Saturday, January 13, 2007

Fear of food

I was in the food co-op this afternoon, picking up a bunch of spinach, when another shopper spoke to me. She was a young mother, shopping with her preschooler, and she watched me put the spinach in my cart with frank shock. Then she shook her head. "Boy, you're brave," she said.

It took me a minute to understand what she was referring to. Once I got it, I couldn't stop thinking about it. Here was fear of food in a different context from the one I'm used to seeing--the kind of fear of food anorexics feel--and it made me think. Our relationship to food is so primal, so necessary for survival, that to be afraid of it seems not just counterintuitive but, also, awful.

If I'm honest, I must admit that I have fears around food, too. I'm guessing many of us do. I spent years being afraid of fat because of the cultural hysteria around overweight. I grew up in the 1960s, eating a lot of packaged, chemically preserved food--Snowballs and Tastykakes, anyone?--and now try to eat organic when I can, partly from fear of what's in our food supply, partly because organic food tastes better, and partly because organic practices are better for the earth and animals.

And I got to wondering just how pathological my food fears are. I'm not afraid of spinach--in fact I cooked it up and ate it for dinner, and it was delicious--but I wouldn't willingly eat a hot dog (red meat, nitrates).

How sad to have fear enter into the essentially joyful relationship we should have with food. I don't make New Year's resolutions, but I think I'll make that a priority on my list this year: to vanquish my own food fears and reestablish a healthier and happier relationship with food in 2007.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Mr. Wrong goes to New York!

The publication date for MR. WRONG: REAL-LIFE STORIES ABOUT THE MEN WE USED TO LOVE is getting close, and I'm thrilled to be traveling to New York City for a reading. Even better, I won't be standing up there alone, but will be in the company of some of the highly entertaining writers with essays in the collection--Roxana Robinson, Catherine Texier, Caroline Leavitt, Raphael Kadushin, and Dana Kinstler. The reading is at the Barnes & Noble at 82nd & Broadway, Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. It's going to be a lot of fun.

For those of you closer to (my) home, I'll be reading on Feb. 14 at Borders West in Madison, along with Jackie Mitchard and Raphael Kadushin.

Watch this space for news of the MR. WRONG contest--and to find out how you can win a chance to tell your story to the world, plus a signed copy of the book and a MR. WRONG T-shirt. Yes, I'm having T-shirts made up, and they're a hoot.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Anorexia treatment and mixed messages

Recently I talked to a mom whose daughter is struggling with anorexia, and she told me about an appointment they'd had with their pediatrician, who'd been quick to notice the issue and to push for early intervention. The doctor said to the girl, "You need to drink a milkshake every day." Then she added, "But of course, it's your choice."

I've heard this kind of story over and over again, and it makes me crazy. As this mom astutely commented, "Would a doctor ever prescribe an antibiotic for an infection, but then say it was your choice whether to take it or not?"

When it comes to anorexia, way too often the medical profession is willing to settle for inadequate treatment and mixed messages. Would a doctor tell a diabetic it was his choice to take insulin?