The food trap – 18 Nov 2009

My friend has a perennial love affair with food. She loves to call herself a ‘foodie’ and is notoriously famous for inviting people over for dinners. She always claims mockingly ‘who will visit an old woman if I do not feed all of you’. She knows that we love her company as well as the delicious food that she cooks with painstaking efforts. But we love her for her sense of gourmet as well as her as a person. She always makes life sweet and spicy.

Since women as a class are in charge of the kitchen most women could tend to become foodies. Perhaps she is better off if she does eventually. The family looks for their women when hungry and need to eat. A woman who loves to cook and feed makes a good housewife a good mother and a good entertainer of guests. Many women would unconsciously build an identity around food and feeding. It gives them a sense of being wanted and loved because they love to feed and satisfy people’s tastes and tummies.

Plump mothers look cute and cosy and give the children a sense of security. Happily rounded moms make the family a happy place to be in. However this addictive love affair with food could be one reason for women becoming obese. There would be many other reasons for being overweight but I do feel that the foodies are prone to it and that’s the price they pay for loving food. It’s a heavy price indeed for the same food that was once a source of pleasure now becomes a pain. The same food that was God’s ambrosia now works like poison to destroy the body. And the mind as well.

I am trying to be helpful to those who are food junkies. Food for babies is different from food for adults. Children need food for growth and body building. Adults need it for sustenance and maintenance. Women should change gears once they grow out of pregnancy and nurturing. At different stages of their life they need to eat differently. But I am sure that women neglect themselves and their needs as they put everyone else in the family as a priority and consider themselves last or not at all! They are always more focused on others needs and not their own.  They may be losing touch with themselves as they care for others 24×7 throughout their lives. ‘My husband loves to eat this and my child loves this so I enjoy cooking this’. But ‘what do I want and what suits me’ is many times missing from her dictionary. She may worry about herself occasionally but would do nothing about it. Because ‘there is no time’ she would argue.

The truth could be somewhere between the fact that she is overworked, neglected and that fact that she has become addicted. She has gradually gained excessive weight which she finds difficult/impossible to shed off easily. Then, whatever she says in defence sounds like an excuse! But it may not be so. She may need genuine help and support to get rid of her unwanted fat. She may need to handle her self esteem and her seeping mild depression as she loses her healthy self image. Besides losing the fit look, she may actually lose her stamina, her energy and enthusiasm, her sleep and her sense of well being. She may lose confidence and become irritable.

Women in such situations would need to regain control over their lives in many aspects. They need to introspect and to look at themselves with a fresh perspective. They would need adequate rest and sleep for themselves besides the much needed moral and loving support of the family. The family would need to understand their needs as well and worry for them. Women need to work on their minds and take care of their changing identities (with age) and the ensuing depression. They need to demand and give themselves enough time and space. They would need to focus on exclusive foods for themselves.  And although they would continue to feed the family and to be the ‘Annapurnas’ of the world they should safeguard themselves against getting ensnared and entrapped into bad food habits.

Published in Hitavada Women’s World on November 18 2009

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