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Eating When and What You Want
When you begin to work on eating “normally,” especially giving up the “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” of when and what is appropriate, you may find yourself eating food in times and places that surprise you. And you’ll begin to notice that this society has arbitrary rules about food which unconsciously govern eating. Most people go along with those rules without thinking, but you may need to break them for a while—or forever—to improve your relationship with food.
For example, in this culture we’re told that there are breakfast, lunch and dinner foods. Advertisements and restaurant menus reinforce this message—cereal in the morning, a sandwich at lunch, and some kind of meat and vegetable for dinner (hurray for breakfast-all-day eateries). Soup comes before the meal and dessert after. Candy and sweets are snacks. Perhaps there was some sense to how these ideas originated and why they have lasted, but it’s important to question whether these guidelines work for you. If not, you’ll need to go against the grain (pardon the pun).
Over the years, I’ve heard some great stories about how people went about digging deep inside themselves to discover what food they wanted and how they flaunted convention regarding when and where to eat. One person, a vegetarian, had broccoli, onions, and tempeh for breakfast until his wife begged him to stop because she couldn’t stand the smell at such an early hour. Another went to a marathon of three Woody Allen movies—six or so hours worth one evening—bringing a doggy bag of a fish dinner and kept eating away though the smell clearly annoyed other theatre goers. She told me she didn’t think the fish smell was any worse than hearing popcorn crunching all during a movie. One woman chomped away at an apple in her seat during a Broadway theatre break and ignored disdaining glances. My favorite is the woman who ate a tuna fish sandwich in the bathroom of a disco; she’d brought it with her because she knew she’d be there late and would get hungry—and maybe drunk if she didn’t eat!
How many of you have the guts and confidence to eat what you want when you want? If you don’t, my guess is that you worry about what others will think and forget that you have the right (for the most part) to eat in response to your hunger. I’m not suggesting that you break rules and eat in places in which food is forbidden—the library, stores, and wherever else you see a sign prohibiting it. I am saying that, especially in the beginning of your “normal” eating journey, it’s helpful to pay more attention to what and when your body wants to eat than in what anyone has to say about it.