I Hate Talking About Food

Let’s just get this out of the way upfront: I was a chubby kid/teen/young adult, so that probably has a lot to do with this, but I believe I’m mostly repulsed by the idea of talking about a meal in detail because food is something any organism needs to survive. I don’t want to hear about your lunch for the same reason I don’t want to hear about the last bowel movement you took or your most recent orgasm; it’s the least personal thing a human can do in that we all do it, but the most personal in that I’m not entirely sure any two humans experience food in the same way. We’re a little bit more complex than our conversations about food suggest.

Somewhere between the ages of twenty-one and twenty-two, I dropped sixty pounds and my attitude toward food totally changed. I went from feeling like meals were the cornerstones of my day to barely finding the time to choke down what I needed to survive. It wasn’t until a year or so after that that I realized how many nights in my teenage years were programmed around a meal. Friday night was Chili’s with my girlfriends and Saturday night was Chili’s with my boyfriend (our chain restaurant options were really limited in Lexington, MA.) I would consume a week’s worth of calories over the course of a weekend as if it was a replacement for a social activity. I don’t think this is particularly abnormal, as I’ve met people even in my adult life that will call me up bored on a Saturday night and say, “Wanna just go get food or something?”

It’s not that I hate food itself. I’m not a monster; I love pizza and enjoying a meal at a restaurant with my friends like everyone else. But I hate the idea that food is a character in our lives, I hate that it’s treated as if it’s art or that being a “foodie” is a now a lifestyle choice or a hobby instead of what it really is: A prettier shade of an eating disorder. Enjoying your meal is one thing, but turning what should be the equivalent to a trip to the gas station into an event or extra curricular activity should not be socially acceptable. In fact, it’s one of the greatest hypocrisies in our culture. How can we have an open dialogue about childhood obesity and at the very same time, an entire television network devoted to purchasing, preparing and consuming food?

Nothing hacks away at my nerves like an episode of Top Chef. Unlike most competition shows where it’s possible to pick a favorite based on something more than personality, with a cooking competition, you’re relying 100% on the judges’ opinion of each contestant’s work, I don’t know those judges. I don’t know if they refuse to eat mayonnaise like I do. In fact, I presume they don’t have many restrictions, which to me is proof enough that they’re unqualified to make a judgment. It’s all too subjective. I don’t know what their taste buds do inside their mouth.

Shows like this have also inspired people to be at-home critics and amateur experts. Somewhere around 35% of the blogs I encounter detail the author’s most recent romp in the kitchen, and while the process of preparing food is significantly less offensive to me the act of consuming it (at least one of those things requires effort,) it’s more of that, “Do you think you’re special because you combined ingredients in a pan and then put them inside of your face, masticated them with the exposed bone inside of said face, and then passed it down to your pharynx in a wet lump?”-thing. I’d be interested in seeing food bloggers post photos of themselves masturbating so I can get a better sense of how they get that done, too.

The never-ending discussion about food and the pleasure/pain it brings us says more to me about the state of our culture than anything having to do with unemployment rates or Jersey Shore. People can’t stop talking about what does it for them when they stick things in their mouth, and that’s straight-up animalistic.

image – Dr. John Bullas

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  • Anon

    i love this.

    bravo.

    for real

  • Tiff_t_t

    You have an unhealthy emotional relationship with food, obviously.

    • Anon

      NO YOU

    • PERFECTCIRCLES

      In an insane world, Molly is the only one talking sanely about food.

  • rilez

    Interesting. I have never, ever, ever thought of food/food consumption in that way. I do believe that there are exceptions to the blog example… I think vegan blogs/specialty diet blogs are okay. Tofu tastes like shit unless you know how to cook it. I also think that food preparation has become an art form, and I think that's okay. Maybe the Top Chef contestants should be judged instead on the presentation of their foods.

  • Aurora

    I felt exactly like this when I was anorexic.

    • Bob

      yeah, this chick has some serious anorexia going on and doesn't even see it — typical.

      • Anon

        NO YOU

      • writinginbed

        Umm, no, I've hung out with her and she eats. In fact, she ate more than I did and I'm a big girl.
        And she's not the only thin girl I know who can clean up her plate and still have a small frame.

    • Molls

      I think it's tacky to comment to readers on your on story, but I just want to clarify that I am 100% not anorexic and I think accusing me of being anorexic is insensitive to anyone who struggles with the disease. As someone who's been through it, I'm surprised you're so quick to “call me out” publicly.

      I am a healthy weight, I cook almost all of my own meals with good ingredients and gain 10 pounds during the holidays like every other American out there (besides the ones who are too poor to eat but, you know, that's a whole different topic.)

      I don't value thinness, I value “shutting the fuck up”-ness.

      • Meh

        Well this is going well.

      • uh...

        hmmmmmmm does the phrase “I felt exactly like this when I was anorexic” mean “hey, person who wrote this, you are anorexic!” ???

      • Skylar

        No it certainly does not…it just seemed like someone sharing their own personal experience to me. Why so on the defense, Molly? Also, Molly values shutting the fuck up-ness… well then go post on your own blog and disable the comments and stop writing somewhere that encourages conversation instead of just being talked to. If anything this has been a great article because of some of the dialogue it has opened.

      • Anon

        she didn't mean shutting-the-fuck-up-ness to the commenter… she meant shutting the fuck up about food…as she said in her article…

        read man….

      • http://somuchtocome.blogspot.com Aja

        I'm with you. 100%. I am so sick of the majority of my friends acting like they're such goddamn culinary experts. One particular acquaintance prattles on about her kitchen skills meanwhile cooks everything with a solid stick of butter. Of course it's going to taste good if you cook it that way, Paula Deen. I enjoy tasty food. Never met a pastry I didn't like. Same goes for most cheeses. But do I want to hear someone wax poetic about their every meal on twitter? Absolutely not! Certainly you live for more than eating, I hope. It's a trend I think. And this too shall pass.

      • Sch

        you sound like a blast molls

  • Anon

    I feel like there's a difference between enjoying food and gorging yourself on it. There are lucky people in the world that are able to sit down and enjoy just a moderate serving of an exquisite dish and stop there.

    I'm not one of them, personally, and I go through periods of either not eating or constantly binging, so I'd understand you not wanting to know MY personal experiences with food (since I don't even like to think about it). But I think there is a place in our society to discuss how delicious food is, since it really is an integral part of socializing for many cultures throughout the world.

    Also, the concept that no two humans experience food in the same way is one that I think argues FOR the discussion of food. How interesting that when I eat curry, the more my eyes water from the heat the more delighted I am! But my sister, who I share so many similarities with, can't take even a hint of spice. It allows for a lot of different, interesting and valid perspectives on the meal as it is occurring, or shortly thereafter.

    I guess if it grosses you out personally, that's your decision, but you're pretty much the odd one out on this, I'd say. I think discussing food is a pretty important part of being human.

    • Anon

      You missed the point. She's saying that it should NOT be “an integral part of socializing,” that it's no different than any other necessary bodily function and should be treated as such.

      • Dreamlover

        no it is entirely different from any other necessary bodily function in ways that seem way too obvious to even get into

      • Anon

        your cultural perspective and upbringing tell you that, but if you step back for a moment she's right… cavemen didn't care about an exquisite meal… it's a necessary thing to survive but eating shouldn't be considered the highest point in your day… or even one of the highest points.

      • Dreamlover

        yeah you can reduce pretty much everything to its basest most meaningless form but we're not cavemen

      • Robin

        Why not given we're now in the position to do so? Eating food is a pleasurable, and the better tasting the food, the more pleasurable the experience. To say it deserves little attention is nonsensical. Aristotle recognised this 2000 years ago; the good life consisted of good food, good friends and good conversation. The drive to eat is one of the strongest instinctive drives we have, and we're lucky enough to be in the position where we can indulge (healthily I would like to add) this. How about sex? Should we be equally as dismissive about such a “base human drive”?

      • Charliebrown

        The funniest part of all of this is that SHE SMOKES!!!! I guess that's not as disgusting as mayonnaise.

      • Robin

        I really do HATE smoking, but. I read a pretty open minded reply by her further on where she said that she could very well change her mind later in life and be “food food wow food!”, and that this was just her feelings on things right now. That got my respect. We all have weird feelings on things at times and sometimes they pass…

      • TK

        “It's a necessary thing to survive but eating shouldn't be considered the highest point in your day… or even one of the highest points.”

        —> This reads as a comment from someone who's rarely had to worry about where their next meal's coming from.

        You'd better believe that for any starving person, eating is going to be one of the best moments of their day, if not *THE* highest point. Along those same lines: if you know that you're not going to eat unless you figure out a way to hunt it down, scavenge it up or grow it yourself, food takes on a whole new meaning. It–the acquiring of it, preparing of it, storing it for a bad winter, etc–becomes almost the entire POINT OF YOUR DAY. And I'm not talking about some trendy back-to-the-land/locasexual/Alice Waters/Brooklyn rooftop farmer bullshit. I'm talking about the way that people have had to deal with food for the majority of human history, and earlier.

        We've evolved to want to eat–and to seriously enjoy it when we do. Our dopamine pathways are wired to encourage us to seek food and associate it with pleasure. It's Darwinian–whoever eats more winds up fucking more and makin' with the well-fed babies.

        Yes, food is fuel. Yes, eating is animalistic and in some ways no different from an organism with a low cell count nomming brainlessly on algae slime just to keep all systems go. 'Brain' being the key clump of letters in there. See, we've got these big, hungry brains that are built around complex reward centers and allow us to communicate. Humans don't just eat food… we tell stories about food; revere certain kinds of food while avoiding others; devise ways of making it easier to digest or taste better or store longer. We've been doing it for thousands upon thousands of years. Is it any wonder that people feel driven to talk about food? I'm thinking the ability to tell some youngster exactly how long they need to dry those strips of mammoth, and the ability to grunt eloquently in pleasure over a meal shared with tribemates, is a big part of what makes us… us.

        Feeling intense pleasure while eating a meal–and particularly a meal eaten with company–is one of the most deeply *human* (read: natural) things you can do. It's when we start mixing that human pleasure-motivation and love of the dopamine kick with ALL THE FOODS AVAILABLE FOREVER ENDLESSLY HEY COOL DRIVE-THRU that we start getting ourselves in trouble, healthwise and psychologically.

        But yeah: food? Always gonna be a high point.

        Until we figure out how to upload our consciousness and become cyborgs, of course.

        (Hey, Molls–thanks for the playground! Likin' the thoughts.)

      • Lauren

        Well, in that case, it seems Molly is missing the point because it has been “an integral part of socializing” for thousands of years. And will continue as such, there's nothing you can do about that.

    • Robin

      You said exactly what I wanted to! :)

  • shoehorn

    i feel you molly, seriously i do
    it sucks to never have the quick metabolism that some/many people do when they're younger, that shit fucks you up
    on the other hand historically, culturally, etc. food IS a character in human life, specifically because it is a universal
    food preparation and the discussion thereof allows people who otherwise have nothing in common to relate to one another and feel comfortable

    this is why i made the decision to actively “get the fuck over my bullshit” with regards to food
    otherwise i have nothing to talk about to, for instance, my parents, who still regard my computer-based existence as something mysterious and possibly sinister

  • Brian

    ” I don’t know if they refuse to eat mayonnaise like I do.”

    I love you.

  • Catherine

    I <3 Food, and I don't gorge on anything, I don't make a big deal about going to get get food, but having a nice big dinner with your family on Thanksgiving eating DELICIOUS food is not something that I am ashamed of or that is wrong. Eating yummy food ROCKS!

  • Mike

    Reading this makes me hungry.

  • Neat

    “How can we have an open dialogue about childhood obesity and at the very same time, an entire television network devoted to purchasing, preparing and consuming food”

    I like this.

    Its a subjective opinion, but its no less valid, or no more unreasonable, than any other opinion. And it's people saying that being anything other than a foodie or comfortable centring every occasion around food that makes it difficult to acknowledge / change an 'unhealthy emotional relationship with food'.

    Seems like an alcoholic has an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, being sober or happily drinking are not unhealthy. Which makes me think about the difference between 'healthy' and 'mainstream'.

    • Lzr

      That claim actually makes no sense to me; the two thoughts are mutually exclusive. Don't other countries have cooking shows or channels, but no obesity problems?

      So yeah. It's unreasonable. Especially since obsession with cooking and preparing food does not entail overconsumption. People have to eat.

  • humblecore

    This is pretty much how I feel about clothes and “fashion”.

  • Anon

    i like this. food should not be such a big fucking deal.

  • azi

    I've never tasted sushi.

  • Grow up Molls

    Yeah, this is really stupid.

    • Anon

      NO YOU

  • http://twitter.com/BrianMoreno21 Brian Moreno

    As sensory beings we comment on everything that excites, stimulates, disgusts and/or moves us. Not appreciating a fine meal is one in the same with not appreciating a fine wine, great music, powerful art, or a film that takes your breath away. I understand you have been jaded from your previous experiences or maybe your just jaded from the all you can eat boneless wings at Chili’s, I am not sure. I just find it hard to believe that someone as smart as you fails to see the error in your logic. Our values in society maybe completely askew but connecting a mildly popular show like ‘Top-Chef’ to society being ‘animalistic’ is a stretch even for a woman with cibophobia.

    • Molls

      Thanks for calling me smart, bb! I'm a work in progress. I'm sure that some day I'll be like, really excitedly talking about food and it will all hit me. However, this is how I currently feel about this.

      P.S. Just shoved a bunch of Ramen in my facehole!

      • http://twitter.com/BrianMoreno21 Brian Moreno

        Well I hope when you're really excited talking about food it doesn't hit you – or maybe I just hope that you can get out of the way in case it's some fondue or something that may stain…

      • Greg

        I was eating shrimp-flavored ramen while reading this …

  • ramou

    As Humblecore mentioned, food can be looked at in the same vein as fashion. We all need to wear clothes, but there are still a number of websites and blogs dedicated to how we wear clothes, the type of clothes that we choose to wear, “personal style,” etc. But food, weight, body image discussions are almost always uncomfortable because we seem to be obsessed with it in a way that is unlike any other topic of conversation. There may be a thin line between enjoying food and obsessing over it and there are a number of food blog authors who will tell you that they have at some point suffered from an eating disorder. But learning to enjoy food – and not obsess over it – is part of that recovery process. Perhaps that's why there is such an emergence of “foodies” – because there are so many more recovering disordered eaters.

    I don't know. I'm going to go finish that pint of Ben & Jerry's Late Night Snack.

    • Shaaaaron

      And now I must find a pint of Late Night Snack. Didn't know it existed until now!

      • ramou

        It's the best thing ever. But, I mean, I only eat it for fuel, not pleasure. I'm not obsessed or anything. I mean. Shut up! Whatever, I hate you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sasjam Sas Jam

    Everyone's opinions on food, whether they agree with Molly McAller or not is based on the privilege of living in America. Think about how many countries where you don't even really get to “choose” what you eat. Even being a vegetarian is something of a status symbol- where you have the ultimate option to openly decide NOT to eat commonly consumed food.

    • Meh

      Yeah, definitely a case of #firstworldproblems / #whitegirlproblems.

    • Dreamlover

      Sas Jam you just BLEW MY FUCKIN MIND

  • https://twitter.com/#!/nvvmxac danne rassle

    therapy, yo!

    • Anon

      NO YOU

  • http://profiles.google.com/abscratch Abby Wood

    While I can absolutely see where you're coming from — I get just as annoyed at people who want a gold star for making a pot of chili — I'm afraid I have to disagree.

    I was raised to see eating meals with loved ones as a bonding experience. Food is necessary for life, and I see sharing a meal with someone is an acknowledgment that, no matter what are differences are, we are all human and need to survive.

    Making a healthy, delicious meal for someone I love is a gift, one that can be as easy or complex as you make it.

    Also, at the end of the day, we are sensory creatures. A very nice meal is exactly the same as looking at a beautiful painting or listening to a beautiful song.

    There is nothing at all glamorous about shoveling McDonalds (or Chili's boneless wings) down just to fill an awkward silence amongst friends… but if you have to eat anyway, why not enjoy it?

  • Jeanne

    at least some honest thoughts!
    I also feel unconfortable talking about food. I like sharing a good meal, but it's definitively more about who's with me than what's in my plate… I should even be banished from my own country, France, which pretty much has its entire spirit based on fooding/cooking/enjoying a good meal!

    Contrary to what's Molly has been sharing, I was myself a very thin child/teenager/young adult. I could even say skinny at some points (I reached the holy grail of 45 pounds at age 7 and still am under 110 pounds for 5'6″). Never had a real problem with food, no anorexia nor eating disorder, but I can totally forget to feed myself for almost a day if I'm really busy working or studying. “Go to bed with no dessert!” was more an happy-ending of a long-lasting family dinner than a punishment.

    I could only disagree to that story on one point: I actually DO care about food when I'm travelling, especially in those countries we won't qualify of “Western World” countries, as it reveals a lot of the culture and tradition. Still, more interested in the cooking process, that the actual processing of food!

  • Girlwithcomputer

    Whoa, damaged, much?

    • Molls

      PROBABLY WHY I'M SINGLE! MMMMHMMM, YOU FEEL THAT, SISTER?

  • KatK

    I don't understand how being a “foodie” or enjoying a meal at a restaurant is a signal for an eating disorder. In fact, I've often noticed that it's the people who avoid social situations involving food who are the ones suffering from poor relationships with food.

    In my opinion, going out to dinner with good company is one of life's highlights. Often, I'll prefer a low-key night like that to one where I'm out at a bar or house party doing things that are way less healthy for me than one high fat meal.

    Life's all about balance. Get some exercise and enjoy some good meals with friends. The other 90% of the time, try to make healthier food choices. Then you won't have to worry about gaining weight, which seems to be your fear. And if you do gain a pound or two, who cares.

    • Molls

      Weight is not my fear. My only fear is getting raped at night on the street.

      I'm saying that as a former chubster, I understand how easy it is to get wrapped up in food and that I totally get why it's such a big part of people's lives. As someone who's broken that behavior in myself, I can't help but notice how many people's lives revolve around food the way mine did. It's silly and can be unhealthy. More than that, I think there's better things to talk about/do than food and eating.

      • KatK

        Ha…

        Well if weight isn't at the bottom of your food issue, then I really don't understand your issue. I'm very wary of people who treat food only as “fuel.” It reminds my of psycho trainers or obsessed bodybuilders or… people with eating disorders. I see how planning a night around eating out with friends means your evening centers around food, but you have to eat anyway, so why not eat out with friends and enjoy it?

        Here's where we differ: I'm not talking about going to places like Chili's or a pizza joint and eating poo like that. And I'm sure a that's why a lot of Americans are fat. The problem is not the socializing around food — it's the food itself. Maybe you should change the way you eat and think about food. When I eat out, I eat mostly whole, unprocessed foods. Girl, get yourself to Elf/Sage/Cru, bring a bottle of wine and some friends and have a nice, healthy meal. I don't see anything wrong with that. I do, however, see something wrong with every Saturday night spent out eating a steak with a bloomin' onion.

  • http://twitter.com/carrielynnu Carrie Lynn

    I could not agree more.
    I thought I was the only one who felt this way.

  • Anne Frank

    Whatever. People can say whatever they want. I thought this was really good and agree with you.

    If nothing else can we not agree “foodies” are the most annoying people ever.

  • http://georgebrostanza.tumblr.com george brostanza

    I think i know where you are coming from, however i think it really depends on the food the person/people are referring to. Going into detail about how your fucking meal at Chili's or even a pb and j you made at home is just absurd, but if you made something different and worth talking about because you put effort into making it and received incredible sensations via your taste buds, then it's okay. For instance, a recent dish i made coconut curry shrimp with sprouted brown rice. That was worth fucking talking about, and worth making again for someone other than just myself. Overall though, nothing wrong with being a foodie, as long as the food your consuming/cooking/talking about isn't shit (i.e. something from some poor restaurant chain)

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