January 26, 2013

I hate food and I hate eating.

I hate food.

There, I said it. Queue the jokes about my weight in 3..2..1..

Joking aside, this is a serious and somewhat interesting problem I have that I've never really heard anyone else talk about. It's something I've felt since I was little, but have only recently been able to identify and come to terms with. Normal people love food. Normal people love to eat. Why then, does the thought of having to eat give me the same feeling I get when I think about having to wash dishes or clean the house? Why does it feel like a chore? Well, I don't know the answer to that, but hopefully writing about it will shine some light on the problem.

It's strange for me to think that people seem to legitimately lust after food. It's strange to me that there exists an entire channel where people cook food on TV, and people love to watch it. What is this attraction to food that so many "normal" people seem to have, but I very rarely feel?

It's not that I hate all food. In fact, there are some foods I very much like to eat. Pizza, buffalo wings, steak (You know, anything that will shave a few years off my life). However, I never feel like I need to eat those foods. I never feel like I need to eat any food. Food, to me, is something that's simply necessary to continue living, but doesn't bring me all that much happiess. It's quite a lot like breathing, only more annoying.

Every day my wife nags me to "Eat breakfast!", "Eat lunch!", "It's time for dinner!". Okay, I say, in as unenthusiastic a tone as I can muster. Breakfast, for example, is the absolute worst for me. I never feel genuinely "hungry" until at least noon time. When I wake up in the morning and think about the fact that I should eat breakfast, I literally get a sick feeling in my stomach. Think about the food you absolutely hate the most, then think about having to eat an entire serving of that food. That is the way I feel every morning no matter what I have to eat for breakfast. To be fair, I quite like breakfast , it's one my favorite tasting meals. I just prefer to have it for dinner instead of in the morning.


One of the main reasons I think I hate eating is because I hate the taste of most foods. I've always been a picky eater, anyone who's ever sat down to a meal with me knows that. It's actually quite embarrassing for me sometimes. You should see some of the looks I get when I order food at a restaurant with a laundry list of things I don't want in it. Want to feel humiliation? Try ordering Thai food with "no veggies". Oh, the looks you get...

Somehow I never grew out of that "phase" children are said to go through. I'm a 27 year old who hates just about every vegetable except corn and potatoes (and even those are often classified as non-vegetables). Onions, for example, are my kryptonite. Most foods I simply don't like or wouldn't choose to eat if I don't have to, but onions are a whole 'nother beast. I can taste the faintest hint of onion in anything and once I do it's game over. I cannot physically finish a meal that I've found has onions in it, and it doesn't matter if it was mixed in by accident and there isn't a single other piece. My gag reflex will kick in and each bite starts to taste worse and worse while my ridiculous brain searches for another hint of onion that's not even there.

Am I a super taster?

What's a super taster? Unfortunately it's not a marvel super hero who can "taste danger lurking around every corner". But it is a real, scientifically proven condition and one I've often wondered if I "suffer" from. Super tasters generally experience taste and flavors (Yes, there is a difference) with a much greater intensity than an average person. This is especially prominent in bitter tastes, which could explain why I can't stomach beer or coffee.

There are some tests you can take at home to see if you might be a super taster, but they're all notoriously inaccurate. The only true way to know is to have your genes sequenced and I don't have an extra $400 laying around to do that. Would it really change anything if I was? Sure, it might validate some of my neuroticism when it comes to food, but in the end knowing doesn't solve the problem.


The other major contribution to my disdain for culinary creations is geared toward the physical act of eating rather than the food itself: Interruptions. I hate interruptions. I could write a whole 'nother blog post about this (and maybe I will), but it's a pretty well documented phenomenon for people who have jobs that require deep mental focus such as writing software.

I'll digress a little bit here. There's no easy way to explain "Flow" to someone who's never experienced it (Though I suspect most people have, they just have trouble recognizing it). Wikipedia has this to say:

Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does.

Another way I've heard it described is to think about building a mental house of cards as you dive into solving some problem. You start constructing this house of cards with each piece of the puzzle you're trying to solve and create a sort of "mental map" of the problem as a whole. When someone interrupts you, even if it's just for a split second, that house of cards begins to fall and you have to rebuild it all over again when the interruption is gone.

Anyway, my point is that having to eat food is an interruption and it often interrupts my "flow". The fact that I have to rebuild my house of cards just to go eat food that I probably won't like anyway drives me absolutely crazy.

In fact, I just heard the oven beep indicating dinner is just about ready, and now I have to stop writing this blog post to go eat it. Chicken cordon blu casserole with no veggies, if you're interested.

The solution

I wish I had a solution to this problem, to be honest. It really has a negative impact on my day to day life, my job, my health, and my marriage. Speaking of my wife, she is amazing. She forces me to take breaks, eat breakfast and cooks quality meals without all the normal "crap" (vegetables) people usually put in them. She does that at her own sacrifice, since she enjoys the occasional salad or stir fry. Unfortunately, on top of all of that, she is the one who takes the "heat" when I snap at her for being interrupted. If it wasn't for her, I would probably eat once a day before bed and be seriously malnourished.

Or dead.