Time to break out my armchair Dr. Freud and get into some deep exploration. Why do I have strong impulses to overeat when I'm around food?
Well, it couldn't possibly be me. There must be someone I can blame. There must be some despotic figure who waged a campaign early in my life to create my unnatural tendencies to binge on food. I know! It's my mom!
|Just like Coke!!!!|
The most important bit of context about my mom is that she is incredibly frugal. She had to be. My dad spent his entire career as a basic research chemist working for the US government (NBS/NIST and DOE for those curious), so we lived on a middle class government salary (contrary to anything you might have heard on Fox News, this is not the way to become a millionaire). She was taking care of two kids while my dad was getting his PhD, with literally less than two cents to scrape together. Ultimately, she was taking care of four kids. My parents put all four kids through college, including their ungrateful third child (me) into an over-priced institution in Durham, NC. She worked full time as a typist, earning practically no money so they could cover tuition. It is also worth noting that my mother's mother was a product of the Great Depression. She was even tighter. Given all of the above, my mother's frugality would give the most hardened Scot a run for his precious money.
When it came to frugality, there was no better evidence than the food in my house. A few notable examples come to mind:
- Lunch bags. Other kids got those cool, pre-cut lunch bags made explicitly for carrying their lunch to school. I got whatever large brown shopping bag happened to be around. I kind of looked like a homeless person carrying his belongings in a tattered brown bag.
- Bread. We never got fresh bread from the store. Instead, we stocked up on day-old bread that was on sale, and then stored it in the downstairs industrial strength freezer. I didn't complain as much as my siblings (my recollection, anyway), so I tended to get the heals, not the normal slices from the middle. That's right. My sandwiches were made out of day-old, frozen-then-thawed heal slices. Wonder Bread you ask? Heck no! Always generic.
- Cheese. Did I get those awesome tasting processed cheese slices that the cool kids got? Please. Bologna? Never! I got Safeway brand longhorn cheddar cheese. Therefore, my prehistoric crust sandwiches were served with basic cheddar cheese. And mustard. That's it. Some days I did get PB&J.
- What else came in my cavernous lunch sack? Usually a brown banana.
- What about a treat with my lunch? No. I was the kid that literally had nothing good to trade at lunch in the cafeteria. Oh, the shame of it all!!!!
- What about buying my meal from the cafeteria? Maybe 3-4 times per year.
- OK, lunch was sad, what about breakfast? Anything tasty and sweet on the menu? No. My family was early adopters into the cult of private label. In those days, Safeway sold a private label which was literally a white box with black letters with catchy derivative names like "Oats of Cheery". No Lucky Charms for this young man.
- A personal favorite example was milk. We got the huge box of powdered skim milk. Just like the astronauts!!! I don't think I tasted full-test whole milk until I was 16 years old.
- Dinner was usually a reasonable portioned, healthy dinner. Fortunately, my mom was a good cook, so this was the eating highlight.
- What about fast food? I probably ate out 5 to 10 times per year. McDonalds was reserved to the trips to and from vacation.
- What about the drawer in the kitchen full of tasty treats and cookies? Didn't exist.
- Did I have desert ever? Yes. One night each week, I got the "Treat of the Week". It was usually a Black Cow, constituted of private label (Cragmont) root beer and private label ice milk (not to be confused with ice cream).
|Just like the Armani kind!!!!|
So that's the story of how one man developed an unhealthy relationship with food. It had nothing to do with food itself, but rather my own perception of social acceptance and worth. Strange, isn't it?!