Thoughtlessness to Neurosis

An article entitled “Healthy, Meet Delicious” in the New York Times on American dietary habits caught my eye and interest yesterday. I liked it because it encapsulated to a certain degree my approach to eating and indeed living, but also because of the author’s mention of a spectrum – from thoughtlessness to neurosis – along which contemporary Americans exist dietarily.

I did not find the same to be true of Europeans during a recent trip, though I admittedly only saw a small cross-section of society. That said, it doesn’t take much observation to see that Americans do tend to arrange themselves along this highly polarized spectrum quite neatly. We’ve managed somehow to become as obsessed about our next meal in this land of plenty as those who live on the verge of starvation say, for example, in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Our distance from starvation, however, has not correlated to movement away from malnutrition. In fact, we’ve grown accustomed to gorging ourselves on high calorie low quality foods and now suffer from a variety of chronic conditions which grow only in the soil of over-consumptive malnutrition.

There is something to be said about flexibility and moderation. It is possible to become so obsessed about health that, like a miser, you forget to enjoy your possessions. Likewise, it is easy to give in to let your cravings override your common sense.

This is much more than an approach to food choices; it is a mindset for generative living. There is a balance point along the spectrum and your job is to oscillate around it in your living, by virtue of your choices.

5 thoughts on “Thoughtlessness to Neurosis

  1. Kolya

    I’ve always kept a simple phrase related to food and that is, “the closer to nature the better.” Whether it’s preparation style or source, it has helped to provide direction without neurosis. Flexibility is a key, though as neurosis leads can quickly form when fear or self righteousness become the dictating factors in food or eating.

  2. Lady Leo

    Good article. I too enjoy just about every food. I did note recently, while thoroughly enjoying an artisan style chocolate croissant, that it was three times the size of the ones I’ve eaten in Europe. I think our portions in the USA are larger than, well, just about any other country I’ve been to. Maybe that’s the first spectrum to balance. I love vegetables and enjoy cooking them. I think teaching introductory cooking to all children in about 8th and 9th grades would open their eyes to something other than what they’ve eaten at home. Like introducing them to classical literature or music it helps them to see what else is out there; also how easy and interesting it is to prepare fresh food.

  3. David R

    It is amazing how unconscious so many people are in this country when it comes to food. One thing it would be good to see is some practical education on making the nutritious delicious! Mounting toxicity levels also deserve a close look, it seems to me. These things tend to be swept under what has now become a very lumpy carpet.

  4. Lara

    This is of great interest to me as a foodie and also a mother of a toddler. The children’s menu in restaurants never ceases to amaze me. Processed carbohydrates, with cheese. That is actually NOT the only thing kids will eat. Fortunately, my daughter requests a variety of vegetables and has yet to turn down anything offered to her. We often just share our meal since at Lady Leo expressed the portions are out of proportion. My own balance with food continues to challenge me. It is becoming harder to eat out and that always been a source of our entertainment. Perhaps picking up some new hobbies will be helpful. Thanks Gregg!

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