Sunday, March 20, 2011

Food Ego And The Search For Love

I was at a food court today, grabbing a bite after some tough training. I'm in the process of moving so it's hard for me to cook at the moment. So I sit down and unwind and eat. Directly in front of me, barely a few feet away is a table with plates of food. Then a girl comes by and drops off more and more plates of food.

This girl is overweight and not within a healthy buffer zone. All the food she is bringing is not healthy. Mostly fried stuff. I don't mean healthy in just a, "she will gain more weight sense" but also in a, "that food will give her cancer" sort of sense. She didn't look healthy and she didn't make healthy food choices.

That's not the thing that made me look, its the amount of food she got. It was so much food. Her friend came by with his own plate of food. Before he could bite in, she stood up with her phone. Then I saw the strangest thing. I thought she was just texting, but then she was hovering over the food. She was taking a picture! I was so confused. Why was she taking a picture? I would understand if she cooked it herself or it was food that was our of the ordinary plating and style. But no she was taking it to show what she was going to eat.

Then she began typing on her phone. Again I figured texting, then I realized she was blogging about it. Either on an actual blog, Facebook, Twitter, or Yelp. What is this madness? Then they began eating. They were so close I couldn't help but hear everything.

All they did was talk about the food. That's fine. But the amount of hubris she took not only in her eating ability, but her food selection...I don't know how else to describe it but call it ego. She actually sounded egotistical. People are developing food ego? My friend calls this being a "foodie." I thought that meant more of like a connoisseur like a wine aficionado or someone who knows what a good choice of meat is. She was proud of her food choices of heavily chemically treated and genetically modified food.

Observing her relationship with food was so baffling. It was an unexpected relationship with food. Then I looked around the food court, there were others just like her.

At the end though, even though she consumed so much (her friend ate a little bit, he was being taken out on a food outing and she was introducing him to different types of food) they threw over 2/3 of the food away. My mother would say at that point, "why did you order so much?" That is neither green nor sustainable practice. Does being a foodie make one against sustainability? I don't know.

Then I pondered why this relationship? What was going on? Posting this up of course would get her attention from like minded people, envy, devotion, people would love her blogs or reviews, etc. Then I realized what it was. Food provided love. Social media becomes the outlet. They even call some foods comfort foods because it feels comforting to eat. Emotional eating, eating when stressed, etc - people just want to feel loved and comforted. I think about my own upbringing as an Asian American. Asians do not get shown the most amount of affection growing up (this girl also happened to be Asian). Then when I look at food blogs, Yelp, and social media, there is a disproportionate amount of Asians on there. Finally relating, connecting, friending, complimenting, winking, poking, tweeting, sharing, devoting, all around something so common, something so universal and easily understandable that we can relate through all color, cultural, social, and economic lines - food. Even the cool kids had to eat right? So much easier and less scary to do it in cyberspace, and now even more acceptable.

It made me wonder, is food a way for a lot of people to emotionally connect with one another? With their own families? I often hear from people that the only way their parents knew how to show love was by feeding them a lot. Maybe then until this is resolved, no diet and weight loss or exercise program can work indefinitely. Something emotional and mental must happen first before the body can respond. People obviously revere and respect food. What about a sense of respect for oneself and the world they live in?

In the end it made me want to call my parents and tell them I missed them. It made me want to devote more time to meditation and my martial arts. It made me want to share this observation on my own blog. Not a blog dedicated to food and flavors, but a blog dedicated to effort.

About the Author:

Sam Y. is a Personal Trainer, Coach, Performane Enhancement Specialist, Corrective Enhancement Specialist, and holds multiple certifications. He is also an avid Martial Artist, training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Kickboxing, Boxing, and MMA. He is also the author of the popular fitness blog All Out Effort as well as the popular martial arts blog Inner BJJ. You can find him in the Los Angeles area personal training his clients, or at home annoying his wife, or on Facebook at his personal fitness page.
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