Just Let Me Drink My Coffee In Peace, Please! Or, Part Two to Monday’s Post of Potato Eating and Lobster

2013-07-12 09.21.30

As is usually the case, I sat down to do some writing (ie: work on my novel) and got a little distracted by Facebook. Now, the distraction was simply an attempt to finish looking through the posts of the morning after being interrupted by phone calls, children, breakfast and so forth. As I had a cup of coffee in my hand and was looking forward to enjoying it before it got cold, I clicked on an article detailing how to make your cup of coffee the healthiest it could possibly be.

And I got annoyed.

Actually, more like irritated, frustrated, pissed off and down right ornery.

I’m not complaining about the article. I actually think it was well written and had some good points to it. But what annoyed me was that I felt like I had to read it in the first place. That I couldn’t just sit down and enjoy my coffee for the sake of enjoying my coffee. I like coffee. I’ve been drinking it for the past twenty years of my life and doubt a single day has gone by that I didn’t have at least one cup (okay, maybe when I was very hung over in my younger days. Then, and only then, did coffee completely turn my stomach). In those years many health articles have been published either touting the effects of the drink or bashing them. Revealing how wonderful it is for you or warning you to stop drinking it immediately and move on to other drinks.

This specific article didn’t exactly say coffee was bad for you, but definitely didn’t approve of its caffeine content, suggesting decaf instead (Swiss Water Decaf and Swiss Water only!). It also suggested going to single origin coffees (YEAH! I could go on and on about that for at least several blog posts but I will not, as this is not about coffee…oh wait, it is. But it isn’t. Let me finish, then you’ll see what I’m getting at) and avoiding that Venti Starbucks cup, which I could have told you in the first place. I figured out Starbucks was disgusting on my first try. Why people think it’s good, I do not know. Probably all that following the masses stuff and sweet and sugary syrups and all that. (Oh? It wasn’t about Starbucks in itself and only the size? Well, whoops. I guess that last bit was just my opinion. A good one, though, one you should listen to…)

Okay, so, minus all the Starbucks stuff, I just got irritated. Not because of anything the article had to say, but because it was there in the first place. It’s a cup of coffee. Just a cup. And now I have to make it healthier?

Here’s my problem with that. There are so many magazines and articles and facebook posts and everything else imaginable about making your food, your drink, every piece of anything you put in your mouth, healthier. Don’t eat this! Don’t eat that! Eat this! Eat that! Only to have them change their minds five times a year. (Okay, I’m exaggerating, but you know what I mean. Wine is good for you! Wine is bad for you! Eat eggs! Don’t eat eggs! Eat egg whites only! Eat free range eggs! Be a vegan and eat chickpeas to save the chicks!) I just wanted to enjoy a cup of coffee. Sure, it might have been my second cup, but what is wrong with that? Why could I not drink coffee without there being a hundred contradictory articles stating whether I should or should not be drinking it? And I’m sorry, but switching to dandelion coffee? Are you kidding me? Blecht! The thought alone had me puking in my mouth! (Yes, I’ve tried it, so do not jump onto the comments section and tell me how good it is, because it’s not. It’s like dirt in a cup.)

Why can’t we just eat food? Why can’t we have a drink and sit down and enjoy it without worrying about the level of antioxidants and vitamins, which kind of fat it contains and is it the right fat or the wrong fat, and is there fibre? Because heaven forbid we eat something without fibre.

I’m not saying there aren’t issues out there in which food plays a big role. Trust me, we go to Disneyland a fair bit and that is the perfect place to witness overeating in abundance, obese children, and adults renting wheelchair scooters because they are too fat to walk through the park. I do not deny that there are some major problems out there. But I don’t know if it is for the reasons they are saying…sugar, fat, fast food, etc. (Okay, wait a minute, I do think sugar is a definite problem. I do, I really do and the fact that they inject it into everything is just a dirty, dirty thing. But I think there is so much more to this than excess sugar.) I think focussing on the “food” part of it does not even get close to the origin of the problem.

I have been bulimic for twelve years. Actually, it’s probably more like fifteen now. Basically, for the entirety of my adult life. And now, eating a bite of anything stresses me right out. It actually terrifies me. Why? Because, what if it was the wrong thing? What if it is bad for me? I ate five jujubes yesterday and my stomach bloated up like a frightened blowfish.

Five jujubes? I must be lying.

Nope. Five jujubes and I was sick. Why? Because instantly my fear took over. I had eaten candy. Candy which contains sugar. Sugar which is being touted as worse than snorting cocaine. So, basically, in my mind I had poisoned myself worse than a shot of heroin.

Oh, you think I’m being ridiculous? Or that this is a product of my eating disorder therefore you are immune to it? Hell, no! This affects us all, people! Just like climate change and recycling and stuff. Just take a gander through the health magazines, your facebook wall, your twitter accounts, and the news if you must. Tell me there isn’t at least one (but more like a dozen) article about something you should or shouldn’t eat, something that will or will not make you fat or cause cancer or diabetes or a whole other plethora of diseases caused by something in our food.

We have created a culture obsessed with food. Actually, there is now a new psychological disease called Orthorexia Nervosa, an eating disorder attributed to an obsession with healthy eating.

We’re either too fat or too skinny and now, too healthy.

When did food become a psychological weapon? When did a cup of coffee become something that we need to make healthier or unhealthier or caffeinated or uncaffeinated? Why can’t a cup of coffee just be a cup of coffee?

Normal is not a diet of packaged, sugary and chemically-laden foods. But neither is it a strict adherence to all things touted as healthy and beneficial. Normal has to be an acceptance of the world we live in. The fact that some foods contain added sugar, and that not everything we pick up will contain at least five beneficial nutrients. Normal is seeing the good and the bad and saying, “That’s okay, I really want this cup of caffeinated coffee because it will make me happy, so I will drink it.” Or eating a slice of white, gluten-rich, fibre-free bread and not feeling guilty about it. Because the moment we fear our food, our body will either reject it or crave it. We will get so obsessed we will either overindulge or steer clear of it completely. And as far as I’m concerned, neither of those alternatives could lead to a happy, healthy life.

Yes, I probably hit on this topic in the last post and am most likely repeating myself, but this is a big deal. Actually, this is probably one of the biggest issue of our times (combine it with body image, quality of life, all that, it’s huge. It’s definitely a western cultured phenomenon). Imagine, for a moment, your great grandchild is looking up images from this time, this generation. What would they see? What I see is a culture obsessed and afraid of their food, stuck between what is healthy and unhealthy because there is no middle ground. What would I wish they saw? A culture of people who could enjoy their food for the sake of it, for the flavors and the joy it brought them. I wish they could see people enjoying a piece of cake and not feeling guilty for it, or denying the cake not because it is bad for them but because they just don’t want it. Unfortunately, the reality seems to be, that they will not see that. Not unless we stop letting others tell us how to eat.

Now excuse me while I go pour myself another cup of coffee. I might be really crazy and add a little cream to it too. And yeah, you heard me right. I said cream and I meant it and all it’s 33% fat content.

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