Wednesday, April 19, 2006


That America is in the midst of a food revolution making for some very fine eats is undeniable. But let’s face it, all the great eating means that not only is there a more intense rush of food pleasure throbbing through our palettes but there are also a lot of fat foodies out there. Once the weight is on, and for most of us, its on baby, its on, altering one’s relations to eating is very difficult. Foodies talk a lot about sustainability these days. But is our culinary adventure sustainable?

Several years ago the WesFoodie lost around 40 pounds over three to four months. I did it by so twisting my perception of eating that I reached the tipping point – that place where it was more pleasurable to deny myself the donut than to eat it. I carefully monitored the amount of such totally and completely unnecessary calorie laden marginalia as olive oil and milk. Butter was unthinkable. Those others were just ice cream eating fools! The plates full of steak, rice and black beans that I had so casually and utterly thoughtlessly consumed before were outrageous impossibilities; laughable extremes. I also exercised for several hours every day until my very purpose for being was to deny myself the foolish pleasures and comforts that stood in the way of my getting into shape.

This way of living had been totally unheard of to me. I grew up eating what I wanted, limited more by how much food cost than how fat it would make me. I learned early on this little secret: Few things in life are as satisfying at a very basic level as consuming, without pause, an entire package of Entenmann’s cream filled cupcakes or a box of a dozen chocolate covered donuts. With secret knowledge like that, change came hard. Changing the way I ate and thought about food required me to force my body inside out. A lifetime of fixed notions had to be undone. An entire neural network was torn apart and new webs of positive and negative associations were spun in furious spurts of energy born of fat fire and burned calories. But it worked. And I loved it. The WesFoodie was ALIVE – the Lewis and Clark of weight loss forging a new frontier of self. But it didn’t last. In the seven years since I lost the 40 pounds, I’ve gained back about 1/3 of it and lost it again, and over again. I just love great food.

Can we eat like foodies and live to tell the tale or are we sippin’ fois into an early clogging for which no stent can be inserted? Thoughtful balanced nutrition is not something Americans are particularly good at. It just doesn’t come natural. But hey, if Alice Waters can turn wretched school lunches into ripe organic tastiness, maybe it isn’t impossible to make sustainability sustainable.

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