Here we are at Cracker Barrel, which was across from our hotel on our recent drive (2 days in the car!) to see family. I skipped the Kids Menu, and M ordered rice, chicken, corn and milk. I had roasted chicken, beans, stuffing and corn. We ate maybe 25% of what was on the table. I ordered her a main meal because all the kids stuff was the typical fried, limited fare that M doesn’t love anyway. She had biscuits for the first time. She liked the corn bread too. We had a pleasant meal, but here is what we left. (I suppose we could have shared entrees had I realized how much food there would be…)
- I waste food because I can afford to. (The photo above is at the end of our meal.)
- I can stop eating because I know I will have enough, good-tasting variety of foods before I get truly hungry again. (Reliable meals and snacks.)
- I can try new foods and introduce my daughter to new foods because I know I will have other things to eat, and because I have enough resources to try something that might not get eaten.
- I can stop because I can eat any of those foods when I want to. (I don’t need to eat 2 biscuits because if I want to order them again sometime, I can-without guilt.)
- I leave food because I have never been truly hungry (childhood food insecurity and hunger often has long-lasting effects, with adults who experienced it more likely to feel anxious or panicky with food, and more likely to binge when foods are available-a smart survival strategy at the time…)
- I leave food because I have learned to eat in a way that is tuned-in to my internal cues of hunger, appetite and satiety.
- I am lucky…
If I weren’t so lucky, I would have ordered food for M that I KNEW she would eat. If I didn’t know when the next meal was coming, I would order reliably filling foods with lots of calories for the least amount of money. If I hadn’t eaten all day because I was “saving points” for dinner, or didn’t have any cash, or felt guilty about how I blew my diet yesterday… (you see where this is going.)
Poverty, how much we eat, what kinds of foods we eat, are more complex than most (especially in the public health world) would have us believe. Food is at it’s heart survival, and making it simply into a moral issue without a deeper understanding of the complexities–the physiology and psychology of hunger (monetary or self-inflicted)– is dangerous and short-sighted.