bar was stolen and how the matter arrived in a court of law, the dream did not specify.

Food has been on my mind lately for reasons very different than it was during my dieting years and my post-dieting recovery years. For the last couple of decades I managed to pursue intuitive eating, and gradually my trust in my body is wisdom has increased.

No Virginia, you don’t suddenly start to eat everything in the store or gain vast quantities of weight when you stop restricting your eating–at least I did not. Once I stopped playing crazy games also known as serial dieting, and learned to listen to what my body needed, I rarely craved junk food. When I did want something greasy or sugary or simply unacceptable to every dieter in America, I ate my fill of it and moved on. That worked much better than binging on forbidden foods, then throwing the uneaten portion away and beating up on myself. The occasional chocolate cake or fried chicken did not lead to the end of the world or the beginning of monstrously huge weight gain. Oddly, some things I had craved made me feel queasy afterward, so I found myself having them very infrequently because my body didn’t appreciate an upset stomach.

Over the years what mainly came between me and my hard-won autonomy in food choices was a long stretch of poverty that made it necessary to be creative about cooking. If I wanted a hamburger I usually could make do with ramen noodles and an egg.

That was okay until disability lent a strong flavor of fear to formerly routine tasks like turning stove burners completely off, standing over a pan to stir fry, chopping vegetables, picking up and moving a casserole dish or safely lifting even a small pot of boiling water. There are many ways to deal with this particular problem but given my age and lack of means I finally asked for help from my local Meals on Wheels program.

These groups vary by community. In my neighborhood the group I was referred to delivers a hot lunch to seniors who pay a small amount, although certainly the deliveries are subsidized through donations.

The amount of food they bring is enough to stretch to supply most of my dinner as well. The volunteer who brings the lunch is gracious, cheerful and always says hello to my most sociable cat who sits with me by the door.

The meals themselves are nutritious and much more varied than I could prepare myself nowadays, so my body is reaction has been to feel nurtured. The fact that I dream about bikers suing over stolen chocolate tells me that I don’t feel I can have anything I want or that I have as much control over what I eat. Fortunately I can afford occasional treats from the supermarket delivery to stave off most of my feelings of deprivation.

The kindness of strangers is making my survival possible and that offsets nostalgia for days when I could indulge in whims. I still hope to become solvent again, and when that happens I know I will donate forever to this charity that provides such quiet, unobtrusive help to so many.