Back in the late 70’s, I was a latch key kid who had a list of chores and a healthy fear of her fierce single mom. I was given strict orders to do my chores and homework (they didn’t kill elementary kids with homework in the 70’s), and stay in the apartment and not answer the door, which was easy for a young hermit. At the time, we lived in a duplex on Taylor Street in Hollywood, FL. Since I was not supposed to go outside or have friends over, I did a half-assed job on my chores and then turned on the TV. This was before cable. So, I had to find a station with cartoons, and then move the antenna around on the TV until the static cleared enough for me to see Hercules or Deputy Dog. Young people: antennas were skinny metal rods that used to be on top of TV’s – the fat, heavy TV’s – never mind.
At some point, usually during a Publix commercial, I made a snack. I didn’t reach for fruit, even though we usually had apples and bananas on hand – not bad for a single parent household, eh statistic people? Nope. I would eat things that are gross to me now. Once, I grabbed a cold hot dog out of the fridge and sat on the floor in front of the TV, just munching away. Most of the time, I ate a serving bowl full of some sort of Captain Crunch type cereal. A bowl is a serving, right?
Once I got into middle school, AKA the most miserable time in my life, my snacking got weirder. One afternoon, after learning about protein, or “muscle meat” as my sixth-grade health teacher called it, I grabbed a leftover cooked chicken breast and ate it cold, with my hands, over the sink. It was like I was in a zombie trance. Must eat muscle meat. That same year, I tried to make cornmeal mush afterschool. No, I’m not sure why. Since we didn’t have Google or live in the Deep South, I just dumped corn meal, flour, salt, and milk in a frying pan with melted butter. Boy, was that a nasty snack. I ate it right over the frying pan; it was salty and carby. I started eating cookie dough about that time, too, sometimes homemade, but mostly the Pillsbury kind in the roll. I still do this and it scares my husband. He’s worried about raw eggs, or something. Carbs are like drugs to me.
My downfall is pasta. It’s a gateway drug for me, or a trigger food, or whatever the cool kids call it. It makes me eat like a killer whale. Once I start eating pasta, especially with pesto, it’s like I can’t even see. I think this is called disassociating, but I didn’t end up majoring in psychology. Carb-induced disassociating is probably the cause of many restaurant and grocery store thefts. People eventually run out of pasta, so they must go out and steal more. It’s only logical.
I wish I could say that all of this is behind me, but it’s not, not totally. I have found that if I eat mostly low carb things, I do better. Every so often, I have a weird craving. Today, it was salt. It started out innocently enough; I was having an apple with peanut butter, and I sprinkled a little salt on the apple. Then, when the apple was gone, I wanted more salt. So, I just ate like a quarter of a teaspoon of pure table salt. I’m glad there are no cameras in my house to witness things like this. Actually, I could probably make a lot of money if I had my own reality show. TLC, are you reading?
Note: I was inspired to write about my own dance with food by this great article by an old school friend.
Lucky for Amy, she never witnessed my strange eating.