sunday life: the joy of outsourcing your eating issues

So, this week, in my journey to find a better life, I outsource my eating.


Now, tell me if I have this right.  You’re feeling fat. No, it’s more than that. You feel stodged up and toxic and traffic has ground to a sluggish, cranky crawl down there. Grandma’s mince pies and sustained cheap champagne abuse has taken its fetid toll.  And now you’re obsessed with “getting back on track”, reforming your eating with a clean start. Accordingly, your head is swirling with a clusterf*ck of messages about food  – No more gluten? No eating after 6pm? Only carrot sticks for a week? You don’t know where to start or what you’re meant to eat any more. So you down a mince pie.

I’ve always found dieting depressing. I’ve never really been on one. Merely observing others wrestle with them gives me heart-sink. Ditto detoxing. Detoxing’s diet-lite, or dieting for those who fear dieting makes them look vain and affected. In principle, they’re useful. In practice, they do our heads in. I reckon (and I’ve mentioned this before) it’s because they’re limiting. They’re about saying no and holding back, which is antithetical to the spirit of human beingness.

But worse, they tend to leave us more obsessed about food than ever. Dieting and detoxing are all about finicky food rules and hyper-body consciousness and explaining to waiters you need the dressing on the side. You can’t fix a food fixation with more food. It’s like mending a wound by dragging the scab through gravel.

But all that said, this week I did a five-day detox, the details of which I post above. It was a juice/soup/almond milk program that ticked all the nutritional boxes (I had a nutritionist check it out). But – and here’s the rub – all the food was prepared for me, and then delivered to my door in a little esky, replete with daily nutritional updates, like “today your liver will be angry”. I didn’t have to do a thing. Little food fairies in an industrial kitchen somewhere did my food fretting and fussing for me. They worried about my having enough protein and calories, cleaned out the juicer and scrubbed the beetroot stains off the bench.

I’m not a big outsourcer. I don’t have a pool cleaner, or a dog walker.  My life is a simple one. But of late, I’ve come to realize that knowing when to handball the proverbial Sherrin is a life skill worth finessing.

It’s a Universal Life Truth of mine – when things get knotted and tortured in your head, stop, drop the lot, and do the opposite for a while.  When you’re working on an essay or report and the first paragraph is going in circles, stop, drop the mouse, step away from the vehicle. And go bake muffins. Applied to a silly season food rut, it goes like this: when food obsessing gets knotted and tortured in your head, drop the carrot, step away from the stab-mixer, hand the job to someone else. And go write your first novel. Or whatever.

I appreciate not everyone can do this, what with kids and their need for Tip Top sandwich loaf, and limited budgets. But I decided to treat my detox as a food holiday, an annual treat. Some people go to Bali, I drank wheatgrass. And, boy, it felt like a retreat, a complete break from the constant meal planning, food choice pain and food courts pumped with l’eau de doughnut that lure me into indulgent purchases.

So, how’d I fare? Well, three days back into normal eating and I’m going great. Everything is flowing properly and my sugar cravings are gone.  Completely.

But the biggest benefit was the way the week exposed how much I rely on food to treat and motivate myself. And how often my brain jerks to, “Oh, I know I’ll get up and have some tamari almonds so I can get through this next paragraph”. I realised how much my sense of connection with others and my end-of-day wind-down ritual are reliant on treating myself with rich, indulgent food. For a week, when I ate with others (they ate, I drank beetroot juice), I had to concentrate on the conversation. Like, really concentrate. On my food holiday, I also had to make conscious choices about how I spent my time. There’s a whole world out there of baths with candles and going to bed at nine instead of ducking out for a banana Paddlepop.

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