Saturday, February 20, 2010

Eating Disorders

(PICTURE: Huyen preparing a meal at her house.)

I once dated a girl who had an eating disorder. Perhaps I was oblivious or naive but it took a while for me to realize the girl was more or less eating a piece of lettuce for three meals a day. The girl would rarely meet me for meals and would always claim to have "just eaten." Around the time I started to suspect that she had a problem, the two of us went to dinner with my parents to without a doubt one of the most delicious barbecue restaurant in America. The girl, her eyes bigger than her stomach, ordered a BBQ sandwich with a double order of French Fries for her included side dishes. Well, I think she ate one fry and perhaps a bite of the sandwich. My father, being even more clueless about her eating disorder than I was, joked with her about leaving so many delicious fries...which I'm pretty sure the rest of my family divided up and ate.

Anyone who knows me will think it is absolutely ridiculous to think that someone could imagine that I have an eating disorder. I've always been "the garbage disposal" my whole life and have always been willing to give eating anything a try. I mean, I was literally the unofficial taste tester on Fear Factor for a year or so. Well, sometimes when I'm at Huyen's house I feel like her parents think that I have an eating disorder*. Huyen father, like my father, jokes with me all the time about me "not eating." What I'm "not eating" though is fat, bones and other things I find inedible. On top of that they think that I barely eat any food when clearly I'm eating double what everyone else is. The only difference is that while everyone is speaking in Vietnamese, I just eat. I'm also a fast eater so when somebody puts something into my bowl, I eat it. The problem then is that my bowl is empty and everyone starts saying, "You need to eat more!"

I've actually found myself thinking recently that I need to develop some skills to make it appear like I'm eating more. Three that come to mind are:
1) Slow down and chew more.
2) Don't show my bowl. Always keep it in my hand rather than putting it back on the eating mat.
3) Take smaller portions.

I know that when I start thinking like this though it might mean I have a disorder. However, come on, there's no chance I have eating issues...although isn't denial a symptom?

* I'm pretty sure very few people in Vietnam, especially in the countryside, know what eating disorders are. There's no health education and people aren't as image conscious as in the developed world. On top of that, putting food on the table and eating it is very much what people live for in the countryside.