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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Hungry: The Confessions of a Food Fiend

The sunlight creeps through my grandmother's bedroom blinds. The sunlight gently kisses my face, and I rub my eyes to wake up. The aroma of fresh buttermilk biscuits, and coffee is swirling through the house. It's seeping through my great grandmother's bedroom. There is a sizzle, a crack, and pop. I know that's bacon cooking on my great grandmother's old black, burnt frying pan. This is a Mississippi morning, and where some of my most fondest food memories live.

After lingering in the bedroom, my senses overwhelmed with the breakfast that is cooking down the hall, I wake up and start following the aroma.  My cousins are at the table, and my great grandmother is at the stove smiling at me. I'm only eight, but she pours me a cup of coffee. I pour the generic creamer, and put in a dash of sugar. I've tasted a lot of different coffees since those Mississippi mornings, but this will forever be my favorite. When the biscuits finish baking, we all sit eagerly waiting for our turn to pick one out of the pan. No KFC, Church's Chicken, or any fast food joint can lay a finger on my great grandmother's biscuits. We pour rich, thick maple molasses on our plates, and with our hands dip the biscuits in the rich syrup. This was food that fed more than your stomach. It fed something deep inside. I could taste the love and attention she cooked into the meal. At the old circular table surrounded by my kinfolk I felt part of something, part of something lasting.

I've been thinking about these early Mississippi mornings a lot lately. I'm riding another weight rollercoaster, and after way too many highs on the scale, I'm starting to wonder how I ever got started on this food rollercoaster. I've been thinking a lot about what am I really hungry for ? On those nights when I lay on my couch letting another Friday night slip by in my living room, I feel this pang in my chest. I feel a twinge of hunger it's not overwhelming, but it compels me to venture to the kitchen standing in front of the refrigerator wondering if anything will make me feel full. What I am really hungry for ? I grab a coke and some cookies, and head back to the couch. After my late night snack is consumed, my stomach is happy, but something else is still empty.

Growing up, food was not just about nutrition or fuel for your body. Food brought my family together, it comforted us, it was an expression of love. I've carried these feelings about food from childhood. And, I wonder now if I've carried it into my adulthood. And, I realize now that sometimes when I overate I'm really trying to fill my soul with the same warm feelings I got on those Mississippi morning.

When I can't fix anything in my world at least I can fix a good meal for myself. It doesn't fix the problem, but for those few seconds I'm lost in a food haze, trying desperately to feed the little emptiness in my heart. When you've spent most of your adolescent feeding your feelings, and your emotions with foods, it's hard habit to break.  But, I'm trying. And, I've been asking God for so much strength to stop reaching for food when what I really need is His Grace and love.

Before I make my way to the kitchen, I'll start asking myself what are you really hungry for? Is it companionship, excitement, a cure for boredom, an escape, a cure for insomnia.  Because I know deep down what food I consume will never be enough to feed those things.