I dislike eating. If I never had to eat again, but could still live, of course, then I would be one happy woman. Every meal is something of a struggle. I eat three times a day, I never miss a meal, but I don’t think it’s pleasant. It doesn’t even matter what I eat. I can’t pinpoint what exactly my issues are, but I do have some ideas. The most important one is, naturally, my mother.
Modern Ideas About Food
My mother was far ahead of her time. Growing up in the eighties, we had a diet that would make most people nowadays jealous. My mother noticed how my younger brother would become unruly and annoying after eating sweets with additives, especially colourants. So he was not allowed to eat them anymore. Since it would otherwise be unfair, neither was I. Apart from sweets, we had a limited amount of sugar we could ingest. We didn’t drink sodas, and our exposure to crisps and cookies was limited. It definitely wasn’t one of those families where the children could raid the pantry for whatever they felt like. Everything was under strict control.
We didn’t eat pork. This was unhealthy, my mother thought. Funny thing is, I still don’t eat pork. I have discovered eating this type of meat sets off any inflammations I might have. It makes me itchy, so overall I just don’t.
Let me make something clear. I know I’m often cynical about my mother and about the way I was raised, but I genuinely believe that with her food choices, they were only made with the best intentions. She definitely thought she was keeping us healthy. And many things she chose for us, are common practice nowadays.
So why do I dislike eating so much? Well, as a kid, our mealtimes were never fun. I wore a hard-plastic bib until I was eleven years old. I was not allowed to spill on my clothes, and since that’s impossible, I preferred the bib so that my mother wouldn’t become upset.
There was a lot of tension around the table. We had to eat the correct way, with fork and knife, also when the food was near impossible to eat with cutlery. When eating those small potato balls with a crusty layer, I remember searching frantically for the soft spots so I could stick my fork in there. If it skidded off my plate, I would get berated. Our table manners were drilled into us. We had to eat slowly. We weren’t allowed to make noises while eating, nor were we allowed to leave the table.
My mother was a decent enough cook, and everything we ate was definitely healthy. We could talk during dinner time. I remember my father telling a lot of stories about what happened at work. It’s not all bad. We did joke and laugh.
And yet here I am, left with discomfort around anything food.
What doesn’t help are my teeth. They’re pretty bad, and I’m always afraid something’s going to break while eating. Because, yes, this has happened in the past. But most of my anxiety is vague.
I can now spill what I want, especially when I’m wearing cheap clothes. I eat with my hands if I want to. But it’s never fun. Even while dining with friends, I’m tense. Partly because of my teeth, and partly because, well, because. In a weird, unconscious way, I dread every meal. I do continue to eat three meals a day, because I know I’ll be miserable without. If only my dislike of eating would extend to crips, cookies and chocolate.