>Food for love

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Of the many ways used to express love, I find food the strangest. Whatever truth there may be in the saying that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, I refuse to believe that you’d be able to keep his heart in good condition if you continue feeding him the rich food of love. Sooner than later, the cheese if not the oil and the ghee will smother it and what will you do with all your love then?

Forget about lovers, I’ve seen scores of mothers over-feeding their children, because they love them so much! Of course, if a child is hungry you need to feed her but allow the child to learn what hunger feels like. And the problem is that long after their children have grown up, mothers continue to fuss over their meals as if a 20-year-old wouldn’t know when to eat and how much. It’s one thing to badger an adult child to eat greens and veggies, it’s another to badger him to eat all things you find tasty, however unhealthy they may be.

I, for one, am particularly averse to the idea of being force-fed. I do not remember being force-fed even as a child. My mother just let us be because she firmly believes that if a child is hungry, there’s no reason why she won’t ask for food. And that’s how we were brought up. I am extremely fastidious about the foods I or dislike. Despite that, my mother never tried to bully me into eating things I did not find palatable because she knew there was a point up to which she could try to drive sense into my head; beyond that, I’d continue being adamant, foolish or fastidious.

Even when I was living in a hostel away from home, mum never inquired on the phone if I’d eaten my lunch or dinner because she was so sure that I wouldn’t stay hungry, no matter what. And that doesn’t mean she loved or cared for me lesser than those mothers who were going paranoid wondering about their grown-up children’s meal, the same children who were grown up enough to live away from home, but not old enough to take care of their food.

If someone asks me ten times in a day if I’ve eaten or not, it’s likely I’ll lose any appetite for my favourite foods as well. And it serves no purpose – this asking after adult children if they’d like to eat this or that. If they want to, they will anyway and if they don’t, why emotionally blackmail them into eating something that they could easily do without?

And because food wasn’t just a big deal at home, we never used it to blackmail our parents either. No matter how angry or upset I would be, I never gave up my meal for it because I knew it wouldn’t hurt anyone except me and that my mother wasn’t going to come begging to me to have at least one morsel of food. I’d have to go hungry and that wasn’t such a nice weapon to get back at anyone.

Also, whenever she saw me overeating, instead of bloating with motherly pride at my expanding waistline, instead of indulging me, she would ask very subtly if indeed I was hungry for a second helping. And that was hint enough for me to know I was going overboard.

Now, when I’m faced with hosts at a party who take it upon themselves to feed their guests till they can eat no more, it evokes a really angry response in me. So you cooked all that scrumptious stuff and put in a lot of time and effort doing it. That doesn’t mean I’m going to stuff my mouth with everything that you put on a platter before me. The whole idea of Indian hospitality is hinged on not just what you serve your guests but how much of it they eat. And I think it’s very, very unhealthy apart from being very irritating.

I’ve often seen my friends, much-married with children, panic at dinner-time because they so want to eat out but can’t because there’s food been cooked for them at home. And what do you think will happen if they don’t eat that food the same night? No, the food won’t rot – why do you think refrigerators were made? – but the mother’s mood certainly will. Of course, these adult children don’t give up the pleasure of eating out; they just go home and eat all over again. Need I say what that can lead to?

People think love can be substituted with food. And so, when you aren’t quite in the mood to savour deep-fried, buttered, over-cooked food, or even normal food, they take it as a rejection of their labour of love. Which it isn’t meant to be.

Also, when you equate love with food, you just can’t distinguish between healthy and unhealthy foods. So if sonny boy asks for fried nuts, mommy dear will furnish them with utmost love, irrespective of how they add to a sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise and the health problems that creep up when you’ve crossed 30. It’s not about how calories can make you fat, it’s about how they can cause you long term harm which won’t be visible just yet. And mind you, it’s all for love!

For once, I blame women for all this food-for-love business because inadvertently, it’s the women in the family who’re in charge of the kitchen. And whether as wives or mothers, if they cannot distingusih between love and food, we’re going to have very unhealthy families.

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23 responses »

  1. >interesting perspective …!!I admit that when i cook and when guests dont eat as much as i expect them to, i tend to push a little bit…..!! ya its true, as a society, we tend to show love and affection by feeding.my parents followed the approach of, eat if you want to… no one is forcing you….but when u visit relatives, its a diff story 🙂

  2. >exactly my thoughts on the subject! My mom would never ask what we wanted for food. We had to eat what was served on the table and thanks to that believe me I eat almost anything (veg that is). She would also never take extra pains to feed me. And as you correctly pointed out, it lead to me never ever blackmailing her by going hungry. I would also be checked if I overate. Those are such healthy habits and everytime I see an over possessive mom (there are plenty around me), I feel repulsive and very sorry for their children who will grow up to be soo unhealthy. Poor things will have to suffer for the blind love of their parents.

  3. >And at the end of a decade, you blame your parents(mother/grandmother) for having fed you those extra spoonfuls which have now significantly contributed to your waistline!Bloghopped here, nice template! 🙂

  4. >exactly..my mom`s the same and i too treat my kids the same way..but believe many of my friends tell me that am very careless mom and dont really put efforts for my kids..My friend feeds her children every 2 hours ..and now they have become food addicts who survive on chips,biscuits,juice,bhel,cold cuts ,idlis….u get the drift??and our indian cuture of Athithi devo bhava just endorses the view that food and love are directly proportional!!!

  5. >I can see myself to be there.. Everyone in my family is on a spree to feed me.. Whenever I visit a relative, all they want is: feed me till the time I want to run away from them.. Everyone thinks that I need to eat.. But thanks, I know when I am hungry and how much I want to eat. I love food but not to the extent of being over-fed.

  6. >@Mac: When relatives really insist on feeding me, I joke about how this isn’t the last time I’m coming to their place; they will get another chance to feed me!@Dip: Thank God for such mums!And thanks for the award :)@Ramya: And then, their love doesn’t seem reason enough for your expanded waistline!@Chandni: Totally agree.@my space: If the atithi is to be treated like God, and God is full, you can’t insist he eat more!@Soulmate: Exactly! I love food too, but not if you are force-feeding me.@Mini: Totally understandable. Most part of my thoughts are also still with the Mumbai attacks. And it is difficult to not think about all the tragedies that have been written in the last three days. This post was written before that; I just posted it now.

  7. >I totally agree with the mom checking whether ive eaten lunch and dinner and what ive eaten on the phone! give it a rest! for gods sake i think being above 20, working and earning in a seperate country would mean that i’m old enough to decide what i should eat and shouldnt!!*sigh* is there anything that can be done for such moms?my reaction is to completely rebel and eat everything that she says i shouldnt (mostly junk!) and then derive great pleasure out of telling her i ate that! yea i know thats unhealthy ao i do balance it out with exercise and healthy meals…its just frustrating to be this old and still report to mom what i ate today!!

  8. >@Avaran: I guess that’s just being polite.@How do we know: So we’ve all face the same thing!@Sunshine: I rebel too – by eating on the sly and pretending I haven’t eaten anything because I’m too irritated 😉

  9. >i can understand your where you’re coming from – i had a grumpy old grandpa who thougth very similarly – and if anybody gave him that little extra bit after he’d refused it, he’d simply explode!!me, well, i don’t mind being pampered – i am a good eater, and i love to be fed.and, there is a certain joy in cooking up a meal and feeding people – i know it, coz i do it when, and as often as i can. they say that the best form of charity is food (anna daan) because its the only instance of charity when the benefactor would be satisfied, and would say that he / she has had enough 🙂

  10. >:)its amazing how something you have not even bothered to think about can affect someone else so much!for me, going to relative’s places and being asked to take just that spoonful more and perhaps the same being done when someone comes to our place is the way we are!my dad always says that we kill people by over feeding them! :pyet, i doubt if i will get so upset over it! especially when at someones home. for once i dont eat so much every single day, and if their way of induling me kabhi kabaar, i am ok with it. and when i really cant take anything more, i politely but firmly refuse, saying i will have to waste it. that usually stops them from aksing again!as for mom’s asking have you eaten, well its just moms! hopefully i wont be over feeding Cubby though! :Dcheers!abha

  11. >@Dbum: I love being pampered too and love food too, except that I don’t thing over-feeding someone is pampering!@Abha: Difference of opinion, I guess :)It’s one thing to offer someone another helping of food, it’s another to insist like it’s a matter of honour.And yes, if I’m meeting someone once in while and they act like that, it’s okay with me too. But when I start dreading going to someone’s place because I’ll have to eat more than I can, I think it’s overdoing the hospitality thing.And seems like my mum didn’t fit the category of “just moms”! Lol!

  12. >I am sure my hubby is one bakra of forced eating.. but what to tell you guys i am sucha good cook :DJokes apart all food are not oily and bad for health.. But yes forced food is a strick no no :)nice thoughts!!!

  13. >hmm very true .. but as per me .. food is my first addiction .. and anytime m depressed that provides me love and the best is wen given by my mom … trust me if ever my mom asked me if m really hungry for another helpin .. i feel so unloved and FAT! 🙂 well thats just me!

  14. >Oooh tell me about it! Mom ingrained into me the habit of cleaning up my plate, so I rarely if ever leave food on my plate. That also means that if people force-fed me when I was a kid, i’d eat till I was overfull. Outgrew that habit only recently. It’s very worrying when food becomes a symbol for something else, an object of “honour” and blackmail and all sorts of weird things. Why can’t we have human interaction and other ways of showing love instead?

  15. >@Happyz: There’s definitely something like health food but sadly it doesn’t figure on the list of those people who think food can be equated to love!@sansmerci: Of course, there’s something special about being fed by your mom, but not overfed!@Suki: Yeah, I can’t leave anything on my plate too unless it’s totally unedible. Which is why I prefer to take a second helping instead of piling up my plate at one go.

  16. >my mom is one of those ‘feeding is the way to express love people’ and while i loved it as a child i am experiencing the repercussions of it in my adult life. It’s only now, in my mid-30s, do i understand the difference between what’s good for me and what not, an dhow i don’t need to over-eat to feel full. Your mom’s philosophies on food and feeding are really cool. I will keep them in mind when i have to feed my kid.

  17. >I also think the same way, but its not woman only sometimes men are also like that, my H always does it and sometimes I feel so annoyed that in a country where many go without a meal, overeating is a crime.

  18. >@Chakli: I know of a certain somebody who said she hadn’t felt what hunger was till she was 12! I guess that’s mother’s love!@Renu: I agree totally.

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