Butter is Love?

I don’t think I completely understand the way my body reacts to food. Case in point: I have been out of produce since the beginning of the week. A lot of nonsense happened this week (see dryer debacle from yesterday’s post. Incidentally, the repair man looked at it and shook his head and said “huh”. That’s reassuring) and we haven’t been able to get to the store. For the past few days I have been eating what we have left in the house, mostly wheat bread, pretzels and natural peanut butter. The last two days I have had a very heavy head. I really don’t know a better way to describe this feeling. I have also had trouble thinking. Does anyone know what causes this? Am I not getting enough protein or something? This is why I have been trying to absorb any information I can-I want to understand what certain foods do to my body and how I can make sure I get everything I need. I would appreciate any guidance.

This past Sunday we celebrated my father-in-law’s birthday. I had already eaten poorly at the lock-in so I wanted to be healthy the rest of the weekend. Then Nikki told me we were supposed to have steaks. A preemptive strike was in order. “Call her and tell her I don’t want a steak,” I said holding back tears, “I don’t want her to prepare one and I not eat it, so just ask her not to.” But, my mother-in-law didn’t understand. Their phone conversation went on a lot longer than needed.

When we got to the in-laws there were steaks laid out for me. Both were bigger than my head. “Are you sure you don’t want one?” my mother-in-law asked with a sigh. I assured I didn’t and that I would just eat the vegetables. The vegetables in this case were baked potatoes that had been grilled while wrapped in aluminum foil with probably half a stick of butter. She gave me two. The same thing happened when I told the ladies at church (that cook every Wednesday) that I didn’t want any meat, just vegetables, they gave me two helpings of everything. They also tried to give me cornbread and a roll. I did turn down the roll, but you should have seen their faces! I would compare them to a deer that has just been shot with an arrow. Confused and jumpy.

When we left later that night my mother-in-law painfully said “I’m sorry you didn’t get enough to eat.” She  was sincere. I truly felt bad that I didn’t eat the steak. I wanted her to be happy because I knew that she prepared this food lovingly. There is something in our culture, something ingrained, which makes us want to please others with food. It is a way to create and immediately see others enjoy your creation. If someone denies your creation or says it isn’t good enough, it hurts. On the flip side, it also hurts when your heart explodes.

I don’t mean to be flippant, but why do we feed such hurtful food to those we love? Someone much smarter than me (a father or a brother) once told me that it might be held over from the agricultural society we used to know. People would eat these fattening meals, then go out in the field and work all day. As machines were invented to do the hard labor, people still ate the fattening meals. They were getting no exercise and the fat made itself at home lining their abdomen.

Another reason may be that the bad, processed food is cheap. I wish I could show you all that I had a similar thought process, but it really isn’t more expensive to eat better. I had an initial sticker shock but once I sucked it up and bought the groceries I may have spent five more dollars. This should really be a non issue. I am also going to post very soon how you can make delicious vegetable dishes (I hope, since I have yet to try this method) without any butter, ham hock, or condensed soup. The power of steam! Not just for locomotives!

Andie, a very wise reader, had this to say in the comments on Monday’s post: “Some people, however, are incredibly uncomfortable drinking when I’m having just sparkling water, which makes me feel badly for them, but not enough that I’ll put them at ease by compromising my own decision and health.” This really resonated with me, because I am not really doing anything wrong by trying to eat healthier for the people I love. Just like so many people aren’t doing anything wrong by trying to show love through cooking for the people they love. We should just sit down and discuss how I know you love me even though I don’t want your food. I also will explain how you can know I love you even though I don’t want to eat my weight in mashed potatoes.

No, we don’t need to discuss it over a plate of biscuits.


10 responses

  1. I would get the same guilt from people I used to work with. Some of the most difficult situations, for picky eaters, is when we would have some kind of celebratory day at work and people would bring in food. When everyone noticed that I wasn’t going back to the break-room to eat, they started questioning me. I just couldn’t get them to understand that not only am I a picky eater but I am also addicting to sweets and also, heavy foods mess up my stomach up and the last place I want an upset stomach is at work. “Why don’t you want to eat my food, Brandon?” “I promise it’s not bad.” I agree with you that people get so excited about creating and so upset when some choose not to eat their creations. Even though it’s much more awkward, if we could just find the time, I would rather sit down and tell my co-workers and family how great they are outside of their cooking and how I don’t need food to prove that to me.

    • You’re absolutely right. I didn’t think of adding in pressure from co-workers, but I definitely feel that as well. If you don’t join in when we have Thanksgiving and Christmas crap food fests they write you off as a bad egg and throw things into your inbox. It’s like they think I committed a hate crime.

  2. I have heard and read that carbs feed the brain–not bad carbs–good carbs–like vegetables, fruit and whole grains. Then again, it seems that you hear one thing one day and another the next. It just gets so confusing. You’re right–it seems like the whole world is trying to feed us, and I’ve been guilty of the same thing. It is that Southern hospitality that is bred into us.

    • Why is it bred in us? Why is it hospitable to eat fried, fattening foods? I’m ok with the fact that we are known to be nice, welcoming people but that doesn’t have to mean that you need to get your blood pressure checked before you leave the dinner table. Beaus and Belles for Broccoli! Viva la Revolucion!

  3. I’m on the run today (not running from anyone, don’t worry, just busy), but wanted to read & give a quick amen. I know so painfully exactly what you are going through. Food is love and comfort, and sometimes, food is all someone feels like they know how to give. More thoughts later. Keep it up. Do what is right for you.

      • OK, keeping in mind that I’m not a nutritionist or doctor, and that what works for one person doesn’t always work for another … for me, making sure I get protein throughout the day really keeps me going. I eat meat, including red meat every once in awhile, because while philosophically and emotionally I find vegetarianism appealing, I’ve tried it and i just can’t make it work. Non-meat protein sources I rely upon most heavily: Greek yogurt (Fage, 2% or even Fage Total – something that is just milk/cream & live cultures, no sugar or sweeteners added) & hard cooked eggs. When I have 20-30 grams of protein at each meal, and a protein-rich snack at some point, I generally avoid the carb-fog.

        Food and love. Offending, hurting, or confusing people who just want to make you happy by giving you food – wow. I think this is one place when men have it worse than women. Many sweet southern ladies are used to always giving the men the biggest piece of meat, the extra helping, the biggest slice of pie.

        Would you be able to talk to some of these people when meal isn’t on the line – schedule time to talk to your mother-in-law when you can tell her that you are trying to become healthier because you want to give your wife the gift of a husband who is healthy and able to support her the way she supports you?

        I think it can be tough to go into the details of your food plan, but just explain (again, not over a meal) that you are going to trust her to listen and help you and support you. Then, invite them over for a dinner you’ve cooked so they can see how you are eating. Assure them you don’t expect them to cook like that for themselves, or for you that way in their home, but ask if they would be OK if you brought a side salad to share, or ate your potato without butter. If they continue to force-feed you, tell them you’re worried they are angling for a new son-in-law.

        There’s nothing worse than the look you get from a church lady whose biscuits you won’t eat. But again, you don’t owe them anything, and they cannot force you to eat. You might have to start bringing Tupperware and asking if you can take some food home, then giving the container to a street person standing on the corner asking for change as you drive home!

        You are asking hard, important questions and tackling a really tough change. Stay strong. You can do it.

  4. You have been getting some protein this week from the natural peanut butter. I think what you have been feeling may be from not getting a balance of all the things that are good for you.

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