When I was a little girl in Hungary my grandmother used to preserve all sorts of vegetables from her garden. At that time fresh (which meant not processed, but not really fresh because they were imported) vegetables were not available in Hungary during the winter months and I was told to eat our pickled vegetables because they had lots of vitamin C. I did not need much persuasion; I loved the sour taste. Our favorites were pickled cucumbers, green tomatoes, peppers, and cabbage. Sauerkraut was our number-one favorite in winter and in summer we loved pickled cucumbers best.
My appetite was a total idiot. The day I arrived at Suppers we read about the concept of “appetite foolishness.” We spent the hour talking about the trouble we’re in because our appetites made us feel that real food is bland and boring and junk food is delicious and fun.
Before coming to Suppers, I thought I just liked what I liked. I never thought that my love of “white food” was a sign that something in my body was broken, or that it might mean something that I cared for chocolate and coffee more than for most of my friends.
Our Monday Suppers meeting is a little chaotic and very fun. It’s not organized around any particular diagnosis or issue, it’s just a bunch of people who want to learn to prepare healthy food and forge relationships with others who want to do the same. We invite presenters to teach us how to use equipment or prepare particular cuisines; sometimes we have guest speakers. This general meeting attracts people with a range of different food preferences and strong (not to mention incompatible) ideas about what “healthy” food is.
I froze when I got to my first Suppers meeting and saw a co-worker standing at the counter squeezing lemons. Flashing through my mind were the things I would not be able to talk about now because someone who works for the same company would be listening: my depression, my enslavement to certain foods, and the job stress that makes it all worse. But she was smiling, so she obviously knew something I didn’t know.
It is not lost on me that the first boundary for relationships at Suppers is about my relationship with myself. “The only requirement for membership is the desire to lead a healthier life” is a boundary that challenges me to examine my motivation. In the past, my health was not something I thought much about. I never considered the health benefits or deficits associated with anything I put in my mouth.
For me, the most meaningful words from the Suppers literature appear in the second boundary for relationships: “We foster a spirit of curiosity and experimentation to assure healing for the greatest number.” How refreshing! How empowering to look to my own body for data. I didn’t know I was a wealth of information. But I am!
It’s a good thing I have a circle of friends who actively practice nonjudgment because it certainly doesn’t come naturally. Whatever they were feeling inside the day I got up the courage to talk about emotional eating, they kept to themselves.
This story is about global solutions. I wrote my first story from the angle of rheumatoid arthritis, and now I want to share my story on weight loss.
We have it backwards. In the calculus of weight loss and health, I was a failure at losing weight first. I had to get healthy first and then the weight went away by itself.
I’m a good candidate for any of several Suppers meetings. The Suppers community offers me meetings for parents who want to get their families to eat better, meetings where we just enjoy preparing delicious foods together, meetings for stable blood sugar and meetings for weight loss strategies.
I didn’t get off to a very good start. It’s hard for me to talk about my family without feeling disloyal. But at Suppers we’re supposed to be making good matches between our problems and our solutions, so I think I have to give a name to my childhood experience.