Archive for June 13th, 2010

My photos today are somewhat relevant to the subject I’m discussing.

Kneeling by my kitchen cabinet. My kitchen has very limited cabinet and counter space. I got it on Craigslist.

This is my big, pasty, be-stretched and be-scarred belly. The scar is from having my gall bladder out last year.

So today I’ve decided to write a bit about food, specifically my relationship with it. Now, I know some of you are probably thinking, “what’s there to say? You’re fat so you obviously eat too much of it.” And if that’s you, then I invite you to kindly shut the fuck up and go away.

I’ve always had a pretty complicated relationship with food, as just about any fat person in modern society does (and not because we’re fat, but because of all the shit people make us do to try and make us not-fat). Both my parents have complex food issues themselves, and they passed some of it down to me. Of course, since I’m a stubborn git who hates being told what to do, I would often do the opposite of what they tried to make me do. When I got “the look” from my mother that meant to either slow down or not take any more food, I would often eat more or eat faster just to spite her. Not the mention the fact that with two older brothers and a father who inhaled food at the speed of light, I had to eat fast just to make sure I got my fair share. As a kid this often meant I ate more because my eyes were bigger than my stomach, but admitting I was full and letting them have the rest would have been admitting defeat. It was all very prehistoric at mealtimes in my household. I mean there wasn’t food flying everywhere or anything like that, but it disappeared pretty damn quick. I am always the fastest eater of all my friends, whether I’m having dinner at a restaurant or at their house, and I often have to amuse myself for five to twenty minutes while they finish because I’ve already been done (and don’t even get me started on the hell that is people who assume they must fill my plate if it’s empty, trust me, if I wanted more I would take it).

So we’re already looking at food in general from a very specific place. I eat too fast, which often means I don’t register when my stomach is full as soon as I should. These days I’m a lot better about stopping and letting it settle, but I have to be mindful of it. And if I’m chatting with my friends over pizza or something, that mindfulness often goes right out the window. Which leads to me feeling icky later, when my stomach is going “what the hell, this is way more food than we need!”

As if that wasn’t complicated enough, since about the age of 12 I’ve been a pescetarian. For those who are unaware, a pescetarian is someone who only eats meat in the form of fish or other seafood (I generally stick to fish). I actually am a practicing vegetarian most of the time, it’s mostly when I go out to dinner with people to restaurants where they don’t have vegetarian options, that’s when I eat fish. I also sometimes have tuna fish sandwiches, but that’s because I’m poor and fancy protein sources like tofu are out of my budget (I do eat a lot of beans, though). The thing is, I don’t mind being a pescetarian, except for the part where I have to explain what it means every damn time I say it. I do actually like fish (mostly, if cooked well). Shellfish are a bit iffier.

The thing is, most of the reason I don’t eat meat is because I don’t like it. Now, granted, it’s been a good long while since I ate any (I’ve had chicken a couple times, mostly right before going to Germany because I was afraid there wouldn’t be any vegetarian options there, which turned out to not be true), but really, I don’t remember liking beef or pork that much when I was younger. There were certain foods I liked, mostly because of the packaging (my mom’s porcupines and McDonald’s Happy Meals come immediately to mind), but I don’t miss meat. The few times I’ve tried tasting it in the interim, it’s made me feel sick or otherwise grossed out. I don’t look at a steak and sigh longingly. In fact if I look at a steak I generally look away quickly before my stomach turns. I’m not an evangelical pescetarian, though. They annoy the piss out of me. “Oh woe are you who feed upon the flesh of the living, for you are not as pure as those of us who are vegetarian/vegan/breatharian!” Fuck that bullshit. Eat what you want, I say, just don’t try to force-feed it to me and we’re fine.

And I have had a couple times when people have tried to feed me meat, either by bullying or lying. And in such cases I simply don’t eat. I have yet to have someone try to literally force-feed me, and if they did my fist would have words to exchange with their groin (because being punched in the groin is painful no matter your gender, and more effective than a punch in the face).

Of course, being a pescetarian in the midwest isn’t exactly easy. I can count on one hand the number of places with actual vegetarian options (not fish), and of those maybe one has an actually healthy option (vegetable fried rice is dandy, but not healthy). Especially in Cincinnati, which I did not know before moving here is apparently the “chili capital” of the US. There’s beef EVERYWHERE. If it’s not in chili, it’s a burger or a hoagie or a meatloaf. I mean, it makes sense, since the midwest is largely cattle country, but still, not so great for me.

And don’t even get me started on the guilt I feel about imposing my food needs on others. Not enough guilt to shut up and eat the sloppy joes, but enough to feel bad that they have to make a special side plate of mac and cheese or rice and beans just for me because I can’t and won’t eat the barbecued pork everyone else is enjoying.

So I always have and always will have a complicated relationship with food. From the issues I inherited from my family, to my own self-imposed limitations and preferences, and beyond. I love trying new foods, and I tend to gravitate toward Asian cuisine because it is somewhat more vegetarian-friendly (especially Thai, I love Thai), but my food choices limit what I can try. Chicken and dumplings isn’t going to make the list, neither is your mother’s famous meatloaf, even if it’s so delicious you can hear choirs of angels sing with every bite. Best case I have to spit it out, worst I end up violently ill. And that’s not something I want to subject anyone too.


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