Monday, March 1, 2010

Temperance for Punnishment


Disclaimer: This one's kinda long. No, longer than average. This one took me a week. You may want to fix yourself a snack, first.

My mom has this story about me that I refuse to believe is true.

It seems that when I was 2, I kept telling my mom I was hungry. Apparently she wasn't moving fast enough because the next thing she knows, she turns around to find out I had gone to the refrigerator, opened it, positioned a chair (I think, not sure) to stand on to get to the Kraft singles, got a slice of cheese, unwrapped it and started eating it.

My mom tells this story because she adds to the end of it, "It was at this point, I knew, 'This kid will never starve.'"

I tell you this as a precursor to this entry.

It's Lent.

No matter how many times this happens (once a year, it's cyclical), my friends are always surprised when I tell them.

I write this to help my friends understand what I'm doing this year.

As much as I could have given up bubble baths, because I love the way the bubbles feel between my toes, I've decided to do something more.

Last year I gave up eatting in between meals. That worked well for those 46 days.

I'm trying that again this year....with not as much success.

Other things I'm doing this year? Meatless Wenesdays AND Fridays, little red meat, no alcohol, portion control, and, I was surprised myself when most of the time so far I also didn't eat after midnight....or break a fast as close to midnight as possible.

AND, no Food Network on the tele.

Some may think this is overkill, but, I assure you, it's not. When I'm trying to subject food and modify it, I'd just be watching Channel 231 like it was pornography. Furthermore, I think that the network in and of itself doesn't help what with a new show entitled, "The Best Thing I Ever Ate."

Also, over indulgence in alcohol is also gluttony; it is using and misusing alcohol to the point of making one sick, which is what too much food can do as well.

I know I have a problem with food because I was looking up a recipe online....and it led me to other recipes....which led to a story....and, I was fantasizing about all the wonderful things I could make....

I had to snap out of it and navigate away from that one particular site.

How much do I love food?

Q: Why did I become Christian?
A: Was subjected to this "A Thief in the Night" series about the Rapture. Was athiest then (7th Grade). After seeing this low budget B 70s Evangelical propeganda, I was concerned I'd end up left behind. What happens to those left behind (according to this erronious belief?) You sell your soul to Satan and willingly damn yourself to make a living or


I remember waking up one morning, worrying, 'Okay, if the Rapture were to happen, and I couldn't buy anything, what could I eat? Callendar....paper's edible....' (Because I'd have to hide from the government or something as well lest they'd kill me....or something.)

Q: What's Attia's favourite bird?

A: Vulture. None of this, "Early bird gets the worm," ballocks, no. Vulture eats only dead things. Vulture wakes up, oh look, there is food waiting for it. It's God's plan B should something not have the honour of being burried.

Q: What's Attia's first thought waking up on Ash Wednesday & Good Friday?

A: "I can't eat, I can't eat, I can't eat, I can't eat, I can't eat, I can't eat," usually acompanied throughout the day with a countdown until midnight.

(Ash Wednesday & Good Friday are not only abstinance days, days where, in America, anyway, all Catholics between the ages of 14 but not yet 60, provided they are in good health and are not pregnant or nursing, must abstain from meat, but also fasting days, the only two required by the Church in the entire year. These days 18 - 59 year old Americans (I think these are the ages) are only allowed one full meal, and two smaller meals (but no snacking) to keep up stregnth if necessary PROVIDING that those two smaller meals do not equal another whole meal. I think if one is a manual labourer, though, there may be leweigh some even on that.)

Q: True or False: Conversing over the phone with a friend one night, Attia was distracted by a Wendy's commercial.

A: FALSE!!!!!*

Q: Attia gets a little sad when she looks at her plate and sees that she's almost done eating, or, at the very least, that one item on her plate is almost gone.

A: True. This shows I have an emotional attachment to food. I also hate just eating one thing at a meal. No matter what I'm having, I try to doctor it up with more food (instead of just pasta, and, not simply pasta, but, a filled pasta, like raviolli or tortalini, I try to have a vegetable, or, leftover vegetable pizza, and bread or something. Instead of just a cream soup, I put in rice or egg noodles to make it more substantial).

It was that third question that made me realize just how bad my gluttony was.

I kept believing that I didn't have a problem and that I could quit anytime I wanted. I wanted to believe food didn't beat me when clearly, it's pounded me, took my lunch money, and some how bought all cheap crap food which it then spoon fed me and beat me up some more.

And, it's not so much overeating. I looked up Overeater's Anonymous and I don't really have those symptoms. Gluttony is so much more than just simply overeating.

Basically, it's putting food in the center of one's life, where only God should be. It is giving one's life to food and letting food control one's life. If one goes to that Wiki link, one sees that St. Thomas Aquinas considers eating to daintilly gluttony & I can understand why: it's being afraid of food. It's the oposite side of the same coin because it's still letting food be in control.

There was an episode of "Will & Grace," where Grace finds a new Chinese noodle place she likes. She likes the noodles there so much that she places another order to go. The character's lines before getting ready to leave the restaurant are along the lines of, 'I can't wait until I'm hungry again so I can eat these.'

That's gluttony; that's disgusting.

What I am trying to accomplish this Lent, through abstinance/fasting and prayer, is to subject food and not be subject to it. I am better than food, I was created for more than food.....but of all the addictions to have, food is right up there with air.

I always thought it was stupid when those fat people on talk shows said, "It's not like drugs or alcohol, I have to eat. You don't NEED to drink," but, I'm, thank God, not suffering from the same cross as them. I'm not a compulsive eater, because, as I said, gluttony is more than just eating. However, we DO need to eat. The only person I ever heard admit he doesn't like eating is Barry Manalow. Even he said, though, that at the end of the day, he wonders why he's shaking and then realizes he hasn't eatten.

The body is set up for food. We do need to eat to sustain life. Those on hunger strikes usually drink some special liquid to keep going or they soon die. Fasting is done as a pennance in religions, believed to make the person better. No human enjoys denying one's self, especially of something so basic because it is counter to our instinct. Not eating makes you die. The human race did not evolve for thousands of years to climb to the top of the food chain to voluntarily not eat. We had plenty of time to not eat and we didn't utilize that time. You know who did? Neither do I, because they're extinct now.

I asked a priest is there anything to help me with the fasting and the sin of gluttony and he said, and it was so helpful to hear, "Yes. Know that by fasting, you wont die." That's really important, because, he's right. It would take a lot of fasting for it to kill me. If I decided to do more, I would be uncomfortable, perhaps not really able to function (my body can go 20 hours before turning against me), but, not eating as much everyday on a whim isn't going to make my parent's outlive me.

See, the eating is, again, for survival. The more I eat, then, it follows, the more I survive: I'm the next step in evolution.

Not only do we need to eat, we need to do it daily, multiple times, preferably. We NEED to. One's body cannot properly function if one cannot digest food. It is so basic and natural, eating cannot be praised enough, but, again, it's not solely about eating; it's the glorification and fantasizing and fixating on food that causes gluttony.

And, we don't really need to be sold on eating. It ammuses me, the food commercials I'm noticing while I'm doing this. There's one for Sonic saying, "To me, food should come at the push of a button." Oh yeah, just what this country needs, an easier way to get high caloric food. I also am rather fond of the sentuous chocolate commercials. .....You know, just in case food needs to be more tempting. And, shots of food going in people's mouths, again, terriffic. Just in case we forget how to eat, we can look at TV to guide us.

I am beginning to think this country can save money by stopping adverts of food. We all need to eat. Few of us have a victory garden or a farm. We regularly go to the store. We need to go up and down multiple aisles to get what we want. If there's something new there, we're more than likely, to increase our chances of survival, going to pick it up.....especially if it's reasonably priced.

Also, I get coupons for food delivered to my e-mail.

I must admit, however, as much as I want to say this isn't just about eating inbetween meals, that is a part of it. It is annoying to want to eat or indulge in sugar only to be reminded: It's Lent. It's not about being satisfied. And, the eating between meals is just a quick's not like it curbs the appetite for the rest of the day, no. Even should I snack at one moment, I get hungry again.

And, it's not like I even have it that bad. The suggestion last year was so easy: don't eat between meals. Historically, those observing Lent did not eat meat, eggs, butter, cream, sugar, ect.... basically, they lived on vegetables....and not good ones, ones from last years harvest; this year's harvest had not yet come in. People were using the rest of what they had from last year to get by these 40 (6) days.

I learned that on a show on EWTN. Also learned: The chickens didn't know it was Lent; they continued to lay eggs. That is how the tradition of hiding eggs came about.

By not eating, my hunger pangs increase sending the signal to my brain of self not drinking, I cannot dull this away.

I have a cousin who calls me up and tells me not only how much he's eatten at one time, but, exactly the crap food he ate throughout the day. Clearly food plays a BIG part of his life. I can even hear the smile in his voice when he talks about it.

Food should never EVER make anybody who has eatten in the past week that happy. EVER.

On the opposite side of that, I have had friends who have told me they had forgotten to eat and they have had to fast for 24+ hours for medicinal / clinical reasons. I want to say I wish I could do that, but, honestly, I know myself too well. I fantasize too much about food even when I'm not hungry.....this is what I'm trying to re-wire my brain about.

It's not about what I don't have, it's what I do have and what I can have. The more I do here on earth to curb my appetite and focus on God and place food where it belongs, the less I will have to be purged of when I die. What I'm doing is not a diet or a live-it because, that, again, puts the focus on food, weather counting calories, counting points, or keeping a food journal and eating six times a day, I am trying to....not ignore food, but, not have to ignore it. I don't want to think about food any more than is necessary. I will not be worried about what I am going to eat on any given day or how I will have to plan my schedule around food. I will be appreciative of the food I have and not wonder how can have more food. The focus is to not focus on food. This is hard for the average American family as opposed to the medieval European family because not only is there more food, but, there's all the adverts reminding us about food (including, but not limited to, the burger, chicken, & seafood fast food joints telling us about their limited time fish specials). Compare this to the other family, who used up all the butter, and sugar, and eggs, and mainly survived on vegetables....and last harvest's vegetables at that. We now have more access to food (and, I am okay with that....from a survivalist standpoint) which makes fasting harder.

Finally, I can't help but think that the reason we have to fast is because of the stupid sin of gluttony in the first place. ....I meant every word of those last two prepositional phrases. It was the stupid sin of gluttony I read, that was the original sin. The forbidden fruit in the Book of Genesis, one reads, was good for food and was pretty and blah blah blah and the woman ate it and so did the guy she was with, but, it is not specified that either were particularly hungry. They ate because they thought they could get more out of it.

My goal, this Lent, then, is to subject food to God's desire for me and not my desire. I aim not to objectify it as something to be used to gratify me, it will not be my crutch to comfort me. Food will be used to sustain me. I will try not to eat more than I need (indeed, the book, "Piers Ploughman" had a character suggest it is best to stop eating a little before you feel you are full).

I must confess, on Saturday (early morning) 3/6/10, I did eat a vegetarian egg roll even though I was....kinda full, just to not have to have the inconvienience of being annoyingly hungry. That was wrong. That was going back to what I'm trying to stop. Food is not for my entertainment. I MUST understand this. If I want to live, I have to start thinking about God first thing in the morning and not food.

AND, I must also do this for the love of God. A spiritual director said what I'm giving up this Lent (I don't think he knew), use that time to read the Bible. Good plan. I must not do this to buy my way into Heaven because that not only doesn't work and not how things are set up, that instills in me a sense of pride. I must do this because I love God and want to depend more on Him.

This year has been easier, and, as Lent goes on, I've been trying to do more and more in the way of fasting. I'm surprised how much grace God has poured into me this Lent.

AND, As much as I must stop thinking about my stomach and not do this out of pride, I must also not do this out of fear: I would put off fasting until the latest possible point I could on the days of fasting so that I would then gourge myself and also, not have to suffer hunger later. Though, this never worked (as, I was always hungry enough to break the fast a wee bit after midnight), I did it because I wanted to be able to eat meat (meat seems to fill me up more....though, I know that is psychological, and, if I ate a little something before then, I would worry about breaking my fast AND, I wouldn't be hungry after midnight, which is what I was looking forward to). I must also condition myself that it is okay to eat up to two lighter "meals" on those two fasting days if I must. Wanting meat again is just letting food win. It is okay to eat if I am hungry, and ONLY if I am hungry.

I remember having a friend over one Saturday when I was in high school. He was there for lunch and dinner. He commented about not wanting dinner because he wasn't hungry. It was the first time I had EVER heard something like that. I mean, what does eating dinner have to do with being hungry?

So, to be more appreciative of food, of how my body works, of God's plan for salvation, and of Christ's sacrifice, I am trying to become a better human being as was intended by devoting more of my life and time to not consuming things and not wondering what I can consume.

Dante's theory on the gluttonous being purged was having to run laps in order to build up an appetite, and, passing a waterfountain that they couldn't drink from in order to have that much more of a desire to quench the pallate. I don't want any of my afterlife to mimic gym class at Prarie Elementary school, so, I do this now.

I'm going to stop it here. There's other things I could go on about and will perhaps mention in an upcoming blog, but, this was an explination. Hope you all got your fill.

*It was Burger King. My train of thought really did get derailed and I apologized when I was studdering.

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