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In Defense of Joyless Eating


C’mon! Don’t You Feel JOY When You See Kale?

That’s all I can remember from the article.

Ya see, I was at an office….waiting. In the room they made especially for that purpose. I don’t remember for whom or what I was waiting, and it’s really not pertinent to the story, so please forgive me for skipping past those details.

The article was about Dr. Oz. I don’t know much about Dr. Oz, having never seen his show or read his books or met him face-to-face. But even from under my rock I knew he was a big mucketedy muck in the health world. And since I had been made a recent convert to the world of better living via nutrition (read this post for more details on that) I thought I would check out what he had to say.

He talked a lot about eating a plant-strong diet, and how he’s fortunate to have a wife that makes great veggie dishes for the family. And then he said it: “I’ve been accused of joyless eating.” JOYLESS EATING? What could he be talking about? I read on, but two things happened: I came to the end of the page AND they told me to “go on in.” Argh! I had to go deal with the business at hand. Couldn’t possibly say, “Wait, be right with you after I learn how to remove joy from my food.” And I never did finish the article, so I have no idea what he meant by that statement. But here’s the thing: I’ve thought about that phrase a LOT. Much more so than I ever would have if I had read the article. And I’ve made up my own mind on what “joyless eating” means and why it could be a very positive thing.

For me, meals have always been a very important part of my day. Whether going out with friends, or curling up on the couch, “what/where are we eating?” was the rallying cry. I’d look forward to the next meal with eagerness. This was not the food lovers zest for delicate tastes and exciting culinary journeys – this was about comfort. When all else lets you down, meat loaf always loves you. So, it occurred to me that perhaps I was focusing my “joy” on the wrong thing. I should be looking forward to spending time with friends; not the burritos that I get to eat while with them. I decided to look at food as merely ‘fuel’ – something I needed in order to have the energy to pursue the real joys in life: family, friends, gardening, dogs and of course: THEATRE.

Not only has this change in attitude made it easier to swallow some of my more unfortunate juice recipes, it really has encouraged me to devote more energy toward my true passions. I am fortunate to live in a place (NYC) whose residents use their ovens more for storage than cooking, and juice bars abound. I can grab a juice, or a quick HEALTHY meal very easily, and then forge on to meetings, rehearsals, and the true joy that is inherent in being more present in your own life.

However, I must add than an unanticipated benefit to this lifestyle change has been an increased interest in food! Yep, like most things in my life, as soon as I turned my back on food, opportunities to experience true, nuanced dishes appeared out of nowhere. I find that by eating more raw, unprocessed produce, my taste buds have evolved and I can really enJOY eating delicate, flavorful food. I try new things, eat smaller portions and truly taste each bite. My “joyless eating” has led to a much more joy-filled relationship with food!

I wish the same for you… Bon appetit!


One comment on “In Defense of Joyless Eating

  1. Ruth Tyndall Baker
    November 9, 2012

    You can’t beat Dr. Oz. I just can’t figure out how to do this food-shopping/centered life. I never did like to cook or go to the grocery. I always knew that food that’s fried is not good for you. …My daughter does vegetarian cooking with ease. I can’t seem to deal with it. Now that I’m having health ‘issues,’ there’s no better time for me to start eating right than now. At least I always start with a salad bar when I eat out. But I miss the tastes of my childhood. It is, indeed, comfort food. Now I have to learn the lesson of taking care of my body the hard way. I had a stent put in last fall. (How did that happen? My family all gets cancer!). I had both cataracts removed this summer. My back went out of wack this fall. I will start to pay attention but it is sooo hard for me. When I make a pot of soup, it ends up being so large that I could feed the block; I only want a bowl or two and then I throw the rest out. But I did grow tomatoes this summer which ripened, finally, in early fall. I took more than a bushel to my church food bank. They are delicious!
    Just add bacon….

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This entry was posted on July 26, 2012 by in Health and tagged , , , .
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