I woke up from a dream this morning, in which I was eating plastic. Literally. I'd eaten a takeout container or two, and a couple of those black, plastic spoons they have on the salad bars and hot bars at grocery stores. They were in shards and small pieces inside me, taking up a lot of space, but I knew and could feel that I wasn't being nourished. I was afraid of what would happen when I tried to... eliminate, and was sure that all that plastic was going to tear the insides of my bowels apart.
So my body knows, my subconscious knows. I'm not eating well. This is due to a number of factors: my routine, and my struggle to work it in the most efficient way so I continue to nourish myself; choices I've made about how to eat, which mean I don't just throw any old thing into my mouth; the unique bouquet of cravings and samskaras that have a solid grip on the choices I make, especially when I'm too stressed or tired to do better; previous programming, which is loosening its grip with each passing day. Whatever the case, feeding myself is sometimes a challenge.
Wow. I'm an adult. Like, I have a mortgage, I've been married for years, I had to sue somebody once-adult. And I'm still having to wrestle with making sure I eat the way I want to: eat food that tastes good, that doesn't harm my body, and doesn't harm others or the planet. What I eat has been a source of contention between me and other people. Lucky for me I share my home with a man who doesn’t really mind what I eat, so long as I’m choosing to eat, and not stuck in a pattern of eating my feelings, and so long as I’m relatively healthy. I don’t get crap from him about choosing not to eat animals who are… harmed* before they’re killed in order to put food on plates. I don’t get mocked by my partner, which is more than I can say for other members of my family. But that’s a different story for a different day. (And if you want to hear it, you can find it on this page, at least until I get bumped off this podcast.)
I take a lot of pleasure in eating. Being both gluten free and vegan means I get to be creative about how I eat. It doesn’t take much work for my meals not to taste like rabbit food, but still, I get to have a lot of fun considering how I’ll compose breakfast or dinner in such a way that it’s healthy and interesting.
Eating like a minimalist is challenging for me. I like to spend time making food. I like meals with lots of different, even fancy, ingredients. Now, I haven’t found any clear manual about what minimalist eating is, and frankly, I’m not sure how interested I am. I understand that the fewer ingredients in food generally the healthier it is, and generally the fewer apparatuses its touched the easier it’ll be for me to digest. But minimalist eating is… hard to pin down.
I think not only am I struggling to figure out what it means to engage in minimalist eating, but the controlling nature of eating this way makes me feel a bit unstable. I feel like I’m tiptoeing toward disordered eating, a landscape I’ve been in before (hard to imagine any woman in America hasn’t been there before). It took me months to finish this blog post because the week or so that I spent experimenting with this practice was triggering. I couldn’t reflect on it because I didn’t like the way it felt. Finally, after some distance and time, and the capacity to remember that nourishing doesn’t mean processed crap, but also doesn’t mean two baby peas, three grains of rice, and a thimble full of hummus for lunch—after all that, I can write that I’m happy eating the way I do, even if it’s not always convenient, or even understandable, to others, and that while I can try not to be wasteful about it, I can also be creative without compromising my minimalism.
Look at this.
I was recently at Union Theological Seminary, and as a part of their swag bag, they gave me this reusable utensil set. A sustainably grown bamboo fork, knife, spoon AND chopstick set all housed in this pouch made of recycled water bottles. I was just knocked out by it: that is some ecological justice, right there! I carry it in my bag (so long as it fits) wherever I go, and I don’t have to worry about using plastic unnecessarily. I Love It!
So, minimalism at the table is tricky. The next step for me isn’t about eating less, or controlling my calories or portions more; it’s about making sure I buy and take only what I know I will eat, using what I buy, and wasting as little as possible. That will be a tough and exciting challenge.