Once upon a time we ate solely for survival. It didn’t matter much what food tasted like, the fact that it sustained us and kept us alive was the only priority.
Oh, how things have changed.
I was raised in a family that celebrated food.. That used food as a reward. That came together around, and because of food. Each and every special occasion was marked with a celebratory meal. Even to this day, when it’s my (or someone else’s) birthday, my father asks me where we are going out for dinner. Food was important. And even though I have spent my life being a very fussy eater… food was a focal point.
Now that I am Coeliac, it has been a hard adjustment. Not only because of the restrictive nature of the required diet, but because of the sense of deprivation and “missing out” that comes with it.
At first I made it my mission to find suitable replacements for all I had lost, so that the transition would be as seamless as possible. That didn’t go so well. I don’t know what it’s like in your part of the world, but where I live, GF food is pretty much disgusting. Maybe it is because I can still remember what “real” food tastes like. I lived on bread. I mean I seriously lived on it. All kinds of bread.. I LOVED IT. Toast for breaky. Sandwiches for lunch. And even buttered bread as a side with dinner. Pasta was at least 2 times a week.. usually more. And pizza was a regular. Carbs were a BIG part of my life.
I eventually gave up on bread. GF bread is horrible. I mean I can’t even begin to describe the level of horrible that it is. It’s rock hard. It’s dry. It’s crumbly. It’s small. It’s tiny small. It costs 3 to 4 times what regular bread costs (even if you bake it yourself). So I just stopped trying.
But then Easter rolled around. Hubby was consuming Hot Crossed Buns like they were going out of style. Easter is a tough time for me. It’s when my mum made the transition… and it always brings back memories. So the bread obsession started up again. And really with no more success than last time. I’m getting really close to giving up on it again.
The experience got me thinking though. Why has this been so tough on me? Why do I get so angry, so frustrated? And it dawned on me. Because we don’t see food as just food. Food is social. Food is reward. Food is comfort. It’s not just something we do in order to stay alive. We have built up entire rituals, and expectations and events surrounding food. In my home town (like many I suspect), we have an annual Food and Wine Festival. Food has become incredibly important in our lives for many reasons other than sustenance.
Maybe it’s time for me to take a step backwards. Maybe millennia backwards… to a time when food was just food. Something we did to survive, that’s all. Maybe if I un-learn a lifetime of placing unnecessary significance on what could be, considered just a small part of life… Maybe then it will get easier.