Friday, September 26, 2008

Food as Healer

A recent encounter with a neighbor's relative got me to thinking about how we moderns unreflexively turn to food in a health crisis. I can't tell you the number of times that I have talked to someone confronting a newly diagnosed disease who immediately invokes diet and food as remedy or cause.There is a sort of moral self-judgement going on-if I had eaten correctly, I wouldn't have this disease. I am suffering for my dietary laxity. Or they move to food as a protective shield against further bodily invasion. I know that most of this is about the desire to find control in the face of wildly uncontrollable circumstances: disease and death. I know that food and diet create order, create focus, create mastery, when one feels powerless to self-decay and the medical establishment. But I am always taken aback by the instantaneous gravitation to the food as healer idea.

Don't get me wrong, I fall for it too. I don't feel well for more than a few days and you bet I'm gonna start regimenting my diet. But why people (me too) think that diet can do anything about an already established disease, I do not know. I guess it is an act of prayer, a good luck gesture. A symbolic kowtow to unknowable forces: "I got your message. I know I am mortal. Shit, just let me get well and I promise I will behave."


Zoe said...

Yay Maria, I am so happy to find a place to get to hear your thoughts more frequently than 2-3 times a year. Though nuthin' beats the real, in-person thing.
Miss you, love you, want you, need you. And I think your cooking heals all that ails me.
P.S. I think we still have some of the seltzer and salty snack foods we stock piled in July when you were here. What does THAT say about us?

Maria McGrath said...

Zoe, my favorite and only follower, thus far. Thanks for giving my new one a look. We'll see how long it lasts.

I think the untouched snacks speaks to your good cookin. Why eat that junk when you got home baked bread on the counter.

Neil said...

I hear you Maria. One thing that really drives me crazy is a fast or cleansing. However on the topic of cleansing and the entry at hand, I might say I have fallen victim. Example: A case of the screaming s**ts will not allow me to eat Kashi Go Lean crunch for a week or so afterward. Is this just in my head or good judgement?