After wrestling the remote from The Cat who was eighteen hours into a “Cops” marathon, I was sitting on the couch reviewing whether the day was a success or failure with regard to health. I had done all the things I was supposed to do like work out, went for a great hike, ate well all day with only dinner left to go and then it happened…I looked up to see a commercial for Marie Callender chicken pot pies… mmmmmmm… They triggered a positive emotional response that made me want one…ok two.
When I was cooking professionally I’d work grueling hours and at the end of the day the last thing I wanted to do was decide what to cook. My routine consisted of shoving a couple pot pies in the oven and showering. After falling on the couch and pouring three or four Jameson Jumbos into my face it was time to eat. Normal people would probably consider eating a store bought pot pie straight forward but not me, I had a routine. I liked to flip them onto a plate and then mash them up so I got the little burnt edges mixed throughout and then ate it from the outside of the plate inward.
I ate them so often that after placing them on the checkout conveyor one day I heard, “Oh sweetheart, you need a woman to cook for you.” Huh?! I looked up to see the sweet old cashier woman that I always saw with a hurt puppy look on her face telling me my regular dinner fare was crap and I obviously didn’t know how to cook. From then on I used the self-checkout to hide my shame, I mean I was a professional cook for the love of bingo, I’m busy, tired and don’t have time at night to cook yet another meal. In my mind I was angered by the comment and justifying why I needed these little boxes of deliciousness.
But these golden pockets of love were my friends right?! They were a source of comfort, a childhood memory and an easy meal. But they were also something else, they were something I used to try to fill an emotional void with…a void that contained lost love, loss, hurt feelings, pain, conflict, a shitty station in life, depression and personal angst. In retrospect, calling pot pies a friend was akin to calling a pet lion a friend then waking to find he ate both your legs and you’re just thankful because he didn’t kill you.
Then yesterday it all just kinda hit me, I saw a family with a cart loaded with frozen processed food and not a fresh vegetable in sight. The tragedy of it all was that everyone in that family was dangerously overweight. As they were walking by I couldn’t help but notice they had pot pies, and for the first time in my life…they made me angry. They represented my unhealthy past and all those things in that emotional void I never could fill. Now I realize they weren’t just pot pies, they and every other frozen processed craptastic thing were triggers for self-destructive behavior and from now on they will only serve to remind me of all the harm I did to myself. Do you have food triggers? If you wouldn’t mind sharing, I’d love to hear them. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go put my pet lion on e-bay …then go for a hike.