The Art of Cheerful Eating
Updated: Mar 11
Eating is a ritual. It’s either a chore or a party, though. That’s the two ends of
the spectrum. Eating could easily be a soulless, drab, chore that does nothing to
encourage its own continuation except the threat that if we don’t carry on eating
then we will starve. I mean, why do any of us eat anything except, like, unseasoned
scrambled eggs over a bed of thick oatmeal with an occasional half of a cucumber?
That would keep body and soul together, and it’s way less trouble than all the
excessive confection that we’ve come to expect from the complex ritual that eating
Falling either way is equally dangerous if you fall to far. That’s the thing.
Self-care has as much to do with physical maintenance as it has to do with the pleasure we take in eating.
How far we lean one way or the other has a lot to do with how much guilt we’re dealing with, I think. That’s a whole different idea, maybe for later. This idea is that sometimes we need to deal with the burdensome thought that eating is either a chore or it’s all image, and both ideas get in the way. If eating’s a chore, it’s no fun, and that’s discouraging. And if eating is all about image—if it’s hedonistic—then sometimes we have the guilt to deal with, and that’s no fun either.
So what do we do? Where do we end up? Aside from with the continuing
struggle with the endless march of the battle with our appetites that got us into this
mess in the first place. Aside from that, I’m not sure.
Whenever I think about what to do with food,
I always remember my mother.
My mother had two extremes of her personality, you see, when it came to her
One extreme of her personality hosted themed dinner parties. They were
day-long affairs with extensive guest lists, and at them we would need to rearrange—and on one memorable occasion get rid of—furniture in order to create
the appropriate environment. The meals would come with handouts and scripts,
because there was an appropriate way to eat them and an appropriate background to
understand them. We had a Satyr dinner once, the traditional Passover Meal.
Another time we sat on the floor and had curry in a candlelit room and washed our
faces with rosewater and licked our fingers clean, learning the sensual side of food.
That was her one extreme, where food was an art.
Her other extreme fed us cod liver oil by the spoonful.
Cod liver oil is the healthiest food in the world, because there is not one nice
thing about it, so it also builds character while it makes you sad and angry.
The thing about those extremes: they marked special occasions. They weren’t
every day. Her attitude to food everyday was balanced. She’d take lessons learned
from both extremes, the artistic one and the character-building one, and our daily
meals were prettier than some and healthier than most because of the value imbued
into it by her ideals.
She believed that food should be nice, but that you also needed
to have something healthy for you in order to maintain your own health.
She definitely believed that food should be as colorful as possible. If you
asked her for a reason, she’d say it was because it made it more healthy. We all
understood, though, that it made it more appetizing and made eating something
more pleasant to look forward to. We understood implicitly that more color meant
more variety, and that more variety meant more vitamins and minerals. That was
really more of a perk.
We need trace amounts of odd things to keep healthy.
The human body is a weird machine. It can function on surprisingly little, if
it comes to it. To really keep ourselves at peak performance, though, there are a lot
of odd things we need to add to the chemistry experiment that is the human body that, somehow, we can’t produce ourselves and, because of social changes, we don’t
have the steady supply of them that we had when we developed a need for them.
We’ve always been omnivores. We can eat anything. That’s one of our advantages
over other critters in the world. Ever since we’ve domesticated ourselves, human
beings don’t get as varied a diet as we used to, so we don’t get as much of some of
the minerals and vitamins we need to work at our best level of performance.
My current favorite one is Omega 3s. I had a therapist for a little while who had specialized in brain chemistry when she was at med school. She couldn’t actually prescribe fish oil to me, but she did explain that in days of yore the human diet, in the U.S.A., tended to have more fish, game, and dark green vegetables than the beefy, corny, cheesy diet that we have now. Game—like venison—and fish tend to have more Omega 3, and Omega 3 is one of the chemicals that the human brain needs to work at peak performance. That’s what she explained. So I started taking fish oil (because my mom was onto something).
It’s been weird, but I’ve been way…smarter…ever since. I’m not sure what other word to use. My brain just sort of seems to work better. I remember things better. I solve problems better. I cope with stress better. My brain just works better.
It got me thinking, though: what other chemicals am I missing, for one; and
for another thing, how can I better cope with being a forgetful person who often
forgets to take the fish oil capsules? I don’t want to take a multi-vitamin. That
doesn’t address either of the problems, because I have no idea what’s in a multi-
vitamin for one thing, and I’m sure I don’t need to be taking extra of some stuff
that’s in it because of the rest of my diet. Plus, there’s no percentage in exchanging
forgetting one kind of pill for forgetting another kind of pill. If I’m going to forget,
I’d prefer forgetting the thing that I know I need but I’m not getting to the thing I
don’t understand and may already be getting part way.
Fortunately, someone out there has thought of the solution.
It comes down to the aesthetic experience.There are these things out there called ritual vitamins, or Pretty Vitamins. I’m seriously thinking about subscribing to get some. Go give them a Google. There’s lots of kind, as it turns out.
So, seriously, how beautiful are these 'bumblebee' looking capsules that promise to possess "Multi-phase Extended Release Technology, a revolutionary thermogenic engineered to support your fat burning." I confess it won't take us long to get to the truth: We bought it for its pretty factors. Plus the MCT oil that the aforementioned magical nutrient elements happen to be swimming in aesthetically...
They’re like this: some people out there understand that health is more than
about just happiness or just physical upkeep. Health is somewhere in the middle,
where value floats—where we think about “well-being”. In a place where we
understand that we ought to know what we need and provide ourselves with a
source of that, where we understand that in order to be well we have to want to do
things to improve ourselves, and in order to do that we need to engage our
imaginations and create an aesthetic experience.
Basically, pretty vitamins are multi-vitamins. They’re multi-vitamins that are
candid about what’s in them, though, for one thing, which helps because then the
shopper—me—gets to choose one that helps with the problem I’m dealing
with—dieting, brain chemistry, hormones. And they look cool. They’re odd, but
different, and they look cool, which starts us on our aesthetic, ritualistic experience.
Then, usually, they’re subscription-based, which has all kinds of psychological effects
by itself. Subscription creates pressure, but it also creates anticipation. Both of those
are powerful motivators in lifestyle changes.
Smoothie bowls. Eat Pretty Pantries. Pretty vitamins. They’re an opportunity to ritualize an experience for our health and well-being that’s both in our control and moderated by an inexorable
And that is a powerful recipe for change.
And it’s weird.
What weird (or pretty food) have you been curious about or plain obsessed with lately? We'd really love to know. Any self-care rituals also welcome. Join the conversation in Instagram and all the usual places with hashtags #calmamamatribe #selfcare - Share beloow to be in to win our Creamy Keto MCT Oil Powder, Goji Berries and Maca Powder...100 winners every month, just share your #wellness quest
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