Emotions at the Table
No matter the diet, how we feel affects our health
By Margaret Shugart,
3:00PM, Fri. May 24, 2013
One of the greatest revelations I took from the pursuit of my Masters in nutritional anthropology is the way we channel our emotions into food. It’s such an insanely rich place to explore our social interactions and self-identification.
With more choice and more body-awareness than ever before, our culture (particularly American), faces this terrain in a way never explored by our ancestors. We can eat (and refuse) almost anything we want. We also have the medical resources to pinpoint exactly what makes us sick and avoid it. Whether we restrict our diet out of choice or necessity, there is significant emotion tied into that journey, and like so many other spectrums of our society where we experience the burden of choice, we have to consider our emotional options as well.
I have been writing as “Glutard Girl” this month, and the experience has opened my eyes to my diet, and the community who share it, in new ways. I had to remove gluten from my life seven years ago and through that restriction and its connected social relations – at dinner tables with friends, holiday meals with family, first-time encounters over meals, as a waitress – a part of my identity has become naturally intertwined with my diet. Both consciously and unconsciously, I experienced and explored a variety of avenues for coping and presenting myself. In the end, I have tried to embrace positivity, both for my own sake and for the people around me.
A good deal of the way our bodies handle food is directly connected to our state of mind when we consume it. If we are happy and surrounded by good conversation and love, our bodies release endorphins and hormones that help us absorb nutrients effectively. If we remain tense or stressed or angry, we have more problems with toxins and fat build-ups (not to mention blood-pressure, heart condition, and overall health). This is one of the main reasons the “Mediterranean Diet” is so healthy: It is not just the food, it is the way in which it’s eaten. I have found it’s healthiest to avoid a sense of victimhood and righteousness, and to embrace humor and education instead.
And the term “glutard” has been part of my self-care in this realm, a form of embrace. So what if I have “developmental differences”? We all have our issues. I’d rather laugh about it and bring a positive energy to the table, literally. It helps the people around me, who are often a little uncomfortable about not even knowing what gluten is or how it affects me, relax and that helps me relax, too. I don’t need to take offense if someone makes a slighting comment about it. I know what I need to do to be healthy and recognize they’re just feeling defensive. Or they’re jerks, in which case this little interaction weeds them out of my life anyway, and thank goodness for it.
All of that being said, it was pointed out to me that there is another group – one that has truly been discriminated against and has had the word "tard" used cruelly against it – that could take offense, or that other people could be offended on their behalves. And for that, I submit completely and raise the white flag. That is a world I have no right to infringe upon in any way, and most certainly do not want to hurt. So we are changing the name of this themed blog. Several fabulous ideas have been suggested from “Glutonians” to “Gluterrific”, but we have decided to bring sexy back to the Gluten Free with the new GF Spot.
And stay tuned to this Spot, because the biggest Gluten Free party Austin has ever seen is setting off June 7 at Franks. In the words of its guest of honor, and one of my heroines, author April Peveteaux, it will be “Amazoids. Food, booze, and gift bags, lady!” We’ll talk about her newly released book: Gluten Is My Bitch in next week's post. Prepare to be educated and entertained.