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."