Bacon, Bagels & Noodles

A week or so ago I got rid of my final cooked food addiction… or so I thought.

I’d been reading a really interesting thread on Give It To Me Raw about being addicted to cooked food. At the time I was eating all raw.. except for going out for hot chips, ohhh, 2 or 3 times a week.

*scratches head* What the hell was up with that?

Well, it turns out that potatoes (and wheat) have a similar effect on the brain to mild opiates – ie, they cause a slight distancing from your current concerns. At the time I had been feeling some heavy emotions coming up, and had been fearful of dealing with them (no, I hadn’t thought about just tapping out the fear *slaps forehead*), so of course I was instinctively gravitating to potatoes in order to quell those emotions & keep myself ‘safe’.

Keeping me safe, & making me feel good being the primary aim of all these sorts of automatic behaviours – it’s just the “little us” inside, our minds, trying to protect us. The irony, of course, is that typically the behaviours actually worsen the situation, they just feel like they help.

So, once I tapped out using chips to numb myself, voila! Last cooked food addiction! I am now perfect & worthy of adoration, green smoothies all round!! (for the humour deprived, I’m joking.. oh, except for the smoothies, they rock, please, have one, you’ll feel much better).

Ok, where was I? Oh yes, hot chips.

So, that was well and good. Back on the wagon I go, and sure enough, start feeling awesome again, bouncing around the room Russian cossack dancing to Billy Holiday and so on, as I am wont to do.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned on this food journey, starting way back with that insane juice feast, it’s that a lot (all?) of the time we crave or feel drawn to a specific food – and particularly those we’ve had a lot of in the past – it’s not the food we’re drawn to. It’s the emotional feeling we attach to that food. Occasionally there are biochemical drivers, of course, but emotional attachment is definitely the major one.

Since the great hot chip realisation of 2008, I’ve had the chance to see this in detail with three more separate foods (the alert readers among you will already have a good idea what they are).

pic by Bobby Stokes (note the opiate bread+hashbrowns too, always a bonus)

After a recent mild financial setback, I had a definite desire to go out for a cooked breakfast. Ok, no big deal, being raw (for me, at least) is about eating whatever-the-hell-you-want, but being conscious about why. That’s what’s important, not necessarily what I shove in my gob.

After a bit of thought, I realised – it wasn’t the rest of the breakfast that mattered, it was really all about the bacon. Why? Well when I was growing up, we didn’t have bacon very often – with 8 kids, that’s a LOT of bacon, and it’s pretty expensive stuff. So, at some level I associated bacon with wealth – it was my ‘wealthy food’, as it were. I’d eat it, and feel wealthy.

Like so many things, in hindsight, this is both amusing & kinda ridiculous.

Of course, breaking this connection was as simple as tapping it out (2mins, done). Now I’m still free to enjoy bacon, if I choose, but it won’t be because of some illusory feeling I ascribe to the mythical powers of the fried pig!

pic by サンドラ (These are the fancy ones, we only dreamt of these)

I’ve always enjoyed noodles, and even discovered a great little place here in Melbourne that makes their own noodles on the premises. It’s super cool – you can actually watch the chef in the window swinging them around. I just love that kind of thing. Oh, plus it’s super cheap – always an unexpected bonus with great food. Ironically I discovered this place only after I decided to seriously up my raw food intake. Hehe ewps.

Of course, I do realise that noodles are in the flour+water=glue-in-my-belly food group – not particularly easy to digest & will tend to make me sleepy as my body fights to digest it.

What’s taken me much longer to realise is the emotional association I had with noodles. I didn’t twig to this until I was in the supermarket downstairs watching a guy building a gargantuan stack of 25c packets of instant noodles.

This took me back in a flash to a time over a decade ago, living with my little brother Rob in a dilapidated place in the centre of a town described by the CEO of Glaxo Wellcome as “the arse end of the universe” (Glaxo was founded there). We were basically living off the cheapest of the cheap of the horrid little packets of two minute noodles at the time. We used to wait until there was a sale, then go and fill up an entire shopping trolley of the things at discounted prices.

Ahh, good times.


Anyway, got rid of THAT connection. Still love my brother, can live without the deep fried flour+god knows what else.

pic by sionfullana (no, my sister is not Asian, but I do like the size of that bagel)

Bagels were more interesting. I never ate them until my sister Ruth went to the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. She came back and raved to me about how good they were – even just eaten plain.

So of course there was the association. Hanging out with her, having bagels together. Definitely a positive connection there.

There was a little more to it though. When I was working in London, at a particularly productive time in my life, I used to have bagels for breakfast every morning – with an orange juice (see? health conscious!). So as well as the association with her, I’d also connected them with being productive. Since I love being productive, if I wanted to feel that way, I would have a bagel.

This sounds like lunacy, and in a way it is, but this is the way our minds work.

The result
So what does breaking these connections achieve? Well, several things:

  1. Eating those foods won’t pump my brain with endorphins or whatever-other-chemicals are created by the emotional connection I’ve made
  2. I don’t feel compelled to eat those foods when what I actually want is the emotional feeling
  3. I’m still completely free to eat them, if I want, and enjoy them for what they are as foods – unclouded by anything else I’ve attached to them.

Stopping to look at it – what’s more healthy? Missing my sister, and eating a bagel to remind me of good times hanging out together, or missing my sister & picking up the phone to tell her I love her?

If I really must, I can always eat a bagel while I call her – it won’t be the first time she’s heard me talking with my mouth full. That way she gets the love AND an earful of bagel – the perfect solution!