Saturday, March 24, 2012

Women and food

On most Fridays, I host women writers here for a day of silence and writing. At lunch, we talk about different things and often about food. One of the women is on the Paleo diet (and writing about it). Feels better, is losing weight. Another struggles with food allergies and addictions and has gut issues. Portland seems a hotbed, as it were, of doctors sensitive to food issues. Or maybe it's because the town is full of naturopaths who are trained to think of diet and digestion as the root of most problems. (We have lots of naturopaths because we have one of the biggest naturopathic training colleges here.)

I've become rather skeptical about food allergies. My friend Pam appears to be allergic to lots of foods (she has migraines), but her careful diet doesn't seem to keep the migraines away. And when I travel in other parts of the country, people don't seem to have food allergies. They eat what's served and don't appear to be in any worse health than people here. Maybe it's a fad, maybe it's real. I don't know.

But what really struck me yesterday at lunch, after our elaborate conversations about what we will and won't eat, and what we can't stop eating, and what we wish we didn't crave, was a quiet comment from Judy, who spends half the year in South Africa working with poor women. Over there, the issue is getting enough to eat. She made that quiet comment and then held her peace. I admired her restraint and suddenly our conversation, real and important as it is, as health always is, took another perspective.

3 comments:

Judy Miller said...

Thanks Jill, your words spoke beautifully of the way South Africa and Portland often clash within my mind. It touched me to see my dilemna in print.

Bloggadilly said...

Not to take away from the valid and important point that we Americans often take for granted the fact we have so much, but for me, it's only natural we'd also place an emphasis on the foods we eat, given that the US has one of the highest cancer rates in the world, a fact that can be attributed in large part to diet -- and our food system. Also, over 60% of the body's immune system is located in the gut, so it's vital for it to be as healthy as possible. Food sensitives often manifest in exactly the same way as the common "cold" - or even chronic ear infections in kids, so it's easy to mistake them for something else. Once my daughter went off the foods that bothered her, she hasn't been "sick" in over 3 years.
I know this wasn't the main argument of the blog, but I just wanted to point out that I can see why, as a nation, we've become obsessed about our eating habits!

Bridget B. said...

Beautifully said.