I coined the phrase this morning. Never thought about it before in my life, but all the same it's true. Food is a four-letter word.
In my life, it's become a mine field as well. I really shouldn't say become because it's been that way ever since I figured out that I eat which was a long time ago.
"Do you ever eat?" I got one of the best gigs of my life calling a hot shot executive before business hours one morning and asking that very question. For the record, he answered me solemnly, "Every day, Dr. Corso." I proposed he take me to lunch.
Anyway, I eat, and because I do, I want to welcome you warmly into the insanity of the American Psyche (especially, but not limited to, the female) around food.
I suppose it started when my mother decided I had a weight problem. An only daughter, I was supposed to be like her, so since she had a weight problem, I must too. I recently made myself put all those loose childhood pictures into a photo album. Seeing them baffled me. I had not so much as a sliver of a weight problem until I agreed with her belief about the women in our family!
Fast forward through every single diet ever created on planet earth -- this can't be true, but it feels true -- through grade school and high school and college and early adulthood. The ice cream diet (I got so sick of it, I quit eating and lost weight), the cabbage soup diet (I lost weight, but I take the fifth as to why); counting calories (the old-fashioned way) and reporting in to my pediatrician every Monday; counting fat grams, counting carbs, counting points -- every single way possible to measure, dissect, discuss and deprive me of good old nutrition. And the Tab I drank. Oh, the Tab. Yes, Tab counted as a complete meal for many years.
My mom bribed me to eat less. Once she offered $100 a pound if I'd stick to a diet.
My senior year of high school, she sent me to a diet doc who sent my already highly-revved being into the stratosphere with what I know now had to be speed.
She bought exercise equipment, made me swim on a swim team till my hair fell out.
All because of an obsession with an idea about what I weighed versus what I ought to weigh.
I am not Mom-bashing, far from it. She did the best she could with what she knew and believed at the time. Really. Had she been able to believe differently, she would have, but she couldn't so she didn't. There's not even a real need for forgiveness.
At age 25, I gleefully and finally threw the scale out an eleventh-story window of my New York City apartment -- into an alley. I wasn't going to let three numbers in a metal box tell me how to feel about myself any more. I gave away every diet, health, exercise, cookbook I had except Erma Rombauer and quit diets. That was the day I looked at the word and realized the word die was the start of it! Instead, I decided I'd rather live.
There are spiritual lessons here. The first one is: forgive whomever gave you the crazies around that four-letter word, food.
The next will be named in food is a Four Letter Word (Part 2) next week on Huffington Post.